Legal justification for US torture program relied on secret support of American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association (APA), the leading professional group for psychologists in the U.S., met secretly with members of the George W. Bush administration to help officials justify the use of torture against detainees, according to a new report by critics of the program.
Using more than 600 newly disclosed emails, a group of psychologists and human rights activists found that APA leaders worked with officials from the Bush White House, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense to support the “enhanced interrogation” program.
The secret meetings took place in 2004 and 2005 following the revelations of U.S. military personnel torturing and otherwise mistreating detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
“In 2004 and 2005 the CIA torture program was threatened from within and outside the Bush administration,” Stephen Soldz, a clinical psychologist and professor at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis and one of the report’s authors, told The New York Times via email.
“Like clockwork, the APA directly addressed legal threats at every critical juncture facing the senior intelligence officials at the heart of the program. In some cases the APA even allowed these same Bush officials to actually help write the association’s policies.”
In an effort to lend a sense of legitimacy to the abuse being inflicted, the APA created an “ethics policy in national security interrogations which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the CIA torture program,” the report’s authors wrote.
The APA rejected the findings in the report and denied working with the government on the torture program. There “has never been any coordination between APA and the Bush administration on how APA responded to the controversies about the role of psychologists in the interrogations program,” Rhea Farberman, an APA spokeswoman, told the Times.
The Times’ James Risen noted that the Bush administration went to the APA for help because the national organization for psychiatrists, the American Psychiatric Association, wasn’t willing to help the CIA rationalize its methods for extracting information during interrogations of detainees.
In 2006, Dr. William Winkenwerder, then assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, told the media that the APA “clearly supports the role of psychologists in a way our behavioral science consultants operate,” whereas the American Psychiatric Association “on the other hand, I think had a great deal of debate about that, and there were some who were less comfortable with that.”
Mental health data of asylum seekers detained in Australian camps collected but not used, says expert [Guardian - 5/5/15]:
... “The measurements are still occurring. But nobody is actually using the data, and nobody can look at them. And there’s been no further development in child mental health screening.”
[Dr Peter] Young also told the conference that the Australian federal police had contacted him before the conference.
“All of this information is published publicly on the department of immigration website,” he said.
“It’s been brought to my attention that I must not speak about anything which is confidential information in the public domain.
“I had recent words from the federal police to that effect when they found out I was presenting here today.” ...
More international media coverage of Nauru Facebook ban.
Australian politicians still silent.
The tiny Pacific nation of Nauru was accused Tuesday of blocking access to Facebook to curb criticism of government policies, including its decision to host an Australian-backed camp for asylum-seekers. ... [The Sun Daily - 5/5/15]
... In justifying the internet censorship, Minister Adeang pointed to an increase in children being "exposed sexually" through social media, and asserted, as a priority, the welfare of the nation's children.
A 2014 report into Australia's mandatory detention policy found that almost 200 children were being detained in the camp on Nauru.
The report warns that "numerous reported incidents of assaults, sexual assaults and self-harm involving children [in Australian immigration-detention facilities] indicate the danger of the detention environment."
Facebook told AFP it was aware of the reports its site was unavailable in Nauru and hoped it would be restored soon. ... [The Register - 5/5/15]
Daily Star [5/5/15]:
Turkey's coastguard has rescued more than 600 people trying to cross the Aegean sea over the last five days, including women and children fleeing war-torn Syria in rubber boats, a provincial governor's office said Tuesday.
More than 400 of the 636 rescued migrants were from Syria, while others were from Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar and some African countries, the office of the governor of the coastal Izmir province said in a statement. ...
Forty migrants reported drowned in Mediterranean: Save the Children [Reuters - 5/5/15]
Kerry makes unannounced visit to Somalia [Al Jazeera - 5/5/15]
A car bomb blast near the Baghdad headquarters of a Shiite militia fighting ISIS in Iraq killed at least four civilians on Tuesday, police said. ... [Daily Star - 5/5/15]
One of the main hospitals in Syria's northern city of Aleppo has been forced to close indefinitely after being targeted by rockets and barrel bombs, a humanitarian group says.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Monday the private Al-Sakhour hospital, serving around 400,000 people as one of the only hospitals in east Aleppo, halted all activities after being bombed twice on consecutive days last week.
"It is unclear when or if the hospital will be operative again" as it was severely damaged, an MSF statement said.
The hospital's staff are Syrian, but it receives medical equipment from MSF every three months, an MSF representative told Agence France Presse. ... [Naharnet - 5/5/15]
Afghanistan Journalists Center condemns brutal attack on TV satirist in Kandahar
The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) strongly condemned a brutal attack on a prominent TV satirist in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan.
The incident took place on 4th May after unknown men attacked and seriously injured a prominent TV satirist in southern Kandahar city.
A local official quoted in a statement by AJFC said Ahmadullah Majajo was seriously wounded by knife in third district of Kandahar city, when he was on his way home.
Majajo has been working as satirist and producer of a satirical program “bitter and sweet”, which is a popular show at the stated-run Radio Television (RTA) since 2010.
No group or individual has claimed responsibility for this attack. However, police informed AFJC that they have launched an investigation to the incident.
The statement by the Afghanistan Journalists Center said AFJC strongly condemns this attack, calling on government authorities to take serious actions against the assailants and bring them to justice.
Militants kill at least 13 Afghan police despite peace talks [Geo.tv - 5/5/15]
The foreign minister of Senegal, Mankeur Ndiaye, announced Monday that his country was deploying 2,1000 troops to Saudi Arabia in order to contribute to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. ... [teleSUR -5/5/15]
Yemen: UN relief official urges ‘safe and reliable’ access to Sana’a airport to deliver critical aid
UN Media Release [4/5/15]:
The aid operation in Yemen cannot meet the life-saving needs of people unless humanitarians are assured safe and reliable access to the capital’s international airport, the United Nations relief coordinator for the country said today, calling it an “essential lifeline.”
