Footage of British soldier in Afghanistan playing with a bird [VIDEO]:
A scene from Adam Curtis's documentary 'Bitter
Lake' (2015) - the song is 'Aye Nam Ghumat Taranae Man' by Ahmad Zahir.
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver - Edward Snowden Interview [VIDEO - 5/4/15]
Kenya bombs Somalia
Al Jazeera [6/4/15]:
Kenya's military has launched air strikes against al-Shabab bases in Somalia following an attack on a Kenyan university that killed 148 people.
Colonel David Obonyo, a military spokesman, said on Monday that warplanes had attacked positions of the al-Shabab group on Sunday afternoon and early Monday morning.
Al-Shabab, which is based in Somalia, claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack on the Garissa University College campus in northeastern Kenya.
After besieging the university, the al-Shabab gunmen lined up non-Muslim students before executing them in the armed group's bloodiest attack to date.
The attack claimed the lives of 142 students, three police officers and three soldiers.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday pledged that the attackers would face justice for the "mindless slaughter" and vowed to retaliate for the killings in the "severest way".
Lawyer, Mandera Chief's Son among Garissa Al Shabaab Terrorists [Citizen News - 5/4/15]:
As details continue to emerge on the devastating terror attack on Garissa University College, one of the perpetrators of the attack has been identified as Abdirahim Mohamed Abdullahi a trained lawyer attached to a local bank in the area as a legal officer.
The Univerity of Nairobi alumnus is also the son of an administrative chief in Mandera.
Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said Abdirahim Abdullahi was one of the four gunmen who attacked the Garissa University College campus on Thursday, killing nearly 150 people.
"The father had reported to security agents that his son had disappeared from home and was helping the police try to trace his son by the time the Garissa terror attack happened," said Njoka via text message.
Abdirahim is said to have gone missing from his Mandera home one year ago with talk that he had joined the Somali militant group Alshabaab and travelled to Syria.
His father Chief Abdullahi of Bulla said: "I buried Rahim long ago but the fact that my own blood took the lives of 100 innocents gives me enough regrets in life and has forever taken away my hopes of living humbly."
Abdirahim was identified after the Kenya Defence Forces paraded four bodies of the slain terrorists in the streets of Garissa for identification.
Five people were also arrested in connection with the attack that saw 147 students killed and scores injured.
The mastermind of the attack, Mohamed Mohamud aka Dulyadeyn, is a Kenyan of Somali origin.
Kenya Today [5/4/15]:
There was drama in Garissa Town on Saturday evening after police displayed to the public four bodies suspected to be those of terrorists who massacred Garissa University students early Thursday morning.
Hundreds of wananchi came out in large numbers at Garissa Primary School playground after word went round that the bodies were being displayed for public viewing.
Businesses in the town centre that was slowly resuming to normal after the shocking university raid, came to a standstill as people came to view the bodies while others feared criminals would loot their goods.
Inside the Elite GSU Police unit’s RECCE company that took 12 mins to kill Garissa Terror Attackers [Kenya Today - 4/4/15]
Inside the Kenyan police units accused of hunting down and assassinating terror suspects in the country after 60 people are killed in two separate attacks [Daily Mail – 8/12/14]
US, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria
U.S. and allied forces conducted 15 air strikes in Syria and Iraq against Islamic State militants during the past 24 hours, the combined joint task force said on Sunday.
Three of the strikes, part of a continuing operation against Islamic State, targeted militants in Syria.
Twelve strikes were aimed at targets in Iraq, including five near the city of Mosul, the joint task force said in a statement.
Indonesia calls for ‘humanitarian pause’ in Yemen
Jakarta Post [6/4/15]:
The government has appealed for a temporary halt to hostilities in Yemen to allow the evacuation of Indonesians still stranded in the country’s inflamed cities.
The Foreign Ministry has recorded that there are currently a number of Indonesians — 89 in Aden, 14 in Sanaa, 40 in Al Mukalla and 58 in Tareem — sheltering in safe houses waiting to be sent home.
Street battles in Aden between Houthi rebels and forces loyal to President Abed Rabboh Mansour Hadi stymied an effort to pick up the 89 there.
“The humanitarian pause will give a chance for the Indonesian government to evacuate its citizens as soon as possible from Yemen,” Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said on Sunday.
The ministry has deployed staff members from the Indonesian Embassy in Muscat, Oman, to remain on standby in the city of Salalah, which borders Yemen.
Staff members of the Indonesian Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, are now in Jizan, a port city in the southwest corner of Saudi Arabia, which also borders Yemen.
The government has sent a further two teams comprising officials and personnel from the Foreign Ministry, the National Police and the Indonesian Air Force to accelerate the operation.
Since efforts began in December, 792 Indonesians have been evacuated from Yemen, 590 of whom have returned to Indonesia.Retno welcomed on Sunday a group of 110 Indonesians included in the latest batch of evacuees, who left Yemen through Jizan.
According to the ministry, fighting has worsened in Aden and Sanaa, making it difficult to continue the evacuation process.
Hari Nasution, 25, a student at Darul U’lum As-Syari’ah University in the western province of al-Hudaidah, was among those who landed in Jakarta on Sunday.
Hari said that some of his fellow Indonesian students had remained in Yemen out of fear that they will not have enough money to return once the fighting is over.
“Six others from my university remain there for financial reasons. They expect the situation to get better,” said the Medan native.
He added that he was first advised to evacuate by the university rector after a rocket hit an area near the university on March 31, when students were preparing for exams the next day.
Hari said he would return to Yemen once the situation had cooled.
The most recent group of evacuees gathered in al-Hudaidah before traveling overland to Jizan, from where an Indonesian Air Force aircraft took them to Muscat.
They returned to Jakarta on commercial flights.
Retno, meanwhile, said she could do no more than encourage Indonesians to leave Yemen, including by asking university rectors to advise their Indonesian students to return temporarily to their home country.
“We cannot force those who choose to stay to go home,” she added.
According to data from the ministry, there are 4,159 Indonesians living in Yemen, including 2,626 students at Yemeni schools and universities.
Workers in the oil and gas industry account for 1,488 of the total, while the rest are embassy staff and their families.
On Saturday, a ship rented by the Indonesian Embassy in Addis Ababa was forced to leave Aden without the 89 Indonesians sheltering in the city that it had been sent to rescue.
The ship did evacuate another 11 Indonesians, 10 Britons, four Yemenis and three Sri Lankans.
Obama says a weakened Israel would be 'failure' of his presidency
Channel News Asia [6/4/15]:
US President Barack Obama has said that a weakened Israel would be a "fundamental failure of my presidency," affirming solidarity with its long-time ally despite recent differences over the Iran nuclear deal.
Obama said while Israel has reason to be concerned about foe Iran, he defended the framework agreement on Iran's nuclear programme that negotiators drew up last week.
Obama made the comments to The New York Times in a 45-minute video interview on Saturday that was posted on Sunday.
"I would consider it a failure on my part, a fundamental failure of my presidency, if on my watch or as a consequence of work that I've done, Israel was rendered more vulnerable," Obama said.
He said he would consider it "not just a strategic failure, I think that would a moral failure," adding that no disagreements between Israel and the United States can break their bond.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly denounced the agreement between Tehran and world powers as a bad deal, arguing it will leave Iran with a large nuclear infrastructure.
