Another important and interesting event ignored by Brisbane's media

Most Queenslanders would be unaware there are currently no rules in place to govern how many patients can be allocated to a single nurse.

QNU Symposium: Keeping Patients Safe, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre - 3 December 2014

Research points to patient safety in nurse numbers [NCAH - 3/12/14]:

International research shows nurse staffing levels contribute to a seven-fold difference in patient mortality rates between hospitals.

Patient safety researcher Dr Linda Aiken, a keynote speaker at today’s Queensland Nurses’ Union’s Keeping Patients Safe symposium, said her research shows nurse levels and skills mix has a significant impact on patient survival rates, hospital inquired infections and falls.

“One of the important things that’s not well understood by nurses or the public or policy-makers is within every country there’s tremendous difference in patient outcomes across hospitals and in their staffing,” she said.

“Even in countries that report they have ratios, we find that there is tremendous variation in the actual operationalisation of those ratios, so this is why we find a relationship between difference in mortality and differences in nurse staffing.”

Dr Aiken, director of the United States’ Centre for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, said while a seven-fold difference exists in mortality rates between hospitals, her research spanning 30 countries also shows a 12-fold difference in mortality rates after common surgery between hospitals.

“I don’t think there’s an overall awareness among nurses or the public or policy-makers that there’s that much difference in outcomes from something simple like general surgery,” she said.

“We find that a major reason for these big differences in mortality really has to do with the differences in staffing across these hospitals.

“The hospitals with higher nurse ratios and skill levels repeatedly out-perform other hospitals.”

Dr Aiken said California implemented mandated ratios in 2004, resulting in mortality rates that are among the lowest in the US for hospital patients after surgery.

“We estimated that if my state of Pennsylvania, which does not have this legislation, staffed at the same levels that Californian hospitals are required to staff at, we would prevent 2000 deaths a year in our state.”

Dr Aiken, who is also a Professor of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, said she planned to meet with nurse leaders in Australia to discuss the possibility of an Australian study investigating the impact of nursing on patient outcomes.

“We’ve had a very big impact in the 30 countries where we have done this research,” she said.

“It led to the state of California adopting mandatory patient to nurse staffing ratios.

“Our study has led to federal pending legislation that will require all hospitals in the country to report their staffing levels on a publicly available website.

“In the UK, their own quality organisation within the National Health Service, on the basis of our research, has recommended patient to nurse ratios.

“It leads to very actionable changes in practice and policy.”

Dr Aiken said research was vital to instigate change in nurse staffing levels in Australian hospitals.

“Nurses immediately are supportive of this kind of work in every country where we’ve been because they already know from their own practice that nurses and the number of nurses at the bedside are very important for patient outcomes,” she said.

“But they want to be able to demonstrate through scientific data on a large scale to people that might be more skeptical, namely policy-makers and other managers.”

QNU secretary Beth Mohle said a lack of nurse to patient ratios in Queensland was putting patients at risk.

“Most Queenslanders would be unaware there are currently no rules in place to govern how many patients can be allocated to a single nurse,” she said.

Homeowner with mesothelioma brings landmark case against Commonwealth over asbestos in his roof [ABC - 1/12/14]

Exposure to asbestos takes its toll on Rockhampton man 40 years on [Morning Bulletin - 1/12/14]

New dad stumped by $192 fee for sleeping overnight at St Vincents Hospital [Chronicle - 1/12/14]

... In addition to supporting my family, I guess my presence there would have also helped the maternity ward staff, who may have been called on more for help had I not been there.

So I was surprised when I checked out that I was handed a bill for a little under $200 for the privilege of sleeping overnight during our stay.

...

Che Guevara’s daughter: ‘Ebola is beyond poverty, health cannot be marketed’ [RT - 30/11/14]

The European Parliament has awarded Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The gynecologist helps the victims of rape in conflict zones. ... [Deutsche Welle - 30/11/14]

STDs and the overseas traveller [NCBI]:

Rowbottom J.

Abstract

Although most HIV and STD patients acquire their infections in Australia there is an increase in the numbers diagnosed with these infections after international travel. Risks to the sexual health of the travellers and their subsequent partners are discussed and suggestions made for minimising risks.

... According to the foundation's statistics, one in four of these girls in Kuta is HIV-positive.

"Lots of these women are supporting family or it's time to pay the rent or they've got to pay off the motorbike so they'll take risks," Ms Rowe says. "Or they've had 10 guys that night and can't be bothered to go through the whole negotiation thing and will have unprotected sex. It can be quite exhausting for them, especially if the guy is drunk and doesn't want to listen." ... [West Australian - 12/5/12]

Pedestrian hit in the face with rogue car tyre

Sunshine Coast Daily [3/12/14]:

An ambulance has been called to Nicklin Way after a rogue car tyre hit a pedestrian in the face.

Initial report suggest a four-wheel-drive tyre came off its rim and struck the pedestrian at the corner of Nicklin Way and Point Cartwright Drive just before 1.30pm.

Emergency services are on their way to treat the male pedestrian who has suffered facial lacerations.

...

Great Victorian Bike Ride participant killed in truck crash at Mansfield

ABC [3/12/14]:

A cyclist taking part in the Great Victorian Bike Ride has been killed in a crash near Mansfield, in the state's north east.

Police said the rider died after being hit by a truck on the Mansfield Whitfield road at Barwhite at about 11am.

Around 4,000 cyclists are taking part in this year's event, which is due to finish in Melbourne next week.

LNP’s South Galilee mine approval wrong on every level

Lock The Gate [3/12/14]:

While the world moves on from fossil fuels, the State Government continues to stick its collective heads in the sand with the approval of the South Galilee mine in Central Queensland.

The Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney’s media release talks up another coal mine as a good thing for Queensland, despite its negative impacts on the economy, the environment, food lands, water resources, air quality and communities.

“The LNP government, just like coal mining has had its day and Queenslanders are ready to move on to something more progressive,” said Lock the Gate President, Drew Hutton.

The Australia Institute research, based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data, has found:

Coal mining is one of the smallest employers in the Queensland economy – employing only 1.2 per cent - despite what the government and the industry claim;

The Queensland Government regularly over-estimates coal royalties with them making up only about 4 per cent of revenue in the 2013-2014 financial year;

Coal mining takes jobs from manufacturing industries and it enjoys generous taxpayer support through subsidies;

In Queensland, 80 per cent of coal mining is foreign-owned so 80 per cent of profits do not stay in Australia.

“Mr Seeney considers quicker approvals of more coal mines a good thing, when all the available evidence suggests otherwise,” Mr Hutton said. “Queensland taxpayers will be paying for the damage done by this government’s blind enthusiasm for mines for decades to come.”

Link to The Australia Institute report: http://www.tai.org.au/content/mouse-roars-coal-queensland-economy

Palmer United kills off higher education "reforms"

PUP Media Release [3/12/14]:

Senator Glenn Lazarus and colleague Senator Dio Wang have used their balance of power in the Senate to kill off the government’s proposed higher education reforms.

Senator Lazarus said he was “absolutely delighted” with the result.

“I consulted with universities and student union groups in Queensland and spoke with stakeholders across Australia and the feedback was unanimous – Australians don’t want to pay more for higher education.

The Abbott Government tried to sweeten the deal by offering inducements and other concessions but Palmer United stood firm and did not bulge. No amount of texting, chocolates and red roses from Christopher Pyne could have changed my mind. The Abbott Government’s higher education reforms were bad to the core.

This is a win for all Australians. This is a win for all universities. As a country, we need to be building our capacity to innovate, create, invent and lead. Educating our people will support our nation to achieve this. We need to invest in being a smart country.

Every Australian needs and deserves access to quality education.

As the Leader of Palmer United in the Senate, as a Senator for Queensland and as a father, I am proud to have killed off the Abbott Government’s nasty higher education reforms. Australia will sleep better tonight and I will sleep better tonight knowing that I have helped this country to maintain our commitment to higher education.”

Greens bill to boost terror law oversight

Greens Media Release [3/12/14]:

Australian Greens spokesperson for legal affairs Senator Penny Wright will today introduce a new Bill to increase the powers of the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor.

Earlier this year, the Abbott Government was defeated in its bid to scrap the Monitor - which plays a crucial role in assessing counter-terrorism laws - but the position remains vacant and unfunded.

"The position has been vacant since April, while bill after bill has been rushed through Parliament without proper scrutiny," Senator Wright said.

"These draconian national security laws affect how every Australian goes about their daily lives and undermine the rights and freedoms that sustain our democracy.

"My Bill will ensure there is independent, expert advice about Australia's counter-terrorism laws and that this advice can't be ignored."

Senator Wright's Private Senator's Bill to amend the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Act will:

• give the Monitor powers to review proposed legislation, as well as existing, national security legislation;

• make it clear that the Monitor is required to consider whether Australia's national security legislation is a proportionate response to the national security threat faced;

• ensure that the position of Monitor is a full time position, cannot be left vacant and is supported by appropriate staff;

• allow the Australian Human Rights Commission and Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to refer matters to the Monitor for inquiry; and

• ensure all reports are given due consideration by requiring all reports to be tabled in Parliament and that the Government responds to the recommendations within six months.

"In times of heightened security, civil liberties and human rights are more important than ever - and that is why we need an active and well-resourced Independent Monitor.

"The Australian Greens know it's important we can find and prosecute those who commit terrorist activities, but we do not accept that the rights and freedoms of Australians should be drastically eroded in the process."

They are highly secretive orders giving police the power to detain you for up to two weeks without charge. Once released, no one is allowed to know anything about your ordeal.

Three Sydney men still don't know why they became the first people in Australia to be detained under extraordinary Preventative Detention Orders for thwarting a suspected imminent terrorist attack. ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 3/12/14]

Australia's Immigration Minister a liar and a torturer

Pregnant refugees left in sun, denied food and water, removed with force: advocates [ABC - 3/12/14]:

... In a statement, a spokesperson for Mr Morrison described the claims as malicious.

