Immigration Minister Peter Dutton visits PNG to organise final solution to Australia's refugees.
Media continues protecting him and covering up human rights atrocities - because if Australians knew the truth about what was happening on Manus Island - it would be closed immediately.
That's right folks. Peter Dutton was in PNG all day Monday and the media establishment kept his visit secret from you.
What a bunch of liars.
No FREEDOM muesli bars for asylum seekers on Manus Island! [VIDEO]
Imaginary Australian Greens/Palmer United Party/Human Rights Commission Media Release, 3 February 2015:
Over the past month, refugees on Manus Island have held a hunger strike calling for access to the United Nations.
Though independent reports of this protest cannot be verified, it appears the hunger strike was brutally suppressed on the instruction of Australia's Immigration Minister.
Refugees were beaten, "arrested" and placed in solitary confinement.
The welfare of "arrested" refugees who reportedly remain in Lorengau prison is not known.
Last year's Senate Inquiry into the February 2014 incident on Manus Island made several recommendations.
These recommendations included that United Nations, Human Rights Commission, lawyers and journalists be given access to the centre.
The Greens call on the government to immediately grant this access.
The Australian people require - and deserve - full transparency and accountability.
Without this full access and transparency the Australian people cannot discover whether what is being done at the financial expense, and in the name of the Australian people, does not breach international conventions.
Refugee resettlement is not possible without the participation of the UNHCR.
93-year-old woman investigated over claims she was Nazi SS guard who helped march 1,400 people to their deaths [Independent – 2/2/15]:
German prosecutors are investigating a 93-year-old woman on suspicion that she served as a Nazi SS guard during World War II.
It is claimed that Hilde Michnia was also involved in forcing prisoners on a march during which about 1,400 women died.
Hamburg prosecutors' spokesman Carsten Rinio said his office had begun the investigation of Ms Michnia last week after a private citizen had filed a complaint against her that was allowed under German law.
She is suspected of serving as a guard in the Bergen-Belsen and Gross-Rosen concentration camps, and having been part of evacuating the latter camp near the end of the war and forcing prisoners to march to the Guben labour camp further west.
Ms Michnia told Die Welt newspaper she had not been involved in any atrocities and only worked in the kitchens.
Goto's wife says she is proud of her husband
Japan Today [2/2/15]:
The wife of slain Japanese hostage Kenji Goto said Monday she was devastated but proud of her husband, who was beheaded by Islamic State extremists.
In a statement issued through the British-based journalist group Rory Peck Trust, Rinko Jogo requested privacy for her family as they deal with their loss, and thanked those who had supported them.
“I remain extremely proud of my husband, who reported the plight of people in conflict areas like Iraq, Somalia and Syria,” she said.
“It was his passion to highlight the effects on ordinary people, especially through the eyes of children, and to inform the rest of us of the tragedies of war,” she said.
Goto left for Syria in late October just a few weeks after the birth of the couple’s youngest daughter. Soon after, he was captured by the militants.
Jogo said she had
received several emails from unknown people claiming to be her husband’s
captors. But the hostage crisis became a national issue after the militants
issued a demand for $200 million in ransom, to be paid within 72 hours, on Jan
Kuwait Upholds Online Activist’s Sentence, Condemns Bedoon Activist to 5 Years
Al Akhbar [2/2/15]:
Kuwait’s appeals court on Monday upheld a four-year jail sentence against Ahmed Fadhel, an online activist, for insulting judges on Twitter, according to the court ruling.
The verdict comes a day after a lower court sentenced a stateless activist for five years in jail for allegedly insulting the ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state, his lawyer said.
A lower court in October handed the jail term against Fadhel who was charged with writing comments on Twitter deemed offensive to a number of judges, who then sued him.
In Sunday’s case, Khaled al-Kafeefa told AFP that defendant Abdullah al-Enezi, who has apparently fled the country, was not present in court for the ruling.
Enezi was arrested in February last year for taking part in a gathering for stateless people, locally known as bedoons, to demand Kuwaiti citizenship and was charged with insulting the emir.
Criticizing the emir in Kuwait is considered a state security offense, with those found guilty faced with up to five years behind bars.
The monarchy’s constitution describes the emir as "immune and inviolable" and criticizing him is therefore illegal and considered a state security offense, with those found guilty faced with up to five years behind bars.
International rights campaigners accuse the Kuwaiti government of restricting the freedom of expression since the eruption of pro-reform protests in 2012, which led to the cabinet's resignation.
A photographer for the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem was injured on Sunday after being hit by an Israeli settler vehicle in Hebron, the man told Ma'an. ... [Maan - 1/2/15]
Syria Air Strikes in Daraa Kill 12 Civilians [Naharnet – 2/2/15]
Lebanon Foreign Ministry, officials denounce Damascus bus blast [Daily Star - 2/2/15]
Damascus medieval citadel bus bomb blast kills four [BBC - 1/2/15]
Suicide Truck Bomb Kills Six in Iraq’s Samarra [Al Akbhar – 2/2/15]
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ordered security to be tightened in Bangkok on Monday after two small bombs rattled a luxury shopping mall and stoked tension in a city under martial law since a coup in May. … [Jakarta Globe – 2/2/15]
Egypt court sentences 183 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death
An Egyptian court sentenced 183 supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death on Monday on charges of killing police officers, part of a sustained crackdown by authorities on Islamists.
The men were convicted of playing a role in the killings of 16 policemen in the town of Kardasa in August, 2013 during the upheaval that followed the army's ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi. Thirty-four were sentenced in absentia.
Egypt has mounted one of the biggest crackdowns in its modern history on the Brotherhood since the political demise of Mursi, the country's first democratically-elected president.
