Australia doesn't need gas ovens in its refugee concentration camps.

We drive people to suicide.

SBS [3/11/14]:

62-year-old Afghan born man Haidar Ali Ikhtiyar died at the Wickham Point Detention Centre in Darwin on June 15 last year.

A coronial inquest heard that two weeks before he died a Serco officer at the centre had been told that Mr Ikhtiyar had asked other detainees how to suicide.

In his report, Northern Territory Coroner Greg Kavanagh said it was of serious concern that the Serco officer had not passed on these concerns to clinicians who were treating Mr Ikhtiyar.

Professor Louise Newman from the University of Melbourne has conducted extensive research on the mental health challenges facing asylum seekers in immigration detention.

She says the case of Mr Ikhtiyar highlights broader systemic problems across the immigration detention network.

"There are very complicated systemic issues in the management of such vulnerable people and we need to remember that Serco or any of those related companies are not mental health professionals", Professor Newman said.

"Detention centres are not hospitals or places that are therapeutic. In fact, they contribute to mental deterioration."

"We also have very limited mental health services and pressure on those services and those doctors and clinicians not to release people or to recommend that they be placed in proper mental health facilities which is what they need," Dr Newman added.

"It's also governed and managed by the Department of Immigration who are also not mental health professionals and have virtually no expert advice given to them about these sorts of situations".

Professor Newman says health services run for asylum seekers should be run by the Federal Health Department to ensure that the detainees receive appropriate care.

Reports: At Least 10 Dead, 25 Missing as Immigrant Boat Sinks in Istanbul

Naharnet [3/11/14]:

At least 10 illegal migrants drowned and 25 others were missing in the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul on Monday after the boat carrying them capsized, Turkish media reported.

Ten bodies, including those of children, were recovered from the water after the boat carrying 40 immigrants towards Romania sank off Rumeli Kavagi, a small fishing town north of Istanbul close to the Black Sea, private NTV television said.

It added that 25 migrants were still missing while five others were rescued.

The immigrants, believed to be of Afghan origin, had boarded the boat at a port in Istanbul.

British Schindler’ honoured for saving 669 children from the Nazis

Guardian [29/10/14]:

Sir Nicholas Winton, a British man who saved 669 children from the Nazis, was awarded the highest civilian honour in the Czech Republic on Tuesday.

Winton, now 105, was presented with the Order of the White Lion by the Czech president in a special ceremony at Prague Castle.

Winton, who has often been nicknamed “the British Schindler”, organised the transportation and settlement of 669 children over nine months before the second world war broke out in September 1939.

Most of those he saved were Jewish children living in then-German-occupied Czechoslovakia whose families were later imprisoned or murdered in concentration camps.

Winton gave a speech during the ceremony. He said: “I want to thank you all for this enormous expression of thanks for something which happened to me a heck of a long time ago. I am delighted that so many of the children are still about and are here to thank me.

“England was the only country at that time willing to accept unaccompanied minors. I thank the British people for making room to accept them, and of course the enormous help given by so many of the Czechs who were at that time doing what they could to fight the Germans and to try to get the children out.”

...

Riyadh, Paris to sign Lebanon weapons deal: report

Daily Star [3/11/14]:

The final deal between France and Saudi Arabia to provide Lebanon's Army with $3 billion in arms will be signed this week after nearly a year of delay, according to a report published Monday in pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat.

"The delivery of French equipment to the Lebanese Army will take place within a month,” Al-Hayat quoted a French source as saying.

Al-Hayat said the deal would be signed Tuesday at the royal palace in Riyadh, adding that Saudi Arabia had invited Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi to attend the signing ceremony.

The source said Saudi King Abdullah’s keenness to support the Lebanese Army and security institutions had led Riyadh to speed up the signing of the agreement between the two countries to allow the delivery of the much-needed weapons.

Saudi Arabia first announced the donation at the end of 2013, but it has been held up in negotiations with the French, who will supply the equipment.

Lebanon has been engaged in a war against jihadists along the border with Syria after Islamist militants briefly overran the northeastern town of Arsal early in August.

The Army has received weapons and military equipment from the United Kingdom and the United States, while Saudi Arabia has pledged an additional $1 billion donation.

Afghanistan: President orders investigation into Patyal’s murder

Pajhwok [3/11/14]:

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Monday ordered a serious investigation into the assassination of the deputy governor of southern Kandahar province, calling the murder a dastardly act.

Abdul Qayum Patyal, who suffered grievous wounds in a gun attack by unknown assailants, on died in hospital late on Sunday.

He came under attack during a visit to the Kandahar University in the provincial capital at about 7pm.

Ashraf Ghani denounced Patyal’s murder as a cowardly act and the attackers as Afghanistan’s enemies. In a statement from his office, the president promised to bring the killers to justice as soon as possible.

He appointed a delegation led by senior Interior Ministry official Brig. Gen. Salem Ihsas to probe the incident. The investigators have been directed to report their findings to the president in due course of time.

Israeli forces demolish 3 Palestinian houses near Nablus

Maan [3/11/14]:

Israeli forces on Monday demolished three Palestinian homes in the Nablus-area village of Aqraba, a Palestinian official said.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma'an that bulldozers escorted by Israeli military vehicles entered the Khirbet al-Tawil area and destroyed three homes owned by Bahaa Maroof, Bani Fadil, and Osama Bani Fadil.

