Journalism is not a crime: Help the Bulletin create a 'living card' for Peter Greste
Morning Bulletin [6/2/15]:
The Morning Bulletin staff have created a living card to welcome home their journalist colleague, Peter Greste.
Thanks to an idea from Bully reader Anne Margaret O'connor, we are inviting the wider community to join in our celebration of Peter's safe return home to Australia and his family.
Staff and management from radio and television including 7 local news, WIN News Rockhampton, ABC, 4RO, Sea FM, Hot FM and Community Radio 4YOU are also invited to sign the card and send the message that we are as one with our fellow journalists who travel overseas to bring us the news.
The card will be on display at The Morning Bulletin's front office foyer at 220 Bolsover St.
People are welcome to come in and sign the card. The card will also be at Kern Arcade markets on Sunday.
People are also encouraged to take a picture with the card to post on social media.
The card will be sent to Peter from the people of the Rockhampton region as a symbol of our celebration of his safe return home and of our solidarity as a people and a profession: Journalism is not a crime.
Billionaire mining heiress Gina Rinehart is selling her $306 million stake in Fairfax Media at 86.75¢ a share. ... [Canberra Times - 6/2/15]
South Africa's national news agency SAPA Thursday announced it will shut down at the end of next month because of financial problems. ... [Naharnet - 5/2/15]
With the Centro Emerald Market and Centro Emerald Village now under new ownership by Sentinel Property Group, the group's adjunct professor Michael Sherlock decided to come to Emerald and have a look around [and try on some shoes]. ... [CQ News - 6/2/15]
Bundaberg [which was built on the back of the sugar industry] residents ought to avoid frozen, sugary drinks this summer, says Queensland Cancer Council [News Mail – 6/2/15]
Police talking with man wanted over assault and car chase, Rockhampton
Morning Bulletin [6/2/15]:
Police are currently talking with a man wanted in relation to an assault in Parkhurst and for leading a high speed chase through north Rockhampton this afternoon.
It is believed police were originally called to an assault of a woman in Parkhurst just after 1.30pm.
Reports indicate the woman was found inside the residence and the alleged offender was seen headed towards The Caves.
About 1.46pm, a police patrol came across the vehicle the man was travelling in along Yaamba Rd near Etna Creek Rd intersection as it did a uturn to head towards back to Rockhampton.
Reports indicate he drove at the police vehicle about this time.
It is believed the police vehicle pursued the man, with speeds reaching over 150km in light traffic.
However, reports indicate the officers were told to stop pursuing the vehicle within minutes of the chase beginning.
Assault, Wynnum West
QPS Media [6/2/15]:
Police are seeking assistance from members of the public after two women was assaulted at a fast food restaurant in Wynnum West on January 29.
At around 6.40pm, a man entered the Wynnum Road store after purchasing a meal. The man became verbally abusive towards staff, and then threw his meal at a 21-year-old female employee.
The man appeared to leave the store, but came back in and pushed the cash register off the counter, injuring a 24-year-old female employee.
The woman received bruising to her hand.
Anyone who knows or saw the man pictured is urged to contact police.
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.
Cairns dengue fever outbreak increases with two cases confirmed in Brinsmead
Brinsmead has become the latest suburb of Cairns, in far north Queensland, affected by an outbreak of locally-acquired dengue fever.
Two cases were confirmed yesterday, bringing the total number across the region this season to 12.
The suburbs of Edmonton, Trinity Beach, Mooroobool and Brinsmead have now been affected.
Five buses removed from local school runs, Childers
News Mail [6/2/15]:
Parents across the Isis region are in shock after five buses were removed from local school runs.
The removal is part of a statewide "optimisation" by the Department of Transport and Main Roads, which cites "population and other demographic changes" as the reasoning behind the move.
Local contractor South Bundy Buses is reviewing their timetables, but have so far been forced to change their services.
Farnsfield's Gerard Russo brought the issue to the forefront after school went back last week, and said parents were given little to no notice of the change.
His main concern is the schedule, which has left students in some cases to arrive after the morning bell had rung.
"We've got kids getting to school late for roll and that just creates more problems," Mr Russo said.
Mr Russo's three children go to Isis District State High School, and their previous morning trip would usually take about 15 minutes.
Company receives $38,000 fine over teenage employee's electrocution
A Bunbury company has been fined $38,000 over the electrocution of 18-year-old employee Jayden Zappelli.
Mr Zappelli was a trade assistant with JCW Electrical in February 2013 when he was working at a property with licensed electrician Dale Francis Mortley.
Mortley, a qualified electrician, was installing a chandelier in the home and changing several light switches.
The court heard Mortley planned to remove some roof tiles so he could get into a tight roof cavity but Mr Zappelli, who was a smaller build, offered to go up into the roof and pull the electrical cable through the hole in the ceiling.
After the cable was passed up to Mr Zappelli, the electrical tape around the end of the wires loosened and became conductive, which proved fatal when Mr Zappelli came into contact with a copper pipe in the roof space.
Fire crews pulled the young man, who was unconscious, from inside the roof of the home and he was later pronounced dead.
The company was charged with failing to provide a safe working environment and last year pleaded guilty.