“Without access to the airports, aid agencies are unable to bring in staff, vital supplies of medicines and other critical life-saving assistance, or undertake medical evacuations of their personnel,” said Johannes van der Klaauw in a press statement.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), coalition airstrikes have targeted the runways at Sana’a international airport over the past week, rendering them inoperable. No flights can take-off or land while the runways are being repaired.
More than 1,200 people have been killed and 300,000 have fled their homes in nearly two months of fighting in the war-torn Gulf nation. Emergency relief and medical teams from abroad are struggling to fly in to scale-up the humanitarian operation to address the needs of increasingly vulnerable Yemenis.
“I strongly urge the coalition to stop targeting Sana'a international airport and to preserve this important lifeline – and all other airports and seaports – so that humanitarians can reach all those affected by the armed conflict in Yemen,” the Humanitarian Coordinator said.
In its latest update on Yemen, OCHA said that the conflict, insecurity and shortage of fuel continue to hinder the delivery of urgently needed assistance to displaced families and other vulnerable, conflict-affected communities.
Insecurity and lack of fuel have limited access to and delivery of services. Partners report difficulty providing medical services as result of the current security situation and continued airstrikes targeting Haradh, Sa’ada and Sana’a. Food partners have reported they have had to suspend assistance in several districts due to lack of fuel.
Casualties and the number of displaced continue to rise. In Aden, where violence has continued, local authorities report that 98 per cent of Khormaksar district’s 62,869 residents had left and that remaining families are trapped and awaiting secure conditions to leave. Mass displacement is also taking place in Al Muala and Aden City.
In Aden, local sources report continued widespread violence. Local sources report that several districts are without electricity, water and telecommunications for over a week and on 3 May had been blocked in order to prevent supplies from entering.
Efforts are underway by UN agencies and partners to bring new and urgently needed supplies to the country, but the security situation is severely hampering those measures. Yemen imports almost 90 percent of its basic food from abroad. The political situation in Yemen has deteriorated since the country formed a new Government in November 2014.
7.4 quake, aftershocks hit Papua New Guinea prompting tsunami scare
A strong 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck the southern coast of Papua New Guinea, US Geological Survey reported.
A tsunami warning was issued for an area within 300 km of the epicenter, including the Australian coast, before being downplayed.
A large temblor registered 133 kilometers (83 miles) south-west of Kokopo, according to USGS. The revised data showed the epicenter to be 63 kilometers under the coast of New Britain island.
The quake was followed by a 5.9-magnitude aftershock just 10 minutes later. The series of aftershocks continued with 5.6 and 5.2 tremors.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) issued a preliminary warning message immediately after the first tremor, saying that “hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300km of the earthquake epicenter.”
The warning estimated that a tsunami wave could reach the Australian city of Cairns at 5:10 UTC and Brisbane at 6:07 UTC
There were no immediate reports of serious structural damage or casualties and the coastline around the epicenter of the quake is sparsely populated. Two lower-magnitude tremors were registered in the area last week, but the Tuesday quake was considered more alarming due to it being shallow.
In Kokopo, severe shaking of buildings caused people to rush into streets in panic, according to local media. Twitter reports also said tremors were felt in the capital city of Port Moresby, which is 700 kilometers away from the epicenter of the quake.
PTWC has revised the initial warning, saying that tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 meter above tidal level were expected only on some coasts of Papua New Guinea.
PNG: Police investigations into Hanuabada killings continue
PNG Loop [5//515]:
Police revealed today that a bullet fragment removed from deceased Nicholas Rarua was never connected to any police firearm that was tested.
Commander of NCD and Central provinces, Jerry Frank said police units present at the scene of the shooting were described in general but not clearly identified.
A total of 13 rifles were identified for Forensic testing. Of the shots fired during the incident only nine bullet casings were found by villagers and brought to police for testing.
“No police personnel have been identified individually by witnesses also,” Frank told Port Moresby reporters.
Asked if police carried out their own internal investigations, Frank said “there were many police at the scene it was hard to identify all of them.”
He neither confirmed nor denied efforts on the part of Police themselves to call in the unit in question and process them individually to identify the shooter or shooters.
Instead he blamed Hanuabadans for withholding information vital to investigations, claiming villagers wanted payments in exchange for information.
With the completion of the investigation, ACP frank said the report will now be handed over to ACP Crimes, Director Crimes and DCP operations for intervention.
However, he fully recommended that the report be submitted to the Coroner for a Coronial inquest.
“The Coroners Act in section 7 (1) (k) states that a Coroner has jurisdiction to inquire into the manner and cause of death of a person who (j) died in such circumstances that in the opinion of the Attorney General the cause of death and the circumstances should be more clearly and definitely ascertained.
“With the public outcry and interest, it would be deemed proper to hand the files to the Coroner for an Inquest,” he said.
It took police about two months to complete their investigation.
Police allegedly shot and killed two youths at Hanuabada in the nation’s capital after an NCDC Reserve Police unit conducted a raid at the village betelnut market.
The late Nicholas recently left ExxonMobil where he was employed as a Technical Adviser with the company’s Regulatory Division while Toka Gaudi, single, worked as a driver for local radio station Lalokau FM before his death.
According to ACP Frank, Villagers were reluctant to come to police and identify those that fired the shots.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says State-owned enterprises will
have more independence and power under the new Kumul Structure. ... [The
National - 5/515]
Māori tribes take on Norwegian oil giant
A small Māori delegation from the Far North is confronting Norway's biggest oil company head on.
A roopu representing Te Hiku o Te Ika tribes is travelling to the head office of Statoil to demonstrate the widespread opposition to its oil exploration programme in Te Reinga Basin.
Far North tribal representatives leave tomorrow and will be meeting with the indigenous Saami Parliament of Norway to seek their support in demanding a future free of deep sea oil drilling.
The leader of the delegation, Mike Smith, said Far North Māori had a very clear message.
"The objection of our mission across to Norway is to send a clear message that basically they [Statoil] have not got the consent of Northland Māori to be operating in our traditional waters," Mr Smith said.
