“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
– Rev Martin Luther King Jr.
Update: Six Christian Leaders Arrested in Greg Hunt’s Hastings Office [Love Makes A Way [6/5/15]:
Christian Leaders asking for an immediate moratorium on the transfer of all asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Island and the release of all children from immigration detention have now been arrested and removed
A group of 6 Christian Leaders from the Mornington Peninsula occupying the electoral office of local MP Greg Hunt have been arrested.
The group were in Mr Hunt’s office for 6 hours and spent the time praying and dialoguing with Mr. Hunt to gain his support for the moratorium and the release of children onto the mainland.
Mr. Hunt was admirable in contacting the Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton and the Prime Minister's National Security Advisor to discuss this request.
Mr Hunt also worked with the group in the hope of agreeing on a statement which would show his respect for human rights and the need to protect children in or facing detention.
However, Mr Hunt could not at this time announce any personal support for the moratorium nor able to specify a timeframe for the release of children from detention to mainland Australia.
Given the recent findings of sexual abuse and self harm that came out of the Moss report, the group felt that Mr Hunt’s statement was not strong enough.
They felt the current situation for children in detention is so dire that they must remain in the office until they can be assured that children who have been subject to these detention facilities, which have been described as 'factories of mental illness', are relocated to the mainland with their families.
The ask for a moratorium stems from the recent call by the Refugee Council and over 100 other organisations which in response to the Moss report concludes no children, women, nor men should be sent to Nauru nor Manus until all recommendations are satisfied and safety and security of children and women can be assured.
Thank you to all who supported today's action. For the witness of those that risked arrest, the support team and all who helped raise the issue on social media. Truly it takes the whole body playing all the parts.
We will continue to believe and act so that #LoveMakesAWay for asylum seekers.
They will only do what the people let them do.
And we are the people.
Let's assume that the Australian Government is conducting mass-executions of refugees at sea to prevent them attempting to seek asylum in Australia.
Sounds outrageous? Why? How do you know it isn't happening right now?
If it is happening, and we have no way of knowing that it isn't, it can only be happening because the ALP/LNP duopoly together with the fascist US controlled establishment media in Australia are happily complicitly silent.
And you can be assured that they most definitely are.
So, who cares if it is? Do you? What will you do to try to find out whether Australia is executing refugees? Will you send an email to your MP? If not, why not? A fucking email for fucks sake! It costs you a few electrons and a tenth of a cent!
Try it. You will be terrified by the response, guaranteed.
Meanwhile, we are still torturing refugees.
Labor all at sea on boats - admits failure - denies solution [Minister for Immigration Media Release – 6/5/15]
Labor’s Immigration spokesman Richard Marles must spell out precisely how Labor would shut down the people smuggling trade.
Mr Marles told SKY NEWS today that: “We are going to do everything we can to make sure that journey (the flow of illegal maritime arrivals to Australia) never starts again.”
What he couldn’t say was – how!
At least he finally admitted to Labor’s failures, telling SKY NEWS: “It is absolutely essential that we never allow again the flow of asylum seekers from Java to Christmas Island which results in people dying in their hundreds and ultimately in their thousands.”
Labor’s leadership is totally at odds on what to do.
Yesterday the Opposition Leader told an audience in Sydney: “…if we have policies which drag people here to hop on unsafe boats and drown at sea, well, I’m not going to be party to that.”
But then refused to answer whether Labor would continue the Coalition’s successful policies. Labor has a ‘real’ problem – who is the ‘real’ Bill.
And then there’s Tanya Plibersek - “We certainly have been opposed to turnbacks” – she told SKY NEWS in March.
Labor remains without any credible policy or solution to protecting Australia’s borders – under Labor it could all happen again – hundreds of boats carrying tens of thousands of illegal maritime arrivals to Australia.
Italy navy chief sceptical of Australia solution to migrant crisis [France 24 – 5/5/15]:
An Italian navy chief on Tuesday poured cold water on suggestions Europe should adopt Australia's policy of turning back migrant boats to end the current crisis in the Mediterranean.
A surge in both the numbers of migrants reaching Europe from north Africa and deaths at sea have led to calls for the European Union to consider a similar approach, with the aim of deterring people from contemplating the journey in the first place.
But Admiral Donato Marzano, who will host a seminar of navy supremos from 26 European countries here on Friday, suggested it would not be feasible, morally or practically, to start escorting barely seaworthy migrant boats back to conflict-wracked Libya when they were crammed full of people, including minors, pregnant women and others who could be seriously ill.
"There are several countries that apply a policy of expulsion, even by force of arms, others apply the international right to rescue," the Admiral said when asked by AFP if Italy could learn from Australia's experience.
"I am a sailor who has spent 20 years on boats. If I find a boat adrift, I'm sorry but I don't turn away.
"I intervene to help people at sea. I don't know if this reflects my Italian culture but I do know it is international law.
"A vessel in difficulty, whether it is a boat full of migrants or a merchant ship, has to be assisted."
Australia has advised the EU to follow its lead and Prime Minister Tony Abbott said this week that his officials were in touch with their European counterparts on the issue.
EU officials in Brussels have denied any such contact, suggesting there is little appetite for a move that would inevitably cause an outcry from rights groups.
Some right-wing leaders including France's Marine Le Pen have backed the Australian model as a solution to migratory pressures which have resulted in around 5,000 people drowning in waters between Libya and Italy since the start of 2014.
Marzano said navy chiefs would do what their political masters asked them, but said he did not detect any enthusiasm for moving away from search-and-rescue operations aimed to minimising the loss of life while trying to find other ways of stemming the migrant flows.
"If there is a political decision to do other activities like expulsions, then we will have to find the appropriate solution for the situation but at this moment that doesn't seem to me to be the situation," the Italian admiral said.
Friday's talks on the security environment off Europe's southern coasts are expected to be dominated by the issue of illegal immigration but will also touch on questions of the movement of terrorists and piracy.
"Australia is not involved in these discussions but obviously it is involved in other international fora and the Australian experience is one that can be discussed and compared," Marzano told AFP.
"But the problem of clandestine immigration is so incredibly complex, I don't think any magic formula exists otherwise we would already have found it.
"We have a crisis situation that has many different aspects and which from a European perspective is without precedent.
"There are so many people fleeing war, so many people fleeing not only in search of work but also to save their lives. There are so many different aspects to the problem I don't think anyone has a magic solution, be they Australian, Italian, European or French.
"All we can do is share our experiences and try to resolve a problem which is getting ever more urgent."
Spanish hero of Nazi death camp honoured
The Local [5/5/15]:
The horrors of Mauthausen concentration camp, which was liberated 70 years ago today, were brought to the world’s attention in part due to the many photographs smuggled out by Spanish prisoner, Francisco Boix.
Now a new book tells the story of Boix, a Spanish Republican prisoner sent to Mauthausen, who had fled Spain after the Nationalists of General Francisco Franco won the Spanish Civil War.
Once in France, he joined the French Foreign Legion and French Army and was captured in 1940 by the Germans, becoming one of the estimated 8,000 Spaniards to be taken to Mauthausen concentration camp, near the Austrian city of Linz.
He was imprisoned in the camp from January 1941 to May 1945.
Boix had worked as a news photographer and because of his skills was put to work in the SS photographic service, which stored over 60,000 photographs taken by Hitler's paramilitary force, many of which would be sent on to the Nazi High Command in Berlin.
He managed to smuggle out thousands of photographs which would go on to open people’s eyes to the horror behind the barbed wire fences and would subsequently provide key evidence during several high profile Nazi war trials.
At the Nuremburg trials, Boix was called as a witness by the French prosecution to show the SS photographs, which depicted the conditions in which prisoners had to live in the camp.
During the trial, the prosecution had had some trouble proving that Ernst Kaltenbrunner had ever visited Mauthausen, but Boix’s testimony and most importantly, his photographs, proved that the Nazi leader had been at the camp.
Kaltenbrunner was one of the highest level leaders to be convicted during the trial and was executed after being found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
On May 5th 1945 soldiers from the 41st Reconnaissance Squadron of the US 11th Armoured Division of the US Army liberated Mauthausen concentration camp.
