Pineapple truck rolls on Bruce Highway at Beerburrum

Sunshine Coast Daily [5/2/15]:

Emergency crews have worked for two hours this morning to clean up the scene where a pineapple truck rolled on the Bruce Highway at Beerburrum.

Traffic was heavily delayed for about two hours after the truck rolled into the median strip while travelling in the southbound lane.

The crash occurred about 8.20am near Johnstone Rd.

One lane was closed while the clean up occurred.

A police spokesman said the driver was unharmed in the incident.


Man dies at Kin Kora McDonald's

Gladstone Observer [5/2/15]:

A man died suddenly at Kin Kora McDonald's on Wednesday afternoon.

Despite the efforts of staff members, ambulance staff and customers, the man was pronounced dead at 3pm.

The Observer understands the man died of natural causes.



Carjack pair arrested after 4-hour chase

Yahoo [5/2/15]:

Two men allegedly stole three vehicles at gunpoint, hit a police officer with another, and went on a dangerous dash for freedom across southeast Queensland before their dramatic capture.

The pair were arrested in Tweed Heads on Thursday afternoon after the four-hour pursuit from Caboolture to Brisbane, the Gold Coast and into NSW.

NSW police, who had been alerted to the men's impending arrival, used road spikes to stop their car near the Tugun Bypass.

A Queensland police helicopter tracked the men in a blue Mitsubishi Lancer as they travelled down the Pacific Motorway.

Police say several shots were fired at officers and other vehicles by the alleged offenders, and at least one vehicle was hit by a bullet.

Two other vehicles were hit by the men's car.

They are alleged to have begun their crime spree in Caboolture on Thursday morning when they were pulled over by police in an allegedly stolen car.

Police say they fled the scene, hitting an officer's leg with their vehicle.

The men then allegedly stole two more vehicles at gunpoint.

Police confirmed the second vehicle, a 4WD, had a woman and a young child inside, with the gunmen reportedly demanding the woman remove the child before they drove off.

The offenders are believed to have ditched the 4WD after realising it was low on fuel and stole a third car, the Lancer, then began their high-speed journey south.

Superintendent Michael Brady said the injured officer had a suspected broken ankle.

He told reporters the use of the police helicopter to monitor the men had been vital to ensuring public safety during the incident.

The men will be extradited back to Queensland.


Hit and run witnesses heard screams, revs

Yahoo [5/2/15]:

Witnesses to an alleged hit and run murder in Queensland have spoken of hearing screams and a revving engine before seeing a young man flipped into the air.

The trial of 23-year-old Charles Greene entered its second day in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday.

Greene is accused of deliberately running down and killing Jordan Matehaere Tukaki, 17, after a party at Woodridge, south of Brisbane, in December 2012.

...

On Thursday, neighbour Gary Bloor said he saw a car driving erratically at speed up and down the street, and people jumping out of its way.

"I heard screaming, yelling and then I heard a big thud," he testified.

Mr Bloor said the driver had been revving the engine and "he sounded like he was really putting the foot down".

Partygoer Trilby Carlo, who was 15 at the time, said she heard people urging the driver to "run the motherf***ers over", and witnessed a male being hit.

"He flipped and went over the side of the car he ended up on the ground," she said.

Ms Carlo said the car turned and stopped in front of the prone man, engine revving, before speeding away.


Frenchville garage fire extinguished, experts check risks

Morning Bulletin [5/2/15]:

A gas examiner has inspected items in the garage that could have led to further damage at a garage fire in Frenchville.

Reports indicate the gas examiner has concluded the items do not pose any risks.

It is believed firefighters lifted the tin roof of the garage to investigate where the smoke was coming from in the ceiling.

The fire has been extinguished.

...

 

West Australian [5/2/15]:

People are being evacuated after gas cyclinders caught on fire in Welshpool.

Two banks of eight cylinders are alight near a 1400 litre LPG tank at Solahart Industries in Pilbara Street.

Firefighters are on the scene but are currently waiting until the gas has been shut off as there is a potential risk of explosion.

Police evacuating people within 500m radius of the cylinders while the intersections of Orrong and Pilbara roads and Kewdale Road and Dow Street are closed.

...

Toowoomba firm sacks up to 50 employees

Chronicle [5/2/15]:

Russell Mineral Equipment (RME) has announced that 40 to 50 people in its Toowoomba headquarters would lose their jobs.

RME's founder and Managing Director Dr John Russell advised staff about the company's plans for remaining a strong and viable enterprise.

He said the global mining industry was making a transition from a construction boom period to a time of high volume, competitive commodities supply.

"Since late 2014, a small number of significant capital equipment projects were unexpectedly suspended due to geopolitical complications, compounded by a recent fall in commodity prices, particularly copper.

"RME's Executive Management believe that this level of capital equipment market fragility is likely to continue for at least two years before the mining investment cycle returns to a longer term demand pattern.

"In response to these unexpected project suspensions, RME is preparing to decrease the number of positions available at its Toowoomba manufacturing headquarters. Between 40 and 50 positions are likely to become redundant from late this month with 130 Australian personnel remaining and a further 70 personnel remaining in RME's global Service Centres.''

US fund takes stake in FMG

West Australian [5/2/15]:

US fund management giant The Capital Group has taken a 5 per cent stake in the world's fourth biggest iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group.

The Capital Group, which has assets of around one trillion US dollars under management, confirmed it has purchased a 5.02 per cent stake in the pure play Pilbara iron ore miner at an average price of $2.34 per share over the past three months.

The Capital Group did not previously hold shares in Fortescue.

Fortescue shares, which slumped below $2 a fortnight ago, were off 9.5 cents, or 3.68 per cent, to $2.485 at 11.25am.

The move by the Los Angeles-based parent company comes as the price of iron ore continues to slide.

The steel-making ingredient has more than halved to a five and a half year low of $US61 a tonne in the past year because of slowing demand for steel in China as the economy there grows at a slower pace.

Still, Fortescue Metals continues to increase its output, lifting ore production by two per cent to 43.6 million tonnes during the December quarter.

 


Tweed detective pleads guilty on misconduct charge

Tweed Daily News [5/2/15]:

A detective who let a woman use his gun as a sex toy at a Tweed Heads police station has been sentenced to 20 months jail.

Mark Anthony Garner, 50, will be assessed to see whether the prison sentence can be served in the community under strict conditions.

The former police officer met the woman when she came to the station to report an alleged sexual assault at the station in June, 2011.

She was known to have mental health issues and was hospitalised soon after making the report.

The pair started a relationship which turned sexual and came to a head in September, 2011.

Garner snuck the woman into the closed Kingscliff police station and had sex with her in several locations, documenting the encounter with photographs.

He also allowed the woman to use his police-issued Glock pistol as a sex toy.

The woman kept the photographs on her laptop, which was stolen from her home.

The court heard Garner used the police database to find out details about the suspected thief, contrary to protocol.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of misconduct in office on Thursday.

Sydney District Court Judge Ross Letherbarrow sentenced Garner to 20 months in jail but referred him for assessment to see whether the sentence should be served in the community.

A final decision is expected on March 20.

 

Psychiatric nurse was a 'predator'

West Australian [5/2/15]:

A former patient of Joondalup hospital's mental health unit told a Perth tribunal yesterday that she was sexually assaulted by a psychiatric nurse who then threatened that she could lose her son if she disclosed the incidents.

The woman, whose name is suppressed, described nurse Timothy Buckby as a "predator" while giving evidence at a State Administrative Tribunal hearing into professional misconduct allegations.

A second former patient, whose name is also suppressed, broke into uncontrollable crying as she described being in a vulnerable state when she was befriended by Mr Buckby and under the belief they were going to form a relationship.

Mr Buckby, whose lawyers have withdrawn from his case, failed to attend yesterday's hearing into serious allegations brought by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

But the case into incidents alleged to have taken in 2012 went ahead in his absence.

The tribunal was told that Mr Buckby had left his employment at the Joondalup hospital in July 2012 after being notified that the allegations involving one of the patients were being investigated.

Mr Buckby remains registered as a nurse, but the Australian Health Practitioner Agency website shows that conditions were placed on his registration in October 2013.

The tribunal was told that neither of the two patients had initially reported or disclosed the incidents but had later revealed details to a psychiatrist, who had notified the hospital of the allegations under mandatory reporting requirements.

