FBI monitoring armed standoff in Oregon National Wildlife Refuge [ABC News - 4/1/16]
Las Vegas police are investigating the killing of a wanted man who was shot dead earlier this week by two officers who mistook his cellphone for a gun, authorities said on Saturday.
Keith Childress Jr., 23, died from multiple gunshot wounds and his death was ruled a homicide, the Clark County Coroner's Office said. ... [Reuters - 2/1/16]
Terror attacks continue across Syria and Iraq
US Department of Defense [3/1/16]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Strikes in Syria
Attack and fighter aircraft conducted six strikes in Syria:
-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, three strikes struck an ISIL gas and oil separation plant and destroyed an ISIL technical vehicle, an ISIL excavator, two ISIL front end loaders, and damaged a separate ISIL front end loader.
-- Near Manbij, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL buildings and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Ayn Isa, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Washiyah, one strike struck an ISIL weapons manufacturing and storage facility.
Strikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Fallujah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.
-- Near Kirkuk, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Kisik, one strike destroyed an ISIL assembly area.
-- Near Mosul, five strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed 18 ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL command and control nodes, two ISIL weapons caches, two ISIL tunnels, and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Qayyarah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Ramadi, seven strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL tactical vehicles, two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb, three ISIL buildings, two ISIL heavy machine gun positions, an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL staging location, suppressed an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb, damaged an ISIL staging location, and denied ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Sinjar, two strikes destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and two ISIL light machine guns and denied ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Tal Afar, one strike struck an ISIL-used bridge.
Syrian Army recaptures strategic road in Homs Province [Sputnik News - 4/1/16]
Over 147,000 drafted into Russian armed forces this autumn [TASS - 31/12/15]
Greek coast guard officers found the bodies of four people, thought to be migrants, in the sea near the islands of Fournoi in the eastern Aegean.
The bodies, of three men and one woman, were found on Sunday in an advanced state of decomposition, according to authorities.
The coast guard also rescued 160 migrants and arrested two traffickers off Samos on Sunday. [Ekathimerini - 4/1/16]
Sweden imposes border checks to stem flow of migrants [EURO News - 4/1/16]
@MSF_Sea [4/1/16]: The kids, their pregnant mum & their grandparents will need to walk 3.5 km in the snow to reach #Presevo in #Serbia
The hand that signed the paper
The hand that signed the paper felled a city;
Five sovereign fingers taxed the breath,
Doubled the globe of dead and halved a country;
These five kings did a king to death.
The mighty hand leads to a sloping shoulder,
The fingers' joints are cramped with chalk;
A goose's quill has put an end to murder
That put an end to talk.
The hand that signed the treaty bred a fever,
And famine grew, and locusts came;
Great is the hand that holds dominion over
Man by a scribbled name.
The five kings count the dead but do not soften
The crusted wound nor stroke the brow;
A hand rules pity as a hand rules heaven;
Hands have no tears to flow.
US: Pre-dawn immigration raids seize children as young as 4 years old [#Not1More - 3/1/16]
In my case, though I had an idea of what was going on - I purposely didn't see it.
... Despite spending more than $1billion in the past year on offshore processing, in addition to significant foreign aid, Australia's influence in Papua New Guinea and Nauru has actually diminished.
Australia has become so dependent on borrowing the sovereign jurisdiction of these two countries to escape its own responsibility towards asylum seekers that the government is now complicit in supporting anti-democratic practices.
Nauru has adopted an ever more draconian approach to local governance since Julia Gillard turned to it in 2012 with a request to host an asylum-seeker detention camp. The judiciary has been denuded, local media censored, access to the internet restricted (including a ban on Facebook), and foreign reporters effectively barred by the imposition of onerous visa fees. ... [The Age - 4/1/16]
As Peter Dutton remains protected and unaccountable, ABC anti refugee propagandists once again use the death of a baby to try and justify Australia's fascist polices
... Mr Burke said Australia would not resile from sending unaccompanied children to detention centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, and said asylum seekers would be sent to Nauru soon. ...
[Sydney Morning Herald - 15/8/13]
Minister Tony Burke listens to asylum seekers during his tour of facilities in Nauru. [Department of Immigration - 26/7/13]
Democracies do not stop people from seeking asylum by turning away their boats and/or imprisoning them in gulags.
Mediterranean migration: Frequently Asked Questions [Médecins Sans
Frontières - 7/7/15 via Relief Web]:
What does MSF think of Australia’s “Stop The Boats” Policy"? Could this be an option in Europe?
The so-called “Stop The Boats” policy” is pushing human suffering off shore and the Australian government must stop advocating for the adoption of similar policies in Europe.
Whilst Australia's government has referred to its push back policy as ‘humanitarian’, there is nothing humanitarian about leaving people to suffer or die out of sight.
Dragging back boats, closing borders and putting a fence between safety and the population in need, so that the dying and suffering can take place elsewhere, is not a “solution”, it is the most harmful response one can imagine.
In addition to Australia’s policy to “turn back boats”, both parties in Australia support the interception of asylum seekers (and other irregular migrants) and their transfer offshore for mandatory detention and processing in countries including Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
MSF does not in any way support policies of detention.
Detaining people who are already traumatised, who have fled war and other humanitarian crises, causes further medical harm.
We know this from our direct experience assisting those in detention centres around the world.
We strongly urge Europe to reject the Australian model and not to follow Australia’s lead.
Important lecture about seeking asylum - and how Australia is trashing the UN Refugee Convention ----> Professor Alison Mountz, of Harvard University, Wilfrid Laurier University and the Balsillie School of International Affairs, responds to and challenges the crisis narratives unfolding in the media as she discusses political struggles over the erosion of asylum taking place globally. This talk explores shifting geographies of migration and border enforcement in major transit sites where migrants and asylum seekers seek entry and protection. The talk dwells in islands and enforcement archipelagos, offshore sites where struggles over entry and exclusion transpire and where the infrastructure of border enforcement and detention are growing. ... [VIDEO - Centre for International Governance Innovation - 12/11/15]
... I was a Staff Sergeant in the South African Police during and after the Apartheid era and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I have never witnessed the injustice and ill-treatment of human beings that I witnessed at Bravo Camp, RPC Nauru. ...