It is thought that around 8,000 Spanish Republicans were deported to Mauthausen during the Second World War, with around half dying in the camp.
"It was very bad in the camp for Spanish prisoners after 1943," historian Benito Bermejo, the author of a book entitled El fotógrafo del horror (The Photographer of Horror), told Spanish daily El Mundo.
"Only few survived, like Boix, who because of his skills as a photographer, received better treatment than his compatriots," Bermejo explained.
Boix escaped with his life, but his time in the concentration camp would have a lasting effect on his health.
He died at the age of 30 from liver problems stemming from his time as a prisoner.
UN torture prevention body urges Nauru to set up detention monitoring mechanism
United Nations Office at Geneva Media Release [6/5/15]:
The UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) has ended its first visit to Nauru, which focussed on the situation of people being detained on the island and the need to establish an independent monitoring body for places of detention.
During their three-day visit, the SPT delegation visited Nauru's police station and prison, as well as the Regional Processing Centre for asylum-seekers, a large facility comprising three separate units housing men, women and families with children who have been attempting to reach Australia.
"We were pleased to be able to visit all places of deprivation of liberty on the island," said Malcolm Evans, the chair of the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and head of the three-member delegation.
The SPT monitors how States that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) are meeting their treaty obligations, which include setting up a monitoring body known as a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM).
Nauru became a party to the Optional Protocol in January 2013 and an National Preventative Mechanism should have been in place one year after that.
"Given the number of people currently being held on the island, the establishment of an National Preventative Mechanism to address their needs and their situation becomes even more pressing," said Professor Evans.
Against this background, Professor Evans indicated that the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture delegation was encouraged to receive the Government's assurances that this mechanism would be established as soon as possible.
"The Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture would be pleased to respond to any request by the Government of the Republic of Nauru for assistance. It is, of course, essential that this mechanism is able to operate effectively and independently in all facilities on the island," Professor Evans stressed.
The Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture delegation was composed of: Malcolm Evans, June Lopez and Nora Sveaass.
Nauru Facebook ban dangerous [Pacific Freedom Forum Media Release - 5/5/15]:
The ban on Facebook in Nauru should be lifted immediately, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.
“Banning social networks presents a dangerous threat to human rights,” says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.
“As a centre for processing refugees, the government of Nauru should ensure it protects human rights while benefiting from Australian aid dollars,” she says.
Access to Facebook on Nauru was cut after the government faced growing criticism about human rights abuses at its refugee camps, including child abuse.
An independent review found cases of rape, assault and drugs for favours at the detention centre.
The ban also follows government censorship of state media and a new $8,000 fee for foreign media to enter the country, according to opposition critics.
Government said it asked the country’s only internet provider, Digicel, to cut access to some sites, without mentioning Facebook, claiming there was a problem with child porn.
Facebook is heavily monitored for pornography.
PFF Co Chair Monica Miller says the ban shows how desperate the government must be.
“The ban is a direct attack on freedoms of speech,” says Miller.
“Instead of answering critics, the government has chosen to cut off access to one of the region’s most popular social networks.
“Instead of a ban, the governments of Nauru and Australia should be looking at getting assistance to resolve this issue from neutral bodies, such as the United Nations.”
The ban has attracted wide coverage globally. [And Australia politicians are still silent.]
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp sees net profits halve
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, owner of The Times, The Sunday Times and The Wall Street Journal newspapers, saw third quarter net profits fall 52%, compared with the same period in 2014.
Declining advertising revenues and circulations for print publications meant profits fell to $23m (£15.2m; €20.6m) for the quarter ended 31 March.
Revenues also slipped 1% to $2.06bn.
Chief executive Robert Thomson highlighted a strong performance in its property listing business, Realtor.com.
"The new News Corp continues to build a firm foundation for digital growth," said Mr Thomson.
"We see that most clearly in the successful integration of realtor.com, which grew audience and revenue at record levels in the third quarter.
"News Corp is now a global leader in digital real estate."
Revenues for the online property division rose 67% to $170m for the quarter, after results from its Move subsidiary were included.
Newspapers, on the other hand, continued to struggle, with revenue in News Corp's news and information division falling 9% overall, as ad revenue declined 12%, and circulation and subscription revenue fell 6%.
But revenue in News Corp's book publishing division, which includes HarperCollins, rose 14% to $402m over the quarter.
The company said the continued popularity of the late Chris Kyle's autobiography, American Sniper, had helped boost results. The book was turned into a Hollywood film starring Bradley Cooper.
The group revenue results were below analyst expectations - a fact the company blamed partially on currency fluctuations.
... McDonalds and Coca-Cola ...
'Australia. Don't become America', Cranky 
Daily Mercury [5/5/15]:
OPI founder George Schaeffer has donated almost $31,000 as a thank you to Mackay Base Hospital's Medical Ward for the kindness and care of staff.
George and Irina Schaeffer from California donated $30,830 AUD to say thank-you for the outstanding quality of care George received earlier this year after becoming unwell while holidaying in the Whitsundays.
The donation has been given to the Mackay Hospital Foundation which will be used it to buy patient televisions for the Medical Ward.
"Irina and I were touched by the quality of care and caring by your staff at Mackay Base Hospital," he said.
"Our contribution to the Mackay Hospital Foundation is our way of saying 'Thank You' to the wonderful nurses and doctors who made my stay as comfortable as possible."
... The registered nurse coincidently admitted and discharged George Schaeffer when he spent a week in the medical ward. At the time, no one realised he was the founder of the popular OPI nail polish brand.
"George and (wife) Irina kept commenting on how friendly everyone was here and how nothing was too much trouble for us," Ms Lalic said. "They seemed overwhelmed at how friendly and relaxed we were.
"We treated George the same as any other patient and it was a complete surprise when we learnt he was being so generous." ... [Daily Mercury - 6/5/15]
Hundreds of Australian women are being "over diagnosed" with breast cancer every year that was never going to cause them harm and about 35,000 are receiving false positive results from mammograms, a leading breast surgeon says.
Speaking at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons' annual scientific congress, Professor of surgical oncology at the University of Western Australia, Christobel Saunders, said while mammography undoubtedly saved some women's lives and was still useful for women over 50, some were being harmed by it. ... [Brisbane Times - 6/5/15]
Four hospitalised after involving police car
A crash that put two police officers, a woman and a child in hospital is being investigated by police.
The marked police car collided with the woman's vehicle at Redbank, on Brisbane's western outskirts, on Wednesday morning.
The woman and her young daughter were taken to Ipswich General Hospital, while the two officers went to St Andrew's Hospital for mandatory checks.
Baby hit by car on Gold Coast
Brisbane Times [6/5/15]:
An 11-month-old baby is in a serious condition after a pram rolled down a driveway and was hit by a vehicle on the Gold Coast.
The child was taken to the Gold Coast University Hospital with head abrasions and a leg fracture after the incident on Papara Street in Pacific Pines, an ambulance spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman said it was believed a boy was inside the pram when it rolled from a residential driveway onto the road just after 4.30pm.
A police spokeswoman confirmed officers were at the scene.
She said the circumstances of the incident were unclear, but that it appeared a pram had been struck by a vehicle.
Investigations are continuing.
Father, another man to stand trial over death of three-year-old
Two men have been committed to stand trial over the death of a three-year-old girl in Brisbane two years ago.
Christopher Arthur Neville Kent and the girl's father Matthew Lee Williamson are charged with manslaughter and cruelty of a child.
The Brisbane Magistrates Court heard how Kyhesha-Lee Joughin died of internal injuries that became infected over a period of days.
It also heard how the three-year-old had injuries to her genitalia, bruising to both sides of her face, and lacerations to her ear consistent with being pulled.
Magistrate Christine Roney committed the men to stand trial.
Kent has been granted bail.
A 66-year-old grandfather has pleaded guilty to six counts relating to the indecent treatment of his two young granddaughters.
The man, who can not be named to protect the victims, was sentenced in the Bundaberg District Court for the offences which occurred between January 2009 and September 2014.