Thousands of Brotherhood supporters have been arrested and put on mass trials in a campaign which human rights groups say shows the government is systematically repressing opponents.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief toppled Mursi, describes the Brotherhood as a major security threat.
The movement says it is committed to peaceful activism.
The death sentences followed one of the bloodiest attacks on Egyptian security forces in years. Islamic State's Egypt wing claimed responsibility for a series of coordinated operations that killed at least 27 people last week.
Sisi blamed the Brotherhood for the violence and told Egyptians in a televised address that the war against militancy will be a long, tough one.
Egyptian authorities make no distinction between the Brotherhood, Islamic State and al Qaeda, arguing that they have a shared ideology and are equally dangerous.
Security forces killed hundreds of Brotherhood supporters and arrested thousands of others after Mursi's ouster.
After the death sentences were read out on Monday, Brotherhood supporters held in metal cages shouted profanities at policemen. A defense lawyer looked at the Islamists and said "You have God."
The Egyptian government's human rights record has come under closer scrutiny since woman activist Shaimaa Sabbagh was shot dead during a Cairo protest on January 24, a day before the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
The Interior Ministry promised an investigation.
Separately, an Egyptian police officer has been detained on suspicion of killing a suspected member of the Brotherhood in hospital, the Interior Ministry has said.
The suspect was being treated in custody for wounds suffered while he was allegedly planting explosives. The ministry said that the man had provoked the policeman by insulting him. "Then the policeman lost control of his feelings," it said.
Egypt sets new Morsi espionage trial on February 15 [Daily Star – 15/2/15]
Israeli navy opens fire at Gaza fishermen
Israeli naval forces opened fire at fishermen off the coast of Gaza on Monday, damaging a fishing boat.
Fishermen told Ma'an that Israeli boats stationed off the coast northwest of Gaza City opened fire at them while they were inside the designated zone.
One boat was damaged by the gunfire but no injuries were reported.
On Saturday, fishermen reported a similar incident near Gaza City.
The Aug. 26 ceasefire agreement reached after the end of Israel's assault on Gaza stipulated that Israel would expand the fishing zone off Gaza's coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually.
Since then, there have been widespread reports that Israeli forces have opened fire at fishermen within those new limits.
Prior to the recent agreement, Israeli forces maintained a limit of three nautical miles on all Gaza fishermen, opening fire at fishermen who strayed further, despite earlier agreements which had settled on a 20-mile limit.
The restrictions crippled Gaza's fishing industry and impoverished local fishermen.
Israel demolishes agricultural structures near Nablus [Maan - 2/2/15]
Palestinian refugees in Cyprus reach agreement with government [Maan – 2/2/15]
Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands speaks out on Manus refugee hunger strike
PNG Loop [2/2/15]:
The PNG and Australian governments have been called on by the Catholic Church to rethink their approach towards the Manus asylum centre.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands (CBC) in a media conference today spoke about Prime Minister Peter O’Neill voicing his opinion on ABC that most of the 1,035 asylum seekers at the Manus Regional Processing Centre were not genuine refugees.
CBC general secretary Reverend Father Victor Roche told reporters that the conference was requesting for the government to ensure that the asylum seekers go through a full and efficient refugee status determination process in the Manus centre.
Fr Roche said O’Neill commented that the refugees would be sent home “within weeks” and that talks were underway with Iran and Iraq to return the men home.
He says that the 13 day hunger strike which followed was against the plan by the PNG government to resettle the genuine refugees to a new camp in Manus Island under the guise of releasing them into the community.
Fr Roche says that the CBC is asking that the PNG and Australian governments also look into providing safe and humane conditions for the asylum seekers.
He says that both governments need to ensure that the asylum seekers should be processed properly so that they can determine if they are genuine refugees and not “economic refugees” who want to make financial gain by leaving their home country.
He says that no government should force the asylum seekers to return to their country if they are not safe, bearing in mind that the asylum seekers have human rights that should not be violated.
Meantime, the CBC also called for the PNG Government to come up with a detailed policy on the resettlement of refugees in PNG so that all stake-holders involved, including the PNG citizens, are made aware of what is intended by the Government in terms of this asylum seeker issue in Manus.
Respect the refugees - PNG/SI Catholic Bishops Statement [Catholic Reporter PNG - 1/2/15]:
Last week Prime Minister Peter O'Neill told the ABC he believed most of the 1,035 asylum seekers at the Manus Regional Processing Centre were not genuine refugees and would be sent home "within weeks".
He said talks were underway with Iran and Iraq to return the men home.
A 13-day hunger strike by the detainees in Manus was suspended on Monday, 26 January after security personnel stormed the compounds where the detainees were on hunger strike.
The hunger strike was against the plan by the PNG government to resettle the genuine refugees to a new camp in Manus Island under the guise of releasing them into the community.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands (CBC) is requesting the PNG Government and the Australian Government:
To give the asylum seekers a full and efficient refugee status determination process in the Manus Centre;
To provide safe and humane conditions for the asylum seekers;
Not to force the asylum seekers to return to their country if they are not safe;
To have a detailed policy on the resettlement of refugees in PNG.
This follows previous
CBC statement of 15th Jan 2015.
Rev. Fr. Victor Roche, SVD
CBC General Secretary
Charges: Arson, Burpengary
QPS Media [2/2/15]:
Moreton District police have charged a Kallangur man following the arson of a residence in Burpengary this afternoon.
It will be alleged that the man forcefully entered a residence on Steamview Court at about 2pm and made threats to a woman inside.
It will be further alleged that he then used an accelerant to set fire to the house, before leaving the scene on-foot, allegedly carrying a knife.
He was apprehended a short while later by police in a nearby street.
The residence and a vehicle were seriously damaged by the fire, however nobody sustained any physical injuries.
