Nobody is challenging Abbott for the leadership - and in any case, no-one cares.

Meanwhile, Australia is murdering refugees on Manus Island.



The Australian political, media and human rights establishment are a bunch of frauds.


The Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton proclaimed "we stopped the boats" twice on the 7.30 Reportland show.  The ABC personality asked NOTHING about his trip to PNG and/or the beaten, "arrested", possibly executed refugees.



Dutton dodges Manus Island in PNG visit [Greens Media Release – 3/2/15]



Boston Protest Vigil Against Australia’s Refugee Processing Facility on Manus Island [Open Media Boston - 3/2/15]




The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

 Marcus Aurelius



The Well of Madness [Paulo Coelho -15/5/13]


The rules do not apply ... do not apply ...

'Man With A Gun', Jerry Harrison [1988]


Canberra Times [3/2/15]

Federal Coalition MP Luke Simpkins illegally crossed the Thai border into Myanmar to attend a military parade and "revolution day" ceremony with rebel fighters.

The former Australian army officer, who has spoken out often about human rights abuses in the country, also known as Burma, presented a large Australian flag to Karen soldiers who have been fighting the Myanmar army.

He spent a night at a base of the Karen National Defence Organisation, which has several thousand fighters, before re-entering Thailand near the border town of Mae Sot, 491 kilometres north of Bangkok.


The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to comment on Mr Simpkins' crossing of the border.

Australian Federal Police are investigating the whereabouts of Northern Territory Labor Party chief Matthew Gardiner, also a former Australian army officer, who has reportedly joined Kurdish guerrillas in Syria fighting against the so-called Islamic State.



Foreign fighter measures approved as Senate passes counter-terrorism bill [Guardian - 29/10/14]


Canberra Times [3/2/15]:

Defence is facing a new harassment scandal involving a female soldier who was assaulted and had her hair cut during her unofficial send-off.

The incident, which has led to 11 soldiers facing disciplinary charges including assault and failing to comply with a lawful general order, occurred at Brisbane's Gallipoli Barracks last month and was related to a marching out tradition.

Two of the 11 soldiers have since been suspended from duty pending the outcome of the charges.

A Defence spokeswoman said the female soldier had part of her ponytail cut off and suffered minor injuries as a result.

She said the woman had received the injuries after she fell over during the incident.

The soldier was immediately treated at the Barracks medical centre and released shortly after, said the Defence spokeswoman.

Fairfax understands the woman had vigorously protested having her hair cut leading to a struggle in which she was injured.



Two dead after Morley Galleria shopping centre explosion

WA Today [3/2/15]:

A second man has died after a horrific explosion at Galleria Shopping Centre in Morley on Tuesday morning.

The blast, which occurred inside the buliding some time around 9.30am near the Woolworths loading bay area on Russell Street, also left four people in hospital, one of whom died around 3pm on Tuesday afternoon.

Police earlier confirmed that a 30-year-old man had died at the scene.

Two other injured men - both of whom suffered serious burns - are being treated at Royal Perth Hospital.

A witness to the explosion has told a harrowing tale of trying to save the man who died at the scene.

Jonathan McDonagh, who was among the first people at the scene, told Radio 6PR he saw three people running from the explosion and a puff of smoke but did not hear an explosion.

"As I came driving into the Galleria I (have) seen one guy coming running out and he was on fire," he said.

"And I (have) seen two guys coming out from the same door and they were on fire. And I knew straight away what was happening.

"The first fella came running out and he was lying on the ground in the shade and he was the one I was putting out.

"There was another lad lying on the ground and two other boys lying on the ground. One of them was dead.

"The other fella was getting put out by other people. I was running back and forth trying to put one person out at a time.

"When I seen (the) man was out and there was no more flames anymore and he was not breathing. I had to leave after seeing it."

The cause of the explosion is unknown but lightning has been ruled out in the wake of a severe electrical storm overnight.

Police said it was believed all four men were working in an area near an electrical transformer.



Casino man dies from injuries in gas-bottle explosion [Tweed Shire Echo – 3/2/15]



Bundaberg: Shoppers and staff were evacuated from Hinkler Central just before 1pm this afternoon following a small gas leak in the building.  ... [News Mail  - 3/2/15]

Northcliffe residents must 'act immediately' to survive as bushfire bears down

Nine MSN [3/2/15]:

Residents of the Northcliffe township in West Australia's far south have been told their homes remain "undefendable" against an out-of-control bushfire.

They are in danger and need to act immediately to survive, authorities say.

Householders have been urged to leave to the north towards Pemberton if safe to do so.

About 130 firefighters and 35 support personnel are battling the blaze that has burnt 25,000 hectares since it was sparked by lightning at Shannon National Park on Friday.

There have been reports today that one unoccupied house has been lost.

An emergency warning alert remains in place for people in the township and south of Middleton Road, east of Gabbedy Road, north of Chesapeake Road and west of Deeside Coast Road, to Middleton Road.

The fire has jumped Windy Harbour Road and is burning into properties between Guernsey Gully Road and Summertime Track.

The Department of Emergency Services says the rate of spread in some areas of the fire is still in excess of 500 metres per hour with spot fires starting up to 100 metres ahead of the front.



Grievous bodily harm charge, Berserker

QPS Media [3/2/15]:

Rockhampton police have charged a 44-year-old woman with grievous bodily harm following investigations into an overnight disturbance at a Berserker home in which a man allegedly sustained a stab wound to the chest.

Police were called to the Pine Street address shortly before 5am where officers located a 38-year-old local man with a chest wound. The man was transported to the Rockhampton Base Hospital for treatment for a non-life threatening injury.

The woman is due to appear in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court tomorrow.

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


Fatal traffic crash, Murray Flats (Tully)

QPS Media [3/2/15]:

A man has died following a two vehicle traffic crash in Murray Flats near Tully this morning.

Preliminary investigations suggest around 6.10am, a utility crossed onto the wrong side of the road and collided head on with a truck.

A 34-year-old Southern Cross man – the driver and sole occupant of the utility – has died.

A 46-year-old Tully man – the truck driver – has been transported to Tully Hospital for treatment of internal injuries.