The defendant was sentenced to a head sentence of three years' imprisonment, suspended after 12 months. [News Mail - 6/5/15]
Funding for another call centre helpline but no tangible assistance. [Chronicle - 6/5/15]:
The State Government will provide $1.33 million over four years to ensure youths in south west Queensland have access to 24-hour support for the first time.
Department of Child Safety figures for July, 2013, to June, 2014, show 262 people in the region, including Ipswich and Toowoomba, were exiting out of home care.
Young people can phone or text 1800NEXTSTEP 24/7, or can connect via email, social media or through regional service providers.
Break and enter, Pimpama
QPS Media [6/5/15]:
Police are investigating after a discount business was broken into at Pimpama overnight.
Initial investigations indicate sometime between 6.30pm and 6.30am a front window was smashed at the Dixon Drive business allowing offenders entry.
Once inside the business the offenders have damaged a sunglasses rack before taking some stock.
Investigators believe this matter may be linked to a break in at a chemist at Helensvale early this morning.
Investigations are continuing.
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.
A Bundaberg woman who helped traffic drugs for her jailed friend can thank 10 months in rehab for keeping her out of jail. … [News Mail – 6/5/15]
Farmers, conservationsts hopeful of stopping New Acland expansion
… In private meetings with landholders and environmentalists last month, it was reported Minister Anthony Lynham admitted it would be difficult to stop the expansion.
However, Oakey Coal Action Alliance secretary Nikki Laws said her group maintained confidence in the State Government's review of the project
"Our legal advice is it's possible they can reject the approval," Ms Laws said.
"There's pressure on the government to approve all projects, not just this one. But there are really valid reasons to reject this approval.
"The cropping land is the best in Australia and the water impacts on this project are massive.
"More people are realising the implications of this approval. They've read the Environmental Impact Statement and they're waking up."
The group's vice-president, Aileen Harrison, was present at one of the meetings in Dalby and said the Minister had given them a fair hearing.
A spokesperson for the Minister said the government was meeting its election promise to review the decision by the previous LNP government, led by Campbell Newman, allowing the mine expansion to go ahead.
"The government committed in Opposition to scrutinise the approval processes of New Acland stage 3 and its impact on local communities," the spokesperson said.
"We are meeting that commitment with a process review.
"The project's next step is Land Court hearings where evidence will be heard from all the interested parties.
The spokesperson said there would soon be opportunities for public comment on the environmental authority proposed.
"I am advised the company will publish public notices in Toowoomba Chronicle and Oakey Champion on May 13 advertising its application for an amended environmental authority.
"The Palaszczuk Government is focused on job creation and we know that business and industry need timely decision-making."
Ettamogah Pub: 6000 sign petition to keep access open [Sunshine Coast Daily – 6/5/15]
Dust storm shrouds NSW, Victoria
Stock Journal [6/5/16]:
Red dust covered much of northwestern Victoria and the west of New South Wales yesterday, making its way into the border city of Mildura, Victoria, shortly after noon as gale force westerly winds culminated with a dust storm.
A cold front moved rapidly through western and central Victoria on Tuesday morning before weakening in the east in the afternoon.
The Bureau of Meterology issued a severe weather warning for numerous districts, including the Mallee, late on Tuesday as damaging winds swept across the state.
Mildura weather station recorded a peak gust of 69 kilometres an hour about 11.41am. Gusts of up to 67km/h were still being felt as the thick dust moved in.
A sharp drop in temperature coincided with the dust storm, falling almost five degrees between 12pm and 12.27pm, to 14.5C, with the 'apparent temperature' as low as 7.1C a few minutes later.
Outrage after Spain police shoot escaped chimp dead
Animal rights groups slammed Spanish police Tuesday for shooting dead a chimpanzee named Eve who escaped from a zoo on the holiday island of Mallorca with her companion Adam.
Adam and Eve, who weigh each about 80 kilograms (176 pounds) escaped in Sa Coma on the island of Mallorca on Monday afternoon after apparently breaking out of their cage, police said.
The Civil Guard police force launched a search and a few hours later found the female, who was then killed by forest rangers, a regional spokesman for the Guardia Civil police force told AFP.
"She was very agitated and there was a risk that she might attack a member of the search party," he said.
"It wasn't possible to use tranquiliser darts because on animals that big it takes about five minutes to have an effect," which could have given her time to attack, he said.
Officers were still searching for Adam on Tuesday in a wooded, hilly region of the Mediterranean island, a top holiday destination for tourists from Britain, Germany and elsewhere.
"Depending on the circumstances, we will first try to catch him without hurting him. But if there is no other way, he will have to be killed too," the spokesman said.
Police were investigating how the chimps escaped.
"It is not very clear, but it seems they broke the bars of their cage," the spokesman said. "These animals are very strong. They can lift double their weight."
The Spanish primate protection group Proyecto Gran Simio asked the authorities to shut down the zoo immediately, alleging "serious irresponsibility" in the keeping of the chimpanzees.
Adam "must be scared and wondering what to do", it said in a statement.
The zoo declined to comment, referring all calls to the Civil Guard.
Javier Moreno of the Spanish animal rights group Igualdad Animal said it was "a sad and unjust end to an even sadder life, lived behind bars".
"It is not the first time desperate animals have escaped from these places and been shot dead, and it will not be the last."
Christians occupy Greg Hunt’s office
MP News [6/5/15]:
Christian leaders have occupied the Hastings office of Flinders Liberal MP Greg Hunt and are refusing to leave until the Federal Environment Minister gives a commitment “to release all children” from the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres.
A Christian coalition of Uniting Church, Baptist Church, Church of Christ and Peninsula City Church members grouped under the Love Makes A Way banner turned up unannounced at Mr Hunt’s electorate office at 11am this morning to protest against the federal government’s asylum seekers policies.
Love Makes A Way describes itself as “a movement of Christians seeking an end to Australia’s inhumane asylum seeker policies through prayer and nonviolent love in action”.
Group members were detained in May last year after staging a sit-in prayer meeting and vigil at Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office in Sydney.
A similar protest by a group of Christian priests and nuns was held at Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten’s office at the same time as the sit-in at Mr Abbott’s electorate office.
Police arrived at Mr Hunt’s office at about midday today.
Love Makes A Way spokesman Sam Hearn told The News police officers tried to convince six Christian leaders holding a vigil inside Mr Hunt’s office premises to leave.
Mr Hearn said office staff at Mr Hunt’s office called the police.
“We have a commitment to non-violent protest … but stand on behalf of the issue at the same time and the people who can’t have a voice for themselves.”
He said the six inside the office building are praying and holding a vigil “for all of us” including the children and families held in offshore detention.
“They [the six] are not blockading or stopping people from coming in and out of the office but the staff said that they find it a disruption to their work day.”
The six leaders staging the sit-in at Mr Hunt’s office are the Uniting Church’s Reverend Cameron McAdam, Church of Christ’s Reverend Paul Randle, Peninsula City Church’s Dean Moroney and the Baptist Church’s Kristen Furneaux, Joel Furneaux and Tim Johnson.
About 20 youth workers and church members are also holding vigil outside Mr Hunt’s office.
The six are refusing to leave until “Greg Hunt will approach the Prime Minister and Cabinet in order to seek a moratorium on the transfer of asylum seekers, especially children, to Nauru and Manus Island” according to the group’s media statement.
A spokeswoman for Mr Hunt said the Environment Minister is in meetings in Melbourne today but he had called to speak to a Love Makes A Way representative at the scene.
She confirmed office staff had called police when the protesters refused to leave because they are “trespassing”.
Police officers remain at the scene.
Debating draconian legislation (after it's been passed by parliament) and the freedom to discuss freedom for fascists pretending to be victims in a bubble of comfort and privilege
… Once he starts he can't be stopped
A hint becomes a howl
You turn away, you block your ears
But you still feel the growl
What was once a hollow corpse
Is very much alive
Now the threat from far away
Is standing on your drive ...
