I think he's trying to tell us something.
Mystery surrounds the eerie sight of a man dressed as an undertaker who has been spotted gliding through the morning mist on Lake Burley Griffin in a stand-up paddle board fashioned as a coffin.
Paddlers on Canberra's lake were baffled by the sight of the man and his bizarre vessel, which has been decorated with brightly-coloured plastic flowers.
Canberra Times [2/7/15]
Elderly man hit by car, killed in northern Hobart suburb of Lenah Valley [ABC - 2/7/15]:
An elderly man has been struck by a car and killed in the northern Hobart suburb of Lenah Valley.
Emergency services are at the scene of the accident, which took place on Girrabong Road between Baldwin Place and Gurney Court.
The driver escaped with no injuries.
Police have begun forensic analysis of the scene.
One lane of traffic is closed and delays are expected.
Girl, 4, in critical condition in a Perth hospital after being hit by car [ABC - 2/7/15]
Serious crash, Kybong [QPS Media - 2/7/15]
Two-vehicle crash, Biggera Waters [MYGC – 2/7/15]
Car bursts into flames, Southport [MYGC – 2/7/15]
A Queensland teenager has been cut free from a wrecked vehicle after a serious crash at Caboolture, north of Brisbane.
Two vehicles collided on Bribie Island Road around 7.45am on Thursday, trapping an 18-year-old man inside one of the cars and also injuring a 40-year-old man.
Both have been taken to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital in a serious condition, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman says
Attempted murder charge, Mundubbera [QPS Media - 2/7/15]
Man sentenced to 30 years' jail for murder of estranged wife in Sydney's south [ABC - 2/7/15]:
... Justice Ian Harrison described it as a frenzied and brutal attack and said it was difficult, if not impossible, to imagine the terror that must have consumed the 39-year-old victim.
Former colleagues and friends of Ms Cullen wept during his sentencing comments.
"He [Cullen] did not express remorse or contrition," Justice Harrison said.
"Mr Cullen callously decided to kill the deceased for his own selfish and personal reasons.
"Her death was unnecessary, unwarranted, unfair and inexcusable.
"The death of the deceased is another example of the extremely prevalent violence perpetrated by men in our society against women to whom they are married or with whom they share a relationship of domestic intimacy.
"This malignant cycle of domestic violence is given publicity and media attention without corresponding or equivalent success in its prevention."
One day it might me you. And nobody will care. [ABC - 2/7/15]:
Armed federal police officers have stormed a Bossley Park house, in Sydney's west, and tasered a man but say the incident is not related to any threat to national security.
Three bangs rang out moments before officers entered the two-storey home in Serpentine Street at Bossley Park, just after 1:00pm.
Officers tasered a man and an ambulance was sent to the property.
Aerial photos suggested there were two snipers with rifles trained on the back of the home.
An Australian Federal Police (AFP) spokesperson confirmed officers were "responding to an incident".
"This incident is not related to any threat to national security and there is no immediate danger to the safety of the community," the spokesperson said.
Accused murderer with terminal illness granted bail over shooting death of great-grandmother [ABC - 2/7/15]
Man accused of funding Islamic State terrorists, refused bail by Supreme Court in Sydney [ABC - 2/7/15]
Armed robbery charges, Jindalee [QPS Media - 2/7/15]
Fire guts Bayside home as owners holiday
A large Queensland family will return from a holiday to a devastating scene after their home on Brisbane's bayside was gutted by fire.
A motorist passing the property on Scenic Road, Redland Bay, called emergency services when they saw flames about 4.30am on Thursday.
It took six fire crews more than half an hour to extinguish the blaze.
Firefighters were removing parts of the roof of the two-storey brick home, which had partially collapsed, to continue an investigation into what sparked the fire.
The home will need to be demolished, Capalaba station officer Paul Omanski says.
"At this stage, we believe that the house is not occupied - the residents appear to be away on holiday," he told ABC Radio.
"We still have crews in there conducting a secondary search of the premises."
A family that includes up to eight children usually live in the house, according to the ABC.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority is investigating a spill of coal waste and water from the Clarence Colliery mine near Lithgow into the Wollangambe River.
The agency learnt of the incident, believed to be the collapse of a coal waste dump, on Thursday morning, and coal material had affected at least 150 metres of the river, the EPA said. ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 2/7/15]
A derailed train car burst into flames early Thursday, unleashing toxic fumes and forcing the evacuation of 5,000 people just outside Knoxville, Tennessee, authorities said.
Seven deputies were hospitalized after exposure to the fumes in Blount County, said Marian O'Briant, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office. ...
Hilton Hotel in Surfers Paradise sells for more than $50M
The Hilton Hotel in Surfers Paradise has been sold for more than fifty-million-dollars.
The Hotel, which has 169 rooms was put up for sale in March this year.
Brookfield Multiplex sold the Hotel to a private Chinese-Australian family.
The deal included the management rights of the hotel’s adjacent tower which has 250 residences.
It comes less than a month after the Crowne Plaza in Broadbeach was sold for around 70 million to a Singapore-based family.
Varoufakis says he will quit if Greeks vote 'Yes'
Bloomberg [VIDEO - 2/7/15]:
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said he’ll quit if Greece votes to accept creditors’ bailout proposals in Sunday’s referendum.
He said he would "rather cut my arm off" than sign a new accord that doesn’t restructure Greece’s outstanding debt.
Varoufakis expects Greeks to follow the government’s recommendation to reject the bailout proposals, which would require further tax increases and spending cuts in exchange for continued aid.
He spoke to Guy Johnson on "The Pulse."
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has indicated that he will approve a plan to revise Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold. Inc.’s contract of work (COW), with a top minister conceding that it would be economically unfeasible for the government not to allow the US mining giant to continue its operations in Indonesia.
