End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

RFI [2/11/14]:

Today marks the United Nations' first International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, a date chosen in remembrance of two French journalists assassinated in Mali in 2013.

On November 2, 2013, RFI's Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon were brutally murdered as they covered the run-up to legislative elections in Mali.

One year on, their killers are still free and unpunished.

This same scenario continues to occur around the world; the number of journalists targeted is increasing, as is impunity for those responsible, according to non governmental organisation Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

According to CPJ, 90 percent of journalists' murders remain unsolved.

RFI spoke with Elisabeth Witchel, impunity consultant at CPJ, who noted that powerful local individuals - even government officials - are often behind journalists' deaths.

While press status was once seen as protection in dangerous situations, it has turned journalists into targets, as working in conflict areas has become increasingly dangerous for media professionals.

The United Nations resolution which created this day not only condemns violence against journalists and media workers, but urges states to help bring killers to justice.

According to the UN, in the past decade over 700 journalists have been killed because of their work.

For more, RFI’s Christina Okello reports on why more journalists are being killed, and why their killers are getting away with it.

Australia's Attorney General arbitrarily declares another "terrorist" organisation

WA Today [2/11/14]:

The northern Mali-based group al-Murabitun has become the latest organisation to be listed by the Australian government as a terrorist group.

Attorney-General George Brandis announced on Sunday that it would now be an offence to be a member of and receive training from the Sunni Islamic group, which was responsible for the 2013 siege of a gas plant in Algeria where 40 people died.

It is also an offence to provide support or funds to al-Murabitun, or "associate" with members of the group.

Senator Brandis said that the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and the United Nations Security Council had taken "similar action" against the the organisation.

Al-Murabitun joins about 19 other organisations listed as terrorist groups by the Australian government, including Al-Qa'ida, Islamic State and Jemaah Islamiyah. One of the most recent addition was Boko Haram, which aims to establish an Islamic State under Sharia Law in Nigeria, in June 2014.

The terrorist listing for al-Murabitun is valid for three years.

Stop War! #Truth

Image: @TheSoulfulEMU [1/11/14]

Iraq violence killed at least 1,273 in October: UN

Daily Star [1/11/14]:

Violence in Iraq killed at least 1,273 people during October, according to U.N. figures released on Saturday, while the government gave a significantly higher toll.

According to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), at least 856 civilians and 417 security forces members were killed and more than 2,000 were injured.

At least 1,119 were killed the previous month, UNAMI said.

Iraqi government statistics compiled by the health, interior and defence ministries put the number of people killed in October at 1,725 civilians and members of the security forces, with more than 2,300 wounded.

"I express my deep outrage for the ongoing kidnappings and murders of scores of people from all segments, ethnicities or religions of the Iraqi population," U.N. Iraq envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement.

"Justice and accountability for those responsible for these mass executions, killings, disappearances, and displacement must be ensured," he said.

The UNAMI casualty figures exclude Anbar province, west of Baghdad, where ISIS has dealt pro-government forces a string of setbacks in recent weeks, sparking warnings that the whole province could fall.

IS spearheaded a militant offensive in June that overran Iraq's second city Mosul and then swept through much of the country's Sunni Arab heartland.

While security forces and allied fighters, now backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes, have made some advances, major areas remain outside their control, including several cities that will be especially difficult to retake.

Many deaths are believed to go unreported and hundreds of people are still considered missing across the country.

Baghdad bombings result in killing, injuring 63 persons [IraqiNews.com - 2/11/14]

Global day for Kobani: Thousands march to support Kurds’ fight against ISIS

RT [1/11/14]:

Thousands of protesters from across the globe – including Turkey, France, Italy, Germany, the UK, and Australia – marched to show solidarity with Kurdish fighters battling ISIS in the strategic city of Kobani, located on Syria's border with Turkey.

Hundreds gathered in London's Trafalgar Square on Saturday to support the Kurds, who are fighting against Islamic State militants in Kobani for the second month.

The protesters chanted “Down with ISIS” and “Hands off Kobani” while Kurdish flags fluttered in the air.

The central London rally was the largest to take place in the UK. It was organized by the Kurdish People’s Assembly and Kurdish community organizations throughout the country.

“The purpose of the event in London will be to let the world know, and more importantly let Kobani know, that we are with them!” said a statement from the organizers.

Hundreds gathered in Turin, Italy, holding signs that read “Free Kobani” and “Stop ISIS.”

The international campaign was joined by Germany’s largest cities, Berlin and Hamburg. Thousands of Kurds took to the streets waving flags. They held signs calling to stop the jihadists, as well as photos of iconic Kurdish fighters such as the woman warrior known as ‘Rehana.'

Even children joined the rally, putting up “V” hand signs in the air and shouting slogans calling for peace.

The streets of Paris were also filled with protesters on Saturday. The demonstrators held signs reading “Support the resistance” and “Save Kobani.”

Australian cities, including Sydney and Melbourne, were also gripped by protests. Demonstrators held banners which read, "ISIS Attacks, Turkey supports, Kobani resists.”

Kurds demonstrated in central Athens on Saturday as part of the World Day of Solidarity with Kobani. Some carried banners reading “IS = Turkey.” Ankara has been accused of not making enough effort in trying to stop ISIS and turning a blind eye to foreign radicals passing through the country en route to Syria to join the extremists.

Nevertheless, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Istanbul and in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakir to support Kurdish fighters. Some were holding flags supporting imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, one of the founding members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK is banned in Turkey as a terrorist organization for leading a 30-year struggle against Ankara in order to create a Kurdish autonomous region in the country’s southeast.

The Saturday rallies came as Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters entered Kobani from Turkey to join the battle against the militants, who have killed thousands and took control of large territories in Iraq and Syria proclaiming it as their caliphate.

Libya forces recapture parts of Benghazi

Al Jazeera [2/11/14]:

Pro-government Libyan forces have recaptured areas of second city Benghazi from Islamist militiamen, following a two-week-old government-backed offensive.

Military sources and medics said that at least 36 died on Friday and Saturday, when loyalists of former general Khalifa Haftar and regular army troops attacked Islamist militiamen in east and south Benghazi.

The pro-government forces recaptured military positions that the Islamists, including the radical Ansar al-Sharia group, had seized in July, the military sources said.

A spokesman for Libya's special forces said the unit took back its headquarters on the road to Benghazi airport, in the city's southeastern Bouatni region.

Armed forces general staff spokesman Colonel Ahmed al-Mesmari said the entire east of Benghazi was now back under the control of government troops, while pro-government forces were making advances in the south of the city.

Witnesses said Haftar loyalists backed by government troops and armed civilians seized several homes owned by Islamists and destroyed some of them.

Air strikes targeted several neighbourhoods, including the Islamist stronghold of Al-Gawarsha in the west, witnesses said.

They said the government troops had been deployed in several parts of the eastern city for the first time since July.

Islamist militias, including Ansar al-Sharia which is blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist group, have held sway in most of Benghazi since July.

Medical sources say that at least 254 people have been killed in the two-wee-old offensive.

Afghanistan: Women among 13 killed, injured in separate incidents in Laghman

Khaama [2/11/14]:

At least 3 people were killed and 10 others were injured in separate incidents in eastern Laghman province of Afghanistan.

According to local government officials, at least one civilian was killed and six others, including women were injured following a rocket attack in Alisheng district.

Provincial governor spokesman Sarhadi Zwak said the incident took place late on Saturday.

Zwak further added at least two civilians were killed following militants direct fire on a civilian car in the central city of Laghman.

He said at least four civilians were also injured following the attack.

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

Laghman is among the relatively volatile provinces in eastern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are active in a number of its districts.

Hamas: Closure of Gaza crossings 'collective punishment'

Maan [2/11/14]:

Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouq early Sunday condemned an Israeli decision to close crossings into Gaza, calling it "collective punishment."

"The justifications given by the (Israeli) occupation to shut down crossings are unacceptable," Abu Marzouq said in a statement.

He also criticized the Palestinian Authority for what he called a failure to arrange the entry of goods into Gaza.

"Where does the PA come in regarding this Israeli closure? And where does it come in regarding its responsibilities, especially after PA employees have resumed work at Gaza crossings?"

He said Israel's decision to close the crossings violated international laws and conventions.

Instead of closing the crossings, he said Israel should establish more crossings in order to allow for greater freedom of movement for people and goods in and out of Gaza.

Israeli authorities on Saturday announced that the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings would be closed until further notice, following reports that a projectile fired from Gaza landed in Israel overnight Friday without causing damage or injuries.

They said exceptions would be made for humanitarian emergencies.

Israel and Palestinian factions signed a ceasefire agreement on Aug. 26 after a deadly 50-day war in Gaza. Over 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in Israeli attacks.

The ceasefire deal stipulated an end to hostilities, and Israel agreed to ease its devastating blockade on the Strip and expand the fishing zone off Gaza's coast.

However, Palestinians accuse Israeli forces of regular ceasefire violations, with near-daily reports that navy soldiers have fired at fishermen off the coast of the enclave, and occasional reports of Israeli troops shooting and injuring Palestinians near the border.

Continued Cairo ceasefire talks to iron out further details of the truce were postponed to November following a deadly attack on Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula.

Gaza has been under a severe economic blockade since 2007, set into place by Israel after Hamas won democratic elections and later took power in the Strip.

Lifting the blockade has been the main grievance of Gaza militant groups in the bloody conflicts with Israel in 2008-2009, 2012, and 2014.

Israeli forces attempt to detain 2-year-old Palestinian for throwing stones [Al Akhbar - 2/11/14]

Peres at Rabin rally: Those who give up on peace are delusional [Times Of Israel - 1/11/14]

Speaking at the 19th annual Rabin memorial rally Saturday night, former president Shimon Peres issued scathing criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the peace process with the Palestinians and of his government’s approach to the conflict.

“There are those who have turned the word ‘peace’ into a derogatory term, and there are those who consider ‘peace supporters’ as delusional people,” declared Peres. “I say clearly today: Those who have given up on peace are the delusional ones. Those who gave up and stopped looking for peace. They’re the naive ones, the ones who are not patriots,” Peres added at the Tel Aviv event, held in the square where prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was gunned down on November 4, 1995.

“We have all sorts of so-called smart people who talk about ‘managing the conflict’ instead of peace. Take a look at what happened in Gaza over the summer and what is happening in Jerusalem as of late. That is what ‘managing the conflict’ looks like,” the former president charged, speaking to a crowd of thousands.

“Where is the Israeli peace initiative?” he asked, adding that it was better to have an imperfect peace than a raging conflict. “The peace accords with Jordan and Egypt taught us that it’s better to have a cold peace than a ‘hot’ war.”

“The State of Israel would be giving up on its future if it pursues the status quo and remains without peace,” Peres warned.

US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in April after a nine-month effort.

The Palestinian Authority blamed the Netanyahu government’s continued settlement activity, while Netanyahu said he would not negotiate with a government that included a terror group, after the PA signed a unity pact with Hamas that same month.