'Privilege', The Human League 
This event ought to be exposed for its hypocrisy and protested. LOUDLY
Wilson calls for HRC basic freedoms inquiry [Lawyers Weekly – 6/5/15]:
This Law Week, the human rights commissioner will reignite debate on whether legislation enacted by the Abbott Government, including the controversial metadata laws, impinge on basic freedoms.
Tim Wilson said the Human Rights Commission (HRC) is well placed to launch an inquiry into legislation that restricts basic liberties, such as the metadata retention scheme and the Foreign Fighters Bill.
He was speaking to Lawyers Weekly ahead of Law Week’s “Talking Justice” event to be held in Bendigo, Victoria on 16 May, where he will participate in a panel discussion titled Engagement in a Context of Hostility.
Mr Wilson claimed that, as commissioner, his role is to champion the protection of individual rights, but fell short of defending SBS sports reporter Scott McIntyre, who was dismissed for provocative tweets sent from his private account over the ANZAC weekend.
The incident has divided commentators, with some claiming the termination of Mr McIntyre’s employment wrongfully encroached on his right to freedom of speech.
But Mr Wilson said he has little sympathy for employees who are fired for publicly expressing a private view.
He claimed the burden is entirely on employees to be appropriate and responsible in the public sphere and abide by the voluntary contracts they have signed.
However, social media guidelines “in principle” should not limit employees “continued participation in free society”, he added.
“No employer limits someone’s freedom of speech by establishing guidelines,” he said. “People have the right to free speech whether they are employed or not.”
SBS’ code of conduct would have permitted questioning and criticism of Australia’s involvement in wars and even the conduct of Anzacs, he explained.
Mr Wilson argues that part of the problem is the culture of outrage, whereby minor indiscretions or unfortunate remarks get blown out of proportion on social media and can end careers.
“What we need is a culture where people are free to express themselves and people don’t indulge in confected outrage.”
HRC president Gillian Triggs takes a different view, writing in The Age this month: “Unlike all other Common Law countries, Australia has no bill of rights and few laws to protect the right to freedom of speech.
“While we may say what we please, subject to defined prohibitions, a practical, chilling outcome of freedom of speech is that we must suffer the consequences if that speech is also a breach of an employment contract.”
While abiding by the ethics and values of our employers may seem like a reasonable constraint, it creates issues when the employer is in the wrong or breaking the law, she added.
Other commentators have argued that there is no practical difference between the state and an employer restricting freedom of speech, as losing one's job is incentive enough for most workers to keep silent.
The president and commissioner may disagree over whether employer codes of conduct limit free speech, but both have raised concerns over the potential of recent anti-terror laws to restrict basic liberties.
For example, the metadata retention scheme lacks the necessary safeguards to make sure new powers of surveillance are as targeted as possible, according to Mr Wilson.
He said these safeguards should include proper oversight and transparency around which sorts of crime can attract an investigation of stored data.
“The role of security has a place; sometimes there is a shift in the need to accommodate based on prevalent and existing threats,” he said.
“But the way to deal with [these threats] is to make any measure temporary and specific and not give government too much broad-based power.”
Speaking more generally about the forms of surveillance that exist in Australia, Mr Wilson said: “[The] commission could do an inquiry or review looking at the full spectrum of issues that exist around retaining data and making sure that high standards are applied.”
Tim Wilson will appear with Lydia Shelly and Justice Mordecai Bromberg for a panel discussion on Engagement in a Context of Hostility as part of the “Talking Justice” event, to be held in Bendigo, Victoria, during Law Week (11-17 May).
The program is garbage so we’ve brought garbage trucks out here as a symbolic protest.
Struggle Street protest brings garbage truck blockade to SBS Sydney offices [Guardian -6/5/15]:
A garbage truck blockade surrounded SBS’s head office on Wednesday to protest against the Struggle Street documentary depicting impoverished neighbourhoods of western Sydney.
The 10 trucks belonging to Blacktown council blocked road access to the Artarmon office in Sydney for half an hour.
The show, due to air for the first time on Wednesday, follows the lives of residents in areas including Wilmott and Mount Druitt, and depicts its subjects as struggling with disability, unemployment and drug addiction.
After viewing the trailer and the first of the three episodes, some show participants and members of Blacktown council accused the series makers of inaccuracy and bias.
Leading the blockade was the mayor of Blacktown, Stephen Bali, who dubbed the show “publicly funded poverty porn”.
Bali said the show was not only an insult to the “320,000 residents of Blacktown” but also to “2 million people who live in western Sydney and all the working class across New South Wales and across Australia”.
“The program is garbage so we’ve brought garbage trucks out here as a symbolic protest. This is a false representation [of Blacktown] and this program must stop.”
Peta and Ashley Kennedy, two stars of the show, were also present at the blockade. Peta Kennedy objected to the show’s promo trailer, which attracted intense social media interest and had since been pulled down.
“This has ruined my life,” Peta said.
“I hate being called a houso, I hate being called a bogan and I will not stand for my family being attacked,” she said.
“There are some good people in Wilmott and I’m standing up for them and I’ll stand up for Mount Druitt as well.”
All 10 drivers of the trucks were volunteers. One beeped his horn and shouted, “I love Mount Druitt! Mount Druitt is number one!”
Bali had met with SBS producers on Tuesday and said he put forward a range of allegations regarding the accuracy of the show. He requested the show be delayed until these were clarified.
The chief content officer of SBS, Helen Kellie, said the allegations were being taken “extremely seriously” and that “accuracy is absolutely paramount for SBS to ensure this is a fair portrayal of these individuals”.
But while those allegations remained unsubstantiated, the first episode would go to air as planned on Wednesday evening.
Kellie said SBS stood behind the show.
“We recognise that these stories of real lives and of real people we’re telling are controversial and clearly polarising. But we think it’s an important story to tell.” [Like similar faux documentaries Laughing at the Disabled and Dumb Drunk and Racist?]
The lawyer George Newhouse indicated on Wednesday he was investigating legal options for the program’s participants, including potential defamation suits.
Police officer stood down – State Crime Command
QPS Media [6/5/15]:
A 35-year-old male Senior Constable from State Crime Command has been stood down from official duty with the Queensland Police Service.
The officer is subject of a disciplinary investigation concerning allegations he maintained an inappropriate relationship with a female complainant.
In keeping with our commitment to high standards of behaviour, transparency and accountability, we have undertaken to inform the public when an officer faces serious allegations of misconduct.
This does not mean that the allegations against the officer have been substantiated.
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.
Man dies following police pursuit, Surfers Paradise
A motorcyclist has died in hospital after he was found unconscious in a canal following a failed police chase on the Gold Coast.
The 34-year-old died on Tuesday night after crashing his bike when he failed to stop for police on Sunset Boulevard in Surfers Paradise on April 20.
When the man did not stop, police pulled over and continued the search on foot, finding his motorbike crashed on a footpath of a cul-de-sac.
The man was then found passed out in a canal and was taken to hospital in a critical condition.
Queensland Police have issued a statement saying the Ethical Standards Command is now investigating the circumstances surrounding the man's death.
Police were unable to say why the officers were trying to pull the man over in the first place.
Who precisely is assaulting who, in certain parts of Queensland?
Two people, believed to be a mother and son, have been charged for biting and kicking police during a stand-off in north Queensland.
Two police officers were called to a disturbance in the Townsville suburb of Wulguru on Monday night when they were set upon by a 19-year-old man and a woman aged 47.
The man is accused of biting one police officer on the hand, while the woman allegedly kicked the other.
The alleged attack is the latest in a spate of police assaults in the city in recent days.
The pair have been charged with the man to face Townsville Magistrates Court on Tuesday and the woman to appear on May 19.
Unlawful wounding charge, Caboolture
QPS Media [6/5/15]:
Police have charged a 51-year-old man with unlawful wounding following investigations into a disturbance at Caboolture yesterday afternoon.
Officers were called to an address on Dennis Street around 3.45pm following reports of an alleged altercation between two men.
A 26-year-old man sustained injuries to his face and head and was taken to Caboolture Hospital for treatment.
His injuries are not believed to be life threatening.
A 51-year-old Caboolture man was charged with one count each of unlawful wounding and forcible entry.