The information was revealed after Freeport CEO James “Jim Bob” Moffett met Jokowi on Thursday morning at the State Palace, where executives from the Arizona-based firm stated their intention to continue investing in Indonesia. ... [Jakarta Globe - 2/7/15]
US sues to stop Electrolux acquiring GE's appliance business [Reuters - 1/7/15]
UK: Kick corporate interests out of NHS, Green MP’s anti-privatisation bill proposes [RT – 1/7/15]
Man who filmed Eric Garner chokehold video arrested on drug charges [ABC7 - 1/7/15]:
A man who recorded video of a white police officer applying a fatal chokehold to a black man has been arrested on drug charges, police said Wednesday.
Ramsey Orta was arrested in Manhattan after selling $40 worth of the euphoria-inducing stimulant MDMA, also known as the party drug Molly, to an undercover officer, authorities said.
He was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance. Orta vehemently denies the charges and denies committing the crime, defense lawyer Will Aronin said. ...
French defence chiefs have suspended two soldiers suspected of sexually-abusing children in Burkina Faso.
One of the victims was a girl around five years old, a source close to the investigation told AFP news agency.
It comes after a leaked UN report in April claimed French peacekeepers had abused children in the Central African Republic (CAF).
France’s defence ministry said: “Two French soldiers on a mission in Burkina Faso are suspected to have engaged in acts of a sexual nature with two children.
“Informed of these suspicions, the defence minister immediately reported these allegations to French judicial authorities. He also suspended the two soldiers.” ... [EURO News - 1/7/15]
New Zealand parliament passes motion on Nauru
The New Zealand parliament has passed a unanimous motion expressing concern about the situation in Nauru.
The motion was moved by the Green Party's global affairs spokesperson Kennedy Graham.
Dr Graham called for the parliament to express its concern at the Nauru government's alleged interference with the judiciary, the suspension of opposition MPs, the cancelling of passports of opposition MPs and the removal of civil and political rights.
The move follows a call from top legal academics in New Zealand for the government to stop funding the justice sector in Nauru over concerns about the rule of law.
The Foreign Minister Murray McCully says he is concerned about the situation and has sought a meeting with representatives of the Nauru Government in Sydney next week.
Last week he said he did not want to put Nauru's judicial system under any further pressure by pulling aid.
The New Zealand Green Party says if New Zealand continues funding, the government sends the message that it supports what they say is a flagrant abuse of power in a South Pacific neighbour.
The party says New Zealand is in an opportune position to effect change and Mr McCully needs to do the right thing and send a strong message to restore democracy to Nauru.
Two Nauru MPs, who have been in custody for two weeks, will stay in the island's prison for at least another week after their bail applications were denied in the Magistrates Court today.
There are reports from Nauru that attempts by people in Meneng, including Mr Jeremiah's wife, to put up protest banners in the district this week were stopped by police, who threatened to charge them with rioting.
Four of the five suspended MPs are facing legal action but they do not have access to a qualified lawyer on Nauru and the Government is refusing to issue a visa for a lawyer in Australia to travel to the island. [RNZI - 2/7/15]
Australia and Europe: Failing the world's refugees, Dr Jeff Crisp [Rights in Exile - 1/7/15]:
... In the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”.
And according to the UN Refugee Convention, states must not “expel or return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened”.
While Australia ostensibly endorses both of these important principles, the country has played a regrettable role in challenging and undermining them.
How exactly has it done this? By establishing a naval blockade that prevents refugee boats from reaching the country’s shores. By holding asylum seekers in detention at sea for days on end and examining their claims to refugee status in the most cursory manner. By forcing such people into lifeboats and pushing them into Indonesian waters. By incarcerating asylum seekers and refugees in remote foreign locations where the rule of law is not respected. By trading refugees with one authoritarian state (Hun Sen’s Cambodia), in exchange for huge amounts of aid. By colluding with another (Sri Lanka under the Rajapaksa regime) in the apprehension and rapid return of its asylum seeking citizens. And by holding recognised refugees in indefinite detention on unknown security grounds.
there are several reasons why highly prosperous countries such as Australia and the EU’s member states should respect their responsibilities towards refugees.
First, such countries should be setting a much better example to the rest of the world. Why should countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, for example, be expected to host millions of Syrian refugees for years on end, when much wealthier states are unwilling to admit far smaller numbers of people who have escaped from armed conflict and persecution in their country of origin? The inequity of this situation is unsustainable, and it is not surprising that some developing and middle-income countries are now emulating Australia and the EU by stopping the boats and closing their borders.
Second, history shows us that responding to large-scale maritime movements can be done in a manner that is consistent with international refugee and human rights law. In the 1980s, for example, the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indo-Chinese Refugees (CPA), strongly supported by both Australia and Europe, introduced a slew of measures designed to address the movement of boat people from Vietnam and Cambodia: an anti-piracy campaign; a rescue at sea and disembarkation operation; the large-scale resettlement of refugees to countries around the world; and eventually the return of those asylum seekers who did not qualify for refugee status. Could a new CPA be envisaged for the Rohingya who are escaping from Myanmar, or for the Eritreans, Somalis and Syrians who are making their way to Europe?
Finally, by failing the world’s refugees – and in the process demonising them – Australia and Europe are directly challenging the right “to seek and to enjoy in other countries freedom from persecution”. That right is one that should be celebrated rather than challenged. It has saved the lives of millions of people around the world. It has had many positive outcomes, enabling many refugees to establish productive new lives in the countries that have admitted them, and allowing others to return to their own countries (once it is safe for them to do so) and then to contribute to the rebuilding of their own societies.
By respecting the right of asylum, states have an opportunity to reaffirm a universal principle that was born of a previous failure of the international community – to provide adequate sanctuary to Jews and other minorities who were subjected to fascist persecution.
