Why don't Australian media outlets send journalists to Nauru and Manus? Russian Reporter and Al Jazeera have sent journalists and photographers

Guardian [4/11/14]:

Tensions continue to escalate on Australia’s offshore island detention centres, with a further series of assaults on refugees on Nauru and rising disquiet on Manus Island reported by sources.

On the Pacific island of Nauru, an Iranian refugee was stoned and then beaten by a group of local men riding motorcycles on Saturday. They threw rocks and swore at him before beating him and kicking him in the head.

Guardian Australia has seen photos of the man in hospital with one eye swollen shut by bruising and swelling on his head.

On Monday, a resettled [an exiled] refugee who had a job as carpenter on Nauru, was threatened by three local men who told him refugees were not allowed to work. He was told to quit his job or he would be killed next time he went to work. He has quit his job.

Other men have reported having cars swerve at them and being spat on in the street.

These attacks follow an assault last week on four teenage refugees, who are without parents on the island.

One of the child refugees was taken to hospital. The four boys have not left their home unaccompanied since the attack.

“ ‘Fuck you, refugee’ is very common slogan these days in Nauru,” one refugee told Guardian Australia.

“The locals spit on refugees in public. They believe that there is not enough space in Nauru for the refugees and locals to live together. They think the refugees are taking the job opportunities and consuming all the resources in Nauru and they want to protect their country.”

Reports that an interpreter from Myanmar had been stabbed on Manus Island on Friday are “completely false”, according to the office of the immigration minister, Scott Morrison.

But Guardian Australia understands from sources on Manus that there have been several confrontations with guards and local contractors over the past month, increased cases of self-harm attempts by detainees, and more assaults by detainees on other detainees.

Each month, several men are choosing to be returned home rather than stay on the island. Several of those choosing to go home have been found by Australia to be refugees and face a “well-founded fear of persecution” if they go home.

One Manus worker told Guardian Australia: “The men say, ‘I am dying here on this island, I might as well go home and die in my own country. I will take the risk.’ And sometimes it is an extreme risk that they will be killed at home.”

“These men have been in detention for 15 months, many of them, they live behind huge fences and they are no closer to a resolution. They are constantly told, ‘Stay here forever, or go home.’

“It’s advertised on signs all over the camps: ‘Missing your family? Talk to IOM (International Organisation for Migration).’ These men despair, they are desperate and, eventually, they just give up and go home, even if they know it’s not safe.”

ABC increases spending on advertising by 40% but can't send a journalist to Nauru and Manus to report on what's going on for Australians? [Sydney Morning Herald - 4/11/14]

Hundreds of Thousands Pack Iraq's Karbala for Ashura

Naharnet [4/11/14]:

Hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims packed the Iraqi shrine city of Karbala Tuesday, braving the threat of jihadist attack to mark one of the holiest days of their faith.

Ashura commemorates the killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, by the army of the Caliph Yazid in 680 AD, the formative event in Shiite Islam.

The festival has been marred by attacks by Sunni extremists in previous years but this year's commemorations come with jihadists of the Islamic State group controlling swathes of Iraq.

Tens of thousands of security personnel and allied militiamen have been deployed to protect the pilgrims in a major test for the new government of Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi.

"Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all the Iraqi provinces and from Arab and foreign states arrived in Karbala to take part in the commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein," Karbala Governor Aqil al-Turaihi told AFP.

Hundreds of men dressed in white robes performed a ritual called "tatbeer," cutting their heads with swords and spears in mourning for the slain imam, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

Only a small minority of pilgrims perform the ritual, which leaves faces and white robes stained with blood and has been condemned by some Shiite clerics.

Thousands of black-clad pilgrims then gathered to listen to the story of Imam Hussein and the battle in which he died, beating their heads and crying in mourning and guilt.

According to Shiite belief, Hussein willingly sacrificed himself in opposition to Yazid's un-Islamic and unjust rule, defying the caliph's army with only a few dozen followers.

The division between what would become the Shiite and Sunni faiths began in a dispute over who should succeed Mohammed and was solidified with Hussein's death.

Tens of thousands of people have died in fighting, bombings and executions in Iraq carried out along sectarian lines over the past decade.

Sunni extremists, who consider Shiites to be heretics, have killed dozens of pilgrims marking Ashura in past years.

But the danger was heightened this year when IS militants swept through much of the country's Sunni Arab heartland north and west of Baghdad and seized territory south of the capital close to the main pilgrimage route.

The group already claimed bombings targeting Shiites in Baghdad on Sunday that killed at least 18 people.

Iraq has deployed tens of thousands of security personnel and allied militiamen in Baghdad, along the road to Karbala, and in the shrine city itself to guard against attacks.

Jihadists free 93 Syrian Kurdish hostages

Hurriyet Daily News [4/11/14]:

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has released at least 93 Syrian Kurds from the flashpoint town of Kobane who were kidnapped in February, a monitor said Nov. 4.

They were among more than 160 Kurds abducted as they travelled east through Syria en route for Iraqi Kurdistan, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The hostages were held in the jihadist stronghold of Raqa, accused of being members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the main Kurdish political party in Syria.

It was unclear why they were freed, according to the Britain-based Observatory.

PYD fighters have been defending Kobane against an ISIL attack for the past seven weeks, and the town has become a prominent symbol of resistance to the jihadists.

The Syrian Kurds have been reinforced by opposition rebels and Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters.

Of the freed hostages, 53 were able to cross into neighbouring Turkey while 40 were still in Syria, said the Observatory, which relies on a broad network of activists for its reports.

About 70 others remain in captivity.

ISIL has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq, proclaiming an Islamic caliphate and committing widespread atrocities.

Kidnapping is rife in Syria with ISIL and other extremists abducting rival fighters, journalists, aid workers, soldiers and civilians.

Late last month, ISIL released about 25 Syrian Kurdish schoolchildren.

They were the last to be freed from a group of 153 schoolchildren kidnapped by ISIL in the northern province of Aleppo in May after sitting exams.

Israeli forces demolish Palestinian homes in Silwan

Maan [4/11/14]:

Israeli forces raided the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan early Tuesday and demolished two two-story buildings, residents told Ma'an.

One building belonged to former Palestinian prisoner Khalil Abu Rajab, who told Ma'an Israeli troops and intelligence officers escorted bulldozers to the Wadi Yasoul area and proceeded to knock down the walls of the building without allowing the family to remove property.

Abu Rajab's family lived on the first floor of the building; the second floor was still being furnished. Construction on the building had only been completed five months before.

He said the demolition came without any prior notice, and that his lawyer had been trying to obtain the proper license for the building, but had not yet been successful.

Another building destroyed Tuesday belonged to Isam Ishaq Abu Sbeih, who told Ma'an he had moved into the ground floor of the house only a week ago.

Israeli forces demolished the home under the pretext that Abu Sbeih lacked the proper construction permits from the Jerusalem municipality.

The house measured 155 square meters, and Israeli forces demolished it without prior notice, he said.

Abu Sbeih used to live on the fifth floor of a residential building, but decided to build a new house where he could live on the ground floor given that one of his children is physically disabled.

Also Tuesday, Israeli municipality workers forced the family of Muhammad Jaabis, who was shot dead in August by an Israeli security guard in West Jerusalem, to demolish two animal barns they owned in the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood, locals said.

...

Israel ex-officers urge PM to make peace with Palestinians [Maan - 4/11/14]

Bomb Kills Two in NW Pakistan

Naharnet [4/11/14]:

A roadside bomb killed a paramilitary soldier and a civilian in a restive northwestern Pakistani tribal area on Tuesday, officials said.

The bomb went off at Painda Cheena village in the lawless Khyber tribal district, where the army is mounting an operation against the Taliban and other Islamist insurgent groups.

"A paramilitary soldier and a civilian were killed after a bomb planted on a roadside exploded," a security official told Agence France Presse.