He is due to appear in the Caboolture Magistrates Court tomorrow morning.
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.
Update – Missing man, Lowood
QPS Media [6/5/15]:
Police are continuing to appeal for public assistance to help locate Steven Fuller, reported missing from the Lowood area.
Mr Fuller, 41, was last seen on March 1 at a McInnes Street address at Lowood.
He has not made contact with family since and concerns are held for his safety has he suffers from a medical condition.
Whilst police believe Mr Fuller may still be in the Ipswich – Lowood area he has frequented the Maryborough, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay areas.
Police are appealing for anyone in those areas who believes they may have seen him to contact Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.
Mr Fuller is described as being of Aboriginal appearance, around 170cm tall, with a proportionate build.
Suspicious house fire, Bargara [QPS Media - 6/5/15]
Suspicious fire, Lota [QPS Media - 6/5/15]
Armed robbery, Everton Park [QPS Media - 6/5/15]
Attempted armed robbery, Narangba [QPS Media - 6/5/15]
Break and enter at chemist, Helensvale [QPS Media - 6/5/15]
Young golfers win opportunity of a lifetime
Gold Coast City Council Media Release [6/5/15]:
Three young Gold Coast golfers have just scored the opportunity of a lifetime, winning six weeks of mentoring from a PGA professional, a stay in Dubai, along with flights and tickets to the UK to watch the 2015 Open Championship at St Andrews.
The three teenagers are the recipients of the inaugural Mayor’s Junior Golf Development scholarship, which aims to nurture local sporting excellence and create positive ambassadors for the Gold Coast.
The winners and their details are:
1. Conrad Rafferty – age 16, Queensland Academy for Health Sciences student, member of Gold Coast Country Club.
2. Peter Lyon – age 17, Robina State High School student, member of Southport Golf Club.
3. Blaze Chapman – age 17, Griffith University student, member of Surfers Paradise Golf Club.
Mayor Tom Tate, who served on the interview panel, said the calibre of scholarship applicants had been impressive.
"With so many gifted young players out there, the shortlisting process was certainly a challenge,” he said.
"In the interests of nurturing the city’s leaders of tomorrow, the winners were also selected based on their leadership capacity.
"This scholarship is one of the ways we’re working towards developing sporting talent as part of our Sport Plan and in the long term, it’s talent like this that will help to grow our reputation as a sporting capital.
"I look forward to seeing these three young men off on their journey and know they will do the Gold Coast proud as young ambassadors for our city," said Cr Tate.
The winners will undertake six weeks of private mentoring sessions with PGA Professional and Chairman Mark Gibson, who will assist them in areas such as time management, practice relevance and tournament preparation.
"This is the chance of a lifetime - the winners will have access to world class facilities and experts which will strengthen their abilities and help them achieve their goals," said Mr Gibson, who is also the Director of Instruction at RACV Royal Pines Resort.
"Professional athletes have many demands on their time and pure skill is not enough to succeed in the modern era. This scholarship will demonstrate to the participants the importance of time management, perseverance and preparation."
Courtesy of Emirates, the winners have won flights to the UK where they will watch The Open Championship in Scotland as well as a two-night stopover in Dubai.
Emirates Queensland Regional Manager, Kim Tomlinson said he was pleased to be able to offer the talented young golfers a once in a lifetime opportunity to join golfing royalty at the prestigious Open Championship.
"Emirates is looking forward to taking the winners on a tour of the Emirates Training Facility in Dubai where they will also experience the local culture before heading over to the UK to master their swing at St Andrews," he said.
"Sponsoring over 24 major golf championships around the world including the Australian PGA Championship, Emirates is proud to be sponsoring the Mayor’s Junior Golf Development Scholarship to ensure our next generation of golfers are ready for tee off," he concluded.
The winners will depart for the UK in July.
The scholarship is proudly supported by the Australian PGA and Emirates.
Funding boost to domestic and family violence services
It's a start, but call centres are pointless without adequate legal services or safe places to escape to.
Premier and Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Multicultural Affairs Media Release [6/5/15]:
The Palaszczuk Government will provide an extra $1.5 million for services to help women and children suffering as a result of domestic and family violence.
The funding follows a recent surge in domestic and family violence related incidents across the state being reported to specialist support service DVConnect.
DV Connect will receive an extra $750,000 per year for two years, on top of existing funding ($3.17m in 2014/15) for services including counsellors to expand its Womensline telephone support service.
Womensline provides free and confidential telephone information, advice and referrals. DV Connect has experienced a 40 per cent increase in demand across the December 2014 and March 2015 quarters, when compared to the corresponding quarters 12 months earlier.
To get help for yourself or someone you know, call DVConnect Womensline on 1800 811 811 or Mensline on 1800 600 636. For more information, visit www.qld.gov.au/trustyourinstinct
Gold Coast parliamentary education activities - May 2015
The Queensland Parliament will conduct a series of parliamentary
activities on the Gold Coast in May 2015.
Details of these upcoming events are contained in the links below:
• Parliament and Government Processes: A Parliamentary Education and Training Conference on 26 May
• a professional development training session for primary and secondary school teachers in the Gold Coast region will be conducted on 27 May
• a Youth Parliament for year 6 and 7 students from primary schools in the Gold Coast region on 28 May
Woolworths axes 400 jobs
Giant retailer Woolworths has reported a disappointing 2 per cent decline in sales for the third quarter, dragged down by tumbling petrol sales and its poorly performing Big W stores.
In response to a run of poor sales results, the retailer has announced a "lean" model that will see another 400 full-time staff go from backroom and office roles.
Woolworths said these job losses are likely to occur by the end of the calendar year, with the retailer saying it had already cut 400 staff since a range of potential savings were identified in July last year.
Woolworths' latest third-quarter consolidated sales came in at a fraction under $15 billion, with the key food, liquor and petrol division reporting a drop in sales of 3.3 per cent to $11.8 billion.
Petrol sales were down 35 per cent in value and 20 per cent in volume, reflecting both lower prices at the bowser and operational changes in Woolworths' alliance with its supplier, Caltex.
General merchandise through the Big W chain continued to struggle, with comparable sales down 4 per cent, which the company blamed on its on-going "transformation" of the business.
The Masters home improvement business reported an increase in sales of 21 per cent, which was largely in line with analyst expectations.
Investors were extremely unimpressed with the company's performance, pushing its share price down more than 4 per cent in early trade.
News of the job cuts appeared to ameliorate the worst of the losses, but Woolworths shares were still 2.8 per cent lower at $28.80 by 10:24am (AEST).
Spain's Podemos co-founder and leader resigns amid divisions
Juan Carlos Monedero, one of Podemos' founders and an ideological leader of the young party, resigned Thursday after a hectic week during which he criticized Podemos for “sometimes” looking like the parties it claims to surpass.
“I have presented to my friend Pablo [Iglesia, leader of the party] my resignation,” declared Monedero on Twitter. “My friendship remains firm with someone so important, as well as my commitment to Podemos.”
“It is hugely painful,” confessed Iglesias, explaining that the decision was made in the afternoon after a conversation of a few minutes. He added that he disagreed with Mondero's severe criticisms against the party and the moderate line recently implemented.
“If there is one thing we could agree on, it would be that we do need this critical stimulus, we need Juan Carlos to fly and to be able with this freedom to stick his finger in the wound, with this lucidity that only a few possess.”
Monedero, a political science professor and secretary of the Program and Constituent Process in the party, had previously declared to the press that Podemos, although it remained “the most decent [force] in Spanish politics,” started looking like the mainstream parties.
In his opinion, this drift was “because [Podemos] stopped dedicating time to meet with small circles [the local supporters of the party], because it was more important to get one minute of TV airtime” - admitting at the same time that media presence was important.
He called on the 15-month-old party to “go back to its origins,” referring to the grassroots movement Indignados that rose against corruption and the economic austerity policies imposed by the currently ruling conservative Popular Party.
Monedero also gave credit to Pablo Iglesias, Podemos leader, for being able to represent the two faces of the party – the radical and the moderate one. According to him, Iglesias was both able to meet with both representatives of the dominant parties and those who march in the streets.