Milne: Look for MH370 in Bay of Bengal [Free Malaysia Today - 1/7/15]:
Volunteer Investigator Andre Milne has written in to maintain that his calculations show that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 had ample fuel to get to the Maldives well past 1:30 UTC.
“It has been independently verified by multiple aviation industry professionals. It’s now a raging topic on Twitter.”
He pointed out that he was in a position where he had systematically debunked the initial ping detection in the Southern Indian Ocean (SIO), the super computer nose dive theory and now the lithium battery fire theory . . . Great story re Mr. Cameron MH370”.
An impartial skeptic who operates under the handle @drmikehunt has gathered plenty of credible sources, he added, “that you may also care to reach out to for comment”.
“With respect to the Maldives sightings being debunked, please forgive my contrarianism…”
He argued that until the Maldives Government answers his recent questions and the site in the Bay of Bengal (BOB) was searched, “it was a tad premature to report the Maldives sightings of MH370 as being debunked”.
There is an American lawyer named Blaine Gibson who took statements from the Maldives sighting witnesses who clearly observed a Boeing 777 that matched MH370 and not a Dash 8 as being spun by the Maldives Government, he continued.
He humbly suggests that perhaps prior to any further reporting that the Maldives sightings have been debunked, “it’s clearly in the interest of professional journalism to speak with Gibson.”
“Hear first hand from a sworn officer of the court what was observed by the witnesses he spoke to and not rely on a series of illogical and contradictory statements from the Maldives Government.”
MH370 Operational Search Update—01 July 2015
A top secret draft of the official report into the cause of the crash of flight MH17 in Ukraine was handed to Australian government experts almost one month ago, it has emerged.
They have been asked to comment on some of the conclusions
As well as addressing the cause of the crash, the report assesses whether the plane should have been assigned that flight path, and whether the process of releasing passenger information could have been better handled. ... [Canberra Times - 2/7/15]
News of the World boss angry after "Not Guilty" verdict in phone hacking prosecution
One of the biggest figures in British tabloid newspaper journalism was today acquitted of taking part in the phone hacking conspiracy at the News of the World.
Neil "Wolfman" Wallis, deputy editor of the News of the World, had been accused of plotting to hack mobile phone messages at the Sunday tabloid between 2003 and 2006.
A jury at London's Central Criminal Court returned the "Not Guilty" verdict at 12.20pm after deliberating for four days.
Outside court, Mr Wallis made a statement attacking what he said was "a vicious politically-driven campaign" against the press.
"Four years. Fours years after I was arrested, I finally walk out of here a free man. It's cost me and my family most of our life savings," he said.
"It's ruined my life, all because of a vicious politically-driven campaign against the press launched by Keir Starmer and Alison Levitt [the former Director of Public Prosecutions and his legal adviser].
"This is the culmination of a political drive by the police and the CPS. It's a disgrace."
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [1/7/15]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft conducted five airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Kobani, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Tal Abyad, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 12 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Baghdadi, an airstrike struck land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage.
-- Near Huwayjah, an airstrike destroyed seven ISIL vehicles.
-- Near Qaim, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Habbaniyah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL mortar systems and an ISIL weapons cache.
-- Near Kirkuk, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL staging area, an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL building.
-- Near Rawah, an airstrike had inconclusive results.
-- Near Sinjar, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL sniper position, destroying an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL building.
-- Near Waleed, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator.
Yemeni man lost 27 family members in Saudi-led air strike [Middle East Eye - 1/7/15]
Saudi tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal on Wednesday promised his entire $32 billion (28.8 billion euro) fortune to charitable projects in coming years, in one of the biggest ever such pledges.
The pledge is "maybe... the first such big announcement" of its kind in the region, and is modeled on a charity established by Microsoft founder Bill Gates in the United States, the prince told reporters. ... [Naharnet - 1/7/15]
Afghanistan: 16 killed and wounded in separate incidents
Eight people, including four civilians, have been killed and as many injured during different incidents in Maidan Wardak, Herat and Badghis provinces, officials said on Wednesday.
Two civilians were killed by Taliban insurgents on the accusation that they spied for the government in the Karukh district of western Herat province on Tuesday evening, the district police chief said.
Col. Sher Agha said one of the victims was a teacher and their bodies had been released to their families from the district hospital. He insisted the slain persons had no connection with any party to the conflict and were innocent.
In the same district, insurgents killed nearly a dozen Afghan soldiers few days ago.
Separately, a Taliban militant was killed in a blast caused by his own bomb in the Jaghtu district of central Maidan Wardak province on Wednesday morning, the governor’s spokesman told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Later, a Taliban group leader, Mullah Nasir, arrived in the area to collect the remains of the dead militant, but Afghan National Army troops engaged him in a gun-battle and killed him.
Attaullah Khogyani said one ANA soldier was killed and an officer injured during the clash. In northwestern Badghis province, a policeman was killed and three civilians injured during an attack by armed militants in the Qadis district on Wednesday noon, the town’s administrative head said.
Saleh Mohammad Baig told Pajhwok Afghan News the insurgents attacked a police check post in the district’s Gulchan area, causing the casualties.
He said civilians suffered casualties because the security post was situated near residential homes.
Similarly, four people have been injured during separate incidents in northern Faryab province.
Faryab police spokesman Syed Massoud Yaqubi said Taliban gunmen opened fire at a civilian vehicle on the main road in Gorzada area, injuring two persons on Wednesday morning.
Separately, two people were injured when security personnel opened fire at a vehicle fleeing a search near the provincial capital, Maimama.
Saleh Mohammad, who was injured in the firing incident, said ANA troops were searching for unregistered vehicles when a car attempted to flee and the troops opened fire at the car.