"Health and welfare of the individuals was monitored throughout this incident," the spokesperson said.

"The individuals involved had access to food, water and amenities, and the Department and service providers facilitated access to toilets and health professionals."

The Minister confirmed both family groups were currently at Wickham Point detention facility.

Mr Morrison claimed both women went to the detention centre voluntarily.

"The Minister was advised at no time were the individuals told they would be accommodated in the community," the spokesperson said.

...

Prosecutors at the international war crimes court asked for Serbian nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj, released for cancer treatment, to be returned to custody after his hardline rhetoric sparked anger. ... [Balkan Insight - 1/12/14]

... What I do know is with no training, and at 22 years old, I was hired by the Salvation Army and flown overseas within two days of applying for a job via Facebook. I was then thrown into a system that I consider went out of its way to intentionally degrade and inflict misery on people to force them to return to their homeland.

It is as simple as that. ...

Nicole Judge

Death and abuse of asylum seekers in Australia's name must stop [Sydney Morning Herald - 3/12/14]

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) and the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) have echoed the concerns of the United Nations Committee on Torture, which has slammed Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. ... [Lawyers Weekly - 1/12/14]

The European Union’s Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that refugees claiming asylum on the ground of homosexuality should not have to undergo tests and detailed questioning about their sexual practice in order to prove their orientation. ... [Sputnik News - 2/12/14]

EU Court Rules US Soldier Can Claim Asylum in Germany to Avoid Prosecution [Sputnik News - 11/11/14]

The Australian government and ALP "opposition" are torturing people

On Monday, both pregnant women fainted after the bus was intentionally allowed to heat up.

Adnan Shirwani, 36, with his 6-months-pregnant wife Maryam, 33, from the Kurdistan region of Iran. They spent one year in the detention centre and were given refugee status and released to the community based camp in June 2014. ...

Photographed by Vlad Sokhin, October 2014

Nauru: Dream Turned Nightmare for Boat Refugees Seeking Asylum in Australia [RIA Novosti - 2/11/14]:

Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [3/12/14]:

Information from the families of the pregnant women who refused to leave the bus in Darwin after being brought from Nauru to Australia has revealed a shocking story of trickery and abuse.

Contrary to earlier information, the two pregnant women were dragged off the bus between 5.30 and 6pm on Monday afternoon. Adnan, whose wife was on the bus, was physically restrained by four guards as his wife was taken off the bus.

Adnan has appealed for the immigration department to release the families or return them to Nauru. He told the Refugee Action Coalition, “All we want is to accommodation in the community, or send us to Nauru to be free. My wife is suffering physically, psychologically and emotionally. She is distraught. This move [to Australia] is destroying my family. My wife is not prepared for the birth like this. Even though there are no facilities on Nauru, we are better prepared for the baby.

“The past three days has been worse than the last seven months.”

Adnan’s wife, Maryam, has endured abdominal pain (at one time being administered morphine) for almost six weeks before she was transferred to Australia. On Nauru, they were repeatedly told that in Australia, they would be accommodated ‘in the community or a hotel’.

Adnan also revealed that Serco and immigration had intentionally turned off the air-conditioning, allowing the bus to overheat up as they tried to force them off the bus.

On Monday, both pregnant women fainted after the bus was intentionally allowed to heat up. Hussein, the husband of the other pregnant woman collapsed and was taken to the medical centre in the detention centre.

After being taken from the bus, Maryam spent a day in the detention centre, separated from her husband and son, Amir. The family was reunited in Wickham Point last night (Tuesday night).

Adnan also revealed that the Australian government deliberately transported the families to Australia without travel documents. On arrival in Darwin, they were told they had arrived in Australia illegally and that they would be placed in immigration detention.

“The treatment of these families has been callous in the extreme. There needs to be a full and independent investigation of what has happened to the families brought from Nauru. Two pregnant refugee women brought from Nauru to give birth have been shockingly treated, “ said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“To leave them on the bus and allow it to overheat has endangered the welfare of the mothers and the babies they are carrying. The Minister must immediately release the families.”

... we have effectively stopped the boats ...

Senate Hansard [2/12/14]:

Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (14:13): My question is to the minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Cash. Minister, why were two pregnant mothers, who are now in immigration detention in Darwin after spending more than three days detained on a bus, brought to Australia from the Nauruan community where they had been residing on valid refugee visas?

Senator CASH (Western Australia—Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (14:14): I have to say it is an absolute delight to have a question from Senator Hanson-Young, because I actually thought she had been benched for some time. It is good to know, Senator Hanson-Young, that you are back in the fray and you are back off the bench—which is great.

Senator Hanson-Young: I was saving up for this point.

Senator CASH: And you are back off track—well, you had never been on track. It is little hard to get off track when you have never been on track.

The PRESIDENT: To the answer, Minister.

Senator CASH: I can advise the Senate as follows. I can confirm that there was an incident that occurred at the Blaydin Point APOD following the medical transfer from Nauru. For a period of time, the two family groups were refusing to exit the transfer bus and take up their planned accommodation at the Blaydin facility. The incident has now been resolved with all individuals now settled in appropriate accommodation in Darwin.

The women and their families were temporarily transferred to Australia—to respond directly to Senator Hanson-Young's question—for medical purposes. The families hold Nauruan visas and have been settled in that country. They do not hold an Australia visa. The families were informed by their case manager that they would be detained while in Australia. The information was provided to them prior to their medical transfer from Nauru.

Two IHMS midwives have been monitoring the women, and staff continue to engage with the individuals and provide appropriate support and services. So—to answer Senator Hanson-Young's question—they have been transferred to Australia for medical assistance, which we are giving them.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (14:15): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I put to the minister that immigration detention is not an appropriate place for women who are soon to expect their babies. What visas were the two women brought to Australia on? Can the minister confirm that the immigration department cancelled these visas? If so, why and when?

Senator CASH (Western Australia—Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (14:16): Again, I have to say, if only Senator Hanson-Young had shown so much passion when the 1,200 people died at sea as a result of the policies that her party supported for in excess of six years—

Honourable senators interjecting—

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock. Order! Order on my right! Senator Milne, a point of order?

Senator Milne: Thank you, Mr President. There was a specific question about the nature of the visa and the time at which the visa was cancelled. I would ask the minister to answer the question.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Milne. I remind the minister of the question. Minister, you have 43 seconds in which to answer the question.

Senator CASH: I have to say, if Senator Hanson-Young had actually listened to the answer I gave to the first question, she would have heard me say: the families hold valid Nauruan visas and have been settled in that country; they do not hold an Australian visa.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (14:17): Mr President, I ask a final supplementary question. The women would have been brought to Australia on a visa, thus the reason they are allowed to be brought into the country. If so, when was this visa issued? When was it cancelled? What type of visa was it? Furthermore, can the minister confirm why these women are being held in immigration detention when legally there is no basis for it? Immigration detention is only for the purposes of deportation or issuing a visa.

Senator CASH (Western Australia—Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (14:17): Again, Senator Hanson-Young has watched one too many episodes of Sea Patrol; a little bit of knowledge can sometimes be quite dangerous. Senator Hanson-Young, they were transferred to Australia. Being found to be refugees by Nauru does not affect their status as unauthorised maritime arrivals in Australia, which is why there is the approach of detaining the families until they are returned to Nauru. Senator Hanson-Young, you may not like the processes that this government follows, but—given that we have effectively stopped the boats, given that we have stopped the drownings at sea, given that, unlike Senator Hanson-Young and the government she supported, we are taking action to get children out of detention—I will stand by our policies every time.

(Time expired)

Asylum bill faces Senate defeat, ALP purloins Palmer's refugee demands [Guardian - 3/12/14]:

... After negotiating with Palmer, Morrison provided a set of amendments, which are understood not to meet Palmer’s concerns. As the debate began, Labor senator Claire Moore said Labor would press to “turn the imagined pathway to permanence into a real one, a temporary visa valid for five years”. ...

Blame the Coalition, ALP and media propagandists - not Palmer - for Australia's fascist refugee policies.

Government tells asylum seekers they will receive only temporary protection in Australia, even though legislation to establish the visas has yet to pass. [Guardian - 3/12/14]

... Immigration minister Scott Morrison won agreement with the Palmer United party on the legislation, but Clive Palmer has since argued the government reneged on the deal, by putting into the legislation “a lot more than we ever agreed”. ...

Compare and contrast.

Propaganda: "Smugglers' Paradise" [ABC - Four Corners - 7/8/12]

Journalism: Migrant death ships: 'We have to do the rescue' - UK Greens [VIDEO - Channel 4 - 2/12/14]

Giving "Our Man In Brisbane" Bill O'Chee a column in the Fairfax media?

Rubbish.

Our Man in Brisbane: Bill O'Chee: Stratfor's prolific Australian source [WikiLeaks - 29/2/12]

Ex-senator named by WikiLeaks [Sydney Morning Herald - 1/3/12]

Brisbane house destroyed in arson attack

Yahoo [3/12/14]:

Police are asking for help to catch a person who deliberately started a fire at a Queensland home where two women and three children were sleeping.

The people in the house in Bellemere, north of Brisbane, were awoken by a smoke alarm the early hours of November 24, and found a fire in the main living room.

No one was injured, but police say the house was completely destroyed.

Investigators have found the fire was deliberately lit, and police have called for anyone with information to come forward.

Feel safe Queensland?: Police charge 14-year-olds with armed robbery

QPS Media [3/12/14]:

Police have charged two youths following an armed robbery that occurred in Molendinar on Monday. Around 7.20pm, a woman was walking along Crestwood Drive when she was approached by a girl asking for assistance.

The woman attempted to help the girl following her into parkland nearby. A boy in the park has then approached the woman and demanded her phone. When the woman complied the pair both fled the scene on foot.

The woman was not physically injured as a result of the incident.