Podemos, created in January 2014 to give a political expression to the social movement, immediately succeeded in the European elections that followed its creation, thanks to its anti-system and anti-corruption message.
Although it maintained the same line, the party initiated a key strategic shift over the summer 2014, opting for a more vertical organizational model and a more moderate program to attract the centrist vote, yet also triggering the criticisms of the grass-roots supporters.
LNP fails in attempt to nullify Billy Gordon's vote
Under the current system, crossbench votes are not revealed until after the Government and Opposition numbers are tallied.
The Opposition wanted to the crossbench votes to be counted first.
That would allow an MP from either party to abstain from voting, effectively negating the Cook MP's vote in Parliament.
But the two Katter Party MPs and Mr Gordon voted with the Government
to keep the current system, which was introduced by the Newman government.
Senate voting “reforms” facing resistance from inside Labor and Greens [Brisbane Times – 5/5/15]
@AuSenate [6/5/16]: State Parliament meetings today (NSW) and tomorrow (Qld) likely to choose replacements for Senators Faulkner and Mason
The Palaszczuk government has defended its handling of a failed casino licence application against claims it has acted unethically.
Tower Holdings' proposed $600m eco-resort on Great Keppel Island, off Yeppoon, hit a roadblock on Friday when the government dismissed its casino licence application.
While the project had approvals, it needed the licence to attract additional funding from investors.
Prior to being elected Keppel MP Brittany Lauga worked for CQG Consulting, which helped prepare the project's environmental impact statement.
But Ms Lauga told state parliament on Tuesday there was no conflict of interest.
"I was never involved as a consultant in any way, shape or form in Tower's application for any casino licence," she said.
Ms Lauga reassured the house she also had clearance from the integrity commissioner.
Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg later questioned whether it was ethical for Labor's state secretary Evan Moorhead to contact Tower Holdings as part of the approval process.
Minister for State Development Dr Anthony Lynham stressed the project had been approved for two years and the owner has said it will proceed without a casino.
"I would simply ask the developers to please proceed with their project," he said.
The opposition also seized on reports former Labor treasurer and lobbyist Terry Mackenroth had advised developer Terry Agnew to "not make a fuss of it" and "keep it quiet and we'll probably get it up".
Mr Mackenroth was also assisting Labor with the transition to government.
The opposition's Tim Nicholls demanded to know what advice the premier had received from the integrity commissioner prior to allowing Mr Mackenroth to make that contact.
"Mr Mackenroth is not a lobbyist to my knowledge," Annastacia Palaszczuk replied.
"I don't have any details about any conversation that he has had in relation to that proponent."
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley has managed to end the 44-year reign of the Progressive Conservatives and secure her party’s first ever election win, CTV projects.
Notley’s NDP will form the next government and Jim Prentice’s PCs will find themselves in opposition.
The question now is whether Notley can get 44 seats -- enough to form a majority government in the 87-seat legislature. ... [CTV - 5/5/15]
UPDATE – Missing woman, located Mt Isa
QPS Media [6/5/15]:
Police have located the 21-year-old woman reported missing from Mt Isa yesterday morning.
Around 10pm the woman was located safe and well in the Northern Territory.
Police would like to thank the public and the media for their assistance.
Brisbane Times [5/5/15]:
Police are no longer investigating the disappearance of 22-year-old Wynnum West woman Rebecca Mackenzie, who was last seen at a Brisbane nightclub early Sunday morning.
Fortitude Valley Criminal Investigation Branch Detective Senior Sergeant Tom Armitt said police would prepare a report for the coroner.
He said police had information to indicate the young woman was dead but were still searching for her body.
They are not treating the death as suspicious.
Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by calling Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.
Man falls from building on St Georges Terrace, Perth
WA Today [5/5/15]:
A man is in hospital in a critical condition after falling from a building in Perth's CBD.
St John Ambulance said the man was rushed from St Georges Terrace to Royal Perth Hospital with serious injuries.
He remains in a critical condition in hospital.
It is understood the man may have fallen from a 10th storey building in Hay Street. The building stretches from Hay Street to St Georges Terrace and it is believed the man may have landed on a mezzanine level.
Witnesses said it was not clear if the man was a construction worker who fell from the building.
A worker at a nearby cafe said she heard a loud bang just before emergency services rushed to the scene.
Vilification of ‘struggle street’ is commonplace in Australian media and must stop
ACOSS Media Release [5/5/15]:
The Australian Council of Social today joined the growing chorus of voices calling for the suspension of the SBS documentary Struggle Street, adding that degrading and insulting portrayals of people doing it tough in our community is commonplace in large sections of the Australian media and must stop.
"While SBS has been rightly called to account by the local community about the way in which this documentary has been produced and the end product, this is not an isolated incident," said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.
"ACOSS, and many of our member organisations in the community sector, has been deeply concerned about this issue for a long time - the misrepresentation of whole groups of people and local communities, particularly people struggling to survive on low income support payments, including sole parents and people on the Disability Support Pension, or experiencing personal challenges.
"Sadly vilification of people on ‘welfare' continues to be a feature of our commercial media landscape and it's extremely disappointing that SBS should seek to follow suit in this documentary, especially when the special broadcaster is usually one of the most sensitive to the issue of poverty and disadvantage in much of its programing.
"Many of our members have raised these issues with media outlets and the Australian Press Council over the years. ACOSS has also raised it with successive governments, particularly when it has involved government departments like Centrelink providing networks with undercover footage identifying people of suspected fraud activity before people have appeared in court or convicted of any charges.
"It's also been striking to us that despite the very low levels of overall fraud among people on income support (0.02%), it invariably seems to attract disproportionate coverage in influential sections of the commercial media in ways that demean all people on income support payments.
"We have been heartened by the overwhelming reaction to this SBS documentary - from the local community, the wider community and media outlets themselves. We particularly applaud the local participants and the Blacktown Local Council for taking a stand, and we stand with them.
"We urge SBS management to listen to the local Blacktown community and immediately suspend the planned broadcast until the participants are shown the documentary in full and had their views heard about its contents before it goes to air.
"Our hope is that we can use this sorry episode for a conversation about the important role of the media in documenting and portraying individuals and communities experiencing hardship. It's time to draw a line on reporting and portrayals that seek to mock, degrade, insult and do damage to people and divide our community," Dr Goldie said.
Greens back blockade BP petrol station, support Australian coastal shipping [Media Release - 5/5/15]
A $130 million deep sea port in an area listed as internationally significant for wildlife is already open for business, despite no formal environmental impact assessments from either the Northern Territory or Commonwealth governments.
The head of the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NTEPA) has admitted "gross deficiencies" in the existing laws meant companies could ignore the NTEPA and "that is just the way it is".
Companies face up to $8.5 million in fines for breaching federal environment laws but under existing NT legislation no penalties apply.
Port Melville is located on the Tiwi Islands, 80 kilometres off the coast of Darwin.
The Singaporean owner and developer of the port Ausgroup has been promoting it as a marine supply base for the offshore oil and gas industry. ... [ABC - 5/5/15]
Statement of solidarity with remote Indigenous communities
Lock The Gate Media Release [1/5/15]:
Lock the Gate Alliance opposes the forced closure of remote indigenous communities, and supports Aboriginal people’s right to live on their country, with the basic services, respect and freedoms that all Australians should enjoy in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We stand in solidarity with Indigenous Australians who want to continue to live on their ancestral lands. We are proud to live in a land that is home to the world’s oldest living culture, one that is intimately tied to landscape, family and community.
We encourage people in our network who are fighting to protect their
communities and make them resilient to changes imposed from the outside, to show
your support and march with the first peoples of Australia on May Day as they,
too, fight to protect their communities.
NGOs, media locked out of PACER-Plus talks
Non-government organisations and media have been told they are not allowed to attend talks of the proposed regional free trade agreement PACER-Plus.
Representatives from Australia, New Zealand and 14 Pacific nations are meeting in Vanuatu this week for the next round of negotiations.
Almost 40 Pacific civil society organisations and trade unions groups have written letters expressing concern at the agreement.