A 22-year-old Kallangur man has been charged with one count each of arson, wilful damage, assault or obstruct police, breach of bail condition and contravene direction.
He was also charged with four counts of going armed so as to cause fear.
He is scheduled to appear in the Caboolture Magistrates Court tomorrow.
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.
Gold Coast woman dead, partner arrested
Nine MSN [2/2/15]:
A pregnant woman has died after being bludgeoned in an alleged domestic incident on the Gold Coast.
The 35-year-old woman, who is understood to be about 10 weeks pregnant, was found in her home in Randwick Court, Varsity Lakes on Monday afternoon.
Paramedics performed CPR on the woman, who had serious head injuries, before taking her to Gold Coast University Hospital.
Police confirmed she died on Monday night.
A man in his 30s - understood to be her partner - has been arrested.
Detective Inspector Marc Hogan would not comment what weapon was used, but there are reports she was attacked with an axe or tomahawk.
"There is an indication there is a history of domestic related matters," he said.
Child sex abuse royal commission: Jewish 'code of silence' at Yeshiva centres under spotlight at inquiry
Child abuse victims and their families have been abused and ostracised by people within the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community for breaking the Chabad code of silence, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard.
The role of the Jewish law and the concept of Mesirah, the religious code dictating Jewish people do not report or "hand over" other Jewish people to the authorities, will form part of the inquiry into abuse at the Yeshiva centres in Melbourne and Bondi.
One victim told the inquiry he was groomed by serial child abuser David Cyprys in the 1980s while he was a student at the Yeshivah College.
He told the inquiry the then head of the Yeshivah, Rabbi Dovid Groner, said "I thought we'd fixed him", when he was told of the abuse.
The victim, known only as AVA, said he had absolutely no doubt people at Yeshivah knew Cyprys had a penchant for young boys.
Cyrpys is currently serving an eight-year jail term in Melbourne.
Counsel assisting the commission Maria Gerace said evidence would be given about abuse perpetrated by three convicted child abusers, Cyprys, David Kramer and Daniel Hayman, and the commission would look at when Jewish leaders first heard of allegations and their responses.
Child abuse victim Manny Waks said he also told Rabbi Groner of the abuse he was subjected to.
He told the inquiry he reported the abuse to Rabbi Groner in the 1990s and in 2000s, but Cyprys continued to work as a security guard at the centre.
"He [Rabbi Groner] practically pleaded with me not to pursue the matter," Mr Waks said.
Mr Waks told the commission he felt "let down by the system" as his complaints to the Yeshiva leaders, and his initial complaints to police, went ignored.
He said he and his family had faced backlash for "breaking the Chabad code of silence", as many within the Chabad community believed it would increase anti-Semitism.
Mr Waks read out a critical email sent to him after he went public about the abuse.
"Get over it already," the email said.
"There is something very ugly and personal about your anti-Yeshivah campaign.
"Just because a security guard molested you, don't blame Yeshivah.
"Most people consider you a low life because of your malicious blame game."
Mr Waks became emotional when he described the impact of the intimidation on his wife.
He said his wife was a very private person and felt she could not go certain places because "people knew who she was".
"When people saw her in the street, no-one said anything negative but they used to stare and make her uncomfortable and it became unbearable for her," he said.
Mr Waks told the hearing he wanted an acknowledgement that he had done nothing wrong by speaking out.
"What I would most like to see is an unequivocal acceptance of responsibility by the Yeshivah leadership for what happened to me and the others who were abused," he said.
"I would like them to condemn the ongoing intimidation and harassment of me rather than condoning or even inciting it.
"I would like them to take steps towards genuine repentance which includes requesting genuine forgiveness and offering recompense."
No crime has been committed, but hey, don't let that stop you amplifying Rupert Murdoch's racist dogwhistling ABC. ---> Bodies of 17 babies unclaimed at Alice Springs morgue, parents not contactable, hospital says - ABC - 2/2/15]
Gloria Jeans fined for under-paying staff
The Age [2/2/15]:
Young cafe workers have been exploited and illegally paid wages as low as $8 an hour at a Melbourne franchise of the popular Gloria Jean's Coffees chain.
Twenty-two employees were ripped off more than $83,000 over two years, the Federal Court has found, with individual underpayments ranging from $219 to $17,000.
Workplace investigations at Gloria Jean's Caulfield East uncovered illegal underpayments of the casual staff, mostly international students aged under 21 from non-English-speaking backgrounds.
The franchisees have been ordered to pay substantial fines of more than $110,500 after the Fair Work Ombudsman won a major lawsuit.
Owner-operators Tsinman Fu and Ping Ostrovskih were also found to be repeat offenders regarding workplace law violations.
The pair previously controlled another company that faced serious penalties for undercutting worker entitlements.
The Gloria Jean's outlet is the latest business to draw attention to the problem of grossly underpaid young workers in the city's hospitality sector, which Judge Riethmuller said was "notorious for non-compliance" with industrial law.
In the largely cash industry, where requirements on wages and working conditions are routinely ignored, it is believed there are thousands of waiters, kitchen hands, cooks and dish-cleaners being paid well below the legal minimum.
The court found the owner-operators of the Gloria Jean's outlet made a "deliberate" decision to slash staff wages below the legal rate to match the business's declining cash flow.
Judge Riethmuller said the pair's previous misconduct meant they were "well aware of their obligations and the seriousness of those obligations".
The court dismissed the company's claims that the workers did not express dissatisfaction with their entitlements before the Fair Work Ombudsman's probe.
"It is common for employees, particularly in industries where pay rates are low and workforces are largely casual, to be wary of expressing any dissatisfaction for fear that their employment will not continue," Judge Riethmuller said.