The Bruce Highway was shut while emergency services attended the scene, but has since been re-opened to all traffic.

The Forensic Crash Unit investigation is continuing.


Armed robbery, Salisbury

QPS Media [3/2/15]:

Detectives are investigating the armed robbery of a business in Salisbury yesterday afternoon.

Initial enquiries indicate at about 3pm, four men approached a post office on Ainsworth Street. While two men waited outside, the other two entered the store and one man threatened the attendant with a knife.

The other man then assisted him to take a sum of cash from the register, before leaving the scene on-foot toward Birchdale Street with the other two men.

Nobody sustained any physical injuries during this incident.

It is believed all four men were wearing hooded-jumpers and long pants at the time.

Police are appealing for any further information from the public in relation to this armed robbery.

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


Update: Location of imitation pistol at Kingston State School

QPS Media [3/2/15]:

On January 30, 2015 a student attending Kingston State School approached a teacher at the school after having found a small imitation pistol in a holster within the school grounds.

This imitation firearm is similar in appearance and size to items which may normally be associated with cigarette lighters or paper weights.

An examination of the item revealed it is about eight centimetres in length and contained a magazine with small, brass imitation projectiles.

The projectiles contained no powder or percussion caps and the item was incapable of firing.

The item was handed to the School Based Police Officer attached to the school.


Katter readies KAP’s list of demands

North West Star [2/2/15]:

Dams, roads and rail lines will head the list of demands to be signed off from major parties positioning for the support of state member for Mount Isa and Katter’s Australian Party state leader Rob Katter.

Potential kingmaker Mr Katter said he had spoken to representatives from the LNP and Labor since rushing to Brisbane on Monday for post-election negotiations.

Delivering for his electorate of Mount Isa will remain forefront in any negotiations, listing no asset sales and “productive infrastructure not populist infrastructure” as a priority.

“Dams, roads and rail lines not sports stadiums and traffic tunnels,” Mr Katter said.

In the wake of the cliffhanger election result, neither the ALP nor the LNP has yet secured the necessary 45 seats to form government.

They may need the support of Mr Katter, fellow KAP member Shane Knuth and independent MP Peter Wellington to form a minority government.

From the Speaker’s Green at Parliament House on Monday afternoon, Mr Katter and Mr Knuth reiterated it was time rural and regional Queensland enjoyed the spoils in terms of jobs and industry.

Mr Katter said they would work with any government prepared to unlock the prosperity lying dormant in the regions.

“We’re basically not interested in the great Labor Party or the great Liberal Party. What we are interested in are the best interests of Queenslanders and rural and regional Queensland.

“We don’t have any favouritism whatsoever.”

The MPs pointed out that “Labor and LNP are one scandal away or one member quitting, from needing our vote if one side takes majority government.

“They will be a lot kinder to us than they have been in the past.”

Residents have been told to cut back on water usage after the Mount Isa Water Board warned the clean water filtration system could not keep up with demand. ... [North West Star - 2/2/15]


A hearse needed to drive a deceased person from Normanton to Mount Isa because the hospital’s power generator broke down during a blackout. ... [North West Star - 2/2/15]

Brisbane Airport's $4 billion expansion plan gains federal approval [Yahoo - 3/2/15]


JETGO suspends Gladstone to Sydney service [Gladstone Observer - 3/2/15]

Bird tortured and left to starve, Killarney

Chronicle [3/3/15]:

Police are seeking information on the torture of a crow last month.

Sergeant Bradley Doyle of Killarney Police said the distressed bird was located in Daisy St on January 19.

"It appears the animal had been caught and had a zip tie placed around its beak and further zip tie tightened around its neck, restricting its ability to eat and drink," he told the Daily News.

"The animal subsequently died."

Cruelty to animals is an offence under the Animal Care and Protection Act and can attract a maximum penalty of $227,700 and three years jail.

The Killarney Police are seeking any information about this matter and can be contacted on 4664 1320 or call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



A bag of dead puppies has been found on the banks of the Burnett River with authorities labelling the act as "inexcusable" and "callous".  ... [News Mail - 31/1/15]


Man threatened to set himself on fire during domestic dispute

Daily Mercury [3/2/15]

A man threatened to set himself on fire to stop his partner leaving during a domestic dispute.

The man, whose name the Daily Mercury has chosen not to publish to protect his wife, pleaded guilty to contravention of a domestic violence order in Mackay Magistrates Court yesterday.

Prosecutor Sheena Hayes said Northern Beaches police were called to an address in Eimeo about 4pm on Sunday, in relation to a domestic incident.

"Police were advised that the defendant was threatening to put petrol on himself and blow himself up," she said.

Ms Hayes said the defendant and his partner had had a verbal argument about viruses and emails on a computer.

"She advised police that she told the respondent that she was going to leave in the car and go for a drive, when the defendant has threatened to cover himself in petrol," she said.

The defendant was found by police hiding in a cupboard and taken into custody.

The defendant's solicitor said he had recently lost his job, which had put a strain on the family and his relationship with his wife.

"He believed that his computer had been hacked. About $6000 went missing from his bank account recently. There initially was some suspicion, on his part, that his wife had something to do with it," she said.

"They've been working through those issues and that's why they were arguing."

Magistrate Ross Risson released the defendant and ordered he be placed under a 12-month probation order for the offence.

This domestic violence incident was just one of 50 recorded by police across the district at the weekend.


 Father accused of sexually abusing teenage daughter's friends

Morning Bulletin [3/2/1/15]:

A Rockhampton man is accused of sexually assaulting three of his teenage daughter's friends during separate sleepovers at the family home.

The man has pleaded not guilty to 10 sexual-offence related charges.

On the first day of his trial at the Rockhampton District Court yesterday, Crown Prosecutor Dean Jones said the alleged incidents occurred between December 31, 2010 and December 31, 2013.

The man, who has not been named for legal reasons, is charged with seven counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16 under care, one count of observation in breach of privacy and two counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16.

One of the alleged victims told the court yesterday that she "thought being a teenager, people would be angry at her," and that she did not tell anyone because she was embarrassed.

Mr Jones said the defendant's daughter had three friends sleep over multiple times at the Rockhampton residence.