A Pacific Network on Globalisation, or PANG, spokesperson, Adam Wolfenden, says he has travelled to Port Vila to call for suspension of the negotiations.
"PANG and other civil society organisations aren't actually allowed in the meetings. There's a private sector representative, but as far as the non profit, non government sector, no ones allowed in. One of the reasons why I am here is to try to talk to officials and try to present PANG's views and PANG's concerns about the trade agreement when I get the chance as well as meeting with local organisations and businesses here on the ground in Vila."
Australia in "coalition of the selfish": Bainimarama [RNZI - 6/5/15]
Police are responsible for the deaths of the two Hanuabada men who died in a shooting incident in January this year.
That’s from NCD and Central police boss, Jerry Frank at a news conference in Port Moresby today.
And investigations have placed the blame squarely on the controversial NCDC reserve unit, confirming initial eyewitness statements from villagers.
Frank said the NCDC reserve unit was “very unprofessional in their approach to vendors at Hekeidobi market at Hanuabada village.” ... [PNG Loop - 6/5/15]
AFP gifts new radios to Bomana Police College [PNG Loop - 6/5/15]
... The newspaper, The National, says cabinet has approved guidelines for three modes of execution - hanging, lethal injection and firing squad - which will carried out at a facility to be built at Port Moresby's Bomana Prison.
PNG's government reactivated the death penalty in 2013 in reaction to a spate of violent crimes, drawing the ire of international human rights groups. ...
People living in Sikut-Matupit say landslides occurred after the 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck Kokopo in East New Britain yesterday. Peter Urami told The National by telephone that the earthquake was strongly felt in the settlement and damaged homes. ... [The National - 6/5/15]
A bridge along the Madang-Lae highway collapsed on Monday when a container truck passed over it. Madang Works Department roads and bridges supervisor Bayom Bunag said the Wasiko Bridge was among those built in 1985 which needed to be replaced.
“These bridges could carry 40 to 45 tonnes when they were built but have worn out over the years,” he said.
“It is about time we replace all of them.” ... [The National - 6/5/15]
Italy's schools close as teachers fight "reform"
The Local [5/5/15]:
Schools across Italy will close on Tuesday as teachers rally against premier Matteo Renzi’s school reform bill.
The bill, which would see 100,000 substitute teachers given permanent contracts and extra funds designated for teacher development, was approved by the cabinet in March.
But unions argue the reform is “unfair” as many more substitute teachers will be excluded.
Marches will take place in Rome, Aosta, Milan, Bari, Catania, Palermo and Cagliari. Students are also expected to join the rallies.
The so-called Good School bill, which still needs to go before parliament, is also designed togive schools greater autonomy by making it the school head's job to handpick teachers, and bring greater transparency to the system, with curriculum vitae and school financial records made public online.
Teachers would also be given a €500 bonus each year to be spent on cultural activities, such as tickets to a concert.
Permanent contacts will be rolled out for 100,000 substitute teachers by September 2015 if the bill goes through, with others following for 23,000 nursery school teachers a year later.
Education Minister Stefania Giannini was quoted by Ansa on Monday as saying that she was "frankly perplexed" by the reasons for the strike.
She added that the reasons given by those protesting against the reform "are absolutely foreign to what we want to do with the Good School, which is(fostering) scholastic autonomy and strengthening the education on offer".
The last strike was held on April 24th, after which protesters vowed to continue their fight until the bill is dropped. The next strike is due to take place on May 12th.
Susanna Camusso, leader of trade union CGIL, has said the reform "favors the richest and divides the precarious."
In November last year the European Court of Justice ordered Italy to regularize substitute teachers who had worked for over 36 months on precarious, short-term contracts. Italian media at the time put the number concerned at 250,000.
Renzi, who has made the school reform one of the cornerstones of his mandate, said pre-school children would get English lessons and history of art and music would return to the curriculum.
Helen Salisbury is one of thirteen NHA candidates across the country that the electorate can vote for on May 7th. Formed as a direct result of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, the party were formed with the NHS and its survival in mind.
“This act brought about a radical change to the NHS”, Helen explained.
“The party was formed by doctors, nurses, paramedics, because we could see what was going to happen due to the huge amount of competition was that encouraged within the health service.” ... [The Oxford Student - 4/5/15]
Mourners pray for kamikaze pilots ahead of WWII anniversary
Japan Today [5/5/15]:
Some 1,000 people gathered at a former air base of the kamikaze squad in southwestern Japan, to mourn the loss of the lives of suicide mission pilots seven decades ago.
The memorial service was held Sunday in Chiran, southern Kyushu, from which 439 kamikaze pilots left for suicide missions - known as “Tokko” in Japan - and did not survive, towards the end of World War II, public broadcaster NHK said.
Television footage showed bereaved families of late kamikaze pilots and other participants offering a silent prayer in the rain and placing white chrysanthemums before a Buddhist hall.
“We pledge to make an effort for peace, not forgetting about the graveness of the lives of young people victimised by ‘Tokko,’” an 84-year-old who lost his brother in the mission told the ceremony, according to NHK.
Huffington Post [4/5/15]:
... The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights organization, spoke out in a statement.
"We condemn yesterday's attack on an anti-Islam event in Garland, Texas, without reservation," the organization declared in a statement.
"We also reiterate our view that violence in response to anti-Islam programs like the one in Garland is more insulting to our faith than any cartoon, however defamatory. Bigoted speech can never be an excuse for violence." ...
Federal agents for years monitored one of the two gunmen who were shot dead after opening fire with assault rifles at a heavily guarded Texas exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.
Two government sources who asked not to be named said the gunmen were roommates Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, of Phoenix. Court documents show Simpson had been under surveillance since 2006 and was convicted in 2011 of lying to FBI agents over his desire to join violent jihad in Somalia. ... [Reuters - 5/5/15]
French lawmakers voted in favour Tuesday of a new law granting the state sweeping surveillance powers, despite criticism from civil society groups that have dubbed the bill the “French Patriot Act”.
The bill passed the National Assembly with 438 votes in favour and just 86 against after it gained the backing of the two main parties – the ruling Socialists and the centre-right UMP.
The bill will now go up before the French parliament’s upper house, the Senate, in June. ... [France 24 - 5/5/15]
Canada tries to block release of ex-Guantanamo detainee [Al Jazeera – 5/5/15]
UNICEF brings aid to displaced Yarmouk families in previously inaccessible Damascus suburb [Media Release – 5/5/15]:
The United Nations children’s agency participated in two missions this week to provide humanitarian assistance to families recently displaced from Yarmouk camp, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
Briefing the press in New York, Stéphane Dujarric said the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) participated in the inter-agency missions to provide humanitarian assistance to families displaced to three locations about 10 kilometres south of Damascus.
“This is the first time UNICEF has been able to get access to this area for the past two years,” said Mr. Dujarric.
“After crossing five checkpoints, UNICEF was able to deliver three trucks with baby diaper kits, kits for newborn and kits of clothes for children. In its first mission earlier in the day, UNICEF delivered kits to treat 3,000 cases of diarrhoea, midwifery kits as well as boxes of High-Energy Biscuits.”
According to UNICEF staff on the convoys, Mr. Dujarric said it is estimated that some 50,000 people live in the three locations visited, in addition to about 2,500 Palestinian refugee families who fled Yarmouk.
Fertilizer suited for bombs flows to ISIL territory from Turkey: Report [Hurriyet Daily News - 5/5/15]
Hezbollah fighters captured a Syrian village Tuesday near the border with Lebanon after intense fighting with Islamic militants, the group's television station said, while an activist said battles are concentrating near a strategic Syrian hill.
The battles come amid reports in Lebanon that Hezbollah and the Syrian army are expected to launch an offensive against members of the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's branch in Syria, and the Islamic State group in Qalamoun. ... [Ahram - 5/5/15]
Oil prices closed at 2015 highs on Tuesday after protests stopped crude flows to the eastern Libyan oil port of Zueitina, hampering exports.
U.S. crude oil closed up up $1.47, or 2.49 percent, at $60.40 a barrel. That was its highest settle since December 10.