The two leaders have also clashed over the Middle East peace process, with Israel opposing the creation of a Palestinian state, while the White House is seeking a "two state" solution to the conflict.
"Even in the midst of the disagreements that I have had with Prime Minister Netanyahu both on Iran as well as on the Palestinian issue, I have been consistent saying that our defense of Israel is unshakable," Obama said.
The US president also defended the Iran nuclear deal, which paves the way for Tehran to curtail its nuclear activity in exchange for relief from punishing economic sanctions.
"There is no formula, there is no option, to prevent Iran from getting a new weapon that will be more effective than the diplomatic initiative and framework that we put forward, and that's demonstrable," he told the newspaper.
But Obama said Israel was "right to be concerned" about Iran, and sent a strong message to enemies of Israel.
"What we will be doing as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anyone messes with Israel, America will be there," he said.
On the Iranian negotiations, Obama said that Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is "a pretty tough read" and "deeply suspicious of the West."
But Obama added: "He does realise that the sanctions regime we put together was weakening Iran over the long term, and that if in fact he wanted to see Iran enter into the community of nations, there would have to be changes."
Gaza returns to 8-hour electricity schedule
The Gaza Strip electricity distribution company said Sunday that the Gaza Strip would return to the 8-hour program for electricity, in which power is supplied and cut off in 8-hour intervals.
Jamal al-Dardasawi, a spokesman for the company, told Ma'an that it has started to receive the first batches of electricity generated by the local generation station which returned to work Sunday evening.
Al-Dardasawi said the first 24 hours of the new schedule would be confusing, but the schedule would be balanced in all areas with a day.
The return to the program comes after the government's decision to exempt the station of tax on fuel for three months.
The plant, Gaza's sole power station, was to be supplied with fuel on Sunday after more than a month-long closure when the Gazan energy authority ran out of funding.
Nathmi Muhanna, PA director of border crossings in the Gaza Strip, said that 10 trucks carrying 400,000 liters of fuel would be passing though the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing on Sunday, and that a regular supply of fuel would be resumed during the week.
On Mar. 2, the Hamas-run energy authority closed the plant after they were unable to afford the taxes demanded by the PA for importing fuel into besieged Gaza.
In December last year, Qatar stepped in and donated $10 million to the PA to cover the tax, effectively exempting Hamas from paying it, but by March that money dried up.
The plant requires 550,000 liters of fuel per day to produce at capacity, the energy authority says.
Even with the plant running, Gaza has only been able to supply about 12 hours of electricity to residents each day, and that it was believed that would fall to just 6 hours after the plant's shutdown.
Gaza's energy authority has been plagued by supply problems due to the Israeli blockade, in place since 2007 and upheld by Egypt, as well as devastation caused by war.
Last summer the plant was targeted during the 50-day Israeli offensive on Gaza, completely knocking it out of commission. The Gaza power authority said at the time that the damages from the attack could take up to a year to fix completely.
Both Israel and Egypt also feed electricity into Gaza, but the extent of this supply is severely limited as part of the blockade.
Many individual homes have their own generators, and households can purchase, expensively, fuel that comes into Gaza for private consumption.
Lawyer: Israel to detain Palestinian MP for six months [Al Jazeera - 6/4/15]
Greece moves to quell default fears, pledges to meet 'all obligations'
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said on Sunday that Greece "intends to meet all obligations to all its creditors, ad infinitum," seeking to quell default fears ahead of a big loan payment Athens owes the IMF later this week.
Following a meeting with the head of the International Monetary Fund, Varoufakis told reporters the government plans to "reform Greece deeply" and would seek to improve the "efficacy of negotiations" with its creditors.
Greece has not received bailout funds since August last year and has resorted to measures such as borrowing from state entities to tide it over. It offered a new package of reforms last week in the hope of unlocking funds, but has yet to win agreement on the proposals with its EU and IMF lenders.
Most urgently, Athens is on the hook for a roughly 450 million euro loan repayment to the IMF due this Thursday.
The interior minister suggested last week the government would prioritize wages and pensions over the IMF payment, although the government later denied that was its stance.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a statement after meeting with Varoufakis that she welcomed his confirmation that the loan payment due would be made on schedule.
“I welcomed confirmation by the minister that payment owing to the Fund would be forthcoming on April 9th," Lagarde said.
She said due diligence efforts in Athens and talks with teams in Brussels over the terms of Greece's bailout would "resume promptly on Monday."
The euro zone country is fast running out of cash, but the bailout extended by the IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank has been frozen until the leftist-led government reaches agreement on a package of reforms.
After a first set of planned measures failed to impress lenders, Athens offered a more detailed package on Wednesday.
But it arrived too late to be discussed at a teleconference with euro zone deputy finance ministers.
The government is hoping approval of its reform proposals will free up the remaining aid of 7.2 billion euros under its bailout and lead to the return of about 1.9 billion euros in profits made by the European Central Bank on Greek bonds.
Greece now has its hopes set on another meeting of euro zone deputy finance ministers on April 8-9, although it is unlikely that a deal could be reached by then. The next meeting of euro zone finance ministers will take place on April 24.
"It is necessary to restore the Greek economy's funding flow," Labor Minister Panos Skourletis told the Greek Ependysi newspaper on Saturday, accusing the country's lenders of taking advantage of Greece's funding limits to add pressure on Athens.
"Whether the country will meet its external obligations depends on our lenders' final political choices and stance," he said, adding that pensions and wages were not at risk.
Turkey's police granted more power as controversial law enters into force
Hurriyet Daily News [4/4/15]:
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has signed the controversial domestic security bill into law, which grants more powers to the police and governors, despite objection from opposition parties.
The bill that regulates the authority of the police was renamed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as "Legal Package To Protect Freedoms," as it triggered fist-fights in parliament during its debate in February.
Erdoğan approved the bill on April 3, after it passed the parliament floor with votes from the AKP, despite vows from all opposition parties to prevent it from becoming law.
Published in the official gazette on April 4, the domestic security law consists of 69 articles.
The government says the police need more powers to preserve public order and the safety of citizens, particularly on the eve of elections scheduled for June. They claim that more peaceful protests turn violent with the increasing use of Molotov cocktails and are also concerned about the recent spread of bonzai, a synthetic drug.
All opposition parties, on the other hand, had argued that that the bill would give draconian powers to the police. Their criticism is focused on the claim that the government designed the bill to suppress free speech rights by justifying future crackdowns on secondary threats.
President Erdoğan himself was involved in the debate, taking a staunch line on Feb. 20, vowing that the bill "will pass one way or another," after some ruling party deputies signaled that the bill might be "moderated."
One of the most controversial articles of the bill that Erdoğan has signed into law gives the police the right to detain a person if it deems the situation as in flagrante delicto. Officers are now able to keep him or her in custody for 24 hours without seeing a judge. This period will be extended to 48 hours, if the police deem that there is a "collective crime."
Previously in Turkey, only the judiciary could detain a person to take him or her into custody.
With the new law, a police chief will also be able to order a strip search or a car search. From 2007 until today, Turkish police have not had the legal authority to conduct strip searches or searches on a car's trunk and interior without the approval of a judge or prosecutor.
