Hope the Russians love their children, and the US has its revolution soon

... There's no such thing as a winnable war
It's a lie we don't believe anymore ...

'Russians' Sting [1985]

Obama approves sending 1,500 more troops to Iraq [Daily Star - 7/11/14]:

President Barack Obama has approved sending up to 1,500 additional troops to Iraq to aid Baghdad government and Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State group, roughly doubling the number of US troops in the country, the White House said Friday.

The 1,500 troops will include a group of advisors to help Iraqi forces plan operations and a group of trainers who will be deployed across the country, officials said, as Washington steps up the pressure on the IS militants.

Some of the advisors will be deployed to western Anbar province, where the Iraqi army has been forced to retreat from advancing IS jihadists, a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity told AFP.

Some of the additional troops will begin to arrive in Iraq in the next several weeks, the official said.

...

Anti War [7/11/14]:

... The White House also revealed they are pushing the lame duck Congress to agree to another $5.6 billion for funding the war. Most of the cost of the war so far has been buried in other Pentagon funding for “contingencies,” though repeated escalations are making it harder to do this. ...

How did Russia and the West slip back into what seems like the Cold War all over again? How dangerous is the current confrontation? Should the world be ready to face a nuclear war? World-famous academic, linguist, philosopher and political commentator Noam Chomsky is on Sophie&Co. ... [RT - VIDEO - 7/11/14]

Chomsky: NATO is a US-run intervention force [RT - 7/11/14]:

... We can think back as far as 1955, when Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein produced an appeal, a joint appeal to the people of the world, in which they said to all of us, you have a choice that is stark, unavoidable, the question is, will you eliminate war or will you eliminate human race? These are your choices. And we’ve come awfully close, several times since: the missile crisis in 1962 was described by Kennedy’s close associate, historian Arthur Schlesinger, as “the most dangerous moment in human history”, and he was quite right, we came very close to a nuclear war. There have been many cases, not that serious, but pretty close, where human intervention with a few-minutes choice has prevented a nuclear war. You can’t guarantee that’s going to continue. It may not be a high probability each time, but when you play a game like that, with low probability risks of disaster over and over again, you’re going to lose. And now, especially in the crisis over Ukraine, and so-called missile-defense systems near the borders of Russia, it’s a threatening situation.

...

Syrian foreign minister: our diplomatic priorities are to ensure resilience, secure more arms [Al Akhbar - 6/11/14]

The Oil Factor [Documentary]:

The Oil Factor, alternatively known as Behind the War on Terror, is an approximately 90 minute 2004 movie written and directed by Gerard Ungerman and Audrey Brohy, narrated by Ed Asner.

The documentary analyzes the development of some global events since the beginning of the century (especially after the 9/11 terrorist attacks) from the perspective of oil and oil-abundant regions.

The documentary aspires to bring an untraditional point of view over the reasons, aspects and motives of this war and the direction of current US foreign policy.

Throughout Iraq, more than 1.7 million people have been displaced by recent violence. The country’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region is now hosting more than 700,000 displaced Iraqis, in addition to more than 220,000 Syrian refugees.

'Starting Over' by Lauren Bohn [UNHCR - 7/11/14]

 

Nauru: Australian media blackout continues [Refugees On Nauru]:

"The refugees are very fearful"

Forum: Eyewitness from Manus Island:

Monday, November 17at 6:00pm - 7:30pm

NSW Teachers Federation Conference Centre 23-33 Mary Street, Surry Hills

Nicole Judge worked in the detention centre on Manus Island until early this year, after earlier working on Nauru. She was on Manus in the lead up to the attack where Reza Barati was killed. Nicole delivered shocking testimony at the Senate inquiry into Manus Island about conditions on Manus and the atmosphere at the detention centre. Come and hear first hand what asylum seekers experience in detention on Manus and join the discussion on how we can force its closure.

Hazaras face death on return to Afghanistan [The Saturday Paper - 8/11/14]


... West of the wall where hearts are free
West of the wall your heart can come to me
And in my arms that hold you tight
You will forget the darkness of the night
The world knows about sadness and we are not alone
West of the wall that soon will fall and you'll come home ...