Maryborough on knife-edge

Yahoo [5/2/15]:

… Despite gaining less of the primary votes, Labor's Bruce Saunders has been tipped to topple LNP incumbent Anne Maddern (30.6 per cent) on preferences.

But Mr Foley has gained 21.6 per cent of primary votes himself and could well shoot ahead of Mr Saunders (25.4 per cent) if he gets the flow of preferences from the remaining four candidates, and then likely go on to win.

...

If Mr Foley overcame Mr Saunders it would leave Labor with 43 seats, plus the support of Nicklin Independent Peter Wellington - one short of forming minority government.

As well as being a former church minister and Christian singer, Mr Foley is a former National Party member who resigned from the party before running as an independent for Maryborough in 2003 and holding the seat until 2012.

The seats of Ferny Grove, Lockyer, Mount Ommaney and Whitsunday were all to close to call on Thursday night ...

Vote counting will continue for a seventh day on Friday, with the LNP confident of finishing with 42 seats and also hopeful of gaining the support of Katter's Australian Party MPs Shane Knuth and Rob Katter.

The pair announced on Thursday they were closely monitoring the result in Maryborough and would wait until next week to decide which party to support, stealing Mr Wellington's thunder before he declared his intentions to side with Labor.

The closest seat is Lockyer where One Nation founder Pauline Hanson is still alive in a tight race with LNP incumbent Ian Rickuss, trailing by 188 votes.

… Ferny Grove … could be forced to a byelection after Palmer United Party candidate Mark Taverner was disqualified for being an undisclosed bankrupt.

Labor's Mark Furner leads the LNP's Dale Shuttleworth by 348 votes but the LNP have indicated they will dispute the result if they lose as Mr Taverner gained 870 votes.

 

Drug arrests, Wide Bay

QPS Media [5/2/15]:

More than 100 people have been charged following a 15-month operation targeting drug trafficking between Brisbane and Hervey Bay.

Police from the Maryborough Patrol Group, with assistance from the Brisbane Dog Squad, have executed a number of search warrants across the Wide Bay District as part of the closure of operation Lima Kayo.

Operation Lima Kayo commenced in November 2013, targeting a number of persons suspected of trafficking in methylamphetamine between Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and Hervey Bay.

The operation resulted in 108 people being charged with 260 charges. The majority of charges were drug related however a number of weapons charges were also made.

A large quantity of methylamphetamine, cannabis, cash, firearms and stolen property were recovered during the operation and over 20 break and enter offences were also solved.

As a result of this operation, over half a kilogram of methylamphetamine and 15 kilograms of cannabis has been seized in raids across Hervey Bay.

As a result of search warrants conducted yesterday, five people have been charged with trafficking in methylamphetamine and will appear in the Hervey Bay Magistrates Court today.

A 27-year-old Urangan man has been charged with producing a dangerous drug, possessing property used in the commission of a crime, possession of firearms and a number of break and enter offences.

A 27-year-old Torquay woman has been charged with 11 counts of supplying a dangerous drug, three counts of possession of a dangerous drug and one count each of possession of drug utensils and possession of property used in the commission of a crime.

A 40-year-old Takura man has been charged with possession of property used in the commission of a crime.

A 25-year-old Torbanlea man has been charged with possession of property used in the commission of a crime.

A 23-year-old Torquay man has been charged with trafficking a dangerous drug and seven counts of supplying a dangerous drug.

A number of other people in Hervey Bay, Maryborough and Gympie have been charged with a variety of drug and property offences and will appear in their local magistrates’ court in the following weeks.

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.

Obeid ordered to surrender passport

West Australian [5/2/15]:

 ... The ex-powerbroker has been ordered to hand over his passport as part of fresh bail conditions because of the virtual impossibility of extraditing people from Lebanon.

Crown prosecutor Daniel Noll told the court on Thursday there were concerns the 71-year-old would fail to appear at future court dates and that he had a large personal fortune and dual citizenship in Lebanon, where he is renovating an inherited property.

"If the accused is allowed to travel to Lebanon it may be that his health is such that he might not be able to return to Australia, and if he is in Lebanon, extradition will not be possible," Mr Noll said.

Justice David Davies agreed but denied Mr Noll's request to prohibit contact between Obeid and the 30-odd crown witnesses, only ordering the fallen powerbroker to stay away from ex-Maritime NSW boss Steve Dunn.

Obeid, who is fighting misconduct charges, is accused of making inducements to Mr Dunn in return for extensions on leases for lucrative family-owned businesses in Sydney's Circular Quay in 2007.

After hearing he had to surrender his passport, Obeid told reporters it "didn't matter".

"The judge has made his decision. I'm here to fight," he said outside court.

"This is only the first round."

The witness list in Obeid's case includes his brother-in-law John Abood and former political colleagues Joe Tripodi, Eric Roozendaal and Michael Costa.

Obeid's lawyer John Stratton SC earlier asked the court to dispense with bail altogether, saying no unacceptable risks had been identified.

He said Obeid, who doesn't have a criminal record, had significant economic and family links with nine children, 33 grandchildren and a wife of 50 years in Australia.

"He has almost the strongest imaginable community ties there is to the country," he said.

Under his bail conditions, Obeid can apply to the Supreme Court to release his passport so he can travel.

Obeid's matter is listed for mention at a Sydney court on February 19.

 

 

Tell us what has happened to the hunger striking refugees who were beaten, "arrested" and disappeared presumably on the instruction of Australia's Immigration Minister, or TELL US WHY YOU CAN'T.

  

Manus hunger striking refugees calling for United Nations intervention = Manus "plagued by unrest and protests" ?  Seriously?

 

Government spends $1.2 billion on offshore processing centres in one year [Sydney Morning Herald - 5/2/15]

 

 

... "TO AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT. STOP TORTURING US. IF YOU THINK WE DON'T DESERVE AUS. THEN HAND OVER ALL OF US TO THE UN. WE DON'T WANT YOUR HELP!" ... [CNN - 21/1/15]

 

 

 

Radio Australia [5/2/15]:

In the past, Port Moresby has stuck firmly to its postion that West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia, and has been reluctant to talk about human rights abuses or to speak on behalf of Melanesian separatists.

In a speech to a local PNG leaders summit today, [Prime Minister] Mr O'Neill said the time has come to speak about the oppression of brothers and sisters in West Papua.

 

 

PNG establishes committee to implement death penalty [The National - 5/2/15]

... Cabinet approved the guidelines for the three modes of punishment – death by hanging, administration of anaesthetics followed by injection, and death by firing squad.

The Government had earlier announced that facilities for the implementation of the death penalty were likely to be built at Bomana in the National Capital District. 

...

 

 

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

 

 

Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson: “no cause for governments to kill people". [Execution plan gets mixed reactions in Australia, says RI envoy [Jakarta Post - 3/2/15]

 

 

Manus refugees who were beaten and "arrested" after holding a hunger strike and calling for UN intervention have no lawyers.

Silence.

 

Julian Burnside QC to represent asylum seeker on hunger strike in Darwin detention centre [ABC - 5/2/15]:

Human rights lawyer Julian Burnside QC will represent an asylum seeker on a hunger strike in a Darwin detention centre, describing the man as "desperate".

The 33-year-old Iranian man, who is detained at Wickham Point detention centre, has been on a hunger strike since late last year after losing his appeal for refugee status.

Burnside, a well-known barrister and refugee advocate, said he would represent the man in an appeal against the decision in the Federal Circuit Court next Thursday.

"He's a man who's trying to die rather than being sent back to his country, who wouldn't want to help someone like that," Mr Burnside said.

"You know that's pretty desperate territory. I was available on the day, of course I'm going to help."

The Iranian man began his hunger strike on November 8 last year. He stopped in late December but resumed four days later.

He was joined by 15 other Iranian hunger strikers in late January.

One of the men – who did not want to be named - told the ABC some of the hunger strikers had been taken to hospital.

The man said they were protesting against their indefinite detention after their applications for refugee status were rejected.

He said he would be killed if he returned to Iran because of his political and religious beliefs.

Mr Burnside said the Federal Government would be morally responsible if any of the asylum seekers died from their hunger strike.

"The only reason they're on a hunger strike is because of their fear of what will happen to them if they return to Iran," Mr Burnside said.

"And frankly, starving yourself to death in Australia is a fair mark of sincerity that you are genuinely scared of returning to Iran.

"It brings to mind an interesting comment that I've heard from a lot of asylum seekers over the last 15 years, which is 'In my country they kill you quickly, in Australia they kill you slowly'."