Twitter and YouTube blocked in Turkey after court decision: source [Reuters - 6/4/15]
Just had distressing call from sister of this man who's detainee at #manus. Says he's bad untreated health probs
2/2 Sister says he's threatening self-harm. Should self-harm threats get attention? Prob not, but situation there so dark. Desperate people
"tweeted" by @AlJazSydANDREW- Andrew Thomas - Sydney Correspondent, Al Jazeera [6/4/15]
New Book: Antimalaria Drugs Part of Secret Program to Torture Detainees at Guantanamo [Fire Dog Lake - 5/4/15]:
... A Navy doctor-researcher, Remington Nevin, later confirmed in a 2012 published report in the medical journal Tropical Medicine and International Health that DoD’s “presumptive treatment” of possible mefloquine in the detainees was both unprecedented and “inappropriate.” He added that his “analysis suggests the troubling possibility that the use of mefloquine at Guantanamo may have been motivated in part by knowledge of the drug’s adverse effects….”
Hickman would conclude that the mefloquine was used at the highest known dosage precisely because of its propensity to cause side effects, including dizziness, nightmares, nausea, and suicidal feelings. ...
Asylum seekers on Manus Island are being given a type of anti-malaria medication that detention centre staff have been warned not to take because of serious side effects.
Centre staff were warned not to take Mefloquine, also known as Lariam, because of adverse health effects.
Salvation Army worker Simon Taylor says in a submission to a Senate inquiry that he is aware asylum seekers have been given the drug despite the warnings to staff.
Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration warns that patients with a history of depression, anxiety disorders or other major psychiatric illness should not be prescribed the drug.
It's common for asylum seekers in detention to suffer depression, post traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses.
The US military developed the drug in the 1970s and has curbed its use among troops after it was linked to permanent brain damage, suicide, murder and domestic violence.
Has "deterrence" reached its penultimate goal?
Where are Gerry Hand and Gareth Evans?
Did they intend indefinitely detained refugees hunger strike to the death, and if not, what exactly did they think would fucking happen?
Australia's sledgehammer, Peter Mares [APO - 25/2/04]:
... Outside observers could be forgiven for assuming that Australia’s harsh policies were the product of an assault on the nation’s borders by huge numbers of unauthorised migrants. In fact the opposite is the case: Australia’s ‘problem’ with asylum seekers is modest, particularly when compared with poor nations in Africa or West Asia that have been confronted with huge numbers of refugees pouring across their frontiers in a single day. Even when boat arrivals to Australia peaked the largest number to arrive in a single year was 4175 (in financial year 1999-2000).
The policy of mandatory detention was not implemented in response to an emergency on Australia’s borders and its origins pre-date the government of John Howard with which it is now so closely associated. The power to detain non-citizens who do not have a valid visa to enter Australia was included in the 1958 Migration Act and was indicative of the highly regulated and restrictive history of Australian immigration policy. This ‘culture of control’ in immigration found infamous expression in the White Australia policy, which prevented the entry of non-Europeans to the country from 1901 until the early 1970s. Small immigration detention centres had long been established in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth while in other cities immigration detainees were usually held in prisons.
But the routine detention of asylum seekers arriving without visas and the construction of remote detention centres to house them followed the landing of a boat carrying 26 people at Pender Bay near Broome in November 1989. It was the first boat to carry asylum seekers to Australian territory since 1981 and its arrival marked the beginning of a second wave of boatpeople landing on Australia shores. (The first wave lasted from 1976 to 1981. It was made up of about 2000 refugees arriving in small groups who were fleeing Communism in Indochina after the end of the Vietnam War. They were not detained on arrival.)
There were many Cambodians aboard the Pender Bay boat and subsequent vessels and their arrival came at a sensitive time for the Labor government of Prime Minister Bob Hawke. Hawke’s high-profile foreign minister Gareth Evans was deeply involved in crafting a peace process for Cambodia, which involved the repatriation of 300,000 Cambodian refugees from camps along the Thai border.
The federal government feared that confidence in the plan could be undermined if Cambodians in Australia were found to be refugees or if their personal stories were allowed to become public. Hawke was quick to declare categorically that the Cambodians were not ‘political’ but ‘economic’ refugees. He said he would not allow Cambodian asylum seekers to ‘jump the queue’ of Australia’s orderly migration program.
The label ‘queue jumper’ has been used to denigrate asylum seekers arriving by boat ever since.
While detention was initially ad hoc, it was soon developed into a formal system, and in 1991 the government opened a detention centre in disused working-men’s quarters in Port Hedland on the far north coast of Western Australia. According to Frank Brennan, the primary motivation for detaining Cambodian asylum seekers in Port Hedland was to make them inaccessible to ‘lawyers and the other community groups labelled by government as “do-gooders” so that their public description as economic migrants would stick without causing any haemorrhaging of the Evans peace plan’ .
Other justifications for detention soon emerged, the most notable being that it would deter further arrivals. In 1992 lawyers challenged the detention of 15 Cambodian asylum seekers who had been incarcerated for more than two years. Less than 4 hours before a Federal Court judge was to hear the application the government rushed through new legislation to entrench the policy of mandatory detention more firmly in law. Immigration Minister Gerry Hand told parliament that the government was ‘determined that a clear signal be sent that migration to Australia may not be achieved by simply arriving in this country and expecting to be allowed into the community.’ ...
Former foreign minister Gareth Evans says it's sensible for Australia to begin an international dialogue about revamping the United Nations Refugee Convention. ... [Nine MSN - 18/7/13]
Anthony Albanese says the government must modify its asylum seeker policies as the people smuggler's adopt new strategies for bringing people to Australia. ... [SBS - 18/7/13]
... Parliamentary secretary Ed Husic said it was right to look at ways of updating the convention to meet current conditions.
"What it doesn't deal with is someone hopping on a plane from Tehran, going to Indonesia and then hopping on a vessel to come across and do the two-day trip (to Australia) and classing themselves as a refugee," he told Sky News. ... [Yahoo 7 - 18/7/13]
Calls for Australia to withdraw from UN Refugee Convention [AUDIO - 17/6/13]:
There's growing concern Australia's support for the United Nations Refugee Convention is attracting asylum seekers to Australia.
Former Labor Immigration minister Gerry Hand has suggested withdrawing from the convention, arguing it may lead to a drop in asylum seeker numbers.
MIGRATION AMENDMENT BILL 1992 - Second Reading - House of Representatives [5/5/92]:
Mr HAND (Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs)
... I now wish to foreshadow major Government amendments to the Bill which I will move during the committee stage. The Government is conscious of the extraordinary nature of the measures which will be implemented by the amendment aimed at boat people. I believe it is crucial that all persons who come to Australia without prior authorisation not be released into the community. Their release would undermine the Government's strategy for determining their refugee status or entry claims. Indeed, I believe it is vital to Australia that this be prevented as far as possible. The Government is determined that a clear signal be sent that migration to Australia may not be achieved by simply arriving in this country and expecting to be allowed into the community. ...