'West Of The Wall' written by Wayne Shanklin and recorded by his wife Toni Fisher [1962]

 

My Berlin Wall Story [VIDEO - Deutsche Welle - 6/11/14]:

It's a story that could be from David Bowie's iconic song "Heroes." A young Englishman in West Berlin and his fiancee in East Germany - divided by the Wall. It was the real-life experience of DW's own Adrian Kennedy.

 

At least 10 explosions hit houses and cars belonging to members of the Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza on Friday, an AFP correspondent and witnesses said. ... [Al Akhbar - 7/11/14]

Report accuses Myanmar generals of war crimes [Al Jazeera - 7/11/14]

As Myanmar Advances Resettlement Plan, Rohingya Flee [New York Times - 7/11/14]:

The Myanmar government has given the estimated one million Rohingya people in this coastal region of the country a dispiriting choice: Prove your family has lived here for more than 60 years and qualify for second-class citizenship, or be placed in camps and face deportation.

The policy, accompanied by a wave of decrees and legislation, has made life for the Rohingya, a long-persecuted Muslim minority, ever more desperate, spurring the biggest flow of Rohingya refugees since a major exodus two years ago.

In the last three weeks alone, 14,500 Rohingya have sailed from the beaches of Rakhine State to Thailand, with the ultimate goal of reaching Malaysia, according to the Arakan Project, a group that monitors Rohingya refugees.

...

APEC leaders should urge China to release supporters of Hong Kong protests [Amnesty International Media Release - 7/11/14]

Japan local government approves first reactor restarts [Channel News Asia - 7/11/14

Kangaroo killed with bow and arrow in Amaroo [Canberra Times - 7/11/14]

Truck driver killed after fiery crash in Port Melbourne [Nine MSN 7/11/14]

Three injured in collision between truck and car near Chinchilla [Chronicle - 7/11/14]

The sudden death of a 15-year-old boy at a Queensland gym on Thursday isn't considered suspicious. ... [Yahoo - 7/11/14]

A police chase in western Sydney has ended in a crash, leaving four people injured. ... [West Australian - 8/11/14]

A police chase in a small northern Tasmanian town has ended with one woman dead and a man in hospital. ... [ABC - 8/11/14]

Scott Volkers' legal team asks royal commission not to recommend charges [Sydney Morning Herald - 7/11/14]

The New South Wales Government has thrown its support behind the Northern Territory's push to build a gas pipeline connecting supplies in the Territory to energy markets on the east coast. ... [ABC - 7/11/14]

Attempted murder charge, Bentley Park (Cairns)

QPS Media [7/11/14]:

A man has been charged with attempted murder following an incident at Bentley Park, Cairns early this morning.

It will be alleged a woman was assaulted in a Bentley Park home by a man known to her around 2am. The woman was taken to hospital for treatment of injuries to her head and torso.

A 41-year-old Bentley Park man has been charged with attempted murder and is expected to reappear at the Cairns Magistrates Court on Monday.

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.

Wondering why domestic violence isn't taken seriously in Australia? Look to the political and media establishment. [Cory Bernardi denies condoning domestic violence after headlock comments - Brisbane Times - 7/11/14]

More anti rights arrests, Cairns [QPS Media - 7/11/14]

UK: Government admits secret services eavesdrop on lawyer-client communications

Independent [6/11/14]:

The Government has for months resisted legal attempts by two Libyan victims of rendition to force it to disclose whether it sanctions intelligence agents to eavesdrop on lawyer-client communications after arguing that disclosure of its policy would damage national security.

But documents now disclosed in the case confirm for the first time that the intelligence services allow staff to “in principle target the communications of lawyers” and use the resulting material for covert work, including disclosing it to “an outside body”.

The principle of legal professional privilege (LPP), which allows advice and discussions between lawyers and their clients to remain confidential, is one of the oldest and considered as one of the most inviolable in the English legal system.

It is regarded as essential for the administration of justice, not least by preventing any parties in a case from gaining access to the communications of the opposing side.

The policy of MI5, GCHQ and MI6 on the interception of legal material is a key issue in a claim being brought on behalf of Abdel Hakim Belhadj and Sami al Saadi, two Libyans who along with members of their families were kidnapped and sent for torture and imprisonment by the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

Mr Belhadj last week won a Court of Appeal ruling allowing him to sue the Government for his rendition to Libya in a joint CIA-MI6 operation in 2004.