"It's a breach of our customary law and we're requiring them to cease their operations and to remove any of their ships, take them back to Norway and not to return again."
The delegation is making the journey on behalf of hapū and iwi including Ngāti Kurī, Ngāti Kahu and Te Rārawa who want to get the Saami Nation based in the Finnmark county in the far north of Norway on their side.
"So what we're wanting to do is to form a strong relationship with the Saami people and to seek joint political, legal and moral co-operation in terms of getting Statoil out of our waters," he said.
Mr Smith said the Saami president, Aili Keskitalo, had already expressed her concerns to Statoil about its activities in the South Pacific.
Ngāti Kahu Runanga chairperson Dr Makere Mutu said the New Zealand Government did not have the constitutional authority to issue any licenses within her tribe's territory without its prior consent.
"Ngati Kahu are vehemently opposed to anyone conducting petroleum exploration anywhere in our territories," Dr Mutu said.
Ahipara kaumatua Sonny Harrison, 67, will be joining Mr Smith and his partner Hinekaa Mako, to represent the views of Te Rārawa.
Vanuatu: Vultures descend for a round of disaster capitalism talks
The next round of the controversial PACER Plus free trade negotiations will be held in Vanuatu this week.
The negotiations between Australia, New Zealand and 14 Pacific nations include agreements on trade in goods and services, investment, labour mobility and development.
Launched in 2009, the negotiations have taken longer than first anticipated, with some nations skeptical about the proposed benefits of the agreement.
The Chief Trade Advisor of the Pacific Island Countries, Edwini Kessie, has defended PACER Plus, saying it will help strengthen economies and enable them to deal with the effects of natural disasters.
Negotiations are hoped to be concluded in July.
The global humanitarian community is fighting against the clock as it delivers critical relief to Nepal’s most devastated communities, a top United Nations official said today as she urged international donors to step up their support.
“We’ve achieved a lot already but we must do much more. That’s why we’re bringing in more trucks and helicopters and working together with more partners to get help where it’s needed – not just food, but shelter too,” World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, said as she concluded her three-day visit to the landlocked nation’s earthquake-affected regions where relief efforts are ongoing despite numerous challenges. ... [UN Media Release - 4/5/15]
Syrian journalist Mazen Darwish winner of UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2015
Media Release [3/5/15]:
The winner of the 2015 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is Syrian journalist and human rights activist, Mazen Darwish, currently imprisoned.
The Prize will be awarded during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, which will this year be hosted by Latvia (National Library, Riga, 6 p.m.).
An independent international jury of media professionals recommended Mazen Darwish in recognition of the work he has carried out in Syria for more than ten years at great personal sacrifice, enduring a travel ban, harassment, as well as repeated detention and torture.
Led by Ko-ko U (Myanmar), chairman of the Yangon Media Group and publisher of the Yangon Times, the International Jury stressed the need to remember Mr Darwish, currently in prison, along with so many other human rights defenders and journalists.
Darwish, a lawyer and press freedom advocate, is the president of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (CMFE), founded in 2004, and one of the founders of the Voice newspaper and syriaview.net, an independent news site banned by the Syrian authorities.
In 2011, Darwish established Media Club, the first Syrian magazine about media affairs. He has been detained since February 2012, when he was arrested with colleagues Hani Al-Zitani and Hussein Ghareer.
Numerous human rights and press organizations around the world have issued calls for the release of Darwish and his fellow journalists.
On 15 May, 2013 the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 67/262 demanding that “the Syrian authorities immediately release all persons arbitrarily detained, including the members of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression.”
In January 2014, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) addressed a communication to the Syrian authorities denouncing the arbitrary detention of Darwish and his Media Centre colleagues and called for their immediate release.
Created by UNESCO’s Executive Board in 1997, the annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize honours a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and, or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, and especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.
The $25,000 Prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogotá, on 17 December 1986. It is funded by the Cano Foundation (Colombia) and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland).
The migrants had their best night of sleep in months because they were finally safe
- Dr Erna's diary
BBC [AUDIO - 5/5/15]:
More than 7,000 migrants have been rescued from overcrowded boats crossing the Mediterranean to Europe since Friday.
The charity Medecins sans Frontieres is running its own operation in the Mediterranean.
We've asked Erna Rijnierse, an MSF doctor aboard a rescue ship - or Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) - to record a diary of her experience for us.
Here is her account of the weekend's events.
Australia's protected and unaccountable Immigration Minister: I tortured and exiled refugees again this month
Minister for Immigration Media Release [5/5/15]:
Another month has passed without a successful people smuggling venture to Australia under Operation Sovereign Borders.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said that there has been no successful arrival in Australia since June last year – over 10 months ago – and the Government is committed to keeping it that way.
This Government’s tough border protection policies have acted as a strong deterrent for people smugglers trying to fill boats.
“We remain committed to returning boats that try to reach our shores illegally by turning them back where it’s safe to do so,” Mr Dutton said.
“This commitment was demonstrated a few weeks ago when the governments of Australia and Vietnam worked together to disrupt a people smuggling venture carrying 46 Vietnamese nationals who attempted to travel illegally by boat to Australia.
“The 46 people were able to be safely returned to Vietnam after we were assured that they did not have a claim to protection and that we had met our international obligations.
“This would have not been possible without the assistance of the Vietnamese Government.
“This latest turn back should act as a reminder to people seeking to come to Australia illegally that you should not be under any illusion that things have changed.
“The Government will continue to implement tough measures to protect our borders and is committed to ending the criminal activity of people smuggling.
“Operation Sovereign Borders is ensuring that the illegal way to Australia is closed.”
Nauru cancelled visa of Digicel's general manager before blocking Facebook [Guardian – 5/5/15]
NZ politician says Nauru "going against Pacific way" re Facebook ban [RNZI - 5/5/15]:
An MP with the opposition Labour Party in New Zealand says the Nauru government is going backwards in terms of openness, freedom and respecting the democratic process.