 

 

Urgent action needed for Darwin hunger strikers as ‘Martin’ nears death [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney - 5/2/15]

 

 

... “I may have found myself on the wrong side of government on torture. But I’m on the right side of history. There are things we should not do, even in the name of national security. One of them, I now firmly believe, is torture.” ...   [Whistleblower John Kiriakou, only person jailed over CIA torture program, is out of prison – Boing Boing – 4/2/15]

 

 

 

 

teleSUR [5/2/15]:

U.K. taxpayers have now forked out US$15 million on a two year old siege of the Ecuadorian embassy.

The price tag for the United Kingdom's siege of the Ecuadorian embassy in London hit £10 million (US$15 million) Thursday.

A WikiLeaks spokesperson pointed out the cost of the controversial police operation has now exceeded the budget of the Iraq War inquiry.

The inquiry was established in 2009 to critique the U.K.'s role in the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The broad public inquiry is expected to have a final cost of roughly £10 million.

...

 

 

 

A team of Gilbert + Tobin lawyers together with a Sydney barrister have helped save Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste from a seven-year jail sentence in Egypt. ...

The Australian legal team, who all worked on the case pro bono, included: special counsel Stephanie Wee; lawyers Ryan Turner and Samer Aljanabi; and ANU adjunct professor and international law barrister at Sydney's 6 St James’ Hall Chambers Dr Christopher Ward.

Australian counsel do not have the right of appeal in Egypt and, therefore, it was considered more appropriate that they did not travel to Egypt for the case.

Instead, the team worked closely with Amr el-Dib, a local lawyer, to secure Greste’s release.

Upon joining the case in September last year, the G+T legal team together with counsel drafted written submissions addressing errors in the first trial and the right to freedom of association and freedom of speech in Egypt.

Egypt is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the covenant has domestic legal status in Egypt so an argument based on these freedoms was able to be put to the Court of Cassation, Ward noted. ...  [Lawyers Weekly - 5/2/15]

 


Imaginary Australian journalist to Peter Greste: Your letter to the Frontline Club was an inspiration. Now you are free, will you advocate the same in this country?

 

... The trouble for us journalists is that there is no neutral turf, no safe ground from which to report. As much as we abhore and condemn the executions of James and Steven, it was George Bush who set the ground rules in the wake of 9/11 when he declared that you’re either with us or with the terrorists. That single statement made it impossible for reporters to hold to the principles of balance and fairness without being accused of acting as an agent for the enemy.

Al Jazeera learned that to its cost when the US hit its offices in Baghdad during the invasion to oust Saddam. And in Afghanistan one of its camermen, Sami al Haj, was arrested. He spent seven years in Guantanamo Bay before being released without charge.

Since the War on Terror began, all manner of abuse of journalists and attacks on human rights and press freedoms have been excused as necessary evils, and by governments across the globe. It almost feels like a kind of globalised McCarthyism, where simply invoking terrorism is enough, in some cases, to get away with murder.

...

My point is that in all of these battlegrounds, whether hot or cold, journalists are no longer on the front lines. We are the front lines. In this wider conflict, there is no such thing as a neutral, independent reporter. In the view of both sides, if you cross the lines in pursuit of our most fundamental principles of balance, fairness and accuracy, you effectively join the enemy.


The compelling world views seem so widely divergent that to even try to understand the other side is to commit what many governments now consider to be treason.


So, where does this leave the future? Well, I don’t think it’s hopeless. At a personal level, our incarceration in Egypt – myself and my two Al Jazera colleagues Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed – and more crucially the Foley and Sotloff murders have dramatically reminded people why a free and untramelled press is so important.


People might not always like everything they see in the media, but they recognize the intrinsic value of ethical, professional reporting and instinctively balk at anything that limits it.

...

People recognize shabby, partisan journalism when they see it, but at times of crisis, they still turn on the news or go to the websites of their most trusted news organization.

The hunger for reliable news and the recognition of the role it plays in a healthy, functioning democracy is still there, but we can’t take public support for granted. Thats why I’m convinced that our best strategy as an industry starts with a rock solid commitment to our core ethical and professional standards. The more sloppy we get, the more we degrade public support for our business, the more excuses we give to governments to limit and control what we do.

This is far more than an abstract idea. This is very much about our own security as individual journalists.

...

Peter Greste’s Keynote Speech for the Frontline Club 2014 Awards Ceremony [16/10/14]

 

 

Al Jazeera's correspondent Sue Turton delivered the speech on behalf of Peter Greste [VIDEO]

 

 

Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste has spoken to the media in Brisbane after arriving home in Australia early this morning, thanking all of his supporters who championed for his release. ... [ABC - VIDEO - 5/2/15]

 

Al Jazeera [5/2/15]:

Peter Greste, the Al Jazeera journalist freed after more than a year in an Egyptian prison, has arrived back in his Australian homeland and called for the release of two colleagues still in custody.

Greste, 49, was released on Sunday after 400 days in a Cairo jail and had been in Cyprus since.

He had been sentenced to seven years on charges rejected by Al Jazeera that included aiding a terrorist group in a case that had attracted widespread attention and criticism of Egypt's leadership and judiciary.

"I can't tell you how ecstatic I am to be here. This is a moment that I've rehearsed in my mind at least 400 times over the past well, 400 days," Greste said on Wednesday after embracing well-wishers on his arrival in the Queensland state capital of Brisbane.

Greste's colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, remain in prison.

They were jailed for between seven and 10 years on charges including spreading lies to help a terrorist organisation - a reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian security officials have said Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian, could be released soon and deported to Canada.

John Baird, Canadian foreign minister, said this week that Fahmy's release was imminent but gave no time-frame.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi issued a decree last November granting him the power to deport foreign defendants convicted or accused of crimes.

"If it's right for me to be free then it's right for all of us. I think that Egypt now has an opportunity to show that justice doesn't depend on your nationality," Greste said at a Brisbane news conference, flanked by members of his family.

Greste said later on Thursday he would continue to campaign for the release of his two colleagues, whom he described as brothers.

"You can imagine after 400 days in prison with these guys, we're very close and it was very difficult to leave them behind," Greste said.

"But I'm grateful to be out; I trust that they will follow in due course. It's going to take some further efforts, but we'll see them out. And when we do, I'm going to party with them very, very hard indeed."

He also said he wanted to return to journalism after spending time with his family.

...

 


Statement by the spokesperson on the release of journalist Peter Greste in Egypt [European Union EA - 2/2/15]:

The release of Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, detained for 400 days is a positive step taken by the Egyptian authorities.

His colleagues, Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed however, remain in custody and we call for their release.

Freedom of expression is an essential element of a democratic society.

Journalists must be able to work in a safe working environment.



Egyptian activist Douma, 229 defendants receive life sentence

Ahram [4/2/15]:

Cairo Criminal Court sentenced well-known Egyptian activist Ahmed Douma and another 229 defendants to life-in-prison on Wednesday and fined them all LE17 million (US$2.2 million) for involvement in the December 2011 cabinet clashes case.

A life-in-prison verdict carries a sentence of 25 years in jail according to the Egyptian penal code.

Some 39 other minors were sentenced to ten years in prison in the same case.

All defendants can appeal against the verdicts.

Douma, along with 269 defendants, were accused of possessing bladed weapons and Molotov cocktails, assaulting personnel from the armed forces and the police, torching the Scientific Complex in downtown Cairo and damaging other governmental buildings, including that of the cabinet and the parliament.

On 16 December 2011, soldiers forcibly dispersed a three-week sit-in against military rule at the cabinet building. At least 18 were killed and hundreds injured in the violence which spanned over five days, events which are now referred to as the 'cabinet clashes'.

Douma has been a long-time rights activist who protested against the regime of toppled president Hosni Mubarak, the military council in 2011-2012 as well as ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. He is already serving time in prison.

Upon hearing the verdict, Douma clapped his hands in what seemed to be an attempt to protest the sentence in a sarcastic way, sparking an exchange with the presiding judge, who threatened him with an additional three-year prison sentence for court contempt.

In an earlier session of the same court in December, Douma was sentenced to three years in jail and a fine of LE10,000 for contempt of court after an argument ensued between himself and judge Nagy Shehata, head of the Cairo Criminal Court handling the case.

The Judge became apparently incensed by a question by Douma on whether he maintained a Facebook account.