A Gloria Jean's spokeswoman said the company provided training and support for franchise partners' operations, but franchise partners were responsible for ensuring their businesses complied with employment law and the relevant awards.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the court case sent a stern warning to other employers who were undercutting workers' minimum wage entitlements.
"We treat underpayments of young and overseas workers particularly seriously because they can be vulnerable if they are not fully aware of their workplace rights or are reluctant to complain," she said.
"Successful litigations such as this also benefit employers who are complying with workplace laws because it helps them to compete on a level playing field."
Attempted armed robbery charges, Ingham
QPS Media [2/2/15]:
Police have charged a man following an armed robbery that occurred earlier today in Ingham.
Around 9am, a man has entered a service station on Lannercost Street and police will allege he produced a knife.
It will further be alleged that the man then made demands for cash before fleeing the business empty handed.
Police took a man into custody on Lannercost Street a short time later.
A 36-year-old Ingham man has been charged with two counts of attempted armed robbery and one count of possession of a knife and is due to appear in the Townsville Magistrates Court tomorrow.
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.
As the luvvies wet their pants over Pauline Hanson holding the balance of power ...
Daily Mercury [2/2/15]:
Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen has raised concerns the Labor Party made poor background checks on their volunteers in Mackay, as he claims to have seen a convicted paedophile at a polling booth.
"I have rocked up to a polling booth and seen a very well-known, convicted sex offender handing out how to vote cards," Mr Christensen said.
"I know it's not illegal, but I thought it was concerning."
Queensland Labor State Secretary Evan Moorhead said he was investigating the report as a matter of urgency.
"Our legal team will be looking into this soon," Mr Moorhead said.
Mr Christensen shared the news on social media.
If the ALP is elected, everything Newman has legislated stays in place
North West Star [1/2/15]:
Mount Isa Mayor Tony McGrady said the legalisation of uranium mining in Queensland should not be overturned.
He would choose the wellbeing of his city over a Labor government’s beliefs.
“I think if I was state member for Mount Isa and if I start negotiations with the leader of the Labor Party, I think that would be one of my conditions of support, that the status quo remains,” Cr McGrady said.
But it was his job to negotiate with the state government.
“I have worked for six years trying to persuade governments to change the ludicrous ban on uranium,” Cr McGrady said.
“I did that because of the amount of jobs uranium mining would create in North West Queensland.”
Gulf jobs lost with the closure of Century Mine could be replaced with two major uranium deposits, he said.
A change of government did not mean a halt in plans to extend the copper smelter’s operations.
Local government minister David Crisafulli supported the smelter’s extension but yesterday he conceded defeat in his seat of Mundingburra yesterday to ALP candidate Coralee O’Rourke.
Cr McGrady said he briefed the then opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk about the progress on the copper smelter’s extension.
“The statements she made leading into the election was they would abide by the basic decisions we had arrived at with the previous government,” he said.
Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter said the extension of the copper smelter was his first priority.
A risk of uranium mining being overturned by a Labor government was not an immediate priority.
“It is a big issue and it is a
concern but we need to keep in mind the fact it’s still five years from being
viable,” he said.
Daydream Island has been sold [Daily Mercury - 2/2/15]
Vigil in support of Manus and Darwin refugees, Santiago [31/1/15]
When I called @PeterDutton_MP's office on Thursday I was told that if I didn't reveal my sources, they couldn't answer my questions. ...
@PeterDutton_MP's office has told me they are not aware of IHMS ceasing routine medical care on #Manus Island.
They asked me to email them that letter from IHMS and said they will get back to me. ...
Australian Open protesters vow to interrupt more events [Shanghai Daily – 2/2/15]:
Protesters who interrupted the Australian Open men's final will strike again at major international events hosted in Australia, they said on Monday.
Karoline Morwitzer, one of two women arrested for entering the court during the second set of Sunday's match, apologized to players Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray and the crowd but confirmed to the Daily Mail Australia she would not hesitate to repeat her antics.
"This issue was bigger than the tennis, bigger than Rod Laver Arena and something we felt every person in Australia better be thinking critically and consciously about," she said on Monday.
"I would say to the players - as well to all the tennis heads - I send an apology to them but reiterate that this issue is bigger than the tennis game."
Morwitzer, 32, and a 28-year-old accomplice invaded the court during a change of ends while six others remained in the stands to unveil a banner protesting the Manus Island immigration detention center, an offshore asylum processing facility located in Papua New Guinea operated on behalf of the Australian Government.
Security personnel protected the two players while guards and police quickly removed the protesters and the "Australia Open for Refugees" banner.
Play was halted for five minutes and, while some in the crowd applauded the banner when it was first unfurled, their tone markedly changed when another of the group made a second attempt to interrupt proceedings.
"We have created this international media spectacle today to expose the torture, abuse, and horrific conditions that are being perpetrated on Manus Island," the group told Special Broadcasting Service on Sunday.
Peter Greste 'will not rest' until colleagues freed
Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste will not rest until his colleagues are released from prison in Egypt, his family says.
After 400 days behind bars, Mr Greste was freed and deported on Sunday. He landed safely in Cyprus, on his way to his native Australia.
He was arrested in 2013 and tried on charges that included spreading false news and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood.
Two al-Jazeera colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, remain jailed.
Mr Fahmy, who holds dual Egyptian and Canadian citizenship, may be freed after having his Egyptian nationality revoked, presidential sources said.
But there are still concerns about Mr Mohamed, who holds no dual nationality.
Mr Greste spoke about his concerns for his colleagues to his family after his release.
Speaking at a press conference in the Australian city of Brisbane, brother Andrew Greste said: "We want to acknowledge that Peter's two other colleagues are still there."
His father Juris Greste said that they felt very deeply for those left behind.
Andrew Greste also thanked all those who had supported his brother and worked for his release.