Several thousand people gathered for the memorial event marking the 19th anniversary — according to the Hebrew calendar — of the assassination of Rabin.

The ceremony, titled “Returning to the square, restoring hope,” began 19:30 pm at Rabin Square — as it is every year — where Rabin was shot dead by right-wing extremist Yigal Amir. The site, originally called Malchei Yisrael Square, was renamed Rabin Square following the assassination.

President Reuven Rivlin, who was at the event, is set to speak at a second Rabin memorial next Saturday, entitled “Remembering the murder, fighting for democracy,” which is organized by a coalition of youth movements.

Rabin’s son, Yuval Rabin, also addressed the crowd Saturday, calling on Israelis to do everything possible so that the hope of peace becomes reality.

“Palestinian youths also deserve a different future,” he said, adding that he received a letter from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which the Palestinian leader said a peace agreement would deal a critical blow to terror organizations.

Rabin added that Israelis must see Palestinians as neighbors with whom they have disputes, and not enemies.

Referencing the Saudi-launched Arab Peace Initiative, Rabin said he would be “happy to come to you and present the Israeli peace initiative.”

In an interview with the Times of Israel this week, Yuval Rabin said efforts to broker a bilateral peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians have failed and should be replaced by a multilateral approach based on the Arab Peace Initiative.

High tech entrepreneur Rabin, 59, chairs the Israeli Peace Initiative, a grassroots organization launched in 2011 to prompt Israeli leaders to put forward a comprehensive counter-bid to the Arab Peace Initiative, proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002 and endorsed by the Arab League five years later.

Israeli Peace Initiative signatories include former Shin Bet chief and current Science Minister Yaakov Peri, former UN ambassador Danny Gillerman, and former Mossad director Danny Yatom.

Saturday’s event organizers, the Israeli Peace Initiative Association, said the underlying message at the rally was to call on the Netanyahu government to lead an Israeli peace initiative.

Rabin served as Israel’s chief of staff during the Six Day War in 1967. He was later ambassador to the US, defense minister and twice prime minister.

In 1994, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with then-foreign minister Shimon Peres and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat for his part in signing the Oslo Peace accords a year earlier.

Tell RE/MAX to stop selling settlement homes [CODEPINK - 31/10/14]
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1530 Secondary schl students' flash mob at TST Clock Tower. Next 4pm @ Cultural Centre #UmbrellaRevolution #OccupyHK

Image: @hkdemonow [2/11/14]

Anti-Austerity Protesters Rally in Greece

TELESur [1/11/14]:

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the country's capital Saturday to protest the Greek government's austerity measures.

The mass rally was organized by the Greek Communist Party and several labor organizations, with an estimated 20,000 people filling Syntagma Square in Athens.

The organizers released a statement saying that “workers and the unemployed refuse to live on bread crumbs, and that they are determined to claim their rights and fight, as they prepare for the general, nationwide strike on November 27.”

The demonstration was joined by a group of pro-Kurdish activist who showed their solidarity with the Kurds in the Syrian town of Kobani that have been resisting the siege by the Islamic State extremists for more than a month.

This is the latest rally in a series of similar anti-austerity protests in Greece over the past months. The protest comes as the Athens prepares for its final bailout inspection ahead of receiving loan payments from other countries in the Eurozone.

Greece has received about US$303 billion dollars in bailout aid since 2010. In exchange, Greeks have had to endure repeated tax hikes as well as pension and salary cuts.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB), also known as the troika, have urged Athens to adopt harsher austerity measures and policies.

The country, which has now experienced six years of recession, has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis.

Water charges: Almost 100 protests across Republic of Ireland

BBC [1/11/14]:
Tens of thousands of people have taken part in nationwide protests against the introduction of water charges in the Republic of Ireland.

Almost 100 separate demonstrations were staged in towns and cities on Saturday, over charges introduced last month.

The controversial austerity measure is a key part of the government's plan to pay back the international financial bailout the state had to seek in 2010.

It was one of the largest ever mass protests over Irish government policy.

Irish police said they were not able to provide official estimates of the numbers attending rallies and marches across the state.

However, Irish state broadcaster, RTÉ, reported that more than 120,000 people attended demonstrations throughout the day.

Protests took place in towns and cities across the Republic, including Letterkenny in County Donegal, where up to 7,000 people are believed to have taken to the streets

About 20 protests were staged in Dublin, culminating in a crowd of about 10,000 who gathered outside the General Post Office (GPO) building in the city centre.

RTÉ estimated that another 10,000 protesters took to the streets of Cork city, while in excess of 8,000 people marched in both Letterkenny and Drogheda.

Demonstrations in Limerick, Waterford, and Dundalk were estimated to have attracted about 5,000 people each.

Thousands of people also took part in smaller protests in Sligo, Navan, Wicklow, Galway, Kilkenny, Wexford, Ashbourne, and Longford, as well as other towns and villages.

Some of the hundreds of people attending a protest in Ringsend, Dublin, told the BBC they do not believe they should pay charges for something that is already free and paid for out of general taxation.

Other protesters said they were opposed to the bonus culture in Irish Water - the company established last month to provide the service.

In Dublin, Martin Kennedy said he was taking part in the protests because he wanted to send a message to the government.

"Primarily, people are here today about water charges, but really it's about austerity.

"We've simply had enough," he said.

Anita Stanley, who attended a demonstration in the capital with her mother, also expressed her frustration at the government's policy.

"I'm a young widow, like my mum Ann, and we're here just to say we've had enough," she said.

"We can't afford to give any more."

Éamonn Campbell, renowned as a guitarist with Irish folk music group The Dubliners, was also among the protesters.

"It is not just about water charges, it is about all these taxes that have been forced by the greedy, both in Ireland and Europe, and paid for on the backs of the needy," he said.

Campaigners who organised some of the demonstrations disagreed with the state broadcaster's estimates and claimed the total number of people who protested was actually closer to 133,000.

Despite the absence of official figures, the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government is clearly worried about the scale of opposition.

A junior minister at the Irish Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, Ged Nash, told RTÉ radio that "some serious mistakes" had been made in the establishment of Irish Water.

"I think if we were starting again we would have a much longer timeframe to establish what is a very important public utility," Mr Nash said.

The minister added that the government would respond the public concern over water charges.

"We acknowledge people's anxieties right across the country about issues regarding affordability for water charges and we're prepared to address those," Mr Nash added.

Meanwhile, Irish Deputy Prime Minister (Tánaiste), Joan Burton, said the charges will be modest and capped.

Households are due to receive their first water bills in January 2015.

It is the second time in weeks that members of the public have staged mass protests over the controversial government policy.

Last month, tens of thousands of people marched through Dublin to show their opposition.

Police search for ute driver after 9yo boy dies

ABC [2/11/14]:

Northern Territory Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward over an alleged hit-and-run that caused the death of a nine-year-old boy in Palmerston.

Territory Duty Superintendent Delcene Jones said the boy was riding his BMX bike along Deveron Circuit, Moulden, when he was allegedly hit by a Toyota HiLux dual-cab ute on Saturday.

"He was conveyed to Royal Darwin Hospital by St John Ambulance but has since passed away," Supt Jones said.

Officers are searching for the driver of the ute, which they say has a smashed headlight and a logo on the door.

Police have released a photograph of what they say is the vehicle in question.

Officers are following several leads as to who the driver was and their whereabouts after receiving a number of phone calls from the public.

A number of people have also called police to let them know they own a HiLux, but that they were not driving it at the time of the incident.

"The Major Crash Investigations Unit are continuing investigations into the incident and a report will be prepared for the coroner," Supt Jones said.

Police are urging anyone who may have seen the incident or have any information about the vehicle involved to call police on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Pirate Bay cofounder sentenced to jail in Denmark

IT News [2/11/14]:

Gottfrid Warg, co-founder of the Swedish file-sharing website The Pirate Bay was sentenced to three and a half years in prison by a Copenhagen court last week.

In what the prosecutor called Denmark's biggest-ever hacking case, Warg also known under his hacker alias "Anakata", was found guilty of hacking into the mainframe of IT provider CSC in Denmark, accessing the Danish Civil Registration System and local police's criminal register during 2012.

When sentencing, the Court of Frederiksberg in Copenhagen said the attack was systematic, intensive and took place over a long period of time and that significant amounts of highly sensitive personal information had been downloaded in the hacking campaign.

Warg's accomplice, a 21 year old Dane who successfully applied for his name not to be made public, was sentenced to six months in prison for complicity in a hacking attempt made by Warg in February 2012 but walked free from the court as he had already served 17 months in pre-trial detention.

The Pirate Bay, launched in 2003, provided links to music and movie files stored on other users' computers. Swedish subsidiaries of prominent music and film companies had taken the company to court, claiming damages for lost revenue.

Warg has been in pre-trial detention in Denmark since November 2013, when he was extradited from Sweden after serving a jail sentence there.

In Sweden Warg had been convicted of copyright theft due to his involvement in The Private Bay, and separately for hacking the mainframe of IT consulting firm Logica, which did work for the Swedish government and a bank.

Warg was arrested in Cambodia in 2012 and was extradited to Sweden to face the charges there.

Peter Sunde, another founder of the website, was arrested in Sweden earlier this year after being on the run for almost two years.

Santa Cruz man says 'I hate Fox News,' then allegedly attacks victim wearing Fox reporter Halloween costume

Mercury News [11/10/14]:

Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly should be outraged.

It appears that someone in the liberal bastion of Santa Cruz doesn't like the overtly conservative Fox News -- imagine that! -- or anyone dressing up like a Fox News reporter on Halloween, for that matter.

At downtown Santa Cruz's annual parade on Friday night, police said, 29-year-old Sean Kory said "I hate Fox News" before grabbing the victim's microphone prop. The dreadlocked Kory then made an obscene gesture with it before attacking the victim with an aluminium tennis racket, police said.

The victim wasn't injured, but he called police, who ran down the suspect as he attempted to flee.

Kory, a dreadlocked Santa Cruz resident, was arrested and booked into the county jail, Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said in a news release.

Police weren't immediately available to say whether Kory was also in costume -- or why he had a tennis racket.

Car slides 80m down Mt Tamborine

Nine MSN [2/11/14]:

A driver and passengers escaped injury after a car slid up to 80m down a hill at a Gold Coast lookout.

The driver and an unknown number of passengers were at a lookout opposite the Bavarian Grill Haus at Mount Tamborine, a police spokeswoman said.

The car slid 60 to 80 metres down the hill.

Initial reports indicated the driver had been trapped and injured in the car, but it is now believed everybody escaped the vehicle before it fell.

Pizza delivery driver threatened by armed man on Gold Coast

Nine MSN [2/11/14]:

A pizza delivery driver has been threatened by a man armed with a knife on the Gold Coast overnight.

Just after 8.30pm, the worker was walking from the pizza shop in Ashmore Plaza complex to his car when he was approached.

“He was threatened and a sum of cash was demanded,” Inspector Karen Shaw said.

Police believe the offender fled on-foot with a sum of cash.

He was last seen running through Ashmore Village park behind the shopping complex, police say.