The matter, before Judge Leanne Clare, is expected to continue today.


Jewish sexual abuse families branded informers for going to police [Sydney Morning Herald – 3/2/15]


Tweed man faces court over hit-and-run

Tweed Daily News [3/2/15]:

A Tweed Heads man who pleaded guilty to a hit-and-run last year has again faced court this week.

Nicholas Luke Strett, 31, allegedly hit and injured Daniel Lambkin in the Toyota Hilux he was driving on the morning of Sunday, November 9 last year.

Between 5.30 and 6.30am, Strett allegedly drove dangerously on the Pacific Mwy off-ramp at Kennedy Dr, before striking Mr Lambkin.

Strett allegedly kept driving.

Mr Lambkin was not helped until an hour later, when a passer-by called for help.

Strett was charged with dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, fail to stop and assist after vehicle impact causing grievous bodily harm and negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

He pleaded guilty on December 1, and was granted bail.

He appeared before Lismore Local Court on Tuesday, and is due to reappear later this month. February 17.



Imaginary ABC News Radio Poll:  Should hunger striking refugees asking for UN intervention be beaten, "arrested", disappeared and possibly put to death?


Imaginary Australian journalist asks Peter Dutton some questions:

Do you accept that your inhumane treatment of refugees and total lack of transparency and accountability for their treatment is contributing to the Abbott government's record low opinion polls?

Why haven't you taken up the recommendations of last year's Senate Inquiry into the February incident on Manus Island i.e. allowing lawyers, journalists, the Australian Human Rights Commission and the United Nations access?

Did you meet with the International Organisation for Migration and or representatives from the US Embassy whilst in PNG?

Are the refugees who you had beaten and "arrested' for hunger striking and asking for UN intervention OK? When can we see them, or is PNG going to put them to death?

There are reports refugees aren't receiving adequate medical treatment, is this on your instruction?

Given your treatment of refugees constitutes crimes against humanity, are you concerned you may be prosecuted?


Pleas for death-row convicts grow louder

Jakarta Post [2/2/15]:

Death-penalty critics are continuing to call on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to spare the lives of convicted drug dealers, several of whom will face the firing squad this month.

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) recently revealed the names of 11 death-row convicts on its soon-to-be-executed list, which include two Australian nationals — Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.Indonesian drug trafficker Zainal Abidin and three Indonesian murder convicts — Syofial, Sargawi and Harun — are also on the list of inmates set to face the firing squad on the isolated Nusakambangan in Cilacap, Central Java.

Joining other human rights campaigners who have repeatedly called for the government to stop executing drug convicts in the fight against narcotics, the Institute for Criminal Justice (ICJR) called for the Judicial Commission to review all verdicts handed down to drug convicts after finding strong grounds that as many as 135 verdicts were marred with irregularities that contravened the principles of a fair trial.

“We urge the Supreme Court to consider granting case reviews,” the ICJR said in a statement on Sunday.

Prominent human rights lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, the attorney for the two Australians — Sukumaran and Chan — confirmed that both of his clients had submitted their second case-review proposal to the Denpasar District Court, a move intended to delay their executions.

The two Australians, whose first case-review proposals were rejected by the same court, were put on the waiting list of the next batch of executions after Jokowi rejected their clemency bids last year.

“Yes, we have filed the case-review proposals [with the court],” Todung said on Sunday.

Earlier on Friday, Todung said his clients had become better people.

“With their rehabilitation, with all the changes that have taken place, I think they deserve a second chance,” he said.

He was confident the case reviews would be granted, based on the Constitutional Court’s ruling that allows a convict to file multiple case-review proposals.

“We have the right to lodge [another] review.”

AGO spokesman Tony Tubagus Spontana confirmed the proposal submissions for the two Australian convicts.

“They filed their requests on Friday,” Tony said on Sunday.T

ony, however, did not answer when asked whether the case-review petitions would consequently delay the executions of the two foreign nationals.

Earlier, Attorney General HM Prasetyo said that a decision on the fate of a death convict became final once their clemency request to the President was rejected.

The Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court have disagreed about how many case-review proposals a convict should be permitted.

The AGO has sided with the Supreme Court, which says a convict should only be given one chance for a case review.

The Constitutional Court last year, through a ruling on a judicial review filed by former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Antasari Azhar, who has been seeking a way to clear his name in a murder case, claims that every citizen has the right to file multiple case-review proposals should there be enough evidence to challenge their verdicts.

On Saturday, volunteers from a local organization in Bali, the Mercy Campaign, distributed #keephopealive stickers to boost support for the anti-death penalty movement in the country.

“We want to raise people’s awareness about the death penalty and execution plan for Myuran and Andrew [Chan]. We want people to know that there is a problem with the death sentence. These two people have repented and yet they will be executed,” campaign coordinator Matius Arif said.

“They were drug dealers, yes. But that was 10 years ago,” Arif added.

He said the government should focus on law enforcement instead of executing people.



Mercy, please: Volunteers from The Mercy Campaign distribute stickers to motorists in Denpasar, Bali, on Saturday, in a move to support pardons for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, two Australians who are currently on death row after being convicted of a drug crime. The campaign is aimed at persuading the Indonesian government to reconsider the execution plan for the two. Zul Trio Anggono [Jakarta Post - 2/2/15]



Water inundates parts of Jakarta as rainy season reaches its peak [Jakarta Post – 2/2/15]

Lightning Strikes Kill Three, Injure Five Across Java [Jakarta Globe - 1/2/15]:


Murdoch's firms won't face US phone hacking charges

France 24 [3/2/1/15]:

US authorities have decided not to pursue criminal charges in connection with the phone-hacking scandal involving Rupert Murdoch's media empire in Britain, his companies said Monday.

In statements filed with US regulators, Murdoch's News Corp. and 21st Century Fox each said they would face no prosecution from the Justice Department.

Using identical language, the two statements said the Justice Department "has completed its investigation of voicemail interception and payments to public officials in London and is declining to prosecute" either firm.

The scandal which erupted in 2011 led to the closure of Murdoch's News of the World after revelations that the tabloid had accessed the voice mails of a murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler.