“I was working in the area with four other men when a bullet hit me and another bullet pierced through a second person.”
More than 100 dead as militants, Egyptian army clash in North Sinai [Reuters – 1/7/15]
Fijian Soldiers in Sinai are safe after last night's wave of deadly attacks by Islamic State fighters in Egypt's Sinal penninsula.
This is the reassurance from Land Force Commander and spokesman Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho. ... [Fiji Times - 2/7/15]
Several Israeli bulldozers entered an area in the central Gaza Strip on Wednesday, locals said.
Witnesses told Ma'an that six bulldozers left the Kissufim military base and entered an area near the border fence.
Shots were fired at Palestinians in agricultural lands in the area, with no injuries reported. Israeli forces stationed along Gaza's borders routinely enter border areas to level land. ... [Maan - 1/7/15]
Around 700 police officers raided a neighborhood mostly populated by Roma people in the western town of Keşan early on July 1, detaining 44 suspects upon claims of “brawling and looting.”
During the operation, around 200 riot police officers reportedly marched in the streets of Keşan, in the northwestern province of Edirne, chanting “The police give peace and trust” and “How happy is the one who says ‘I’m a Turk.’” ... [Hurriyet Daily News - 1/7/15]
Two suicide bombers blew themselves up near a hospital in Maiduguri in northeast Nigeria on Wednesday, shortly after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo arrived in the city to visit camps for people fleeing a militant Islamist insurgency. ... [News 24 - 1/7/15]
No ‘Je Suis Charleston’? [Counterpunch – 1/7/15]:
... However, it was at the funeral of Rev Pinckney, the pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church murdered by Dylann Roof, where the concluding act of the governments’ obscene efforts to co-opt and deflect the pain of the attack played to a world-wide audience.
President Obama turned in one of his best performances of a life-time of performances for white supremacy.
His eulogy was a masterful example of his special talent to embody an instrumentalist “blackness” while delivering up that blackness to the white supremacist, U.S. settler project.
In his eulogy, he couched his narrative of “American exceptionalism” in the language of Christian religiosity that was indistinguishable from the proclamations of the religious right that sees the U.S. as a state bestowed with the grace of their God. ...
Cuba and US agree embassies can open on July 20 [Al Jazeera - 2/7/15]
The United States does not anticipate giving up its naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, despite Wednesday's historic agreement by the former Cold War enemies to restore diplomatic ties, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said. ... [Ahram - 1/7/15]
Puerto Rico could be on the verge of following Greece in defaulting on its debt.
Puerto Rico’s government and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority say they will miss today’s deadline for more than $1 billion in payments on a debt of more than $73 billion.
This comes as Puerto Rico’s unemployment is more than twice the U.S. national rate, and its poverty level is nearly double that of the poorest U.S. state.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s healthcare system may also be on the verge of collapse.
We are joined by Congressmember Nydia Velázquez, Democrat for New York and the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to Congress. ... [Democracy Now - 1/7/15]
Amid ongoing concern about the status of thousands of immigrants living in the Dominican Republic, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Haiti, Sandra Honoré, said that deportations carried out by Santo Domingo authorities should not result in statelessness of people of Haitian descent. ... [Media Release - 25/6/15]
The United States National Security Agency has been massively targeting phone numbers of top German ministers and public officials responsible for commerce, finances, economics and agriculture – including even Angela Merkel's personal assistant.
WikiLeaks publishes today, 1 July 2015, a list of 69 German government telephone numbers from a high-priority NSA target interception list demonstrating economic and political espionage against Germany for almost two decades.
WikiLeaks is also publishing classified interception reports resulting from the surveillance, showing the US and UK spying on German officials discussing their positions and disagreements on the solution to the Greek financial crisis. ... [WikiLeaks - 1/7/15]
XKEYSCORE: NSA’s Google for the World’s Private Communications [The Intercept - 1/7/15]:
One of the National Security Agency’s most powerful tools of mass surveillance makes tracking someone’s Internet usage as easy as entering an email address, and provides no built-in technology to prevent abuse.
Today, The Intercept is publishing 48 top-secret and other classified documents about XKEYSCORE dated up to 2013, which shed new light on the breadth, depth and functionality of this critical spy system — one of the largest releases yet of documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Military, Federal, Private-Sector Partners Key to Cyber Guard 15 [US Department of Defense - 1/7/15]:
Cyberspace and critical infrastructure operators and experts from more than 100 organizations spanning government, academia, industry and the international coalition participated in the fourth annual Cyber Guard exercise, June 8-26.
U.S. Cyber Command, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation co-led the exercise.
More than 1,000 participants -- including active-duty, National Guard and Reserve units and personnel from all five military services -- took part in the exercise in Suffolk, Virginia.
Participants rehearsed a whole-of-nation response to destructive cyberattacks against U.S. critical infrastructure.
Turkey’s Constitutional Court has delivered a landmark ruling in favor freedom of expression, saying governments must tolerate even the toughest criticism and ordering the authorities to pay 5,000 liras in non-pecuniary losses to a columnist who had been sentenced for “insulting” MPs through the media. ... [Hurriyet Daily News - 1/7/15]
Russian TV journalist expelled from Ukraine by force [TASS - 1/7/15]:
A journalist working for Russia's Channel One has been accused of fabricating a news report by the Ukrainian Security Service and expelled from Kiev by force, the channel's deputy director told TASS on Wednesday.
Alexandra Cherepnina "called us 20 minutes ago from a Moscow-bound plane where she was taken by force by security officers," Kirill Kleimenov said.
"She said the reason for her expulsion, according to security officers, was the alleged fabrication of a report about a little girl threatening to slaughter Russians," he said adding that the channel ran the story on June 24.
The Russian embassy in Kiev had confirmed that Cherepnina who had been staying in Kiev from mid-June was expelled from the country.