Lawyers for the men are bringing a separate case before Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which investigates complaints about the use of covert techniques by public bodies, seeking to establish whether privileged information was illegally used by British officials in their torture cases.

Cori Crider, a director at the legal charity Reprieve, which is jointly bringing the case, said: “It’s now clear the intelligence agencies have been eavesdropping on lawyer-client conversations for years. The question now is not whether, but how much they have rigged the game in their favour in the ongoing court case over torture.”

The documents disclosed by Government lawyers, which date from at least 2011, are the first time that the framework under which intelligence staff are allowed to intercept legally privileged communications has been made public.

The guidance issued by MI5 acknowledges that material subject to LPP is “amongst the most sensitive sort of information that may be obtained by the Security Service”.

The document makes it clear that intelligence including conversations, emails or phone calls between lawyers and their clients can be intercepted. It adds: “The confidentiality of lawyer-client communications is fiercely guarded by the law and any departure from it in the national security context must be narrowly construed and strictly justified.”

But the guidance makes clear that once legal clearance has been obtained, LPP material can be used for the routine work of the intelligence services.

It states: “In principle LPP material may be used just like any other item of intelligence, eg to generate enquiries, mount a surveillance operation or task an agent. Where necessary and proportionate it may also be disclosed to an outside body.”

Lawyers for Mr Belhaj and Mr Al Saadi said the documents exposed “major loopholes” in the policies operated by MI5 and GCHQ and claimed they showed that MI6 provided its officers with only “minimal” guidance.

Ms Crider said: “MI6’s ‘policies’ are so hopeless they appear to have been jotted down on the back of a beer mat. This raises troubling implications for the whole British justice system. In how many cases has the Government eavesdropped to give itself an unfair advantage in court?”

Former News of the World editor Ian Edmondson jailed for eight months over phone hacking [Guardian - 8/11/14]

US hand-over stolen ancient pieces to Iraqi Embassy

IraqiNews.com [7/11/14]:

The Iraqi General Consulate in Los Angeles received a group of stolen and smuggled ancient traces and pieces which were handed over by an Iraqi citizen living in the US.

Statement by the Iraqi Foreign Affairs Ministry received by IraqiNews.com cited: “The consulate will send these traces and pieces to the Iraqi Embassy in Washington to be sent later to specialized authorities in Iraq.”

@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [6/11/14]:

The government's army has shelled Dolab-west of Heet- and news reported that civilians have been wounded and homes damaged......................

Baghdad/Agencies/security source: A civilian was killed and 6 wounded as a roadside bomb exploded in Sha'ab north of Baghdad at noon..................

5 persons from one family have been killed and others wounded in shelling of International alliance planes on a home in Qa'im west of Anbar.......

United States use bogus Khorasan group as excuse to bomb more civilians in Syria

Reuters [6/11/14]:

The United States said it conducted air strikes on Wednesday night against the so-called Khorasan group, an al Qaeda-linked militant faction based in Syria, and said the group was plotting to attack Europe or the United States.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a target of the strike was David Drugeon, a French-born militant and convert to Islam who some U.S. officials say is a bomb maker for the group.

General Lloyd Austin, the head of the U.S. military's Central Command, said Drugeon was one of the group's "leadership elements and one of the most dangerous elements in that organization."

He declined to say whether Drugeon was killed, telling a forum in Washington the military was assessing the results of the strikes. Asked whether Drugeon was a target, he said, "Any time we can take their leadership out is a good thing."

The officials said they believed a leader of the Khorasan group, Muhsin al-Fadhli, who had been targeted in U.S. strikes in Syria in September, was still alive. It was unclear whether al-Fadhli was a target of the latest U.S. raid.

In a statement on Thursday, U.S. Central Command said the latest strikes were carried out by the U.S. military against five Khorasan targets near Sarmada in Idlib province, close to the Turkish border and west of the Syrian city of Aleppo.

"We took decisive action to protect our interests and remove their capability to act," it said, adding that al Qaeda militants "are taking advantage of the Syrian conflict to advance attacks against Western interests."

...