The party's foreign affairs spokesperson, David Shearer, was commenting after the shutdown of Facebook on the island.
The government says it is to end access to child pornography but the Nauru opposition says it is an attempt to stop criticism of the government's increasingly controversial actions.
Mr Shearer says the social media ban and the removal of other freedoms are taking Nauru in the wrong direction.
"It is hard to come to any other conclusion other than that the Nauru government is clamping down to benefit itself rather than to benefit the principles on which, in the Pacific anyway, we are all founded on."
Australian Human Rights Law Centre says Nauru Facebook ban latest step in regression [RNZI - 5/5/15]:
An Australian human rights advocate says the Nauru government's Facebook ban is the latest step in a very regressive trend towards reducing transparency and stifling dissent.
The Human Rights Law Centre's Director of Legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb, says Nauru has restricted access to the United Nations and NGOs, excluded international media by increasing visa fees and ousted its judicary.
He says Nauru's social media blackout needs to be understood in this context.
"There are other countries in the world that restrict access to social media; North Korea, China, Iran for instance. So I think in that sense Nauru is keeping questionable company. Over the last year and a bit, we've seen checks and balances on government power in Nauru eroded."
Daniel Webb says Australia should be a positive force for human rights protection in the Pacific region but instead its asylum seeker policies have been the catalyst for regression.
Is this is what happens to refugees who are turned back from Australia?
The Straits Times [5/5/15]:
Investigators in southern Thailand have discovered five graves at a second remote jungle camp believed to contain the remains of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh, police said Tuesday.
The camp was uncovered just one kilometre from a similar encampment on a steep hillside close to the Malaysian border, where forensic teams found 26 bodies over the weekend, all but one buried in shallow graves.
"We found the second camp yesterday evening," national police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri told reporters, saying the location was close to the first camp which lay 25km west of Padang Besar in Thailand's southern Songkhla province.
"We also found five graves but cannot yet confirm whether any bodies are in them. Authorities will look into this," he added.
Thai police arrest Rohingya man suspected of running jungle camp [Reuters - 4/5/15]:
… Anwar denies involvement in trafficking and says he made a living tapping rubber and selling fried bread. People with grudges against him circulated his photo and accused him of trafficking, he told Reuters in Nakhon Si Thammarat police station last Tuesday. "There are many Anwars. I'm also called Anwar. But you have to consider which Anwar is actually a human trafficker," he said.
Four other people were earlier arrested for alleged involvement in the network since January, Anuchon said, adding that phone records indicated the operation likely stretched to Malaysia, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Phone records, financial transactions and witness testimony point to Anwar, a Rohingya living in the southern Thai province of Songkhla, allegedly playing a central role in the operation, Anuchon said. Police are also collecting DNA evidence from the grave site, which may contribute to any potential murder charges, he added.
Case documents reviewed by Reuters, as well as interviews with police and witnesses, provide some insight into one of the alleged networks involved in the smuggling of the more than 100,000 stateless Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence and poverty in Myanmar since 2012 - often held at sea and in camps for months as they are shunted from Myanmar to Thailand, and then Malaysia.
Amy Smith, executive director for Southeast Asia at rights group Fortify Rights, said the camp uncovered on Friday was just one of the many that trafficking survivors say are strewn across southern Thailand. "To our understanding, this is the first mass grave that's been uncovered by Thai authorities. This demonstrates Thailand's level of complacency in conducting proper investigations," she said.
Reuters has previously documented the involvement of some members of Thai security forces in trafficking, and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has acknowledged some official complicity.
Stung by being downgraded by the United States to the lowest category on its annual Trafficking in Persons report - citing a lack of enforcement and the involvement of some officials - Thailand's military junta has ordered a crackdown on traffickers and introduced the death penalty in cases where their victims died.
Imperious Freedom: The Tangled Narratives of Anti-Human Trafficking Discourse, Kari J. Winter and David R. Castillo :
… While the horror of slavery is inarguable, the goals of anti-trafficking agitation are often murky. Unlike eighteenth and nineteenth-century abolitionists who aimed to end the licit and illicit transatlantic transport of enslaved Africans and to abolish the legal institutions of slavery within nation-states, twenty-first century abolitionists seek to end practices of enslavement that are, in most cases, illegal, subterranean, and hard to locate.
The most popular methods of contemporary abolitionists, which are clearer than their goals, include increasing police surveillance, tightening borders, growing prisons, and conducting “rescue missions.”
Like many “moral” issues, human trafficking is a porous concept that expands and contracts easily to suit a range of purposes.
In this essay we analyze the standard narrative structures through which bondage and freedom are imagined and represented in contemporary British and American political discourse. ...
UQ and UN team up on Asian migrant smuggling report [Media Release – 5/5/15]
Woman found safe and well in Brisbane after going missing from Gateway Motorway car crash
Police have located a woman who had been reported missing after an accident on the Gateway Motorway in Brisbane.
Mihiata Bruce, from Springbrook, was last seen getting into a utility after crashing her own car into a guard rail last Wednesday.
The 45-year-old contacted family members last night and has since been found safe and well at West End in inner Brisbane.
Police would not comment further.
Meanwhile, the search continues for 22-year-old Rebecca Mackenzie who also disappeared in Brisbane last week.
Ms Mackenzie was last seen walking towards the Story Bridge from Fortitude Valley around 2:00am on Sunday.
Police are appealing for information from anyone who saw her in that area or in nearby Wickham Street.
Ms Mackenzie had been celebrating a friend's 23rd birthday at Met Nightclub when she got into an argument with her boyfriend.
She handed her shoes, phone and purse over to a friend before walking away.