Not one Australian journalist went to Nauru to report on the 2013 riot trials.
Image: Displaced Peoples Organisation Limited via @CSerow [23/8/13]
Nauru Senate Inquiry, Submission 98:
... I soon noticed that the most vague witness statements were written by security personnel within a few days of the riot.
The more incriminating statements were dated up to four months after the event.
I asked myself “How can anyone remember in such detail and with such clarity months after the event when the statements written only days after the evidence were so vague?”.
As a seasoned investigator I suspected fabrication and collaboration of evidence.
After making a few unofficial enquiries I learned that officers present at the riot were told to implicate more suspects as someone was to be made responsible for the riot.
It was then that the Bravo Camp detainees were randomly pointed out by officers.
Most claim they had had previous run-ins with the witnesses and believed thats why they were singled out. ...
Asylum seekers' convictions for July 2013 riots overturned by Nauru court, their current whereabouts is unknown [ABC - 24/8/15]
... Immigration Minister Tony Burke says those responsible will be subject to the criminal laws of Nauru and could face severe penalties.
He has hinted that he could cancel or refuse a visa for those involved in the riots on the grounds of character.
"And now I can't prejudge that test before individual applications come to me, if I do it simply creates a legal problem with the possible overturning of my decision," he said.
"But I don't think it would take much guessing for people to work out how incidences like what we've seen overnight in Nauru reflect on character."
Salvos staff condemn Nauru’s Cruel and degrading conditions [Pro Bono Australia – 24/7/13]:
... “We have worked alongside these asylum seekers since the opening of the NRPC when the men were first housed in tents. Brought them pedestal fans when the temperature within their tents soared to over 50 degrees. Used buckets to empty rivers of rainwater when the same temporary accommodation flooded during the wet season.
“We comforted men who were brought to Nauru in handcuffs by the Australian government under false pretences. We watched their numerous peaceful protests against the uncertainty of their future. We saw the scars of self-harm, and suicide attempts. We tried to motivate the hundreds of men on hunger strike to eat again.”
In an explosive SBS Dateline interview with whistleblower, Rod St George, a former senior detention manager on Manus Island said: “I have never seen human beings so destitute, so helpless, and so hopeless before. I took the position with every intent of making the place a safer environment but it proved quite rapidly to be an impossibility. In Australia, the facility couldn't serve as a dog kennel. The owners would be jailed.”
“We have good reason to believe that those asylum seekers arrested and detained in Nauruan jail will not be provided with legal representation. It is likely that a large number of those men arrested in the riot did not in fact act criminally. As such we advocate for everyone to be treated as innocent until proven guilty in a court.
This is especially pertinent given the comments of Minister Tony Burke already stating that visas may not be granted to those men arrested.
‘Guards brag openly about waterboarding at Nauru’ – Former immigration centre guard [RT - 21/8/15]
Nauru Senate Inquiry Public Hearing [20/8/15]:
... Senator HANSON-YOUNG: In relation to the issue of zipping, can you explain to the committee how you know about that? You have described it in quite a bit of detail. Did you see that occur yourself?
Mr Nichols: I did not actually see the action occur but I have had numerous conversations with people known to me with regard to it: that members of the ERT had secured asylum seekers to their beds with zip ties, cable ties, and thrown them into the air. This occurred after the riots. Personally, I believe it to be retribution.
Senator JOHNSTON: My last question, Mr Nichols—and I do thank you for your cooperation seriously; it is obviously not easy revisiting these things. What was the building where you saw the person wet and coughing up water?
Mr Nichols: This is a tent in Bravo compound.
Senator JOHNSTON: A tent—
Mr Nichols: Yes.
Senator JOHNSTON: in Bravo compound. Whereabouts in Bravo compound?
Mr Nichols: The actual compound is comprised solely of tents.
Senator JOHNSTON: Does this tent have an identification?
Mr Nichols: It would be tent 11.
Senator JOHNSTON: Tent 11. So you saw someone wet and coughing up water coming out of tent 11?
Mr Nichols: That is correct. …
Nauru Senate Inquiry - Supplementary Submission [Mr Jon Nicholls No. 95.1]:
... Despite what one may find on the internet, at no time has Mr Nichols suggested waterboarding etc was part of some organised intelligence gathering for whomever - he says it occurred in a modern day 'Lord of of the Flies' - 'Stanford Experiment' type situation - the guilty parties did it for mere enjoyment and human nature is what it is.
There is no protection on Nauru from this behaviour because there is no Rule of Law, just arbitrary, crude and evil behaviour. ...
The "I AM A BOAT PERSON" campaign is supported by turnback supporting "WELCOME TO AUSTRALIA"
All aboard the bipartisan ship [Overland - 11/8/15]:
... Welcome to Australia director Brad Chilcott has publicly supported a policy of turn-backs in breach of the principle of non-refoulement.
In advance of the ALP conference, which he attended as a delegate for the increasingly inappropriately named left faction of the party, Chilcott called for the ALP to ‘neutralise’ a divisive debate by ‘closing the ocean route to Australia’.
This, from the leader of an organisation that takes its motto from the national anthem: ‘For those who’ve come across the seas.’
Writing in The Australian, Save the Children Australia CEO Paul Ronalds makes a more reluctant argument for the same conclusion: that organisations supporting refugees should embrace the opportunity for bipartisan consensus by abandoning active support for the principle of non-refoulement:
Although we may not like turnbacks, it is clear the policy is here to stay. Now we and other advocates for the rights of asylum-seekers must look beyond this aspect of the policy and concentrate our efforts on implementing a genuine regional framework, which we have long called for.
As NGOs have taken on major government contracts for refugee and asylum-seeker services, such as the $19m contract Save the Children currently holds with the detention facilities on Nauru, these organisations have become structurally invested in maintaining government control over asylum seekers.
But liberal humanitarians are more deeply invested in government control over asylum seekers than can be explained by any direct financial benefit.