Social media users have recently charged that Shehata once maintained a Facebook account in which he openly aired political views denouncing activists and figures from the 2011 uprising as a sign of impartiality against Douma and other defendants.

In Wednesday’s session, Douma defended himself, saying he had filed legal complaints charging that groups of individuals wearing military and police uniforms and stationed on top of buildings around the cabinet at the time of the clashes were responsible for the violence, but they were never questioned.

Douma also denied setting fire to the Scientific Complex south of the cabinet headquarters.

Douma presented his own defence due to the defence team boycotting the trial sessions since December, Amr Imam, a lawyer from the defence team, told Ahram Online.

The Egyptian Lawyers Syndicate supported the decision of the lawyers defending the prominent activist in their decision to withdraw from his ongoing trial, banning its members from taking the case in their stead.

The lawyers withdrew from the trial after complaining of bad treatment by the court. After the session, the Lawyers Syndicate issued a statement stressing that "it rejects any kind of undervaluing any members of its lawyers from behalf of any judges."

The withdrawal decision came after the court referred one of the defence lawyers, prominent leftist Khaled Ali, to the prosecution for questioning over "fomenting chaos in the courtroom."

One of the main points Douma argued is that he lacked trust in the judges' impartiality; which constitutes legal grounds for change of trial venue, explained Imam.

"The upcoming legal step for the defence is a presenting a motion for moving the retrial to a different judicial district," he said.

Douma is also serving three years in prison along with well-known 6 of April activists Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, for organising an unauthorised protest and assaulting security personnel over a year ago.

A protest law, which was passed by the interim government after the July 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, stipulates that demonstrations must be authorised by the police in advance.

 

 

@sharifkouddous [5/2/15]: Same judge who sentenced AJ journos to 7 years in prison has sentenced activist Ahmed Douma and 229 others to life ...

 


Billionaire Alwaleed Sells $190 Million News Corp Stake

Bloomberg [4/2/15]:

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s investment firm sold a stake valued at almost $190 million in News Corp., reducing its holding in Rupert Murdoch’s media company to about 1 percent.

Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding cut its ownership of Class B shares to 2 million from 13.2 million, or 6.6 percent, it said in a statement to the Saudi bourse Wednesday.

The sale generated 705 million riyals ($188 million), which will be used for other investments, it said. Through Kingdom, Prince Alwaleed holds stakes in companies including Citigroup Inc. and Twitter Inc.

Alwaleed, who had the second-largest holding of voting stock in News Corp. after the Murdoch family, has been a staunch ally of the media baron.

He publicly supported the family’s running of News Corp. amid phone-hacking revelations in 2011 that saw the New York-based company abandon its bid to take over the rest of European pay-TV operator Sky Plc.

“The reduction of KHC’s holding in News Corp. has been decided in the context of a general portfolio review,” Alwaleed said in a statement on Kingdom’s website.

“We remain firm believers in News Corp.’s competent management, led by CEO Robert Thomson, and are fully supportive of Rupert Murdoch and his family.”

News Corp. declined to comment. The shares fell 0.5 percent to $15.05 at 9:40 a.m. New York time.

The sale won’t affect Kingdom’s 6.6 percent holding of 21st Century Fox Inc., worth about $1.7 billion, it said.

News Corp., owner of the Wall Street Journal, HarperCollins book publisher and real-estate websites, fell 13 percent last year. The company split from Fox in 2013, not long after allegations that a Murdoch-owned tabloid hacked into the voicemail of a murdered schoolgirl.

Earlier this week, News Corp. and Fox said the U.S. Justice Department won’t prosecute either company after an investigation into the hacking scandal and payments to public officials in the U.K.

Kingdom, which owns half of the Savoy hotel in London and is backing a project to build the world’s tallest tower in Jeddah, is planning to sell shares in a “significant” number of assets, Chief Financial Officer Mohammed Fahmy said in an interview last week. The company is considering offerings on the Saudi stock exchange and internationally, he said.


Kingdom declined 0.6 percent to 18.96 riyals on Wednesday in Riyadh. The shares have lost 21 percent in the past 12 months compared with a 5.1 percent advance for Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index.

 

London bus strike: Staff walk out over pay differences

BBC [5/2/15]:

More than six million Londoners are likely to be affected by a 24-hour bus strike which began at midnight.

As many as 94% of routes could be affected as about 27,000 workers walk out over the pay differences between the capital's 18 bus companies.

Transport for London (TfL), which managed to run about a third of routes during a bus strike last month, called it "totally unnecessary".

The Unite union said the pay system was in "chaos" and had to be changed.

TfL warned there would be significant disruption to bus services across London on Thursday and also to night bus services operating into Friday morning.

Bus services during the day on Friday should operate as normal.

Pete Kavanagh Pete Kavanagh, of Unite, said there were "hundreds of rates of pay"

If there is the same level of disruption as in the previous strike it could affect about 630 out of 670 routes.

Forty-four bus routes are not affected by the strike and should run a normal service, said TfL.

It is the first of three 24-hour bus strikes planned this month. The next are scheduled for 13 and 16 February.

Members of Unite want an end to salary differences between firms that can see staff salaries differ from £17,000 to £25,000.

TfL has said that changing this could cost up to £100m a year. In an open letter in the Evening Standard, it called the strike "totally unnecessary".

But Pete Kavanagh, London regional secretary of Unite, said: "We've got a two-tier workforce in which people coming into the industry in recent years never get to the top rate of pay.

"We've literally got hundreds of rates of pay and this has got to stop.

"It's chaos going on out there. We want a sensible, rational pay structure."

Leon Daniels from TfL said: "It's not a matter for TfL to step in on.

"For the last 20 years, we've run a brilliant bus service as a result of local pay negotiation between the local drivers and their employers."

The bus companies affected are Abellio, Arriva, CT Plus, Go Ahead, London Sovereign, London United, Metroline, Stagecoach and Tower Transit.

 

Two students shot and wounded outside a Maryland high school

Reuters [4/2/15]:

Two students were shot and suffered non-life-threatening wounds outside a gym during a basketball game at Frederick High School in Maryland on Wednesday evening, local police and the school district said.

All other students and staff were safe and the two injured students were receiving care, Frederick County Public Schools said in a tweet.

The building was cleared and police were searching for suspects in the incident, said a spokesman for police in Frederick, about 50 miles northwest of Washington.


To battle dengue, Tonga hands out mosquito nets

RNZI [5/2/15]:

A major clean-up operation involving health authorities, the National Disaster Management Office and the Red Cross is taking place in Tonga to address the dengue outbreak.

There have been 43 confirmed cases since the start of the year with hundreds more suspected.

A collaborative effort is now being made to minimise mosquito breeding areas, by clearing rubbish, old vehicles and places where water may gather.

The Red Cross is also preparing to distribute mosquito nets to the public.

The General Secretary Sione Taumoefolau says the organisation has built up a large stash of emergency supplies.

"This year we have about 100% coverage of the whole kingdom. We have here mosquito nets if there is any need to be distributed we can do it. If we can do our cleaning faster then the mosquito nets won't need much distribution. We have the stock around Tonga. We have about 4 to 5 thousand mosquito nets ready to be used."

 

Tennis: Tunisian player withdraws before facing Israeli

Ahram [4/2/15]:

A Tunisian player retired from a match after winning the first set in a French tournament Wednesday, citing an injury that keeps him from facing an Israeli in the next round.

Malek Jaziri quit after winning the first set 6-3 against sixth-seeded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the first round of the Open Sud de France.

Tournament organizers said in an email to The Associated Press that Jaziri, who called for a trainer twice during the match, ''suffered again from an elbow injury he picked up'' at the Australian Open.

Had Jaziri beaten Istomin, he would have played Israel's Dudi Sela in the next round.

The 65th-ranked Jaziri, who lost in the third round at the Australian Open, also withdrew from the doubles, where he would have faced an Israeli opponent.

He and Spanish partner Marc Lopez had been set to play Jonathan Erlich of Israel and Cermak Frantisek of Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.

Both the ATP and the Tunisian tennis federation did not reply to emails and phone calls seeking comment.

In 2013, Tunisia's tennis federation ordered Jaziri to withdraw from a match against Israeli opponent Amir Weintraub at a second-tier tournament in Uzbekistan. Jaziri had been scheduled to play Israel's Amir Weintraub in the quarterfinals of the ATP Challenger tournament in Tashkent. He withdrew before the match.