A 14-year-old Southport girl and a 14-year-old Molendinar boy have been charged with one count each of armed robbery in company. They will be dealt with under the provisions of the Youth Justices 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.

Teen in custody after scooter pursuit

West Australian [3/12/14]:

A teenager was taken into police custody after a pursuit incident in Cannington last night.

It is alleged the 17-year-old boy was riding an unregistered scooter with a false numberplate when he failed to stop for police.

Police said the alleged incident happened just before 11pm around George Street West and Albany Highway.

Man refused bail to attend funeral

North West Star [2/12/14]:

A Mornington Island man alleged to have been armed with a spear was refused bail to attend his grandmother’s funeral.

Shane Roughsey appeared at the Mount Isa Magistrates Court by video link from Mornington Island.

He faces charges of being armed with a weapon, and failing to surrender into the custody of the Mornington Island Court.

Solicitor Warren Hunter urged his client be released on bail on compassionate grounds because his grandmother’s funeral was today.

An application for bail could be granted under “strict conditions” before returning to his next court mention later this month.

The court heard the defendant’s grandmother died two weeks ago in Townsville. The family agreed not to drink or fight before the funeral and were unhappy with Mr Roughsey’s predicament.

Magistrate Rod Madsen denied bail and said Mr Roughsey should have listened to his family’s advice.

Mr Roughsey had an “unacceptable risk” of failing to appear at court and in committing further offences.

The matter was adjourned to December 15.

Attorney General fails to address human rights issues over detention of four Aboriginal men with cognitive impairment

Greens Media Release [2/12/14]:

The Australian Greens said today that the Attorney General has totally failed to address serious findings made by the Australian Human Rights Commission against the Commonwealth in regards to the detention of four Aboriginal men with cognitive impairment.

The Commission's report into the complaints, along with the Attorney General's inadequate response was tabled in the Senate today.

"The Australian Human Rights Commission has found that the Commonwealth has failed to work with the Northern Territory Government to provide suitable accommodation and support services for the four complainants," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues said today.

"All four complainants were detained in the maximum security Alice Springs Correctional Centre, two of them remain there and two were only moved to a secure care facility after spending six and four and a half years there respectively.

"By failing to act, the AHRC has stated that the Government has not met their obligation under international law to act, and that this is contrary to or inconsistent with the complainants' rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"These are serious findings that highlight the fact that people with intellectual disability and cognitive impairment, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, are being unfairly detained in prisons across the country. This has to end, the Commonwealth has a responsibility to lead the States and Territories on this issue and ensure that people with an intellectual disability or cognitive impairment are not held indefinitely in custody.

"In response to this report, the Attorney General has done nothing other than attack the Australian Human Rights Commission and refuse to even discuss their recommendations. This is a disgraceful display from a senior Government Minister and shows total disregard for those people being denied justice in our prisons.

"The Commission have called on the Government to ensure the two complainants who remain in maximum security prison are placed in suitable accommodation, and have made a number of wider, systemic recommendations that the Commonwealth work with the NT Government to ensure people with cognitive impairment are supported.

"The Government has a clear obligation to protect the human rights of all Australians, but this obligation is being ignored. I call on the Government to accept and enact the AHRC's recommendations as a matter of urgency," Senator Siewert concluded.

...

Man surrenders to officers after Cleveland siege

ABC [3/12/14]:

A man who was locked inside a unit after making threats has surrendered to police early this morning on Brisbane's bayside.

Police declared an emergency situation on Tuesday afternoon after the man began making threats at a unit complex in Passage Street at Cleveland.

Some neighbouring residents were forced to stay with family and friends overnight while police continued to negotiate with the man.

Inspector Joe Jaramazovic said the 42-year-old man surrendered peacefully to officers about 3.30am (AEST) and remains in police custody.

...

United States continue bombing Iraq, Syria

Centcom [1/12/14]:

U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria Nov. 28-Dec. 1 using fighter, bomber and remotely-piloted aircraft to conduct 27 airstrikes. Separately, U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted 28 airstrikes in Iraq Nov. 28 - Dec. 1 using attack, fighter, and remotely-piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.

In Syria, 17 airstrikes near Kobani destroyed two ISIL-occupied buildings, three ISIL tanks, three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL armored personnel carrier, three ISIL vehicles and two ISIL staging areas, and also struck seven tactical ISIL units. The airstrikes also targeted six ISIL fighting positions and damaged an ISIL-occupied building. Near Ar Raqqah, nine airstrikes struck an ISIL electronic warfare garrison, an ISIL military garrison, an ISIL headquarters, an ISIL jamming system, an ISIL tank and 14 ISIL vehicles. Near Aleppo, a U.S. airstrike struck a target associated with a network of veteran al Qa'ida operatives, sometimes called the "Khorasan Group."

In Iraq, 13 airstrikes near Mosul destroyed four tactical ISIL units, two large ISIL units, two fighting positions, three armored vehicles, seven vehicles, two ISIL trucks and a bulldozer. Additionally, these airstrikes destroyed heavy weapons to include two heavy machine guns, a mortar position and an anti-aircraft artillery emplacement as well as an ISIL-occupied building and a tunnel entrance. Near Sinjar, an airstrike destroyed two ISIL-occupied buildings.

Near Tal Afar, five airstrikes destroyed 19 ISIL vehicles, two ISIL bunkers, an ISIL compound and struck a tactical ISIL unit. Near Hit, three airstrikes destroyed an ISIL checkpoint, an ISIL bunker, and an excavator and struck a tactical ISIL unit and also damaged another ISIL checkpoint. Near Tal Talab, two airstrikes destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and struck a tactical ISIL unit. Near Tirkrit, two airstrikes destroyed three ISIL vehicles and struck two large ISIL units. Near Kirkuk, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL vehicle. Near Ramadi, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL vehicle and struck a tactical ISIL unit.

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

...

Pilot Killed In F-16 Crash In Middle East [Centcom - 1/12/14]

Syria-Turkey border safe zone: US, Murdoch equally want war, equally hate refugees - disagree how to stage WW3 [Hurriyet Daily News - 2/12/14]

Gazprom to build new 63 bcm Black Sea pipeline to Turkey instead of S. Stream [RT - 2/12/14]

Pakistan airstrikes and ground fire kill 24

Daily Star [2/12/14]:

The Pakistan military said Tuesday it had killed at least 24 militants in air strikes and ground fighting in northwestern tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, as part of ongoing offensives in the region.

Air strikes took place in the restive North Waziristan tribal district, where the army launched a major operation in June targeting Taliban and Haqqani network militants.

Ground troops meanwhile traded fire with militants in Khyber agency, where Taliban and Lashkar-e-Islam fighters are based.

"In early morning precise aerial strikes in North Waziristan Agency today 17 terrorists were killed including some foreigners," a senior security official told AFP.

Local intelligence officials confirmed the air strikes and said that those took place near Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan.

"There are five Uzbek and two Haqqani network militants among those who have been killed in air strikes," an intelligence official told AFP.

Separately in Khyber's Tirah valley, a stronghold of Taliban militants, seven militants were killed during a gunfight which erupted after up to 60 militants stormed a security forces check post.

"Seven terrorists were killed in exchange of fire with security forces in Tirah in Khyber Agency. Reportedly about 50-60 terrorists raided a check post in Tirah," a second security official told AFP.

It was not possible to verify the identity or number of casualties as media are currently banned from the area.

Rights groups say the military often exaggerates the number of killed and civilians are often killed too.

The North Waziristan operation began in mid-June, when jets and artillery began targeting rebel strongholds before ground forces moved in.

The army says it has killed more than 1,100 militants and lost more than 100 soldiers since the start of the operation.

An AFP tally based on regular updates from the military puts the militant death toll at more than 1,500, with 125 soldiers killed.

Suspected insider attack leaves 6 Afghan soldiers dead in Badghis Suspected insider attack leaves 6 Afghan soldiers dead in Badghis [Khaama - 2/12/14]

Military Source Denies Presence of British Troops in Lebanon [Naharnet - 2/12/14]

Egypt closes Rafah after stranded Gazans return home

Maan [2/12/14]:

Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after it was open for two days to allow Palestinians stranded in Egypt to return home, a statement said.

The Palestinian department of borders and crossings said in a statement that 554 travelers were allowed to return to Gaza throughout the two days the crossing was open.

Rafah was only open for Palestinians entering Gaza via Egypt, and not vice versa.

Egypt also opened the crossing for two days last week, when some 500 stranded Palestinians were allowed to enter.

Before last Wednesday, the terminal had been closed for more than 30 consecutive days.

The crossing has only been open occasionally and for exceptions since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi, but Egyptian authorities shut it definitively following a deadly attack on Egyptian policeman in the Sinai peninsula.

Palestinians who were in Egypt at the time were unable to return to Gaza, and some were stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing for weeks.

Rafah is the principle connection between Palestinians in Gaza and the outside world, and its regular closure is part of the jointly-enforced Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the tiny territory.

The blockade has led to frequent humanitarian crises and armed conflicts with Israel, and is currently limiting the entry of construction material for the devastated Strip's post-war reconstruction, promised by the international community.

Soldiers fire at undocumented Palestinian workers near Tulkarem [Maan - 2/12/14]

36 dead in quarry attack, Kenya

Daily Star [2/12/14]:

Gunmen killed 36 workers in an attack on a quarry in Kenya's Mandera county, which borders Somalia, Kenyan media reported on Tuesday.

Citizen Television said the 36 workers were killed when suspected al Shabaab militants from Somalia attacked the quarry. The Kenyan Red Cross said the quarry was about 15 km (10 miles) from Mandera town.

Some 28 people were killed in the area last month when al Shabaab militants hijacked a Nairobi-bound bus.