"The Australian government's attempts to eject 37 Cambodian boat people applying for refugee status is racist, heartless and uncaring", says Rosanna Barbero, a member of the Action Committee for Refugees in Australia. ... [Green Left Weekly - 3/6/92]
Immigration minister Gerry Hand bluntly dismissed the hunger strike by 56 Chinese refugees detained at Port Hedland in an interview on Channel 10 on March 23. "If I was to intervene now", said Hand, "I may as well get the rules, tear them up and throw them away and say, 'Well, if you just come here, that's sufficient for you to stay in Australia'". ... [Green Left Weekly 8/4/92]
What is Mandatory Detention? [The Asylum and Refugee Law Project - 8/7/13]
Australia's founding father of indefinite mandatory detention [ABC - 11/11/11]
Private Prisons for Immigrant Families Grow Despite Court Ruling Against "Detention as Deterrence" [Democracy Now - 25/3/15]:
The Obama administration continues to expand its controversial practice of detaining mothers and their children despite a judge’s order that using it to deter mass migration is illegal. Starting last summer, thousands of Central American women with kids as young as a few months old crossed into the United States seeking asylum. Even though many were later found to have a "credible fear" of violent persecution, they found themselves rounded up and put into detention, with little chance for freedom until they were deported. But last month, a federal judge ordered immigration authorities to begin releasing the women and children. He found the Obama administration’s policy of detaining them in order to deter others from coming was illegal. Since then, more families have been granted bond and released, while others who are unable to afford the bonds remain locked up. They are held at one of two new family detention centers run by private prison companies in southern Texas. We air an on-the-ground report from Texas by Democracy Now! producer Renée Feltz, who speaks to a recently released mother and her son. We are also joined by Barbara Hines, former director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas Law School. Hines’ affidavit in a lawsuit challenging detention of women and children as a method of deterrence to mass migration was cited by the federal judge in his order to halt the practice. ...
Federal Court blocks government from detaining asylum seekers as tactic to deter others from coming to US [ACLU Media Release - 20/2/15]
A message from #Saeed to his supporters "thank you for prayers, messages and flowers" Our reply is #stayWithusSaeed
"tweeted" by @rranwa - Refugee Rights Action Network, WA [6/4/15]
Court Rejects Last-Ditch Appeal by ‘Bali Nine’ Convicts
Jakarta Globe [6/4/15]:
An Indonesian court rejected on Monday a last-ditch challenge by Australian drug convicts Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who are facing execution by firing squad, a verdict the attorney general’s office said left them with no further legal avenues to avoid the death penalty.
The pair, who were convicted in 2006 as the ringleaders of a plot to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia, had challenged the Jakarta administrative court’s decision not to hear an appeal against President Joko Widodo’s decision to refuse them clemency.
The rejection of both Chan and Sukumaran’s challenges means they have exhausted all means of legal recourse, according to a spokesman for the Attorney General.
The lawyer for the two Australian death row convicts said on Monday he would file a legal challenge to the Constitutional Court in the hopes of delaying their execution.
“We will continue our legal efforts,” lawyer Leonard Arpan told reporters shortly after the ruling.
The Australian pair are among 10 drug convicts due to be executed by firing squad on the prison island of Nusakambangan. Others in the group include citizens of France, Brazil, the Philippines, Ghana, Nigeria and Indonesia.
Joko denied clemency to the convicts despite repeated pleas from Australia, Brazil and France.
Sukumaran and Chan had sought in February to challenge the president’s blanket rejection, with their lawyers arguing that he did not give due consideration to each case. But the administrative court originally dismissed their case on the grounds it did not have the legal authority to assess it.
The attorney general is awaiting the outcome of legal appeals by three remaining death row inmates before setting a date for executions. His office’s spokesman has previously said the intention is for all the executions to be carried out together, but they could be conducted in batches.
Indonesia has harsh penalties for drug trafficking and resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap.
... "The AFP provided the information that led to the arrest, prosecution, guilty verdicts and death sentences of two Australian citizens," Dr Sifris wrote.
"If these men are executed, the AFP will have blood on its hands." [Bali Nine case: AFP retains ability to give information abroad that risks death penalty for Australians - Canberra Times - 29/1/15]
If politicians were serious about opposing the execution of Australians in Indonesia, they would be calling for the recall of our Ambassador and an end to the funding of their death squads.
Indonesia has recalled its new ambassador to Brazil after the South American country stopped him taking part in a credentials ceremony following the execution of a Brazilian national for drugs trafficking. ... [Reuters - 21/2/15]
Brazil and the Netherlands have recalled their ambassadors from Indonesia and expressed fury after Jakarta defied their pleas and executed two of their citizens along with four other drug offenders.
The other convicts to face a firing squad were from Vietnam, Malawi, Nigeria and Indonesia. The six were the first people executed under new President Joko Widodo.
Indonesia has tough anti-drugs laws and Widodo, who took office in October, has disappointed rights activists by voicing support for capital punishment despite his image as a reformist.
He defended the executions, saying drugs ruin lives.
A spokesman for the Brazilian president, Dilma Roussef, said she was “distressed and outraged” after Indonesia ignored her last-ditch pleas and put to death Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, who was convicted of smuggling cocaine into Indonesia in 2004.
“Using the death penalty, which is increasingly rejected by the international community, seriously affects relations between our countries,” the spokesman said in a statement on Sunday.
Court to Rule on Last-Ditch Appeal by Bali Nine Drug Convicts
Jakarta Globe [6/4/15]:
An Indonesian court will rule on Monday on an appeal against President Joko Widodo’s refusal of clemency for two Australian drug convicts who are facing execution by firing squad.
Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were convicted in 2006 as the ringleaders of a plot to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.
The pair are among a group of 10 drug convicts due to be executed by firing squad at the prison island of Nusakambangan. Others in the group include citizens of France, Brazil, the Philippines, Ghana, Nigeria and Indonesia.
Joko has denied clemency to the convicts despite repeated pleas from Australia, Brazil and France.
Sukumaran and Chan are challenging in an administrative court the president’s blanket rejection, with their lawyers arguing that he did not give due consideration of each case.
If the court rules in their favor, Joko may have to reconsider their pleas for clemency. Lawyers said that if their appeal is rejected they will have exhausted all avenues of legal recourse.
The attorney general is awaiting the outcome of legal appeals by three remaining death row inmates before setting a date for executions. A spokesman in his office previously said the intention was for all executions to be carried out together but they could be conducted in batches.
Indonesia has harsh penalties for drug trafficking and resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap.
Take aim, fire at will: Australian hypocrisy on a high pedestal [Jakarta Post - 24/1/15]:
The Australian media is engaged in a surreal form of hypocrisy by criticizing the execution of those convicted of drug trafficking in Indonesia. Canberra’s exceptionalism stands out as it puts its double standards with respect to human lives and dignity on a high pedestal, problematizing the death penalty only when Australians are put before the firing squad.
First, Indonesian state treatment of convicted drug traffickers differs only slightly from Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. Asylum seekers desperately trying to seek refuge in Australia and convicted drug traffickers vacationing in Bali are similar “abject bodies”: individuals that the sovereign state does not want and plans to effectively and efficiently dispose of.
In a nutshell, the only difference between Indonesian and Australian treatment of “abject bodies” lies merely in each country’s preferred legal methods and the distance considered comfortable and acceptable by its public.
Indonesia provides open and accessible trials, opportunities for appeal, sympathetic media coverage, rehabilitation programs and a chance at being granted presidential clemency.
On the other hand, Australia seemingly prefers secretive on-the-spot extra-judicial actions, better known as “on-sea-matters” that the Abbott government refuses to comment on.
Furthermore, Indonesia prefers openly using its own firing squad, having solid legal justification and being fully accountable for the lives it takes.