Mortley also entered guilty pleas to charges of causing the serious death of a person and not taking reasonable care to prevent a person's death.
Mortley was fined $6,800 during sentencing in Bunbury Magistrates Court this morning.
Both parties were also ordered to pay costs of more than $2,000 each.
Toowoomba transport company awarded more than $160,000 in vehicle recovery dispute
Toowoomba transport company Mansell Heavy Towing has been awarded more than $160,000 after a vehicle recovery deal went sour.
A judgement handed down in the District Court of Queensland ordered Heavy Haulage Australia and its national general manager Jon Kelly pay $162,589.86 to Mansell's.
It came after a dispute arose between the two companies over an agreement for recovering a 78-tonne generator being carried by a truck and trailer when it crashed near Augathella in western Queensland on February 18, 2013.
The civil case sought to determine who should pay for the overall recovery of the generator by Mansell Heavy Towing.
Creevey Russell Lawyers principal Dan Creevey, who represented Mansells, said Judge Dorney concluded that an agreement was reached between the parties whereby Mansells would pay Heavy Haulage Australia for work done in the recovery of the generator and it would be the subject of an insurance claim.
"Unfortunately, for the plaintiff's case, the court did not find that the defendant had agreed that it would bear the costs of that recovery," Mr Creevey said.
"When the insurer did not respond to the claim, the agreement was left in limbo and contained no default mechanism to be triggered in such circumstances.
"Fortunately for the plaintiff, the court found there does exist, in Australia, a right given to the plaintiff to seek recovery on a restitutionary basis in the circumstances before it."
Judge Dorney found Heavy Haulage Australia's conduct, through Mr Kelly, was misleading.
"Of significance, the court also found that the director of the defendant company was a person involved in a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law," Mr Creevey said.
"He was personally liable in that he had actual knowledge of all relevant facts and knew it was misleading if the defendant were not to make or facilitate a claim against the actual insurer."
Man jailed for raping prostitute by pretending to pay with envelope stuffed with paper
A Canberra man has been jailed for eight months for raping a prostitute by pretending to pay with an envelope stuffed with paper.
Akis Livas, 52, appeared to be in disbelief when his lawyer explained to him that he would be locked up for the crime.
He pleaded guilty to the charge after he tricked the woman into sex when he did not have the money to pay her.
ACT Supreme Court Judge Hillary Penfold told the court there was no consent to sex when it was obtained by fraud.
Earlier the woman gave a victim impact statement to the court, describing her extreme fear and feeling of violation when she realised she had been duped.
She told the court Livas had booked her for four hours, and brought an envelope stuffed with paper which he pretended was the $850 to pay her.
The woman said when she discovered there was no money, she became scared.
"I felt internally violated, used and dirty," she told the court.
"I fully expected he was going to hurt me.
"He made me complicit in my own rape."
She told the court she has suffered from a lack of trust in others and was still receiving counselling.
"The offence was clearly premeditated," Justice Penfold told the court.
She noted Livas continued to minimise his responsibility and had not shown remorse.
"It seems Mr Livas is still focussed on the event as a commercial exercise," Justice Penfold said.
Lawyers for Livas told the court he was prepared to pay reparations, but the Crown told the court none were being sought.
Livas will also serve a two-year good behaviour order.
Used, abused then punished by the Australian government: Eight illegal workers detained in Bundaberg [News Mail - 6/2/15]
The voices of refugees on Manus Island should be heard too - it's just that the Australian media and human rights establishment choose to ignore their message: Art project gives refugees an international voice at Spanish embassy [ABC - 6/2/15]
... "TO AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT. STOP TORTURING US. IF YOU THINK WE DON'T DESERVE AUS. THEN HAND OVER ALL OF US TO THE UN. WE DON'T WANT YOUR HELP!" ... [CNN - 21/1/15]
Message from #Manus via @shanebazzi:
Hello dear Australians,
Thirsty Manus has been quenched after fourteen days.
To every single person who is concerned about human rights and freedom:
What you are reading is our message from Manus. Manus is a place that has many similarities with Guantanamo prison. As a matter of fact, it is known as Australian Guantanamo.
More than nine hundred people, nine hundred champions, carried out the largest hunger strike in the history in order to inform the world about the oppressed sound of their innocence.
Today, 27th of January 2015, after more than fourteen days of struggle between oppressor and oppressed, between black and white, wrong and right, rich and poor, the hunger strike is ended while it has indicated the willpower and determination of the oppressed people who had fled from persecutors of their countries and sought asylum in Australia.
But it is unfortunate that these days Australia does not bear signs of having commitment to human rights.
Australian people, what you were told about the situation of Manus Island by the Liberal government during these fourteen days was an absolute lie. Similar to previous movements, this movement was also a peaceful one without any type of violence from our side.
In order to solve problems, we strongly believe in negotiating principles.
It is unbelievable that people from every walk of life and different civil societies such as High Court of Australia remain silent in regards to this cruelty in the name of national interest. This unequal struggle has been finished today while the United Nations does not make any comments on this incident at all.
The great achievement of this movement was to send a message of freedom to people all around the globe.