Israeli forces, including officers form the Civil Administration, declared the area a closed military zone during the demolition.

The area around Aqraba has been subject to multiple demolitions over the past few months, with Israeli soldiers destroying over 80 electricity pylons and wires in September and four houses in August.

On Oct. 21, settlers set up two new outposts near Aqraba after confiscating hundreds of dunams of land.

Israel halts Gaza family visits for detainees [Daily Star - 3/11/14]

Could a US Supreme Court decision on a boy's passport annex Jerusalem? [Al Arabiya - 3/11/14]

China unveils laser to shoot down low-flying drones: Report

Channel News Asia [3/11/14]:

China has developed a highly accurate laser weapon system that can shoot down light drones at low altitude, state media reported.

The machine has a two-kilometre range and can bring down "various small aircraft" within five seconds of locating its target, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing a statement by the China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP), one of the developers.

Xinhua showed pictures of large metal boxes in camouflage paint and the wreckage of a small drone, some of it burning.

It is expected to "play a key role in ensuring security during major events in urban areas" and address concerns on unlicensed mapping activities, according to Xinhua. It is effective up to a maximum altitude of 500 metres and against aircraft flying at up to 50 metres per second (112 mph), Xinhua said.

It cited Yi Jinsong, a manager with China Jiuyuan Hi-Tech Equipment Corp, a firm under the academy, as saying that small-scale, unmanned drones were relatively cheap and easy to use, making them a likely choice for terrorists.

"Intercepting such drones is usually the work of snipers and helicopters, but their success rate is not as high and mistakes with accuracy can result in unwanted damage," he said.

The system, which can be installed on vehicles, shot down more than 30 drones in a recent test with a "100 per cent success rate" said the CAEP statement. The academy is developing similar laser security systems with greater power and range, Xinhua said in its report late Sunday.

China typically deploys tight security for domestic political meetings, international conferences and sports events, looking to prevent public protests over issues such as illegal land seizures and corruption as well as any threats to the participants.

British banker charged with murder of two women in Hong Kong

Reuters [3/11/14]:

A 29-year-old British banker appeared in a Hong Kong court on Monday charged with two counts of murder after police found the bodies of two women in his apartment, including one inside a suitcase on a balcony.

A court document said Rurik George Caton Jutting worked for Bank of America Corp (BAC.N). The U.S. bank said that it had, until recently, an employee with the same name, but it declined to give further details.

Looking stony-faced and unshaven and wearing a black T-shirt and dark-rimmed glasses, Jutting told the court he understood both charges. The brief hearing was adjourned until Nov. 10, without Jutting entering a plea.

Jutting was arrested in the early hours of Saturday at his apartment in Wan Chai, a central city district known for its vibrant night life.

The charge sheet identified the woman in the suitcase as Sumarti Ningsih and said she had been killed on Oct. 27. The second woman, who was not identified, was killed on Nov. 1, the document said. It did not say how they were killed.

Local media described the two victims as prostitutes and said both had neck injuries, adding one was nearly decapitated. One of the women was Indonesian, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

The grisly murders have shocked Hong Kong, a city with a low homicide rate.

One of the victims was found in the suitcase, the other lying inside the apartment with wounds to her neck and buttocks, police have said.

Jutting had called police and asked them to investigate the case, police have also said.

Martyn Richmond, Jutting's duty lawyer, said his client had been denied contact with the British consulate and access to a solicitor of his choice prior to being interviewed.

Jutting had done up to seven police interviews over many hours, Richmond added.

Police declined to comment on Richmond's accusations. The British consulate did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Britain's Foreign Office in London said on Saturday a British national had been arrested in Hong Kong, without specifying the nature of any suspected crime.

...

Sea farewell for Bougainville crisis victims

PNG Loop [3/11/14]:

The international community of the Red Cross will be spearheading a sea burial at the Buka Passage for the people of Bougainville who were lost during the crisis.

This sea burial will be held on November 10 this year and the organising committee of the Red Cross wants the chairmen of the Council of Elders for Tsitalato, Hagogohe, Halia, Haku, Peit, Tonsu constituencies, Selau, Mahari and Tinputz to be present for this sea burial.

Representative of the organising committee Marcellina Tunim said that since most Bougainvilleans do not know where the bodies are, the sea burial will be fitting for them.

Families of those lost during the crisis will make wreaths for the sea burial and after the burial service, the families, the COE chairmen and the invited guests will board a ship that will take them out into the Buka Passage.

While aboard the ship, they will then float the wreaths in the middle of the Buka passage, pay their respects to the dead and say their goodbyes.

49 manhole covers blown into the air in Tokyo's Shinagawa

Japan Today [3/11/14]:

Residents and passersby in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward got a fright Sunday afternoon after 49 manhole covers were blown up into the air by what police believe was a gasoline explosion.

According to police, the manhole covers started blowing at around 3:30 p.m. in the residential district of Yutakacho. TV Asahi reported that every manhole cover for 200 meters was blown off.

Media reported that a 19-year-old man accidentally spilled about 10 liters of gasoline into the drainage ditch while working on his motorbike.

Police believe the gasoline was somehow ignited and then exploded creating a force powerful enough to lift the heavy manhole covers off the ground.