Police helicopter and dog squads continue to investigate.

Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.

Charges: Assault, Southport

QPS Media [2/11/14]:

A security guard has sustained non-life threatening head injuries, following an assault that occurred this morning at Southport.

It will be alleged that the security guard asked a man to leave a light rail vehicle that had stopped at the Gold Coast University Hospital.

The man allegedly refused to comply with the security guard’s directions and when asked again to move-on, the man is alleged to have assaulted the security guard causing him to fall to the ground.

It will be further alleged that the man continued to assault the security guard when he was on the ground, before removing his security identification and leaving the scene on-foot.

The security guard, aged 55 years, was treated at the Gold Coast University hospital for injuries to his face and head.

The 25-year-old Southport man was charged with one count each of assault occasioning bodily harm, stealing and failure to appear in accordance with undertaking. He is scheduled to appear in the Southport 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.

Motorcyclist seriously injured following police chase, Gladstone

QPS Media [2/11/14]:

Police are investigating after a traffic crash in Gladstone last night.

Preliminary information suggest around 9.05pm police allegedly detected a motorcycle travelling west at 131 kilometres an hour in a 80 kilometre along Kirkwood Road.

Police attempted to intercept the motorcycle, however it allegedly accelerated away from police who lost sight of it.

A short time later officers found the motorcycle crashed on Glenlyon Road.

The 19-year-old male rider from Kin Kora sustained a broken leg and a hip injury and was transported to Rockhampton Base Hospital.

The Ethical Standards Command has been advised.

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.

Donbass self-proclaimed republics vote to elect leaders, MPs

RT [2/11/14]:

The self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk are electing their leaders and MPs. The Kiev government has started criminal proceedings against elections in the southeast despite them being sanctioned by the Minsk peace deal.

As soon as the polling stations opened at 8 am on Sunday morning, high voter activity was noted in both the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. After presenting valid, local registration, voters get two ballots: one for the parliamentary election and one to vote for the future leaders of the republics.

There are over 360 polling stations in Donetsk, where potentially more than three million voters can cast their votes. Armed militia members are guarding each polling station. In the Lugansk People’s Republic, there are 102 polling stations for approximately 1.5 million voters.

The area in Donetsk where the Central Election Committee is situated is being heavily guarded, with all surrounding streets cordoned off.

Lugansk has seen queues at some polling stations, as large number of voters came to cast their votes early in the morning.

“Our opinion was simply ignored [by Kiev authorities] when we took part in the [independence] referendum [in May], now it’s time to take the people’s will into account; that’s why I have come today to cast my vote,” one voter in Donetsk told the Itar-Tass news agency.

In Russia’s neighboring Belgorod, Rostov and Voronezh regions, where thousands of refugees from Donetsk and Lugansk are currently living, polling stations have also been set up.

Observers from a number of countries, including France, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Great Britain and others are monitoring the elections. However, observers from the OSCE are not attending.

In Donetsk, there are three candidates for leader, including acting Prime Minister Aleksandr Zakharchenko.

He was among the very first to cast his vote, and he told journalists that after the election Kiev would have to deal with the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic as equal.

Instead, Kiev has announced it has begun a criminal prosecution against election organizers in Donetsk and Lugansk, despite the fact that peace agreements reached in Minsk in September between the Ukrainian authorities and the self-proclaimed republics specifically outlined the necessity of conducting early elections.

PM Aleksandr Zakharchenko has promised to launch criminal proceedings against Kiev in a tit-for-tat measure.

“If the Security Service of Ukraine launches a criminal investigation into elections in Donetsk People’s Republic, then we will start criminal prosecution against Kiev on a charge of genocide,” Zakharchenko told the Russian News Service.

“Since we’re not afraid of them shelling us, then their prosecution is not a big deal either,” he said, stressing that the people of the republic have made their choice and are not going to change it.

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier pointed out that the Minsk peace agreements established in early September that elections in both Ukraine and the self-proclaimed republics should be conducted between October 19 and November 3. Kiev authorities conducted parliamentary elections a week ago, on October 26.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s order from October 16 setting the date of elections in the self-proclaimed republics for December 7 “contradicts the Minsk agreements,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Early last week, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview to Izvestia daily and Lifenews that Moscow will recognize the results of the elections in Ukraine’s self-proclaimed republics.

“The elections taking place on November 2 in Donetsk and Lugansk are very important for the legitimization of their authority,” Lavrov said, noting that such elections are an important constituent of the Minsk peace agreements between Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics.

“We expect elections to take place as previously agreed,” Lavrov said, “and, naturally, we will recognize the results. We look forward to the free expression of the will of the people and that no external forces will try to disrupt them,” Russia’s foreign minister added.

Bangladesh Court Orders Islamist Tycoon to Hang for War Crimes

Naharnet [1/11/14]:

A media tycoon who is a key figure in Bangladesh's largest Islamist party was sentenced to death Sunday for war crimes, just days after its leader was ordered hanged for similar offences.

The war crimes court found wealthy businessman Mir Quasem Ali, an official of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, guilty of 10 charges including murder and abduction during Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.

Ali, 63, who owns a television station and newspaper aligned with Jamaat, was convicted of running the torture cell of a militia during the conflict that carried out killings including that of a young independence fighter.

"The country and the affected people have finally got justice. Mir Quasem Ali has been sentenced to death for the murder of a teenage freedom fighter Jashim," prosecutor Ziad Al Malum told reporters.

"The young boy was abducted and his body was thrown in the Karnaphuli river," he said.

Jamaat's top leader Motiur Rahman Nizami was sentenced on Wednesday to death for heading a pro-Pakistan militia in 1971, a decision that sparked protests by supporters.

Jamaat called a nationwide strike following Nizami's verdict. The stoppage was still in effect Sunday, with many schools and businesses closed and traffic thin.

Similar judgements against other Jamaat officials last year plunged the country into one of its worst crises. Tens of thousands of Jaamat activists clashed with police in various protests that left some 500 people dead.

Ali became the eight Islamist sentenced to death by the controversial war crimes court, set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's secular government in 2010.

Ali, a former leader of Jamaat's student wing, helped revive the party by setting up charities, businesses and trusts linked to it after it was allowed to operate in the late 1970s.

Ali, who was arrested in 2012 on 14 war crimes charges, heads the Diganta Media Corporation which owns a pro-Jamaat daily and a television station.

The government shut down the television station last year for inciting religious tension.

Jamaat and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party have accused the government of using the court to target their leaders through phoney charges.

Rights groups have also criticised the trials, saying they fall short of international standards and lack any international oversight.

Hasina's government maintains the trials are needed to heal the wounds of the conflict, which it says left three million people dead.

Independent researchers estimate that between 300,000 and 500,000 people died in the 1971 war.

The fascist roots of Grupo Ferrovial

Daves Part [9/4/06]:

Spain’s Grupo Ferrovial has tabled a £8.75bn offer for BAA, the company that owns Britain’s top airports, including Heathrow and Stansted. BAA has rejected the bid as derisory, and Ferrovial is now deciding whether or not to go hostile.

But I was certainly intrigued by this snippet in the Guardian’s coverage of the story:

‘Ferrovial is controlled by a wealthy family which funds a charitable foundation dedicated to spreading the Spanish language and free market philosophy - an aim which has prompted tensions with the socialist government of José Luis Rodíguez Zapatero. The company negotiates with unions only where it is forced by law to do so.’

This seems worthy of further research and I’d be happy to hear from any readers that have got the skinny on these boys. Meanwhile, a quick half an hour of googling turns up some interesting information on the company, which trade unionists at BAA would do well to note.

Today. Ferrovial is a typical example of the sort of so-called free marketeer that makes a parasitic living pocketing larges amounts of subsidies by providing what should be public services anyway.

But its history marks it out as even further to the right. The company was started in 1952, when Spain was a fascist dictatorship, and it grew to prominence under Franco’s dictatorial government.

The founder, Rafael del Pino, became one of the richest men in the world, with an estimated fortune of $5bn.

Given the corporatist nature of the Spanish economy during the Franco years, is inconceivable that he could have achieved that wealth without the closest collaboration with the projects of the regime.

According to its own website Ferrovial engaged in construction work for the armed forces from 1969 onwards. It also undertook work for the government of Libya, another dictatorship.

Nowadays Ferrovial is headed by del Pino’s son and namesake Rafael del Pino y Calvo-Sotelo - normally known as simply Rafael del Pino. Del Pino junior sits on the board of Circulo de Empresarios, a rightwing business organisation based in Madrid. I’m not sure whether or not this is the charitable foundation to which the Guardian alludes.

Given that del Pino junior was born in 1958, he is presumably too young to have had any significant political involvement under Franco. But it would be interesting to check the membership rolls of fascist youth organisations from the mid 1970s.

Transfield Services Media Release [20/10/14]:

Transfield Services has received an indicative, non-binding and conditional proposal from Ferrovial Servicios, S.A. to acquire 100 per cent of the issued shares in Transfield for cash consideration of $1.95 per share, less the value of any dividends or other distributions after 17 October 2014.

Shareholders do not need to take any action in response to the Ferrovial proposal.

“The Board of Transfield Services has considered Ferrovial’s proposal with the Company’s advisers and has formed the view that the price of $1.95 per share does not reflect the underlying value of Transfield Services shares,” said Diane Smith-Gander, Transfield Services Chairman.

Transfield Services has experienced strong trading in the first quarter ended 30 September 2014 and will update shareholders on the outlook for the current financial year at the Annual General Meeting on 5 November 2014.

Nevertheless, the Board believes that shareholders interests are best served by conducting exploratory discussions with Ferrovial to determine whether a proposal which would deliver better value to shareholders, can be put forward.

As part of these exploratory discussions, Transfield Services is prepared to provide Ferrovial with limited due diligence information on a non-exclusive basis, subject to an appropriate confidentiality agreement.

Transfield Services will advise shareholders of the outcome of the discussions with Ferrovial as soon as practicable. The process may take some time and there can be no certainty that an acceptable proposal will eventuate.

Argentine Judge asks Spain to to extradite Franco-era officials ...

You'll get your turn Transfield, Serco, G4S, Coalition, ALP, Immigration Dept spin doctors and media propagandists

Buenos Aires Herald [1/11/14]:

Federal judge Maria Servini de Cubria has requested that Spain arrest and extradite 20 former Spanish officials, including two ex-government ministers, suspected of human rights violations in the era of dictator Francisco Franco.

The judge, who is investigating allegations of torture and other crimes committed in Spain during the Franco era, issued the request on Friday.

Among the 20 are former ministers Jose Utrera Molina, 86, and Rodolfo Martín Villa, 79, who face allegations of attempted homicide from 1974 and 1976, respectively.

Franco ruled Spain from 1939 to his death in 1975, after which it took some years to establish a functioning democracy.

Franco-era officials cannot be prosecuted in Spain because of an amnesty enacted when the country returned to democracy in the late 1970s. Families of alleged victims turned for help to Argentina, which has an extradition treaty with Spain.