Local government official Tayyab Ali confirmed the casualties. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

More than 150,000 people have fled from Khyber since Pakistan's military launched an operation in the district in October.

Militants had taken sanctuary there after fleeing strongholds in North Waziristan, where the military launched a large-scale offensive in mid-June.

More than 1,100 militants and 100 soldiers have been killed since the start of the North Waziristan offensive, and more than 100 militants have surrendered, according to the army.

On Sunday a suicide bomber killed 55 people at a frontier post with India in eastern Pakistan, blowing himself up among crowds leaving a daily military border-closing ceremony.

Two separate Taliban factions have claimed responsibility for the attack, the deadliest to hit Pakistan for more than a year.

Afghanistan: 4 civilians dead, 23 injured in Gardez blast

Pajhwok [3/11/14]:

Four people were killed and 23 others injured on Monday when a bomb blast ripped through a marketplace in the capital of southeastern Paktia province, police said.

The explosives had been placed in commercial goods in front of two shops on the Ghazni Road in Gardez.

The blast occurred around 5:20pm when a large number of people were busy shopping, police chief Brig. Gen. Zalmai Oryakhel told Pajhwok Afghan News.

He said no security personnel were present at the time of the blast that killed and wounded civilians. He confirmed four civilians had been killed and 23 others wounded.

Civil hospital chief Dr. Haya Gul Paktin told Pajhwok Afghan News they had been delivered all the wounded and dead. He added the injured included five children and the condition of another eight wounded persons was critical.

Giving an eyewitness account, Subhanullah said a large number of people were busy buying goods when the blast occurred.

“I cannot understand the motive behind the blast because there were no security personnel at the scene,” he wondered.

Egypt signs deal with Norwegian firm to rent LNG import terminal

Ahram [3/11/14]:

Egypt has signed an agreement with Norwegian Liquified Natural Gas services firm, Hoegh LNG on Monday for a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) which will allow Egypt to ease its energy shortages with LNG imports.

The contract entitles Egypt to rent the FSRU for a period of five years, to store and re-gasify imported LNG, providing over 500 million cubic metres of natural gas daily to the national grid, state run news agency MENA reported on Monday.

Egypt has been suffering from a mounting energy crisis as domestic production of natural gas, predominantly used in power stations, has failed to keep up with rising consumption.

The FRSU is due to start operations in Egypt's Ain Sokhna port on the Red Sea in March 2015 at the latest, according to MENA.

Egypt has signed preliminary agreements with Algeria's Sonatrach and Russia's Gazprom to import 14 shipments of LNG, and is currently examining seven different offers for LNG imports it received in an international tender last month, MENA reported, citing the head of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding (EGAS).

In September, Egypt awarded oil and gas exploration blocks worth $187 million to foreign firms.

Last month, Egypt paid $1.5 billion out of $6.4 billion in debt to foreign oil and gas companies to encourage them to step up research and exploration and boost local production.

Heavy fighting near seaport of Libyan city Benghazi, navy ship hit [Reuters - 3/11/14]

Myanmar government to sue newspaper

Yahoo [4/11/14]:

Myanmar authorities on Tuesday said they will take legal action against a newspaper for an interview describing the words of the president as "absurd and insane", amid mounting international concern over backtracking on press freedoms.

The Myanmar Herald Journal, renowned for its criticism of the government and ministers in the former junta-run country, was accused of having "tarnished the image and rights" of President Thein Sein, according to a statement from the information ministry published in state-backed media.

The decision to sue the paper, which authorities said followed a process of mediation by the country's interim press council, comes as media freedoms fall under the microscope ahead of a visit by United States President Barack Obama next week.

His visit is likely to highlight concerns over journalist arrests and the death in army custody of a freelance reporter late last month.

According to the information ministry, the Myanmar Herald Journal ran an interview in which the subject described the president's words as "gibberish, irrational, cheap and inconsistent... completely nonsensical, absurd and insane."

Thein Sein's quasi-civilian government, which came to power in 2011 at the end of outright military rule, has ushered in sweeping press reforms, including the release of jailed journalists and scrapping draconian pre-publication censorship, which once applied to everything from fairytales to the lottery.

But relations between the government and the often rambunctious press have slumped in recent months, with a slew of prosecutions against the media that have seen several journalists handed prison terms.

Last month, the army issued a rare public statement admitting soldiers had shot dead Aung Naing -- a freelance reporter who it claimed was working for a rebel group -- in an insurgency-prone eastern border region.

The United States last week called on Myanmar to conduct a "credible and transparent investigation" into the killing.

Authorities said they had sought an apology from the Myanmar Herald Journal under a complaints resolution process, which has been set up to try to avoid court proceedings against reporters.

Justifying the legal action the ministry said the publication had submitted a letter of explanation but it had not gone far enough to undo the reputational damage done to the president.

Myanmar's press council said the ministry was likely to pursue a defamation suit against the paper.

Sydney Peace Prize honour for Julian Burnside

SBS [4/11/14]:

Human rights advocate and barrister Julian Burnside will receive the heralded 2014 Sydney Peace Prize in a ceremony at Sydney's Town Hall.

Previous winners include such people as South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix.

The Melbourne lawyer is being honoured for what the Sydney Peace Foundation terms his brave and principled advocacy for human rights and those wronged by government.

Also, the Foundation says, the award is for his insistence that Australia respect its legal obligations towards those seeking asylum.

...

Gunmen kill Mexican general sent to tame cartel violence

France [4/11/14]:

General Ricardo Cesar Nino Villarreal, the man appointed in May to quell violence in northern Mexico’s restive region of Nuevo Leon, has been shot dead by armed assailants along with his wife.

Local officials said the two were ambushed on Saturday as they drove on the road linking the cities of Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo, south of the Texan border, but their two-door car and the bodies were found only on Sunday.

More than 100 high-caliber bullet casings lay at the scene of the shooting.

Nino Villarreal was one of four military officers who were deployed by the federal government in the spring to stem a surge of violence in the border state of Tamaulipas.

The general was in charge of a northern zone that includes Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from the Texan city of Laredo.

The area has been the scene of bloody turf wars between the Zetas and Gulf cartels, which are fighting over control of the lucrative drug trafficking route into the US.

"The government of Tamaulipas condemns and deeply laments the death of General Ricardo Cesar Nino Villarreal and his wife," the state's security coordination group said in a statement.

Nuevo Leon's chief prosecutor, Adrian de la Garza, said earlier that authorities were checking whether the general was indeed one of the victims.

De la Garza said the general usually travelled in an armored vehicle with a security detail, but the victims were unarmed and in a civilian car.

Nino Villareal survived a previous attack on October 9 when unidentified gunmen shot at his armored vehicle.

...

Kylie Bretag: Gabriel Garcie Marquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude kept me sane in Mexican jail [Canberra Times - 4/11/14]

Bulgarian woman sets herself on fire in central Sofia

BBC [3/11/14]:

A woman has set herself ablaze near the presidency building in the Bulgarian capital Sofia and is now in hospital being treated for severe burns.

It is not yet clear why the 38-year-old woman doused herself in a flammable liquid and torched herself.

She was engulfed in flames before bystanders managed to put out the blaze and load her into an ambulance.

There were six similar self-immolations in Bulgaria last year, amid anger over chronic poverty and alleged corruption.

Last month Bulgaria's centre-right GERB party won a snap parliamentary election but failed to get an overall majority. The party led by former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is trying to form a new ruling coalition with smaller parties.

Last year Bulgaria, the poorest country in the EU, was rocked by weeks of protests over low living standards, a banking crisis and allegations of high-level government corruption.

Student Shot Outside Delaware State University Residence Hall

NBC [3/11/14]:

A student is recovering after a shooting outside a residence hall at Delaware State University.

The shooting occurred Monday around 4 p.m. in the parking lot of the Living and Learning Commons, a resident hall for around 200 students, on the 1500 block of North DuPont Highway, just north of the main campus in Dover, Delaware.