The ITF subsequently banned Tunisia from the 2014 Davis Cup, saying that the Tunisian federation was guilty of ''interfering with international sporting practice.''

Arab countries have for decades observed, to varying degrees, boycotts against Israeli athletes in protest over the situation of the Palestinians.

 

Australia: 14-year-old behind bars over burglary, car theft

Chronicle [5/2/15]:

A magistrate has refused to grant bail to a Warwick boy accused of burgling five Warwick homes and stealing a car over the Australia Day weekend.

The 14-year-old appeared in Warwick Magistrates Court on Tuesday via videolink from a juvenile correctional facility.

Magistrate Bevan Manthey noted the teenager was on bail for unrelated offences when he allegedly committed the latest charges.

"There is no one able and willing to look after him and make sure he complies with any orders," he said.

"I've only been here a few months and I've seen him more than I've seen my own wife," he said.

The boy is accused of stealing a car from a Stacey St property on January 25, after taking the keys from the unlocked house.

The car was later found abandoned in the Green Belt, with damage to the front tyres.

The Warwick teenager - who was supported in court by his mother and other family members - is also accused of taking handbags, wallets a game console and cash from houses in the CBD that same night and Australia Day weekend.

He is charged with break and enter, six counts of entering a dwelling with intent and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

His lawyer indicated the teenager would contest all charges except the car theft.

Mr Manthey ordered the teenager be kept behind bars until his next court appearance on March 19.




Refusing to stop for police earns 50 days behind bars [Chronicle - 5/2/15]



Anti rights arrests, Atherton [QPS Media – 4/2/15]

 

 

The state has identified Bomana Prison as the location for death penalty facilities outside Port Moresby.

The National [5/2/15]

 

 

Guardian [23/1/15]:

... None of the men arrested at the detention centre this week have been charged with any offence.

Most of the asylum seekers were arrested after detention centre guards in riot gear broke through a barricade in Delta compound. Suspected protest “ringleaders” from other compounds were also arrested.

Guardian Australia has been told some of the men imprisoned were taken from the Manus centre’s secret solitary confinement cells, the Chauka isolation unit.

The National newspaper in PNG reported that some of the men would be held in Lorengau prison on Manus Island, while others would be flown to the larger Bomana prison in Port Moresby.

...

 

 

Silence.

 

... Australia’s indirect approach to giving effect to human rights through the Commission provides access to justice for thousands of Australians in a confidential way that is cost free for the complainant and person complained against.

However, while breaches of federal discrimination law can give rise to enforceable remedies, breaches of international human rights obligations by Government are subject only to scrutiny and public reporting by the Commission.  ...  Human rights in 2015 [Australian Human Rights Commission Media Release - 4/2/15]



Amnesty Slams Spain Overcrowded Refugee Centres [Naharnet - 4/2/15]:

Amnesty International slammed Spain on Wednesday over conditions in overcrowded refugee centers where it says hundreds of Syrians fleeing war are awaiting asylum.

The international human rights watchdog cited one of Spain's key reception centers for undocumented immigrants, in the Spanish territory of Melilla which borders Morocco.

That center is designed for 480 residents but Amnesty said it houses some 1,900, including 400 minors.

Of that total, 1,500 are refugees who have fled the civil war in Syria, it said. Many others come from sub-Saharan Africa.

About 600 Syrians who had been granted asylum in Spain were waiting to be transferred to mainland Spain, Amnesty added.

It said Spain had so far failed in its commitments to permanently resettle them on its territory.

Out of the millions of refugees who have fled the fighting in Syria, it said Spain had only permanently resettled 130 in 2013 and 2014 and planned for another 130 in 2015.

"Spain can and must do better, not only by setting up a decent resettlement program but also by increasing the numbers," said Virginia Alvarez, a spokeswoman for Amnesty in Spain.

Amnesty said the immigrants had difficulty applying for asylum and suffered poor living conditions in the Melilla center.

When it visited the Melilla center in October, it said residents were sleeping in crammed dormitories without bedsheets, or in tents, and had to form long queues for showers and meals, it said.

Spanish government officials in Melilla said that since Amnesty's visit, a new office for processing asylum claims had been opened.

More than three million Syrians have fled their country in the past four years of civil war, most of them to neighboring countries such as Turkey and Lebanon.

Amnesty said in December that only about 1.7 percent of them had been resettled in rich countries.

 



UNHCR welcomes the registration of South Sudanese citizens in Khartoum [Media Release – 4/2/15]

 

 

Tasmania ditches defamation law changes after public backlash

ABC [5/2/15]:

The Tasmanian Government has dumped plans to change the law to allow corporations to sue for defamation in the face of public opposition and a lack of support from other states.

The Government had planned to break away from national defamation laws to give corporations with more than 10 employees the right to sue groups or individuals who made false or misleading claims about their products.

It was an election promise designed to protect the forest industry from damaging market campaigns by environmental groups.

But the move prompted a backlash from the legal sector which feared "forum shopping" where corporations from elsewhere would file suits in Tasmania.

Environmentalists claimed the proposed changes would allow companies to shut down criticism.

Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin abandoned the proposed changes because it was not supported by other states.

"To change the law we need the support of all state and territory colleagues or we had to go it alone," she said.

"Obviously the Law Society raised the concerns around forum shopping and I think that's a legitimate concern and we obviously needed to factor that into our consideration."

Law Society of Tasmania president Matthew Verney welcomed the government backflip.

"It would've probably caused an outcome of limiting the ability for people to quite properly raise concerns about the activities of actions of companies, that's where the free speech argument comes into it," he said.

"So the Government has obviously listened to those concerns."

Mr Vermey said it could have been a retrograde step.

"It is only relatively recently that the uniform laws were introduced all around the country, so for one state to go it alone and have laws different to the rest of the country poses problems such as the possibility of forum shopping," he said.

"So it could have resulted in some companies suing in Tasmania for defamation, which might have occurred online elsewhere.

"For companies engaged in businesses across state borders having to deal with different laws in different states would have been a complexity that would have been unwelcome."

...

 

Archer family accept 'substantial' phone hacking damages

BBC [4/2/15]:

Jeffrey Archer and his family have accepted "substantial" damages after settling their phone-hacking claims against News Group Newspapers (NGN).

Mr Archer, his wife Mary and son James also received an unqualified apology and legal costs.

Hugh Tomlinson QC said the claim was for misuse of private information, breach of confidence and harassment.

Mr Tomlinson said Lord Archer had been of "long term interest" to NGN and its now-defunct paper News of the World.

The court heard Lord Archer had been in numerous articles in News Of The World over many years and his wife and son had been of interest as sources of information about him.

Mr Tomlinson said NGN had sought to obtain private information about the family by using the services of private investigators.

They were "shocked and distressed" when officers from Operation Weeting told them private and confidential information relating to them had been found in documents from the police investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World, Mr Tomlinson said.

He added that NGN had undertaken to the court not to access their voicemail messages, attempt to access their private information by unlawful means or knowingly publish information obtained by unlawfully accessing their voicemail messages.

Antony White QC, for NGN, said the company offered its "sincere apologies" for the damage and distress caused.

"The defendant acknowledges that the information should never have been obtained in the manner it was and that the defendant is liable for misuse of private information and breach of confidence," he said.

 

 

On World Cancer Day, UN says ‘goal must be equitable access for all patients, in all countries’

UN Media Release [4/2/15]:

As the international community pauses on World Cancer Day to remember the millions of preventable deaths caused by the disease, the head of the UN agency that contributes nuclear techniques to fight cancer said today that a huge percentage of the world’s cancer deaths occurring in developing countries can be prevented.

“The goal must be equitable access for all patients, in all countries, to the highest standards of cancer care, regardless of their country's level of development,” said Yukiya Amano, Director General of the UN Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Around 70 percent of the world's cancer deaths occur in developing countries. Many of those deaths could be prevented if the right facilities, and trained staff, were available,” he told an IAEA-hosted event in Vienna, Austria, marking World Cancer Day to demonstrate that cancer control is ‘Not Beyond Us’ – slogan of this year’s campaign.

To mark the occasion of World Cancer Day, which is marked each year on 4 February, the IAEA’s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) hosted a roundtable panel discussion with notable speakers from around the world to address some of the issues regarding comprehensive cancer control in developing countries.

IAEA also focused on the growing problem of cancer in Afghanistan.