West Papua summit delegates stranded in PNG

RNZI [2/12/14]:

In Vanuatu, the West Papua Unification Meeting has been delayed for a day due to the stranding of over 70 delegates in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

The Chairman of the Unification Meeting Committee Pastor Allan Nafuki says the meeting in Port Vila is delayed until this last group of delegates arrive on an Air Vanuatu flight tomorrow.

Despite denials by the PNG Prime Minister's office that they had offered to charter a plane for the delegates to get to Vila, Vanuatu was of the understanding that PNG's government planned to help transporting the group.

Pastor Nafuki says his committee suspects last minute diplomatic pressure on the part of Jakarta based on its close relationship with PNG forced Waigani to back out of the arrangement.

He says the PNG Government is sending the Prime Minister's private jet with three of its Cabinet Ministers as well as Powes Parkop, the Governor of PNG's National Capital District.

Flooding in France claims five lives

BBC [1/12/14]:

Severe storms continue to batter the western Mediterranean, with damaging winds and torrential downpours.

The latest has brought severe flooding to southern France, where five people have died, and thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes.

,,,

Floods triggered by torrential rains have killed 11 people in Morocco, a week after a storm left 36 dead, a television report said Monday. ... [Naharnet - 2/12/14]

Laminated photo gallery, #UmbrellaRevolution dreamcatcher and other #OccupyCausewayBay decorations. #OccupyHK

Image: @breakandattack [2/12/14]

Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong begins hunger strike to press for political reform [South China Morning Post – 2/12/14]

Police shut down mysterious 'Oath Keepers' guarding rooftops in downtown Ferguson

St. Louis Post-Dispatch [30/11/14]:

Following a night of arson fires and bashed storefronts that hit close to home, Greg Hildebrand stood naked Tuesday, drying off from a needed shower, when he noticed somebody on the rooftop.

“I opened the window and said, ‘Hey, can I help you?’” said Hildebrand, 35, a website developer.

The man said he was security and would be up there at night with others to protect the pocket of second-story apartments and lower-level storefronts near the Ferguson Police Department. A day earlier, rioters had broken out windows below Hildebrand’s apartment in the 100 block of South Florissant Road and torched a nearby beauty supply store.

“I am in the middle of a difficult spot,” Hildebrand said. “I feel a lot better having those guys up on the roof.”

But he wasn’t clear exactly who “those guys” were or where they came from.

Puzzled and alarmed protesters have wondered, too — some accusing the mysterious guards in military fatigues of being in the Ku Klux Klan.

In fact, they are volunteers affiliated with a 35,000-member national organization called Oath Keepers. Yale Law School graduate and libertarian Stewart Rhodes said by telephone from Montana that he founded the group in 2009 to protect constitutional rights, including those of protesters confronted by what he described as overly militarized police.

Police questioned group members early in the week and allowed them to stay. But Saturday, after media inquiries, St. Louis County police officers ordered the Oath Keepers to leave the rooftops.

Threatened with arrest for operating without a license, the volunteers argued but eventually left their positions early Saturday, Rhodes said.

“We are going to go back as protesters,” Rhodes said Saturday afternoon.

Rhodes, who said he is Mexican-American, stressed that Oath Keepers is not anti-government. He said the volunteers handling rooftop security in Ferguson were current or former government employees and first responders, many who have intense military, police and EMS training.

“We thought they were going to do it right this time,” Rhodes said of government response to the grand jury decision released Monday in the Michael Brown case. “But when Monday rolled around and they didn’t park the National Guard at these businesses, that’s when we said we have got to do something.

“Historically, the government almost always fails to protect people,” he added.

Justine Sharrock, reporting for Mother Jones magazine in 2010, wrote in an in-depth story about how the group is hard to pin down: “In the months I’ve spent getting to know the Oath Keepers, I’ve toggled between viewing them either as potentially dangerous conspiracy theorists or as crafty intellectuals with the savvy to rally politicians to their side. The answer, I came to realize, is that they cover the whole spectrum.”

In the wake of Monday’s grand jury announcement, Oath Keepers put out a national request to members to help in Ferguson. Volunteers showed up from Nebraska, Texas and Indiana. On Thursday, one volunteer had an “infidel” patch on his Kevlar vest and would say only that he came from “the north.”

They wouldn’t say how many people were part of the effort or exactly where they were placed. But they seemed to be mainly focused on a strip of South Florissant Road two blocks north of the police station that includes a Chinese restaurant, dentist office, bakery and the apartments.

“We were sick in our gut we couldn’t be here sooner,” said John Karriman of Joplin, Mo., a state leader of Oath Keepers who teaches police tactics. “We are here to volunteer our time and make sure everybody stays safe.”

Another leader, who would give only his first name, Sam, described himself as a weapons engineer from the St. Louis area who has done security contracting for the U.S. government. He said he was motivated to help after seeing a CNN story featuring extensive damage to Natalie’s Cake’s & More, which also helped generate thousands of dollars in donations for the small business.

Sam said he contacted owner Natalie Dubose and told her he was going to secure her store and others.

“She started crying,” Sam said.

Oath Keepers boarded up a bunch of the storefronts and started night rotations on several rooftops. Sam said he vetted volunteers to ensure there weren’t any “racists” or “people with an ax to grind.” He said he picked volunteers who “have seen the elephant and are calm under fire.”

Fearing more arsonists, Oath Keeper volunteers kept buckets of water, fire extinguishers and other nonlethal weapons on the rooftops. Some are also armed with rifles that aren’t available at Walmart and Cabela’s.

The volunteers said they were well aware of the risk to life that arson can play and the legal right to stop it from happening.

Group volunteers say they are confident they have helped protect property and lives since they arrived.

Victor Clark, a dentist at Ferguson Dental on South Florissant Road, said he was happy to have the Oath Keepers’ free assistance. He wants to reopen his business soon. On Monday, rioters shattered the front door and window, and stole dental needles and anesthetic.

Then Oath Keepers showed up out of the blue. “We gave them our keys,” he said. “We didn’t know that much about them, but we got a feeling of trust. You have to do something to protect our building.”

A violent confrontation between hardcore groups of Spanish soccer fans – known as ultras – left a 43-year-old man dead and many more injured in Madrid on Sunday morning. ... [El Pais - 1/12/14]

Militarised policing more a threat to Queenslanders than any alleged siege

ABC [2/12/14]:

Police are negotiating with a man allegedly making threats at a home on Brisbane's bayside.

Police have declared an emergent situation under the Public Safety Preservation Act (PSPA) after being called to an incident at a unit block on Passage Street in Cleveland about 1:50pm (AEST).

The emergency declaration began at 3:04pm.

It applies to Passage Street, between Middle Street and Queen Street.

Police are currently negotiating with a male person and specialist police are on scene.

Traffic disruptions are minimal but motorist are urged to avoid the area.

...

They said a police tactical response team arrived at the scene about 6:00pm.

This is the third emergency situation declared by Queensland Police since Saturday.

The first was made at Inala in south Brisbane where an armed man kept police at bay for almost 24 hours before surrendering peacefully.

The second at Deception Bay was made on Sunday afternoon involving a man armed with a gun inside a house.

He was later found dead.

... Residents said the unmarked forensic van was similar to a van used when police found the body of a 50-year-old man in the building in May. ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 2/12/14]

Men accused of affray after table tipped over at Broadbeach tapas bar to stand trial in May next year

Yahoo [2/12/14]:

Twenty-three bikies accused of a violent brawl that sparked Queensland's tough anti-gang laws will stand trial in May next year.

The trial had been due to start in September but was delisted when new evidence emerged about the incident.

The brawl, which allegedly involved members of the Bandidos and Finks outlaw motorcycle groups at a restaurant precinct in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast in late 2013, prompted the Newman government to introduce a suite of laws aimed at bikie and other criminal gangs.

The case was mentioned in the Southport Magistrates Court on Tuesday, where it was set down for a five-week trial starting May 4.

Feel safe Queensland? More anti rights arrests:

Detectives from Taskforce Maxima have charged an alleged member of the Highway 61 Criminal Motorcycle Gang after investigations into the damage of a Morningside business last week. ... [QPS Media - 2/12/14]

Following the arrest of 81 people including members of the Rebels Criminal Motorcycle Gang last week, Taskforce Maxima continue to take enforcement action. ... [QPS Media - 2/12/14]

Six people have been charged and drugs, cash and stolen property seized following separate raids targeting Criminal Motorcycle Gang (CMG) participants and their networks at the weekend. ... [QPS Media - 1/12/14]

Queensland Police officer counselled for not taking racially motivated assault seriously [ABC - 2/12/14]

Accused Valley rapist fled because of visa concerns: lawyer [Brisbane Times - 2/12/14]:

... The accused then allegedly sprinted from the scene, with other witnesses unable to catch up to him.

However the man's lawyer, Samantha Breach, told the court he spoke little English and fled because he feared his bridging visa could be cancelled if he was questioned by authorities.

Ms Breach said her client had "serious concerns" about the evidence put forward by police.

"All he did was try to lift her leg to move her on to the pavement. These allegations have arisen without his awareness as to what he did wrong," Ms Breach said.

...

Good ol' boys steal firearms, Cedar Creek

QPS Media [2/12/14]:

Police are investigating the break and enter and theft of firearms from a home at Cedar Creek yesterday.

Around 10am, an unknown number of people gained entry to a home on Quinzeh Creek Road.

Upon entering the house, a set of keys to a gun safe were removed which were then used to gain entry to the safe.

Six firearms were removed from the safe and have yet to be recovered.

They include a rimfire rifle, a shot gun and four centre fire rifles.

All are registered and have serial numbers.

A suspected stolen blue 1993 Holden Commodore utility with Queensland registration 533FMK was seen leaving the address.

Stolen firearm details ...

Fatal traffic crash, Nanango

QPS Media [2/12/14]:

Police are investigating a fatal traffic crash at Nanango yesterday morning.

Initial investigations suggest that around 9.15am a motorcycle collided with an advertising sign on the D’Aguilar Highway near Nanango.