The unidentified student was taken to Kent General Hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Living and Learning Commons was formerly the Dover Sheraton Hotel but was converted into a student housing facility for Delaware State University last year.

The school was on lockdown for several hours. The lockdown was lifted around 8 p.m. While no arrests have been made, campus police told NBC10 they don't believe there is a threat to any other students at this time.

"I'm just shocked, knowing something can happen at any time," said Quintin Reid, a student at the university.

The school is closed Tuesday due to elections. Police continue to search for the shooter.

Delaware State University is a public university located in Dover, Delaware. In Sept. 2007, two students were shot on campus.

One student died from her injuries 32 days later while another student survived. A freshman student was charged in the shooting and expelled from the school.

Melbourne hotel cancels 'pick-up artist' seminar amid outrage over choking technique

ABC [4/11/14]:

A Melbourne hotel has cancelled the seminar of a self-described "pick-up artist" whose methods include choking female strangers.

Julien Blanc, 25, was due to give a talk at the Como Hotel on Wednesday night advising men how to "pick up women from open to close".

He is from the US-based group called Real Social Dynamics, which offers men tips and techniques for attracting women.

His tactics, which include choking women and pulling them into his crotch, have been criticised online as misogynistic and abusive.

The seminar sparked outrage on social media and more than 13,000 people signed a petition calling for the cancellation of the event.

The Como Hotel responded by cancelling the event.

"Following an objective review, we are in the process of advising Real Social Dynamics of our decision not to proceed as their event venue," the hotel said on Twitter.

Petition organiser Jennifer Li said she was relieved the Como Hotel had chosen not to host the event.

"I was very pleasantly surprised and ecstatic when I heard about it," she said.

"I just didn't think it could turn around so quickly and that it would catch so much steam."

New Zealand: Rape culture studies get $1m grant [RNZI - 4/11/14]:

Three academics from Victoria University - a criminologist, a lawyer and a psychologist - have been awarded the money by the Marsden Fund for two three-year research projects.

They are among 101 awards totalling almost $56 million.

...

Woman's body found in bay south of Sydney

Nine MSN [4/11/14]:

The body of a woman in a swimming suit has been found floating off the coast of a bay in Sydney's south.

The body was found near boats moored in Kogarah Bay on Saturday night after it was spotted by a passing boater who called police, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The woman, who police believe was in the water for about 24 hours before being recovered, had not been reported missing.

Police have no idea what happened to the woman, saying there were no signs of injury but they are awaiting the results of an initial autopsy.

The woman is described as Caucasian in appearance, aged between 45 and 55 and 165cm tall.

She had a heavy build and short gingery brown hair and was wearing a black and white striped swimming top and a short black swimming skirt.

Police are appealing to the public for help to identify the woman.

Woman shot in leg, Hervey Bay

Yahoo [4/11/14]:

A 65-year-old woman heard a gunshot on her property in regional Queensland, only to look down to see she'd been shot in the leg.

The woman was in her backyard when the shot rang out on Tuesday morning. She felt pain in her leg and looked down to see it was bleeding, police say.

An X-ray confirmed she had a projectile lodged in her leg.

The woman's property, in the Hervey Bay suburb of Dundowran, is in a semi-rural area and backs onto bushland.

Investigations are continuing.

Man stabbed to death, Yarradin

Yahoo [4/11/14]:

A man has died in hospital after being stabbed during an argument in far north Queensland.

Police say two friends became involved in an altercation at Yarradin early on Tuesday morning.

The 41-year-old man was stabbed and taken to Coen Primary Health Clinic, where he was pronounced dead.

A 45-year-old man is being interviewed by police.

Queensland man jailed for infecting partner with HIV

Yahoo [4/11/14]:

A Queensland judge has described a former sex worker who infected an older man with HIV as a "time bomb" and sentenced him to eight years jail.

Rhys Edwin Martin, 22, was cleared in a July trial of deliberately passing on the virus, but a jury found him guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to the victim, who was 59 when the two had unprotected sex from July 2012.

Martin had spoken with the victim and his partner online and moved in with the pair after he was kicked out of home, the Brisbane District Court heard on Tuesday.

He reassured the couple he was HIV negative before the trio engaged in a consensual sexual relationship.

The elephant in the room was Martin's HIV status, Judge Stuart Durward SC told the sentencing hearing.

"You were, without prophylactic protection, a time bomb," he said.

"They were unaware of the time bomb. Unfortunately and tragically for (the victim), it exploded."

When the couple grew suspicious, they ordered blood tests that confirmed one of them had contracted HIV, and they kicked Martin out of their home.

In December 2012, Martin ordered two men "who deserve to be referred to only as thugs" to invade the couple's unit and retrieve personal belongings, Judge Durward said.

They were violently bashed by the intruders and suffered injuries including burst blood vessels in the eye, cheekbone fractures, a broken nose, cuts and swelling.

One of the men must regularly medicate to manage his HIV status, while his partner has had to forgo employment to act as a carer.

"They are now serving a life sentence, which is more than the law allows to be imposed on you," Judge Durwood said.

Martin was sentenced to a total of eight years jail for grievous bodily harm and the home invasion.

He will be eligible for parole in February 2015 because he has already served nearly two years in custody.

Brisbane's ruling fascists reverse racist decision to silence dissent

NIRS [4/11/14]:

Directors of Musgrave Park Cultural Centre in Brisbane say the City Council has reversed a decision to close the Jagera Arts Hall ahead of the G20 protests.

The hall is to be a major site of protests in the lead up and for the duration of the upcoming G20 Summit.

Signage put up around the building earlier this week suggested the council had closed the premise for 'refurbishment'.

Wayne 'Coco' Wharton from the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy says the council has now informed them the hall will remain open.

Mr Wharton says it's a good decision.

Brisbane Airport has banned three billboard advertising campaigns before the G20 summit, labelling them too political. ... [Nine MSN - 4/11/14]

No consultation on coastal land claims bill: Metro LALC

NIRS [4/11/14]:

The Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council in Sydney has slammed the New South Wales Government for a lack of consultation regarding its bill to extinguish coastal land claims.

The controversial bill is expected to pass parliament today and a protest, held yesterday in Sydney, was attended by land council representatives and supporters against the move.

Metro CEO Nathan Moran says the Government didn't undertake appropriate consultation processes with the local land councils.

Union says mining firm using employment uncertainty to pressure workers into pay cut

ABC [4/11/14]:

A Queensland mining support company has been accused of using job uncertainty to force its workers into accepting a hefty pay cut.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union said Hastings Deering wanted its workers to accept a pay cut of up to 25 per cent.

In July, Hastings Deering cut 400 jobs from across the Bowen Basin in central Queensland, which followed the loss of 200 positions in June last year.

Last week, up to 40 managers and office staff in Rockhampton and Mackay also lost their jobs.

The AMWU said negotiations with the company on an enterprise bargaining agreement had broken down.

Union secretary Rohan Webb said Hastings Deering was planning to take a substandard agreement to workers for a vote in the next few weeks.

He said the company was trying to wedge workers by using employment uncertainty to force workers to accept significantly reduced conditions.

Mr Webb said Hastings Deering wanted to remove mine site allowances and reduce other allowances, which could equate to pay cuts of up to 25 per cent for some workers.

But he said they had offered workers no guarantees of job security.

The ABC sought a response from the company.

BHP Billiton announces 150 jobs to go by end of February [Herald - 4/11/14]

HMAS Bundaberg fire: 160 jobs lost [Brisbane Times - 4/11/14]

Sunshine Coast: Nurses receive offer for increased wages, improved conditions at three private hospitals

Queensland Nurses Union Media Release [4/11/14]:

Nurses have claimed victory after receiving an offer for increased wages and other improved working conditions at three private hospitals on the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

Queensland Nurses’ Union (QNU) Secretary Beth Mole said Pulse Health management had offered a raft of improved wages and conditions following a lengthy campaign of industrial action including stop-work meetings, protest walks, and petitions.