Police are seeking urgent public assistance to help locate 21-year-old Victorian woman Chantelle Brugman who was last seen in Mount Isa this morning. ... [QPS Media - 5/5/15]
Three people have been charged after a man was allegedly forcibly taken against his will from a Mount Crosby residence last night. ... [QPS Media - 5/5/15]
Grievous bodily harm charge, Mornington Island [QPS Media - 5/5/15]
Three teens charged with GBH, Caboolture [QPS Media - 5/5/15]
Sydney woman to stand trial over alleged support for Islamic State
Sydney woman Fatima Elomar, who has been accused of providing support to Islamic State (IS), will stand trial after waiving her right to a committal hearing.
Elomar, 30, made a brief appearance today at the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney.
She is charged with supporting incursions into a foreign state with the intention of engaging in hostile activities.
The wife of suspected IS militant Mohamed Elomar was arrested by counterterrorism officials in May last year as she tried to board a flight to Malaysia with her four children.
Counterterrorism police alleged she was carrying cash, camouflage equipment and medical supplies at the time.
Elomar did not enter a plea.
She will reappear in the District Court on May 15.
Lawyers for a Melbourne teenager who was allegedly one of two men behind an Anzac Day plot to run down a police officer, behead them and steal their weapon for a suicidal rampage want him released from custody so he can be counselled. ... [ABC - 5/5/15]
Man admits to role in Broadbeach tapas bar table tip over
The accused instigator of a brawl involving alleged bikies on the Gold Coast is a "happy family guy" who has been under virtual house arrest by "zealous" Queensland police, his lawyer says.
Jacques Teamo, 45, an alleged former Bandido bikie gang member, was among several men who today admitted in a court to their role in the September 2013 punch-up at Broadbeach, believed to have been a spillover from a turf war.
The fight started in a busy restaurant and spilled into the street, where a large group of Bandidos members were allegedly massed in a show of force, and the violence later spread to the Southport watch-house.
The incident sparked a controversial crackdown on outlaw motorcycle gangs by the previous Newman government, which introduced tough legislative measures for bikies, including lengthy prison sentences, solitary confinement and bans on members gathering in public.
The new Palaszczuk Labor Government has since flagged a review of the legislation. [They have no intention of repealing the ant rights legislation. They voted for it.]
Teamo pleaded guilty in Southport Magistrates Court this morning to riot and breaching bail, while a charge of entering premises with intent was dismissed.
Outside court, Teamo's lawyer Chris Hannay said he expected his client's plea to affect his sentence, which is due later this month.
"It allows him now to do an early plea or have an early plea for the riot charge - and taking into account the circumstances of his two years and taking into account the psychological report and all the other affidavit material - we are confident he will get a greatly reduced sentence," he said.
"If you look at the parity of other people who have gone through, they range I think from nine months incarceration down - we think we are going to do far better than that."
Mr Hannay said his client regretted the September 2013 incident.
"He's been under the guise - you could say under house arrest - for nearly the last two years with his curfews," Mr Hannay said.
"He's been substantially inundated by fairly zealous Queensland police at all hours of the day to make sure he is home - he's suffered enough and he has changed absolutely his whole lifestyle.
"He is now a happy family guy and he really looks after his children."
Ryan Mercer and Brett Boyden also pleaded guilty today to affray and public nuisance, while Ricky Chapman pleaded guilty to riot.
Sanjin Delalic pleaded guilty to riot and Duncan Rattenbury pleaded guilty to public nuisance and affray.
At this morning's hearing, Adam White and Ahmed Kaddour pleaded not guilty to riot but have since changed their plea to guilty over their involvement in the brawl.
A date is yet to be set for the sentencing.
Peter Mauric has pleaded not guilty to riot and his trial will proceed.
A further 16 people who were allegedly involved in the brawl are set to face a second trial at a later date.
Dealer had massive child porn stash
A Queensland drug trafficker who imported ice from the United States also stashed a collection of more than 56,000 child pornography images and movies, a court has heard.
Robert David Craig, 44, was arrested in Highgate Hill, Brisbane, for importing, possessing and trafficking methylamphetamine in February last year.
He pleaded guilty to nine drug-related charges and one count of possessing child exploitation material in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday.
A parcel addressed to Craig, and intercepted by Customs, was found to contain 642g of methylamphetamine, the court heard.
When detectives raided his home, they also found a separate stash of ice and a notebook detailing about $23,000 in sales.
The methylamphetamine would have been worth $321,000 on the street, crown prosecutor Dennis Kinsella told the court.
Police later found 54,691 child exploitation images and 1,876 movies on Craig's laptop, collected over five years, with some in the most serious child pornography category.
Mr Kinsella said the material was degrading and involved infants, bestiality, blindfolding, bondage, urination and threats with a knife.
Craig was a cog in an industry that is "evil and exploitive," Mr Kinsella told the court.
Defence barrister Angus Edwards said Craig was a minor street-level trafficker, selling only about half a gram to each customer at the instruction of another man.
"He was supplying largely to maintain his own drug habit."
Mr Edwards said Craig, who has no criminal record, was unlikely to reoffend because his sexual offending arose from his drug use, which was in remission.
He argued Craig should receive a sentence of between six and seven years.
Justice Martin Burns reserved his decision until Tuesday, saying he needed to consider the complexities of the case.
Inquest begins into death of 6yo Indigenous boy in foster care in Cairns [ABC – 4/5/15]
A former volunteer firefighter and church youth group leader who preyed on two young sisters for his own sexual gratification has been sentenced to at least 22 months' jail.
Michael James Townsend, 25, hardly reacted when he was handcuffed and taken into custody at Sydney's District Court for 14 offences involving the abuse of two sisters, aged 13 and 15. …
Attempted murder charge, Petrie
QPS Media [4/5/15]:
Police have charged a 58-year-old Petrie man with attempted murder after an 88-year-old Petrie man was driven to the Prince Charles Hospital on April 27 with a life threatening condition after having allegedly consumed a quantity of medication.
Police will allege the medication was consumed earlier in the day.
The man is due to re-appear in the Pine Rivers Magistrates Court September 7.
A woman is in a critical condition after a man allegedly broke into her Queensland home and attacked her with a knife.