Meanwhile, Australia prefers the outsourcing and subcontracting of their deeds to private companies and offshoring them to distant locations that are conveniently out of sight and out of the mind of its public, such as Manus Island, Nauru and Cambodia.
In July 2014, the forced return of Australian-bound refugees to Sri Lanka also indicated that Canberra is content with practices bordering on “forced disappearance” of civilians at sea while effectively breaching international legal principles of non-refoulement, the UN Refugee Convention and UN Convention against Torture.
Asylum seekers, sometimes including children, in Australian detention facilities have undergone hunger strikes, sewn their lips shut, inflicted self-harm and attempted suicide, swallowed razorblades and even burned themselves to death in protest at the “Australian solution”.
Currently, 700 asylum seekers are on hunger strike in Manus Island. Two asylum seekers from the camp, Reza Barati and Hamid Kehazaei, have already died but not a single asylum seeker has been successfully resettled to date. This makes the facility more of a death camp than a resettlement camp.
Second, insistence on saving individual Australians misses the bigger picture which should be the abolition of the death penalty and upholding human dignity in Indonesia, Australia and beyond. When former president Yudhoyono left his presidency, he controversially granted Schapelle Corby parole.
His act of conceited generosity fostered Australian exceptionalism, giving the impression that the death penalty is avoidable by turning convicted Australians into media darlings, concluding backroom negotiations, having your appeal heard by the president and finding legal loopholes that Australians can exploit.
Before concerned Australians can start seeing the bigger picture and join ranks with like-minded liberals and reformists in Indonesia, Australian parents will continue to worry about their youth vacationing in Bali, knowing that once caught experimenting with recreational drugs, their loved ones might be sent to the firing squad.
Third, implying that executions will affect bilateral relations to the disadvantage of Indonesia is ridiculous. Former Australian prime minister John Howard and opposition leader Simon Crean were not opposed to the execution of convicted terrorists Amrozi bin Nurhasyim and Imam Samudra in 2008 and Canberra, through its counterterrorism aid, had actually subsidized the bullets used to execute them.
Australian media coverage of their executions was surprisingly detailed and even savored many of its graphic moments. Australia’s main ally, the United States, enforces the death penalty in the majority of its states and one of Canberra’s largest trading partners and paymaster, China, performs one of the highest numbers of executions worldwide and has only stopped harvesting organs from executed prisoners this year. If anything, Australian hypocrisy and exceptionalism risks worsening its public image in Indonesia as a neighbor that not only disrespects international law and Indonesia’s borders, but now also Indonesian law and legal corridors.
Australian government appeals are neither heroic nor heartfelt; Canberra is merely trying to save their own “subject bodies” from the firing squad, while slowly disposing of “abject bodies” it does not want through inhumane detention camps or returning them to foreign regimes that will probably finish the job for them. Indonesia paying “blood money” to save the “subject bodies” of Indonesian domestic workers in Saudi Arabia from beheading is no less hypocritical as these efforts are done against the backdrop of killing off “abject bodies” that were once warmly received as guests in Bali.
Australia and Indonesia betray human rights and violate human dignity alike by abusing the criminalized and illegal “abject bodies” in surprisingly similar ways, differing only in their preferred legal methods and comfortable distance acceptable to their respective publics.
All lives matter greatly, not just Australian ones. Any debate that does not start from these fundamental premises of equality of human life and dignity is not worth visiting and is a waste of the Indonesian public’s valuable attention and time.
The writer is executive director for the Marthinus Academy in Jakarta.
Do bollards prevent press gallery journalists from asking LNP and ALP politicians why Saeed Hassanloo cannot be released?
Sydney Morning Herald [6/4/15]:
The committee representing the media working in Parliament House has lodged a formal complaint about the increasing use of bollards, saying they threaten freedom of the press and pose safety issues.
Over the past year bollards have been erected inside and outside the building in what photographers and camera crews in particular see as an attempt to restrict their access to politicians.
For the first time holding pens have been created outside the entrances to Parliament House, which limits the media's ability to document the arrival of politicians on sitting days.
If Australia's establishment media types are genuinely angry about new parliamentary access restrictions, why don't they stir up some real trouble and start holding the bastards to account?
Imagine: "Tonight's new bulletin - broadcast exclusively from Perth Hospital - will focus on how bipartisan, Kafkaesque cruelty kills."
The refugees would be free tomorrow.
Australia tortures refugees.
Bipartisan refugee policies and media silence are murdering Saeed Hassanloo and others.
Imaginary Australian journalist to Peter Dutton: Why don't you release Saeed Hassanloo?
Imaginary Australian journalist to "opposition": Why don't you call for Saeed Hassanloo's release? You incarcerated him.
West Australian [6/4/15]:
An Iranian asylum seeker was last night still clinging to life, more than five weeks after embarking on a hunger strike in protest of his treatment.
Saeed Hassanloo, 25, is in a critical condition at Royal Perth Hospital after starving himself for the past 44 days.
He is understood to have begun to refuse fluids over a week ago, when his brother Majid was transferred from Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre to Christmas Island.
The brothers, who fled Iran in 2009, spoke on Thursday last week but it is not thought they will be reunited as Mr Hassanloo’s condition worsens.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said yesterday the situation was very sad and he hoped “the man will reconsider his position”.
Italy rescues 1,500 refugees in Mediterranean in one day
Some 1,500 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Italy in five different boats were rescued in one day, Italian coastguards said Sunday.
Four coastguard vessels and an Italian navy ship intervened Saturday to save three large boats carrying migrants off the Libyan coast after intercepting distress calls from satellite telephones, only to find two other migrants boats in difficulty nearby.
The Italian vessels were on Sunday transferring the migrants to the island of Lampedusa and the Sicilian ports of Augusta and Porto Empedocle.
Yemen's Houthis ready for talks if airstrikes stop: senior member [Daily Star – 5/4/15]
Suicide bomber kills four near Libya's Misrata, air strikes hit Tripoli outskirts [Reuters – 5/4/15]
A policeman was killed in a second straight day of bombings in Cairo, and the leader of a militant group that has targeted police and soldiers around the capital died in a separate incident, security sources said on Sunday. ... [Reuters - 5/4/15]
A confidential Spanish military report on the death of a Spanish U.N. peacekeeper in Israeli shelling in Lebanon said he was manning a post that appeared to have been targeted, a newspaper reported Sunday.
El Pais cited extracts from the report which drew on testimony from soldiers following the January 28 incident when the Israeli military shelled border areas following a Hizbullah attack that left two Israeli soldiers dead.
Corporal Ivan Lopez Sanchez, who was stationed nearby, told investigators that the U.N. position was clearly targeted. ... [Naharnet - 5/4/15]
Afghanistan: Attorney injured in Kundoz explosion
An attorney was injured after in a magnetic bomb explosion in Kundoz city, provincial capital of northern Kundoz province Sunday morning.
Sarwar Hussaini, spokesman for the provincial police headquarters of Kundoz says that the magnetic bomb was attached to the vehicle of the Attorney.
Hussaini expressed concern over the health condition of the Attorney and said that his wounds are critical.
The blast takes place a day after an explosion injured 10 people in another part of Kundoz city.
Also, another explosion took place in Kandahar city this morning.
Officials say that the explosive materials were placed in a motorcycle parked in Aino Mina area of Kandahar city which exploded around 10:00 AM but luckily did not have loose of life of property.