“Like in most developing countries around the whole world, cancer is a growing problem in Afghanistan said the agency in a news release describing how it is helping the country to establish a cancer care centre with in-patient and out-patient facilities that include oncology services.

The first and second phases of the project will focus on the population of Kabul and the area surrounding the capital, which is estimated to benefit millions of people.

The IAEA, best known for its work as a the UN nuclear watchdog, said it has been working for decades with a global network of partners such as the UN World Health Organization (WHO) to help countries establish comprehensive cancer control programmes that cover diagnosis, treatment and palliative care.

According to the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO), there are 14 million new cases of cancer and over 8 million people die from cancer every year, with 60 per cent of deaths in Africa, Asia and Central and South America.

This year, WHO held a Twitter chat with its cancer expert as part of its activities to raise awareness, and shined the spotlight to recall that tobacco is the single biggest cause of cancer in the world and the leading cause of preventable deaths.

“Every year, 8.2 million people die from cancer; at least 1.6 million or 20% of these are tobacco-related. In total, more than 6 million people will die this year from tobacco-related diseases including cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung diseases and cancer,” wrote Dr. Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, Head of the Convention Secretariat, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

She noted that “televisions, billboards and magazines were covered in advertisements glorifying smoking. Concerts and sporting events were places for the tobacco industry to hand out free products and branded promotional items.

“On World Cancer Day, we must recommit to further reduce tobacco use so that a tobacco-free world becomes a reality,” she said.

And the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said nearly half of cancer deaths in the Americas are premature, yet many could be prevented by public policies that support healthy lifestyles and early detection and treatment.

World Cancer Day, organized by the Union for International Cancer Control is an opportunity to highlight the wide range of actions needed to effectively prevent, treat and control the many forms of cancer.

 

Work begins on interim storage facilities for nuclear waste in Fukushima [Japan Today - 4/2/15]:

The Environment Ministry on Tuesday said that construction of interim facilities to store nuclear waste from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and surrounding areas has begun in two towns—nearly four years after the disaster that devastated the Tohoku region.

Under the plan, the government will build storage units on an area of 16 square kilometers near the power plant. Nuclear waste will be stored there from March for an interim period of 30 years and then be moved to a permanent location, as yet undecided.

The plan had been held up for more than a year because the government had not been able to secure the land due to ongoing negotiations with landowners in Futaba and Okuma towns.

Okuma dropped its opposition in December and Futaba finally gave the green light on Jan 14.

However, many residents are still opposed to the plan and the government has not yet reached a deal with any of them on compensation for their land.

...

 

 

Wales votes against shale gas fracking [Reuters - 4/2/15]:

The Welsh parliament has voted against the use of shale gas fracking in Wales, just one week after Scotland passed a fracking moratorium, highlighting growing discontent with the British government's push to tap shale gas resources.

A proposal against shale gas fracking was voted through in the Welsh Assembly late on Wednesday, effectively making it impossible for shale gas developments to receive planning permits in Wales.

Environmentalists, who oppose the use of fracking due to concerns about it polluting groundwater and triggering earth tremors, welcomed the Welsh decision.

"The Westminster government needs to catch up with Scotland, Wales and many other areas of the world and bring in a moratorium on controversial fracking," Friends of the Earth Energy Campaigner Donna Hume said in a statement.

Last week, Scotland imposed a fracking moratorium days after a motion to ban the technology across the country was rejected by the London-based parliament.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will go "all out for shale" to help stem a decline in North Sea oil and gas output but recent opposition is now casting doubt on Britain's shale quest, three months before a national election.

 

 

Katter's Australian Party [2/7/14:

While the Queensland economy continues to slide, the State Government has pinned its hope for recovery on collecting a significant portion of royalty income from the resource sector.

Coal income for mining companies has sunk to double digit figures, a drastic reduction in price from the heady days of $400 or more a tonne for spot prices.

As a result Treasury is set to become dependent upon the emerging coal seam gas industry and royalties generated by export sales from the recently constructed $24.4 billion Curtis LNG (QCLNG) plant at Gladstone.

But just what is in it for the far north? Plans by Perth-based exploration company Mantle Mining to drill for coal seam gas on the Mt Mulligan coalfields west of Mareeba have caused great angst among indigenous landholder groups and indeed the general public when 150 people turned up to register their opposition at a recent CSG information day held at Mareeba Racecourse.

... <--- Raised at the Senate Inquiry this morning in evidence given by a representative from the Environmental Defenders Office.

 

 

Mount Mulligan mine disaster

 

Brisbane Times [5/2/15]:

Queensland's two Katter Party MPs have declared it is "far too premature" to make a decision about which major party they will support in their bid to govern Queensland.

While Sunshine Coast independent MP Peter Wellington will announce his decision in a matter of hours, Rob Katter said there were still considerations to be made.

"It's common knowledge that Peter Wellington has made his decision," he said.

"He is going to back the ALP.

"From our point of view it is far too premature and akin to running to the try line without the ball.

"We believe Queensland is still in a state of flux, there are still a lot of decisions to be made. There are still 100,000 postal votes still to come in, there are four seats in doubt, the Ferny Grove situation.

"We have been in close talks with Chris Foley [the Maryborough independent candidate]. We believe that seat is still in play. If it doesn't go to Chris Foley, there is a chance it still goes to the LNP.

"Queensland is still in a state of flux and this decision today does not deliver a stable government."

Mr Katter said the poll results showed no clear preference from the public.

"Queenslanders spoke at the polls and after the ALP got belted last election, the LNP got belted this election, now we are in a position where the LNP has more primary vote, more Queenslanders voted for the LNP, the ALP has more seats," he said.

"So to me there is no clear mandate there for anyone. ...

 

 

 

Senate Inquiry into Queensland Government: Thursday 5th February 2015

 

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

 

PUP Media Release [5/2/15]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“To date, several hearings have been held in 2014 and the first hearing for 2015 was held in Brisbane on Wednesday 4 February. The second hearing for 2015 will be held on Thursday 5 February in Cairns.

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

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

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

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

“Further information regarding the Senate Inquiry can be found at www.aph.gov.au/qga.

...

 

Watch here.

 



Editor Of Major Newspaper Says He Planted Stories For CIA [ICH - 4/2/15]:

… Dr. Ulfkotte says the corruption of journalists and major news outlets by the CIA is routine, accepted, and widespread in the western media, and that journalists who do not comply either cannot get jobs at any news organization, or find their careers cut short.

Dr. Ulfkotte is the author of a book currently available only in German, "Bought Journalists" (Kopp 2014.)

Aged 55, he was also once an advisor to the government of German Chancellor Helmet Kohl.

The book has become a bestseller in Germany but, in a bizarre twist which Ulfkotte says characterizes the disconnect caused by CIA control of the western media, the book cannot be reported on.

Ulfkotte says:

"No German mainstream journalist is allowed to report about [my] book. Otherwise he or she will be sacked. So we have a bestseller now that no German journalist is allowed to write or talk about."

...

 

Right-wing, anti-Islamic German journalist admits to being a CIA stooge (implicates Australian, NZ journalists too) [RT - 18/10/14]

 

 

What's the good of press freedom if you don't use it?

What @PeterGreste is looking at right now. "Even now" he says, he hasn't come to terms with the support he's had.

Image: @AlJazSydANDREW - Andew Thomas, Al Jazeera Sydney correspondent [5/2/15]

 

 



Australian media and human rights establishment ignore latest UNHCR statement [Media Release - 4/2/15]:

 

... UNHCR made a submission as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the recent High Court case of CPCF v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, decided on 28 January 2015.

...

The High Court judgment contains some references to judicial decisions in Australia, the UK, and the US as supporting the contention that the refugee non-refoulement obligation only applies within a receiving State's territory but, importantly, also acknowledges that non-refoulement obligations may have extraterritorial effect.

From UNHCR's perspective, it is important to stress that, at international law, the principle of non-refoulement, including under Article 33(1) of the 1951 Refugee Convention, applies wherever and however a State exercises jurisdiction, as set out in UNHCR's written submissions. UNHCR considers that there is only one superior court decision[1] that is at variance with this understanding, and that decision, like the one in CPCF, was based on interpretation of national rather than international law.

...

 

Then accuse the Australian people of not caring about refugees and/or even wanting them to be treated more harshly.



United States, “allies” continue bombing Syria and Iraq

Centcom [4/2/15]:

On Feb. 3, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 11 airstrikes.

Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted six airstrikes in Iraq, using attack and fighter aircraft against ISIL terrorists. All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Feb. 3, and 8 a.m., Feb. 4, local time.

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

Syria

* Near Kobani, 11 airstrikes struck nine ISIL tactical units, an ISIL large tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL staging positions and an ISIL fighting position.

Iraq

* Near Bayji, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL checkpoint.

* Near Tal Afar, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

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

* Near Rawah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL guard facility.

* Near Al Huwayjah an airstrike destroyed an ISIL checkpoint, an ISIL guard tower, an ISIL bunker, an ISIL vehicle and

two ISIL shipping containers.

* Near Mosul an airstrike struck an ISIL IED factory.

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



UAE stopped combat missions over Syria, reports say [Al Jazeera – 4/2/15]

 

 

Jordan hanged two Iraqis on Wednesday, including a female militant, hours after Islamic State released a video appearing to show a captured Jordanian pilot being burnt alive, a security source and state television said. ... [Reuters - 4/2/15]

 

 

US Says Drone Strike Targeted Senior Shebab Leader in Somalia [Al Akhbar - 4/2/15]




Saudi Arabia beheaded one of its citizens Wednesday for murder, bringing to 19 the number of foreigners and locals executed in the kingdom this year. ... [Naharnet - 4/2/15]

 

Gunmen attacked a Libyan oil field jointly run with France's Total during the night but staff were successfully evacuated, the state-owned National Oil Company said on Wednesday. ... [Naharnet - 4/2/15]



At Least 17 Killed in New DR Congo Attack [Naharnet – 4/2/15]



'200 dead' as regional forces battle Boko Haram

Daily Star [4/2/15]:

Chad said Wednesday it inflicted heavy losses on Nigeria's Boko Haram, killing "over 200" Islamist militants in a border town that it wrested from the rebels in a ground offensive.

Nine Chadian soldiers were also killed and 21 injured Tuesday in Gamboru as regional forces took the fight against the insurgents on to Nigerian soil for the first time, the Chadian army said.

"This toll is provisional," the Chadian military said in a statement, adding that troops were still combing the town on Nigeria's border with Cameroon for lingering rebel elements.

Around 2,000 Chadian troops backed by armored vehicles poured across the border into Gamboru Tuesday after the African Union last week backed a regional force to take on the extremists.

The sound of automatic gunfire could heard Wednesday in the town, which has been abandoned by residents after a barrage of airstrikes by Chad in the run-up to its offensive, an AFP journalist reported.

While the operation in Gamboru continued, the town of Fotokol on the other side of the border, in Cameroon, came under fresh attack from the jihadis.

"The guys [Boko Haram] entered this morning. The fighting between them and our soldiers is very intense," a Cameroonian security source in Fotokol told AFP by telephone.

The Cameroonian troops had managed to repel the attack by mid-morning, after Chadian soldiers crossed back from Nigeria to help defend the town.

In Gamboru, the clashes left scenes of desolation, with bodies lying on the ground, houses destroyed, shops gutted and trucks charred.

"We have routed this band of terrorists," the commander of the Chadian contingent Ahmat Dari told AFP Tuesday, vowing to "hunt them down everywhere."

Nigeria's military has drawn fierce criticism for failing to hold back the insurgents, who have stepped up their campaign of terror in country's northeast in the run-up to presidential and parliamentary elections Feb.14.

In recent months the group has also carried out increasing cross-border raids, threatening regional security.

Chad's intervention reflects the growing nervousness among Nigeria's neighbors over the prospect of Boko Haram achieving its stated aim of carving out an Islamic caliphate on their borders.

Nigerian defense spokesman Chris Olukolade denied that the presence of foreign troops on Nigerian soil compromised the country's sovereignty.

 

50 injured in riots in northern Guinea

News 24 [4/2/15]:

Around 50 people were injured in riots in the town of Labé in northern Guinea when people protesting a shake-up in the civil service clashed with security forces, the government said on Wednesday.

Labé is a stronghold of opposition to President Alpha Condé, who came to power in 2010 as the country's first democratically elected leader after decades in which the country was ruled by authoritarian figures.

Around 24 members of the security forces and 25 civilians were hurt in the riots that started on Monday and vandals damaged public and private property, government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara said in a statement.

The riots were apparently triggered by a government move to shift civil servants entrenched in Labé to locations in other parts of the country.

"The Government believes that the violence, which included the destruction of private and public property in Labe, was out of proportion with the stated demands of the protesters," the statement said.

Youths burned tyres and the police sent reinforcements to restore calm, said witnesses and a police source who declined to be identified.

Guinea is the world's biggest exporter of bauxite, the raw material used in aluminium production, and has rich deposits of gold. It is one of three West African countries battling to end an Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 8 500 people.

 

Afghanistan: Armed conflict in Parwan leaves 3 persons killed, 4 injured

Khaama [4/2/15]:

An armed conflict has left three persons killed and four others wounded in Parwan province, north of Kabul.

Wahid Sediqi, spokesman for the governor of Parwan province told Khaama Press that the incident took place in the provincial capital last night.

He said “At the beginning the conflict started between two persons but later relatives and friends of both persons arrived and the fighting changed to two groups.”

He added that two persons were killed and four others wounded from both sideds as a result of the fighting.

“So far three persons have been detained in this connection who are now under investigation”, he said.

The motive behind the conflict is still unknown but Wahid Sediqi said that “It can be something personal”.

About the reports that security officials were also involved in the conflict, Wahid Sediqi said.

“People who are serving as security officials in other provinces are allowed to take their weapons with them while going on leave.”

“This sometimes causes such like incidents” he added.

Wahid Sediqi asked the central government to take necessary actions in regards to security officials taking their weapons with them while going on leave to prevent possible security incidents.


One policeman and two civilians were killed in separate incidents of violence in different parts of the country, officials said on Wednesday.

One police official was killed and another wounded in the morning when Taliban attacked a security personnel convoy in western Herat province. ... [Pajhwok - 4/2/15]

 

Hospital shelled in Ukraine's rebel Donetsk, multiple casualties reported

RT [4/2/15]:

A hospital in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine was hit by artillery shelling, local authorities said. One person has been confirmed killed, with initial reports of over 15 feared dead.

“There are multiple casualties at the hospital. A preliminary count says more than 15 people were killed,” local emergency services told Interfax.

The midday barrage also damaged a residential building nearby and a high-voltage power line, the city council said. The entire neighborhood is without power.

RT correspondent Roman Kosarev was one of the first journalists to arrive at the scene.

“The OSCE monitors should investigate the site of the attack, determine the direction and the location, from which the barrage was fired and report their findings,” a spokesman for the self-proclaimed Donetsk Peoples' Republic, Andrey Purgin, said.

Donetsk - a stronghold of forces opposed to the Kiev government - comes under artillery fire on a daily basis. The attacks continued even during the shaky ceasefire announced in September, but intensified in January when the truce collapsed.

Kiev routinely claims that the rebels themselves target civilians in order to frame their opponents. But a number of reports from international human rights organizations like Amnesty International confirmed that at least some of the attacks came from Ukrainian side.

Rights advocates accuse Ukrainian troops and rebels of using indiscriminate weapons like multiple rocket launchers against residential areas. Such actions violate rules of war because they make it practically impossible to avoid civilian casualties.

The civil war in Eastern Ukraine has claimed at least 5,358 lives, according to the latest UN count.

 

Istanbul policemen acquitted over burning Gezi tents

Hurriyet Daily News [4/2/15]:

Seven municipal police officers have been acquitted after being charged with “misconduct” and “intentionally starting a fire,” due to a lack of evidence proving that they raided and burned down protesters’ tents during the Gezi Park protests in summer 2013.

The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office had launched an investigation after police officers allegedly raided and burned down protestors’ tents, sparking the Gezi protests that subsequently spread across the country. Prosecutors demanded that seven officers be sentenced to between 18 months and six years in prison on charges of “misconduct” and “intentionally starting a fire.”

Protesters had occupied the park and put up tents in order to protect trees from being cut down in Istanbul’s central Gezi Park on May 30, 2013. According to the indictment, the seven police officers were on the scene during the protests and allegedly burned down some of the tents, causing fear and panic among the public.

One of the suspects, identified by the initials A. T. rejected the allegations and denied that they set the tents alight. “I do not know what caused the fire,” he said, adding they were there only to help clear the park for the excavation process.