Ms Mohle said Pulse recently offered staff at their Kingaroy, Gympie and Cooroy facilities wage increases of between five and eight per cent and back pay to 1 September 2014. Other improvements include ongoing annual pay increases and overtime after 8 hours (or after rostered hours if rostered between 8.5-10 hours).

Additional conditions and wage improvements are outlined below.

She said Pulse staff at the South Burnett Private Hospital (Kingaroy), the Gympie Private Hospital and the Eden Rehabilitation Unit in Cooroy currently received up to $10 an hour less than their public health colleagues and did not get adequate pay rises or meal breaks.

“The improved wages and conditions being offered should allow Pulse to keep most of their great nurses,’’ Ms Mohle said.

“The improved offer is a significant step towards closing the gap between Pulse nurses’ wages and those of other QNU members. Pulse nurses will now continue to do what they have always done best – provide the highest quality care for their patients.

“We would like to thank everyone who campaigned, listened, signed our petition, put stickers on their cars and supported the campaign.’’

Ms Mohle and Pulse nurses also thanked the local media for their coverage of the industrial action. A draft enterprise agreement, which includes the conditions below, has been distributed to Pulse nurses.

A ballot will open tomorrow with Pulse members to vote on the proposed agreement by Wednesday 12 November.

The Pulse offer includes:

Back pay to 1 September 2014 of pay increases of between 5-8% and similar increases in future years

No reduction in current conditions

Overtime after 8 hours (or after rostered hours if rostered between 8.5-10 hours)

AIN rates to be to be the same across Kingaroy, Gympie and Eden 1.3 weeks long service leave per year 3 hour minimum payment per shift for casuals (up from 2 hours).

RBWH "in crisis" after leadership changes, staff say [ABC - 4/11/14]:

The recent departure of three senior health executives has thrown the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital into crisis, according to clinical staff.

Metro North Hospital and Health Service is the public hospital service that serves the population north of the Brisbane River to north of Kilcoy, which is an area of more than 4,000 square kilometres.

Professor Keshwar Baboolal, who was reappointed executive director in August, left abruptly without explanation in October.

In September, two other senior officials at the service were suspended and referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) over employment procurement issues.

Beth Mohle, from the Queensland Nurses Union (QNU), said she heard from distressed and angry staff at a meeting on Monday.

Ms Mohle said staff were concerned about excessive workloads, unachievable targets and a board that was not listening.

"Staff believe that there is a crisis that needs to be attended to as a matter of urgency," she said.

Ms Mohle said the board must pay attention.

"There is a need for a multi-faceted response to this particular crisis situation," she said.

The hospital's Medical Staff Association (MSA) had asked the board to explain why they should have confidence in them.

Dr Tony Sara from the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation said it met last week about the issues.

"They discussed the dysfunctional happenings of the past few weeks - whether they should or should not have confidence in the board," he said.

In a statement, the board said it would work with the MSA, the executive, and other clinical representatives to resolve concerns about recent leadership changes.

...

World Bank Head Urges to Send Health Workers to Ebola Affected Countries

RIA Novosti [4/11/14]:

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim Tuesday urged Asia to send trained health workers to the West African countries in which the current Ebola outbreak began, saying that border control was not enough to stop the spread of the virus, Yonhap news agency reported.

"Focusing only on border control is not the right response. The world needs to put the fire out because if it doesn't, Ebola could spread to any country, including those here in Asia,” the news agency quoted Yong Kim as saying at a press conference in Seoul.

"I call on countries across Asia to offer trained health workers now to help stop Ebola at its source [West Africa]," he added.

Jing Yong also thanked South Korea for contributing $5.6 million as well as sending about 20 military and civilian personnel to West Africa to aid in curbing the outbreak.

According to the World Health Organization, the total number of confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola Virus disease currently stands at 13,567. Of these 520 are health workers who have contracted Ebola in West Africa.

The current Ebola outbreak began in February in Guinea, later spreading to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. No official cure is known but several countries are currently working on developing Ebola vaccines, with Russia planning to introduce three vaccines within the next six months.

Ebola nurse, Maine settle quarantine suit

Reuters [3/11/14]:

The state of Maine and a nurse who had treated victims of the Ebola virus in West Africa reached a settlement deal on Monday, allowing her to travel freely in public but requiring her to monitor her health closely and report any symptoms.

The settlement, filed in nurse Kaci Hickox's home town of Fort Kent, in Maine's far north, where she returned after being briefly quarantined in New Jersey, keeps in effect through Nov. 10 the terms of an order issued by a Maine judge on Friday.

Hickox returned to the United States last month after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and was quarantined in a tent outside a hospital in New Jersey for four days despite showing no symptoms.

She sharply criticized the way both New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Maine Governor Paul LePage responded to her case. Christie and LePage have defended how they handled it.

A handful of states have imposed mandatory quarantines on health workers returning from three Ebola-ravaged West African countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, while the federal government is wary of discouraging potential medical volunteers.

The most deadly outbreak of Ebola on record has killed 4,951 people, all but a few in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

"The Governor was outspoken in his views on the case. He was speaking for people in the state that had real fear about the risks," said Eric Saunders, an attorney for Hickox. "It's hard to deny the fear and the safety concerns. But at the same time, we have to bear in mind what the law and the science says."

The Ebola virus is transmitted in bodily fluids, such as blood or vomit, of people showing symptoms of the disease, according to medical experts. It is not airborne.

A spokeswoman for LePage's office declined to comment on the case, as did the office of the Maine Attorney General.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Monday warned against "unnecessarily" strict restrictions on healthcare workers, saying their efforts were critical to stopping Ebola's spread in West Africa.

"They are extraordinary people who are giving of themselves, they are risking their own lives," Ban told a press conference in Vienna.

...

Looking for interview talent on Ebola and its impact? The University of Queensland has several researchers and experts happy to take media calls on the subject ... [UQ News - 3/11/14]

Whales stranded near Ohope Beach, Bay of Plenty

RNZI [4/11/14]:

Eight whales are dead after stranding near Ohope beach in the Bay of Plenty, and the Department of Conservation (DOC) is desperately trying to save 20 more.

DOC Bay of Plenty spokesperson Peter Huggins said it was believed a pilot whale experiencing problems in Ohiwa harbour, between Ohope and Opotiki, may be responsible for drawing the pod in.

The stranded whales had been euthanased on welfare grounds and rescuers were trying to save about 20 which were in the harbour.

"We've been focussing our attention on the remaining whales in the water and trying to get those animals out the harbour," he said.

Fight to save endangered Indus dolphins, turtles [France 24 - 4/11/14]

Activist completes paddle against nuclear plants along Black Sea coast

Hurriyet Daily News [3/11/14]:

An amateur rower has arrived in Istanbul after completing an epic three month journey along the Black Sea coast, which he undertook to draw attention to the danger of nuclear plants in a region hit by a manic spree of ecology-damaging energy investments.

Hüseyin Ürkmez was greeted by a group of environmental activists as he arrived at the Ortaköy port on the European shore of the Bosphorus on Nov. 2, three months after setting out from Hopa, on the other extreme of the Black Sea in northeastern Turkey.

“I wanted to draw attention to demands for a nuclear free country only through my physical strength. If there is one thing as difficult as rowing against the current, it is [challenging] the government’s calculations. So I showed my opposition with this symbolic demonstration,” Ürkmez said on arrival in Istanbul.

The construction of Turkey’s first nuclear plant has started in Akkuyu, on the country’s Mediterranean coast, while a second plant is planned near the Black Sea port of Sinop, amid much local controversy.

Meanwhile, Turkish government officials also recently announced that a third plant will be built by Turkish engineers after accumulating experience from the construction of the first two plants.

Ürkmez faced many difficulties throughout his 1,400-kilometer journey, with stormy weather forcing him to take shelter for a few days in the Karasu port, northeast of Istanbul, tantalizingly close to his final destination of Ortaköy.