An eyewitness told reporters that the sight was unbelievable, like something out of a movie.

ICAC inspector announces audit of Margaret Cunneen inquiry

Sydney Morning Herald [3/11/14]:

The former Supreme Court judge who oversees the corruption watchdog has launched an audit into the circumstances in which it commenced a public inquiry into deputy senior Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen.

David Levine, QC, the Inspector of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, confirmed on Monday that he had "initiated what is known as an audit of this inquiry".

"The Commissioner of the ICAC has agreed to cooperate," Mr Levine told Fairfax Media.

The audit requires the ICAC to hand over to Mr Levine "all material that it lawfully can provide to me as to its investigation and inquiry".

The ICAC sent shockwaves through the legal profession when it announced last Thursday that Ms Cunneen, SC, and her eldest son, Stephen Wyllie, would be investigated over allegations they told his girlfriend, Sophia Tilley, to fake chest pains to avoid being breath-tested after a car crash in May.

Public hearings are due to start on Monday, November 10.

The announcement has sparked criticism of the ICAC in some quarters. Former Liberal Premier Nick Greiner, who set up the ICAC 25 years ago, questioned whether the commission was straying beyond its "core task" in investigating the high-profile prosecutor.

Mr Levine said his audit would "not interfere with how ICAC carries out its investigation".

Asked why he had initiated the audit, he said: "I have the power to do so."

He added that this was an "unusual case" and the only information he had at the time he initiated the audit was the ICAC's press release and media reports.

Asked if he had concerns about the inquiry into Ms Cunneen, Mr Levine said: "I have no present reason to be concerned."

"There exists in relation to ICAC, the Police Integrity Commission and the NSW Crime Commission the Office of Inspector whose function it is to oversee how ICAC, PIC and the Crime Commission conducts its inquiries," Mr Levine said.

The ICAC declined to comment.

Former adviser sues The Australian for school sex abuse 'cover-up' claims

ABC [3/11/14]:

... Kate Baldock, who is now media adviser to Attorney-General John Rau, has launched the claim for damages against The Australian in South Australia's Supreme Court.

Ms Baldock claimed her character and reputation were "gravely injured", that she has been "brought into hatred, ridicule and contempt" and that she has suffered "hurt, embarrassment and distress" by two articles published by the "newspaper" in August last year.

Ms Baldock claimed the articles, titled "Third staffer 'covered up' rape" and "Call for sacking over sex-abuse cover-up", were published "to a substantial but unquantifiable number of readers" on the "newspaper's" website.

In her claim she alleges the articles suggested she was party to the cover-up of the rape of a girl at a public school by convicted paedophile Mark Christopher Harvey, then the director of the school's Out of School Hours Care service.

Harvey is serving a prison sentence of 11 years over the abuse of five children.

Four of the cases emerged after his initial conviction.

The handling of the matter sparked a Royal Commission, headed by Justice Bruce Debelle.

Ms Baldock was not called to give evidence to the Royal Commission but was one of three State Government ministerial staffers who was compelled to appear before a Legislative Council select committee into child sex abuse.

In her statement of claim, Ms Baldock said the articles by reporter Michael Owen suggested she "deliberately failed to tell her Minister or anyone else in the government [of the Harvey case] as part of a cover-up for political reasons associated with an imminent by-election" and that her refusal to answer questions from Mr Owen "evidenced an acceptance on her part of responsibility for the cover-up".

She also claims the articles suggested she had "developed a media strategy designed to keep parents in the dark on the matter".

...

WA inquiry looks into FIFO deaths

West Australian [3/11/14]:

Mental health experts and mining union officials will speak about what puts FIFO workers at risk of mental illness at a West Australian parliamentary inquiry on Monday.

A spate of FIFO workers' deaths over the past 12 months has prompted the Education and Health Standing Committee's investigation.

The committee is expected to deliver its initial report in December and its full report by March next year.

Chevron plans massive "floatel" for West Australian gas project [Brisbane Times - 2/11/14]

Chevron money rains down on Richmond election [San Jose Mercury News - 31/10/14]

Freeport strike in Papua called off

RNZI [3/11/14]:

A union leader at the huge Freeport mine in Indonesia's Papua region says a planned month-long strike has been called off.

10,000 workers were set to strike from Thursday in protest at a series of fatalities.

But the union official has told Reuters that after two days of talks, a win-win solution has been found for everyone.

Four people were killed in September, prompting a protest last month that forced a temporary suspension of operations.

Last year, a training tunnel collapsed at the mine killing 28 miners.

Man assaults three women in Cairns: police

Yahoo [3/11/14]:

A man has been charged with indecently assaulting two tourists and a staff member at a Cairns accommodation complex.

The 23-year-old man allegedly assaulted the women on Saturday afternoon.

He was charged with three counts of indecent assault on Sunday.

He was expected to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on Monday.

Toxic chemical spill in Welshpool

WA Today [3/11/14]:

There has been a toxic chemical spill at a Masters Dairy in Welshpool.

Fire and Emergency Services Authority say 1,000 litres of a substance called OxySan, which is used for removing mineral deposits on stainless steel, has leaked.

Workers at the Radium Street depot have been evacuated while 13 firefighters in protective gear and respirators mop up the spill.

Russell Jones from DFES said firefighters were in the process of decanting the chemical from the leaking container to another one.