Russian gas company Gazprom said on Wednesday it was halting all natural gas supplies to Ukraine after Kiev announced the immediate suspension of Russian gas purchases the day earlier.
"Ukraine did not pay for July gas supplies," Gazprom said in a statement.
"Gazprom halted gas supplies to Ukraine from 10 am (0700 GMT) July 1," it said, stressing that no more gas would be sent to the conflict-torn ex-Soviet country without prepayment. [Naharnet - 1/7/15]
Ukraine: UN scales up food assistance in country's crisis torn eastern region [Media Release – 1/7/15]
@moas_eu [1/7/15]: Just arrived in Trapani after saving other 349 ppl.Disembarking now. #SavingLives makes us happy #MOAS #MSF #refugees
@moas_eu: Saved by #MOAS:Divine,7 from Nigeria.Zacheria,8 from #Syria.He hadn't had access to pen&paper for 2yrs while in Libya
@moas_eu: Abraham and Divine fled #Nigeria: 800,000 children forced to run for their lives @UNICEF #MOAS #SavingLives #Refugees
UNHCR head tells humanitarian NGOs "moment of truth" has arrived [Media Release - 1/7/15]:
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres on Wednesday outlined major challenges facing his agency and the entire humanitarian community warning that the "moment of truth had arrived" given the scale of current global challenges.
Guterres told the annual UNHCR-NGO consultations in Geneva that the current humanitarian system – facing the largest number of forcibly displaced since records began – was "broke but not broken."
"Dramatic problems in multiple regions are in contrast to decreasing support; in 2010, there were 11,000 newly displaced per day; in 2011, 14,000; in 2012, 23,000; in 2013, 32,000; in 2014, 42,500 per day," he told the opening session, adding that in such a climate strategic partnerships could not be more important.
While stressing that the humanitarian community needed to explore the cost-effectiveness of current crisis responses, Guterres said development actors must step forward to support countries and communities whose own development efforts have been devastated by the strain of hosting immense numbers of refugees.
Last month, UNHCR's Global Trends Report: World at War, said the number of people forcibly displaced at the end of 2014 as a result of war, conflict and persecution had risen to a staggering 59.5 million compared to 51.2 million a year earlier and 37.5 million a decade ago.
"The volume of refugee needs is increasing dramatically, but resources are not following," Guterres reiterated to the NGO gathering and urged them to keep on pressuring UNHCR "when needs arise".
"UNHCR counts on NGOs to help," he declared. However, Guterres also pointed out that two out of every three refugees today came from Muslim countries though the system remained very western orientated. He called for greater efforts to make sure the system was rights-based.
For the past two decades, the annual NGO consultations have brought together UNHCR and many of its 600 partner organisations worldwide. This year's theme is "In Pursuit of Solutions".
In a welcome note, Guterres wrote: "For the next three days, we have an opportunity to advance our thinking on solutions… By solutions we are not only referring to the classic durable solutions of voluntary repatriation, resettlement and local integration, but also to the broader sense of enabling refugees and other persons of concern to improve their quality of life and to enjoy their human rights."
NGOs are vital partners for UNHCR, implementing programmes for refugees and internally displaced people in some of the world's most remote and difficult places.
Sons, daughters, extended family of boat people: Fleeing a crisis, Greek economic migrants flock back to Australia [Channel News Asia – 2/7/15]
Post World War II Migrant Ships: Australis [Museum Victoria]:
The Australis left Piraeus, Greece, for her first immigrant voyage to Australia on 21 August 1965, reaching Fremantle on 6 September and Melbourne on 13 September.
She made a total of 62 voyages to Australia between 1965 and 1977, travelling regularly between Britain and Australia via the Suez Canal, stopping at ports such as Aden, Port Said and Colombo. ...
Australia's protected and unaccountable Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg says operational matters won't be discussed publicly [ABC - 2/7/15]
Australia gives Myanmar an additional $5 million to help with their ongoing genocide in Rakhine State [Protected and unaccountable Immigration and Foreign Minister joint media release - 29/5/15]
Australia also continues helping cover up the genocide [Nine MSN - 29/5/15]:
Australia is calling on Southeast Asia to achieve a sustainable solution to the region's asylum seeker crisis, especially in Myanmar where thousands of Muslim Rohingya have fled poverty and persecution.
Immigration and Border Protection Portfolio chief executive Roman Quaedvlieg says Canberra is ready to put its money where its mouth is to support the effort.
Attending a meeting of senior representatives from 17 countries in Bangkok on Friday, Mr Quaedvlieg said additional financial support from Australia would come on top of substantial existing assistance.
"What needs to happen here is a coalition of like-minded nations within the region who recognise this is a global problem and deal with a global solution," he said.
"If we all go away from here recognising that this is a regional problem, that a regional multi-element solution should apply, then that's a good thing."
Completely ignored by the Australian political, media, human rights establishment and Canberra branch of UNHCR
UN Media Release [1/7/15]:
Several senior United Nations officials today strongly urged Southeast Asian countries to back a “people-centred” approach to migration by, among others, expanding avenues for safe and legal migration, while stepping up law enforcement to put a stop to human trafficking.
Welcoming the convening of an emergency meeting to be held on 2 July by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to address a people-centred approach for tackling the irregular migration in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, the officials called for a comprehensive and durable solution to this issue.
“The meeting provides a timely opportunity to move meaningfully forward on the comprehensive and durable solution … in keeping with the spirit of unity and solidarity of a people-oriented and people-centred ASEAN,” according to a joint statement issued today by the UN High Commissioners for Refugees and for Human Rights, the Director-General the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Special Representative for International Migration and Development, and Executive Director of the UN office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Despite recent progress, some important remaining tasks need to be done such as granting access to national and international agencies to reach refugees and migrants, rather than using immigration detention, noted the joint statement.