In the wake of the scandal and the subsequent investigations in Britain, Murdoch split his empire into two entities -- News Corp. focusing on newspapers and publishing, and 21st Century Fox specializing in TV and film.

The scandal has led to tens of millions of dollars in legal costs for the companies, including damages paid to victims.

Murdoch's British media units have faced intense pressure following revelations that the hacking extended to celebrities including Prince William and Prince Harry, and actors Jude Law and Sienna Miller.

Andy Coulson, the former British newspaper editor and one-time communications chief of Prime Minister David Cameron, served less than five months of an 18-month prison sentence after he was found guilty of conspiring to intercept voice mails..

But Former Murdoch protege Rebekah Brooks, another key editor for the media group, was cleared of the charges last June.

News Corp. operates The Sun and the Times of London, along with the US-based Wall Street Journal and newspapers in Australia.

Murdoch's 21st Century Fox includes the well-known Hollywood Fox studio and television operations and owns a stake in the Sky satellite broadcaster.


 Head of UN Gaza war inquiry quits amid Israeli anger

Al Arabiya [3/2/1/15]:

The head of a U.N. inquiry into last summer’s conflict between Israel and Gaza said on Monday he would resign after Israeli allegations of bias due to consultancy work he did for the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Canadian academic William Schabas was appointed last August by the head of the United Nations Human Rights Council to lead a three-member group looking into alleged war crimes during Israel's military offensive in Gaza.

In a letter to the commission, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Schabas said he would step down immediately to prevent the issue from overshadowing the preparation of the report and its findings, which are due to be published in March.

Schabas’ departure highlights the sensitivity of the U.N. investigation just weeks after prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague said they had started a preliminary inquiry into alleged atrocities in the Palestinian territories.

In the letter, Schabas said a legal opinion he wrote for the Palestine Liberation Organization in 2012, for which he was paid $1,300, was not different from advice he had given to many other governments and organisations.

“My views on Israel and Palestine as well as on many other issues were well known and very public,” he wrote. “This work in defense of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks (...).”

Israel had long criticized Schabas’ appointment, citing his record as a strong critic of the Jewish state and its current political leadership. Schabas said his work for the PLO had prompted the Human Rights Council’s executive on Monday to seek legal advice about his position from U.N. headquarters.

“I believe that it is difficult for the work to continue while a procedure is underway to consider whether the chair of the commission should be removed,” he wrote.

The commission had largely finished gathering evidence and had begun writing the report, he added.

The commission is looking into the behavior of both the Israelis and of Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza and calls for the destruction of Israel.

The appointment of Schabas, who lives in Britain and teaches international law at Middlesex University, was welcomed at the time by Hamas but was harshly criticised by Jewish groups in the United States.

Schabas had said at the time he was determined to put aside any views about “things that have gone on in the past.”




The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will deliver its judgement on the Croatia vs. Serbia case regarding their genocide lawsuits on Tuesday, 3 February. ... [DALJE - 1/2/15]


Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Monday went on trial in the northern French city of Lille accused of pimping, four years after a sex scandal in the US cost him his job and a shot at the French presidency.  ... [France 24 - 2/2/15]


US considers providing Kiev forces with ‘defensive’ weapons – report

RT [2/2/15]:

​The Obama administration, so far withholding any lethal assistance to Ukraine, may reconsider its position and send “defensive” weapons to Kiev forces, The New York Times reports, citing Gen. Philip M. Breedlove as one of the advocates of the move.

Breedlove, NATO’s military commander, is now reportedly leading the crusade to provide lethal military assistance to Kiev to battle the anti-government forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics after failed talks in Minsk this weekend.

“General Breedlove has repeatedly stated that he supports the pursuit of a diplomatic solution as well as considering practical means of support to the government of Ukraine in its struggle against Russian-backed separatists,” the spokesman, Capt. Gregory L. Hicks of the Navy, told the NYT.

Interviewing a number of decision makers that chose to remain anonymous until or if any policy shift on lethal aid to Ukraine is announced, the publication reports that Secretary of State John Kerry and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, are now “open for discussions.”

One official said that Susan E. Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, is also now prepared to hear arguments for helping Kiev battle the self-proclaimed republics. If true, this would signal a paradigm shift in the White House’s approach to the issue, which has so far been reluctant to escalate the crisis further than it already has.

“Although our focus remains on pursuing a solution through diplomatic means, we are always evaluating other options that will help create space for a negotiated solution to the crisis,” said Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.

Another Pentagon official told the publication that General Dempsey and Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, now also believe that providing “defensive weapons” to Ukraine should be considered.

“A comprehensive approach is warranted, and we agree that defensive equipment and weapons should be part of that discussion,” the Pentagon official said.

Backing the idea of arming Kiev forces, a new independent report by eight former senior American officials urges Washington to approve for the next three years a $3 billion budget to provide defensive arms and equipment, including anti-armor missiles, drones, armored vehicles, and radars.

“The West needs to bolster deterrence in Ukraine by raising the risks and costs to Russia of any renewed major offensive,” the report says.

“That requires providing direct military assistance — in far larger amounts than provided to date and including lethal defensive arms.”

The report points out the “urgent need” to rearm Ukraine because of the outdated capabilities of the country’s military. It argues that light anti-armor missiles are necessary to battle the volunteer troops of LPR and DPR.

The Ukraine Freedom Support Act, passed unanimously in December, authorizes the US president to provide lethal and non-lethal military aid to Ukraine – including anti-tank weapons, ammunition, and troop-operated surveillance drones.

Workers Strike at 9 US Oil Refineries

Naharnet [2/2/15]

Union workers at nine U.S. oil refineries were striking Monday for a second day after contract negotiations with plant owners broke down.

But only one of the nine plants had curtailed production as a result of the strike, Bloomberg News reported.

The United Steelworkers Union announced the stoppage began 12:01 February 1 at refineries in California, Kentucky, Texas and Washington state. The plants are owned by Shell, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum and Tesoro.

The USW took the action after negotiations broke down with Shell, which is leading the talks on behalf of refiners.

A USW statement blamed oil company intransigence and listed a series of problems, including "onerous overtime," "unsafe staffing levels" and the "erosion of our workplace" due to outsourcing of work to contractors.