Over 3,800 Afghans arrested by police in Peshawar in past 3 months [Khaama - 5/4/15]
Nigeria Releases Detained Al-Jazeera Journalists
Two Al-Jazeera television journalists who had been detained by the Nigerian military since March 24 have been freed, the Qatar-based broadcaster said in a statement on Sunday.
It said Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa had been allowed to leave the Maiduguri hotel where they were detained, and return to the network's Abuja office.
"We're pleased for Ahmed and Ali that their ordeal is over," said Salah Negm, director of news for Al-Jazeera English.
"They're looking forward to spending some time with their families and loved ones. I know that both of them want to thank everyone that helped secure their release, including NGOs, politicians and fellow journalists," Negm added.
There were no further details on the conditions of their release.
The pair, both Nigerians, were detained in the northeast where troops were battling Boko Haram militants.
Nigerian defense spokesman Chris Olukolade had said they were "found to have been loitering around areas where military operations are ongoing in the northeast and have been restrained in Maiduguri."
But Al-Jazeera said they were taken from their hotel room after having "finished filming a story on the military with their cooperation," and that their camera equipment was confiscated.
Nigeria's military has had tense relations with the media, particularly overseas organizations, frequently accusing them of misrepresenting the conflict.
The journalists also had their phones confiscated and had not been allowed to contact the outside world.
Reporter Idris joined Al-Jazeera in 2010 and has 30 years' experience in broadcasting. Cameraman Mustafa has been with the network since 2011.
Severe storm kills 24, injures more than 50 in Bangladesh
A severe storm sweeping across Bangladesh killed at least 24 people and injured dozens more, mostly in Bogra district in the northern part of the country, police and officials said on Sunday.
Women and children were among the dead, who included some victims in the capital Dhaka, they said, and more than 50 people were injured and admitted to hospitals around the country.
Shafiqur Reza Biswas, Bogra's chief district administrator, told reporters storm killed at least 14 people killed alone in his district, 228 kilometers (143 miles) north of Dhaka, Several houses were damaged while trees were uprooted, he said, adding that power supply had been cut for several hours.
This was the first severe storm in the usual spring storm season, weather officials said.
Why doesn't Queensland's Murdoch controlled hate media just campaign for police to shoot people who get trapped by rising floodwaters?
Queensland Times [6/4/15]:
A mother and son spent more than an hour and a half stuck on the roof of their stranded car after attempting to drive over a flooded bridge near Boonah.
Heavy rain on Saturday caused floodwaters to spill over the Teviot Brook Bridge on Beaudesert-Boonah Rd.
Despite the flash flooding, the 48-year-old woman and her son tried to cross the bridge about 6.20am yesterday.
They were forced to climb on to the roof and call emergency services after the car became trapped, stranding them in the fast-moving water.
Both firefighters and the State Emergency Service were called on to perform a swift water rescue and the pair was finally pulled from the roof just before 8am.
The bridge, just outside Coulson, was closed well into yesterday morning as the car remained stranded in the receding floodwater.
Road closure signs were in place and police officers were patrolling the Boonah and Coulson area yesterday morning to keep other drivers out of floodwaters.
Ipswich police reminded drivers not to risk driving over flooded roads.
The "If it's flooded, forget it" campaign has been running for several years in an effort to stop motorists from risking their life during storms and floods and drivers can be slapped with a fine if they risk crossing roads that are closed.
Bureau of Meteorology records show more than 100mm of rain fell in the Boonah area between from Saturday morning to Sunday morning - the highest daily amount in more than a year.
Boonah wasn't the only place that had a damp long weekend.
BOM's Amberley weather station recorded about 33mm of rain from Friday morning to Sunday evening.
At Tallegalla station near Marburg, 27mm was recorded from Saturday morning to Sunday morning.
The rain is expected to disappear today, with clear skies and temperatures of up to 30 degrees forecast until Thursday.
Holiday makers can also expect a scorching 31 degrees today on the final day of the Easter long weekend.
Showers are forecast to potentially return for the weekend.
Triple-0 operator chastises flood victims [ABC - 19/4/11]:
ALI MOORE: The Queensland flood inquiry has heard a triple-0 operator chastised a mother and her son, shortly before they were swept to their deaths.
Two emergency calls made by Donna and Jordan Rice were played to the inquiry as their family wept quietly in the courtroom.
Francene Norton reports from Toowoomba.
FRANCENE NORTON: Survivor Blake Rice and his father John Tyson were surrounded by family, as they prepared themselves to hear the final recordings of their loved ones.
The calls were made on the 10 January as floodwaters swept away their car in Toowoomba's CBD. In the first call, the police operator demanded three times: "Why did you drive through floodwaters?"
"You shouldn't have driven through floodwaters in the first place."
The family of Donna and Jordan Rice wiped away tears as they listened to the rising panic in the second emergency call. In the background, Donna Rice could be heard yelling at her sons to jump on the roof, while Jordan Rice pleaded with the operator to hurry up because they were about to drown.
The female operator shouted: "If you don't tell me where you are we can't help you."
"Tell the woman beside you to stop yelling."
Donna Rice's widower John Tyson read a statement to the court about the impact the tragedy has had on his family's lives. And in response to the triple-0 calls, Mr Tyson said: "I fail to see what part of the call wasn't panic."
"What gave someone the right to decide that I have to bury half my family?"
Earlier the court heard from the chief executive officer and Mayor of Toowoomba Regional Council about whether an SMS alert to residents before the flash flooding hit would have helped. Both told the inquiry that given the waters rose so quickly, an SMS may have created more panic.
KEN GOULDTHORP, TOOWOOMBA COUNCIL CEO: Would they have rushed outside? Would they have jumped into their cars and drive home? Would that have made it more dangerous?
PETER TAYLOR: We want to hear all of the good ideas that might come out of such a commission inquiry.
FRANCENE NORTON: The inquiry heads to Dalby tomorrow.
Francene Norton, Lateline.
Did anybody actually hear these warnings broadcast on their local radio stations over the weekend???? I certainly didn't.
Twelve southeast Queensland dams are overflowing and might pose a threat to people living downstream.
Dam operator Seqwater said: "This means that if you are downstream of the dam you should exercise caution near waterways and floodplains as you may encounter fast-flowing or deep water that could be a safety hazard."
After several days of heavy rain, the Borumba, Cedar Pocket, Enoggera, Ewen Maddock, Gold Creek, Lake Macdonald, Lake Manchester, Leslie Harrison, Little Nerang, Maroon, Sideling Creek and Wappa dams are spilling.
More than 150mm of rain has been dumped on parts of the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast hinterlands in the past 24 hours.
Falls have been less in Brisbane, which recorded 30-50mm of rain. The Bureau of Meteorology says more rain is expected during the next couple of days.
Rupert Murdoch's US empire siphons $4.5 billion from Australian business virtually tax-free
Canberra Times [6/4/15]:
Rupert Murdoch's media empire in the US has siphoned off $4.5 billion of cash and shares from his Australian media businesses in the past two years, virtually tax free.
According to calculations by University of NSW accounting academic, Jeffrey Knapp, over the past 10 years, Mr Murdoch's companies here have paid income tax equivalent to a rate of 4.8 per cent on $6.8 billion in operating cash flows, or just 10 per cent of operating profits.