A man believed to be in his twenties was treated at the scene by paramedics from the Queensland Ambulance Service before being taken to Nanango Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.

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

Fatal traffic crash, Mudgeeraba

QPS Media [1/12/14]:

Police are investigating a fatal traffic crash that occurred this afternoon in Mudgeeraba.

Around 4.20pm, a vehicle was travelling east along Gold Coast Springbrook Road when it lost control and struck a tree.

The single occupant of the vehicle, a 54-year-old woman, was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The Forensic Crash Unit continue to investigate.

Department of Environment investigates Cairns fish kill

ABC [2/12/14]:

Fish deaths in far north Queensland could have been caused by vehicle run-off from recent rains, according to a local farmer.

The Environment Department is investigating what is behind the death of hundreds of large fish, found floating on the surface of Saltwater Creek in Cairns on Sunday.

Yorkeys Knob farmer Andrew Herrington said water sampling by the former Environmental Protection Authority after similar events in the past showed fish deaths to be a by-product of oxygen-deprived pooled water and run-off flushed into creeks.

"It happens unfortunately way too frequently for my tastes, pretty much after every extended dry spell," he said.

Mr Herrington said there was a "massive fish kill" last year.

"I haven't seen evidence of it yet in the creek around the farm but I'm expecting in the very near future I will again be finding dead barra and eel-tailed gudgeons and snake-headed gudgeons and so on floating around.

"A lot of the run-off is caused by vehicles on the road after an extended dry period.

"The rubber compounds from the tyres, all the oil that drips off people's dirty old cars and so on washes off into the creeks so you have that oil-slick type rainbow on top of the water."

Isaac Regional Council apologises for yucky water

Daily Mercury [1/12/14]:

Every year the water quality in Dysart drops dramatically and this year is no different.

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said with the warmer weather arriving residents' tap water, began to smell and "taste like dirt".

"The sunlight gets into the dams and the algae blooms, so then you get the bad taste, it tastes like dirt, as if there's raw clay in the water," he said.

"It's not as bad as last year, I know that last year was a pretty bad year for it."

The long-term resident said Isaac Regional Council had spent "a fortune" trying to rectify the problem, spending money on upgrading the water treatment plant.

"I've lived in Dysart for the past 26 years, (and) probably since 2003, the water every summer has been terrible," the resident said.

Isaac Regional Council is investigating the complaints and is urging all residents to contact them about any problems, so water sampling can be conducted.

Mayor Anne Baker said Dysart residents may have experienced a change in the aesthetic of their water due to a short-term issue in the PAC (Powdered Activated Carbon) system.

"Council apologises for any inconvenience caused and assures residents that water quality in Dysart meets the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines," she said.

The council has received 10 formal complaints from residents about the issue.

"Isaac Regional Council has made several upgrades to Dysart's water supply network and is carrying out a comprehensive five-phase plan at Dysart's Water Treatment Plant to improve water supply prior to the summer season," Cr Baker said.

"Council is implementing five capital projects to improve Dysart water quality, including installing 'real time online instrumentation' to detect changes in raw water quality."

Cr Baker said Dysart's raw water experienced blue green algae blooms in summer, which required enhanced treatment that would be an ongoing process for the foreseeable future.

Batch of the drug ice leaves Victorians fighting for life

The Age [1/12/14]:

A batch of the drug ice has left three Victorian men fighting for their lives and another seriously ill in hospitals in Melbourne and country Victoria, police say.

Police confirmed it was a batch of methamphetamine, known as ice, that triggered a severe respiratory reaction that caused four men to be hospitalised. Friends of the men have also suffered similar, but less severe, symptoms.

Clandestine Laboratory Squad investigators were told two men who smoked or ingested the drug went to the Monash Medical Centre on November 19 with respiratory problems.

The men, aged 26 and 24 from Melbourne's south-eastern suburbs, are now in intensive care.

Two other men, both aged 21, presented at the Bairnsdale Hospital in Gippsland last week. One of these men is in intensive care at The Alfred while the other is in a stable condition at the Sale Hospital.

A spokesman for the family of the 21-year-old, known as Mitch, who is in intensive care in The Alfred told Channel 7 that it was "devastating".

"Mitchell's just a normal 21-year-old. This was a bad choice, there's no second chances with this drug," Neil Dunbar said.

The television station is reporting the drug was mixed with weed killer.

All four men who have been hospitalised know each other and detectives say a number of their associates also experienced similar symptoms such as a cough that lasts for days, shortness of breath, chest pains and fever.

Detectives are asking for these associates and anyone with information to come forward to help uncover links between the cases.

A sample of the batch has been provided anonymously to one of the hospitals and police are testing the substance.

"It is a timely reminder for anyone who believes there is a 'good batch' or 'bad batch' of any drug to think again and remember that you gamble with your life every time you choose to use an illegal substance," a Victoria Police spokeswoman said.

"Sadly this highlights the dangers of illicit substances and the fact that you just don't know what you are putting into your body."

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at www.crimestoppers.com.au.

The Coalition and ALP are responsible for Australia's fascist refugee policies.

They're the ones to lobby (or better still, remove from parliament) not crossbenchers.

 

Australian Operation Sovereign Borders personnel told asylum seekers: Fuck your mothers ... fuck your family ...

ABC, Law Report [AUDIO - 22/7/14]:

Australia's tough stand on asylum seekers has stopped the "people smuggling trade". But where does this leave asylum seekers in Indonesia?

Journalist Andrew Dodd, reporting for The Law Report, travelled to Java to find out.

He spoke to asylum seekers who make a number of claims, including verbal abuse by Australian boat crews who fished them out of the water.

...

The Federal Government has been criticised for refusing to divert ships and aircraft to search for the bodies of dozens of asylum seekers believed to have drowned off Christmas Island. ... [ABC - 11/6/13]

SBS [10/6/13]:

A former Australian ambassador wants a coronial inquiry into the response of the border protection service to the latest asylum seeker tragedy off Christmas Island.

Tony Kevin, a former ambassador to Poland and Cambodia, has criticised the response times of Australian ships in previous rescues of asylum seekers.

Thirteen asylum seekers are dead and dozens more missing after their boat capsized near Christmas Island.

Fairfax Media says Mr Kevin believes quicker action by the border protection service may have saved lives.

"I contend that if they'd taken prompt interception or assistance action by a surface vessel on Wednesday afternoon, those 55 people would still be alive," he said.

A three-day search for survivors was called off late on Sunday night without a single person recovered from the water.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said when the boat was first spotted at about about 5.45pm (AEST) on Wednesday it had been stationary but did not appear in distress.

And it is understood the Australian authorities did not receive a distress call.

Former diplomat and author of "Reluctant Rescuers" and "A Certain Maritime Incident", Tony Kevin, has contributed an article that argues for high and consistent rescue-at-sea protocols and raises more questions about Australia's record in rescuing asylum seekers at sea. [Refugee Council of Australia - April, 2013 -PDF]

Turkish coast guard rescues more than 100 migrants in two days

Todays Zaman [1/12/14]:

Between Nov. 29 and 30, 105 undocumented migrants transiting through Turkey by way of boat were rescued in the Aegean Sea, according to statements from the coast guard.

Over the weekend, there have been five incidents in which the coast guard intervened in some way with undocumented migrants traveling by boat.

The first occurred on Saturday when the coast guard was given a tip concerning a sinking boat in the Dikili district of İzmir. A total of 16 undocumented immigrants -- 12 Eritreans and four Syrians -- were rescued as a result of the operation.

According the rescued migrants, after navigating in the Aegean Sea for some time, the rubber of their dinghy had popped and the boat began to sink. One of the migrants sustained a leg injury and received immediate treatment from the paramedics.

Another incident occurred on Sunday in the Bodrum district of the southwestern Muğla province involving a fiberglass boat flying a Turkish flag. The boat was carrying nine male and three female Syrian undocumented migrants.

On the same day, 17 Syrians, 10 Congolese, two Malians and an Angolan were rescued from a boat that had departed from the coast of the Datça district in Muğla. The boat was navigating in the Gulf of Hisarönü when the incident occurred.

Also on Sunday, 30 Syrians and eight Iraqis were rescued in the Didem district of Aydın province.

On the same day, eight Afghanis and one Iranian were also saved in the Ayvacık district of Çanakkale.

Shedding light on Spanish Schindlers

El Pais [1/12/14]:

A new exhibition in Madrid sheds further light on the role played by Spanish diplomats in saving the lives of at least 8,000 Jews in German-occupied Europe during World War II.

Now on display at the Spanish Foreign Ministry’s Santa Cruz palace, Más allá del deber (or, Beyond the call of duty) is the result of two years’ research by historian José Antonio Lisbona, who was given unprecedented access to official files at the direct request of Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo.

It details the work of 18 diplomats, including Ángel Sanz Briz, the Spanish chargé d’affaires to Hungary during the final years of World War II who helped many Jews avoid being deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in mid-1944 after Germany invaded Hungary. In just two months that year, the Germans sent around 424,000 Hungarian Jews to be gassed in the death camp.

The files, which Lisbona was forbidden to share with journalists or other researchers, dispel once and for all the idea that General Francisco Franco played a role in saving Jews from German hands in eastern Europe, although several thousand French Jews were permitted to cross Spain in small groups en route to the United States and Palestine following the German invasion of France in 1940.

“During the years when the Franco regime was isolated internationally, there was an attempt to spread the myth that Franco had directed the operations to save the Jews, when in fact the very opposite was true,” he says.

“These diplomats acted beyond their duty, putting their careers and their lives at risk.”

In many cases, says Lisbona, not even close family members were aware of what they had done, citing the case of former justice minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, who opened the exhibition last week and had not known the role his grandfather played in helping Jews escape deportation in Romania – although that of his great-grandfather, José Rojas y Moreno, was known.