According to The National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC) OxySan is classified as 'dangerous goods' and can cause burns.

Man jailed for more than 12 years for Robina shopping centre attack

ABC [3/11/14]:

A man who shot two people in a crowded Gold Coast shopping centre has been jailed for more than 12 years.

Melbourne man Mark James Graham, 28, was found guilty of the attempted murder of alleged former Bandidos bikie gang member Jacques Teamo and the unlawful wounding of shopper Kathy Devitt at Robina Town Centre in 2012.

Graham had pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Bystander Kathy Devitt was wounded when she got caught in the cross fire.

Justice Alan Wilson told the Supreme Court in Brisbane today that Graham "showed a brazen contempt for the safety of many people".

"[You] shattered the peace of a place in which residents generally feel safe," he said.

Sentencing was delayed in October as defence barrister Dave Edwardson had told the court he had learned Graham had been diagnosed with bipolar while in custody.

The court agreed to postpone the decision until today, after psychiatric evaluations were conducted.

During the trial, the court heard the men were involved in an argument when Graham, who was described as the aggressor, produced a gun and fired two shots.

But Mr Edwardson said Mr Teamo had pulled out a knife first and his client acted in self-defence.

Suspicious fire, Queenton

QPS Media [2/11/14]:

Charters Towers detectives are investigating a house fire that occurred overnight in Queenton.

At around 3am this morning police and emergency services were called to a house fire on Bevan Street.

Fire services extinguished the fire which caused extensive damage to the house.

The house was unoccupied at the time and no one was injured.

A crime scene has been established and the fire is being treated as suspicious.

Investigations are continuing and anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to call Crimestoppers or Charters Towers police on 4788 2555.

Police shut down "out of control" Halloween party, Gladstone

Brought to you by (Party Pooper) Newman, Goss, Peetie Punkin Head, Bligh (Hello China Peaceful Assembly Act)

Gladstone Observer [3/11/14]:

A Halloween party with 130 guests was shut down on Friday night.

Police were called to a Lavor St address in West Gladstone due to a number of complaints about the party.

It was a registered event, but the 17-18 year old youths were throwing rocks at cars.

The event was declared out of control and shut down by police at 10.45pm.

More arbitrary anti rights arrests. [Sunshine Coast Daily - 3/11/14]:

A Geham man police say has links to a bikie gang has been arrested and charged with assault and disqualified driving.

The 58-year-old was arrested on Friday morning in the Toowoomba region.

...

Brisbane man wakes from coma after being shot in the head by police

Brisbane Times [3/11/14]:

A Brisbane man has woken from a coma after he was shot in the head by police two weeks ago.

It is understood 29-year-old Mitchell Jovic emerged from his coma early Sunday at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, but remains in the intensive care unit in a serious condition.

It was feared Mr Jovic would most likely remain in a vegetative state after being shot in the head by police during an incident reportedly sparked by a stolen ride-on mower.

Two police officers visited a Priestdale Road property at Rochedale in Brisbane's south where they allegedly found the stolen mower in a trailer attached to a four-wheel-drive on October 21.

It is believed Mr Jovic was sitting in the 4WD and sped towards the two constables when they arrived.

The officers fired up to five shots at Mr Jovic, who was hit in the head and arm.

A second man who was in the 4WD was not injured and was arrested.

...

The incident is being investigated by the Queensland Police Service's internal Ethical Standards Command.

It is understood Mr Jovic is now under police guard in hospital.

Whatever happened to our cherished "free speech" and "free market"?

Brisbane: What a fascist hole.

Thanks Rupert 'n friends.

... Courier Mail photographer Marc Robertson stumbled on the operation, and said there were four helicopters "only a few feet from the buildings". ... [Commandos and Black Hawk helicopters stage operations in Brisbane CBD as G20 security ramps up - ABC - 3/11/14]

G20 security: Soldiers man checkpoints in inner-Brisbane ahead of summit [ABC - 3/11/14]

G20 ring of steel no guarantee against 'lone wolf' terror threat [Canberra Times - 2/11/14]

Brisbane Times [3/11/14]:

Brisbane Airport Corporation has vetoed a "political" billboard asking for climate change to be added to this month's G20 conference.

The billboard - backed by nine national and international conservation groups - was planned for Brisbane International Airport.

A second billboard is being unveiled in Peel Street at South Brisbane on Monday.

The groups wanted world leaders and their delegates to see the billboard as they arrived in Brisbane.

The #onmyagenda campaign encourages people to tweet G20 leaders asking them to include climate change as a stand-alone item on the G20 agenda.

Climate change issues have been on the agendas at eight previous eight G20 summits.

It is not on the agenda in Brisbane.

The decision comes as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Sunday released its most recent report on the impact of climate change.

The report found that the world must stop almost all greenhouse gas emissions through a phased elimination of fossil fuels by 2100 if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged companies to disinvest from fossil fuel-based industries.

In broad terms, the UN IPCC report finds there are "multiple pathways" available to keep global warming below two degrees.

All of these pathways require "substantial" cuts to greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades, and "near zero" emissions by the end of the century, the report's authors concluded.

BAC told Fairfax Media the billboards were rejected last Wednesday because they were deemed to be "political".

Fairfax Media was told BAC had a "long-standing policy" to reject advertising which it deems political.