They are using the concept of universal jurisdiction, the idea that crimes such as torture are so serious they can be prosecuted across borders. Using this concept, Spain briefly detained Chile's former dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998.

There was no immediate official reaction in Spain to the extradition request, but past form suggests that the process will be slow.

In April, seven months after an extradition request from Argentina, Spain's High Court declined to extradite to Argentina a former policeman accused of torturing prisoners during the Franco years.

The court said the statute of limitations had run out on the accusations against Antonio Gonzalez Pacheco, who had denied torturing prisoners.

WA prison worker jailed over corruption [WA Today - 31/10/14]

EU Hauls up Spain Over Morocco Migrant Treatment

Naharnet [31/10/14]:

The European Union on Friday expressed concern about Madrid's treatment of migrants crossing to Spain's north African territory of Melilla and demanded an explanation after a video showed abuse by border guards.

Footage filmed by a rights group on October 15 showed Spanish Civil Guards beating a migrant and carrying him, apparently unconscious, back to the Moroccan side, despite the fact that migrants reaching Spanish soil are meant to get asylum.

"We have asked the Spanish authorities for clarification, we have informed them about our concerns, and we are waiting for a response," European Commission spokesman Michele Cercone told reporters.

He said the outgoing European commissioner for immigration, Cecilia Malmstroem, had written to the Spanish authorities to seek answers about its treatment of migrants and to check that European law was being respected.

Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said Friday that the interior ministry was "ready to supply the information".

Amnesty International and 12 other human rights groups on Thursday had urged the United Nations and Europe to press Spain to stop the "illegal" deportations of migrants who reach Melilla and Ceuta, its territories in north Africa.

Spain's conservative government has said it will pass a legal amendment authorizing police to expel migrants who climb over the fences to the two Spanish-governed territories which have Europe's only land borders with Africa.

Spanish authorities say thousands of Africans have tried to climb over the seven-meter (23-foot) high fences into Melilla and Ceuta this year, with numerous migrants and police officers injured.

Yet to read a convincing argument why being released on a TPV is worse than remaining indefinitely detained

The ALP and Coalition incarcerated refugees in concentration camps on the mainland, Christmas Island, Nauru and the death camp on Manus Island.

The ALP let refugees drown at sea and the Coalition are pushing them back.

The ALP had its "Malaysia solution", the LNP have its "Cambodia solution".

Palmer did what he could to attempt to free mainland refugees (potentially 30,000 could be liberated from the concentration camps).

The question now is how to close down the camps on Manus and Nauru and bring the refugees to Australia - something the major parties are against.

Some advocates appear more interested in spreading misinformation about Palmer, than freeing the refugees.

A Solution to Save Australia Billions of Dollars and Place Refugees Into Productive Employment [Palmer United Party Media Release - 26/9/14]

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

PNG: Vaki contempt hearing adjourned

PNG Loop [31/10/14]:

The hearing into contempt of court charges against Police Commissioner, Geoffrey Vaki, has been adjourned to next month.

This was because lawyers for Fraud and Anti-Corruption Director, Mathew Damaru, and his Deputy, Timothy Gitua, told the court that the amendments had to be made to the statements of charge.

They asked for a two week adjournment.

It was consented by both parties.

Lawyers for Vaki will be making objections to the amended statement of charge.

The contempt proceeding was filed against Vaki for allegedly interfering in the execution of the arrest warrant against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

The matter will return on Nov 14th 2014.

Fascism 101 - Don't mention the human rights atrocity:

... For a freshwater dip during your Papua New Guinea holiday, the best place is the waterfall and swimming hole, about 5 kilometres up the Lorengau River from town.

Stunning swimming beaches can be found at Salamei on Rarah Island and Tulu on the north coast west of Lorengau. You will need a boat to get to each of these swimming spots.

Fishing: Hire a boat and head out from the harbour for excellent Papua New Guinea fishing. Anywhere along the coast should be rewarding.


United States continue bombing Iraq, Syria

First Post [2/11/14]:

U.S. fighter and bomber planes have launched five attacks against Islamic State militants near Kobani, Syria and five in Iraq since Friday, Central Command said on Saturday.

The Kobani strikes "suppressed or destroyed" nine Islamic State fighting positions and a building, Centcom said.

In Iraq, five air strikes destroyed an Islamic State vehicle southwest of Mosul Dam and hit four vehicles and four buildings used by militants near Al Qaim, it said in a statement.

In setback, Islamic State, Nusra combine to rout US-backed forces in Syria [McClatchy - 1/11/14]

24 dead, 52 wounded in suicide bombing in the south of Baghdad [IraqiNews.com - 1/11/14]

Iraqi Spring Media Center [1/11/14]:

Salah-il-Deen: The government's air force has shelled the crossing in Albu Jeli resulted in killing of women and children at the middle of Tigris River............ .......

Anbar: The government's army has shelled aimlessly Qaim district [VIDEO]

US: Judge won't close hearing in Islamic State case

AP [31/10/14]:

A federal judge on Friday denied a government request to partially close a detention hearing for a 19-year-old suburban Chicago man who authorities say violated U.S. law by trying to travel to Syria to join Islamic State militants.

Prosecutors fell short of justifying why the public and media should be barred from parts of the upcoming hearing in Chicago for Mohammed Hamzah Khan, U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox wrote in a four-page ruling.

Khan is charged with seeking to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group.

Open hearings help engender confidence the American judicial process is fair, Judge Cox added.

"Holding proceedings in secret frustrates the public interest," she wrote. "We are to close proceeding only in rare circumstances, when doing so outweighs the value of openness."

Khan's Chicago lawyer, Thomas Durkin, heralded that finding.

"It is a victory for the Constitution, which too often takes a beating from the government's incessant need to create a state of exception in national security-related cases," he said.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Chicago Tribune had also sent letters to the judge spelling out their objections to partially closing the hearing, which is scheduled for Monday.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago, Randall Samborn, declined to comment on Friday's ruling.

Prosecutors had cited the need to protect the identity of two minors they intended to bring up at the hearing as they attempted to show Khan posed a danger to the community or was a flight risk and should remain behind bars. But Cox said she wasn't convinced their concerns trumped the Sixth Amendment right to a public trial.

Khan was arrested in early October at O'Hare International Airport trying to board flight to Turkey. A subsequent search of his family's Bolingbrook home turned up a letter he left for his parents, telling them he was disgusted by Western society and felt obliged to travel to the Middle East, federal court documents allege.

Khan's mother and father, originally from India, are naturalized U.S. citizens; Khan was born in the Chicago area. Durkin has said the parents did not know of their son's plans to journey to Syria.

New York settles for $2.25m with family of man who 'baked to death' in jail cell

Guardian [1/11/14]:

New York City has reached a $2.25m settlement with the family of a mentally ill, homeless former US marine who died earlier this year in a 101F (38C) jail cell, the city comptroller said on Friday.

Jerome Murdough, 56, died in a mental observation unit on Rikers Island jail on 15 February, eight days after he was sent to the facility because he couldn’t afford to pay $2,500 bail on a trespassing arrest.

He was found slumped at the foot of his bed with a pool of vomit and blood on the floor and an internal body temperature of 103F (39C). Officials said he wasn’t checked on for at least four hours.

His mother, Alma, filed initial papers to sue the city for $25m over her son’s death. But comptroller Scott Stringer said on Friday his office took the unusual step of settling the case before a lawsuit was filed after a review of the facts of the case.


Seven Police Killed, 17 Missing after Kenya Attack

Naharnet [1/11/14]:

Seven police officers were killed and 17 others were missing following an attack blamed on local tribesmen in Kenya's remote north, police sources said Saturday.

The officers, missing since Friday, are believed to have been ambushed during a security operation in the impoverished, arid region of Lake Turkana, the scene of regular raids and score-settlings between rival communities.

Attackers targeted three police vehicles and burned one of them, police sources said.

Police spokeswoman Gatiria Mboroko confirmed the attack took place in the Kapedo area but could give no further details, blaming difficult communications with police in the field.

Two years ago, more than 40 police officers who had been chasing cattle thieves were killed around 100 kilometers (60 miles) further north, in an ambush unprecedented in the east African nation.

Last week, five people, including three police officers, were killed in another attack in the Kapedo area, according to police sources.

Diminishing water supplies and grazing areas have aggravated conflicts between communities in the area which is mainly populated by nomadic farmers.

Local police are notoriously under-equipped and more illegal firearms are appearing in the area.

Six Injured as Protests Erupt in France Over Police Brutality

Naharnet [1/11/14]:

Violent protests broke out on Saturday in two French cities against alleged police brutality, leaving at least six injured.

Officers fired rubber bullets as demonstrators hurled bottles of acid in the western city of Nantes.

Protesters also clashed with police in the southwestern city of Toulouse.

The demonstrators were protesting over the death of Remi Fraisse, 21, who was killed last Sunday during clashes between security forces and protesters at the site of a contested dam in southwestern France.

Initial investigations showed traces of TNT on his clothes and skin, suggesting he may have been killed by a police stun grenade.

"This is a young man who was killed by the police, by the State, and we can not let this go," said one demonstrator, Annaik, 23, as other protesters chanted slogans such as "pigs!" and "murderers!".

Many who took part on Saturday's protests, which also took place in other cities including Lille, Bordeaux and Avignon, were said to be opponents of the controversial dam project.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned the violence, saying it was an "insult to the memory" of Fraisse.

Fraisse's death was the first during a protest in mainland France since 1986.

Overnight Thursday, some 200 protesters rampaged through the western city of Rennes, with some turning over cars and breaking shop windows.

Authorities on Friday decided to suspend work on the dam.

It was "impossible" in light of the tragedy to "continue any work on the site" of the Sivens dam project in the Tarn region, said Thierry Carcenac, head of the Tarn's executive council.

Ecology Minister Segolene Royal will next week gather together all warring parties to discuss the future of the Sivens dam.

Opponents of the project say the dam will destroy a reservoir of biodiversity and will benefit only a small number of farmers.

Those promoting the dam say it is in the public interest by providing irrigation and aiding the cultivation of high-value crops.

Catalonia Says Spain 'Abusing Power' over Independence Vote

Naharnet [31/10/14]:

Catalonia's leader Artur Mas on Friday accused the Spanish government of "abusing its power" by mounting a legal challenge to a planned symbolic vote on independence for his region.

"The central government is abusing its power and the law," by appealing to the Constitutional court to block the vote, Mas said in a speech.

He vowed the ballots would go ahead as planned on November 9 and that his administration would launch its own legal moves to defend the plan.

Hollywood director Roman Polanski freed by Polish prosecutors

Nine MSN [31/10/14]:

Film director Roman Polanski has been questioned by Polish prosecutors on a US arrest warrant for sex offences but allowed to walk free.

The maker of The Pianist and Chinatown has been sought by American police since 1978 after fleeing the country before he could be sentenced for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

But prosecutors in Krakow, southern Poland, released him after questioning him on Thursday.

"Prosecutors have decided it was not necessary to arrest Roman P.," said Boguslawa Marcinkowska, spokesperson for Krakow district prosecutors.