The crowd in Istanbul greeted him with slogans such as “the wind and the sun are enough for us,” while a young child read out a poem by the legendary Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet devoted to Hiroshima.

Despite a few glitches, Ürkmez managed to stop at all symbolic sites and hotspots along his route, including the town of Sinop, where a Japanese-French consortium is set to build what will become the country’s second nuclear plant at an estimated cost of $22 billion.

Ürkmez’s voyage marks the latest solo environmental demonstration in Turkey, after Timur Danis walked from Istanbul to Sinop and then onto the Mediterranean city of Mersin, a total journey of 4,000 kilometers.

Another activist, Deniz Güman, also recently rode the same route on her bicycle, before ending her trip at the site of the Akkuyu nuclear plant, while Özgür Gürbüz made the unusual choice of walking backwards for the 180 km separating Mersin from Akkuyu.

UN to investigate claims that UK spies infiltrated climate talks

Guardian [4/11/14]:

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, says he will launch an investigation into reports that Britain spied on other governments at two successive global climate summits, snooping on other delegations’ kit, passes and membership lists.

A government document released by Edward Snowden showed that an officer from GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping agency, had been embedded in the official British delegation to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009 and at Cancun in Mexico.

Speaking to Danish television, Ban said the matter was a UN issue because Copenhagen was a UN conference.

“All diplomatic information is inviolable. If there has been any breach they should be investigated. UN information should be protected in its entire confidentiality,” he said.

The presence of a GCHQ spy at UN meetings attended by world leaders including the US president, Barack Obama, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is described in the 23-page PowerPoint presentation

“Supporting HMG’s (Her Majesty’s Government) Climate Change Ambitions”. Delivered to unnamed UK government officers in 2011, the paper originally published by Dagbladet Information states that the officer reported to “customers” including No 10, the foreign secretary and diplomats, the Department for International Development, the business department, and the Treasury.

According to the presentation, it became a “serious intelligence priority” for the British secret intelligence services (SIS) to spy on UN international climate negotiations in 2007.

However, the first time a spy was sent to a summit was in 2009 when countries were expected to conclude years of tense negotiations with a dramatic global deal to reduce carbon emissions. The GCHQ operation was said to have been a success, even though the talks are generally considered to have failed.

The PowerPoint slides state that the officer was embedded in the UK delegation of 38 people because this cover would allow access to foreign delegations and to “kit, passes, and delegate lists”. The officer was expected to coordinate with GCHQ in Cheltenham as well as MI5.

The role of the officer, according to one slide, was to discover countries’ negotiating positions, report on how far they were prepared to negotiate, find out whether foreign negotiators were receiving instructions from their own governments and to report these back to UK officials to give Britain an upper hand.

But Britain could have been breaking international law in sending a spy because the venue of all UN climate summits is declared to be UN territory for the duration of the negotiations.

The disclosures are potentially embarrassing for Ed Miliband, who was energy and climate change secretary and leader of the British delegation at the 2009 Copenhagen summit, and Chris Huhne, who led the delegation in 2011 to Cancun.

The Labour party declined to comment on Monday night on whether Miliband had been aware that the embedded “communications officer” was working with MI5 and GCHQ in Cheltenham to intercept emails and phone calls. “We do not comment on intelligence matters,” a party spokesman said.

But Huhne said: “I was aware that we had GCHQ support for our own secure communications, but I don’t know anything about that. I was in no briefing beyond the normal ones we got from our negotiators.”

The document also reveals the security services’ preoccupations. Under the title “new challenges for intelligence”, GCHQ asks whether foreign governments are “planning for instability or mass migrations” caused by water and food scarcity, and whether they are making the link between extreme weather and high commodity prices.

The presentation also asks: “Is the United Nations framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) still important or is private capital going to low carbon because costs and resource scarcity makes sense?”

The disclosures come as the negotiating teams of hundreds of countries meet in Venezuela before next month’s UN climate summit. It follows the leak of other Snowden documents last year which showed how the US National Security Agency (NSA) monitored communications between key countries before and during the Copenhagen conference to give their negotiators advance information about other positions at the meeting.

WikiLeaks cables in 2010 showed that the CIA had asked US diplomats to pass on the negotiating positions of key countries at Copenhagen and to report deals between nations.

Asad Rehman, international climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “It’s long been a fact that rich governments have bullied and bribed poorer developing countries to get their way in the climate negotiations – we can now add spying to that list. It’s morally and politically bankrupt for the UK government to try and undermine the voices of those most affected by climate change in calling for more action.”

A spokesman for the UNFCCC, which hosts the summits, declined to comment.

“This practice is unfortunately expected from developed countries like the United Kingdom. Developed countries have continuously broken trust and failed to live up to their commitments, this shameful practice, in concert with the NSA boys is a spit in the face of the developing world and frontline communities impacted by climate change.”, said Julian Velez, a Mexican delegate to the meeting in Venezuela.

Britain’s new electronic spy chief says US tech giants aid terror [RT - 3/11/14]

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

The ALP, Coalition, Transfield, Serco, G4S and Wilson etc must really appreciate this ongoing PR for the indefinite detention of refugees.

Guardian [4/11/14]:

Children in immigration detention are being used as “bargaining chips” by the immigration minister in order to win passage for his temporary protection visa legislation, Australia’s human rights commissioner has said.

“We find it deeply offensive that children are being used as leverage, because we are destroying children’s lives in these places,” Gillian Triggs told Guardian Australia.

Triggs, whose report of the commission’s inquiry into children in immigration detention has been sent to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, said Scott Morrison had an “ideological obsession” with granting temporary protection and was refusing to process refugee claims because, legally, he could only grant permanent visas at the moment.

Last year Morrison attempted to introduce temporary protection visas (TPVs) via regulation before it was disallowed by the Senate.

But legislation currently before the Senate would reintroduce TPVs, as well as removing Australia’s international protection obligations under the refugee convention from domestic law.

“The minister is using the children in detention, along with the Palmer United Party, as bargaining chips to get what he wants, which is temporary protection visas. We find this deeply offensive to international law, to the rights of the child, that they are being held as a means to ensure the minister gets what he wants – temporary visas.”

Previously, the human rights commission has opposed TPVs but, Triggs said, she would accept them “with some reluctance” if it meant children were released from detention.

...

Is it because this hearing could close the Manus Refugee Death Camp that the Australian media won't report on it?

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.

Germany's Siemens Offers Empty Offices to House Refugees

Naharnet [3/11/14]:

German engineering giant Siemens said Monday it had offered its empty offices in Munich to accommodate refugees, as the country grapples with a rise in asylum-seekers, especially from Syria.

"We've proposed to the city authorities to make our former branch in Munich available for refugees," a Siemens spokesman told AFP, confirming a report in Spiegel news weekly.

Siemens makes products ranging from power stations to high-speed trains and medical imaging equipment.

The roughly 30,000-square-meter (320,000-square-foot) premises in the Bavarian city had until now housed Siemens commercial department for southern Germany which recently moved to new offices.

City and local authority officials visited the site last Friday, the spokesman said.

A decision was expected in coming days on when and how many refugees can be accommodated there, he added.

Germany this year expects some 200,000 asylum seekers to cross its borders -- nearly 60 percent more than in 2013 when numbers had already soared by almost two-thirds.

The leading country of origin is Syria, where over three years of bloody fighting have driven more than three million people to flee, mostly to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

Across Germany, former army barracks have been requisitioned, and tents and mobile homes set up to house refugees.

In Darfur, UN mission voices concern over possible security raid on camps for displaced

UN Media Release [3/11/14]:

The United Nations mission in Darfur expressed concern today over the Government of Sudan’s alleged intentions to conduct a security search operation in a camp for internally displaced people (IDP), cautioning that such an act might increase tensions among the camp’s civilian population.