The Khorasan Group: Anatomy of a Fake Terror Threat to Justify Bombing Syria, Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain [The Intercept - 29/9/14]

International Criminal Court says will not investigate Israel over Mavi Marmara raid

Hurriyet Daily News [6/11/14]:

Israeli forces may have committed war crimes when they stormed an aid flotilla boat heading to Gaza, but the possible crimes aren't grave enough to merit a prosecution at the International Criminal Court, the court's prosecutor said Nov. 6.

Eight Turks and one Turkish-American were killed and several other pro-Palestinian activists were wounded when Israeli commandos stormed the ship Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010.

"Following a thorough legal and factual analysis of the information available, I have concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court were committed on one of the vessels, the Mavi Marmara, when Israeli Defense Forces intercepted the 'Gaza Freedom Flotilla' on 31 May 2010," Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.

But Bensouda said that any cases relating to the storming "would not be of sufficient gravity to justify further action by the ICC."

"Without in any way minimizing the impact of the alleged crimes on the victims and their families, I have to be guided by the Rome Statute, in accordance with which, the ICC shall prioritize war crimes committed on a large scale or pursuant to a plan or policy," Bensouda said, referring to the court's founding document.

In a written statement, Israel's Foreign Ministry welcomed the decision to close the preliminary probe into a case it called "legally unfounded and politically motivated."

It added that the investigation, formally known as a preliminary examination, had been closed without the prosecutor "seeing a need to address the issue of resort to self-defense by IDF soldiers who were confronted, as mentioned in the report, by violence" from activists on the flotilla.

Bensouda opened a preliminary investigation last year after the tiny African state of Comoros - which is a member of the court - filed a complaint about the boarding of the ship which was flying under a Comoros flag.

...

Urging political resolution, UN agency chief laments ‘sheer unsustainability’ of Gaza crisis [UN Media Release - 6/11/14]

French Socialist lawmakers are preparing to submit a motion to parliament asking the government to recognize Palestine as a state, sources said Tuesday, weeks after British MPs passed a similar vote. ... [Naharnet - 6/11/14]

Al Jazeera [6/11/14]:

The highest-ranking US military officer has said that Israel went to "extraordinary lengths" to limit civilian casualties in the recent war in Gaza that killed hundreds of Palestinians, mostly civilians.

Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged recent reports criticising civilian deaths during the 50-day Gaza war this year but told an audience in New York on Thursday he thought the Israel Defence Forces "did what they could" to avoid civilian casualties.

...

Australia in violation of UN convention against torture obligations: Care Leavers Australia Network

ABC [7/11/14]:

Advocates for children abused in state care, including some from Newcastle, say Australia is in violation of its obligations under the United Nations convention against torture.

The Care Leavers Australia Network is in Geneva to present its submission to the UN's committee against torture today.

The network's co-founder Leonie Sheedy is hoping the UN will direct the Australian Government to implement a redress scheme.

She said many lost their childhood after being continually humiliated, called by a number, and made to eat their own vomit.

"The (United Nations charter) articles of 12, 13 and 14 - Australia has failed in its duty under those articles," she said.

"We need the United Nations to be aware Australia isn't following these obligations, under the United Nation committee against torture."

UN torture committee also to be told of nonconsensual ‘sex normalising’ surgery of intersex babies and children [Guardian - 3/11/14]

Australian political and media establishment foment bigotry.

Act surprised by prevalence of acts of bigotry.

Gladstone Observer [6/11/14]:

With all of the hysteria surrounding current conflicts around the world, I was dumbfounded on Tuesday to witness how our younger generations are responding.

I was waiting for my lift to arrive during the afternoon school pick up time, at the Nightowl centre in Gladstone.

A bunch of Catholic school students were making a racket, but what they actually said had me disgusted and repulsed.

They had surrounded a woman, obviously Middle Eastern in appearance, and berated her for being Muslim.

"Filthy Muslim" were the words I heard. These kids were no more than 15 years of age.

They had obviously rattled this poor woman, leaving her sobbing.

Not even five minutes later, another small group of high school students walked past.

These students, from a non-denominational school, helped the same woman load her groceries into the back seat of her car.

And then they disappeared, without thanks.

The whole episode unfolded so quickly, to say I was dumbfounded would be an understatement.

It made me wonder though, how religion is not only creating these conflicts overseas, but are promoting intolerance here in Australia.