Polanski had said he was prepared to co-operate.

Traditional owners granted Cape York title

Yahoo [30/10/14]:

Recognition of traditional lands is just the first step in a long and challenging journey toward self determination for Bernard Charlie and his people.

His tribe, the Gudang Yadhaykenu, along with the Atampaya and Seven Rivers Angkamuthi Peoples, were on Thursday granted native title over a large chunk of Queensland's Cape York.

"Today there were mixed emotions," the traditional owner, who 14 years ago joined others in the struggle for recognition, told AAP.

"I was happy yet sad for all the people who went through the struggle over the years.

"For me it's the first leg of the journey."

The 39-year-old father says the next step is to use the land to develop industry, including tourism, in the region and create jobs for future generations.

Mr Charlie says legal recognition over the land, which spans 680,000 hectares on the tip of the peninsula, means culturally significant sites are protected.

It also means discussions with non-indigenous parties over land ownership can be resolved.

"When land tenure is resolved we can go about home ownership, buying land or leasing land," he said.

"This will develop and stimulate the local economy.

"We don't want to rely on hand outs; this is an opportunity for a hand up, to get economic independence. It will break the shackles of dependency."

But Mr Charlie says there are a lot of challenges that must be met before this becomes a reality.

"There will be a lot of challenges, endless hours, endless discussions it's been a rocky journey already," he said.

"But today my thoughts are with those who fought for this before us - they started this journey and we finished it off.

"For me, they are here in spirit."

Federal Court Justice Andrew Greenwood presided over a ceremony at Injinoo, on the tip of Cape York, to officially hand native title rights to the three tribes on Thursday.

The Cape York Land Council says the determination, lodged in July 2011, is one of the largest in the region.

International Day Of Peace, 21 September: Walk from Darwin 1970s Vietnamese boat arrival point to Wickham & Bladin detention centres - 40km,32 degrees,11 hours

Image: @DASSAN12 - Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network [1/11/14]


The world is not awash in refugees: Open the gates

Doug Saunders [The Globe and Mail - 1/11/14]


Nauru government condemns attacks on young refugees.

Australian government, media silent.

RNZI [1/11/14]:

The Nauru government has condemned an attack on young refugees, saying it will not tolerate any such violence.

An Afghan teenager says he and three other young refugees were attacked by four locals last weekend, and he was beaten so badly he ended up in hospital.

Nauru's Minister for Justice and Border Control, David Adeang, says the attacks were racist, opportunistic and fuelled by alcohol.

Mr Adeang says this has brought shame to the country and he's determined those responsible will be brought to justice.

He says refugees on Nauru have fled violence and fear, and should be able to find safety on Nauru, where they are guests in the country.

Mr Adeang says he is determined to ensure unaccompanied children in his care, and all refugees on Nauru feel safe and welcome.

The police, the Government of Nauru Settlement Team and Community Liaison Officers are to work together to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.

Canada bars visas from Ebola-hit countries

Al Jazeera [1/11/14]:

Canada has suspended visa applications for residents and nationals of countries with "widespread transmission" of the Ebola virus, becoming the second nation after Australia to introduce such a measure.

The countries most severely hit by the worst Ebola outbreak ever are Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Canada has not yet had a case of the disease.

The similar move by Australia was slammed on Wednesday by Dr Margaret Chan, the World Health Organisation's director general, who said closing borders won't stop spread of the Ebola virus.


Polish refugees commemorate arrival

RNZI [1/11/14]:

Commemorations are being held to mark 70 years since 733 Polish refugee children arrived in New Zealand from war-torn Poland.

The children, mostly orphans, arrived on November 1st 1944, along with 102 adults.

They were transported to the Tararua District, where the Polish Children's Camp in Pahiatua was opened in former military barracks.

Dioniza Choros, who was 16 when she arrived with her younger sister said that after the horrors of war, the camp-life was paradise.

"New Zealand soldiers that were sort of working in the kitchens, they were all so kind to us."

She said that her teacher at the camp was also very kind.

Hundreds of families flee Libya's Benghazi [Al Jazeera - 1/11/14]

Bomb Wounds Three in Egyptian Capital [Naharnet - 1/11/14]

3 Dead as Yemen's Shiite Rebels Attack Sunni Party HQ [Naharnet - 1/11/14]

Afghanistan: Suicide attack in Logar leaves 9 dead, nearly 20 others injured [Khaama - 1/11/14]

28 injured as clashes rage across Jerusalem overnight [Maan - 1/11/14]

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House [Independent - 31/10/14]

Cat killed with arrows in Sydney

Nine MSN [1/11/14]:

Police are hunting a person who killed a cat with arrows in Sydney's southwest this morning.

About 11am, police responded to reports of a cat injured on Myrtle Street in Bankstown. Officers found a cat that had been shot with two arrows, under a car.

RSPCA Emergency Ambulance attended and took the cat to RSPCA Headquarters in Yagoona for treatment.

The cat died during surgery.

Investigators are now appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the incident or has information about what occurred to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Dead humpback washes up, WA coast

West Australian [1/11/14]:

A man climbed on to a dead humpback whale that has attracted sharks in waters off Rottnest this afternoon.

The whale, which has been floating between Rottnest and the WA coast for some time, was surrounded by sharks at the time.

Photographs taken from the Seven News helicopter show the man sitting on top of the carcass.

Surf Life Saving WA warned several tiger sharks and a white shark were feeding on a whale between Rottnest and Fremantle at 1.30pm.

The man was taken back to his boat after people on a nearby vessel alerted him to the sharks in the water.

A Department of Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman said the 12m long animal was currently the responsibility of the Fremantle Port Authority.

She said the carcass was not expected to come ashore for some time.


Dead whale washes up on Kapiti Coast

NZ Herald [29/10/14]:

A 10 metre-long humpback whale has washed up dead on Waikanae Beach early this morning.

Department of Conservation spokeswoman Jane Dobson said they received reports of the stranding, south of Waikanae Boat Club, around 6.30am.

"It's been confirmed that it's a humpback whale, approximately 10 metres long and estimated to be about 25 to 30 tonne.

"Senior ranger Brent Tandy has said that its smaller size suggests it's not fully mature."

Ms Dobson said it was unknown how the whale had died, but it appeared to have been dead for some time.

"It's a little bit smelly and it's not in the nicest condition."

Although there had been no other recent sightings of humpback in the area, it was common for them to be migrating back along the West Coast, Ms Dobson said.

Doc staff were currently with the whale and it was due to be buried further along the Kapiti Coast early tomorrow morning with the help of local iwi Te Atiawa Ki Whakarongotai, she said.

A sample of the whale's blubber would be sent to Auckland University for analysis.

"They've decided that they'll send off a sample but they're not going to do an autopsy for this one."

Exactly 110 years ago, on October 29, 1904, a 16 metre wright whale valued at £300 to £400 washed up on Waikanae Beach, discovered by Wi Parata.

Japan: 40 dog carcasses found in Tochigi river

Japan Today [1/11/14]:

The carcasses of 40 dogs have been found in a river in Sakura, Tochigi Prefecture, police said Saturday.

According to police, around 11:30 a.m. on Friday, a pedestrian walking along the Kinugawa River, which flows between Utsunomiya and Sakura, informed a public park attendant that there was a large number of dog carcasses in the river, NTV reported.

Park officials and police discovered the carcasses of 40 small dogs floating in the river and washed up on the bank.

The dogs were of different breeds and showed no signs of external injuries, police said.

As no decomposition was apparent, police determined that the dogs had not been dead for very long.

Not one so called civil rights/liberty, legal group will denounce the disgraceful, fear mongering Brisbane G20 media coverage and stand up for the democratic and legitimate right to peaceful, defiant protest?

Since last year, Murdoch's 'Courier-Mail' and friends have been softening up the general public for police brutality against peaceful protesters.

Brisbane G20: Magistrates Court to run 24 hours a day, after-hours sessions to be streamed on internet [ABC - 31/10/14]

Protesting the G20 Summit [AUDIO - 4BC - 9/10/13]

MP has no conflict of interest: Newman

Yahoo [31/10/14]:

Queensland's Integrity Commissioner has given a government MP the nod to take part in a multimillion dollar project, the premier says.

Leader of the House Ray Stevens told parliament on Thursday he's investing in and advising a $100 million cable car proposal in the Gold Coast hinterland.

Mr Stevens, who's also the Assistant Minister for e-Government, says he received advice from the Integrity Commissioner giving his involvement the green light.

The MP is a key government member, but Mr Newman says there won't be any conflict of interest.

"I reject that, and again I go back to the integrity commissioner, I'm sorry that is what I base it on, not some other esoteric view on what a conflict of interest is," he said.

"I base it on the professional advice of the integrity commissioner, which has given him a full green light to do this, as long as he makes sure that he is very clear and up front."

But the premier's claim can't be verified as Mr Stevens won't publicly release the advice.

Mr Newman was asked if he would encourage more of his MPs to pursue more entrepreneurial activities.

"It would be a sad day indeed in 2014 if nobody from the business world could be involved in state politics, or federal politics, or local government," he replied.

Comment has been sought Mr Stevens.

Queensland university researcher charged with fraud

Nine MSN [31/10/14]:

A former researcher at one of Queensland's most prestigious universities has been charged with fraud after allegedly misusing grant money.

The 39-year-old woman, who used to work at The University of Queensland (UQ), dishonestly applied for grant funds, the state's Crime and Corruption Commission says.

She has been charged with two counts of fraud, two counts of attempted fraud and two counts of general dishonesty.

She'll appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on November 6.

The CCC said in a statement its investigation was ongoing and further charges were expected.

UQ Vice Chancellor Peter Hoj said in a statement in September last year the university had alerted the corruption watchdog about the staff member's actions.

Professor Hoj said the European Journal of Neurology was asked to retract an October 2011 article about Parkinson's disease because "no primary data can be located, and no evidence has been found that the study described in the article was conducted".

The university also returned a $20,000 grant it received from a non-government organisation due to concerns it had been allocated on the basis of information from the discredited paper, Professor Hoj said at the time.

"By having the paper retracted, the university enables the global scientific community to learn that the research reported in the paper has no place in the body of scientific knowledge, and so cannot be used as a basis for further research," he said.

Mine looks to go ahead despite Land Court costs win

Morning Bulletin [31/10/14]:

Hancock Coal has been ordered to pay court costs for a woman who fought to have its proposed Galilee Basin mine rejected by the Land Court.

In what seemed a landmark decision, Paola Cassoni successfully argued the mining lease application and environmental authority for the central Queensland project should be refused because groundwater assessments had not been properly carried out.

Acting Land Court president Paul Smith was uncertain whether he had the power to make such a refusal, as it had never been done by the Land Court.

If his original recommendation failed, Mr Smith said additional safeguards to groundwater and make-good agreements with landholders should be imposed.

In any event, he was largely ignored by the State Government.

Hancock announced its environmental authority had been granted for the Alpha Coal mine which would "create around 4000 jobs during its three-year construction and more than 1800 jobs over its 30-plus years of operation".