“We strongly urge States to undertake sustained efforts to expand avenues for safe and legal migration,” said the statement, adding that those include “for family reunification and labour migration at all skill levels, while stepping up law enforcement.”
The joint statement also called on States to implement UNODC's recommendation to network ports and border crossings for operations to share information and improve policies with commitments to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
Stressing that the creation of a continuing mechanism is key to international support for the affected States, the UN officials said such task force should guarantee the rights of all migrants and refugees while addressing the drivers and root causes of the forced movement.
The Emergency ASEAN Ministerial meeting on Transnational Crime: Irregular Movement of Persons in the South East Asia Region will take place on 2 July in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Australia's political, media and human rights establishment would call this man a "vile people smuggler" ----> Holocaust 'hero' Sir Nicholas Winton dies aged 106 [BBC - 1/7/15]
Which country on this map of South East Asia is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention?
Saeed Ajmal raises £30,000 for Rohingya refugees [Dawn.com - 29/6/15]:
Pakistan's spin maestro Saeed Ajmal is in England playing county cricket to regain his lost rhythm with a remodeled action, but along with it the 37-year-old spinner is putting in special efforts to raise funds for displaced Rohingya refugees.
A fund-raising event for the Rohingya refugees was held in Manchester on Saturday, where Ajmal, who is playing for Worcestershire, was invited as the chief guest.
Saj Sadiq, editor of cricket portal PakPassion, who was present at the event, tweeted: “With the support [and] efforts of Saeed Ajmal, £30,000 was raised yesterday at the charity event for Rohingya refugees.”
In recent years, sectarian violence and a thicket of discriminatory laws against the Rohingya in Buddhist-majority Myanmar have sparked the region’s largest exodus of boat-people since the Vietnam War.
According to the United Nations, more than 25,000 people, including many Rohingya but also economic migrants from Bangladesh, made the dangerous sea journey south from the Bay of Bengal between January and March this year.
An estimated 1.3 million Rohingya scratch out an existence in Rakhine, one of Myanmar’s poorest states — tens of thousands are trapped in displacement camps, with conditions outside often worse.
Human beings protest
Australian government's Nazi refugee policies outside Peter Dutton's office
Nine MSN [2/7/15]:
... A group of about 40 protesters gathered outside Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's office in Strathpine, north of Brisbane, on Thursday.
While many were there to voice opposition to the newly enforced Border Force Act, others said they were maintaining a long-held stance against the federal government's legislative stance.
The Australian Border Force legislation came into effect on Wednesday and contains a provision that "an entrusted person" must not disclose protected information.
A breach of the provision can result in two years in jail.
Frederika Steen, 70, migrated to Australia from Holland with her family after World War II, before going on to work as an immigration official in the `80s.
She said Australia's current policies on asylum seekers and refugees were "trashing hope" for those seeking a new life.
"In terms of human rights, this is the blackest period in the Australian history since the convict days," she said.
But if laws were relaxed, refugee families could settle and contribute economically to the growth of the nation, she said.
Organiser Paul McKinnon of the Refugee Action Collective said the message to the minister was loud and clear.
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself," he said.
"The lot you're putting in practice is beneath what human beings ought to be doing."
Refugee advocate David Sprigg - the man accused of throwing his footwear at the immigration minister at a welcoming ceremony - also attended.
Asked if he'd ever repeat the alleged act, the 33-year-old said: "Of course I would."
"Voting doesn't change much," he told AAP.
"There's no election right now and the Border Force Act has come into force - there needs to be a way for citizens to show their non-support."
Mr Sprigg will be back in Brisbane Magistrates Court on July 22, where he intends to fight his public nuisance charge.
@GumbyAu [2/7/15]: Protest outside @PeterDutton_MP's office - surprising to see this in the outer burbs
"Worrying" says President of Australian Human Rights Commission. [Guardian - 2/7/15]
... The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, said he was aware of the open letter, but that its claims were “not accurate”.
“[The act] will not restrict anyone’s ability to raise genuine concerns about conditions in detention should they wish to do so through appropriate channels,” he said.
Labor MP Tim Watts also denied the bill would prevent ABF officers from making disclosures that fell within the Public Interest Disclosures Act. ... [AMA joins protest against asylum law that can jail detention centre staff - Guardian - 1/7/15]
New Zealand law academics say Foreign Minister needs to take action over deteriorating constitutional situation in Nauru
A group of New Zealand law academics say the Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, needs to take more decisive action over the deteriorating constitutional situation in Nauru.
In an open letter to Mr McCully, the 29 academics, want the Foreign Minister to make urgent representations to the Nauruan government about the deteriorating rule of law situation.
Signatories include the former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, and the former Attorney-General and Speaker Margaret Wilson.
The letter says that if Nauru does not move swiftly to take remedial action, then the Minister must withdraw New Zealand funding from Nauru's Department of Justice and Border Control.
New Zealand has provided US$600,000 a year to fund the system.
The academics add that it's not tenable for New Zealand to continue in its role of principal funder of Nauru's justice sector while democracy and the rule of law are in such disarray and while so many basic human are being denied.
One of the signatoriesis Claudia Geiringer, who is the chair in Public Law at Victoria University and the director of the New Zealand Centre for Public Law.
She says it's time for Mr McCully to play hard-ball with the Nauru government.
"The Minister, Murray McCully has been expressing concern over the situation Nauru on and off for a year now, and that hasn't been effective approach, and we think it's time to engage New Zealand's aid relationship and ultimately if there are not some swift improvements to withdraw funding."
She says the problem there is New Zealand may be under pressure not to rock the boat, given Australia's compromised position with regard to Nauru.
Five of the seven opposition MPs in the Nauru Parliament have been expelled for more than a year, officially for speaking to foreign media about the government's actions.