They may disagree with right-wing conservatives on how many refugees should be accepted, or the details of how those who are turned away should be treated, but they share the premise stated by John Howard during the Tampa crisis: ‘We will decide who comes here and the manner in which they come.’ ...
Egon Kisch addresses a crowd in Sydney's Domain on the dangers of Hitler's Nazi regime
17 February, 1935 [Wikimedia Commons]
Extract from Australian Parliamentary Debates (Volume 145, at around p 256 -270, 14 November 1934) discussing Egon Kisch, who Menzies was determined to prevent addressing the "Congress Against War And Fascism"
Attempted exclusion of Egon Kisch from Australia [World Public Library]:
... Kisch was free to move about and speak. He became a popular figure, addressing meetings, rallies and crowds in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, warning of the dangers of the Nazi regime.
On 17 February 1935, he addressed an estimated 18,000-strong audience in Sydney's Domain:
"I have had three adventurous months since I last saw you. I know the Police Court, the Quarter Sessions Court, the High Court with one judge and the High Court with five judges. But whenever the court let me go I was arrested again. I have learnt to speak English better. Perhaps I do not speak King's English but it's Kisch English anyhow. I did not come here to tell there is terrorism in Europe. I come here to tell you how to stop it. I have been an eye-witness. I was arrested the day the Reichstag was burnt down by Göring and his lieutenants. I saw my friend, Erich Mühsam, the poet, whose works I translated, made to walk naked, even in winter, and to lick up the spittle of his captors. All his limbs were broken gradually, and he died."
Their crackers, my taxes -----> Who will refund the people since their park has been privatised? [Sydney Morning Herald - 1/1/16]:
Customers who paid up to $500 to attend a private New Year's Eve party are demanding refunds, describing a night of hour-long toilet queues, greasy food, alcohol shortages and Justin Bieber music on repeat.
The Sydney NYE Above the Harbour event promised "a relaxed, stress-free NYE in beautiful surrounds".
For the first time, an entire section of the Royal Botanic Gardens was reserved for more than 3000 paying guests to enjoy views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
... After the explosion Karim Wasfi headed down to the blast site, set a stool among the wreckage and started to play his cello.
“The only way I see to retaliate is to be active. Music isn’t an additional element in life, something to do just when things are normal,” Wasfi, conductor of Iraq's National Symphony Orchestra, told MEE by phone as he drove around Baghdad earlier this week, hooting at other cars and greetings soldiers at various checkpoints.
Baghdad has been the target of multiple bombings this spring, many of them later claimed by Islamic State, which also periodically shells outlying areas of the city. But Wasfi felt compelled to act last week when a busy shopping street in his neighborhood, al-Mansour, was destroyed.
“There is nothing in that area that I would call a target,” he said.
“Three women and their mother burned to death because of this ugly act of violence. A man who was visiting Baghdad from Dubai for the first time in years and went to do some shopping ended up losing two family members just like that.” ... [Middle East Eye - 4/5/15]
Maori Party backs call to change racist law [RNZI - 3/1/16]
Papua New Guinea women are outraged at last week's reports involving policemen from Boroko police station who forced a woman to swallow condoms or face being arrested and locked up.
The video which made the local and international news is being condemned in the strongest terms by women from all walks of life around the country.
Well known business woman Sarah Todd on behalf of founders and members of the Women Arise Group said police brutality had worsened and the country was losing its grip on how to deal quickly and transparently with such police brutality. ... [PNG Loop - 2/1/16]
The 11 Komo-based PNG Defense Force soldiers who were brought into Port Moresby from the Komo airport base on Monday have been formally charged with mutiny. ... [PNG Loop - 2/1/16]
... Each came to Israel with a large delegation, and each is interested in cooperating with Israel in the fields of science and technology.
O’Neill is also interested in developing the Defense Cooperation Program that his country has with Israel in order to rebuild and improve the standards of the PNG Defense Force.
Additionally, he is looking to upgrade PNG’s overall security, and bilateral talks on this issue were already underway prior to his arrival in Israel.
PNG and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1978, but until recent years, in which Israel began to pay greater attention to Asia and the Pacific, little was done to enhance diplomatic ties. ... Prime Ministers visiting President Peres make history [Jerusalem Post - 17/10/13]
In a substantial blow to diplomatic relations between Australia and its former colony, PNG has gone ahead with a threat to end contracts for foreigners brought in to the nation’s public service.
There had been 33 Australian public servants seconded to various PNG departments including officials from the Tax Office, Customs, the Auditor-General, the Ombudsman, Treasury and Finance.
They had been part of a long-term program aimed at improving the quality of public administration in PNG - Australia’s largest aid recipient - which has struggled since its independence in the 1970s.
Many of those employed under the “Strongim Gavman Program” included staff in key justice areas of PNG including its Attorney-General Department, the Office of the Public Prosecutor and the Office of the Solicitor-General. ... [West Australian - 3/1/16]
... "The three ships involved were the Type 052C Luyang II-class guided-missile destroyer Jinan (152), the Type 054A Jiangkai II-class guided-missile frigate Yiyang (548), and the Type 903 Fuchi-class replenishment ship Qiandao Hu (886)," it reported.
Crew from the ships reportedly take part in sports and training programs while they visit different host cities, however it is unclear who is hosting the Chinese naval officers in Brisbane. ... Chinese naval ships to dock in Brisbane this weekend [Brisbane Times - 2/1/16]
Political donations: mystery Chinese contributor Zi Chun Wang gives $1m to Labor [Sydney Morning Herald - 2/2/15]
Vietnam formally accused China of violating its sovereignty and a recent confidence-building pact on Saturday by landing a plane on an airstrip Beijing has built in a contested part of the South China Sea.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said China had conducted a test-flight to the airfield, "built illegally on Fiery Cross Reef, which is part of Vietnam's Spratlys".
In a statement, he called it "a serious infringement of the sovereignty of Vietnam on the Spratly archipelago, contrary to the common perception of high-ranking leaders of the two countries and (to) an agreement on the basic principles for directly solving maritime issues between Vietnam and China".