A message of freedom which has been only a dream and a desire for us so far, however, we are hoping to celebrate the fulfilment of our deisre in the not too distant future with the assistance of Australian people, human rights organisations, lawyers, journalists, refugee advocates, reporters, politicians, various political parties including The Greens, Nationals, Palmer United, Labor, and at last, those members of Liberal party who still care about humanity and are concerned about the future of Australia.
At the end I would like to express my gratitutde to those people, either in Asutralia or other parts of the world, who commiserate with us and who support us in different ways during this period. In fact, your support gives us a lot of encouragement and develops our ability to continue our efforts in this rough and difficult path.
Alles klar, Herr
A senior member of the Queensland Police Service response squad has been suspended for drug possession.
The 36-year-old was charged by the Crime and Corruption Commission following an investigation which lead to a raid of the man’s Teneriffe apartment.
He was charged with two counts of dangerous drug possession and will appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on February 25.
Customs and Border Protection seizes cocaine at Brisbane Airport [Media Release - 6/2/15]:
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) seized almost five kilograms of cocaine at Brisbane Airport on Wednesday, 4 February 2015.
ACBPS officers selected two Brazilian men, aged 23 and 26 years, for a baggage examination, when they arrived on a flight from Auckland.
During the examination, officers noticed an abnormal bulge located in the vicinity of the 26-year-old’s groin and a frisk search was conducted, which allegedly revealed a concealment of cocaine.
It is also alleged the second man was found to be carrying an amount of cocaine.
Acting Regional Commander Queensland John Ikin said Customs and Border Protection is committed to preventing illegal drugs from entering Australia.
“Our officers are specialists at detecting drug concealments. If people think they can smuggle illegal substances into Australia past Customs and Border Protection they are sorely mistaken,” Mr Ikin said.
“Importers of illicit drugs can face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Smuggling drugs is simply not worth the risk.”
The individuals were referred to the Australian Federal Police and investigations are continuing.
AFP 'must join push' to save Bali Nine
Australian Federal Police are ultimately responsible for the Bali Nine ringleaders being on death row and must join a last ditch effort to save them, a lawyer says.
Bob Myers, the barrister and family friend who represented Bali Nine member Scott Rush, says the AFP must break a decade of silence to support ringleaders Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, from an Indonesian firing squad.
He says the men are only on death row because the AFP tipped off Indonesian police about the 2005 plot to smuggle heroin from Bali to Australia.
The tip off meant the nine were arrested and prosecuted in Indonesia, where the death penalty applies, instead of being nabbed on their planned return to Sydney.
"For almost a decade now the AFP has never acknowledged the part they played," Mr Myers told AAP on Friday.
With the executions of Sukumaran and Chan now imminent, possibly within the next fortnight, Mr Myers said the AFP must join Australia's clemency efforts.
He said the AFP must publicly admit the "betrayal" it carried out 10 years ago and appeal, through Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the Indonesian government, for the men to be spared.
"The AFP must admit it made a grave error, a complete and utter misjudgment, in doing what we did. None of the Bali Nine would ever have been apprehended in Indonesia if it had not been for the AFP," Mr Myers said.
"The prime minister is quoted this morning as saying he'll leave no stone unturned (to save the men). Well this is a stone I've been trying to have turned over for 10 years and no one will do it."
In 2006, the Federal Court found the AFP had not technically breached a guideline preventing it from co-operating with requests from other countries in cases that could expose Australians to the death penalty.
But Mr Myers argues the AFP was cleared on the basis of a loophole - that the AFP had voluntarily passed information about the Bali Nine to Indonesia, rather than having been asked for it.
"It was so close to illegal activity. The AFP must stand up and say this was our fault," he said.
"It sickens me to think that the very organisation charged with our protection can betray nine young Australians the way they did."
AAP has contacted the AFP for comment.
Former AFP commissioner Mick Keelty has previously used international co-operation in the war on drugs as a justification for the provision of information to Indonesia police.
Lawyers for men on "terror charges" following Murdoch beatup and AFP raid criticise police delays
Lawyers for two Queensland men on terrorism-related charges have criticised police for being slow to provide evidence against their clients.
Omar Succarieh, 31, and Agim Kruezi, 22, have been behind bars since they were arrested in counter-terrorism raids last September.
Both are accused of preparing for incursions into war-torn Syria.
Kruezi is also accused of recruiting others to join incursions into foreign states, and Succarieh is accused of providing funds to the terrorist organisation Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front, in Syria.
During a mention of their cases in court on Friday, commonwealth prosecutor Justin Williams said most, but not all, of the evidence against the duo had been handed to the men's lawyers by a January 30 deadline.
This included 19 files of evidence relating to Succarieh and 18 for Kruezi.
A list of outstanding material includes recorded conversations identified by ASIO that won't be ready to hand to Succarieh and Kruezi's lawyers until mid-April.
Defence lawyer James Wallace, for Succarieh and as agent for Kruezi's Sydney-based lawyers, said the delay was unsatisfactory.
Kruezi's lawyers had told him they were "extremely dissatisfied", he said.
"It (the case) commenced in September, early September of last year, and we still don't have all of the material to be relied upon," Mr Wallace told the Brisbane Magistrates Court.