In a press release, the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur, known by the acronym UNAMID, noted that Government forces were possibly planning a raid in Kalma camp near Nyala, in South Darfur, adding that the Mission was taking “preventive measures to mitigate the impact of such an operation on the civilian population of the camp and to reduce the tension there.”

“The Mission has engaged the local authorities in South Darfur, in accordance with its protection of civilians’ mandate, and demanded that if there were a need for such selective searches, these should be conducted in coordination with the camp leaders and the Mission and that should be carried out respecting human rights and observing international humanitarian law,” UNAMID declared in its press release.

According to UNAMID, Mission personnel have been meeting regularly with IDP leaders, including women and youth, in order to explain the measures being undertaken to reduce the impact such raids may have on the civilian population.

In addition, the Mission noted, UNAMID had strengthened the presence of peacekeepers in the Mission’s Patrol Site in Kalma and increased the number of patrols which are conducted around the clock at the camp.

At the same time, UNAMID has also reminded the camp population that “harbouring, aiding or abetting offenders who possess weapons contravenes international humanitarian law and that such weaponry should not be stored, handled or trafficked in IDP camps.”

The press release explained that the Mission remained engaged “with all relevant stakeholders” while adding that Government authorities had denied any such plans for a raid at the Kalma camp “at the current time.”

Cross-border raids hinder relocation of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon

UNHCR Media Release [31/10/14]:

The UN refugee agency on Friday said it was very concerned about growing insecurity in border areas between Cameroon and Nigeria, where thousands of Nigerian refugees fleeing insurgent attacks have sought refuge in the past weeks.

"In recent days, Nigerian insurgents have launched repeated cross-border attacks from Nigerian border towns into northern Cameroon, hindering our efforts to relocate refugees from the volatile border area to Minawao camp, located some 120 kilometres away from the border," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told journalists in Geneva.

He said that clashes broke out last Friday between insurgents and Cameroonian troops in the village of Koubougué, on the Cameroonian side, resulting in the deaths of five civilians. Koubougué is located four kilometres from the border town of Fotokol, where some 1,000 refugees are awaiting transfer to Minawao.

Cameroonian civilians are living in a state of terror due to frequent insurgent attacks, a situation that has been aggravated by the fact that the insurgents from Nigeria have reportedly started targeting civilians in Cameroon.

Nigerian refugees, who fled previous attacks by the insurgents in north-eastern Nigeria, are asking to be moved away from the border area as quickly as possible.

"Recently arrived refugees say that access to Cameroon is becoming extremely difficult and dangerous as insurgents have taken control of several border towns and villages in north-eastern Nigeria," Spindler said, adding that "refugees were forced to flee on foot through the bush and crossed the Elbeid River before entering Cameroon."

Refugees have also told UNHCR field staff of being pursued by insurgents and witnessing the murder of loved ones. They say insurgents entered their villages and stole everything before burning their houses.

Many refugees are traumatized. Many families have also been separated after fleeing their villages, leaving many women and children extremely vulnerable.

Two weeks ago, clashes between insurgents and the Cameroonian army in another village – Zhelevet – forced UNHCR to suspend relocation operations of about 600 refugees to Minawao.

Despite insecurity in border areas, UNHCR continues to work with local authorities to expedite the transfer of the refugees. Security permitting, further transfers will continue this week, Spindler said.

Minawao is hosting more than 16,200 refugees, with the population having nearly tripled in size in the past two months. The camp capacity is estimated at 35,000 people and further expansions are being made in order to accommodate the refugees already registered for transfer from the border and possible additional new arrivals.

"With support from our partners, we are urgently stepping up efforts to improve living conditions. Despite urgent efforts to meet basic needs, the camp's facilities and services are still insufficient," Spindler said.

While some 1,370 family shelters have been made available to new arrivals, 9,000 refugees still live in community shelters. Sufficient land has been made available by the government of Cameroon for further expansion of the site. But construction of family shelters has been put on hold to allow local and refugee communities to finish harvesting before the land is commissioned for further construction of shelters.

Efforts have been made to increase the capacity of the educational facilities in the camp to respond to the growing number of refugee children arriving in the camp. The current infrastructure and school equipment remain insufficient to accommodate the 8,000 refugee children now living in Minawao.

"In parallel, we have started discussions with local authorities to develop a literacy and vocational programme for adolescents who have never received a formal education," UNHCR's Spindler noted.

He added that the sudden growth in the population in a cholera-endemic area, access to water and latrines was a major concern for UNHCR and partners. In addition to the four existing boreholes on site, 10 new boreholes have been constructed, of which five are fully functional. The others will be ready in the coming days.

Refugees are receiving food rations from the World Food Programme on a monthly basis and many refugees have started cultivating crops on land around the camp. Severe acute malnutrition has decreased and the health situation overall is also stabilizing.

The last cholera case was reported in September, with no new cases identified since. Additional medical capacity has been brought in, infrastructure has been expanded and referral mechanisms have been put in place.

The operational response to the Nigeria influx is coordinated by UNHCR in Yaounde at agency level and in the field by the UNHCR office in Maroua.

United States continue bombing Iraq, Syria

The Leading Terrorist State, Noam Chomsky [Truthout - 3/11/14]

Centcom [3/11/14]:

U.S. and partner nation military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria Sunday and today using fighter and bomber aircraft to conduct five airstrikes.

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

In Syria, four airstrikes conducted near Kobani that struck an ISIL fighting position, a small ISIL unit and destroyed two buildings. One airstrike near Dayr Az Zawr damaged an ISIL building.

In Iraq, two airstrikes near Bayji struck an ISIL fighting position, a small ISIL unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

Near Fallujah, four airstrikes struck a large ISIL unit and destroyed five ISIL bulldozers and one ISIL dump truck involved in creating obstructions and berms.

Three airstrikes near Ar Rutbah damaged one ISIL vehicle and destroyed four ISIL vehicles. All aircraft departed the strike areas safely.

Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.

...

Multiple attacks in Baghdad leave many dead [Al Jazeera - 3/11/14]

@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [3/11/14]:

Baghdad/agencies: A roadside bomb has been exploded in Nahrawan east of Baghdad resulted in killing of 3 and wounding of 9...............

Salah-il-Deen : The air force has shelled civilians resulted in killing and wounding of them in Sina'i hay in Jameelah in the middle of Shurqat district north of Tikrit........

Anbar: Doctor Juma'a Hashim Fahdawi -Orthopaedist-which works in Fallujah Teaching Hospital has been sniped in Khalidiyah west of Ramadi.........

Peshmerga, Syrian rebels battle Islamic State in besieged Kobani [Reuters - 3/11/14]

Syria: UN envoy proposes new plan to ‘freeze’ conflict, promote political solution

UN Media Release [3/11/14]:

The war in Syria must be “frozen locally” on the ground so that the growing threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) may be fully confronted, a United Nations envoy said today, suggesting that a peace introduced in increments would also provide all stakeholders with a better understanding of how to bring the three-year conflict to a definitive conclusion.

In an interview with UN Radio, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, described “a feeling of despair and of tiredness” in the Middle Eastern country from which he recently returned, adding that the strongest message he received from people on the ground was an appeal to “stop this carnage” and “give us some light.”

“That was the strongest message I got and that’s why I’ve been so keen in trying to find some entry points to make that difference: not through a conference, not through a seminar, but through something tangible for them,” Mr. de Mistura said.

The conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011, has led to well over 150,000 deaths, and more than 680,000 people have been injured. At least 10.8 million people are in need of assistance inside Syria, including at least 6.5 million who are internally displaced.

The violence has also spawned a refugee crisis flooding neighbouring countries with some 2.5 million people.

Asked about his “new plan” for Syria and the region at large, Mr. de Mistura said the besieged city of Aleppo provides the best example of where the conflict could be frozen locally, as fighting between opposition and Government forces had ground to a stalemate amid the steady advance of ISIL militants.