News Corp Australia chief executive Julian Clarke is scheduled to appear before the Senate Inquiry into Corporate Tax Avoidance this week along with executives from Google, Apple, Glencore, Rio Tinto, BHP and Fortescue. The inquiry has been called to address rising community concerns that multinational companies are not paying their fair share of tax in Australia.
Two pages of detailed questions were put to News about its accounting practices. The response from a spokesperson for the company was: "Our financial reports comply with Australian Accounting Standards and the Corporations Act 2001, have received an unqualified audit opinion and are filed with the regulator, ASIC. Beyond this we have nothing further to add."
Normally a company will return cash to its offshore parent by way of dividends from shares or interest from loans. These however attract withholding tax. News has justified its practice of "repatriating" cash - $1.3 billion only last year - by making a "return of capital" to its New York parent.
In order for this capital to be returned, it had to be created in the first place. This was done via a transaction in late 2004 whereby News interposed a $2 company at the top of its web of Australian companies. This company, News Australia Holdings, then issued 77 billion shares to News Corporation in New York, the seat of Murdoch's global media empire. Those shares were issued to acquire the shares of the previous Australian holding company.
In other words, Company A (News Australia Holdings) acquired Company B (the previous holding company) by issuing 77 billion shares to News Corporation.
News Corp owned the shares in Company B. They created the new holding company, Company A. It issued 77 billion shares to News Corp and then News Corp transferred the shares it held in Company B to Company A.
As part of the accounting for this transaction, there is a $7 billion increase in intangibles and consequently in the share capital in News Australia Holdings as well. Although the intangibles were reversed the next year, the inflated share capital remained the same and News has used this share capital to return billions in cash years later.
The result of this "magic pudding", said Mr Knapp, is that "share capital ballooned by $7 billion for a temporary adjustment to intangible assets that has the character of internally generated goodwill".
"As a result of doing nothing more than putting a new $2 company at the top of the Australian group they later returned that capital in cash and shares with little tax consequence."
Had these recent distributions been classed as dividends, News could have contributed a further $1 billion in tax to the Australian public purse. Dividends incur withholding tax at a rate of 30 per cent.
Fairfax also sought the views of University of Sydney Professor Emeritus Bob Walker and forensic accountant John Shanahan, author of Shanahan & Shanahan's Guide to Accounting Standards. Both expressed concerns about aspects of the News Australia accounting practices.
News Corp ceased producing "general purpose" financial reports in 2006.
Asked whether News should be producing general purpose accounts, Professor Walker said: "It's plainly anomalous that local subsidiaries of major multinational corporations can themselves decide they are not 'reporting entities' – and hence that they don't have to comply with all Australian accounting standards.
"The test is whether there are any users who might rely on published financial statements to make, or to evaluate, economic decisions. If directors say that some large proprietary companies are not 'reporting entities', they are ignoring the legitimate interests of employees, employees' representatives, creditors, and the Australian Tax Office.
The Corporations Act should address this shortcoming."
Breaking down the $4.5 billion in cash and shares transferred offshore, $1.3 billion in cash was transferred in 2014 and subsidiaries holding $1.9 billion in cash were transferred in 2013. The rest was shares.
Besides the questionable level of disclosure, there are a number of accounting irregularities in the News Australia Holdings accounts, including the strange claim that various subsidiaries of the company do not have to file financial statements because they are entitled to class order relief from the Australian Securities & Investments Commission.
This is not the case, according to Mr Shanahan.
"To gain this relief, all the companies covered [by the class order] must be wholly-owned by News Australia Holdings and covered by a cross-guarantee of indebtedness," he said.
News Australia Holdings does not own any shares in 20 subsidiaries. The New York parent News Corp and other offshore entities are the shareholders. They are not party to the deed of cross guarantee. Therefore News Corporation presents in the accounts of News Australia Holdings as being, at the same time, non-controlling and controlling shareholder.
Operation Elveden, the CPS and the serious abuse of public trust [Hacking Inquiry - 3/4/15]
Corporations to front up on tax evasion: Inquiry [Greens Media Release - 4/4/15]:
With reports today that 10 companies together channelled more than $30 billion out of Australia in a single financial year, Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne says her Senate Inquiry into corporate tax avoidance couldn't start soon enough.
"It's time to make sure that as a nation we've got the money we need for health, for education and to look after our environment, rather than see these multinational corporations organise themselves to rip off Australia," said Senator Milne.
"I initiated this Senate Inquiry look at the adequacy, compliance and enforcement of Australia's current laws, any need for greater transparency, the broader economic impacts of corporate tax avoidance and any relevant issues arising from the tax white paper that came out last week.
"We've called the big miners, tech companies and accounting firms to front public hearings this coming week: Google, Apple, Glencore, BHP, KPMG. All those and more will be turning up to provide evidence.
"Treasury, the Australian Tax Office and the corporate regulator ASIC will be there too.
"The Greens are very disappointed that the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Adani and the Future Fund have not made themselves available to appear before the inquiry and we do not intend to let them off the hook.
"These are significant players that have serious questions to answer about the tax they pay in Australia. It is in the public interest that they front up," said Senator Milne.
"Both Labor and the government are now talking about the fact that big corporations aren't paying the right amount of tax, but talk is cheap. The Greens want action."
Public hearings are scheduled to take place Wednesday to Friday, April 8, 9 and 10, in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. Click here for the detailed schedule and list of witnesses.
Serious assault, Inala
QPS Media [6/4/15]:
Police have charged a man after a serious assault at Inala yesterday.
Around 6.30pm police were called to a Corsair Avenue address after reports of a disturbance between a man and a woman.
It will be alleged a physical altercation ensued between the pair resulting in a 23-year-old woman receiving stab wounds to her back.
The woman was taken to the Princess Alexandra Hospital for treatment to serious injuries.
A 42-year-old Inala man has been charged with one count each of assault occasioning bodily harm and grievous bodily harm.
He is due to appear in the Richlands Magistrates Court today.
Armed robbery, Main Beach
QPS Media [6/4/15]:
Gold Coast Detectives are appealing for witnesses in relation to an alleged armed robbery at The Spit in Main Beach.
Around 10.30pm last night a 21-year-old man was approached by two men one of which was armed with a knife.
The men made demands for the man’s phone and wallet then fled on foot once the man complied.
The 21-year-old man was not physically injured during the incident.
One of the men is described as Caucasian with a muscular build, approximately 173cm with blond shoulder length hair.
He was wearing a white coloured T-shirt and a black hat on with no brim, possibly a beanie, also possibly with a tattoo across neck.
The second man is described as Caucasian with a slim build, approximately 180cm tall and wearing a black T-shirt.
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.
Fatal traffic crash, Edmonton (Cairns)
QPS Media [6/4/15]:
... Initial investigations suggest just before midnight a single motorcycle collided with a concrete barrier at a roundabout.
The male rider believed to be in his forties was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.
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.
Another police pursuit of teenage boys, Annandale (Townsville)
QPS Media [6/4/15]:
Two boys have been charged after a series of incidents in Annandale early this morning.
Police conducting patrols on Stuart Drive Annandale observed a vehicle alleged to have been stolen from a Diversity Street Rassmussen address earlier that night.
When police attempted to intercept the car it is alleged the driver drove away at speed and lost control of the vehicle.
Police approached the vehicle on foot to apprehend the occupants and it will be alleged the driver accelerated towards police then drove off again.