"We'll be six months in by the time it's end of March and we still won't have a full brief of evidence by the looks of it."
Magistrate Terry Gardiner adjourned the case until March 13, but told police to make "extra effort" to secure all the evidence earlier then expected.
He added he did not intend to put the case off again.
Succarieh, a married father of three, has unsuccessfully applied for bail twice since his arrest.
Neither Succarieh nor Kruezi appeared in court on Friday.
Brisbane Times [23/1/15]:
Court documents have revealed how an undercover police officer infiltrated a Logan Islamic bookstore community, gaining the trust of three members who were later charged with terrorism offences.
The Australian Federal Police agent known as UCO317656 met Omar Succarieh, Agim Kruezi and Robert Louis Maestracci in June 2014 at the iQraa Islamic Centre, according to material filed in the Brisbane Supreme Court this week.
iQraa, which was run by Mr Succarieh, was raided on September 10 last year by AFP anti-terrorism police.
Al Jazeera Investigates - Informants [VIDEO – 20/7/14]:
Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit takes you inside the shadowy world of FBI informants and counterterrorism sting operations. Following the 9/11 attacks, the FBI set about to recruit a network of more than 15,000 informants. Al Jazeera's investigative film tells the stories of three paid FBI informants who posed as Muslims as they searched for people interested in joining violent plots concocted by the FBI.
Canberra Times [3/2/15]
Federal Coalition MP Luke Simpkins illegally crossed the Thai border into Myanmar to attend a military parade and "revolution day" ceremony with rebel fighters.
The former Australian army officer, who has spoken out often about human rights abuses in the country, also known as Burma, presented a large Australian flag to Karen soldiers who have been fighting the Myanmar army.
He spent a night at a base of the Karen National Defence Organisation, which has several thousand fighters, before re-entering Thailand near the border town of Mae Sot, 491 kilometres north of Bangkok.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to comment on Mr Simpkins' crossing of the border.
Australian Federal Police are investigating the whereabouts of Northern Territory Labor Party chief Matthew Gardiner, also a former Australian army officer, who has reportedly joined Kurdish guerrillas in Syria fighting against the so-called Islamic State.
Suspicious fire, Thulimbah
QPS Media [6/2/15]:
Police are investigating a fire at a hostel in Thulimbah, which occurred yesterday.
Around 10.20pm police and emergency service crews attended the Granite Belt Drive property to find it well alight.
The building sustained significant damage. No one was injured as a result of the fire.
Police will continue to guard the scene, until further investigations take place later today. The fire is being treated as suspicious until the cause of the fire is determined by investigating officers.
There is no further information available at this stage.
Suspicious fire, Jackson (Maranoa)
QPS Media [6/2/15]:
Police are investigating a fire at a vacant house in Jackson, Maranoa, yesterday.
Around 7pm police and emergency service crews attended the Edward Street property to find it well alight.
The house sustained significant damage. No one was injured as a result of the fire.
Police will continue to guard the scene, until further investigations take place later today. The fire is being treated as suspicious until the cause of the fire is determined by investigating officers.
There is no further information available at this stage.
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.
ABC Local dogwhistles irresponsible message deterring people from calling Triple-0
Mackay police fear fake triple-0 calls may be endangering lives [ABC – 6/2/15]
Overnight wrap – Friday, February 6 - Constable Steve Smith [Mackay Police]:
... Domestic incidents
Thirteen incidents have been reported to police across the district.
This does not mean that police have applied for domestic violence protection orders or laid criminal charges in all instances.
Some police actions are as simple as referring people to support services.
Any member of the public requiring advice or assistance regarding a domestic violence matter can either contact their nearest police station by phone or attend and speak to us in person.
If any instance of an emergency should result, dial triple zero (000) to enable police to attend.
New Zealand PM promotes change of flag at Waitangi
The Prime Minister has used his annual Waitangi Day breakfast speech to make a pitch for a new flag.
John Key, who plans to hold a referendum on the issue, told the more than 100 guests at the breakfast that it is time to create a new flag that is distinctly New Zealand's.
Mr Key later told reporters he raised changing the flag during the speech to show how much New Zealand has changed since the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840.
He said he would like a new flag raised at Waitangi by 2040, when the 200th anniversary of the signing of the treaty is celebrated.
"The flag itself is of no great consequence other than a graphic representation of who we are as peoples, but I think we can do a better job."
Ngapuhi leader Sonny Tau endorsed the call for a new flag.
He said the flag was out of date.
"It should be changed to reflect the growth that this nation has gone through.
"And the umbilical cords to the monarchy should be severed in terms of the flag."
Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said he also thought the flag needed changing, but it should go hand-in-hand with a review of New Zealand's constitutional arrangements.
Chilean Navy Rescues 120 from Grounded Cruise Ship
Chile's navy rescued 120 people from a small cruise ship that ran aground Thursday near Puerto Montt in the south of the country, officials said.
Most of the 89 passengers aboard the Skorpio II were foreign tourists on a sight-seeing trip, the navy said.
It said the vessel ran aground shortly after leaving the port of Castro before dawn, but all aboard were evacuated without incident.
The cause of the accident is under investigation, the navy said.