The nine refineries account for about 10 percent of U.S. refining capacity, according to Bloomberg.

However, the strike could potentially spread to a much larger group of plants.

The USW said it represents 65 refineries accounting for nearly two-thirds of total U.S. output. The other refineries, including those of ExxonMobil and Chevron, are currently running under a rolling 24 hour labor contract extension, according to the union.

The labor tensions cause a 7 percent jump in gasoline futures prices since Friday amid concerns supplies of refined products could be constrained.

Tesoro said it had shut its Martinez, California refinery in light of the strike, viewing a full closure as the safest option given maintenance that had already been going on.

Tesoro will keep production up at its Anacortes, Washington and Carson, California plants.

"We intend to safely operate our refineries with fully qualified personnel and are confident in our ability to continue to responsibly produce transportation fuels to meet the needs of our customers," said Keith Casey, executive vice president of operations for Tesoro.

Three killed in US drone strike, Yemen

Al Arabiya [3/2/15]:

At least three suspected al-Qaeda militants were killed on Monday in a U.S. drone strike on a car in southeastern Yemen, local residents said, the third such strike in a week.

The attacks show there has been no letup in a U.S. campaign against suspected militants despite a power vacuum left by the resignation of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi who had publicly backed the program.


Yemeni officials said the drone fired two missiles at the vehicle, which was travelling on a dirt road between the town of Maswara in al-Bayda province and the city of Beihan in Shabwa province in southeastern Yemen.

The strike destroyed the vehicles, killing the three people inside it. Residents reported explosions inside the vehicle after the strike, suggesting it was carrying weapons.


Dozens missing as migrant boat capsizes off Yemen

Al Jazeera [3/2/1/15]:

At least 35 people are missing after a boat carrying migrants capsized in bad weather off the coast of Yemen.

Officials said they had rescued 13 African migrants near the Bab el-Mandeb strait on Monday after a boat was overturned by strong currents and high waves.

Eight Ethiopians and five Somalis, including a woman, have been saved, while the body of a Somali had been retrieved, General Saleh al-Sabbari told the official Saba news agency.

The boat was carrying 49 people, Sabbari added.

Fleeing poverty and unrest at home, many African migrants, especially Ethiopians and Somalis, often slip into southern Yemen by boat before heading north towards the Saudi frontier.

In December, Yemen said 70 migrants had died when their vessel capsized in bad weather near the same strait as Monday's sinking.

On May 31 last year, 60 migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia along with two Yemeni crew members drowned, according to the UN refugee agency.

In the past five years, more than 500,000 people, mostly Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis, have reached Yemen following treacherous journeys on vessels that are often overloaded.

Deadly blast at presidential rally in Nigeria's Gombe

Al Jazeera [2/2/15]:

A car bomb that went off near a stadium in the northeastern Nigerian city of Gombe, a few minutes after President Goodluck Jonathan gave a speech at a party rally there, has killed at least three people and injured 18 others.

A female suicide bomber was suspected of being behind Monday's blast, which comes less than two weeks before presidential elections are to be held.

The explosion occurred about 1.5 kilometres from the venue, which Jonathan had just left, said Deputy Superintendent Fwaje Atajiri.

Two other suicide bombings in Gombe on Sunday injured a few people but killed only the bombers, he said.

A couple sharing a bicycle blew themselves up at a central traffic circle and a man blew himself up at a timber market. All three bombers died, Atajiri said.

Also on Sunday, another suicide bomber blew himself up outside the house of a legislator in the northeast Nigerian town of Potiskum, killing 10 people, two security sources told Reuters.

No one immediately took responsibility for the attack


Afghanistan: War-displaced families in Badakhshan without shelter

Pajhwok [1/2/15]:

More than a thousand families have been displaced this year due to insecurity and natural disasters in northeastern Badakhshan province, officials said on Sunday.

Haunted by a sense of insecurity, they are reluctant to return to their houses. Public representatives say the displaced households belong to Warduj, Juram, Yawan and Yaftal districts.

Ahmad Javid Mujaddedi, a provincial council member from Juram, confirmed to Pajhwok Afghan News residents had been displaced from Far Ghamanj, Kabe, Katib and Khastak villages to insecurity.

The families are currently living on the outskirts of the Baharak district centre in tents. He said the aid from government and foreign organisations had been insufficient and could not solve the problems of the families.

“I have urged governmental organs and charities several times to deliver enough assistance, but none of them has paid any attention to my requests,” Mujaddedi lamented.

Some of the displaced people said they could not go back to their homes due to threats from the Taliban. “If we return, the militants would kill us on the flimsy pretext of supporting the government,” said Abdul Wakil from Khastak village.

He added the presence of Afghan and foreign militants in the district prevented them from returning to their homes. In Juram and Warduj, dozens of rebels and security forces have been killed or wounded.

Provincial police chief Gen. Baba Jan claimed more than a hundred foreign militants including Uzbeks, Tajiks and Chechens had sneaked into the province, where they trained Afghan militants in making bombs and using weapons.

Some three months back, 29 foreigners, including women and children, were detained by police soon after they entered Badakhshan. Afghan air force recently killed three foreign nationals including two Tajiks and a Chechen in Juram.

Security officials have said clearing operation were underway to eliminate rebels and pave the ground for the displaced families’ return.

An official of the refugee department, Wajihullah, said 420 families had been driven from Argo, 242 from Juram, 51 from Yaftal, 106 from Warduj and 60 families from other parts due to insecurity. Another 71 families have been displaced by natural disasters.

He acknowledged the affected families had been faced with a variety of problems, including homelessness and lack of food.

But Abdullah Faez, head of the Afghanistan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) for Badakhshan, said that they had recently distributed food items and winter clothing to 140 displaced families.

He added the food aid included rice, cooking oil, sugar and beans. The warm clothes included blankets, shawls and carpets worth 2 million afghanis. The families had been displaced from Jurm and Warduj to Ishkashim and Baharak.

Meanwhile, legal director to the refugee department said around 900 families had been displaced across province this year. Food items, clothes and cash were distributed to the households by UNHCR.

He said each family received 147 kilograms of floor, three cans of cooking oil, 17 20 boxes of cookies, six blankets, water, soap and 3,450 afghanis in cash.