“If we can freeze that and show that at least Aleppo can become an area where we can provide some better life for citizens, then the focus can be, as it should be, on [ISIL],” he continued.

The “new plan,” first presented to the Security Council last Thursday, would initially seek to freeze the fighting and create an environment whereby humanitarian aid could reach the beleaguered population in Aleppo. Additionally, it would also provide visible proof that the on-the-ground narrative can be shifted from a military one to a political one.

“If that can be replicated,” Mr. de Mistura said, “then we may have a formula to cool off, if nothing else, the environment in Syria and lead to a political process, as everybody claims should be the case, rather than simply saying it but nothing happening.”

The Special Envoy added that he would soon be returning to Damascus for further consultations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad where the specifics for bringing the plan to fruition would be discussed.

“As you know, the devil is in the details. And the details in this matter count because it means lives saved and locations identified,” he explained.

“That’s why I’ve been proposing Aleppo because it has many ingredients; it is a place which is iconic; it is threatened by the war between the two sides, the Government and the opposition; and it’s now also threatened by [ISIL].”

Evidently the Italians and Norwegians have agreed to abide by Iraqi law, whereas the Australians haven't

@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [3/11/14]:

Agencies: Italian ministry of defense announced that it has sent 280 Italian soldiers to Iraq.........

IraqiNews.com [30/10/14]:

On Thursday, the Norwegian newspaper ‘The Local’ revealed the Norwegian government’s preparations to send troops to Iraq as part of the international coalition’s efforts to fight the so-called Islamic state in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The newspaper said—quoting official sources—that, “The Norwegian government is in the process of making a decision to send 110 Norwegian soldiers to share with the international coalition led by the United States against the organization ISIS in Iraq.”

Official sources confirmed that the Norwegian troops will not participate directly in any military operation against ISIS militants in Iraq, but they will contribute to the building of the Iraqi armed forces and the training process to improve its combat capabilities.

Norwegian newspaper indicated that “the Norwegian proposal to send troops to Iraq will be put before the Committee of Defense and Foreign Affairs in the Parliament in Oslo.”

Last September, the Norwegian Minister of Defense announced the possibility of sending a military team to train Iraqi security forces and to provide support for them.

Namibia court upholds sterilisation verdict

Al Jazeera [3/11/14]:

Namibia's Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that health workers sterilised HIV-positive women without their consent.

The original 2012 judgment had found that health workers had coerced three HIV-positive mothers to sign sterilisation consent forms they did not fully understand, while in labour.

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre said the ruling sends a message to the government to stop the practice in the southwestern African nation, and elsewhere on the continent.

Priti Patel, deputy director and HIV programme manager for the centre, told Al Jazeera the case was far from isolated.

"What we think should happen now is that the government of Namibia needs to step up and start investigating the claims of these other women," she said.

"The government needs to take active steps to make sure this stops happening.

"This decision has far-reaching consequences not only for HIV-positive women in Namibia but for the dozens of HIV-positive women throughout Africa who have been forcibly sterilised," Patel said.

Other cases have been documented in South Africa and Kenya, she said.

Sterilisation is a drastic tactic to treat HIV-positive women, as mother-to-child transmission of HIV and AIDS can be prevented with medication.

Namibia's high court will assess how much money the three women should be awarded, according to the centre.

...

Saudi Jails Protesters, Jihadists for Up to 10 Years

Naharnet [3/11/14]:

A Riyadh court sentenced five Saudis to jail for five to 10 years on Monday for anti-regime activities in its restive Eastern Province and supporting jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

The court gave one Saudi 10 years in jail and another seven for giving a television network "hostile to the kingdom" protest footage captured on a phone in Qatif, the epicenter of Shiite-led anti-regime protests.

The same court, which specializes in terrorism, sentenced a third individual to 10 years for taking part in demonstrations in Awamiyeh, an eastern town near Qatif, that called for the "fall of the regime".

It gave another defendant an eight-year prison term for having traveled to war-torn Syria and pledging allegiance to the head of the Sunni jihadist Islamic State group.

Another was sentenced to seven years in jail for going to Iraq to fight alongside jihadists after receiving combat training at a camp in Yemen, where Al-Qaida is highly active.

Scores of Saudis are believed to be in the ranks of radical Islamist groups in areas of unrest across the Middle East, including Iraq and Syria.

King Abdullah in February decreed jail terms of up to 20 years for citizens who travel abroad to fight, after the conflict in Syria attracted hundreds of Saudis.

Australians should prepare for further harassment of young muslim men and their families, friends: AFP

Brisbane Times [4/11/14]:

Australians should prepare for more counterterrorism raids as big as the recent 800-strong police raids in Sydney and Brisbane, the Australian Federal Police's counterterrorism chief has said.

Federal police Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said police did not engage in "overkill" in September's Operation Appleby raids that involved 800 police officers, but led to only two people being charged.

"What we will see now is more raids like we saw in Sydney because the environment has changed," Mr Gaughan said.

"The paradigm has changed such that we will be forced to react much quicker than what we previously have, and I think the community will see more of this where we will do a large number of execution of search warrants and probably only one or two arrests."

Mr Gaughan said police made no apologies for the raids, including the seizure of a reportedly plastic sword.

The sword was a "legitimate weapon", Mr Gaughan said.

...

Family targeted in Sydney's anti-terrorism raids launches legal action [Sydney Morning Herald - 7/10/14]

As with the driveby shooting of a Mt Gravatt household, the authorities say nothing about the attack being motivated by religious bigotry against muslims, and the media make shit up about the perpetrators being IS supporters.

ABC [4/11/14]:

... Rasoul Al Mousawi, 47, was shot in the head in an industrial area on Rosedale Avenue, near the intersection of Brunker Road at 1:15am (AEDT). [Outside Greenacre Mosque.]

He has undergone surgery for injuries that are not life threatening.
...

Police have not identified a motive for the shooting but said they were following several lines of inquiry.

They have ruled out the suggestion that the violence in Iraq may be spilling over into suburban Australia.

Police have told the ABC there is nothing to suggest the shooting is linked to IS.

...

Gold Coast: Teenager charged with "assault police dog" after being savaged by police dog

QPS Media [4/11/14]:

Two boys have been charged following a traffic crash involving an allegedly stolen car in Upper Coomera last night.

Around 7.05pm, police were advised two boys had allegedly fled the scene of a single vehicle traffic crash on Antler Street.

Police suspected the crashed car had been stolen from Logan earlier in the night.

The Gold Coast dog squad attended and commenced tracking the two boys, before subsequently locating them in Grammar Street a short time later.

While attempting to take one of the boys into custody, he allegedly failed to comply with five verbal warnings to stop.

As he continued to run from police, he allegedly struck Police Dog Hondo on his head, and pulled his ears.

He was apprehended by the police dog shortly after.

The boy received medical treatment for minor stomach and back injuries before being released back into police custody.

PD Hondo was not seriously injured during the incident.

A 16-year-old Beenleigh boy has been charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle, driving a motor vehicle without a licence, obstruct police and assaulting a police dog.

A 16-year-old Kingston boy has been charged with one count each of unlawful use of a motor vehicle and obstruct police.

They will be dealt with under the provision of the Youth Justice Act.

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

Armed man breaks into Toowoomba home: resident

Chronicle [4/11/14]:

Police investigating a daylight break-in at a West St home are keeping quiet about the early morning incident.

Officers were called to two West St homes, across the street from each other in North Toowoomba, about 7.30am yesterday.

A neighbour said he had heard an armed man had broken into at least one of the properties.

But Toowoomba Criminal Investigation Branch officer-in-charge Paul McCusker yesterday refused to confirm what police believed had happened at the houses.

"As a result of that, police attempted to intercept a vehicle which failed to stop," Detective Senior Sergeant McCusker said.

He said the car was last seen on Holberton St.