Sun crime correspondent faces trial over police payments
Hacking Inquiry [5/2/15]:
The crime correspondent of The Sun faces a jury in May over allegations of paying a police officer a court has decided.
Anthony France, 41, is charged with aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office by paying for information from PC Timothy Edwards in July 2011.
Appearing at the Old Bailey before His Honour Judge Pontius, France pleaded not guilty and his trial date was sent for 11 May this year with the case expected to take around two weeks.
As well as France, two editors and two journalists from the best-selling tabloid are simultaneous appearing at the same court on similar charges and another four senior staff are awaiting a decision on a date for a re-trial after a jury failed to reach a verdict in their cases.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges.
White ibis pests in cities - but sign wetlands are in drought
ABC, PM [5/2/10]:
... SARAH DINGLE: Vern Veitch is a Townsville city councillor. He says this time last year there was a mysterious ibis hunter in the city who left the carcasses of the birds piled up on a street corner in the CBD.
VERN VEITCH: Probably some people feel that the birds are a pest, that they might be carrying disease because they come from the landfill and then might frequent someone's yard. And there's always the possibility of that. But humans make the disease in the first place so you know the birds, if they are carrying it well it's inadvertently.
But it's certainly distressing to hear that birds are being shot, native birds in particular being shot, but any bird.
SARAH DINGLE: The hunter was never caught. Geoff Ross says across the region the future of the protected birds is by no means secure.
GEOFF ROSS: It's very easy when you see birds all the time in your backyard or in those urban environments when you're walking through any of the parklands in capital cities to believe that they're very common.
And indeed 30, 40 years ago wetland birds in central western New South Wales and in northern parts of South Australia and all of those inland wetlands, those wetland birds were relatively common. And we're talking in the hundreds of thousands in one large nesting colony - hundreds of thousands of Australian white ibis.
But what we're seeing now from aerial surveys is that all those strongholds, those inland wetland breeding areas for many of those birds have diminished significantly.
In fact on one of the last surveys through New South Wales wetlands not one Australian white ibis was counted. That's very clearly showing that the birds have actually moved to more coastal wetlands to try and guarantee their survival.
Birds being a nuisance [Birds Queensland]:
The Australian White Ibis is naturally a bird of freshwater wetlands, swamps, tidal mudflats and similar areas. Its natural diet includes all sorts of bugs and insects, grasshoppers, small fish, small reptiles and ants. Ibis were historically known as farmers' friends because of the large quantities of insect pests they consumed.
Their traditional feeding grounds have been reduced with the draining of swamps and wetlands, as well as the devastating effects of drought. At the same time, large rubbish dumps have been established, and cities have developed rich sources of Ibis food.
Their long beaks, ideal for digging food from soft soil in wetlands, are also well suited to extracting food from garbage dumps and from open rubbish bins. Like any sensible beings, they appreciate a free feed and this is what we have provided by way of food left over from our picnics, workday lunches and scraps dropped off outdoor café tables. Rubbish dumps are especially attractive to Ibis as each day tons of food scraps are deposited there for Ibis to scavenge.
White Ibis, like people, congregate where services are best. Most Australians now live in cities, and so do Australian White Ibis.
Australian White Ibis have become a problem in outdoor cafes and eating areas, since they foul the area and spread scraps from bins and tables.
Ways of reducing their numbers in these setting include:
Reducing food litter;
Installing Ibis-proof rubbish bins; and
Convincing councils to better manage dumps.
... The Dalai Lama closed the event by contracting violence and truth. The power of violence, he explained is immediately clear and decisive. The power of truth, however, becomes more obvious as time passes. [TIME - 5/2/15]
When the Dalai Lama went to exit the White House Thursday via the back door, a mound of trash awaited him. ... [Christian Science Monitor - 19/2/10]
More attempts to suffocate journalism coming out of PNG. [Islands Business - 5/2/15]:
Fiji’s television company Fiji TV today announced its divesting its Papua New Guinea owned television subsidiary Media Niugini Limited for Kina 27 million, or US$9.98 million.
New owners of Media Niugini which runs EMTV in Papua New Guinea is that government-owned telecom company, Telikom PNG.
A sale agreement was signed in Suva today by Telikom PNG, FijiTV and owners of Fiji TV, Fijian Holdings Limited.
Threat of potential cyanide spillage had led to the issue of an emergency authorisation instrument for Sininvit Gold mine in East New Britain that is expected to pace way for a state-of-emergency. … [PNG Loop – 6/2/15]
Two former staff members of Parliament have been jailed for a total of seven years on fraud-related charges involving K150,000 of public funds. ... [The National - 6/2/15]
New Matilda [5/2/1/15]:
The Greens and Sea Shepherd yesterday blew another hole in the sinking ship that is the Abbott government, attacking the Coalition for diverting resources to Operation Sovereign Borders which it promised before the last election would be dedicated to patrolling illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean.
“The government has broken their pre-election commitment to send its $150 million ice-rated Customs vessel to protect our precious Southern Ocean environment from these tooth fish pirates,” Greens spokesperson for Fisheries, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said.
“Instead they sent this boat, designed for the sub-Antarctic, off to the tropical waters around Christmas and Coco Islands, as part of Operation Sovereign Borders to detain people fleeing persecution to seek a safer life in Australia,” he said.