The proposed airport billboard featured South Australian grape farmer David Bruer, who lost $25,000 of grapes last season when temperatures reached 46 degrees at his vineyard.

"Climate change is on my agenda because farmers are experiencing severe crop and quality losses from extreme heatwaves, sunburn and devastating frosts—all of which are becoming more frequent," he said in a statement.

The billboard at South Brisbane features firefighters raising concerns about the increasing number of bushfires and the broader "firefighting" season as temperatures slowly warm.

...

Oh please visit the fascist hole of Brisbane where since 1992 the authorities and political and media establishment have demonised and intimidated the democratic right to protest.

G20: Ghost town fears prompt Brisbane City Council to offer free parking in CBD for summit long weekend [ABC - 3/11/14]

The Australian Army: Denigrating women is what they do - all around the world

ABC [3/11/14]:

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has taken disciplinary action against a soldier in north Queensland accused of allowing topless waitresses at an army function.

The ADF said members of the 2nd battalion held a party at a Townsville army bar nicknamed "Booza" on September 26 and hired four female staff to serve food and drinks.

An ADF statement said written and verbal orders were given directing that the women were to remain fully clothed.

"It was reported to the chain of command that the member organising the event had disobeyed this order," the statement said.

"Defence expects all members to act in a positive and professional manner which reflects the values and ethos of the Australian Defence Force."

The 2 RAR battalion's pipes and drums group posted an entry about the September event on social media:

"The pig carcass destroyed. Two cartons left out of the 6G we spent on booze. One fat lip. One possible demotion. But one hell of a night! Looking forward to the next ORs function. Second to none."

The ADF said disciplinary action was taken against the soldier who organised the party but did not specifying what that action entailed.

The soldier subsequently lodged a petition to reverse the finding against him, the ADF said, without confirming whether the appeal had been successful.

"Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act 1988, Defence is unable to provide a member’s personal information, including their rank, unit and service details without their written consent," the ADF said.

Indomitable tomato plant

Disaster capitalism zone, Surfers Paradise [3/11/14]

Christmas Tree goes up

Chevron Island, Surfers Paradise [3/11/14]

Russian photographer reports on conditions for refugees on Nauru.

Shameful Australian media blackout continues.

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

... Amnesty International tried to visit the island state in early 2014. Nauru’s government turned down their request along with a request from UN human rights observers, citing “the current circumstances and incredibly busy time”, as well as “practical difficulties”, Amnesty International said in a news release.

“Nauru’s refusals to allow an independent review of the conditions in the detention centre are another damning development in Australia’s offshore asylum processing system,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

Under new regulations, introduced by Kevin Rudd, then prime minister, in July, 2013, asylum seekers, brought to Nauru or the Manus Island, are banned from receiving a refugee status from Canberra and relocating to Australia. If eligible, they can receive refugee status and stay in Papua New Guinea or Nauru.

However, leaving these island nations is just as hard as bringing relatives there. Furthermore, refugees are not allowed to share their stories with the outside world.

Despite apparent attempts to prevent human rights activists and journalists from coming to the island, Russian photographer Vlad Sokhin managed to visit Nauru as a tourist. He has recently shared a heart-breaking account of what it is like to live on the islands as a refugee in Russian Reporter magazine.

“Everyone is spying on us here. Every our step is reported to the police. We are strictly forbidden from talking to foreigners or journalists,” Mujtaba, a Shia refugee from Pakistan, told Sokhin. Mujtaba works at Capelle & Partner, the only supermarket on the island, which makes him one of the few lucky refugees to have work. Unemployment in Nauru is as high as 90 percent.

Mujtaba recalled deplorable conditions in the detention center, where he had spent 10 months. Like other asylum seekers, Mujtaba had to share a tent with 20 people.

“The tents got unbearably hot in the sun; it was extremely hot inside – no fans, no air conditioning. Children and pregnant women had to live under the same conditions. There were eight toilets for 400 people. We were allowed to use shower for two or three minutes if there was water. Sometimes there was no drinking water,” Mujtaba said.

“I think, Australians deliberately forced us to live under such conditions, so that we would spread the word – don’t try to enter Australia illegally, you will go to hell instead.”

Adnan, his wife Mariam and their 12-year-old son fled from Iranian Kurdistan. Adnan’s wife is six months pregnant and in desperate need of medical attention.

“My wife is due soon. But she has pregnancy complications,” Adnan told Sokhin. “She suffered from anxiety when we lived in the detention center as if it were prison. The doctor at the Nauru hospital is completely incompetent. Several times my wife was prescribed medication contraindicated in pregnancy. There is no ultrasound scan. We cannot buy vitamins here,” he explained.

These are far from being isolated cases. Vlad Sokhin talked to other people, who were trapped on the small island fleeing persecution in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Somalia. Following Australia’s agreement with Cambodia, signed last month, they have now an option to settle in the South East Asian nation.

But Papua New Guinea, Nauru or Cambodia hardly compare to a developed country and all the opportunities it can provide to people seeking better life. Yet Australia continues to deny them what the UN considers a basic human right.

Reza Barati murder trial delayed.

No news on what happened at today's constitutionality hearing?

ABC [3/11/14]:

The murder trial for two men accused of killing Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati has been delayed after the two Papua New Guinean suspects were not provided with a lawyer.