"We are small cogs in this massive campaign," he said.
The three journalists had been accused of collaborating with the banned Muslim Brotherhood after the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi by the military in 2013.
All the defendants denied the charges against them and said their trial was a sham.
Mr Fahmy and Mr Greste and were sentenced to seven years in prison and Mr Mohamed to 10.
Mr Greste's release came after a long international campaign.
His family said that he was in "great spirits" and would return to Australia when he felt ready.
"He is safe, healthy and very very happy to be on his way home," his brother said.
His mother, Lois Greste, said she had been quietly dreaming about this moment.
"I think he will recover well," she added.
The first hints of her son's release came in November, when President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said he was considering granting pardons to the two foreign al-Jazeera journalists.
He had earlier signed a decree on repatriating foreign prisoners.
Then in January, Egypt's top court ordered a retrial of all three men.
Mr Greste's release was eventually confirmed by a statement issued by the Egyptian Interior Ministry.
Glimmer of Hope for Assange
Inter Press Service [1/2/15]:
There is a window of hope, thanks to a U.N. human rights body, for a solution to the diplomatic asylum of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, holed up in the embassy of Ecuador in London for the past two and a half years.
Authorities in Sweden, which is seeking the Australian journalist’s extradition to face allegations of sexual assault, admitted there is a possibility that measures could be taken to jumpstart the stalled legal proceedings against Assange.
The head of Assange’s legal defence team, former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, told IPS that in relation to this case “we have expressed satisfaction that the Swedish state“ has accepted the proposals of several countries.
The prominent Spanish lawyer and international jurist was referring to proposals set forth by Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador, Slovakia and Uruguay.
The final report by the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), adopted Thursday Jan. 28 in Geneva, Switzerland, contains indications that a possible understanding among the different countries concerned might be on the horizon.
The UPR is a mechanism of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine the human rights performance of all U.N. member states.
The situation of Assange, a journalist, computer programmer and activist born in Australia in 1971, was introduced in Sweden’s UPR by Ecuador, the country that granted him diplomatic asylum in its embassy in London, and by several European and Latin American nations.
The head of the Swedish delegation to the UPR, Annika Söder, state secretary for political affairs at Sweden’s foreign ministry, told IPS that “This is a very complex matter in which the government can only do a few things.”
Söder said that in Sweden, Assange is “suspected of crimes, rape, sexual molestation in accordance with Swedish law. And that’s why the prosecutor in Sweden wants to conduct the primary investigation.
“We are aware of Mr. Assange’s being in the embassy of Ecuador and we hope that there will be ways to deal with the legal process in one way or the other. But it is up to the legal authorities to respond,” she said.
Assange’s legal defence team complains that Sweden’s public prosecutor’s office is delaying the legal proceedings and refuses to question him by telephone, email, video link or in writing.
Garzón noted that parallel to the lack of action by the Swedish prosecutor’s office, there is a secret U.S. legal process against Assange and other members of Wikileaks, the organisation he created in 2006.
“The origin of the U.S. legal proceedings against Assange was the mass publication by Wikileaks of documents, in many cases sensitive ones, which affected the United States,” said Garzón.
Woman receiving CPR after Gold Coast assault
Paramedics are trying to resuscitate a woman with serious head injuries after an apparent assault on the Gold Coast.
Police and ambulance staff were called to Randwick Court in Varsity Lakes just after 2pm on Monday after reports of an assault.
A woman is being treated for serious injuries and a man is also on the scene.
The cause of the woman's injuries has not been confirmed.
Huggins witness breaks down at abuse trial
Nine MSN [2/2/1/15]:
An alleged victim of accused pedophile Allan Keith Huggins has broken down in tears, telling a Perth court he was sexually abused several times as a teen.
The 39-year-old man, who had been a ward of the state since he was six, testified that he was abused by Huggins while he underwent the Warminda program, which helped troubled boys gain employment.
He told the District Court of WA that Huggins, the program's education officer, sexually assaulted him three times when he was 14.
Before then, the man he referred to as "Honcho" had approached him as he stood at a urinal, saying he wanted to "touch it".
The man said he was, after that incident, a "smart arse" towards Huggins, challenging him when he said he was "the boss" of the program.
"He said he'd like to see me after class, see him in his office. I thought I was going to be told off or suspended," the man said on Monday.
When asked what happened next, he broke down in tears and the court was briefly adjourned.
He later said he had tried to stop Huggins pulling his pants down.
"Honcho was too strong for me, forced them off and that's when he started playing with me, touching me," he said.
"I told him it hurt. He said that's normal."
The man said he then tried to take his own life, overdosing on car sickness pills, but had his stomach pumped.
The next assault allegedly occurred after the teenager tried to see a doctor for a sore back but was instead massaged by Huggins.
The man said the third assault took place in a pool after he was made to do a schoolyard working bee as punishment for smashing up a bus and daubing it with the word "pedo".
On that occasion, he said, he was forced to masturbate Huggins, who reacted angrily when he tried to pull away.
"He kept forcing my hand."
Huggins, 68, has been on trial for the past week, charged with 49 offences of sexual abuse against boys aged under 17, in 1990 and 1991.
The court heard last week that Huggins was previously charged with indecently dealing with a teenager in 1991.
The trial continues.
Girl recovering after Melbourne hit-run
Nine MSN [2/2/15]:
A teenage girl is recovering after being critically injured in a fatal Melbourne hit-and-run.
The 17-year-old and a male teenage friend were crossing on a green pedestrian light when they were struck by a car at Delahey on Tuesday last week.
The vehicle ran a red light and did not stop, losing a headlight in the crash.
The teenage boy, also 17, later died in hospital.
A Royal Melbourne Hospital spokeswoman said the girl's condition has been downgraded to serious on Monday.