The 20-year-old allegedly entered the 71-year-old woman's Torquay home on Saturday night via a window, before stabbing her in the face and neck. ... [Brisbane Times - 3/5/15]
Drug charges, Birkdale [QPS Media – 4/5/15]
Burglary at service station, Burleigh Waters [QPS Media - 5/5/15]
Armed robbery, Capalaba [QPS Media - 5/4/15]
Armed robbery, Keperra [QPS Media – 4/5/15]
Fire, Upper Mount Gravatt
QPS Media [4/5/15]:
An off-duty police officer has rescued a man from a burning house at Upper Mount Gravatt on Saturday evening.
Just after 5pm the officer was travelling to his place of work when he observed smoke coming from a two-storey house on Mount Gravatt-Capalaba Road. The officer stopped and found the house to be on fire.
He then forced entry into the house by smashing a downstairs window and rescued a 21-year-old man from the fire.
The man was transported to hospital with smoke inhalation.
No other person was injured as a result of the fire and the lower storey of the house received extensive damage with the upper storey receiving significant smoke damage.
A 21-year-old man was issued with a notice to appear in relation to one charge each of arson and possessing dangerous drugs.
Clive Palmer wins court case against Chinese company CITIC Pacific over 'missing' $12 million [ABC – 4/5/15]
Clive Palmer introduces Private Member’s Bill to stop future executions of Australians overseas [Palmer United Media Release - 29/4/15]
Mount Isa school community mourns loss of teacher in car crash [ABC - 4/5/15]
North West Star [4/5/15]:
A 19-year-od alleged drink-driver has been released on bail after being involved in a car crash resulting in the death of a woman on Saturday.
Thomas Michael Piovesan appeared in custody in the Mount Isa Magistrates Court on Monday charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death while adversely affected by an intoxicating substance.
His matter was adjourned to August 4.
Melbourne driver who crashed car and hit pedestrians may have had heart attack [ABC – 4/5/15]:
… It was one of at least five crashes during a busy 17 minute period between 6:27am and 6:44am for Ambulance Victoria.
There were heavy fog patches in some of the eastern suburbs and while was not known if the fog played a part in the crashes, motorists were advised to slow down.
Three cyclists were hit by cars in two incidents on the Nepean Highway at Aspendale and Mordialloc.
All three were taken to hospital in a stable condition. …
Today in Queensland Parliament, Springborg moved to amend Chapter 19 of the Standing Rules and Orders of the Legislative Assembly
This attempt to neutralise independent representation, and maintain parliament as a theatre of overpaid sockpuppets pretending to be different parties, will be debated this evening.
Meanwhile, Hinchcliffe discharged Gordon from the Agriculture and Environment Committee.
Queensland Parliament Hansard [5/5/15]:
Mr GORDON (Cook—Ind) (10.33 am): I rise to make a personal explanation. I refer to my explanation to the parliament on Friday, 27 March 2015 which I made following public comments about my child support payments to my former partner Kristy Peckham. I stated then that my child support payments to Kristy were up to date. That statement was based on a substantial conversation I had with an officer of the Child Support Agency in a phone call on 20 March 2015. On 24 March I paid the amounts that I understood from the 20 March phone conversation that were outstanding. I also now have an agreement with the Child Support Agency to have regular payments deducted from my wage for financial support for all of my children. A week after making my personal explanation to parliament, I returned home to find correspondence from the agency that showed the very small amount of $24.13 still owing to Kristy. Since then, fortnightly deductions of substantial amounts have and will continue to be made. I did not knowingly mislead the parliament when I stated that outstanding amounts had been paid to Kristy. My answer was truthfully based on the information I had to hand. I am committed to rectifying the situation, which is why I am now in an arrangement with the Child Support Agency to take a calculated amount of my wage on a regular basis to make up the unpaid child support.
Mr Speaker, I now wish to make some remarks about the media and political attacks that have assailed me since that time. I have entered the parliament with my eyes wide open, knowing it could be a rough business.
Mr STEVENS: I rise to a point of order. This is a dissertation from the member. This is a matter for the member to write to the Speaker. He is now turning it into a speech.
Mr SPEAKER: Thank you, member for Mermaid Beach. Member for Cook, I just remind you that you are able to give an explanation but you are not able to attack or criticise other members. You should remain relevant to your personal explanation.
Mr GORDON: Thank you. I entered parliament with my eyes wide open, knowing it could be a rough business. What I did not expect in my very first month in this parliament was to feel the full ugly force of unethical, agenda-ridden media driven by the unbridled ambitions of some.
Mr STEVENS: I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. He has just ignored your advice.
Mr SPEAKER: Member for Cook, you will have an opportunity later today to perhaps further articulate the views that you want to articulate. It seems you are straying from the purpose of a personal explanation. If you have nothing further to say, you will resume your seat.
... A message from the other world
To every little boy and girl
Let your spirit fly until
The day I let the flag unfurl ...
'Coz I'm Free', Christine Anu 
... It is we who have to make it so that those who give their lives for a new world, one created by the people, live forever. ... [Words of Subcomandante Insurgente Moises - 4/5/15]:
... The compas Luis Villoro and Galeano did not know each other, but nonetheless they were together, constructing the same freedom.
We also heard about facets of compa Galeano’s life of struggle.
First he decided to struggle, and later he received support, and then he organized to for the actual construction, and then organized those who would be promotores, and finally he oversaw what the students would need.
This requires organization.
Because the compa Galeano was and is a miliciano, a corporal, and later a sergeant. He was regional representative of the youth, member of the MAREZ (Zapatista Autonomous Municipality in Rebellion), teacher of the Zapatista Little School, and member-elect of the Good Government Council.
This requires ORGANIZATION.
From there he practiced and was later able to teach what he had learned, providing classes all over the world through the course, “Freedom According to the Zapatistas.”
Because one needs to organize in order to LIBERATE oneself from the capitalist system.
Because only the people will liberate themselves, no one will give them their freedom; no leader, man or woman, will bring freedom.