The criticism came off the back of revelations from Sea Shepherd that two known illegal, unlicensed and unregulated poaching ships had been caught in Australian waters off Mawson Base in the Antarctic.
Flurry of "good refugees" propaganda:
Refugee students stay on top of school work with SCARF volunteer program [ABC - 6/2/15]
Toowoomba refugees create a better Australia [Chronicle - 6/2/15]
Media blackout (and silence from human rights establishment) on welfare of beaten, "arrested" Manus Island refugees continues.
“What good was it to humanity that eight out of 15 people who planned the Holocaust at Wannsee in 1942 held PhDs?”
In Washington, UN rights chief says atrocities can be prevented through better global leadership [UN Media Release - 5/2/15]
Russell Brand - The Trews (E250) [VIDEO – 5/2/15]:
Are Refugees Australia’s & Our Collective Responsibility?
Reaction to Tony Abbott's strict immigration policy and Rupert Murdoch's tax avoidance.
Attempts to seal borders ‘will continue to fail on massive scale,’ UN rights expert [UN Media Release – 5/2/15]
UQ Law School Twilight Seminar Series - Maritime Powers Act 2013 and Refugees: Where Next?:
Presenters: Professor Nick Gaskell, Associate Professor Peter Billings & Dr Michael White
Venue: Sir Samuel Griffith Room, 1-W341, Forgan Smith Building
Time: Wed, 25 February : 5:45 pm - 6:45 pm
Contact: Craig Forrest, ph: (334) 69027, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In CPCF v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection  HCA 1, the High Court of Australia handed down its much anticipated decision regarding the alleged false imprisonment of 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers on board an Australian border protection vessel at sea, having been taken on board as the Indian flagged vessel on which the asylum seekers were on was rendered unseaworthy.
The case concerned the interception (in the contiguous zone off Christmas Island) of the asylum seekers by Australian authorities and the legality of their subsequent detention for over three weeks while they were taken towards India - a country in which they had no right or permission to re-enter - pursuant to a decision of the National Security Committee of Cabinet.
The matter raised novel and complex, intersecting, issues of constitutional law, administrative law, maritime law and international (human rights) law.
As part of its ongoing Twilight Seminar series, the Marine and Shipping Law Unit has joined with the Centre for Public, International and Comparative Law to convene a penal that will address a number of issues raised in CPCF (and recent legislative amendments to the Maritime Powers Act) including; the scope of non-statutory executive power of the Commonwealth relating to coercive action (detention and expulsion) at sea, the meaning and administration of particular maritime powers directed to countering migration offences (including people smuggling), and the commensurability of maritime powers permitting interdiction and expulsion with Australia's international law obligations relating to non-refoulement.
Further Details: All welcome - no RSVP required
UQ presents study of Australia’s policy to turn-back asylum-seeker vessels:
On 13 March 2015, Dr Andreas Schloenhardt, Professor of Criminal Law in the UQ School of Law, will be presenting the findings of a study of Australia’s policy to refuse entry to vessels carrying asylum seekers to Australia.
A main feature of this policy is to turn or, in some cases, tow the vessels back to Indonesia or Sri Lanka. The study by UQ’s Migrant Smuggling Working Group provides an in-depth analysis of the context, objectives, and controversies of this policy and explores the known successful and attempted ‘turn-backs’.
The study critically evaluates the rationale and operation of the past and present policies and reflects on the question of whether to retain or repeal this approach.
In their study, Professor Schloenhardt and co-author Colin Craig found that “one of the main effects of the ‘turn-back’ policy has been a shifting of Australian responsibilities to other countries and a rejection of Australia’s obligation under international refugee law so that Australia’s signature under the Refugee Convention has become irrelevant”.
"The execution of the ‘turn-back’ policy has also placed passengers and crew as well as Australian Navy and Customs personnel at risk of serious injury and death, especially if the vessels are not seaworthy or are sabotaged by desperate migrants”, adds Professor Schloenhardt.
The study will be presented at a public seminar titled ‘“Turning back the Boats”: Domestic policies and international law relation to Australia’s “war on people smuggling”’, at Bond University, Faculty of Law, on 13 March 2015, 12:30pm.
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On Feb. 4, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct three airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted nine airstrikes in Iraq, using bomber, attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists. All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Feb. 4, and 8 a.m., Feb. 5, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
* Near Kobani, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units.
* Near Al Asad, an airstrike struck an ISIL staging location.
* Near Al Qaim, an airstrike struck an ISIL bulldozer.
* Near Bayji, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL vehicles and an ISIL warehouse.
* Near Fallujah, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
* Near Kirkuk, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
* Near Mosul, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL staging location and seven ISIL vehicles.
* Near Tal Afar, an airstrike denied ISIL key terrain.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Iraq is to permanently lift a decade-old curfew on Baghdad beginning on Saturday, according to state TV. ... [Al Jazeera - 5/2/15]
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted Wednesday he was not aboard a helicopter hit and forced down by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a false claim that has been repeated by the network for years. ... [Stars and Stripes - 4/2/15]
The Unknown Known :
A glimpse into the mind of a sociopath who just happened to be the United States Secretary of Defense leading up to and during the country's two longest wars (Iraq and Afghanistan). Directed by one of the most respected and popular documentarians of our time, Errol Morris.