She remains in the intensive care unit.
Police on Thursday arrested a 33-year-old man over the hit-and-run, but he was later released without charge.
Latest government Great Barrier Reef report 'gilding the lily'
Gladstone Observer [2/2/15]:
An expert on the Great Barrier Reef has labelled the Abbott Government's latest report to UNESCO as "gilding the lily", saying it ignores the role of climate change in the reef's decline.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt on Monday released the latest "state party report" to the World Heritage Committee, summarising what the government has done to protect the reef in the past year.
Mr Hunt said the report showed the government had "heard the concerns of the committee and we have comprehensively addressed every one of them".
He said while the reef was facing "challenges", the government was making "significant progress", despite concerns the draft Reef 2050 Plan may not be enough to turn around the decline.
But the head of the nation's Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Professor Terry Hughes, described the report as "gilding the lily" on what has actually been done.
Prof Hughes said while Mr Hunt's letter to UNESCO talked about "the wonderful things he's done to appease UNESCO", it did not address the international body's concerns.
"(Mr Hunt) said that he would ban the dumping of capital dredge spoil in the marine park, but that's not the same as the World Heritage Area - he hasn't done anything to curtail dredging in that area," he said.
"He also talks about the reef being the best managed reef in the world, but the long-term issue is climate change, and UNESCO's own report on World Heritage Areas cited many are threatened by climate change, but arguably that's the weakest part of the (Reef 2050) plan."
The report also claimed the decline of the reef was "not solely" the consequence of gaps in current laws and governance.
But Prof Hughes said while there was more money spent on the reef in Australia than other nations spend on their reef conservation, a better question was whether that management was effective, and "patently, it isn't".
The UNESCO committee will consider the report as it prepares for a meeting in June when an "in-danger" listing will be considered for the World Heritage site.
Fascism 101: Ignore the human rights atrocity
PNG wins Top Emerging Destination honours [PNG Loop/Daily Mail – 2/2/15]
Does the Australian media and human rights establishment's silence about hunger striking refugees on Manus Island being beaten, "arrested', thrown in solitary confinement and disappeared = disinterest and/or approval?
@UNrefugees - Australia for UNHCR [2/2/15]: In Sydney? Mary & Chris are in Pitt St today to tell you about UNHCR's Emergency Response program-come and say hi!
@unaansw - United Nations Association of Australia (NSW Division) working with the Australian community and government to advance the goals of the UN [28/1/15]: Holocaust memorial day: seven survivors' stories, 70 years on - Telegraph http://fb.me/1XmvP4UGU
Teddy bears' picnic? No! It's the welcoming committee 4 young #asylumseekers visiting our Sydney office. #newfriends
Image: @RedCrossAU - Australian Red Cross [2/2/15]
During his address to the National Press Club today, Prime Minister Abbott said "we stopped the boats" several times.
Not ONE question about hunger striking refugees being beaten, "arrested" and disappeared on Manus Island was asked.
The media - including:
Mark Riley, and a handful of Murdoch propagandists ...
either took partisan pot shots and/or slapped Abbott with a wet lettuce leaf as he repeated brainless talking points.
Meanwhile, partisan opinionators are busy regurgitating myths, ALP commissioned polls about racist, apathetic Australians and "Abbott is worse" blather.
Dramatic Stand Of Three Passengers Not Enough To Stop Asylum Seeker Removal [New Matilda – 2/2/15]:
A dramatic attempt to prevent a Tamil man being removed to Darwin to face deportation appears to have failed, despite a passenger protest delaying the Qantas flight carrying him from Melbourne to Darwin this morning.
In a desperate attempt to prevent the removal, asylum seeker advocates raced to Tullamarine airport earlier this morning and handed out leaflets to passengers encouraging them to disrupt the flight and help prevent the removal of the asylum seeker.
One member of the group, 21-year-old Jasmine Pilbrow, bought a ticket for Qantas flight 383 shortly before its scheduled departure, then refused to be seated when the passengers were asked to prepare for take off.
“I visit the detention centre in Broadmeadows so know the guys in there. When I heard about this, I wanted to be involved,” she told New Matilda.
“I [boarded the plane] and just kind of acted normal. I sat down until I saw the last few people getting on. And that’s when I stood up and refused to sit down again.”
As Pilbrow stood, she explained to other passengers the reason she was interrupting their flight.
Then, in a show of support, two further passengers who appear to have had no previous connection to the protest, stood up.
According to Pilbrow they were both young women in their 20s or 30s.
“We didn’t know them, they were just random passengers,” she said.
“That was really nice, when I saw them stand up I felt a lot happier.”
New Matilda understands that the Tamil man at the centre of the protest had been living in the community on a bridging visa for around two years, but had recently received a negative refugee determination.
Aran Mylvaganam, a spokesperson for the Tamil Refugee Council, told New Matilda he had visited the man in detention and seen his Refuge Review Tribunal papers.
He said the Tribunal had accepted the man had been detained by the Sri Lankan army before he fled the country, but rejected his application because they did not believe returning him now would put his life in danger.
“His application failed because the immigration officials believe there is not a threat to his life,” Mylvaganam said.
“Our argument is that while there are a lot of promises being made by the new government [in Sri Lanka], Tamils who had records with the Sri Lankan army in the past continue to face problems at the hands of the army when they’re deported back.”
Fleeing Sri Lanka in the manner most asylum seekers do is illegal in Sri Lanka, and many face prison sentences of up to two years immediately upon return.
Because of this, Mylvaganam is hopeful there will be enough time to appeal the man’s negative determination before he is deported from Darwin.
After delaying the flight for close to an hour, Pilbrow was removed by the Australian Federal Police.