The vehicle and its occupants were located a short time later on University Road Douglas.
A 17-year-old Parkside man was charged with burglary and commit indictable offence and the unlawful use of a motor vehicle.
He is due to appear in the Townsville Magistrates Court today.
A 16-year-old Mount Louisa boy has been charged with burglary and commit indictable offence and the unlawful use of a motor vehicle and will be dealt with under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act.
Investigations are continuing.
Man tasered, arrested following restaurant siege in Melbourne
A 35-year-old man has been arrested after a siege in a Melbourne restaurant ended this morning with the release of a woman who was being held hostage.
The 27-year-old woman was released about 5:30am (AEST) after being held by the knife-wielding man, who barricaded himself inside the Ludlow Bar and Dining restaurant at Southbank about 10:00pm yesterday.
Police said the man was a disgruntled former employee of the restaurant.
The man was wheeled out of the restaurant on a stretcher and taken to an ambulance for a precautionary assessment at St Vincent's Hospital after being tasered by police when he released the woman.
He had made his way into a store room at the rear of the restaurant armed with a knife earlier on Sunday night, a police spokesman said.
The spokesman said the woman, a female staff member known to the man, was in the store room at the time.
Staff self-evacuated the restaurant after another staff member saw the knife and called police, he said.
Police said the man had been employed by the restaurant as recently as last week.
"At this stage it's really the subject of an ongoing investigation, but all I can say is that he was fairly disgruntled around some employment issues with the restaurant," Inspector Travis McCarthy said.
Inspector McCarthy said he was unaware whether the man had specifically targeted the woman and whether he had made any threats.
He said potential charges would be looked at.
The surrounding area was cordoned off during the siege.
One man dead and another left with stab wounds after bar fight at NSW Central Coast hotel
A bar fight at a New South Wales Central Coast hotel has left one young man dead and another seriously injured.
The fight, allegedly between the two men and four others, broke out at the Beachcomber Hotel on Main Road in Toukley.
Just after midnight on Monday, police arrived to find a 25-year-old and a 28-year-old with stab wounds.
Paramedics treated the men at the scene, but the older man suffered a cardiac arrest.
Both were taken to Gosford Hospital, where the older man died and the younger was in a serious condition needing emergency surgery.
Inspector Col Lott from Tuggerah Lakes local command said witnesses would be crucial to the investigation.
"We would ask any persons who may have seen anything tonight either inside the Beachcomber or outside the Beachcomber where this may have occurred to come forward," he said.
"Contact either Crime Stoppers or Tuggerah Lakes local area command at Wyong Police Station."
He said police were treating the incident as a homicide inquiry after the older man's death.
"Since that time, the 28-year-old male has passed and we are now treating the whole investigation as a homicide inquiry," he said.
Police were interviewing a 20-year-old man about the stabbings, but no one has been charged.
Police have appealed for witnesses to come forward.
Gnangara fire contained
West Australian [5/4/15]:
A bushfire emergency was issued for people near Gnangara pine plantation as aerial and ground crews battle a blaze.
The warning was reported at 1pm upgraded at 4.10pm and then again at 5.30pm before it was downgraded at about 6.30pm.
The reports of the blaze came just hours a fire disrupted the Dockers-Port Adelaide pre-game preparations at Domain Stadium in Subiaco.
A bushfire emergency for people in the vicinity of Gnangara pine plantation near Timely Hostess Mews, Neaves Road, Dempster Place, Adams Road, Coogee Road, Rousset Road and Townsend Road was downgraded to a watch and act just after 6.30pm.
The fire is burning in pine plantation towards Meadowlands Road.
The bushfire is moving at moderate speed in a north-westerly direction. It has burnt through 500 hectares.
The bushfire is contained but not yet controlled.
Burning embers may be blown around your home. Warbrook Road and Silver Road are about to be closed. People are also advised to avoid Amarante Road.
Department of Parks and Wildlife firefighters and local volunteer bushfire brigades are on the scene.
Firefighters have successfully contained the fire.
Aerial support is assisting ground crews. The cause of the fire is not known.
Visit DFES, call 13 DFES (13 3337), follow DFES on Twitter @dfes_wa, listen to ABC local radio, 6PR or news bulletins.
Hundreds of people return home in Philippines as typhoon weakens
Hundreds of people in the north of the main Philippine island of Luzon left evacuation centers and returned home on Sunday after a typhoon weakened significantly as it made landfall, although officials still warned of heavy rain and rough seas.
Once described as super typhoon Maysak as it bore down on the Philippines in recent days, the storm was carrying winds of 55 km ph (35 mph) and was rated as a tropical depression as it made landfall on Sunday morning.
"We thank God," said Alexander Pama, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. "From a super typhoon a week ago, we now have a tropical depression. We are spared once more from a disaster."
Pama said no reports of casualties had been received as residents in coastal towns in the Luzon provinces of Isabela and Aurora emerged from shelters to return home.
However, he warned people in low-lying areas and near mountain slopes to remain vigilant because the storm could still bring heavy rains, flash floods and landslides.
Fishing boats and small ferries were still prohibited from returning to sea.
While there were still some travel restrictions, the weakening of the storm was generally good news as millions of Filipinos began returning to the capital from beaches and mountain resorts after the four-day Easter holiday.
Maysak, which carried winds of about 250 kph (155 mph) at its peak, killed nine people as it barreled through the sparsely populated Federated States of Micronesia east of the Philippines, smashing houses and destroying crops.
6 dead, including Malaysian MP, in helicopter crash
Channel News Asia [5/4/15]:
Six people have been killed in a helicopter crash - including a member of parliament - at Semenyih town in Selangor, Malaysia, on Saturday afternoon.
Malaysian MP Jamaluddin Jarjis was among those on board. Other passengers included businessman Robert Tan and Private Secretary General in Prime Minister's Office Azlim Alias.
The three others on board the helicopter were captain Cliff Fournier, owner of Chempaka Aviation Ajdiana Baiziera and a bodyguard identified as Raskan.
Police have confirmed that all six on board were dead. Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the bodies of the victims have been recovered and sent to Hospital Kuala Lumpur.
The helicopter, believed to be owned by a private company, was en route from Kuantan to Subang airport when it crashed and caught fire at about 4.55pm.
The Department of Civil Aviation has initiated an investigation into this crash, Liow said in a statement on Saturday.
Prime Minister Najib Razak added: "It is too early to say why this happened. But no stone will be left unturned."
Informant Provided Bomb-Making Manual to Alleged “ISIS-Inspired” Plotters
In what has been widely described in the media as the breakup of an “ISIS-inspired” plot, on April 2 the Department of Justice announced that Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, both of New York, had been arrested and charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.
The defendants “plotted to wreak terror by creating explosive devices” for use in New York City and sought “bomb-making instructions and materials” for an attack, the Justice Department statement said.
Like other recent sensational “terror plots,” however, the criminal complaint unsealed yesterday demonstrates the key role of an undercover law enforcement informant in both formulating and facilitating the alleged plot.
It doesn’t appear that Velentzas or Siddiqui actually planned or attempted to bomb any target, nor is there any evidence of discussions about how to create a bomb before the introduction of the informant into their lives.
It was only after the informant provided the pair with a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook – a manual with instructions on how to create an explosive device — that their amateurish efforts gained any traction.
6 April 2015