Three of those MPs are now facing criminal charges in relation to a protest outside the Parliament earlier this month.
The group says since the 2013 election in Nauru, there has been a series of disturbing developments on the islands that indicate a severe deterioration in the state of its parliamentary democracy and in the rule of law.
Last year, the government forced out of office the island's (then) only judge, and suspended most of the opposition from Parliament indefinitely.
The government has also prohibited local media from speaking to the opposition, and has closed down access to Facebook for Nauruan citizens, amongst other things.
The letter says, the dismantling of an effective judicature, together with the silencing of the media, opposition and even ordinary citizens on Facebook means that the government of Nauru is now virtually immune from scrutiny of its actions.
The letter expresses particular concern for the Wellington-based family of suspended Nauruan opposition MP Roland Kun.
Last year, the Nauruan government revoked the visa of Mr Kun's wife, an Australian citizen, so that she cannot live on Nauru.
The legal academics say by cancelling Mr Kun's passport while he was visiting Nauru, the Nauruan government has now forced the couple's separation. Mr Kun is the primary caregiver of the couple's three children and the youngest is only 18 months old.
The New Zealand Law Society also issued a press release, saying that it was time to speak out about the deteriorating situation in Nauru.
Australia: A role model for the rest of the world?
Image: @wishart88 [21/7/14]
"If it's flooded forget it" is a victim blaming fear campaign
In the face of an increasing threat of more and more climate change related extreme weather events, Australia's political and media establishment have done nothing but blame the victims and encourage personal responsibility for things that are beyond their control.
All our so called leaders and authorities and media can do is shake their fists at the citizenry.
We wrote this in 2013. It is just as applicable today.
There Are No "Rubbernecking Sightseers" Or "Curious Residents" Hampering Emergency Rescue Efforts, But There Are An Awful Lot Of Personal Responsibility Crusaders Who Have Learned Nothing From The 2010/2011 Queensland Floods
Reportage of the current extreme weather event in Queensland appears to indicate media, politicians and some authorities have learned nothing.
Do you understand that mixed messages, withholding of vital information, fear mongering and beatups (eg broadcasting extensive footage of canoeists in Bundaberg) are intended to provoke anger, keep you confused and deflect attention from who the real fraudsters, vultures, looters, scammers, rumour mongers, profiteers and rubberneckers are?
Are you fooled by politicians making strong warnings
about driving through flooded roads and swimming in stormwater drains as they
sell off your schools, hospitals and underfund emergency services?
If you can get people to hold two contradictory ideas in their head (eg when a media outlet says send us your images/videos and stories then says don't go anywhere, stay at home, 'rubber-neckers' are evil), you can get people to believe anything.
You can get them to hate their neighbours and you can get them to support wars of aggression on a lie.
If you practise logical consistency, you might start demanding logical consistency from your politicians and they might have to start governing rather than managing.
A well informed, united and unafraid electorate is the enemy of the neoliberal juggernaut.
Are you going to allow Queensland's politicians and media continue their war on rationality and the ability of the citizenry to critically analyse?
Fatal incident, Caboolture [QPS Media - 2/5/15]:
Police have confirmed the death of a man on Beerburrum Road, Caboolture overnight.
This and the related release was initially reported as being on Dancers Rd, Caboolture.
Around 5.30pm yesterday, police received information that a vehicle had been swept away by flood waters.
Investigations revealed two separate vehicles were swept away by flood waters during the same incident.
Three people in the first vehicle were earlier pronounced deceased at the scene.
The second vehicle contained three people.
Two passengers, a 21-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy managed to escape the vehicle.
A third person, a man aged 49-years-old who was the driver of the vehicle was initially unable to be located.
Police and emergency services searched overnight for the man.
At about 6am this morning the man was located deceased. ...
Triple-0 operator chastises flood victims [ABC - 19/4/11]:
ALI MOORE: The Queensland flood inquiry has heard a triple-0 operator chastised a mother and her son, shortly before they were swept to their deaths.
Two emergency calls made by Donna and Jordan Rice were played to the inquiry as their family wept quietly in the courtroom.
Francene Norton reports from Toowoomba.
FRANCENE NORTON: Survivor Blake Rice and his father John Tyson were surrounded by family, as they prepared themselves to hear the final recordings of their loved ones.
The calls were made on the 10 January as floodwaters swept away their car in Toowoomba's CBD. In the first call, the police operator demanded three times: "Why did you drive through floodwaters?"
"You shouldn't have driven through floodwaters in the first place."
The family of Donna and Jordan Rice wiped away tears as they listened to the rising panic in the second emergency call. In the background, Donna Rice could be heard yelling at her sons to jump on the roof, while Jordan Rice pleaded with the operator to hurry up because they were about to drown.
The female operator shouted: "If you don't tell me where you are we can't help you."
"Tell the woman beside you to stop yelling."
Donna Rice's widower John Tyson read a statement to the court about the impact the tragedy has had on his family's lives. And in response to the triple-0 calls, Mr Tyson said: "I fail to see what part of the call wasn't panic."
"What gave someone the right to decide that I have to bury half my family?"
Earlier the court heard from the chief executive officer and Mayor of Toowoomba Regional Council about whether an SMS alert to residents before the flash flooding hit would have helped. Both told the inquiry that given the waters rose so quickly, an SMS may have created more panic.
KEN GOULDTHORP, TOOWOOMBA COUNCIL CEO: Would they have rushed outside? Would they have jumped into their cars and drive home? Would that have made it more dangerous?
PETER TAYLOR: We want to hear all of the good ideas that might come out of such a commission inquiry.
FRANCENE NORTON: The inquiry heads to Dalby tomorrow.
Francene Norton, Lateline.