The two other women who joined the protest left the plane voluntarily, and are now en-route to Darwin on separate flights.
Serious traffic incident, Manunda
QPS Media [2/2/15]:
Police are investigating after a woman was injured in a traffic incident in Moody Street, Manunda on Friday night.
Around 10pm, members of the public called emergency services following the discovery of 29-year-old Edmonton woman unconscious on the road.
The woman was conveyed to the Cairns Hospital for treatment for non-life threatening injuries.
Initial investigations suggest the woman was lying on the road when a vehicle ran over her legs.
Police will view traffic camera footage in the area to help identify the vehicle.
It appears the vehicle pulled off to the side of the road around 100m past the woman, however it is believed the driver did not get out of the vehicle.
Police are appealing for this driver or anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers to provide their version of events.
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.
Oil spill closes Byron Bay’s main entrance [Tweed Shire Echo – 2/2/15]
Charges: Dangerous conduct with a replica weapon, Redland Bay [QPS Media - 2/2/15]
Warwick police charge three people (including a teenager) with unlawful use of a motor vehicle from New South Wales [QPS Media - 2/1/15]
Police are investigating a single-vehicle crash about 50km north-west of Kyogle on Saturday (January 31) in which two teenage passengers were seriously injured. ... [Tweed Shire Echo - 1/2/15]
Monis' ex partner withdraws appeal
West Australian [2/1/15]:
The partner of Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis has withdrawn her bail application.
Amirah Droudis is charged with murdering Monis' ex-wife and mother-of-two Noleen Hayson Pal in April 2013.
Her matter was briefly mentioned at the Supreme Court in Sydney on Monday, where her bail application was withdrawn.
Constant shelling in Donetsk as peace talks in Minsk
end in blame game
Shelling of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk is continuing practically non-stop with shells landing in civilian areas after mediators’ talks failed Saturday. Militia and Kiev forces are fighting for the strategically key area of Debaltsevo.
Officials of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said at least three civilians have been killed by Ukrainian artillery fire targeting residential areas overnight.
“Overnight, the Ukrainian troops fired about 30 barrages at DPR cities. The night shelling injured 14 civilians” in two of the city’s neighborhoods, reported Eduard Basurin, deputy defense minister in the DPR.
Four more people have been killed on Sunday, the militia said, while the total number of injured over the past 24 hours is being counted at over 20. They blamed Ukrainian units holding two villages northwest of the city and several infiltration groups for the violence.
“They drive the streets in common freight mini-vans or garbage trucks and fire mortars they have inside at civilian and military targets, mostly to spread panic,” a militia official told RIA Novosti.
Ukrainian shells landed on two residential buildings, near a school, at the roof of a morgue near one of the city’s hospital and at garages, reports said.
The continued violence prompted local authorities to keep all schools closed until Wednesday.
Meanwhile clashes between Kiev loyalists and militia forces continued along the front line. Kiev reported losing 13 soldiers dead in the past 24 hours of hostilities. A further 20 soldiers were injured in the clashes, a military spokesman said. Their opponents offered no update on their casualties.
The Azov volunteer battalion reported a failed attempt to storm the city of Uglegorsk, a site of fierce fighting over the past few days. The militia forces claimed capturing it on Friday, but the Ukrainian military denied surrendering the strategically important location.
“The units of the Ukrainian Army and National Guard have fallen back from Uglegorsk. The city is de facto under enemy control,” the battalion said on its web page.
Uglegorsk is one of key points in the district of Debaltsevo, which is controlled by Kiev and protrudes deep into the militia-held territory. There are some 8,000 Ukrainian troops reportedly holding the region, who are at risk of being severed from their supply lines.
The OSCE called on Sunday for the continuation of attempts to negotiate a new ceasefire after talks on Saturday failed to produce any sort of agreement. Kiev and their opponents accused each other of derailing the talks.
The Ukrainian government said DNR and the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic, failed to send to Minsk officials with a high enough rank to sign a new agreement.
The previous one signed in Minsk in September 2014 was never fully implemented and collapsed completely in January, as the violations of the ceasefire by both parties escalated.
The militia said they are willing to negotiate, but wants Kiev to order a ceasefire first.
“We are prepared for dialogue and are willing to act within the framework of the Minsk agreement, but it should be a dialogue, not Kiev’s monologue,” Denis Pushilin, who represented the DNR at the Saturday meeting, told the media.
The rebels insisted that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gave the order to his troops to stop all hostilities before any document could be signed. They also want to renegotiate the disengagement line that would separate territories controlled by Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics to correspond to their latest military advancement. Ukraine insists that the territories it lost over January, including the ruins of Donetsk International Airport, should be surrendered.
According to the UN's estimate, the civil war in Eastern Ukraine has claimed at least 5,000 lives since April 2014, when residents in Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine took up arms against a coup-imposed government in Kiev, which responded with a military crackdown on the area.
Toddler shoots father, pregnant mother at New Mexico motel
A 3-year-old boy shot and wounded his father and pregnant mother with a 9 mm handgun that he pulled out of the woman's purse while searching for an iPad, police in New Mexico said on Sunday.
Both parents needed hospital treatment for non-life threatening injuries after the bullet went through his father's buttocks and into his mother's shoulder, Albuquerque Police Department Officer Simon Drobik said.
The woman, who is 8-months-pregnant, is being kept at the hospital for observation. The man has been released, said Drobik, who was first to arrive at the scene of the incident at an Albuquerque motel on Saturday afternoon.
"On the kid's side, it's a horrible accident that happened, but the parents are still culpable," Drobik said. "They should have secured the gun."
The couple could face felony negligence charges. The child does not face criminal charges, Drobik said.
The woman told police she purchased the gun the day before the incident, Drobik said. The man is not legally allowed to have a firearm because he has previously been convicted of a felony crime.