Some of the displaced people said they had lost their homes to war and militancy and did not have a proper place to live in.

Mohammad Kabir, a representative of 45 families from the Ghachan village of Warduj district, said: “We need shelter on an emergency basis. Many of the displaced households are living with relatives.”

He acknowledged that government provided land plots to some of the affected people and NGOs had built homes for them. But shelter-related problems are yet to be resolved.

Jahidullah verified that 70 war-hit families had been provided homes, having two rooms and a bathroom and a living room. The cost of each house is $1,400.


Transparency International PNG questions Prime Minister O'Neill's refugee lies.

Australia's media continues protecting Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton from scrutiny.

RNZI [3/2/15]:

The chairman of Transparency International Papua New Guinea says it is difficult to believe so called 'economic refugees' would risk dangerous boat trips to seek asylum in Australia.

Lawrence Stephens' comments follow a claim by the PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill that most asylum seekers being held at the Australia-run detention centre on Manus Island are economic opportunists whose claims will be rejected.

Mr O'Neill told the ABC most of the asylum seekers at the centre are not genuine, and his government is already in negotiations with their home countries to have them sent back.

Mr Stephens says it appears the prime minister has been ill advised or there has been a dramatic change in the circumstances.

"Because in the past, once the boat people have been processed, it has been very clear that they are people in fear of political persecution in their own countries - people who clearly needed to escape."



Former 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz' to go on trial in Germany [Jeruselum Post – 2/2/15]:

A former officer at Auschwitz concentration camp is set to go on trial in April for 300,000 charges of being an accessory to murder, AFP quoted a court as saying Monday.

Defendant Oskar Groening, who is now 93, will face the court over charges regarding the 425,000 people deported to the death camp between May and July 1944 and the deaths of 300,000 people in the camp's gas chambers.

Known as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz," Groening's job at the camp as a 21-year-old officer was to count the cash taken from the luggage of prisoners and transfer it to Nazi authorities in Berlin. He would also remove victims' luggage to cover up signs of the mass murders.

He was initially charged in a regional Hamburg court in September. The next stage of the trial is set to take place in Lueneburg, Germany on April 21.

In court, the former SS officer will face 55 plaintiffs, mostly survivors and relatives of victims.

In a 2005 interview, Groening said that he regretted that he worked at the death camp and reportedly still hears the screams from the gas chambers.

"I was ashamed for decades and I am still ashamed today," he said. "Not of my acts, because I never killed anyone. But I offered my aid. I was a cog in the killing machine that eliminated millions of innocent people."



Australians Overseas Against Mandatory Detention



Petition: HESTA - Divest From Manus

#HESTA, divest from Transfield & the detention industry | #Manus #Nauru [xBorder Operational Matters - 23/1/15]


"We told them we are Syrians. If you send us back we will die there. They said, 'Die, but don't come here,'" he recalls.


UNHCR report Syrian refugees allegedly beaten by Greek coastguard.

UNHCR maintain silence on Australia's atrocities at sea, in offshore camps and in domestic immigration detention centres.


UNHCR Media Release [2/1/15]:

Eight Syrian and Palestinian men sit in an Athens basement and swap stories about their escape from the war in Syria and attempts to reach safety in Europe.

Each refugee has a different tale to tell, but all share the common thread of desperation and danger faced in crossing to Greece.

Ahmed* tells the others that he tried to reach Greece at night from Turkey on a boat carrying 34 other Syrian refugees, including four small children and a double amputee. Suddenly, out of the dark, a Greek coastguard vessel appeared and masked men boarded their boat, removed the engine and dropped it into the sea.

As Ahmed and some of the other Syrians tried to climb onto the coastguard boat, they were badly beaten.

"We told them we are Syrians. If you send us back we will die there. They said, 'Die, but don't come here,'" he recalls.

Nobody in the room seems horrified or even surprised. And the others laugh as Ahmed tells how his head was so swollen from the beating that he was later hospitalized.

This was after Ahmed's boat had been towed to Turkish waters, where they were left drifting until found by the Turkish coastguard. It was Ahmed's third attempt to reach Greece from Turkey. In May, he crossed the Evros River with two friends and made it to the town of Orestiada before being arrested while buying train tickets for Athens. The three were detained briefly and sent back across the river to Turkey.

His second attempt days later was abandoned because the river was too high and dangerous to cross. And in June, he made a fourth attempt on a boat bound for the Greek island of Samos. This time, the Greek coastguard picked them up and took them to Samos, arranging hospital treatment for two ill Syrians on board.

But for those who do reach Greece after fleeing persecution and violence in places such as Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq, life is hard. The eight men living in the small Athens basement room pay 400 euros each month between them and sleep on thin mattresses. No one has a regular job and they don't know how they will pay the next month's rent.

None of them intends to stay in Greece. Many plan to move on to countries such as Germany and Sweden. But the road onwards also contains many obstacles. Radwan,* a 23-year-old from Damascus, wants to go to Sweden or Norway. Last June, Radwan says, he and two others were arrested and detained near the Serbian border after crossing from northern Greece into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Now back in Athens, he says he plans to try to leave again – to anywhere but Greece.

Despite their hardship, the men recognize the difficulties facing many Greeks too.

"The people are very nice and it's a beautiful city, but the situation is very bad," says the oldest of the eight, Farid,* who is in his forties. He has five children in Syria to support and they now live with other family members while he tries to find a way to return some stability to their lives.

A lawyer by profession, Farid says that his life in the western Syria city of Homs before the war was very good. But two to three years ago, he says, "We lost everything. We lost our jobs. We had no income or resources." He sold the family home and car and paid some of the money to a smuggler in Turkey to take him to Greece. Now he is looking to find his way to Sweden.

In some ways the eight men in Athens are the lucky ones. Another group of young Syrian men, drinking tea in the Turkish city of Izmir and waiting to make the crossing to Europe, tell stories of failed attempts. Many of their stories involve them being violently deterred from entering Europe or being returned to Turkey.

With no end in sight to the Syrian crisis and with few legal ways of entering Europe available, more people will continue to make the dangerous journey across the sea from Turkey to Greece or from North Africa to southern Europe in search of stability, security, reunification with family and an opportunity to support family members back home.