Mr Barati was beaten to death during a riot at the Australian-run detention centre [a brutal attack on Australia's refugee death camp] on Manus Island in February.

The Manus Island National Court was expected to set a date for the murder trial of two men suspected of killing Mr Barati, but when neither man had a lawyer in court today the case was adjourned.

An exact date was not set, but it will be next year before a judge returns to the remote island, north of Papua New Guinea.

The two men arrested for his murder are in custody on the island and police have said they are looking for three more suspects.

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.

Ferrovial baulks at conditions on Transfield books

Sydney Morning Herald [3/11/14]:

Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial has baulked at signing a confidentiality agreement that would allow it to do due diligence on Transfield Services following a $1 billion takeover bid, claiming the terms and conditions are too onerous.

Ferrovial was sent a confidentiality agreement early last week.

If Ferrovial signs the agreement, the Spanish company is expected to be given access to Transfield's books within the next two weeks.

But Ferrovial is concerned about some of the conditions associated with the agreement, claiming they are restrictive and unrealistic.

Transfield has denied there is anything unusual about the confidentiality agreement.

"It is substantially watered down from what we would normally put forward in this kind of situation," a company spokesman said.

"We are genuinely attempting to move forward in a constructive fashion."

Transfield initiated a meeting with Ferrovial's bankers and lawyers on Friday in Sydney to try to advance talks between the two companies.

Transfield Services' board rejected an indicative takeover offer of $1.95 per share from Ferrovial in mid-October but said it was open to "exploratory discussions" with the group and that it was willing to provide it with limited due diligence.

The stand-off comes as Transfield's board prepares to explain to investors on Wednesday at its annual meeting in Sydney why it rejected Ferrovial's initial offer. Transfield will also update investors on its trading outlook, which could include upgrading its 2015 earnings guidance.

...

Gate with ‘Work Makes You Free’ sign stolen from Dachau

JTA [2/11/14]:

Part of the iron gate greeting Dachau prisoners with a sign saying “Work Makes You Free” in German was stolen.

The sign, which reads “Arbeit Macht Frei,” was discovered missing from the former concentration camp early Sunday morning, The Associated Press reported. The stolen section of the gate from the prisoners’ entrance measures about 6 feet by 3 feet.

A private firm provides security to the former Dachau camp but there are no surveillance cameras. There are no suspects.

Dachau, which is about 10 miles from Munich, was the first Nazi concentration camp opened in Germany.

The theft comes five years after the 16-foot metal sign from the front gate of the former Auschwitz concentration camp was stolen and recovered across the country 72 hours later cut in three pieces. Repairing the sign took several months.

Five Polish men were convicted of carrying out the theft on behalf of a Swedish citizen, Anders Hogstrom, who acted as a middleman for a neo-Nazi buyer. Hogstrom founded the far-right National Socialist Front party in Sweden in 1994.

Still waiting for a convincing argument that TPVs are worse for refugees than remaining indefinitely detained

Why aren't refugee advocates (and the Greens) highlighting that bipartisan fascism - not Clive Palmer - have made draconian refugee policy possible?

The ALP and Coalition have identical refugee policies - they vote together in favour of inhumane treatment of refugees.

There is one miniscule point of difference between these two parties, and that is the ALP currently say they are against TPVs.

Constant focus on TPVs and reports that Australia is in danger of breaching human rights responsibilities and repudiating the UN refugee convention (aren't we already doing this?) appears to be yet another cynical exercise in PR for the ALP.

Greens Media Release [3/11/14]:

The Parliament's human rights committee has highlighted a range of serious breaches of Australia's human rights obligations that would result from the passage of the Abbott government's cruel TPV and refugee assessment fast-tracking bill.

"This report is bad news for the Abbott government, who were trying to sneak these cruel measures past the Senate cross-bench," the Greens' immigration spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

"This bill is in clear contravention of Australia's human rights responsibilities.

"The Parliament can stop this bill in its tracks and I believe this report will give my Senate colleagues pause for thought.

"This bill will see refugees returned to danger, the breaking of international law and people being subjected to extended and damaging arbitrary detention. That can't be allowed to happen.

"Temporary Protection Visas leave refugees living in a permanent and cruel limbo. By blocking this bill, the Parliament can stand up to the Abbott government's obsession with cruelty."

Why the Asylum Caseload Legacy Bill should be opposed [VIDEO - 2/11/14]:

Summary of Corinne Grant's interview with Daniel Webb from the Human Rights Law Centre about the sweeping changes proposed in the Asylum Caseload Legacy Bill. It's not just about Temporary Visas - very radical changes are proposed which would undermine Australia's commitment to the UN Refugee Convention. There are many reasons to oppose this proposed legislation which is currently before the Senate.

Asylum Seekers and the Reality of a Deterrence Policy: Inside the Nauru Regional Processing Centre

Tuesday, November 11at 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Bankwest Lecture Theatre, Curtin University

Curtin University's Centre for Human Rights Education and the Refugee Rights Action Network WA invite you to:

Asylum Seekers and the Reality of a Deterrence Policy: Inside the Nauru Regional Processing Centre

with presenters

Mehdi Vakili and Mark Isaacs

Mehdi Vakili arrived to Australia by boat in 2012 to seek asylum and was detained in the Nauru regional processing centre until 2013.