Because the capitalists are not going to give up or repent and stop exploiting the people.
Because the capitalist system cannot be humanized.
Fedez – a famous Italian rapper – has said that the May Day No Expo protests in Milan, in which some masked extremists clashed with police after setting fire to cars, shops and public buildings, should not be condemned as vandalism.
The radicals are believed to number between 1,000-1,500 and included groups from Italy, France, Germany and other European countries.
The singer said that the damages resulted following violence that erupted at the end of an otherwise peaceful demonstration are nothing compared to the "infiltrations of mafia and economic speculations made by Expo". … [International Business Times – 2/5/15]
One shot in a revolution
One drop from a poison pen
One fruit, too small and bitter
One tree, too proud to bend
One man to start the trouble
One kiss to seal your fate
One kid that needs some action
One link in a chain reaction ...
'Chain Reaction', David A. Stewart, Sylvester Stewart 
Make the Rich Panic, Chris Hedges [ICH - 4/5/15]:
... Revolutions take time. They are often begun by one generation and completed by the next. “Those who give the first check to a state are the first overwhelmed in its ruin,” Michel de Montaigne wrote in 1580. “The fruits of public commotion are seldom enjoyed by him who was the first mover; he only beats the water for another’s net.” Revolutions can be crushed by force, as amply demonstrated by history. Or they may be hijacked by individuals such as Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and Josef Stalin or movements that betray the populace. There are no guarantees that we will move toward a worker’s paradise or socialist utopia—we might move toward the most efficient form of totalitarianism in human history.
Radical movements are often their own worst enemies. The activists within them have a bad habit of fighting over arcane bits of doctrine, forming counterproductive schisms, misreading power and engaging in self-defeating and ultimately self-destructive internal power struggles. When they do not carefully calculate their power and the moment to strike, they often overreach and are crushed. The state uses its ample resources to infiltrate, monitor and vilify groups and arrest or assassinate movement leaders—and all uprisings, even supposedly leaderless ones, have leaders. Success is not assured, especially given the endemic levels of violence that have characterized American society.
But no matter what happens, the chain reaction that leads to revolt has begun. Most people realize that our expectations for a better future have been obliterated, not only those for ourselves but also for our children. This realization has lit the fuse. There is a widespread loss of faith in established systems of power. The will to rule is weakening among the elites, who are entranced by hedonism and decadence. Internal corruption is rampant and transparent. Government is despised.
Relatives of 43 missing students: US-Backed drug war fights organized people, not organized crime [Democracy Now - 4/5/15]
Four buses pull up to the base of the Mexican Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion.
It is January 12, a bright, clear afternoon in the southern state of Guerrero, nearly four months since 43 college students disappeared, most in the backs of municipal police vehicles, during a night of shooting and murder in the city of Iguala.
The majority of the students were seized at an intersection less than two miles from the army base. Hundreds of their family members and classmates, from a teacher-training college known as Ayotzinapa, have come to protest. They want answers. Not only that, they want inside. ... [The Intercept - 4/5/15]
Russell Brand changes mind, endorses cynical, dead political party
Russell Brand changes mind about voting and urges support for Labour [Guardian - 4/5/15]
Russell Brand: 'I've never voted, never will' [BBC - 23/10/13]:
Comedian Russell Brand has told BBC Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman that he has never voted, and he never will, as the UK's political system has created a "disenfranchised, disillusioned underclass" that it fails to serve.
"It is not that I am not voting out of apathy. I am not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class that has been going on for generations", he added.
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, he suggested that politicians were only interested in "serving the needs of corporations" and that an administrative system based on the "massive redistribution of wealth" should replace the status quo.
Just how anti-war is Ed Miliband? [Open Democracy - 10/4/15]
Austerity loving media pretend Fluffy Morrison and his bipartisan friends aren't gunning for the pension
Nine MSN [5/5/15]:
The federal government won't confirm reports it plans to tighten access to the age pension for wealthy retirees.
A new pension assets test, expected to be announced in next week's budget, will scale back payments to older Australians who have substantial private wealth in addition to their family homes.
"We still haven't had our final cabinet meeting, so I think that's all a bit premature," Social Services Minister Scott Morrison told ABC radio on Tuesday when asked whether a decision had been made.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten flagged Labor's support for the measure, but would not commit "until I see the detail on budget night".
"Labor has been up for a sensible discussion about means testing," he told the Seven Network on Tuesday.
Mr Shorten also wants the government to confirm reports it will dump its unpopular 2014 budget measure to cut indexation of aged pensions.
"I really think the government needs to grab this opportunity and reassure pensioners that they are not going to cut the pension."
Worley Parsons sheds more than 2,000 jobs amid slumping commodity prices [ABC - 4/5/15]
Meat processor JBS Australia stands down hundreds of workers in Victoria and South Australia [ABC – 4/5/15]
Fletchers International has shut down its Dubbo plant in central-western New South Wales due to a shortage of sheep.
The company employs 1,250 people Australia wide. ... [ABC - 4/5/15]
Greece cites progress in talks with lenders, aims for May deal [ekathimerini.com - 4/5/15]
The ALP and LNP are pro war and anti refugee. They are beyond reform.
Reject the dead political parties and call out this kind of nonsense for what it is:
Labor for Refugees will be resisting a harder line at the
National Conference #Refugees...
Update on the progress of the legal case against Manus, currently before the court in PNG via Refugee Rights Action Network WA [4/5/15]:
Notification of the state of legal proceedings on Manus ...
Some updates to inform interested parties in PNG and Aussie.