“Their example should be an inspiration, particularly at times like these, when society is looking for moral guidance,” said Margallo at the opening.

Also present at the inauguration was Ana María Canthal, whose father, Fernando Canthal, was the Spanish consul in Milan between 1943 and 1945, and used his close contacts with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to help Jews escape following the German occupation of Italy in late 1943. “It was a huge surprise for me, and I am very proud,” said one of Canthal’s grandchildren who attended the ceremony.

Eduardo Gasset, a nephew of Spanish writer and thinker José Ortega y Gasset, was the consul and chargé d’affaires at the Spanish embassies in Greece and Bulgaria between 1941 and 1944, and used his influence to help prevent the deportation of Sephardic Jews from the Greek city of Salonika. The term Sephardic comes from Sefarad, the old Hebrew name for Spain, and applies to those who could trace their origins to before the expulsion of the country’s Jews in 1492.

“In this country during the Franco era, if you did something good, you were shot, exiled, or forgotten. My father has been forgotten. What these diplomats did was to show that Spaniards, as well as being Cainites, also had something of Quixote in them,” said Gasset’s son José María Gasset at the opening.

Some Spanish diplomats paid for their heroism by losing their jobs: Gasset’s colleague at the Spanish embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, Julio Palencia, was expelled from the country after adopting the two children of a Sephardic Jew, León Arié, who had been murdered by the Germans.

Antonio Zuloaga, the son of the Spanish painter, and the Spanish press attaché in Paris, Vichy and Algiers, helped René Mayer, the man who would be France’s first post-war prime minister, escape.

“But it was a desperate struggle, and often a futile one,” says Lisbona, recounting the case of Bernardo Rolland, the Spanish consul in Paris during the German occupation. He managed to save Daniel Carasso, the owner of yogurt maker Danone, but not his sister Flora, who after marrying a Greek Jew lost her Spanish nationality. She died in the gas chambers.

Addressing the audience at the inauguration – which included the Israeli ambassador, Alon Bar; the president of the Federation of Jewish communities of Spain, Isaac Querub; and the honorary president of the International Alliance for the Memory of the Holocaust, Yehuda Bauer – the Spanish foreign minister said: “Ideologies of hate are coming back, and anti-Semitism is one of these ideologies. No society, including our own, is safe from its effects, and that is why we must always be on our guard.”

Margallo took advantage of the event to say that when Spain takes up its temporary seat on the UN Security Council in January 2015, it would “make every effort” to reach a just and lasting peace based on the recognition of two states: Israel and Palestine.

Más allá del deber. Until December 19 at Palacio de Santa Cruz, Plaza de la Provincia, Madrid. www.exteriores.gob.es

Human smugglers: Exploiters or pioneers of new underground railroad? [Al Jazeera - 30/11/14]

Artist Creates Stunning Data Visualization of the Afghan War Diaries

Webwire [1/12/14]:

Julian Assange’s release of more than 91,000 secret reports covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010 created an international scandal. They became known as the Iraq and Afghanistan War Diaries. The reports targeted the United States military, focusing on the internal numbers of people killed, wounded, and detained in thousands of military actions.

Wall of War is a massive graphic installation, 89’ long and 10’ high, that creates a visual representation of the 463,000 incidents catalogued in the diaries. Usually, these types of wartime reports are held secret for decades. Artist Dylan Halpern, the Virginia Commonwealth University senior who created the installation, became intrigued with the diaries because of the open way that the data was released. He found the accessibility of the content to be fertile ground to explore data visualization and the meaning of the content itself. Out of a deep respect for national security concerns, the data visualization uses only the redacted data set.

Wall of War is a more than a commentary on America’s Global Wars on Terror. It is a critique of the state of data visualization and information graphics today. “A traditional reductionist approach might not adequately reflect the severity, scope, and importance of this data. Because of this, I have chosen a detailed and expansive representation,” says Mr. Halpern. Color gradients move from red (summer) to blue (winter). The intention of the piece is to reflect the feeling of what data on war should be.

The artist hopes that the project will serve as a reminder to the great sacrifices and losses that happened as a result of these conflicts, and the risks generated by releasing this data to the public. “The scale and intense complexity of Wall of War is intended to have a visceral effect on the viewer,” says Mr. Halpern. “It has an element of poignancy. The data interpreted include deaths from air strikes and IED, but also mundane events like depositing a project file.

Wall of War opens on Friday, December 5, from 5 to 9 p.m. at 423 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia. The installation will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 6. The installation is free, open to all audiences, and suitable for children.

The installation was funded through a Kickstarter campaign. The interactive portions of Wall of War were funded through a generous grant from the Robert D. Bielecki Foundation. The installation is available to museums and galleries around the US. The project files will be licensed under Creative Commons non-commercial attribution license, meaning anyone is free to use the files for personal, education, or non-profit design purposes.

Edward Snowden wins Swedish human rights award for NSA revelations [Guardian - 2/11/14]

Government silent as Snowden docs reveal GCHQ access to Ireland’s internet cables [The Journal - 31/11/14]

Kim Dotcom fends off US bid to revoke bail [RNZI - 1/12/14]

These refugees are a direct result of illegal US aggression and war crimes

Syria: UN forced to suspend food aid, warns of 'disastrous' impact as winter nears [UN Media Release - 1/12/14]:

A life-saving programme providing food vouchers to more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees has been suspended due to lack of funds, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today, warning that the move will have a devastating impact on families who are already facing a dire situation as the harsh winter months approach.

“The suspension of WFP food assistance will be disastrous for many already suffering families,” warned WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, in an appeal to donors.

“[This] will endanger the health and safety of these refugees and will potentially cause further tensions, instability and insecurity in the neighbouring host countries,” she added.

Under this programme, destitute Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt have been using WFP vouchers to buy food in local shops. Without these vouchers, many families will simply go hungry.

As it stands now, Syrian refugees in camps and informal settlements throughout the region are ill prepared for yet another harsh winter, especially in Lebanon and Jordan, where many children have no shoes or proper clothing.

Many tents are drenched in mud and hygiene conditions are growing extremely precarious.

Ms. Cousin stressed that WFP's Syria emergency operations are now in critical need of funding as many donor commitments remain unfulfilled.

The programme needs a total of $64 million immediately to support Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries during the month of December.

As soon as funding arrives, WFP will be able to immediately resume aid for refugees who use electronic vouchers to buy food in local shops. Since the start of the operation, WFP's voucher programme has injected about $800 million into the economies of refugee-hosting countries which border Syria.

"We are very concerned about the negative impact these cuts will have on the refugees as well as the countries which host them. These countries have shouldered a heavy burden throughout this crisis," said Muhannad Hadi, WFP Regional Emergency Coordinator for the Syria Crisis.

Since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, WFP has succeeded, despite fighting and problems of access, in meeting the food needs of millions of displaced people inside Syria and up to 1.8 million refugees in the neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

This has been possible because of long-term donor funding for WFP operations and cooperation between WFP staff, partner organizations and host governments in the region. It is critical that this funding and cooperation continue, the agency stressed.

Rescued Syria Refugees Living in Cyprus Limbo [Jakarta Globe - 1/12/14]:

Amr spent three days and nights adrift in the Mediterranean, battered by a storm in a fishing boat crammed with hundreds more Syrian refugees who thought they were going to die.

“We spent days at sea with no food and no water. There were so many people on the boat. We called it the journey of death,” said the 18-year-old.

“But we were also escaping from death. From Syria, from the war.”

Amr, who hails from Homs and gave only his first name, is one of more than 300 Syrians and Palestinians who survived more than three and a half years of civil war before finally deciding in September to flee.

Some paid as much as $8,000 (6,400 euros) each to hitch a ride on an unseaworthy trawler local smugglers claimed would make the treacherous voyage to Italy, and asylum in Europe.

But when the storm hit the smugglers abandoned ship, leaving the refugees to their fate. They were picked up days later by a Cypriot cruise liner and brought to shore.

Of the more than 123,000 people from Syria to have sought asylum in Europe since the war’s outbreak, thousands have done so by attempting the dangerous Mediterranean crossing, many with disastrous consequences.

The United Nations estimates more than 3,000 people have perished on the voyage in 2014 alone.

The 345 men, women and children aboard Amr’s boat know they are lucky to be alive. Most of them now live in a temporary camp in Kokkinotrimithia, just west of Nicosia, sleeping in plastic tents on a site that once served as a British jail.

Although safe for now, the refugees, who set out for western Europe, face a stark choice: apply for asylum in Cyprus or await a transfer elsewhere that might never come.

Many are reluctant to register, as receiving official status in Cyprus could prevent them from joining up with family in other European countries.

“We left with the aim of securing our future,” said Basel Meshal, 17, a Palestinian from Damascus who had been aiming for Germany. “But getting legal papers [in Cyprus] as a refugee is very difficult.”

The island lies just 100 kilometers off the Syrian coast but has not seen a major influx of refugees from the conflict.

Emilia Strovolidou, public information officer in Cyprus for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said around 2,000 Syrians have arrived since 2011.

Of these, just 10 have been granted official refugee status. Several hundred have been granted temporary protection giving them limited rights, while the rest are awaiting decisions on their status.

UNHCR called on Cyprus in July to address “inadequate reception conditions, a significant backlog of asylum applications and the use of detention” for Syrians.

“People fleeing the war in Syria should be granted refugee status,” says Strovolidou. “Only in exceptional cases should they be granted lesser forms of protection.”

Andreas Georgiades, the interior ministry’s assistant coordinator for asylum services, urged those who arrived on the boat to register as refugees.

“It is so much better for them if they officially request protection from us,” he told AFP.

More than 50 children were rescued from the boat, including around 20 who were traveling alone.

Some take weekly English classes at the American Academy Nicosia, with local students and staff volunteering to help run the lessons.

The children vary in age and fluency, with the younger ones scrawling their names in English in the front of their textbooks and teenagers taking turns to describe an old, monochrome photograph held up to the class.