Or am I jumping to conclusions?

Either way, it was clear the Christian values supposedly taught in this particular school were not present.

Of course, the argument then comes to light that an individual will act on their own merits.

Teenagers, I understand, are particularly horrid creatures at the best of times.

But isn't acceptance and tolerance a more important lesson than religion in our school curriculum?

Anti halal bigots target Dick Smith foods, Byron Bay Cookies and now Maleny Dairies.

Rather than do journalism and expose who is behind this campaign, "concerned" local media are using it to promote anti islam dogwhistling, and assisting in their smear of Australian food producers.

Maleny Dairies [2/11/14]:

Halal Certification its not for us. There has been a lot of talk around this issue recently and we have received many enquiries from customers concerned that we may go down this route. The answer is NO we are not Halal Certified nor will we go down this path. We do not wish to increase the costs of our products to cover the expense of Halal Certification. We prefer to make sure our local farmers receive a fair and sustainable price for their milk. We are working with nine local dairy farming families right here on the sunny coast and this is where the money stays. Thanks for your continued support.

Another day, another bunch of lies from the US interest promoting Murdoch Press. [ABC - 7/11/14]:

The proposed live cattle trade between Australia and China is a long way off the dizzying heights being bandied around in the media, says the head of a major cattle association.

The Australian has reported an agreement to send one million head of cattle to China each year is close to being finalised, but the president of the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association, David Warriner, has warned speculation may harm the chances of a deal being done.

...

Agricultural Policy 101 for the Australian political and media establishment

Ridicule food sovereignty at every opportunity.

Queensland pineapple growers fear for 'exploding fruits' from Malaysia could destroy $80 million industry [ABC - 5/11/14]

Make the farmers beg for any pittance of assistance which never eventuates.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has hinted that the federal government might extend the life of cheap loans for drought-stricken farmers in Queensland and New South Wales. ... [North West Star - 5/11/14]

Putin labels Trans-Pacific Partnership US attempt to benefit from regional trade

RIA Novosti [6/11/14]:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership represents Washington's bid to establish new trade and economic cooperation specifically for its own benefit, Russian President Vladimir Putin told China's main media outlets in a Thursday interview.

"Obviously, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is just another U.S. attempt to build the architecture of regional economic cooperation that the USA would benefit from. At the same time, I believe that the absence of two major regional players such as Russia and China in its composition will not promote the establishment of effective trade and economic cooperation," Putin argued.

The president added that evaluation of the TPP progress is complicated due to the closed nature of the talks.

"This initiative is carried out behind closed doors, even businesses and the public of the contracting states have no access to it, let alone other countries. Over the past five years of negotiations, we have repeatedly heard about the success achieved, but such statements have always been refuted later," Putin said.

Asked whether Washington seeks to counter growing Russian and Chinese influence in the region with the TPP project, Putin stated "the free trade agreements should not fragment the multilateral trading system, but rather complement it," stressing that "the regional unions should not be turned against each other or otherwise divided."

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed regional free-trade agreement. As of 2014, 12 countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan and Singapore, have participated in talks on the projected deal.

According to the United States Trade Representative Office, the potential signatories to the agreement account for 40 percent of the world's GDP and about one-third of global trade.

Woman found dead in gutter behind police station, Murwillumbah

NSW Police Media Release [7/11/14]:

An investigation is underway after a body was found on the state’s north coast yesterday.

Just after 9pm, officers attached to Tweed/Byron Local Area Command were called to Church Lane, Murwillumbah, following reports of an injured woman.

On arrival, police found a 52-year-old woman deceased.

A crime scene has been established and investigations into the circumstances leading up to the woman’s death are underway, with the cause not yet known.

A post mortem examination will determine the exact cause of the woman’s death; however anyone with information is urged to come forward and contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Brisbane blacks show whitefellas how to do democracy

ABC [7/11/14]:

... Mr Pearson was delivering the Sir Paul Hasluck Foundation annual lecture, where he called for changes to the constitution to empower Indigenous people.

However, a few members of the audience interjected and began criticising his views on Indigenous responsibility, saying he did not represent the views of Aboriginal people.

Mr Pearson said his views were his own and he never spoke on behalf of anyone else.