Ben [Lomai] attended the Supreme Court today (Thursday 30 April) with State lawyer (Tauvasa Tanuvasa) and Immigration lawyer (Barrion Kua) in attendance, before the Chief Justice (CJ) for directions. The CJ made the following Directions:
1. That the clients (applicants) serve all the Courts documents (application to enforce constitutional rights & all the supporting affidavits) on the Prime Minister Hon. Peter Oniell, Immigration Minister Hon. Rimbink Pato and the Commonwealth of Australia through the Australian High Commissioner to PNG Her Excellency Deborah Stokes, within 7 days from today's date;
2. That upon service of the said documents on the parties referred in Order 1, the named parties file and serve their respective Notices of Appearance and Statements of Response (defence) with 7 days from the date of service;
3. That the Attorney General Hon. Ano Pala and the Chief Migration Officer Rabura Mataio file and serve their respective Statements of Response (defence) within 14 days from today's date (30 April);
4. The matter returns back to the Supreme Court on Monday 18 May 2015 at 9:30 am for further directions.
Nauru Facebook ban at request of Australian Government
Internet freedom activists, EFA, Greens support this?
Human rights groups silent?
A ban on Facebook in Nauru was implemented at the request of the Australian Government to assist its Cambodian resettlement policy, a refugee advocacy group says, citing an anonymous source.
Nauru opposition MP Matthew Batsiua said Facebook users in Nauru discovered on Thursday they had been denied access to the social media site.
He said it was an attempt by the Nauru government to prevent free speech and curb any criticism it faces.
Pamela Curr from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said that one of her contacts within the Nauruan community told her the Australian Government was behind the ban.
"My contacts are telling me that this was done at the request of the Australian Government," Ms Curr told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program.
"They said that the Australian Government is anxious to get a group of people going to Cambodia and they are concerned that the people on Nauru are in contact with advocates in Australia who they believe are talking them out of the Cambodian option."
She said she was in no doubt about the claim and said she believed Facebook would stay blocked there until refugees were flown to Cambodia.
"I was very surprised to hear this but I have no doubt, and we have been assured that once the plane leaves for Cambodia that the Facebook blocking will be lifted," she said.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection told the ABC that "any internet restrictions in Nauru are a matter for the government of Nauru".
The Nauru government last week said it was restricting internet access to block pornography, especially child pornography.
In a statement issued to explain the ban, the government said "pornography is not consistent with the faith and values" of the people of Nauru.
The country's only internet service provider, Digicel said in a statement the Nauru government "instructed the blocking of certain internet sites".
The company said some sites had already been blocked while the government was "evaluating their suitability".
A spokeswoman for Facebook said the site was aware of reports that people in Nauru could not access Facebook.
"We believe that restricting access to a free and open internet deprives people of important economic and social opportunities and choices and hope that access will be restored soon," she said.
The ABC has attempted to contact the Nauru government.
Former Nauru president, Sprent Dabwido, says there is growing discontent across the island after the government last week shut down access to some social media.
The government says it imposed a ban on access to child pornography but the opposition says it has shut down Facebook to end criticism of its actions.
Mr Dabwido, who was president for two years to 2013, says Baron Waqa's government is doing everything it can to avoid scrutiny.
He says the Facebook ban is having an impact around the island including in the Australian run asylum seeker detention camps.
"The people there are grumbling. you know the worst thing you can do to people who are in detention, is actually prevent them from having the freedom to interact with families overseas and people back at home."
Digicel has confirmed that the Government instructed the blocking of certain internet sites, and says some sites have already been blocked while the Government is evaluating their suitability.
Me and my metadata: How I beat Telstra after my 22-month legal battle [Canberra Times – 4/5/15]
Statues honoring whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, along with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange were unveiled Friday in Germany.
Life size bronze statues of the three people now adorn the Berlin's Alexanderplatz square. The trio are depicted standing on chairs in a line, while a forth chair sits empty.
“The chair has a double meaning. It can be comfortable, but it can also be a pedestal to rise higher, to get a better view, to learn more. They all chose to get up on the chairs of courage,” explained artist Davide Dormino.
The statues are the brain child of Dormino and British journalist Vaughan Smith. According to the artist, the forth chair represents an invitation.
In a statement online, Dormino said, “Public art has the power to make people grow and change their point of view.”
“History never had a positive opinion of contemporary revolutionaries. You need courage to act, to stand up on that empty chair even if it hurts,” he stated.
The work has drawn some controversy for depicting Manning as male. Dormino has responded by stating Manning was portrayed as she appeared at the time of a massive 2010 intelligence leak.
The leak led to Wikileaks publishing the now infamous “collateral murder footage,” which showed images of U.S. troops gunning down journalists and other civilians in Iraq.
Manning was found guilty of the leaks in 2013, and is now serving a 35 year sentence in a U.S. prison. Snowden – the whistleblower responsible for revealing U.S. mass surveillance programs – has sought asylum in Russia amid threats of facing similar charges to Manning in the United States.
NY state police defend shackling 5-year-old student [USA Today – 3/5/15]
Obama to name Marine general to become top US military officer [Reuters - 4/5/15]:
President Barack Obama will nominate the U.S. Marine Corps' top general, Joseph Dunford, to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday, a White House official said.
In a formal announcement, Obama will also nominate General Paul Selva, currently the commander of the U.S. Transportation Command, as the vice chairman, the official said.
Three killed as thousands take to Burundi's streets [Al Jazeera [4/5/15]
Orascom, Bombardier to build $1.5 billion monorail in Egypt [Reuters - 3/5/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq
Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Iraq between 8 a.m., May 3, and 8 a.m., May 4, local time.
In Iraq, coalition military forces conducted 22 airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense using attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [4/5/15]:
Anbar: The coalition aircrafts have shelled many locations in Ta'ameem ,Houz ,Hameera ,jazeera and Albu Farraj...................
Anbar: The war planes shelled Fallujah neighbourhoods last night , casualties resulted unknown..................................
Baghdad: Agencies: 10 persons have been either killed or wounded as a roadside bomb has exploded in Kifah area in the middle of Baghdad...........................
Baghdad: Hashid militias have forced Anbar displaced persons to leave Mahmoudiya district in south of Baghdad and siezed their furniture and proprties as they have left the homes which have been taken on lease in the district ........
Karada people :Green Zone government is a tool to execute the American project and facilitate Da'ish [VIDEO]
5 May 2015