Eva Argyrou, director of studies at the school, says the sessions offer the children a brief reminder of normal life.

“They are getting some vocabulary, they are getting some sentence structure. They are not learning fluent English,” she says.

“They actually need school everyday to keep up their education because if they have a big gap it is going to affect their future.”

Amr still hopes to finish his studies in the Netherlands, where he has family, but fears asylum will be all but forced upon him in Cyprus.

“It’s not what I want — [to] stay here, without a residency, working on farms and living a traditional life,” he says. “It’s not the life I dream of.”

US-led airstrikes target Kobane as ISIS says it captured Canadian-Israeli fighter [Al Akhbar - 1/12/14]:

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters battling for control of the Syrian town of Kobane suffered some of their heaviest losses yet in 24 hours of clashes and US-led airstrikes, monitors said Sunday.

At least 50 jihadists were killed in the embattled border town in suicide bombings, clashes with Kobane's Kurdish defenders and airstrikes, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Canada, meanwhile, said it was "aware of reports" one of its citizens may have been captured in Kobane, reportedly an Israeli-Canadian woman fighting alongside Kurdish forces.

The Britain-based Observatory also said the US-led coalition battling ISIS hit at least 30 targets in and around Raqqa, the jihadist group’s de facto capital.

There were no immediate details of a toll in the Raqqa strikes.

Syrian government strikes on Sunday allegedly killed at least 29 civilians, among them seven women and three children, the group said.

The deaths in Kobane came on Saturday after ISIS launched an unprecedented attack against the border crossing separating the Syrian Kurdish town from Turkey.

Kurdish officials and the Observatory alleged the attack was launched from Turkish soil, a claim the Turkish army dismissed as "lies."

ISIS began advancing on Kobane on September 16, hoping to quickly seize the small frontier town and secure its grip on a large stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border, following advances in Iraq.

ISIS has declared a cross-border Islamic "caliphate" spanning parts of Iraq and Syria.

At one point it looked set to overrun the town, but Kurdish Syrian fighters, backed by US-led coalition airstrikes and an influx of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces, have held ISIS back.

The US-based monitoring group SITE said ISIS claimed a woman described as a "female Zionist soldier" had been captured in Kobane.

Some jihadists said she might be Gill Rosenberg, a Canadian-Israeli dual national who had served in the Israeli Occupation Forces and had volunteered to fight with the Kurds, SITE said.

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman told AFP: "We know nothing about it, but are closely monitoring the information."

...

The only thing as bad as being tortured for months as a captive of jihadists in Syria was dealing with the U.S. government afterward, according to one former American hostage. ... [McClatchy - 28/11/14]

@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [1/12/14]:

Salah-il-deen: The alliance aircrafts have shelled health center in Bueiji village in Beiji.....

Anbar: The civilian homes in Hamudhiya have been shelled by government's aircrafts and anti-aircraft of revolutionaries has responded forcing them to flee....

Nineveh: Tal Areem village - southern east of Mosul-has been shelled by alliance planes and artillery in an attempt to control Gayyara bridge to prevent the supplies from Mosul........

Anbar: The government's forces in Amiriyat Fallujah have siezed aids of 20000 displaced persons from Fallujah including rugs ,blankets ,food and tents demanding the displaced people to leave annoying them and assaulting on women ..........

Anbar: Fallujah Hospital has recieved 5 dead bodies and 9 wounded persons injured in the random and intended bombing of government's army ................

Iraq uncovers 50,000 'ghost soldiers' [Al Jazeera - 30/11/14]

Afghanistan: Suicide attack targets funeral ceremony in Baghlan

Khaama [1/12/14]:

A suicide bomber targeted a funeral ceremony in northern Baghlan province of Afghanistan earlier today.

The incident has reportedly taken place in Burka district where a funeral ceremony was organized for a local tribal elder.

Provincial police chief Amin Amarkhel confirmed the incident and said preliminary reports suggest at least two policemen were killed along with a number of civilians and several others have been injured.

In the meantime, another local official said at least 9 people including 2 policemen and 7 civilians were killed and nearly 20 others were injured following the attack.

No group including the Taliban militants has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

11 Taliban militants were killed and 2 others were injured during military operations by Afghan national security forces in the past 24 hours. ... [Khaama - 1/12/14]

Palestinian woman shot after stabbing Israeli settler

Maan [1/12/14]:

The Israeli army shot and wounded a Palestinian woman on Monday after she stabbed an Israeli settler near a Jewish settlement bloc in the southern West Bank, the Israeli military said.

Palestinian sources identified the woman as 22-year-old Amal Jihad Taqatqa from the nearby town of Beit Fajjar.

The Israeli, said to be a 19-year-old woman, suffered minor injuries in the stabbing at a major crossroads near the Gush Etzion bloc, south of Bethlehem, the army said in a statement.

Israeli police said in an initial statement that the woman was shot after stabbing a soldier.

"Security forces on site overpowered the suspect and transferred her for further medical assistance," the statement said.

Eyewitnesses said a group of Israeli soldiers opened fire heavily at Taqatqa from a distance of around 20 meters.

She was taken to Hadassah hospital, where she is said to be in a critical condition.

Locals in Beit Fajjar told Ma'an that over 30 Israeli military vehicles stormed Beit Fajjar shortly after the incident and ransacked the Taqatqa's home.

Residents: Explosions, Gunfire in Nigeria's Damaturu City

Naharnet [1/12/14]:

Explosions and gunfire rocked the north Nigerian city of Damaturu on Monday, in a suspected Boko Haram attack that targeted police, residents told Agence France Presse.

The sound of blasts and heavy weapons being fired woke locals in the Gujba Road area of the Yobe state capital at about 4:45 am (0345 GMT), said Umar Sada, who lives in the area.

"We have left our homes. We are now in the bush. We don't know what's going to happen," said Sada, who added that a police barracks had been destroyed.

Another local resident, a government official who asked not to be identified, said: "It's chaos all over the town.

"All I can hear is explosions and gunfire from my house. I couldn't go out for morning prayers because this started before dawn and I'm afraid to leave in case I get caught up in it."

The raid came after a suicide bomb and gun attack on the central mosque in the northern city of Kano on Friday which bore all the hallmarks of Boko Haram and left at least 120 people dead.

The militants, who have been waging a five-year rebellion to create a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria, have conducted similar dawn raids and attacked Damaturu before.

On June 18, at least 21 football fans were killed when a bomb exploded as they watched a World Cup finals match at a public viewing centre.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for an October 24 attack on Damaturu, in which four police buildings were attacked with guns and explosives and there was an hours-long gun battle with the security forces.

Thirty people, all thought to be soldiers, were killed.

Yobe was one of three states worst-affected by the violence that was placed under a state of emergency in May 2013.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan last month requested an extension to the special powers but a deadline for its renewal has passed.

Lockdown lifted at US base in South Korea [Daily Star - 1/12/14]

Egypt militant group says it killed US oil worker [Daily Star - 1/12/14]

Bigotry, cruelty empowered by Australia's political and media establishment

ABC [1/12/14]:

Opponents of a planned multi-million-dollar mosque in Bendigo have taken their objections to Victoria's planning umpire, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

The Bendigo Council approved plans to build the mosque in the city's east earlier this year despite vocal opposition.

Protesters said the mosque would bring terrorism and violence to the town, and called on its development to be stopped.

Lawyer for the opponents Robert Balzola told a VCAT hearing the main objections were based on lighting, privacy, visual impact, traffic congestion and noise.

"We don't know when prayer times would start and finish," he said.

Residents also lodged concerns about the call for prayer causing noise and traffic congestion.

Another resident argued the mosque would cause an unacceptable disturbance to daily life.

But VCAT is considering the planning aspects of the case and whether the industrial land on Rowena Street would be suitable for the mosque.

The tribunal heard the mosque would be used for prayers five times a day, as well as community gatherings, marriage ceremonies and religious teachings.

The council's lawyer, Mini Marcus, argued the proposal fitted within Bendigo's planning policies.

"As Bendigo's population grows, so too will people of Islamic faith," she said.

"It has one of the highest population growth rates of any regional Victorian area."

Ms Marcus told VCAT Bendigo East was the focus of industrial development in the future.

The town planner, Stuart McGurn, said the proposed site was an isolated pocket of industrial land.

"I accept some people don't want it (the mosque) for town planning reasons," he said

"I don't consider that to be sufficient or significant."

In a separate application being heard at the same time, the group funding the mosque, the Australian Islamic Mission, disputed the council's conditions on how many patrons would be permitted at the mosque at the one time, and the operating hours.

The hearing is scheduled to run until Wednesday.

NSW nursing homes sanctioned for mistreatment of residents [Nine MSN - 1/12/14]

Tethered dog was 'calm' and 'curious' before capsicum sprayed by police officer [Canberra Times - 1/12/14]

Pelican found shot with arrow at Tinaroo Dam in far north Queensland [ABC - 1/12/14]

No surprise that the sexist, misogynist Murdoch Press think domestic violence and discrimination are a joke

Boycott Murdoch

Greens Media Release [2/12/14]:

No Gender December, a new campaign to raise awareness about the gendered marketing of toys, is launching in time for the festive season.

"At this time of the year, many of us are looking for children's gifts, and it's important that we think about how toys are being marketed to children," Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens spokesperson for women, said.

"The starkly separate aisles of pink and blue, catalogues categorising toys as for girls or boys, and advertising showing just girls or boys playing with particular toys, can seem harmless.

"However, setting such strong gender stereotypes at early ages can have long-term impacts, including influencing self-perception and career aspirations.

"Out-dated stereotypes about girls and boys and men and women, perpetuate gender inequality, which feeds into very serious problems such as domestic violence and the gender pay gap.

"While such serious problems seem so far removed from choosing children's toys, it's important that we think about this issue, especially when so many children's toys are being bought.