"I have never claimed to speak on behalf of anyone but myself," Mr Pearson responded to one of the attendees.

But a man replied: "You do every time you open your mouth - you speak [that] you are chosen to speak on behalf of black people. You have got no right to do that - stand there like a big strong black man - you're not a strong black man, no way in the world."

Local Indigenous leader Sam Watson invited Mr Pearson to discuss his opinions with elders today.

"The equation seems to be very lopsided as a great number of your views are, so the onus always appears to be placed on Aboriginal people and as a member of the Aboriginal tent embassy we would invite you to join us up there on the lawns of Musgrave Park and have a robust discussion as Aboriginal people," Mr Watson said.

Mr Pearson said he was please to accept Mr Watson's invitation.

"I'm going to tell you my version of self-determination is one that is based on the power of responsibility," he said.

"I want Indigenous people to take back the responsibilities that have been taken away from us, so thank you for your invitation."

CFMEU to protest outside Perth court

West Australian [7/11/14]:

Construction workers say they'll protest outside the Federal Court in Perth as dozens of their colleagues face big fines for downing tools to attend a rally.

Fair Work Building and Construction issued summonses to 76 CFMEU members after they attended the rally outside the office of West Australian Premier Colin Barnett in February last year, calling for more local jobs in major resources projects.

They had stopped working at the $1.2 billion Perth Children's Hospital project to attend the event.

The 76 union members each face fines of $10,200.

The protest is scheduled to start at 9am.

CFMEU - Construction & General [6/11/14]:

Perth! Let people know! What are you doing tomorrow morning? get down to the Federal Court and support 76 workers who are facing fines over $10 000 for attending a rally to call for more employment opportunities in WA. Tony Abbott got in, re-appointed Nigel-hates us-Hadgkiss to the FWBC and all of a sudden these 76 workers were charged for something that had happened months before!

Make no mistake that this is a political vilification of Australian workers who stand up for themselves. If you can be there it would be greatly appreciated!

Details: 8:30am Cnr Adelaide Terrace and Victoria Avenue.

...

BHP is refusing to allow Central Queensland locals the opportunity to work in its two newest Bowen Basin mines. Caval Ridge and Daunia have a compulsory 100% FIFO policy – only employing permanent workers from Brisbane and Cairns. This policy locks out workers from all Central Queensland regional cities and local towns like Moranbah, just kilometres from the mines. We're going to deliver a petition to their CEO, you should sign! http://www.ourjobs.org.au/dont_lock_locals_out

Thousands protest austerity in Brussels

Reuters [6/11/14]:

... Around 100,000 Belgians had earlier marched through central Brussels in protest against the new government's savings measures.

It was the first in a series of demonstrations and strikes planned over coming weeks.

Prime Minister Charles Michel invited leaders of Belgium's three main union branches to talks with the government, although did not offer any obvious concessions. Discussions began on Thursday afternoon.

Belgium's centre-right government, installed only a month ago, has pledged to raise the retirement age and limit scope for early retirement, cancel an inflation-linked wage hike due next year and cut the health and social security budgets.

Unions estimated that around 120,000 workers, from dockers to metalworkers, as well as students, had gathered to protest in the Belgian capital. Police put the number at 100,000.

The unions plan a series of regional strikes every Monday starting Nov. 24, culminating in a national strike on Dec. 15.

For Thursday's march, rail operator SNCB said it had sold 80,000 tickets in advanced group bookings for travel to Brussels and had laid on 15 additional trains. Unions had also booked 500 buses to get protesters from all over the country to the capital.

Otherwise, public transport in Brussels was severely restricted. Buses and tram services in other Belgian cities were also reduced.

"The signal is clear. People are angry, livid. This government's policies are totally unbalanced," said ACV union chief Marc Leemans.

The Socialists, excluded from government for the first time in 26 years, have complained that while workers were hit, the rich were unaffected.

"I share the concern of the people and the measures of the government are unjust," said former prime minister Elio Di Rupo.

...

For all we know the Immigration Minister could be building gas ovens on Nauru and Manus, and our media doesn't care

Minister for Immigration Media Release [6/11/14]:

Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Scott Morrison said further positive progress on the Nauru and Papua New Guinea resettlement arrangements highlights the fact the Coalition is getting on with the job of fixing the mess that was left behind by the former Labor government on their offshore resettlement arrangements.