The mine will produce about 32 million tonnes a year if it goes ahead.

Ms Cassoni is a part-owner of Bimblebox Nature Refuge, an 8000ha haven for native wildlife which falls under the exploration permit for the Galilee coal mine network, west of Rockhampton.

Four separate mines have been proposed for the area.

Ms Cassoni said a Land Court recommendation that three monitoring bores be drilled had been included in Hancock's environmental authority document.

However, she said the provision of a make-good arrangement with surrounding landholders had been delayed until an application for a water licence had been made.

"The catch is that with the proposed new amendments of the water act, mining companies would not have to apply for a water licence and therefore we presume there would be no offering of a new make-good arrangement," she said.

"It's disconcerting to feel to be treated as a second-rate citizen, that we aren't even worth the decency to be advised that a decision has been made to the contrary of the one advised by the court."

The Land Court revisited the matter this week and ordered Hancock to pay half of Ms Cassoni's court costs.

However, the mine still looks like it will go ahead.

"Once we finalise the infrastructure joint venture with Aurizon and the regulatory bodies have addressed litigious challenges to approvals, we will execute coal off-take agreements before finalising all financing arrangements," Hancock has announced.

The Mackay Conservation Group has had a minor win in court in its challenge opposing the controversial Abbot Point coal terminal expansion. ... [Daily Mercury - 1/11/14]

North West Star [30/10/14]:

State member for Mount Isa Robbie Katter believes the Port of Karumba’s development would be an ideal way to boost the North West Region and for ships to bypass the Great Barrier Reef.

Robber Katter was supporting the Environmental Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Bill, which was passed in State Parliament on Tuesday.

“If we want to protect the Great Barrier Reef, we have to look at the Karumba Port,” Mr Katter said.

“It is not a big port, but it is of enormous strategic value because boats can go straight through to Asia, bypassing the Great Barrier Reef.

“It is a very important point to recognise that Karumba is an access port for produce out of north-west Queensland and the gulf that can go directly to Asia, bypassing the reef.”

Mr Katter said Panamax ships were preferred in the industry, but were not ideal to travel across the reef.
But these ships could get into Karumba Port, Mr Katter said.

The difficulty with using Karumba Port was that it needed dredging because it was shallow. When MMG’s Century Mine reduced operations next year, the company would not be spending much money on dredging.

UN advising on formula for equal share of Cyprus resources

Hurriyet Daily News [31/10/14]:

The U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, is working on a formula for the sharing of income from the island’s natural resources, a Turkish diplomat has told the Hürriyet Daily News, referring to a recent meeting between Eide and Turkish politicians in Ankara on Oct. 28.

The diplomat did not go into details of the possible formula, but said Eide would have talks in Greece and in Cyprus in early November as part of efforts to resume peace talks on the divided island. Talks were suspended by Greek Cyprus on Oct. 7 in protest at gas exploration activities by Turkey off Cyprus.

In his talks in Ankara, the U.N. official stressed that despite the instability in the region, the Cyprus dispute is the most likely case to be resolved, so the parties must persist with the negotiations, according to the diplomat.

Greek Cyprus suspended its participation in the U.N.-led negotiations after Turkey dispatched a survey boat to an area where the Greek Cypriot government had licensed exploratory drilling for oil and gas.

Nicosia is unhappy that Turkey is searching for oil and gas in the same region where the Cypriot government has already licensed exploratory drills in an exclusive economic zone.

However, Ankara disputes Greek Cyprus’ rights to a swathe of sea to the island’s south and southeast that are rich in natural gas reserves, demanding an equal share of resources between the two governments of the island.

Meanwhile, a written statement after a Turkish National Security Council (MGK) meeting late on Oct. 30 vowed that Turkey would continue to protect its rights and interests in its continental shelf in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean, and in the economic zone licensed by Turkish Cyprus.

400,000 Australians join no co-payment push

Queensland Nurses Union Media Release [30/10/14]:

Australian organisations with a fighting force of more than 400,000 members will today meet to plan a Medicare protection campaign.

Representatives of the Public Hospitals Health and Medicare Alliance of Queensland (PHHAMAQ) will this morning renew a pledge to protect Medicare from threats including the Abbott government’s proposed $7 GP co-payment.

Queensland Nurses’ Union (QNU) Secretary and PHHAMAQ member Beth Mohle said the alliance would use its collective numbers to ensure Australians continued to have access to medical assistance - no matter what they earned.

Ms Mohle said it was feared the introduction of a $7 fee for access to basic medical assistance could start an increased schedule of fees for hospital and health services currently funded with taxpayer dollars.

She said PHHAMAQ believed it was the role of the Australian government to use taxpayer funds to protect residents’ health.

“PHHAMAQ will today meet to discuss a rolling campaign of protests and meetings to fight Mr Abbott’s proposed GP co-payment,’’ Ms Mohle said.

“We fear the co-payment could be the first of many health-related fees and could stop some people receiving medical care.

“At the moment we all pay tax and all receive treatment from a world-class hospital and health system – why jeopardise that system?

“PHHAMAQ does not want to see the health and happiness of Australians put at risk.’’

Australian Salaried Medical Officers' Federation (ASMOF) Vice President and PHHAMAQ member Dr Suzanne Royle said patient health was paramount.

“We recently joined PHHAMAQ to ensure Australians continue to have access to quality health services regardless of their ability to pay,’’ Dr Royle said.

“The Australian Salaried Medical Officers' Federation believes the needs of patients should come first and that every government has a responsibility to protect the health of its people.’’

The PHHAMAQ alliance was originally formed in the late nineties to fight the Howard Government’s attacks on Medicare. It recently reformed to protect Medicare from the Abbott Government’s proposed GP co-payment.

The PHHAMAQ meeting comes just days after Mr Abbott called on Australia’s top medical researchers to support the introduction of a co-payment - and a $20 billion medical research fund.

PHHAMAQ is a coalition of consumers, community groups, health service providers and trade unions who share a common concern for the future of the Australian health system. The alliance is all inclusive with organisations open to join on invitation or by self-nomination.

The alliance includes Australian Salaried Medical Officers' Federation, Australian Pensions and Superannuants League of Queensland, Community and Public Sector Union, Doctors Reform Society, Health Consumers Network, Queensland Council of Unions, Queensland Nurses’ Union, Together and United Voice.

The political and media establishment's relentless message and desired outcome? ---> [Middle-aged obesity costing hospitals $4 billion per year - Brisbane Times - 30/10/14]

Some Australians don't deserve health care and should be left on the street to die.

Doctors 'mortified' at Queenstown plan

RNZI [31/10/14]:

Queenstown doctors are seething at a behind-the-scenes plan by the Southern District Health Board (DHB) to hive off the district's public hospital into a private trust.

The DHB is currently consulting with residents about ways it can save money, and while it has not officially acknowledged that it wants to rid itself of the hospital, doctors have confirmed that is the future intention.

Southern DHB chief executive Carole Heatly has said publicly that nothing had been decided about the future of Lakes District Hospital and all options were still on the table.

But two weeks ago, in a closed-door meeting, the DHB let its intentions be known.

DHBWakatipu Health Trust head Maria Cole, who was at the meeting and is advocating for a private trust, said doctors were shocked to learn the DHB intended to divest itself of the running of Queenstown's hospital.

"They dropped the bombshell then and said they thought that was the best thing for Queenstown," Mrs Cole said.

However, the doctors were not happy.

"I agreed a trust was the best way forward, but the doctors around the table were just mortified," she said.

Until recently, the DHB had been promising to rebuild Lakes District Hospital, but Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell said that would never happen if the hospital was run by a private trust.

He said the DHB was being reckless.

"In their decision to try and offload to a community trust they've done no analysis of this, there's no report and no investigation. They're simply doing it because they are under financial pressure," Mr Powell said.

If the DHB succeeded, he said they would then squeeze the trust to work under a tight financial framework.

Lakes District Hospital senior medical officer James Reid said he had concerns that funding under a trust would be capped.

"We know that at least 50 percent of the people we see through the hospital are tourists, and the DHB has always underestimated how many tourists we see. So if we change the governance model we'd have to know that it was funded appropriately and wasn't constrained by the data," Dr Reid said.

Ms Cole, whose Wakatipu Health Trust advocated to run the hospital several years ago, said the idea of a private trust was still a good one.

She said Queenstown could be swallowed up by Alexandra's Dunstan Hospital, which is run by a private trust, with the DHB flagging that the two hospitals could be governed by one trust.

"Queenstown needs to be master of its own destiny. I believe the real danger for our own community is if we sit back and let three bureaucrats take control. They will continue to invest in Dunstan, and Queenstown will remain a satellite cottage hospital administered by Dunstan," Mrs Cole said.

The DHB is now halfway through its consultation with local communities and will be in Queenstown to answer questions about its cost-cutting strategy on 12 November.

Nobody wants Christian proselytisers anwhere near Australian schools - except chaplains, politicians and the media!

Northern Star [30/10/14]:

While the furore surrounding the chaplaincy program in Australian schools plays out in the courts, local Christian group Aglow recently invited Casino West Primary School chaplain Wendy Boniface to speak about the work she does.

Ms Boniface was a high school teacher for 14 years and a scripture teacher for 30 years and had seen plenty of children who needed special care. The desire to help those children prompted her to undertake training to become a chaplain.

"I did my training down in Iluka and Maclean," Ms Boniface said.

"Then I was teaching scripture at Casino West Public School when I asked the principal if they wanted a chaplain."

The school was very keen to have "all hands on deck" and Ms Boniface assumed the role as chaplain in July 2012 while still teaching scripture.

"The chaplain is not a counsellor," she said.

"I think there should be a new word, the verb chaplaining, because as a chaplain you listen, you love, you encourage and you give them a way to help solve their issues."

Ms Boniface said she felt like she had been thrown in the deep end on her first day in the role, spending time with three young children who had been suspended.

"One little girl just held my hand tightly the whole time," she said.

"As a chaplain I get to be the sunny spot in some children's lives."

Some of the issues she has had to deal with include bullying, dysfunctional family lives and stress and anxiety in teaching lessons.

"Adults have enough trouble getting through tough stuff, so little children also have a tough time," she said.

Ms Boniface runs class lessons with the children on positive thinking, communication skills and resolving grief issues.

"I also have smaller groups where we do painting, play doh, puzzles and craft," she said.

"It teaches children to play together or can highlight some of the issues to be dealt with.

"As a Christian chaplain I'm not allowed to talk with children about God unless they ask me."

Ms Boniface said she would eventually like to speak to government representatives about the children's needs that she deals with.

"I just don't think they know what really goes on sometimes," she said.

Burkina Faso’s president Blaise Compaoré resigns after street protests

Guardian [1/11/14]:

Burkina Faso’s president, Blaise Compaoré, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, has been swept from power after 27 years by a violent popular uprising.

Compaoré announced his resignation on Friday as hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in protest at plans to extend his rule. General Honoré Traoré, head of the armed forces, said he had taken charge of the west African country.