* Names changed for protection reasons.




"We are 58 people, they beat the shit out of all of us" #Manus 





Who killed Cock Robin?

I, said the Sparrow,

With my bow and arrow,

I kill'd Cock Robin.

Who saw him die?,

I, said the Fly,

With my little eye,

I saw him die.

Who caught his blood?,

I, said the Fish,

With my little dish,

I caught his blood.

Who'll make his shroud?,

I, said the Beetle,

With my thread and needle,

I'll make his shroud.

Who'll dig his grave?,

I, said the Owl,

With my spade and trowel,

I'll dig his grave.

Who'll bear the pall?,

We, said the Wren,

Both the Cock and the Hen,

We'll bear the pall.

Who'll carry him to the grave?,

I, said the Kite,

If it's not in the night,

I'll carry him to the grave.

Who'll be the Parson?

I, said the Rook,

With my little book,

I'll be the Parson.

Who'll sing a Psalm?

I, said the Thrush,

As he sat in the bush,

I'll sing a Psalm?

Who'll be the Clerk?

I, said the Lark,

If it's not in the dark,

I'll be the Clerk.

Who'll be chief mourner?

I, said the Dove,

Because I mourned for my love,

I'll be chief mourner.

Who'll carry the link?

I, said the Linnet,

I'll fetch it in a minute,

I'll carry the link.

Who'll toll the bell?

I, said the Bull,

Because I can pull,

I'll toll the bell.

All the birds in the air

Fell to sighing and sobbing

When they heard the bell

For poor Cock Robin.

While the cruel Cock Sparrow,

The cause of their grief,

Was hung on a gibbet

Next day, like a thief.

"Who Killed Cock Robin" is an English nursery rhyme, which has been much used as a murder archetype in world culture. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 494.  ...


Manus Island: Australia's own Guantanamo, for people who have not committed any offence at all. [via Julian Burnside QC - 27/1/15]:

Wake up Australia, and see what is being done in your name.

this is part of a letter from Manus Island, written by a man who fled persecution, looked for safety, and found cruelty instead. (I have not altered the spelling in this letter):

"...we facing so much problems over here from the some of Wilson security guards and transfield officers who never help us, but ever creating problems. can i have right to ask what is our sin,? that we scapes from our homeland just because of threads and bad security conditions away from our beloved kids friends and families and after a long so long horrible journey we reached in Australian territory this is my 2nd life because it was so close to sunk our boat when they rescued us we missed some of our boat fellows, we are not came here for holidays, we just came here because we heard about Australia is most safe place for asylum seekers and they respect human rights and human beings, it is not whole history we are the eye witness of the riot, killing and the crime, most of people become mad, lake of medical facility, expired food item and so many other things which is countless, respected sir please it is our humble request to you and other Australians kindly help us we are human not animals we have feelings we want freedom we want rights to seek for safe place, not PNG. Australian government brutally violating the human rights which is against the Geneva convention treaty, they don't care if someone killed if someone die, kindly do something for us before we attempt suicide...."


Lethal injection to be used in PNG capital punishment [ABC - 6/3/1/14]



After getting away with the beating, "arrest" and disappearance of hunger striking refugees calling for UN intervention, Australia's Immigration Minister visits PNG to order the final solution.

The silence of so called opposition parties and the human rights establishment indicates their support.



Are hunger striking refugees calling for the United Nations, Red Cross and Human Rights Commission "expressing an opinion" Professor Triggs, Commissioner Wilson?

Do they deserve punishment?

Peter Greste release: journalists must be free to criticise [Australian Human Rights Commission Media Release – 2/2/15]:

...  “Mr Greste was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for doing his job as a journalist. We welcome his release,” said Commission president, Professor Gillian Triggs.

Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, said Peter Greste’s experience is a clear reminder of why no one should face jail for expressing opinions or reporting news.

“At the Commission's free speech symposium last year, Peter's brother, Andrew, gave a powerful address about his brother's plight and the situation that resulted in him being jailed,” Commissioner Wilson said.

“When we talk about free speech we often get caught in theory. Peter Greste's situation demonstrates why free speech matters in practice.”

Professor Triggs said freedom of speech is a fundamental pillar of democracy.

“Journalists must be free to report news and criticise governments without fear of punishment,” Professor Triggs said.



Do hunger striking refugees calling for UN intervention have the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, or ought they be beaten and disappeared?

Why has the human rights establishment's silence about what is happening on Manus Island become so deafening now that the architecture to Dutton's final solution to refugees is so obviously in place?

Geneva based human rights organisation urges Australia to remove excessive restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly [Human Rights Law Centre Media Release – 2/2/15]

Australia should repeal excessive restrictions on the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, according to a new report to be considered by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The report prepared by the International Service for Human Rights, with input from Australia’s Human Rights Law Centre, documents a worsening trend of laws, policies and funding arrangements being used by federal and state governments to restrict free speech and peaceful protest, censor and criminalise the work of journalists, and impede the independence and effectiveness of non-governmental organisations and the national human rights institution.  ...


United States, “allies” continue bombing Syria and Iraq

Centcom [2/2/15]:

On Feb. 1, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using bomber, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 10 airstrikes.

Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted 17 airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists. All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Feb. 1, and 8 a.m., Feb. 2, local time.

The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:


* Near Kobani, nine airstrikes struck three large ISIL tactical units, five ISIL tactical units and destroyed six ISIL staging areas and an ISIL vehicle.

* Near Dayr as Zawr, an airstrike struck an ISIL checkpoint.


* Near Al Asad, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL mortar position and one ISIL fighting position.

* Near Huwayjah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

* Near Al Rutbah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

* Near Kirkuk, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL tactical vehicle, one ISIL bunker, and three ISIL earth movers.

* Near Bayji, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

* Near Sinjar, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL building.

* Near Tal Afar, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL weapons storage facility.

* Near Fallujah, four airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, one ISIL vehicle and destroyed eight ISIL vehicles.

* Near Haditha, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL fighting position and one ISIL vehicle.

* Near Mosul, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL vehicle.