"Play Unlimited's No Gender December campaign is an important opportunity to raise awareness of the gendered marketing of toys because no child's imagination should be limited by old-fashioned stereotypes," Senator Waters said.

Play Unlimited co-founders Thea Hughes, based in New South Wales, and Julie Huberman, based in Queensland, hope that the campaign will prompt toy companies to become more inclusive in their marketing.

"It's 2014 - women mow lawns and men push prams but while we've moved on, many toy companies haven't," Ms Huberman said.

"We're inviting everyone concerned about overt gendered marketing to sign our No Gender December pledge and we're pleased to have a number of academic researchers and psychologists supporting our campaign.

"We're also inviting parents to hold playdates on Sunday December 14, where they can talk with friends about gendered marketing while kids play, and we're looking forward to joining Senator Waters for a playdate in Brisbane.

"By standing together we can send a strong message to toy companies that that there is no place for toys perpetuating outdated gender stereotypes under our Christmas trees or in our homes," Ms Huberman said.

For more info and to sign the pledge: http://www.nogenderdecember.com/

Luke Batty inquest: Police lawyers 'deeply troubled' by hearing timeline [ABC - 1/12/14]

Lazarus stands firm on higher education

Senator Glenn Lazarus Media Release [2/12/14]:

Palmer United Senator for Queensland and Leader of Palmer United in the Senate, Glenn Lazarus, today called on Christopher Pyne, the Minister for Education, to stop his acts of desperation in relation to higher education reforms.

“Christopher Pyne is embarrassing himself and needs to stop harassing me and other cross benchers,” said Senator Glenn Lazarus.

“I am being inundated with text messages from Christopher Pyne virtually begging me to support the Abbott Government’s higher education reforms.

“I have never given Christopher Pyne my mobile phone number.

“Christopher Pyne’s office and other Abbott Government ministers are continuing to contact my office and other cross benchers offering all sorts of deals and incentives to get our support for the higher education reforms.

“I won’t be bought and I am not prepared to horse trade.

“It is clear that the Abbott Government is so desperate they will stoop to any level to win support for the higher education reforms.

“I will only listen to the people of Australia and my home state of Queensland.

"The majority of Australians do not want increased education costs.

“The higher education reforms are nothing more than a sinister Abbott Government budget cutting measure.

“The Abbott Government’s higher education reforms are bad to the core and will only significantly reduce funding to universities which in turn will significantly increase the cost of higher education in Australia.

“If Christopher Pyne is still the Minister for Education next year, which I strongly doubt, I suggest he takes the bill away, consults with all stakeholders and develops a new plan to support the higher education sector without hurting students.

“Palmer United will be voting down the higher education reforms.”

Clive Palmer MP addresses the National Press Club for his year in review. He speaks on journalism, the Murdoch Press, JFK, political diversity, refugee policy, Lambie, Uni Fees, Co-Payment, the Queensland Senate Inquiry, being a coal baron, renewable energy and the ETS. [VIDEO - 1/12/14]

Lima conference set to ‘write history’ ahead of 2015 climate deadline, UN official says

UN Media Release [1/12/14]:

The international community “must write history” on climate action and build momentum towards a new universal agreement to be adopted in 2015, a senior United Nations official declared today as she opened a two-week UN climate conference held in Lima, Peru.

“2014 is likely to be the hottest year on record and emissions continue to rise. We must act with urgency,” Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), warned in her opening address earlier this morning to the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the landmark treaty.

“Here in Lima, to aspire to great heights ourselves, we must draw several critical lines of action,” she continued.

According to the conference’s agenda, countries will put forward what they propose to contribute to the planned 2015 agreement in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by the first quarter of 2015, in advance of the December 2015 conference scheduled in Paris, France, where the new universal UN-backed treaty on climate change will be adopted.

The UNFCCC is an international treaty that considers what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with whatever temperature increases are inevitable. The COP 20, being held in the Peruvian capital through 12 December, brings together the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC, which is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Over the course of the next two weeks, delegates will attempt to hammer out the new universal treaty, which would enter force by 2020.

The Lima conference is intended to provide final clarity on what the INDCs need to contain, including for developing countries that are likely to have a range of options from, for example, sector-wide emission curbs to energy intensity goals.

In particular, Ms. Figueres explained, delegates are not only expected to bring a draft of the new universal agreement to the table but also delineate the technical processes behind the steps moving forward and provide clarity on how finance, technology and capacity-building will be handled.

“We must consolidate progress on adaptation to achieve political parity with mitigation, given the equal urgency of both,” she stated. “We must enhance the delivery of finance, in particular to the most vulnerable. Finally, we must stimulate ever-increasing action on the part of all stakeholders to scale up the scope and accelerate the solutions that move us all forward, faster.”

“With success in these areas, COP 20/CMP 10 is poised to deliver pre-2020 action, set the stage for a strong Paris agreement and increase ambition over time, ultimately fulfilling a long-term vision of climate neutrality in the pursuit of development that is truly sustainable for all,” she concluded.

Hottest spring on record for second year in a row as storm clouds loom [Sydney Morning Herald - 1/12/14]

Methane study: NSW EPA study to drill down into emissions [Sydney Morning Herald - 1/12/14]

Families welcome inquest into fatalities at Pilbara mine site during Cyclone George [ABC - 1/12/14]

Corporate bullying Australian style: David Pocock put on notice by Australian Rugby Union following arrest at coal-mine protest

ABC [1/12/14]:

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has issued an official warning to David Pocock after he was charged for his part in a coal-mine protest.

The one-time Wallabies captain and star flanker was arrested while protesting Whitehaven Coal's Maules Creek Mine.

He and a number of others were charged with trespass, remaining on enclosed land without lawful excuse and hindering the working of mining equipment.

The ARU said in a statement they felt he was getting distracted by issues other than rugby union during his extended recovery from a number of serious knee injuries.

"While we appreciate David has personal views on a range of matters, we've made it clear that we expect his priority to be ensuring he can fulfil his role as a high-performance athlete," the statement read.

"The matter is now subject to legal proceedings and we will now let the legal process take its course."

Pocock said he was well aware he would probably get arrested for joining the protest.

"Those charges are something each of us has considered," he said.

"I think when you put it in the context of a possible future for the Earth with climate change and the challenges the local community face, that certainly puts it into perspective and it doesn't seem like that big of a sacrifice."

All the protesters who were charged were granted conditional bail and will face court in January.

Petitions to the House of Representatives

House of Representatives Hansard [1/12/14]:

Asylum Seekers Offshore Processing

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition is conducted by a group of likeminded students associated with human rights and social issues at James Cook University, Townsville.

We are drawing the attention of the House to the inhuman policies, discrimination of people arriving by boat, and living conditions of those detained in offshore detention centres. It is of great concern to us that these people in offshore detention centres are being ignored by Australia and ill-treated due to the fact they are fleeing from persecution in their country of origin. After reaching Australian waters, asylum seekers are subject to years of waiting, physical and mental illness, worry and fear. Refugees are not less than us, they are equal and deserve fair and just treatment in accordance with Australia's obligations under the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the 1954 Refugee Convention.

We therefore ask the House to close down offshore detention centres to protect the safety of asylum seekers and to bring stronger legal and civic accountability to the Australian government.

from 89 citizens

...

Australia's Asylum Seekers Policies

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition of certain ordinary citizens in the north of NSW draws to the attention of the House:

When Australia signed the Refugee Convention we agreed to provide protection for people who cannot live in safety in their own country. It is a matter of shame to the undersigned that we are dismantling our earlier agreement and building into the processes for asylum seekers and their children "unacceptable risk of unfairness."

We want politicians of all persuasions to know that many ordinary Australians are vehemently opposed to the policy changes at present being proposed.

We therefore ask the House to:

1. Cease and desist from asylum seeker policies which are grounded in our own national greed and sense of entitlement.

2. Enable us as a wealthy country to give proper attention to our obligations under the United Nations refugee convention.

3. Choose a path where our country takes a lead in our region to facilitate speedy and just processing to provide a much greater number of refugees with hope and a future.

from 152 citizens

Australian politicians think they are untouchable? ICC appeal judges uphold conviction of Congolese warlord Lubanga [Reuters - 1/12/14]

The Australian government and ALP "opposition" are torturing people

Nine MSN [2/12/14]:

...

The Department of Immigration says the women, who had been on the bus since Saturday, agreed to enter the detention centre on Tuesday.

...

Defining torture :

... intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. ...

ACOSS calls on Australian government to implement UN Committee against Torture recommendations [Media Release – 2/12/14]

via @nadiasdaly - ABC journalist [2/12/14]:

BREAKING: Immigration Minister says ALL refugees now off bus and in detention center near Darwin. Seeking further details now

Immigration Minister says: Women temporarily transferred to Aus for medical purposes. They hold valid Nauruan visas, not Australian visas

Pregnant refugee bus standoff enters third day at Darwin detention centre

ABC [2/12/14]:

A stand-off at a Darwin detention centre has entered its third day, with two heavily pregnant women still refusing to get off a bus.

The ABC was told one woman's husband and child had left the bus. But the women, Maryam and Tahere, were standing their ground and said they would not go anywhere.

Maryam's 10-year-old son and his father had gone into detention at the nearby Bladin Point centre.

It was understood Tahere's husband Hossein was still on the bus with the women.

...

Melissa Parke MP silent. Senate Hansard [1/12/14]:

Senator Hanson-Young to move: That the Senate calls on the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection to explain to the Senate the Government’s reasons for detaining two pregnant women, who have been found to be genuine refugees and have been living in the community in Nauru, against their will.

Morrison does a deal with the ALP on 31,000 asylum seekers, "refugee advocates" continue lobbying crossbenchers [Guardian - 27/11/14]

Close the camps: Clive Palmer [Media Release - 20/8/14]

 

 

2 December 2014

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