Family escapes Toowoomba house fire uninjured [Chronicle - 4/11/14]

Firefighters try to save Sarina home from fire [Daily Mercury - 4/11/14]

Three fire crews were called to a fire inside a shipping container in Campbell St, Rockhampton on Sunday night. ... [Morning Bulletin - 4/11/14]

Armed robbery, West Mackay [QPS Media - 3/11/14]

Armed robbery, Landsborough [QPS Media - 3/11/14]

Grievous bodily harm charge, Buddina [QPS Media - 3/11/14]

Head-on in Crystal Creek leaves two in hospital

Tweed Daily News [3/11/14]:

Two people are in hospital following a motorcycle and car head-on in Crystal Creek on Sunday.

A 60-year-old female driver of a Toyota Land Cruiser was heading north in Numinbah Rd near Murwillumbah on Sunday at around 2pm when it impacted with a motorcycle heading south on the same road.

The motor cycle had a pillion passenger, and both were ejected from the motorcycle as it impacted with the vehicle.

Police and ambulance attended the scene.

The driver did not suffer any serious injuries.

The 55-year-old male motorbike rider suffered a suspected broken pelvis and lacerations and was taken the Gold Coast Hospital.

The 54-year-old pillion passenger suffered more minor injuries and was taken to Tweed Heads Hospital.

Acting Inspector Chad Deegenaars said Tweed Bryon LAC Police are investigating the crash.

"It does not appear as though speed was a factor at this stage," he said.

...

Is Australia the only nation in the South Pacific without a Bill Of Rights?

Fiji Times [31/10/14]:

Attorney-General and Justice Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that Fiji has a robust Bill of Rights under the 2013 Constitution.

In presenting Fiji's report to the council, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the Bill of Rights included not only civil and political rights but unprecedented social and economic rights.

He told the council the Constitution created substantive equality complemented by legal and policy implementation.

Chief Justice Anthony Gates, who also spoke at the meet, highlighted the barriers experienced by the judiciary in its functioning after the events of 2009.

Justice Gates also informed the council about the effects of the travel bans imposed on judges and the important judicial reforms implemented by him to promote an open and equal justice system.

Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde explained the basis of prosecution in Fiji, the non-political nature of the decision to prosecute and the number of assault cases committed by police officers which were currently before the courts.

Fifteen officers from the Fiji Police Force were handed visas yesterday for a 20-day training course in Beijing, China. ... [Fiji Times - 4/11/14]

Palmer United Party government to resume Queensland asset leases if elected

Palmer United Party Media Release [4/11/14]:

Federal leader of the Palmer United Party, Clive Palmer, has reaffirmed that a Queensland-elected Palmer United Party government would resume any public asset leased by the LNP government without compensation to the private sector.

Mr Palmer said the Newman Government’s multi-million dollar expenditure of taxpayer-funded advertising and its plans to offer up state assets for long-term leases was an outrage.

“Campbell Newman would sell your kids if he could,” Mr Palmer said.

“The LNP’s plan to lease state assets on 99-year contracts is ludicrous – no one will be here to see those assets when they are returned.

“In the meantime, people who take up these leases will profit from the assets.

“Our hospitals, ports, schools and power companies are all in the firing line of a government that believes the only way to solve Queensland’s debt problems, is to offload major state-owned assets and cut expenditure.”

Mr Palmer said The Palmer United Party strongly believed in retaining state-owned assets in the hands of all Queenslanders.

“If successful at the next Queensland election, our party will resume any Queensland government state-owned assets that have been sold off, without providing compensation to private sector investors who bought into them,” he said.

“The LNP is merely supporting lobbyist friends who will earn millions in commission cheques for leasing these assets.

“A Queensland-elected Palmer United Party government would stimulate the economy and protect assets owned by Queenslanders.’’

ECQ’s Actions Unconstitutional, says Clive Palmer [Media Release - 4/11/14]:

Federal leader of the Palmer United Party, Clive Palmer, has accused the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) of unconstitutional behaviour in ordering Palmer United Party members to confirm their membership in writing.

Mr Palmer said despite the party already providing the ECQ with 3000 names and addresses of paid-up members as per the State’s electoral act, the ECQ was now writing to individual Palmer United members requesting confirmation.

“This is an unnecessary and, in my view, unconstitutional act to ask people to do this when the ECQ already has more than enough proof that we have the requisite Queensland members.

“It is just another tactic by the LNP Government to interfere with democracy.

“This move by the ECQ is obviously being heavily influenced by the Newman Government and signals that a Queensland election is on the cards before Christmas,’’ Mr Palmer said.

“It is a tactic by the LNP hierarchy to have the Palmer United Party de-registered because of the threat it poses is government.

“The Palmer United Party is committed to getting to the truth for the people of Queensland and the government doesn’t like it,’’ Mr Palmer said.

Domestic violence Senate Inquiry hearing in Sydney shows why refuge cuts must be reversed

Greens Media Release [4/11/14]:

The Federal Senate Inquiry into domestic violence, established by the Greens, is hearing from NSW groups in a public hearing in Sydney today.

Senator Larissa Waters, who established the inquiry, said:

“The inquiry hearings are clearly showing that funding cuts, at both the federal and the state level, are severely impacting women’s refuges, which are already struggling to keep up with demand.

“There’s certainly a lot of rhetoric from the Abbott and Baird governments about domestic violence but their actions speak louder than their words.

Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, said:

“Disgracefully, the Baird Government has removed funding for many women’s only refuges across the state.

“It was only after sustained pressure from women activists that funding was restored to only five inner-city refuges.

“Sadly this doesn’t help women trying to escape domestic violence in Western Sydney and regional areas, where specialist women’s refuges have been forced to close or hand over their keys to the generalist providers.

“We’re calling on the Baird Government to restore funding for specialist women’s services across the whole state and to commit to increasing support to vulnerable women as well as programs to prevent violence”, Dr Faruqi said.

Senator Waters said:

“The under-funding of refuges, coupled with the Abbott Government’s budget cuts to housing, are creating a bottleneck crisis, with more women needing to access refuges than those who are able to move on to safe long-term accommodation.

“On top of this, the Abbott Government’s cuts to single parent support and community legal centres threaten to trap women in violent homes because they are financially unable to escape.

“I genuinely hope that the Abbott Government senators on the inquiry committee will be compelled by the strong and tragic evidence we’re hearing and will be able to convince Cabinet to abandon and reverse these dangerous cuts,” Senator Waters said.

How to make Australia's domestic violence crisis worse: Victorian domestic violence victims can 'name and shame' attackers as new law comes into force [ABC - 2/11/14]

Canberra Times [2/11/14]:

A men's rights group has been accused of "hijacking" the name of a prominent anti-domestic violence group and is using it to publish "misinformation" about violence against women.

White Ribbon is considering taking legal action to stop the group, which uses the same name and similar branding.

...

Cosmopolitan [24/10/14]:

... The White Ribbon Campaign was started in 1991 by Canadian men, after anti-feminist zealot Marc Lépine walked into École Polytechnique in Montreal, separated the male students from the female ones, lined the women up against the wall, called them "a bunch of feminists," and opened fire.

He killed 14 women and injured 10 women and four men. The "Montreal Massacre" was a galvanizing moment for Canadian feminists, and in its wake, many men took up the challenge of standing up for women's rights.

...

Two dead in suspected murder-suicide on Groote Eylandt: NT Police

ABC [2/11/14]:

The deaths of two people on a Northern Territory island is being treated as suspicious, police say.

Two bodies were found in a house on Groote Eylandt by a member of the public in the early hours of Sunday morning.

A police spokesman said one of the bodies "was in a bad way", but would not give further details.
NT Police said they believed it may be a murder-suicide.

In a statement, Detective Sergeant Tony Henrys from the NT Major Crime Squad said police from Groote Eylandt responded after a member of the public found the bodies.

"Upon arrival police gained entry into the residence and a male and female were confirmed deceased," he said.

"A crime scene has been established and investigations into the deaths are ongoing."

Groote Eylandt is located about 640 kilometres east of Darwin.

 

4 November 2014

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