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


Senate Inquiry into Queensland Government: Wednesday 4th February 2015

Palmer United Party Media Release [3/2/1/15]:

First public hearing for 2015 to be held in Brisbane on Wednesday 4th February 2015

Palmer United Senator for Queensland and Leader of Palmer United in the Senate, Glenn Lazarus, today released information regarding the first of several public hearings to be held in 2015 for the Senate Inquiry into aspects of the Queensland Government Administration.

Senator Lazarus is the Chairman of the Senate Inquiry and the spokesperson for the Inquiry Committee.

“Despite Queensland State Government election results on the weekend, the Senate Inquiry is still moving forward and will continue to deal with hundreds of submissions which have been received from people and organisations across Queensland,” Senator Glenn Lazarus said.

“The Senate Inquiry is giving Queenslanders a voice and the opportunity to have their issues heard under Parliamentary Privilege.

“It is imperative that every submission is considered and people are heard.

“Many submissions allege corruption and poor and questionable decision making by the Newman Government, which has hurt everyday Queenslanders.

“These issues need to be ventilated so they can be addressed.

“It is more important than ever, now the Newman Government has been voted out, that the new incoming Government is made aware of these issues so they can be fixed.

“The issues being uncovered by the Senate Inquiry are shedding light on the questionable actions of the Newman Government and will assist the incoming Government to put in place measures to prevent these types of issues ever happening again.

“To date, several hearings have been held. The first hearing for 2015 will be held on Wednesday in Brisbane.

“The Inquiry forums are public forums and members of the community are able to attend.

“Members of the community and organisations who have lodged submissions as well as others who have expressed a desire to raise issues at public hearings have been invited to participate in the public hearing on Wednesday.

“Wednesday’s hearing in Brisbane will cover environmental, human rights and legal issues and issues surrounding Queensland Government decision making in relation to major projects.

“I strongly urge all media to attend to cover the hearing also.

“A further hearing for Cairns is scheduled for Thursday.



You can watch the hearing live.


Greek PM begins first foreign tour saying debt hurts all EU

Daily Star [2/2/15]:

Greece's new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Monday that eurozone debt was a crisis for the whole continent as he launched a European tour to rally support for his campaign for debt forgiveness.

"Europe is in crisis, not just Greece and Cyprus. Europe then should take brave decisions so that the growth agenda returns," he said.


Tsipras said it was time to end the current system of supervision of indebted nations' economies under which economists from the so-called troika of lenders carry out regular compliance reviews which must be passed for bailout loans to be disbursed.

"It's been accepted that this mechanism doesn't have legal institutional status at a European level," he said.

Tsipras' government has said it will no longer work with the troika and will forego any further bailout loans but will look to negotiate directly with its creditors instead.

But he stressed that reforms would have to be agreed with other EU member states, as he kept up his efforts to reassure partners and creditors alike that his government would not act unilaterally.

Earlier, Tsipras held talks with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades as he visited the island, which is the traditional first port of call for all new Greek leaders.

The Cyprus president is not an ideological soulmate of Tsipras.

He is a conservative who struck a painful bailout deal with creditors in 2013 and has since fought doggedly to meet its terms, despite losing his parliamentary majority amid a prolonged recession.

But Greece and Cyprus have a special relationship built on a shared language and culture and share strong misgivings about EU sanctions imposed on Russia, which is an important economic partner for both countries.

"There should be a coordinated stance by the two governments in Europe so there is a necessary bridge between Europe and Russia," Tsipras said.

"A continuation of the tension, transformed into a war of economics can have no positive outcome for Europe."

Greece has also been a key military backer of the Cyprus government in its decades-old standoff with Turkey.

Turkish troops invaded the island's northern third in 1974 following an Athens-engineered coup in Nicosia seeking union with Greece.

Athens has some 10,000 troops stationed in the south of the island and provides senior officers and training for the Greek Cypriot National Guard.

It has been a strong diplomatic backer of the Cyprus government's policy towards UN-backed reunification talks with Turkish Cypriot leaders, who proclaimed a breakaway state in 1983.

The Greek Cypriot side suspended its involvement in the talks in October in protest at Turkish prospecting for offshore oil and gas in part of the island's exclusive economic zone where the government had already licensed exploratory drills.

Tsipras called on Ankara to withdraw its exploration vessel from the island's waters to create an appropriate climate for a resumption of talks.

"The violation of Cyprus' sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone with the research vessel Barbaros constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and undermines the need for talks between the two sides," Tsipras said

"Talks should continue. But to continue it is necessary for Turkey to respect the principle of good neighborliness and international law, not make threats."

Turkey does not recognize the island's exclusive economic zone and has called for joint exploitation of the energy deposits that will also benefit Turkish Cypriots.

Maduro accuses Biden of leading coup plan against his government

Xinhua [2/2/15]:

Venezuelan head of state Nicolas Maduro Sunday accused U.S. Vice President Joe Biden of heading a "bloody" plan to overthrow his government, which he said was announced to presidents and prime ministers of Caribbean countries.

In a political event in the central state of Miranda, Maduro reiterated that he doesn't know if U.S. President Barack Obama is aware of the plan.

"The imperial power has entered a dangerous phase of desperation and has been talking to governments of the continent to announce they'll topple my government. I accuse U.S. Vice President Joe Biden who personally spoke with the presidents and prime ministers about the plan", he said.

According to the Venezuelan president, Biden announced the plan at a recent energy meeting in Washington with Caribbean leaders who told him last week in Costa Rica during the Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

He warned that there are plans to "buy or corrupt" senior military officers to lead a coup in this South American nation.

"A bloody coup plan has been launched and we must come to defeat this scenario", he added.

Maduro said that Washington "has gone crazy" and warned that "something" could happen to him.

"Our people must be prepared to rescue their democracy, their constitution and their revolution if a coup occurs", he said.

Last Friday, Maduro said that all agencies of the U.S. government are involved in an alleged "violent plan" to end his government.

The confrontation between Caracas and Washington has occurred regularly since late President Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999. In the last four years, the two countries have not sent ambassadors to each other's country.

However, the United States remains the top economic partner of Venezuela, as it receives more than 1 million barrels of oil a day from the South.



3 February 2015