Brent crude oil climbed to a high of $68.40 a barrel its highest since December.
The contract last traded at $67.50, up $1.05.
Oil was also supported by news that Saudi Arabia had raised its official selling prices for its Arab Light grade crude to the United States and Northwest Europe, pointing to strong demand in those regions. ...
Al Jazeera [5/5/15]:
Hundreds of African migrants en route to Europe have been returned to detention centres in Libya after being rescued overnight on Monday by the Libyan coastguard, 12 hours after setting out across the Mediterranean.
Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel Hamid, reporting from Libya, said the coastguard had rescued five rubber dinghies - each carrying about 100 migrants - off Libya's western coastline.
Hamid said that the migrants, from countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, and the DRC, were distraught to learn that they would be returning to a detention centre somewhere in Libya.
"To reach this point they have travelled for weeks, sometimes months. They have to work to earn enough money for the journey and to be picked up on a day where there's good weather conditions is a huge disappointment," Hamid said.
"Their stories are ones of people desperately trying to escape the turmoil they were born into."
Amina, a young woman from Ghana who is three months' pregnant, told our reporter she was hoping to give birth in Italy.
"I'm very stressed out. I'm frustrated, because I don't even know where to start, I don't even know what to do because right now I have nothing. I have nothing," Amina said.
Alima, another young woman from Nigeria, said her father was killed by Boko Haram fighters and that she had promised to send money to her mother when she set off.
"I don't want to stay in Libya. I don't want Libya to deport me. Please take me to Europe."
When our reporter mentioned that so many people were dying at sea, another woman screamed: "We don't care. We don't care." ...
... Most are Africans intercepted off Libyan shores or inside the country as they prepared to board boats for Europe, Mohammed Abdelsalam al-Kuwiri said.
He said between 5,000 and 7,000 migrants have been held for months in 16 detention centres as Libya struggles to find planes to deport them.
The centres are mainly in the Tripoli region and in Misrata east of the capital, areas controlled by the powerful Fajr Libya militia alliance. ... [Al Arabiya - 4/5/15]
... It's possible that 20 years from now, courts or historians will be addressing this dark chapter. When that happens, it won't just be politicians in Brussels, Berlin and Paris who come under pressure. We the people will also have to answer uncomfortable questions about what we did to try to stop this barbarism that was committed in all our names. ... Europe Should Protect People, Not Borders, Maximilian Popp [Spiegel - 20/4/15]
Open Letter From Greece on the Mediterranean Migrants Issue [The Automatic Earth – 24/4/15]:
This is an open letter I received from a group of 57 Greek intellectuals, addressed to the EU and America, concerning the waves of refugees (migrants, immigrants) that ‘wash ashore’ on Greek territory in increasing numbers.
We all know by now to what extent Europe has dropped the ball on the issue, and I’ll have much more to say on that soon. I thought it would be a good and respectful idea to let this letter stand on its own, and on its own merit.
The number of refugees trying to make it to Greece was estimated at 30,000 in 2014. It’s certain to be a multiple of that this year. The EU may quote numbers like 150,000 for all of southern Europe for 2015, but in real life it will easily be over 500,000.
The EU has no idea what it’s doing, what it’s up against, or what to do next. Brussels figured if it would just close its eyes, the problem would go away. And even today, after almost 1000 victims drowned last weekend, passing the buck to its weakest member nations is apparently still too tempting an opportunity to resist.
The EU and US need to hear the pleas coming from the southern European countries, as well as those of the refugees. The humanitarian catastrophe has reached large scale, with profound and irreversible consequences. Greece is paying a disproportionately high price, although Greece played no role in triggering this catastrophe. The EU and the US have the moral obligation, which is also consistent with their long-term interests, to take the necessary steps to put an end to the suffering of those in war zones, while at the same time preventing Greece’s collapse under the mounting pressure of refugees.
United States, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria
Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria and Iraq between 8 a.m., May 4, and 8 a.m., May 5, local time.
In Syria, coalition military forces conducted one airstrike using attack aircraft. Separately in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted 12 airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense using attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
“Our counter-Daesh strategy calls for Coalition forces to conduct a systematic air campaign in Iraq and Syria,” said Col. Wayne Marotto, CJTF-OIR chief of public affairs. “This enables us to continue the reduction of Daesh capabilities.”
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
Near Al Hasakah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
Near Bayji, three airstrikes struck one large and two small ISIL tactical units, destroying three ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL structures, an ISIL warehouse, an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL excavator and an ISIL rocket-propelled grenade.
Near Fallujah, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying two ISIL structures, two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL mortar tube.
Near Mosul, four airstrikes struck three ISIL fighting positions, destroying an ISIL excavator.
Near Ramadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit, destroying three ISIL structures, three ISIL tanks and an ISIL armored vehicle.
Near Tal Afar, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Former CIA leader defends drone strikes, torture [AP – 4/5/15]
Emails show American Psychological Association secretly worked with Bush Admin to enable torture [Democracy Now - 5/5/15]:
... STEVEN REISNER: Well, we listened to Dr. Behnke say that the APA is opposed to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment at the very moment when they are writing into our ethics code a policy that permits psychologists’ very presence at those sites, researching, overseeing and monitoring, that the psychologists being there is what makes it fall outside the definition of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment concocted by the Justice Department in order to legally allow the torture. So what we have is a working together between the psychologists, the American Psychological Association, the CIA and the White House to create a cover story that says that torture is not torture, that it’s not legally torture under these rules. And while Dr. Behnke is claiming that psychologists don’t torture, psychologists are in fact torturing, and the APA seems to know it, according to these emails and according to what was in the press. But so what he’s doing is he’s parsing the facts and funneling it through a bent and distorted APA ethics code that has been changed simply to allow that program to continue.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to read another one of the newly disclosed emails. This is from Dr. Geoff Mumford, director of science policy at the APA, to CIA psychologist Dr. Kirk Hubbard, who was then chief of operations for the CIA Operational Assessment Division. Dr. Mumford writes, quote, "I thought you and many of those copied here would be interested to know that APA grabbed the bull by the horns and released this [Psychological Ethics and National Security] Task Force Report today." The PENS Task Force. "I also wanted to semi-publicly acknowledge your personal contribution ... in getting this effort off the ground over a year ago. Your views were well represented by very carefully selected Task Force members," unquote.
In another email from 2005, the APA’s Dr. Geoff Mumford admitted former White House adviser Susan Brandon, who was then at the National Institute of Mental Health, helped craft language for the PENS report. Mumford wrote, quote, "Susan serving as an Observer (note she has returned to NIMH, at least temporarily) helped craft some language related to research and I hope we can take advantage of the reorganization of the National Intelligence Program, with its new emphasis on human intelligence, to find a welcoming home for more psychological science."
OK, Nathaniel Raymond, talk about who Mumford is. Talk about also the significance of the Susan they are referring to, Susan Brandon, and her position today.
NATHANIEL RAYMOND: Well, Geoff Mumford, then and now, was executive director and is executive director of science policy at the American Psychological Association. And while he is one of the most prominent officials in these emails, I want to make clear he’s not the only one. We also see Rhea Farberman, the spokeswoman who denied any coordination between the APA and the Bush administration in James Risen’s New York Times story. We see Steve Behnke. And we also see—and this is new to our report—that the deputy CEO, Michael Honaker, deputy CEO of APA, was also CCed on one of the emails about the secret 2004 meeting.
Dr. Brandon, then, was, as you described, at NIMH. She served in a variety of roles.
AMY GOODMAN: National Institute of Mental Health.
NATHANIEL RAYMOND: Yeah, National Institutes of Mental Health. And she served in a variety of roles in the Department of Defense and elsewhere. But she also had been, during the time of the planning of the 2003 conference that Mitchell and Jessen attended, an APA employee, previously. Now she is the chief scientist of the High-Value Interrogation Group of the FBI. And in that role, she is basically the senior interrogation research scientist in the U.S. government. And thus, the High-Value Interrogation Group, which advises the National Security Council at the White House, is the leading interrogation group in the intelligence community. …
6 May 2015