'Labor was dragged kicking and screaming to restore offshore processing before the last election. Their lack of commitment to these policies and understanding of the issues involved was demonstrated in the practically non-existent arrangements for implementing regional resettlement in both PNG and Nauru,' Minister Morrison said.

'Not only had Labor not funded the ongoing management of the offshore processing centres, they had failed to conclude any practical arrangements for how resettlement in PNG and Nauru would actually be implemented.

'Once again, the regional resettlement deal announced by Labor before the election was a case of all announcement and no policy. The heavy lifting on how to run the offshore processing centres and put actual resettlement arrangements in place with our regional partners was all left to the Coalition.

'As promised, the Coalition Government has got on with this job and after much positive cooperation from the governments of Papua New Guinea and Nauru, we are now making real progress with offshore processing and resettlement arrangements.

...

US-led airstrikes hit Nusra in northwest Syria: monitor

Daily Star [6/11/14]:

Airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition set up to fight ISIS targeted the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in northwest Syria overnight, an organization that tracks violence in the Syrian civil war reported on Thursday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes targeted an office and a vehicle used by Nusra Front in Idlib province in northwestern Syria, where last week the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group routed Western-backed Syrian rebels.

The Observatory also reported the first air strikes against Ahrar al-Sham, another hardline Islamist insurgent group.

Last week Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan questioned the international community’s focus on Kobani: "Why Kobani and not otherwise towns like Idlib, Hama or Homs while Iraqi territory is 40 percent controlled by the Islamic State?" he asked. The Prime Minister added, "There are only 2,000 fighters in Kobani it is difficult to understand this approach. Why has the coalition not acted in other zones?" ... [Rudaw - 6/11/14]

Afghanistan: 10 bullet-riddled bodies found in Paktia

Pajhwok [6/11/14]:

Ten dead bodies were found in the Zurmat district of southeastern Paktia province on Thursday, with the victims called civilians by the authorities. But Taliban said the dead were security personnel.

District hospital chief, Haji Mohammad, told Pajhwok Afghan News the bullet-riddled bodies were brought to the facility in the morning. The corpses were found in different areas of the district, the official said.

Five of the victims were identified as residents of Khost, one from Logar and four others from Paktika, Mohammad said, adding the killers remained unknown.

Meanwhile, Paktia police chief Brig. Gen. Zalmai Oryakhel confirmed the recovery of six civilians’ corpses.

He accused the Taliban shooting the “innocent men”. They were killed last night.

On the other hand, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the fighters had killed eight policemen and an intelligence operative in Zurmat district. The security personnel had been captured on their way home, he added.

NATO Chief in Afghanistan to reaffirm continued engagement [Khaama - 6/11/14]

Bomb Wounds Woman near Egypt Presidential Palace after Similar Attack Kills 3 in Cairo [Naharnet - 6/11/14]

Palestinians revolt after Israeli violations of al-Aqsa [Al Akhbar - 6/11/14]

Three Tunisian soldiers killed, 12 injured in attack [Al Akhbar - 5/11/14]

Attempted murder, Noosa Heads

QPS Media [6/11/14]:

Police have charged a 45-year-old man with attempted murder and other offences after a woman was seriously assaulted at Noosa Heads this morning.

It will be alleged around 4.40am police were advised of a disturbance at a Wyandra Street residence where a man was armed and making serious threats.

The man allegedly fled the scene on a motorcycle before police arrived and discovered a woman had been seriously assaulted at the residence.

The woman was transported in a stable condition to Nambour General Hospital with head and neck injuries.

It will further be alleged the man approached a male driver of a vehicle on Eumundi Noosa Road at Eumundi before producing a firearm and driving away in the four-wheel-drive.

Around 6am the man allegedly crashed the stolen vehicle into a fuel tank at a service station on Eumundi Noosa Road at Doonan.

A 45-year-old Noosa Heads man has been charged with one count each of attempted murder, armed robbery, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and unlawful possession of a category ‘H’ handgun; and two counts of wilful damage.

He is due to appear in the Maroochydore Magistrates Court tomorrow.

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.