Like so many strongmen before him, Compaoré was forced to abandon the luxurious trappings of the presidential palace and flee for safety as his regime collapsed.

A heavily armed convoy believed to be carrying the 63-year-old was seen travelling on Friday towards the southern town of Po, near the border with Ghana, according to sources quoted by Reuters. It was not clear whether he would seek asylum.

Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida of the presidential guard had earlier announced Compaoré’s departure in the central Place de la Nation in the capital, Ouagadougou, to cheering from a huge crowd of protesters.

Outside army headquarters, Colonel Boureima Farta, hoisted on the shoulders of other officers, declared: “As of today, Compaoré is no longer in power.”

It was a defining moment for the country’s young population, many of whom were not born when Compaoré came to power in the 1987 coup in which Thomas Sankara, his former friend and one of Africa’s most revered leaders, was assassinated.

Compaoré issued a statement on Friday that said: “In order to preserve the democratic gains, as well as social peace. I declare a vacancy of power with a view to allowing a transition that should finish with free and transparent elections in a maximum period of 90 days.”


Thousands protest in Montreal against provincial economic policies

Alaska Highway News [31/10/14]:

Several thousand people took to the streets of Montreal on Friday to protest what they call austerity measures imposed by the provincial government.

The demonstration began outside Premier Philippe Couillard's office and headed toward Club 357-C, an Old Montreal establishment that has been mentioned at Quebec's corruption probe as a venue for people of influence.

Many people wore Halloween-themed costumes and the protest's slogan was Austerity: A Horror Story.

"These attacks affect everybody," said Veronique Laflamme, a spokeswoman for the group that organized the protest.

"If you cut the level of investment in public services, that has an impact on people."

Couillard's government has reiterated the urgent need to restore order in public finances, saying it is "crucial to the prosperity of Quebecers.''

The government formed a commission in June to find ways to save $3.2 billion in expenses. It is headed by former Liberal cabinet minister Lucienne Robillard.

The government is hoping to achieve a balanced budget next year.

Fire forces French public radio off air

France 24 [31/10/14]:

The headquarters of French public radio network Radio France were evacuated Friday after a fire broke out at the iconic circular building in Paris.

Photos posted on Twitter showed large plumes of black smoke rising from several windows from the upper floors of the ‘Maison de la Radio’, on the banks of the River Seine in the west of the French capital.

Employees were evacuated and there were no reports of injuries from the fire, which was quickly brought under control.

Firefighters said the blaze started on the building’s 7th floor, where extensive renovation work is taking place.

Two of the network’s stations were briefly forced off air as the evacuation was carried out.

"We are forced to interrupt our programmes and evacuate," a journalist said on France Info radio.

French President François Hollande described the fire as an "extremely traumatic event", adding that it was a "symbolic" building.

The Maison de la Radio was built in 1963 and houses studios for some of France's most popular radio stations.

It has been undergoing significant renovation since 2009, notably to modernize its anti-fire protections.

Journalists inside the building said that no alarm had sounded during the incident.

"For a quarter of an hour, we were saying 'what shall we do'?" said Isabelle Labeyrie, from France Info radio station.

"While we were waiting for the order to evacuate, we took pictures," she added.

Protesters against WikiLeaks banking blockade, the "PayPal 14", largely victorious

WikiLeaks [1/11/14]:

On 7 December 2010, the same day Julian Assange was remanded to prison without charge, an extra-legal banking blockade was erected against WikiLeaks – as a direct result of WikiLeaks’ publications – by a number of US financial services giants including PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, Bank of America and Western Union.

More than 1,000 people took part in a harmless online protest against the blockade, which attempted to flood the PayPal website with network requests.

The banking blockade against WikiLeaks was subsequently found to be illegal in the European courts and most of the companies involved, including PayPal, Visa and MasterCard, have conceded defeat.

A number of the PayPal blockade protesters were charged by US authorities. For almost four years these protesters, most of whom had never engaged in a protest before, faced threats of imprisonment for what was by all accounts a harmless measure against extra-legal economic censorship.

The most well-known subgroup, the "PayPal 14", had a significant victory on Thursday, beating felony convictions and jail time.

Each will still have to pay $5,600 in "restitution", a figure drastically lower than the $5.5 million in "damages" that PayPal initially, and falsely, claimed. Supporters of the protesters, including the Wau Holland Foundation, have raised monies to defray these costs.

Stanley Cohen, a defence attorney for Mercedes Haefer, one of the accused, said last year that the terms of the plea deal were reached "based upon strength, not weakness; based upon principle, not acquiescence".

"It did not involve cooperation and did not involve any of the defendants renouncing their conduct. They all stood up and said: ’We did what you said we did. We believe it was an appropriate act from us and we’re willing to pay the price’."

WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange said: "When I first heard about these protests against the financial censorship of WikiLeaks I was in prison, and this expression of popular will lifted my spirits. I know first-hand how grinding years of court cases can be, but also the pleasure in standing up for what you believe in. I encourage everyone to do what they can to help the PayPal 14 and others to get back on their feet as they clear these hurdles."

China experimental moon orbiter returns

Yahoo [31/10/14]:

China on Saturday successfully recovered an experimental spacecraft that flew around the moon and back in a test run for the country's first unmanned return trip to the lunar surface.

The eight-day trip marked the first time in almost four decades that a spacecraft has returned to Earth after traveling around the moon. China plans to send a spacecraft to the moon in 2017 and have it return to Earth after collecting soil samples.

If successful, that future mission would make burgeoning space power China only the third country after the United States and Russia to meet such a challenge.

China's lunar exploration program has already launched a pair of orbiting lunar probes and last year landed a craft on the moon with a rover onboard. None of those were designed to return to earth.

China has also hinted at a possible crewed mission to the moon at a future date if officials decide to combine the human spaceflight and lunar exploration programs.

The latest mission was aimed at obtaining experimental data and testing technologies for re-entry to Earth's atmosphere involving guidance, navigation and control, heat shield designs, and trajectory fine-tuning for the future moonlander, christened Chang'e 5.

The spacecraft returned to Earth using a Soviet-designed method in which it first bounced off the atmosphere in order to slow its entry speed and avoid burning up. It then landed on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia just before dawn.

China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, becoming the third nation after Russia and the U.S. to achieve manned space travel independently. It has since launched a temporarily crewed space station and conducted a spacewalk.

China's program has received Russian assistance but has developed independently of America's, which is now in its sixth decade of putting people into space and has long-term plans to go to an asteroid and Mars.

Alongside the manned and lunar programs, China is developing the Long March 5 heavier-lift rocket needed to launch a more permanent space station to be called Tiangong 2.

Virgin Galactic spacecraft crash kills pilot [BBC - 1/11/14]

The explosion of an Orbital Sciences rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station signaled more than the loss of a $200 million mission on Tuesday. The incident marked the first disaster of a commercial resupply mission to the space station since NASA put the responsibility in the hands of private U.S. contractors. It’s a turn of events that will likely leave the supply runs in the hands of Orbital’s competitor SpaceX and Russia in the near future. ... [Spectrum - 31/10/14]

Ponds Institute and Australian media unable to come to terms with the fact that the Iraqi government has said NO to dirty diggers

ABC [1/11/14]:

Six weeks after they were first deployed, Australian commandos are still waiting in the United Arab Emirates for the green light to begin operations in Iraq.

The ABC understands most of those at the Australian base at Al Minhad are from Charlie Company – one of four elite units that make up the 2nd Commando Regiment.

Charlie Company is one of the Australian Defence Force's most highly-trained units, with specialists in counter-terrorism able to be rapidly deployed in a conflict zone.

They are well-equipped and skilled at target spotting and calling in strike aircraft.

And after years of on-the-ground experience in Afghanistan they now have a considerable amount of experience in mentoring and training – a role that for the moment at least will be the primary focus of their mission.

At this stage Australian forces in Iraq will not be conducting their own independent operations but rather working with Iraqi military units on what has been dubbed an 'Advise and Assist' mission.

However, some insiders describe it as a "triple A Mission - Advise, Assist and Accompany".

Lowy Institute military fellow James Brown says "Accompany" is actually the key to their role.


... Left the Timorese alone .... 400 miles from Darwin ...

Buried Alive – East Timor:

This riveting 1989 documentary is one of the first real attempts to portray the story of East Timor without confining itself to 1975. Instead, it traces the history of East Timor at a time when it was seen as a lost cause and exposes why Timor was a colonial leftover ready for the taking.

US Department of Defense Authorizes Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for Operation Inherent Resolve

US Department of Defense Media Release [31/10/14]:

The Department of Defense announced today that service members deployed abroad in support of Operation Inherent Resolve are eligible for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.

Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jessica Wright signed a memorandum authorizing award of the medal.

This award provides immediate recognition to our service members supporting efforts to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community.

Service members must be deployed abroad to an approved area of eligibility in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in order to qualify for the medal. These locations include the land, airspace, and territorial waters of: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the Mediterranean Sea east of 25° Longitude, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea. Additionally, the medal is approved retroactively beginning on June 15, 2014.

Full eligibility criteria for the medal are contained in Department of Defense Manual 1348.33, Volume 2, Manual of Military Decorations and Awards: DoD Service Awards – Campaign, Expeditionary, and Service Medals. Additionally, the list of all operations and areas of eligibility are available at:


The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal is positioned above the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal in precedence, and directly follows the Kosovo Campaign Medal.

Each military department will prescribe appropriate regulations for award and wear of the medal and ribbon for their service members.

To learn more, please view the Department’s memorandum.

Kurdish peshmerga forces enter Syria's Kobani after further air strikes [Reuters - 31/10/14]

Patrick Cockburn [London Review of Books - November 2014]:

... The Islamic State’s success has been helped not just by its enemies’ incompetence but also by the divisions evident between them. John Kerry boasts of having put together a coalition of sixty countries all pledged to oppose Isis, but from the beginning it was clear that many important members weren’t too concerned about the Isis threat. When the bombing of Syria began in September, Obama announced with pride that Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Turkey were all joining the US as military partners against Isis. But, as the Americans knew, these were all Sunni states which had played a central role in fostering the jihadis in Syria and Iraq. This was a political problem for the US, as Joe Biden revealed to the embarrassment of the administration in a talk at Harvard on 2 October. He said that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had promoted ‘a proxy Sunni-Shia war’ in Syria and ‘poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad – except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaida and the extremist element of jihadis coming from other parts of the world’. He admitted that the moderate Syrian rebels, supposedly central to US policy in Syria, were a negligible military force. Biden later apologised for his words, but what he had said was demonstrably true and reflects what the administration in Washington really believes. Though they expressed outrage at Biden’s frankness, America’s Sunni allies swiftly confirmed the limits of their co-operation. Prince al-Waleed bin Talal al-Saud, a business magnate and member of the Saudi royal family, said: ‘Saudi Arabia will not be involved directly in fighting Isis in Iraq or Syria, because this does not really affect our country explicitly.’ In Turkey, Erdogan said that so far as he was concerned the PKK was just as bad as Isis.