Vietnam handed a protest note to China's embassy and asked China not to repeat the action, Binh said. ... [Channel News Asia - 2/1/16]
Queensland's publicly funded private hospitals remain unregulated and unaccountable [Brisbane Times - 2/1/16]:
A palliative patient at Brisbane's Wesley Hospital has tested positive for the deadly legionella pneumophila disease.
The bacteria has also been detected in an ice machine on the palliative care ward and other patients are being monitored.
In 2013 the hospital was effectively shut down for about a fortnight after a patient died from the lung infection and a second patient contracted it.
It isn't clear whether the patient in the most recent case used the ice machine but traces of the disease haven't been found anywhere else at the facility.
Hospital CEO Terence Seymour says it could take several weeks to determine the source of the contamination as the patient spent time away from the hospital during the exposure period.
"A full scientific investigation of the water supply is underway to determine where exposure to the legionella bacteria may have occurred," he said.
"Let me reassure all patients, their families and our staff that we continue to be very vigilant on water safety."
Mr Seymour said the hospital followed strict water management measures but as a precaution all ice machines had been disconnected and sterilised and all hoses and filters were being replaced.
Following the 2013 outbreak [ONLY PUBLIC] hospitals and nursing homes in Queensland were required by law to conduct regular water tests for the bacteria, which causes legionnaires' disease.
Wesley Hospital was cleared of any negligence following an investigation.
Legionella pneumophila thrive in warm water and in man-made environments such as inside plumbing fixtures and pipes.
Legionnaires' disease is relatively uncommon in people under 50 - people with a weak immune system, such as those with a chronic medical condition, are at more risk than others.
On the trail of Dubai's stolen gold: A robbed client breaks the silence, and a fascinating detail emerges [Zero Hedge - 2/1/16]
... It's frustrating that our politicians prefer to blame parents and champion policies that push poor parents into low-paid work, despite there being clear evidence that does not help children.
Their approach sees the kids get dumped into childcare, and unless that childcare is very high quality (in our poorest communities it often isn't) they may end up worse off.
Pushing parents into work simply shifts them from welfare poor to working poor; between 40 and 50 per cent of our kids in poverty have working parents. ... Giving cash to the poor is the best way to fix poverty [The Dominion Post/Stuff.co.nz -1/1/16]
How Bill Gates is causing the collapse of traditional farming and local food economies [Organic Consumers - 4/12/15]
The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.
Those demanding free speech limits to fight ISIS pose a greater threat to US than ISIS, Glenn Greenwald [The Intercept - 28/12/15]:
... Back then — just nine years ago — Gingrich’s anti-free-speech remarks were, for the most part, quickly dismissed as unworthy of serious debate. Even National Review, which employs McCarthy, included Gingrich’s anti-free speech proposal on its 2011 list of the bad ideas the former speaker has espoused in his career.
In 2006, I argued that the Gingrich/McCarthy desire to alter the First Amendment to fight The Terrorists was extremist even when judged by the increasingly radical standards of the Bush/Cheney war on terror, which by that point had already imprisoned Americans arrested on U.S. soil with no due process and no access to lawyers.
With rare exception, Gingrich’s desire to abridge free speech rights in the name of fighting terrorism was dismissed as a fringe idea.
Fast forward to 2015, where the aging al Qaeda brand has become decisively less scary and ISIS has been unveiled as the new never-before-seen menace. There are now once again calls for restrictions on the First Amendment’s free speech protections, but they come not from far-right radicals in universally discredited neocon journals, but rather from the most mainstream voices, as highlighted this week by the New York Times. ...
"Who will sort this out?" ExxonMobil’s PNG Nightmare: How a US government loan enabled an environmentally destructive project plagued by lethal landslide, police repression and civil unrest [The Nation - 30/4/14]
Australian High Commission, Hela provincial government and ExxonMobil PNG announce a partnership to support and expand community safety [Australian High Commission PNG Media Release - 11/12/14]
The political influence of Murdoch's media empire
[Al Jazeera - 27/12/15]:
Shortly after David Cameron's outright win in May, his government announced a review of finances at the BBC; an organisation denounced by some Conservatives for harbouring a liberal agenda, and one-fifth of the publicly owned broadcaster's annual budget was slashed.
Just weeks before making that announcement, Rupert Murdoch - a long-time critic of the BBC and owner of News Corp, which includes pro-Tory newspapers The Sun and The Times of London as well as SKY TV - met senior members of the government twice.
Murdoch's UK newspapers have a long history of lending support to the Conservatives and, in recent months, have joined ranks in deriding Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
In the past week, Trevor Kavanagh, a former political editor at The Sun who had deplored the investigation of the newspaper's journalists over the phone-hacking scandal while he worked there, has been appointed to the board of a new press regulator - the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).
Despite talk from a few years ago of the need for greater press regulation, the appointment of a Murdoch loyalist to IPSO has had critics talking of foxes in the hen house.
Talking us through the story are: Natalie Fenton, a director for the campaign group Hacked Off; Tim Fenton, a blogger at Zelo Street; Matt Tee, CEO of IPSO; and Charlie Beckett, a professor at the London School of Economics.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Mexican authorities are investigating who started a fire outside the U.S. consulate in Tijuana that destroyed four cars, a U.S. official said on Friday.
The official said that another vehicle was partially damaged. There were no reported injuries. Local media reported the fire took place early Friday morning.
The U.S. consulate in Tijuana, located across the border from San Diego, is one of the busiest in Mexico.
A U.S. consulate worker in the border city of Juarez was killed by drug gang gunmen in 2010. [Reuters - 2/1/16]
Tens of thousands of Algerians massed in a mountain village for a chaotic burial ceremony Friday of a national hero of the brutal independence war with France.
Hocine Ait Ahmed, who spent nearly a quarter-century in exile in Europe, was buried in the village where he was born, a day after his remains arrived in Algiers, the Algerian capital.
Ait Ahmed, 89, who was the country's leading opposition figure, died Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Ait Ahmed had requested a burial in his native village, Ath Ahmedh, next to his mother's grave, 110 kilometers (nearly 70 miles) east of Algiers in the heart of the Kabyle region that is home to Algeria's proud-spirited Berber population.