Academic: No proof Queensland's anti rights laws counter organised crime, but they are getting public used to loss of civil liberties
The spread of anti-terrorism-style laws through Australia’s criminal justice system is conditioning the public to accept “severe and disproportionate” losses of civil liberties, a legal academic has warned.
South Australia has drafted laws that would permanently tag members of motorcycle gangs as “criminal organisation participants”, leaving them facing the lifetime risk of jail for associating with others even if they had quit a gang.
The measures were introduced despite the South Australian government’s blueprint being under review in Queensland, where its Labor counterpart has a taskforce to recommend ways to repeal or replace gang laws once touted as the world’s toughest.
University of Queensland’s Rebecca Ananian-Welsh said it was the latest example of “extreme measures” adopted from terrorism legislation under the same rhetoric but without proof that they helped eradicate organised crime.
Ananian-Welsh and the University of NSW professor George Williams in a recent study (pdf) traced the “creep” of federal anti-terrorism laws, including the use of control orders, secret evidence, crimes of association and a shift in the burden of proof, into state criminal laws.
They argued the Australian experience offered a “cautionary tale” to other countries, with high court judges unable to act on concerns in the absence of “constitutional protections for human rights or due process”.
Ananian-Welsh told Guardian Australia the South Australian bill had gone a step further than the Queensland laws by permanently eroding the rights of anyone who even tried to join a bikie gang.
“It doesn’t matter if you just flirted with the idea, attending a couple of meetings of a bikie gang in your youth means you are a member of a criminal organisation then, now and into the future,” Ananian-Welsh said.
“If you look down the track, the potential for overreach is massive and it’s hard to grapple with how broad it could get. If a group suddenly disbanded or a couple of people broke away and formed a different group or became part of another organisation in no way related to bikies, would that then become a criminal organisation?”
The South Australian government on Tuesday dismissed opposition calls to allow judicial review of the its declaration of 27 bikie gangs as criminal organisations and for secret intelligence to be shared with a parliamentary committee.
The SA attorney-general, John Rau, said: “If the opposition wants to inject the courts back into that process again, all they’re going to do is guarantee that one, we’ll be in court forever, two, we’ll waste a great deal of money and three, we’re going to achieve nothing.”
However, Ananian-Welsh said the list of criminal organisations proposed by Rau had already inadvertently captured the Phoenix motorcycle club, a harmless social riders group that shared the same name as a self-styled “outlaw” motorcycle club in New South Wales.
This showed the unintended consequences of giving “massive discretion” to governments and police, Ananian-Welsh said.
“Under the law, if the Phoenix motorcycle club went, ‘Oh crap, we’ve just been declared a criminal organisation, let’s dismantle it,’ that wouldn’t change anything.”
The laws would also be “totally useless” against groups that didn’t formally label themselves, such as the Calabrian mafia, “unless the mafia all started wearing uniforms”, she said.
Ananian-Welsh said the South Australian government’s position reflected the trend of governments “cutting out the courts in an experiment with how broad we can make the government’s power”.
“You see it in the proposed citizenship laws, the declared foreign places laws, metadata retention,” she said.
South Australia has not adopted Queensland’s Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) Act, which Ananian-Welsh said enabled the extreme scenario of three teenagers buying recreational drugs to be jailed for an extra 15 years or more at the discretion of the police commissioner.
Her study with Williams found that at no point was the effectiveness of measures first introduced to deal with suspected terrorists considered as a factor in their adoption to tackle organised crime, she said.
Banning bikies from public gatherings, clubhouses and wearing clothing and logos in licensed venues in Queensland was “certainly pushing them out of the public eye, which is great for families on Broadbeach”.
“But is this actually helping organised crime? I don’t know,” Ananian-Welsh said.
“What it is doing is having a huge impact on civil liberties that potentially goes beyond bikie gangs. It’d be nice to know whether that’s having any commensurate impact on cutting crime because I just don’t know that it is.
“Maybe the [Queensland] review will come down and say organised crime has been dismantled in the state. But until we’ve actually got something like that and while they’re still so controversial in Queensland, it seems really preemptive for South Australia to be jumping on the bandwagon.”
Man claims sadistic sex abuse at Christian Brothers boys' home
West Australian [2/7/15]:
A former resident of a Christian Brothers boys’ home has launched a Supreme Court bid for damages over claims of sadistic sexual abuse by three brothers more than 40 years ago.
A writ filed this week outlines the Perth man’s claims of psychiatric and psychological harm from the abuse he alleges was inflicted at Castledare Boys Home by Brothers Verdon, Dick and Daly between 1971 and 1973.
The action comes
after a royal commission last year scrutinised historic sexual and physical
abuse in a case study of Castledare and three other WA Christian Brothers homes.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard from 11 former residents of the homes, who named 16 Brothers as abusers.
The writ, lodged against the Trustees of the Christian Brothers and the estates of seven late leaders and members of the congregation, claimed the man was owed a duty of care and the sexual and physical assaults on him were breaches of that duty.
“The conduct of the defendants fell so far short of acceptable standards as to represent a contumelious disregard for the plaintiff's rights and violation of his rights to personal and bodily integrity,” the writ says.
It alleged the Christian Brothers and its leaders failed to supervise the man adequately when he was living at Castledare and also failed to supervise the three Brothers adequately.
The action alleges the Christian Brothers and former leaders are liable for the assaults and the harm they caused.
The writ seeks unspecified damages for pain and suffering, interference with enjoyment of life, economic loss, medical expenses and future medical and psychological assistance.
A Christian Brothers spokesman said its preference was to work with claimants to settle matters expeditiously.
Where litigation was unavoidable, the Christian Brothers and its lawyers were bound by “guiding principles”. These drew on a clear commitment to work with those who were abused, with care and compassion in an environment of dignity.
2 July 2015