Excluded from this bizarre coalition were almost all those actually fighting Isis, including Iran, the Syrian army, the Syrian Kurds and the Shia militias in Iraq. This mess has been much to the advantage of the Islamic State, as illustrated by an incident in northern Iraq in early August when Obama sent US special forces to Mount Sinjar to monitor the danger to the thousands of Yazidis trapped there. Ethnically Kurdish but with their own non-Islamic religion, the Yazidis had fled their towns and cities to escape massacre and enslavement by Isis. The US soldiers arrived by helicopter and were efficiently guarded and shown around by uniformed Kurdish militiamen. But soon afterwards the Yazidis – who had been hoping to be rescued or at least helped by the Americans – were horrified to see the US soldiers hurriedly climb back into their helicopter and fly away. The reason for their swift departure, it was revealed later in Washington, was that the officer in charge of the US detachment had spoken to his Kurdish guards and discovered that they weren’t the US-friendly peshmerga of the Kurdistan Regional Government but PKK fighters – still listed as ‘terrorists’ by the US, despite the central role they have played in helping the Yazidis and driving back Isis. It was only when Kobani was on the verge of falling that Washington accepted it had no choice but to co-operate with the PYD: it was, after all, practically the only effective force still fighting Isis on the ground.


Federal charges appear unlikely in Ferguson police shooting: Washington Post

Reuters [31/10/14]:

U.S. Justice Department officials probably will not bring civil rights charges against a white Ferguson, Missouri, police officer whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager set off rioting in August, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

The newspaper, citing law enforcement officials, said investigators had all but concluded there was not a sufficiently strong case to prove officer Darren Wilson violated the rights of 18-year-old Michael Brown when he killed him in the St. Louis suburb on Aug. 9.

At issue is whether Wilson had reason to believe he was in danger in his confrontation with Brown after he had asked Brown to get out of the middle of a street.

The Post cited a source who had been briefed on the investigation as saying: "The evidence at this point does not support civil rights charges against Officer Wilson."

Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon was quoted by the Post as saying its report was based on "idle speculation." An attorney for Brown's family declined to comment to the newspaper on "something that is not official," while Wilson's lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this month the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a leaked county autopsy report that indicated Brown had residue on his hand that could mean he struggled for Wilson’s gun while the officer was in his car.

Some witnesses have said Wilson shot Brown again after he got out of the car even though Brown's hands were raised.

Brown's death drew attention to race relations in the United States and police tactics in Ferguson, where much of the population is black and the police force is mostly white.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said last week he expects the Justice Department's investigation into the shooting to be complete by the time he leaves office. Holder said in September he would not step down until his replacement was chosen and confirmed by the Senate. The Obama administration is expected to nominate a replacement by the end of the year.

US Department of Defense to award Israeli start-up with $100k

Times Of Israel [31/10/14]:

Israel-US relations may be at a low point, but the US Department of Defense is so sure that the next big homeland security idea will emerge in Israel that it is putting up $100,000, to be paid to one start-up with a great idea or product in homeland security.

It’s the prize in a contest sponsored by DoD and the MIT Enterprise Forum in Israel. The best entries will be invited to present their company/group live at the Combating Terrorism Technology Conference in Tel Aviv on January 21, 2015.

This shows that despite recent political troubles, cooperation between the two countries in tech and security continues.

In a recent interview, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon pointed out that though there were tensions between leaders at the top level of Israel-US relationship, that relationship was like an iceberg – 90% of the activity and cooperation goes on “below the surface,” in the form of defense cooperation and other activities.

The politicians “have disputes,” he acknowledged. But “with all the disputes, the United States is Israel’s strategic ally.”


Ministry: Israel recalls envoy after Sweden recognizes Palestine [Maan - 30/10/14]

Israeli authorities on Thursday evening decided to reopen Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound after ordering its closure and following Arab and US calls for Muslim worshippers to be allowed in. ... [Maan - 30/10/14]

Israeli cartoonist draws Netanyahu as 9/11 hijacker [Al Arabiya - 31/10/14]

All Trucks Return to Russia After Delivering Aid to Eastern Ukraine: Emergencies Ministry

RIA Novosti [31/10/14]:

All the trucks from the Russian humanitarian convoy are now back in Rostov region, Russia, after delivering humanitarian aid to the people of eastern Ukraine, a spokesman for Russia's Emergencies Ministry said Friday.

"The vehicles have crossed the border checkpoints at the Matveyev Kurgan–Uspenka and the Donetsk-Izvarino and returned safely to the territory of Russian Federation. Thus, Russia's Ministry of Emergencies has concluded another delivery of the much-needed humanitarian cargo to the people of Donetsk and Luhansk regions," Oleg Voronov said, noting that all the trucks returned empty.

Voronov added that no incidents occurred as the convoy was travellng back to Russia and that all the truck drivers are feeling fine.

The Russian trucks were carrying about 1,000 tons of humanitarian aid including food, medication, construction materials and winter supplies.

Russia has previously sent three humanitarian convoys to eastern Ukraine, which has suffered greatly from the Kiev-led military operation against the region's independence supporters. The first three Russian convoys delivered about 6,000 tons of humanitarian cargo to the region.

Gazprom Could Begin Gas Deliveries to Ukraine Within 48 Hours: CEO [RIA Novosti - 31/10/14]

Something else for the Australian media to ignore: Manus refugee death camp constitutionality case in court again on November 3

PNG Facts [7/10/14]:

The Supreme Court hearing on the Constitutionality of the Manus Asylum Centre will commence in November, before a five men bench.

The directions to finalize the hearing date were given by Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia today.

The matter is between opposition Leader Belden Namah and the Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato, relating to Namah’s argument that the asylum centre is illegal as human rights abuse was encouraged by its existence and that it is a lock up for people who have not committed any crime under PNG laws.

Meanwhile Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato and the state have been told to submit any other material that would be included in the application book for their defence by November 3.

Also, certain amendments were made to the application by Namah’s lawyer Loani Henao.

Sir Injia says the matter had been taking quite a while and it is now time to finalise all necessary documents in order to commence hearing starting November 7.

Part 2: Eric Lichtblau on "The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men" [Democracy Now - 31/10/14]

... AMY GOODMAN: Can you take it from there and talk about General Patton and, ultimately, President Truman, as well?

ERIC LICHTBLAU: Sure, yeah, yeah. It’s a remarkable saga and a fairly shameful period in postwar history. We sort of think of the concentration camps, you know, being liberated at Dachau, at Bergen-Belsen, at Auschwitz, by the U.S. and Britain and Russia. But liberation for the survivors who were left in the camps meant staying in those same camps, behind barb wire, under armed guard. And remarkably, sometimes they were supervised by the same Nazis who had lorded over them when the Germans were still in charge.

And there was a report to Truman from the dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, a guy named Earl Harrison, that compared the camps to the Nazi concentration camps, except that, Harrison wrote, the only difference is we’re not exterminating the Jews. And General Patton, who ran the camps as the supreme Allied commander for the United States after the war, was furious when he read Harrison’s findings to Truman. And he wrote in his own journal—and I looked at these. I found the remarks so troubling and so jarring, I thought maybe at first they were a forgery, but it turned out to be true. He wrote in his own journal that what Harrison doesn’t understand, he thinks that the displaced persons in the camps are human, and they’re not. The Jews, he wrote—this is General Patton speaking—are worse than human, they’re locusts, and they have no respect for human dignity. And he recounted taking General Eisenhower, soon to be President Eisenhower, on a tour of the displaced person camps, and he said that Eisenhower didn’t really understand how loathsome the displaced persons were, and he thinks that they have some human dignity, when really they don’t.

Patton, it turns out, was not only a virulent anti-Semite, but also held the Germans in a weird sort of place of respect. I also tell the story in the book about, in those displaced person camps, Patton went to the holding cells for the German POWs, the German scientists, and he sought out one in particular, General Walter Dornberger, who oversaw the production of Hitler’s V-2 rockets, which had been phenomenally successful and destructive in bombing London and Antwerp. And Patton brings him out of the cell and says, "Are you Dornberger? Are you the guy who ran the V-2 program?" And Dornberger said to him, "Jawohl, Herr General." And Patton pulled out three cigars from his pocket and handed them to the Nazi general and said, "Well, congratulations. We couldn’t have done it." And it sort of epitomized this attitude that he had towards the Nazis. He even defied an order from Eisenhower at one point, General Eisenhower, and maintained the Nazis as supervisors in the DP camps, because he saw them as the most competent group that the Allieds had. So, I think you need to understand how horrific the conditions were for the survivors to understand how it was that so many Nazis made it into the United States.


Silence on the release of Kylie Bretag reveals how much the Australian media care about the plight of those in immigration detention

I just got the best news @KylieBretag will be home soon TY everyone for your thoughts & support during this time #deportkylie #FreeKylie

"tweeted" by @nwayt - Natalie Wayt [30/10/14]

Canberra Times [27/10/14]:

Canberra-raised traveller Kylie Bretag took on a second job so she could celebrate her 30th birthday whilst on a trip of a lifetime to Mexico this month.

But her adventure came to an abrupt end when she was detained by Mexican immigration officials for travelling without the proper stamp on her passport on October 20.

Her parents now say she has been left to languish in a detention centre, believed to be in the country's south, with conflicting details about when she will be deported.


Bodies of three US siblings found in Mexico [Channel News Asia - 31/10/14]:

The bodies of three US siblings of Mexican descent believed to have been kidnapped by armed assailants more than two weeks ago were found in Mexico's troubled Tamaulipas state, a prosecutor said Thursday.

The three bodies were badly decomposed but the victims, two men and a woman in their 20s, have been identified by their father, state prosecutor Ismael Quintanilla told local radio.

"We are able to say that these are the young people," Quintanilla said.

The victims are believed to be 26-year-old Erica Alvarado Rivera, 26, and her brothers Alex, 22, and Jose Angel, 21.

Their identities are to be confirmed via DNA analysis. Their bodies were found on Wednesday near Matamoros, a town on the US border not far from Brownsville, Texas. A fourth body also was found at the scene, Quintanilla said.

The three siblings are from Texas and had crossed the border to visit their father. Their parents had said their children were kidnapped on Oct 13 by armed men in the town of Control, west of Matamoros.

Their mother, Raquel Alvarado, claimed the kidnappers were members of the entourage of Control's mayor, Leticia Salazar. Quintanilla said nine of Salazar's bodyguards have been called in for questioning. Salazar, a member of the conservative opposition National Action Party, has said she will cooperate with the investigation.

The prosecutor did not reveal a cause of death, but El Universal newspaper said the bodies were burned and had bullet wounds. The grisly discovery comes as Mexican investigators hunt for 43 students who went missing more than a month ago in violence involving police and drug gang hitmen in the south of the country.

The case has shocked Mexico - a country weary of years of mostly drug gang-linked violent crime - and brought thousands to the streets demanding justice.

Tamaulipas state, where the bodies of the Americans were found, has for months been the scene of a turf war over drug routes pitting the Gulf cartel against the Zetas crime gang. About 80,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since 2006. Another 22,000 people are unaccounted for.


1 November 2014