The ceremony transformed into a scene of chaos as crowds flooded the winding mountain roads to view the flag-draped coffin. ... [AP - 1/1/16]
Saudi air raids kill two children, six others in Yemen [Press TV - 2/1/16]
Saudi Arabia executes 47, including Shia cleric Nimr [Al Jazeera – 2/1/16]
The former prime minister of Iraq, Nuri al-Maliki, has said that the execution of the prominent Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi Arabia will be the downfall of the Gulf kingdom's government.
Mr al-Maliki, who was prime minister of Iraq between 2006 and 2014, said in a statement that his countrymen "strongly condemn these detestable sectarian practices and affirm that the crime of executing Sheikh al-Nimr will topple the Saudi regime as the crime of executing the martyr al-Sadr did to Saddam," referencing the death of another prominent cleric in Iraq in 1980.
Hundreds of armoured vehicles were sent to Qatif in Saudi Arabia to contain protests in response to the execution, while demonstrators in Bahrain have been tear-gassed. ... [Independent - 2/1/16]
At least two people have been killed and two others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a restaurant near the presidential palace in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
No group has claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack that targeted the Village restaurant often frequented by journalists and government officials and which has previously been attacked by the al-Shabab armed group.
Somali police officer Mahad Hussein said that the bombing occurred at about 9:45am local time (0645 GMT). ... [Al Jazeera - 2/1/16]
Afghanistan: Civilians among 8 killed in Paktika, Ghazni incidents [Pajhwok - 2/1/16]
The bombing of a popular French restaurant in Kabul on Friday night has sparked concern among residents who have questioned how an explosives laden car could penetrate the city.
The residents also called for restaurants and foreign-occupied guesthouses to be moved out of residential areas.
Friday's attack left two civilians dead, including a child, and at least 18 people injured.
This marked the first attack of 2016. Residents in Qala Fatullah area where the attack happened have asked how it was possible for a suicide bomber to get an explosives-laden car into the heavily secured area. ... [TOLO News - 2/1/16]
At least four bombers were killed after they were blown up by own explosives in western Herat province of Afghanistan, it has been reported.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said the four bombers were looking to carry out a coordinated attack using a truck packed with explosives in Herat province.
A statement by MoI said the terrorists were on their way towards Shindand province to execute the attack when the truck packed with explosives went off in Zer-e-Koh area. ... [Khaama - 2/1/16]
Four gunmen and two guards were killed when unidentified militants attacked an Indian Air Force base near the Pakistan border on Saturday in an apparent challenge to attempts to revive a dialogue between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
Officials said the gunmen, wearing army fatigues, managed to enter the Pathankot air base in India's northwestern state of Punjab before dawn on Saturday. Once inside, they opened fire indiscriminately. ... [Reuters - 2/1/16]
Hand grenade attack kills two at Ethiopian university: Police [Ahram - 2/1/16]
Israeli airstrikes launched across Gaza after rocket fire [Maan - 2/1/16]
Israeli forces kill Palestinian mother, disabled man [Electronic Intifada - 1/1/16]
A shooting was carried out Friday near a Tel Aviv pub killing two Israelis and injuring seven, Israeli police and medics said. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that the shooter opened fire on Dizengoff street before fleeing the scene. ... [Maan - 1/1/16]
... People are often puzzled by me, as they are unused to seeing a woman taking photos, but I've never cared about any of their negative comments, or how they look at me.
I try not to respond to any naysayers and just share smiles and solidarity with them. Instead I try to prove myself through my work and photographs, and I often gain acceptance and admiration as a result, at least on social media websites. My name is now well known among the male photographers and I feel they respect me, which I appreciate.
We, as freelance journalists, have no protection whatsoever; no one is there to provide us with safety and protection measures and when we get injured, we are often blamed ourselves.
Unfortunately, instead of receiving support and recognition for the work we do, no one pays us any attention. This is why I specifically want to deliver a message to all press freedom organisations that carry slogans of press protection yet, on the ground, do nothing to protect us, that they need to start paying attention to the reality here. ... Samar Abu Elouf, 40 years old, In the line of fire - the journalists of Gaza [Middle East Eye - 1/1/16]
Farewell party to Jodi Rudoren, Bureau Chief of the New York Times in Israel [The Jerusalem Press Club - 21/12/15]:
... Among the guests were MK Yitzhak Herzog, head of the opposition, and his colleague MK Tzipi Livni, Mark Regev, MK Dr. Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador in Washington, Spokesman of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and more.
... The letter alleges that police officers tried to get one witness–who was so appalled at the incident that she screamed at Van Dyke to “stop shooting”–to change her account.
The witness, whose name was redacted in the documents, was transported to the police station “where she was held against her will and intensively questioned for over six hours.” ... Attorney for Laquan McDonald’s family accused City Hall of cover-up, warned of controversy [CBS - 31/12/15]
Terror attacks continue across Iraq
US Department of Defense [1/1/16]:
Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft conducted 24 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Hit, one strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb facility and destroyed two ISIL buildings.
-- Near Kisik, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and fighting position.
-- Near Mosul, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL heavy machine guns, six ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL command and control node, seven ISIL assembly areas, an ISIL weapons cache, an ISIL trench, and an ISIL vehicle-born bomb.
-- Near Ramadi, four strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb facility, five ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL heavy machine guns, and denied ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Sinjar, three strikes destroyed an ISIL fighting position and suppressed two ISIL heavy machine gun positions.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, one strike destroyed three ISIL weapons caches, an ISIL command and control node, and six ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Tal Afar, 11 strikes destroyed nine ISIL bunkers, five ISIL-used culverts, and four ISIL-used bridges.
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [1/1/16]:
Anbar: An aireal shelling has targeted civilian homes in Heet west of Anbar resulted in deaths and injuries..........................
Anbar: The planes of coalition have shelled Thaiyala area east of Ramadi resulted in deaths and injuries of women and children...
A United Nations report on Friday said that 980 people lost their lives in Iraq in December 2015, an increase from the November death toll.