Mark Isaacs worked for the Salvation Army inside the Nauru regional processing centre soon after it re-opened in 2012 until June 2013. He has since published The Undesirables: Inside Nauru that documents his experiences working with asylum seekers detained on the island.

Medhi and Mark will describe their experiences inside the Nauru Regional Processing Centre, the conditions of the camp, how the centre operated between service providers and the progression or lack of progression over time. They will examine the policy of deterrence and what it means for asylum seekers held in detention centres. They will also reflect on the notion that "you have to be cruel to be kind" to stop asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia by boat, and the consequences of policies that legitimise and systemise cruelty for Australia.

About the presenters

Mehdi Vakili was a human rights defender on Nauru and in that capacity launched a Facebook page that kept both media and refugee rights activists informed of the human rights abuses occurring on Nauru.

Mark Isaacs became impassioned by the asylum seeker debate after a visit to the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney. Months later, in October 2012, he was employed by the Salvation Army to work at the Nauru Regional Processing Centre. He eventually resigned from the Salvation Army in June 2013 and has continued to speak out against successive government policies that detain asylum seekers for indefinite periods of time in offshore locations.

Venue: Building 200a:220, Bankwest Lecture Theatre, Curtin University

Parking: Available in Curtin Car Park D3. For a map of the venue, please click here and select Building 200a as your location. Parking will be FREE in all zones near the venue.

Cost: Free registration via DoAttend by 7 November 2014. http://chremarkisaacs.doattend.com/

United States continue bombing Iraq, Syria

Centcom [2/11/14]:

U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria Saturday and today using attack, fighter and bomber aircraft to conduct seven airstrikes.

Separately, U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted two airstrikes in Iraq Saturday and today using fighter and remotely-piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.

In Syria, five airstrikes conducted near Kobani struck five small ISIL units and destroyed three ISIL vehicles. Southeast of Dayr Az Zawr, Syria, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL tank and two vehicle shelters.

In Iraq, one airstrike near Bayji struck a small ISIL unit. Southeast of Fallujah, Iraq, coalition aircraft also struck a small ISIL unit.

All aircraft departed the strike areas safely. Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.

...

Suspected suicide bomber kills 45 on Pakistani-Indian border [Reuters - 2/11/14]

Gunmen kill Yemeni liberal party leader [Reuters - 2/11/14]

Taranaki hosts NZ/US military exercise

RNZI [3/11/14]:

About 1500 military personnel from New Zealand and the United States will take part in a major training exercise in Taranaki from this week.

Soldiers from the Defence Force and the US Marine Corps will work on a scenario in which they will aim to restore peace between two fictitious nations - Bekara and Alpiria.

The exercise is called 'Kiwi Koru' and will also include the Royal New Zealand Airforce.

NZDF described it as a "regular fixture on the Army's training calendar held every two years to test agility and adaptability of the Army alongside the Royal New Zealand Air Force and New Zealand's South West Pacific partners the U.S. Marine Corps Forces and U.S. Army Pacific."

It said it followed on from previous exercises such as Southern Katipo held in the South Island last year and Exercise Alam Halfa held in the Central North Island in May.

Light-armoured vehicles, artillery, helicopters, engineers and support personnel will be involved.

In an NZDF press release, First New Zealand Brigade Commander Colonel Nick Gillard said the training calendar was "rigorous and designed to ensure we are prepared to deploy when required".

"It's an opportunity to test what we know, how we work and how we work with our international partners too," he said.

Colonel Gillard said the people of Taranaki had been very generous and welcoming with offering land and facilities to allow the hundreds of personnel to conduct the Exercise in the District.

"We're very grateful as it's essential to increase the capability of our young leaders and test our new equipment at home."

Troops will be embedded throughout Taranaki, with the key base for operations at the Stratford Aerodrome.

The exercise is expected to last throughout November.

Bahrain human rights activist freed on bail

Al Jazeera [2/11/14]:

A prominent Bahraini human rights activist has been released on bail after being jailed last month for criticising state institutions.

Speaking to Al Jazeera after his release on Sunday, Nabeel Rajab, the founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, noted that his latest arrest came just months after he was released from prison on previous charges.

"This is part of a series of attacks and intimidation I've been receiving from government due to my human rights work and due to my work with peaceful protests and the peaceful struggle for democracy and justice and human rights in this part of the world," Rajab told Al Jazeera.

He said he would "never regret" expressing himself, noting he is willing to pay the price for democracy.

His trial has been adjourned until January 20.

Rajab is one of the most high-profile democracy campaigners in the Arab world. He took a leading role in Shia-led mass demonstrations in Bahrain in 2011 which asked for reforms in the Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab kingdom.

He was jailed in May 2012 on charges of organising and participating in illegal protests and released two years later.

Bahrain has repeatedly been criticised for stifling freedom of expression and targeting activists in the country.

LPR Head Plotnitsky Leading in Luhansk Vote: Central Election Commission

RIA Novosti [3/11/14]:

The current chief of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Luhansk (LPR), Igor Plotnitsky, is leading in LPR elections with 63.17 percent of the votes, the republic's Central Election Commission has announced.

"As of now, 27.8 percent of the ballots have been counted. According to preliminary results Plotnitsky [has] 63.17 percent [of the votes]," the head of the LPR Central Election Commission said at a press conference Sunday.