Another suspect police officer, identified as M.S., said they arrived on the scene right after the police raid and began to gather the tents.

He also claimed that one of the police officers responsible for the operation told him that the situation was getting out of control and he wanted the remaining tents in the park burned down.

However, M.S. stressed that he did not burn any of the tents and did not know who was responsible.

Meanwhile, a former provincial police chief assistant, identified as R. E., is set to be tried on charges of “instigation” and “misconduct.” The trial will begin within the next few days.

 

Maori march to halt oil drilling

RNZI [4/2/15]:

A group of Maori environmental campaigners opposed to oil drilling says lobbying the government to stop the practice won't work, so it plans to deliver another message to politicians at Waitangi.

The anti-mining group is marching from Te Rerenga Wairua, and will arrive at Te Tii Marae tomorrow.

Spokesperson and veteran activist Mike Smith was clear about what the group planned to tell politicians when they got there.

He said they know the government won't put a halt to oil drilling.

"So we won't bother to press them on that. We'll take that fight directly into Norway which we plan to do, we're going to be sending a delegation into Norway. Statoil's owned 67 percent by the people of Norway, there's some democratic leverage there in terms of the people of Noway hopefully coming on board and seeing our situation," he said.

Mr Smith said instead the government here can and should consider alternative renewable energy sources other than oil drilling.

He said that would create more jobs than the fossil fuel industry.

 

Three-parent babies unlikely for NZ

RNZI [4/2/15]:

New Zealand is unlikely to copy British legislation allowing three-parent babies despite it already having similar legal framework surrounding fertility treatments.

After years of debate and medical research, British MPs have voted to legalise a technique aimed at preventing serious inherited diseases being passed on from mother to child.

The method involves taking mitochondria - the genetic material around a cell's nucleus - from a healthy donor woman and mixing it with the DNA of two parents to stop defective mitchondria affecting an unborn child.

A University of Otago law professor, Mark Henaghan, said New Zealand has had legislation in place for more than ten years allowing people to select a healthy embryo to implant.

He said it helped reduce the chance of passing on illnesses such as Huntington's disease, and allowing the use of a third person's DNA would be consistent with current laws.

But the Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ACART), which advises the Ministry of Health, said the ethical and long term clinical effects of the treatment would need to be monitored before New Zealand could consider adopting the legislation here.

Its chair Alison Douglass said ethical issues attached to Britain's legislation, such as anonymity of the donor, conflicted with New Zealand law and ACART would monitor results from overseas before recommending a law change here.

...

 

Salvadorean Archbishop Oscar Romero 'a martyr' - Pope Francis

BBC [3/2/15]:

Pope Francis has ruled that Salvadorean Archbishop Oscar Romero died as a martyr, paving the way for his beatification.

Beatification is the step before sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.

An outspoken critic of the military regime at the outset of El Salvador's civil war, Archbishop Romero was shot dead while celebrating Mass in 1980.

For years, the Church blocked the process because of concerns that he had Marxist ideas.

The bishop was one of the main proponents of Liberation Theology - an interpretation of Christian faith through the perspective of the poor.

Unlike other candidates for beatification, martyrs can move to the beatification stage without a miracle attributed to them. A miracle is needed for canonisation, however.

Archbishop Romero denounced the right-wing death squads that operated in Guatemala and the oppression of the poor, calling for an end to all political violence.

Archbishop Romero's death is commemorated by large crowds every year Archbishop Romero's death is commemorated by large crowds every year

After his election in 2013, Pope Francis, the first Latin American pontiff, unblocked Archbishop Romero's sainthood process.

The Church restricts the martyr designation to people who were killed out of hatred for the Catholic faith. Doubt over whether Archbishop Romero was killed for his politics in support of the poor or for his faith was one of the reasons his case was stalled.

No date for the beatification has been set.

Pope Francis, who has advocated that the Church more focus on poverty, considered to be in more in line with Archbishop Romero's approach to social justice than previous pontiffs.

In August, Pope Francis hoped for a quick path to beatification, calling the archbishop a "man of God".

...

In 1993 a United Nations-sponsored truth commission concluded the archbishop's assassination was carried out by a death squad under the orders of Roberto D'Aubuisson, a former army officer who died in 1992.

He founded the Nationalist Republican Alliance, or Arena Party, which governed El Salvador from 1989 until 2009.

No-one has ever been convicted in connection with his murder, but in 2010 El Salvador's President Mauricio Funes issued an official apology for the murder of Archbishop Romero.

Some 75,000 people were killed in the civil war, which began in 1980 and ended in 1992 with a UN-brokered peace agreement.

 

Argentine Prosecutor Fein Admits 'Screw up' in Nisman Case

teleSUR [3/2/15]:

Viviana Fein, the lead investigator in the case of the death of Alberto Nisman, admitted that she had made a “mistake” in saying that a draft of a request for the arrest of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez had not been found in Nisman's apartment.

Fein held a press conference Tuesday, stating that she had erred and that a draft of a detention request of the president had indeed been found. She stressed that there had not been any pressure from the Argentine government to deny the existence of a detention request.

In her comments to the press, Fein put the blame for the confusion squarely on her own shoulders.

The secretary-general of the office of the Presidency, Anibal Fernandez, said that Fein had committed a “phenomenal screw-up.” He also expressed surprise that a prosecutor would consider calling for the President's arrest, knowing full well that the President enjoys immunity.

According to the draft, Nisman wanted President Fernandez arrested for allegedly participating in a cover-up in the deadly bombing of a Jewish center. He ultimately decided against seeking the President's arrest and called her to face questions instead.

The papers were found in the trash at Alberto Nisman's apartment while his property was being scoured for clues over whether he had committed suicide or was murdered.

The Chief of the Cabinet of the Argentine government at first denied that Nisman had drafted a detention request and pointed to a press release issued by Viviana Fein Monday, which said that no detention request had been found.

"They are properly incorporated into the case file, nothing is missing," Fein said of the papers on Tuesday.

The abandoned request for Fernandez's arrest, which the prominent pro-opposition daily newspaper Clarin said Nisman drafted in June, was not included in his final 350-page submission to the judiciary delivered days before his death.

On the day of his mysterious death, Nisman had been due to answer questions in Congress about his allegations that Fernandez sought to cover up Iran's involvement in return for Iranian oil.

The president firmly rejected Nisman’s accusations. In a televised speech last week, she explained that Argentina signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran to ensure their cooperation in the investigation of the AMIA case.

Critics of the government have alleged that the deal included a provision for Iranian oil. President Fernandez categorically rejected that accusation and affirmed that Iranian oil cannot even be refined in Argentina.

President Fernandez has stated that she is being targeted by opposition leaders and media outlets who claim the government is behind the attorney's death for political motives. Social movements have also rejected attempts to link the government to the attorney’s death, while recently revealed WkiLeaks cables that link Nisman to the CIA and the Mossad have raised further questions.

 

Former soldier who pleaded guilty to sex crimes did not know about mandatory jail time, court hears

ABC [4/2/15]:

A former soldier who had not been advised of mandatory sentencing when he pleaded guilty for sexual offences has since tried to withdraw the plea, a court has heard.

The 35-year-old former soldier of the Australian Army Robertson Barracks in Darwin, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been charged with several counts of aggravated indecent assault.

He appeared in Darwin Magistrates Court to withdraw the plea he entered in 2013.

The court heard he had changed his mind about the plea after learning he would go to jail under the NT's strict mandatory detention laws.

Under section 78 of the Northern Territory Sentencing Act, if a person is found guilty of a sexual offence - which includes aggravated indecent assault - that person must go to prison.

In the Darwin Magistrates Court, Chief Magistrate John Lowdnes said mandatory sentencing was a "bit out of the ordinary" and could cause some complexities.

Dr Lowndes said the legal proceedings in the case had been "very protracted" and he did not intend to let the hearing go longer than the listed three days.

The soldier's lawyer, Julia Ker, said the man had not been advised of the mandatory sentencing laws when entering the plea and therefore did not have "free choice" when he decided to plead guilty.

She said it would be a miscarriage of justice if the plea was not set aside.

She said he had not been in possession of all the information when he made the decision, namely information about mandatory sentencing laws.

Ms Ker said there had been no acceptance in her client's mind that he had been guilty of the charges, but he had pleaded guilty out of convenience.

The prosecutor, Ian Rowbottom, will provide his submissions tomorrow.

Bail for the soldier was continued.

 

 

5 February 2015

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