The family, including a two-year-old girl and the children's grandmother, had been living in an America's Best Value Inn for about a week with their two pit bulls when the incident occurred.
Following the shooting, the children were placed with child protective services for at least 48 hours. The dogs were taken by animal control staff.
Break-in at Queensland Electoral Commission office [Brisbane Times - 2/2/15]
* UPDATE * 2.45 PM, 2 February 2015, count is back to where it was: LNP 40 ALP 43.
WTF? as at 2.00PM, 2 February 2015, ABC live results are showing: ALP 35, LNP 40 with LNP predicted to win 46???
Queensland's unpopularity contest update: Too close to call
In order to become Premier of Queensland, the first thing Annastacia Palaszczuk will have to do is break a core promise.
However, the LNP can form government without breaking a promise because Newman's gone!
Brisbane Times [12/1/15]:
12:37pm Tony Moore: Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has this morning ruled out forming a "minority government."
Nine times in 17 seconds, she said "No" to the question. At one stage she emphatically said "No, no, no." Then "No deals."
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says he would rather lose government than rule by making a deal with minor parties. ... [SBS - 12/1/15]
... the ABC's election analyst Antony Green said a hung parliament was a real possibility with predictions Labor would win 44 seats this election and the LNP 42.
Green said all eyes would be on tight contests playing out in three seats - Mansfield, Whitsunday and Maryborough.
At the close of counting on Sunday night the LNP was leading in Mansfield and Whitsunday and the ALP was ahead in Maryborough.
Potential future premier and Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk was also optimistic about the party wining the seats needed to form a majority government.
Should it come to a hung parliament, Katter's Australian Party has two seats and is willing to do a deal with Labor.
Independent Nicklin MP Peter Wellington said he was also prepared to negotiate with Labor.
Australian Electoral Commission's Carrick Brough said the results of the final count could take up to a week to be known due to the large number of postal votes.
"Because of the large amount of postal votes - we took over 306,000 postal votes - and postal votes don't have to be returned until 10 days after the count," he said.
Brisbane Times [2/2/15]:
... But with 45 seats needed for a majority Labor was projected to fall one seat short.
That brings the two Katter's Australian Party MPs, Robbie Katter and Shane Knuth, and independent Sunshine Coast MP Peter Wellington's support into play.
All three were treated badly by the Newman Government, with the Katter Party MP's regularly singled out for contempt and attacks in parliament and Mr Wellington lambasted for what senior LNP ministers called his support for criminal motorcycle gangs, during the state's law and order "reform" battle.
All three signed a pledge last year as part of a crossbench coalition pledge to stop the LNP Government's proposed asset lease and privatisation plan.
While Mr Wellington has indicated he would support Labor in a hung parliament, a move he made in 1998 to deliver power to Peter Beattie, Mr Katter said he had "no preconceived ideas".
"All we have is a list of priorities which we feel best reflect the interest of our electorates, but at the same time, deliver for Queensland," Mr Katter said on Sunday.
"If given the opportunity we will be presenting those priorities to both the major parties and see who best aligns with them and then make a decision after consulting with the party."
Senator Glenn Lazarus [1/2/15]:
Thank you Queensland for supporting our Palmer United candidates during the 2015 State election.
Our candidates performed well with most securing double digit swings.
While we did not win any seats, we are growing and moving in the right direction and looking forward to the upcoming federal election.
We are everyday Australia.
Senate Inquiry: Certain Aspects of Queensland Government Administration public hearings in Brisbane and Cairns this week.
Refugee activists arrested at Australian Open.
Human Rights Establishment, lawyers, unions and medical profession maintain silence about Manus atrocities.
Refugee-policy protesters on roof of Tony Abbott's Manly office right now; helicopter hovering overhead
Image: @plabg [2/2/15]
@2DayFM: Four refugee advocates protesting against Manus Island have scaled the roof of @TonyAbbottMHR's electoral office in Manly. ...
Nine MSN [2/2/15:
Two refugee activists have been arrested after jumping onto the court at Rod Laver Arena and interrupting the Australian Open men's final between world No.1 Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Djokovic was leading 7-6 4-3 when the pair invaded the court, as other supporters unfurled a banner in the crowd which read "Australian Open for Refugees" and "#shutdownmanus".
Security personnel apprehended the pair before they got near the players.
There was a five-minute break in play.
The group who organised the protest, called Australia Open for Refugees, say they did it in solidarity with recent protests at the immigration detention centre at Manus Island, where a large number of detainees recently went on a hunger strike.
"We have created this international media spectacle today to expose the torture, abuse, and horrific conditions that are being perpetrated on Manus Island," the group said.
"We will not be silent. We are drawing a line with this issue. If we allow this to happen, there is no end to what this government is capable of."
Approximately half a dozen protesters were evicted from the stadium.
Djokovic went on to win the match 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-0.
@xBorderOps: @NTEUNSW @NTEUNational why have you redirected your staff to organise #hungerforjustice & not pursue divestment?
@xBorderOps: Deportation averted! Tamil refugee removed from the plane because one passenger refused to sit. Kudos! #StandUpAgainstDeportations
@bhakthi - Acting deputy arts editor, The Age: Asylum seeker protestors currently refusing to sit on @Qantas plane, in response to deportation of Tamil refugee, police attending.
@xBorderOps [2/2/15]: This is Puvaneethan, a 25-year-old Tamil man now being deported. QANTAS terminal 10, Melb
@KieranBennett: Update: #nodeportations activists located Puvaneethan at Tulla, are distributing leaflets #DefendPuvaneethan
Melbourne Street Medics: Police broke the line of anti-deportation protesters at 4am. ...
Don't send Puvaneethan to Darwin - vigil
2 February 2015