"The year 2015 has seen thousands of Iraqis killed and injured as a result of conflict and terrorism," said the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq Jan Kubis in a statement quoted by AP. "This is unacceptable."
The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq noted that this was an increase from 888 in November. ... [RUDAW - 1/1/16]
British soldiers who have served in Iraq may face prosecution for crimes including murder, the head of the unit established by the Ministry of Defence to investigate allegations of torture and unlawful killing in the war-torn country has said. ... [Independent - 1/1/16]
The Syrian Arab Army continued its operations against terrorists across Syria on Friday, targeting positions of ISIS and other terror organizations in Daraa, Aleppo, and Homs provinces. ... [SANA - 1/1/16]
The Syrian army controls 11 town and village in Hama province [SANA - 1/1/16]
16 civilians killed, 35 injured in two terrorist bomb attacks in al-Qamishli, Cabinet condemns [SANA - 31/12/15]
@MSF_Sea [1/1/16]: ... This Syrian family with 4 tiny kids will spend the night outside in sub 0 temps at #Polycastro near #Idomeni
@SantiPalacios [1/1/16]: Menhaj Urahman, from Afghanistan, tries to keep warm next to a makeshift fire, on the Greek island of Lesbos.
... And, just for good measure, take the recent local story in Afghanistan about poor Qais Rahmani who, along with his family and four-month-old baby, set off among the refugee army to Europe and in Turkey boarded a boat to Greece which almost immediately sank.
Qais’s baby died in his arms. Just another Alan Kurdi, you may say, but what struck Afghans was that Qais was a well-known television presenter, his wife and family university-educated.
The Rahmanis were not from the poor and huddled masses. They were middle class, the very people who should have wanted to stay and build the new Afghanistan and to work for their government, which is – I quote Obama again – “working to combat corruption, strengthen institutions, and uphold the rule of law”. ... [Independent - 28/12/15]
@MSF_Sea [1/1/16]: 3000 lifejackets, 100+ volunteers & the @MSF @Greenpeace team in #Lesvos call for #safepassage & a much kinder 2016
Proactiva Open Arms [1/1/16]:
Freezing temperatures and waves.
Refugees arriving near hypothermia after a risky journey from Turkey.
This time, we bring them to the camp to leave them safe and in good hands.
Timing is crucial .
Twenty-two Cuban migrants landed in the Florida Keys on Friday, the first known island rafters to reach the United States in the new year.
The landing, first reported by WPLG-ABC 10, raised to more than 100 the number of Cuban migrants who reached South Florida in the last two weeks.
Rafters who have been interviewed recently in Miami have told el Nuevo Herald that an increasing number of Cuban migrants are leaving the island because they fear that the Cuban Adjustment Act is going to be abolished.
Under the wet-foot/dry-foot policy, a result of the Cuban Adjustment Act, Cuban migrants who arrive on U.S. soil are allowed to stay while those intercepted at sea are generally returned home.
Speculation has been growing about the possible end of the Cuban Adjustment Act since President Barack Obama in December 2014 ordered the restoration of U.S. relations with Cuba. ... [Miami Herald - 1/1/16]
Central American countries agree airlift of stranded Cuban migrants seeking to enter US [Guardian - 31/12/15]
As a national debate has simmered this year over the detention of immigrant families, a University of Texas law professor is seeking access to public records that she says could prove officials are setting higher bonds for women at the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor to fulfill daily quotas during certain periods.
Denise Gilman, who directs the UT Law School Immigration Clinic, filed the lawsuit Tuesday under the Freedom of Information Act, requesting that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hand over all documents related to the custody determinations of women held at the facility from July 2013 to March 2014. The center holds more than 500 women.
Gilman says she detected a pattern of federal officials setting “across-the-board bonds,” regardless of whether detainees posed a threat of fleeing or a danger to the community, in order to extend their stay at the facility and thus meet a congressional mandate to maintain 34,000 immigration detention beds daily across the country.
She wants all records related to the procedures and process that officials used to make their decisions on each woman’s individual case, according to the lawsuit filed in the Western District of Texas. ... [Austin American-Statesman - 30/12/15]
Forced pregnancy is a crime against humanity
Pregnant Somali asylum seeker Abyan had not ruled out abortion, FOI documents reveal [ABC – 2/1/16]:
A Somali asylum seeker allegedly raped on Nauru had not ruled out terminating her pregnancy, documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws has revealed.
In October, the 23-year-old woman, known as Abyan, was transferred to Australia for an abortion, an illegal procedure on Nauru, after the Federal Government's healthcare provider advised senior departmental staff "there are risks of deteriorating mental health and psychological distress".
But five days later, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton publicly stated Abyan decided not to proceed with the abortion and she was sent back to Nauru, still pregnant.
Mr Dutton also accused refugee advocates of lying about the situation.
Correspondence between senior staff at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has now revealed why Abyan was removed from Australia.
A minute from Australian Border Force warned: "There is a risk that once in Australia [Abyan] will seek to join legal action which would prevent her return."
Lawyer and human rights activist Kellie Tranter received the documents.
"I was particularly concerned that his woman, or indeed any woman, who had been through such traumatic circumstances was portrayed as somebody who was deliberately and in some calculated fashion trying to engineer a way into the country," Ms Tranter said.
Protected and unaccountable Immigration Minister cannot confirm if protected and unaccountable anti refugee propagandist - and former Turnbull staffer - was assisted with Nauru visa [ABC - 29/10/15]
The highly litigious adventures of Biff Bootface Free Speech Champion! Today's Episode: The mysterious case of the "rape refugee" on Guano Island [Guardian - 27/10/15]
Torture, rape and humiliation of women. It's bipartisan, and supported by the Australian media ----> ... They were allocated housing by Nauru and Australian governments.
Then Connect – a consortium of the Multicultural Development Association (MDA) in Queensland and Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES) in Victoria – was contracted to provide caseworkers to oversee any difficulties.
The young single women were placed in isolated housing without security.
Late at night drunken locals knock down their doors with flimsy locks and invade their rooms.