45 Dead as Rebels, Regime Trade Fire around Syria Capital [Naharnet - 5/2/15]:
At least 45 people were killed in Syrian government air strikes on opposition areas around Damascus Thursday after rebels fired dozens of mortar rounds at the capital, a monitor said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least six children were among those killed in nearly 40 air raids on parts of Eastern Ghouta in Damascus province.
The Britain-based group said at least 140 people were wounded, adding that government forces had also fired surface-to-surface missiles at the area.
The assault came after rebels fired at least 70 rockets and mortar rounds at the capital, killing seven people, including a policeman.
The barrage left usually busy parts of the city deserted.
The Yemeni arm of al-Qaeda said on Thursday that one of its leading members had been killed by a US drone strike while traveling in a car in the southern province of Shabwa on January 31. … [Al Akhbar – 5/2/15]
Afghanistan: “Kidnappers” killed, bodies hanged on billboard in Helmand
Civilians have killed three kidnappers in fighting and hanged their bodies on an advertisement board in southern Helmand province.
Najibullah Hayat, District Governor of Dilaram in southwestern Nimroz province says “Three days ago, a group of kidnappers abducted a resident of Dilaram District and took him to neighboring Helmand province. Then residents of Dilaram decided to bring him back from the kidnappers. ”
He added that after following the kidnappers, Dilaram residents arrived in Washir District of Helmand province where a fighting erupted between the residents and kidnappers.
“Three kidnappers were killed in the fighting and later hanged on an advertisement board in the city of Washir District by Dilaram resident”, he said.
He said the purpose residents hanged bodies of the kidnappers on the advertisement board was to teach a lesson to other kidnappers.
He further said that the dead bodies were hanged on the advertisement board for a few hours but now they are in the District Hospital of Washir District.
A resident of Dilaram also died in the fighting, Najibullah Hayat added.
Most of the kidnap cases in Afghanistan happen for money where kidnappers demand big money.
Sometimes, if kidnappers do not receive the ransom then they kill who ever kidnapped.
On numerous cases they have even killed kids after not receiving the ransom.
But in 2013, Ali Sina, an 11 year old boy was killed by the kidnappers in Nimroz’s neighboring Herat province even after receiving the ransom from his family.
Both kidnappers were later arrested and executed by the approval of Afghanistan’s Ex-President Hamid Karzai.
Dozens of civilians killed in Cameroon
Daily Star [5/2/15]:
Boko Haram fighters have shot or burned to death about 90 civilians and wounded 500 in ongoing fighting in a Cameroonian border town near Nigeria, officials in Cameroon said Thursday.
Some 800 Islamic extremists attacking the town of Fotokol have "burned churches, mosques and villages and slaughtered youth who resisted joining them to fight Cameroonian forces," Information Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakari said.
The insurgents from Nigeria also looted livestock and food in the fighting that began Wednesday and was continuing Thursday, Bakari told The Associated Press.
African Union officials Thursday were finalizing plans for a multinational force to fight the spreading Boko Haram uprising, although there are questions about funding. The AU last week authorized a 7,500-strong force from Nigeria and its four neighbors, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin.
Senior officers from the U.N. peacekeeping department are attending the meeting in Yaounde, Cameroon's capital, said a U.N. official.
The Africans want U.N. Security Council approval and money to fund the mission, said the official who spoke Wednesday at the United Nations and insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press on the meeting.
France's President Francois Hollande said Thursday his country is providing support with weapons, logistics and operations for the multinational effort. At a news conference in Paris, he stopped short of saying whether France is actually involved in military action itself. France has a big air base at N'Djamena, the capital of Chad, which will lead the multinational force.
International concern has grown as Boko Haram has increased the tempo and ferocity of its attacks just as Nigeria is preparing for presidential and legislative elections on Feb. 14.
Some 10,000 people were killed in Boko Haram violence last year compared to 2,000 in the first four years of Nigeria's Islamic uprising, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
Hollande, Merkel to travel to Ukraine and Russia with peace plan
France 24 [5/2/15]:
French President François Hollande announced on Thursday that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Ukraine later in the day for talks on ending the country’s ongoing crisis, before heading to Russia on Friday.
“Together with Angela Merkel we have decided to take a new initiative,” Hollande told a news conference. “We will make a new proposal to solve the conflict which will be based on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”
He said that he and Merkel had worked together over the last several days to draft a text they hoped would be acceptable to both sides of the conflict. He added that France was not in favour of Ukraine joining NATO.
“It will not be said that France and Germany together have not tried everything, undertaken everything to preserve the peace,” the French president said.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Ukraine’s capital Kiev earlier on Thursday in a show of diplomatic support for the country’s government.
Fierce fighting has flared in eastern Ukraine in recent weeks, with pro-Russian separatists formally dropping out of peace negotiations and launching a new offensive.
The separatists have been concentrating their advance on Debaltseve, a rail hub between their two main strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk, where a government garrison has held out despite being nearly encircled.
Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of arming and funding the separatists, as well as backing the latest advance with Russian troops on the ground. Moscow denies any involvement.
More than 5,000 people have been killed in
Ukraine since the beginning of the crisis in mid-April of last year, according
to the United Nations.
Russian Ambassador Says Moscow is Open to New Cooperation With Australia
Sputnik News [5/2/15]:
Russia is ready to reestablish cooperation with Australia over a wide range of issues, but the ball is in Canberra's court, Russian Ambassador to Australia Vladimir Morozov told RIA Novosti.
He admitted that the 2014 standoff over Ukraine undid whatever progress the two nations had achieved in the past years.
"I don't think it'll get any worse this year. But it's all up to the Australian leadership. Our approach is pragmatic. We are ready to explore the possibility of reviving our cooperation on mutually important issues," Morozov said.
Russian-Australian political and security contacts were severely affected by the ensuing standoff, the envoy said. According to Morozov, Moscow has suggested working together with Canberra on anti-terrorism efforts, but Australia has not responded.
Weakening relations have taken its toll on the trade between Russia and Australia, which dropped by 50 percent in 2014 after a rise to $2 billion from just $400 million over the previous six years.
"I guess political tensions and sanctions did play a negative role, although our business contacts indicate that profitable businesses will stay in place, meaning that there is still a real prospect for reenergizing trade between our countries," the diplomat added.
Last year, Australia joined the West in sanctioning Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. Russia responded by banning Australian food imports for a year.
Greek banks hit after ECB snub, Athens rejects 'blackmail'
Greek borrowing costs leapt and bank shares were hit hard on Thursday after the European Central Bank abruptly pulled the plug on its funding for the country's financial sector in what Athens labelled an act of coercion.
The ECB decision to stop accepting Greek bonds in return for funds shifts the burden onto Athens' central bank to finance its lenders and marks a big setback for the leftist-led government's attempt to negotiate a new debt deal with its euro zone peers.
The Athens Stock Exchange FTSE Banks Index .FTATBNK plunged 22.6 percent at the open before recovering somewhat. Three-year government borrowing costs leapt more than three percentage points to nearly 20 percent, leaving Greece utterly shut out of the markets.
"Greece does not aim to blackmail anyone but will not be blackmailed either," A Greek government official said in a statement. "The ECB's decision is an act of political pressure to quickly reach a deal."
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who pleaded in vain with ECB President Mario Draghi on Wednesday to keep funding Greek banks for several months while Athens negotiates a debt deal, met German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Thursday after Berlin set out uncompromising terms for any further aid.
In a policy paper circulated to EU officials and seen by Reuters, Germany said Greece must stick to the terms of the 240 billion euro bailout negotiated by the previous government, and not roll back planned privatisations and cuts in the minimum wage, pensions and the public sector workforce.
Greek banks have been given approval to tap an additional 10 billion euros in emergency funding over an existing ceiling if necessary, the Greek official said.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Varoufakis have spent the week touring EU capitals trying to build support for a debt renegotiation and an easing of austerity measures under the country's bailout programme which both say they have no interest in extending beyond the end of February.
They have found scant backing in Paris, Rome, Frankfurt or Brussels even before Varoufakis's meeting with Schaeuble, the most hardline euro zone finance minister.
European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said Athens must extend its bailout programme, due to expire on Feb. 28, to gain time to negotiate a longer-term programme.
"In the European Commission's assessment the most realistic way forward is to extend the duration of the programme for another couple months or half a year," Dombrovskis told the Reuters Euro Zone Summit.
The new Greek leaders have had a cool reception even in left-leaning countries such as France and Italy which Athens had hoped would support its case for debt relief.
French President Francois Hollande told a news conference the ECB decision to restrict funding for Greece was legitimate and put the onus on euro zone governments to hammer out a deal on the Greek debt crisis, and on Athens to present reforms.
Time for #GreekLivesMatter [The Automatic Earth - 5/2/15]
New Zealand: Driver hit by police car calls for discipline
The driver of a vehicle hit by a police car during a high speed police pursuit near Wellington says the officer driving needs to be disciplined.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) today released its report into the incident and found the officer drove dangerously during the pursuit of a car down the wrong side of State Highway 1, near the Wellington surburb of Tawa.
The chase, in June last year, started in Tawa where two road police officers stopped to deal with a car on the side of the road.
The car was found to have a non-operation order because of illegal modifications, and the driver, Leslie Paaka, was disqualified.
The officers telephoned another patrol car to keep a watch out for the car if it drove past their location.
The car went go past and the officers signalled the driver to stop but he continued on to SH1 travelling north in the southbound lane and the officer gave chase.
During the pursuit, an oncoming car driven by Ellen Graham was clipped by the fleeing vehicle but no one was injured.
IPCA chairperson Sir David Carruthers said the officer's actions amounted to dangerous driving and he should be disciplined - something Ms Graham agreed with.
"He needs to be disciplined. You can't have an attitude chase. You can't just decide 'I'm not going to answer coms'," she told Checkpoint.
"They did not know he had gone up on the motorway in this pursuit.
"In the report it also states if coms had known,
they would have abandoned that pursuit immediately."
6 February 2015