Plotnitsky competed for a four-year presidency with LPR health minister Irina Airapetyan and businessman Viktor Penner.

On Sunday, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics held elections of the heads of the local governments and representatives of the legislative bodies.

A total of 100 observers from a number of European countries and the United States arrived in the region to monitor the elections.

The authorities in the European Union and the United States said earlier the elections would come against the Minsk agreement on the regulation of the crisis in Donbas, and that the international community would not recognize them.

Russia, on the contrary, has expressed its intention to recognize the elections and emphasized that not recognizing would run counter to the Minsk protocol and undermine efforts to reach peace settlement in the country.

Human Rights Watch doesn't quite apologise for portraying US backed fascists as evil Russians [31/10/14]:

Correction: Photo used in error

A photograph from Odessa, Ukraine, was mistakenly used to accompany an October digital marketing campaign about Russia. The photograph should not have been used to illustrate the campaign, and its misuse was entirely unintentional. Human Rights Watch sincerely apologizes for this error.

The Saker:

The fact is that western human rights organizations are below contempt. Some are political tools in the hands of the Empire (Human Rights Watch), some are full of western intelligence agents (Medecins Sans Frontieres, OSCE monitors), some are lead by cynical bureaucrats who use idealistic young delegates as cannon fodder (ICRC), some are used by big business as a tool (Greenpeace) while others are quasi-official CIA tools (NED, Freedom House, Open Society Foundation, etc.).

The funny thing in this case is that the photo is not taken in Russia, but in the Ukraine, and the riot cops shown here have Ukrainian unit badges. But then, who cares anyway? It's not like "truth" is a topic that matters to HRW...

Man wounded in early morning shooting outside Sydney Islamic prayer centre

Nine MSN [3/10/14]:

Police are investigating the early morning shooting of a man in Sydney’s southwest.

The 47-year-old man was standing outside an Islamic prayer centre, on Rosedale Avenue, Greenacre, about 1.15am when several shots were fired at him, police said.

He suffered pellet wounds to his face and shoulder and police believe a shotgun may have been used in the attack.

Witnesses dragged the wounded man off the street and into the prayer hall where they performed first aid until paramedics arrived.

A police spokeswoman said the man is expected to undergo surgery later today but refused to reveal what hospital the man had been taken to for his safety.

His injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

Police are still investigating and do not know if the shots were fired from a passing vehicle.

The industrial area remains cordoned off by police as they search the area.

Specialist firearm detection dogs were used as police searched the street and nearby buildings, including the grounds of the walled Islamic centre.

Early morning members who turned up for prayers this morning were confronted by the crime scene and police vehicles.

Detectives have appealed for any witnesses to the shooting to come forward and are still unsure what led to the attack.

"At this point in time it does not appear that there is any type of motivation for the shooting," Inspector Dave Firth said. [Other than the Australian political and media establishment's greenlighting of acts of violent bigotry.]

“We are following several lines of inquiry.”

...

Brisbane: Teenager back in court over racist rant on train

Yahoo [3/10/14]:
A Queensland teenager who racially vilified a security guard on a Brisbane train will on Monday make his second court appearance.

Abdel-Kader Russell-Boumzar, 17, shot to internet infamy after footage was uploaded showing the racially-charged tirade directed at security guard Josphat Mkhwananzi on October 2.

Mr Mkhwananzi had asked the apprentice mechanic to take his feet off the train seats, but was subjected to a five minute, expletive-laden rant in which he was told to "learn some English".

Russell-Boumzar was also accused of spitting on Mr Mkhwananzi.

His behaviour was slammed by magistrate Bronwyn Springer as "disgusting" at his first court appearance last month, where he was granted bail under strict conditions.

Russell-Boumzar did not enter a plea to charges of assault, assault occasioning bodily harm, making threats, creating a disturbance and using a carriage service to menace.

He faces a possible jail sentence.

Wow! ISIS link to trade unions ... you just can't make this shit up, or can you? [Islamic State recruits Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar went shooting with construction boss George Alex before leaving Australia - ABC - 3/11/14]

... Mr Alex is currently under investigation by the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption over his role in the construction business and his dealing with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). ...

So it's just as well Australia is participating in the bombing of Iraq and Syria, isn't it?

News Corp Should Apologise to Senator Nova Peris

Palmer United Party Media Release [3/11/14]:

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp newspapers should apologise to Labor senator Nova Peris for publishing private emails attributed to her, says the federal leader of the Palmer United Party and Member for Fairfax Clive Palmer.

“All of News Corp’s Australian papers should print full page apologies to Senator Peris,” Mr Palmer said.

“They stooped to a new low when they decided to attack her in such a disgusting manner.

“The Murdoch press should stop intercepting emails and paying for stories and start reporting some news.

“I don’t think even that fiction writer Hedley Thomas would lower himself to write the tripe that has been reported about Senator Peris.”

Mr Palmer said Rupert Murdoch and his newspaper empire brought shame to the nation.

“The Australian newspaper in particular is just a propaganda lapdog for Rupert Murdoch,” he said.

“Murdoch is an American citizen who for decades has been trying to impose his political agenda on our great nation.

“Australians deserve better and they should boycott Murdoch’s newspapers.”

 

3 November 2014

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