The women barricade themselves in the bathrooms and ring Connect for help:
“I miscall her – I had no credit. She rang and said that she will ring me tomorrow. It was 3am. No help.” ... [Guardian - 10/10/15]
If you close your eyes you don't see anyone drowning. And if you cover your ears and laugh you can't hear them scream ----- > ... PARIS ARISTOTLE [Head of the Resettlement Advisory Council, CEO Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture and member of the Gillard government's Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers] : I- The government has stopped the boats and I for one am glad that we haven't seen anybody drown in the last 18 months as a consequence of those boat journeys, but, we also have to examine the way in which we've done that and whether that is sustainable over the longer term. ... [ABC - 29/5/15]
Statement and Questions from the more then fifty refugees - given ‘temporary protection visas’ to ‘re-settle’ on Nauru [4/8/14]:
... We want to tell you that we are here like animals. In a zoo there is different animals from different countries and people go to look at them. Nauru is a zoo.
We are just different animals from different countries. People come to visit here and then asks some questions then they note it down. But we know from experience that they are doing just paper work and nothing will happen.
They just come to look at us.
Recently one man called Paris Aristotle came to our accommodation and he said he was from a NGO in Victoria. He said he is here to help us and to listen to us.
On that first day we asked him to take our problems to the media and he said that he cannot because he has good relationship with the minister!
We are confused. Is this man here for us or immigration?
The second day when he came, he came with Mark who is the deputy chief secretary of immigration and, as he told us, he is in charge of all detention centres of Australia.
When we were talking Paris was supporting Mark, not us. When we tell them some things they laughed at us. We are confused, is this man, Paris, here for us or for the DIAC? ...
Is this not medical torture? ------> Save Mohammad Albederee [1/1/16]: Mohammad has been told not to move around or leave his bed because his bones are very weak and he could break his legs as he has no calcium because he can't eat or drink .
He now has broken bones in his hands and has been told he needs surgery and has his arm in a cast. It is causing him severe pain which is adding to the kidney, shoulder and chest pain. Pain relief injections don't work.
He is down to 47kg from 74kg early 2015.
IHMS are refusing him fluid in his room and he... hates the clinic and won't go there unless desperate or faints. He is trying to hydrate by drinking sweet tea but still vomits everything.
Please ring Immigration Minister Dutton on (02) 62777860.
It's time for a Royal Commission into how the Australian government stops people from seeking asylum [Amnesty - 11/11/15]:
Our elected officials should not be able to brush off evidence of abuse.
We call on the Prime Minister to do the right thing, and end the secrecy.
The time has come for a Royal Commission into Operation Sovereign Borders.
Only a Royal Commission, with the power to assess all the evidence, will uncover all the facts.
This public statement has been signed by the following media personalities, advocates and sector organisations:
Rosie Batty, Founder and Director - Luke Batty Foundation, Australian of the Year 2015
Baby Febrina spends her second Christmas on Nauru
Tamil Refugee Council [25/12/15]
Australia's refugee kidnapping: Our own Voyage of the Damned [Independent Australia - 10/7/14]
... “Febrina is like the rest of the little kids there. She’s wasting away. She’s lost about 15 per cent of her body weight, dropping from a healthy 15 kg down to between 12-13 kg. She’s been sick many times and kept in isolation. She’s bewildered and frightened. She doesn’t eat a lot of the time. It’s the same for the other kids,” Grant said. Claiming that the situation is the same for other 36 children, he said Febrina has become “a hollow remnant of the little girl in the picture, which was taken just over a year ago”.
“Slowly but surely life is being crushed out of her and all the other little children on Nauru. This government is directly responsible for their dire situation. They should be brought to Australia immediately for rehabilitation before it’s too late,” he said. ...
Colombo Mirror [5/3/15]
Submission 74 Nauru Senate Inquiry: ... When I asked the little girl on Nauru gently, if there was anything she wanted to tell the Prime Minister of Australia..she just said in her chiming dainty voice, “ I want to be happy too, like other children in Australia..why doesn’t Australia like me?” ...
Submission 100 Nauru Senate Inquiry:
... I was asked to assist in processing 150 Tamil asylum seekers into the RPC 3.
These Tamil asylum seekers were transferred during the night from Australia with no knowledge after being held at sea for an extensive period of time.
The asylum seekers spoke of being roughly handled by staff in Australia, pushed onto planes and sent to Nauru without their knowledge.
Immigration in Australia had attempted to separate families onto planes and this caused upset as they didn’t know where they would be going.
Some Men arrived to RPC1 with no shirts or shoes on, women had no bras on and were wearing oversized clothing and some children had no pants and no underwear on.
When asked what had happened the asylum seekers stated they were in the middle of doing their washing after being held on the boat for so long. Whilst they were doing washing they were forced onto the plane and all their belongings were left behind.
Men stated that their shirts were ripped off their backs and women’s bras were broken when they were man handled to get onto the plane to Nauru. They stated they were scared as they didn’t know where they were going and Australian staff were separating families.
They spoke of trauma from being on the boat where the Australian Navy separated the men women and children, splitting families up. Children were sick on the boat and medical care wasn’t provided.
Only allowed one hour outside their room on the boat per day.
Items being destroyed by Australian Navy
I worked with a family from boat id starting with SGN who stated that all their possessions were destroyed by the Australian Navy on the water. They were transferred to a the Navy boat and were told to leave their belongings behind and they would be transferred later.
The family discussed that once everyone was transferred to the Navy boat the Navy lit the boat with all their belongings on fire.
The family discussed their sadness watching all their life belongings sink to the bottom of the ocean.
These belongings included money, passports, photos and clothing.
... We have some asylum seekers, but that’s pretty much stopped.
We have stopped the boats with our policies, which are regarded as cruel by many people.
But I have to say again, our policy on border protection is harsh, but it has been absolutely demonstrated that it is better than any other alternative. ...
Israel and Australia: A conversation with Turnbull [Jewish Journal - 25/8/15]
ALP and LNP vote against Greens Senate motion to save Rohingya [Senate Hansard - 24/6/15]:
Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (15:39): I move:
That the Senate—
(a) expresses concern at the disturbing reports aired on the Four Corners television program on 22 June 2015;
(i) that only 412 Rohingyans have been resettled in Australia through Australia's humanitarian program since 2008, and
(ii) the Government's recent refusal to provide assistance or resettlement for Rohingyans currently in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and stranded at sea off these three countries; and
(c) urges the Government to:
(i) contribute to the search and rescue mission for thousands of migrants, including Rohingyans, currently stranded at sea,
(ii) resettle some of the Rohingyan migrants rescued by Indonesia and Malaysia, and
(iii) resettle an increased number of Rohingyans in the 2015 humanitarian program, increasing the number of the program if necessary.
The PRESIDENT: The question is that the motion be agreed to.
The Senate divided [15:39]
(The President—Senator Parry)
Ayes ...................... 13
Noes ...................... 33
Majority ................. 20
Di Natale, R
Siewert, R (teller)
McEwen, A (teller)
... The exodus of Rohingya from Myanmar this year has produced a catalog of horrors: abuse and exploitation by traffickers, grim working conditions in hostile foreign lands and the deaths and disappearances of untold numbers at sea.
United Nations refugee officials estimate that more than 1,100 people have died in illicit boat journeys in Southeast Asia since 2014.
Hundreds more remain unaccounted for.
Yet for many Rohingya — often described as the world's most persecuted minority group — the lives they leave behind are worse.
On a low, sweltering peninsula along Myanmar's western coast, rows of bamboo huts, small and cube-shaped, unfold toward a forbidding sea.
More than 100,000 Rohingya live here in temporary camps such as Thet Kae Pyin, where they in effect have been imprisoned since the eruption of anti-Muslim violence in 2012. ... [LA Times - 28/12/15]
CITIC-led consortium wins bid for implementing Special Economic Slave Zone in Myanmar's Rakhine [China Daily - 31/12/15]
Myanmar's trapped Rohingya to be enslaved in Special Economic Slave Zone [VIDEONEWS.US - 30/12/15]:
... The SEZ project — planned to spread across three Rakhine townships, mainly Kyaukphyu, was first announced in Sept. 2013 and bidding closed in Nov. 2014.
Amid the delay in the announcement of successful tenders — originally slated for earlier this year — Chinese partners have been eager to see the project approved before the new government takes power in March 2016.
The project also covers the servicing of the Shwe gas field in the Bay of Bengal, which in turn services a pipeline carrying oil and gas to China – Myanmar’s largest trade partner.
Since it began operations in mid-2013, the China-Myanmar pipeline has been pumping an estimated $45 million worth of oil and gas daily through shipments of 500 million cubic feet from Kyaukphyu in the Bay of Bengal, according to media reports. ...
Special Economic Slave Zone tenders continue despite protests [Myanmar Times – 24/12/15]
Rohingya kids in the rain during the rainy season in Sittwe's Muslim Quarter, now effectively a sealed ghetto.
Image: @andreapitzer [16/7/15]
Australian Embassy in Myanmar [24/7/15]:
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is working in Myanmar to provide media training ahead of this year's general elections.
Australian Ambassador to Myanmar Mr Nicholas Coppel meets with Mr Mark Bowling from the ABC in Yangon to discuss training initiatives.
Find out more about the ABC's work in Myanmar at: http://www.abcinternationaldevelopment.net.au/projects/burma
@wikileaks [1/1/16]: US Debian founder dead shortly after tweeting about police beating: His last tweets ...
Debian Linux founder Ian Murdock dies at 42, cause unknown [ZDNet - 30/12/15]
AFP drops control orders placed on two Sydney men in 2014 [Guardian - 28/12/15]:
The Australian federal police has agreed to drop controversial control orders that placed heavy restrictions on two Sydney men.
Shortly before Christmas the federal circuit court judge Robert Cameron issued an order stating the control order proceedings had been discontinued by consent.
Control orders can be used to restrict who a person can talk to, the use of mobile phones and access to computers, and they can impose daily curfews without requiring a criminal conviction.
The orders that the AFP has dropped were the first sought in more than eight years and were initiated in December 2014.
Cameron’s orders said: “The court notes that the period during which the control orders, if confirmed, would have been in force has lapsed. Accordingly, no further proceedings will be taken by the applicant with respect to the application.”
One of the men who was subject to the order was already in custody; he had been charged with allegedly breaching the order shortly after he was placed on it.
Guardian Australia is unable to disclose the identities of the two men, or the reasons for the decision to drop the orders, because of non-publication orders still in place.
The particular scope of these two orders were never publicly disclosed by the court.
The federal government is seeking to further expand the way control orders can be applied. A new bill before parliament would lower the age a person could be placed on an order to 14.
It would also enhance the secrecy surrounding the orders.
In December a separate control order case was finalised for Ahmad Saiyer Naizmand, resulting in the confirmation of the order on a more permanent basis.
The only control order proceedings that are still active relate to Harun Causevic, who was accused of planning a bombing on ANZAC Day, but later had all terrorism charges against him dropped.
A hearing is set down in February to determine whether the order is valid.
Tropical cyclone Ula is passing near the northern island of Vava'u as the government has declared a state of emergency.
Cyclone Ula has been bringing heavy rain to northern Tonga as it is pushing westward and away from Vava'u.
The category 3 system has destructive winds of 150 kilometres an hour with gusts up to 200 kilometres an hour.
A hurricane warning for Vava'u has been cancelled but Laitia Fifita of Tonga's Met Service on Tongatapu says seas will continue to be very rough.
"It is expected that the speed of movement of the tropical cyclone will speed up a little bit, so at around midday today it is expected to lie further west out of from the island of Vava'u and continue on a south southwest direction."
Liatia Fifita says the weather station in Vava'u has reported heavy rain and damage to vegetation.
Last night, the prime minister Akilisi Pohiva declared an emergency, saying it was in order to prevent or minimise the loss of human life, illness or injury, property loss or damage and damage to the environment.
The cyclone is expected to weaken when it reaches Fiji's Lau group by tomorrow.
Strong wind warnings extend for much of the South Pacific, including the Cook Islands, Niue and Tuvalu. ... [RNZI - 2/1/16]
2 January 2016