Jail term for shooting spree that killed cat

Daily Mercury [5/11/14]:

Mackay homes and garages were sprayed with gunfire and Fluffy the cat cruelly gunned down in a suburban street late at night when Fraser Edward Lewis and his mates went on a shooting spree.

Lewis was jailed by the Supreme Court in Mackay for five years for his role in the shooting events in January and for offences of drug trafficking and drug possession, eight counts of wilful damage, animal cruelty, three counts of unlawful possession of weapons, and burglary. At the time, he was allegedly owed drug debts.

Brendan Manttan for the Crown, said police at Airlie Beach in late 2013 found Lewis with methylamphetamine and MDMA. His mobile phone held text messages consistent with the supply of dangerous drugs to others. A set of digital scales was later found with a steroid drug.

Lewis made admissions to supplying drugs to five people, doing deals for as much as $1300 and selling MDMA pills for $30 each.

Police searched his ute in December and found a samurai sword. Lewis told officers it was "for protection" if anyone tried to break into his vehicle. He also burgled a house and stole a shotgun, a rifle and a hunting knife from a gun safe. He later fired shots at a house near Rockhampton.

On January 8 this year, Lewis and two mates drove about Mackay and shot at houses. Bullet holes were found in houses and doors, and Fluffy, a pet cat, was found dead in a gutter.

Defence barrister Scott McLennan said Lewis's use of methylamphetamine had turned into an addiction and he lost his job as an apprentice diesel fitter. Before this, he had been well regarded and a promising young man with good prospects.

Man accused of Andergrove home invasion on Melbourne Cup Day

Daily Mercury [5/11/14]:

A Mackay man accused of an Andergrove home invasion on Melbourne Cup Day in which a wheelchair-bound man was allegedly assaulted, has been refused bail.

Magistrate Ross Risson told Ashleigh Robert Henson he would not be changing his mind, after the concreter interjected saying he had a job, and money in the bank.

The court had been told Henson, 33, was released from jail earlier this year.

Sporting a small white bandage behind his right ear, Henson went before Mackay Magistrates Court yesterday charged with entering a dwelling with intent by breaking while armed on November 4, failing to properly dispose of a needle and syringe, and possession of drug utensils.

Prosecutor Sheena Hayes said police alleged Henson assaulted two men inside the Andergrove house, one of whom was wheelchair-bound.

When opposing bail Ms Hayes said the allegations against Henson were quite serious. She said injuries had been sustained and police found blood in a hallway.

Ms Hayes described his Queensland and interstate criminal histories as "extensive", with many jail stints for similar offences including burglary.

But duty lawyer Chelsea Cross said the person who suffered the most significant injury had been Henson, who was taken to hospital.

"His version is very different to that given by the complainant. He disputes that he used a weapon," Ms Cross said.

She said Henson got the job as a concreter following his release from jail.

Ms Cross said after his father's death Henson relapsed into using morphine. The case was adjourned to next month.

...

Robbery with violence, Mackay [QPS Media - 6/11/14]

Third man charged in Brisbane balcony plunge

Yahoo [6/11/14]:

A third man has been charged with attempted murder over a balcony fall in Brisbane almost two months ago.

A 36-year-old man was arrested after the victim fell 30 metres from a building on Upper Roma St in Brisbane's CBD on the morning of Sunday, September 14.

A second man, 28, was arrested over the incident in early October.

Police say a third man, 29, has been charged with a range of offences including attempted murder, kidnapping, grievous bodily harm, possessing dangerous drugs and unlawful possession of weapons.

He is due to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Thursday.

The victim, a 28-year-old man, is recovering from critical injuries.

Pig hunter to face court over murder

Yahoo [6/11/14]:

A man accused of stabbing his mate to death during a pig hunting trip in outback Queensland is due to face court.

Carl Shane Bricola, 45, will appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court charged with stabbing a 41-year-old Bamaga man in a remote area in Cape York.

Police allege Bricola and the man stopped their 4WD on the side of the road about 45km south of Coen in the early hours of Tuesday to cook a pig they had caught.

It's alleged the pair got into a fight and Bricola stabbed the man.

Another man who was with them drove the victim to Coen for treatment but he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Bricola appeared briefly before Cairns Magistrate Anthony Gett on Wednesday.

The case was adjourned to Thursday morning to give the accused time to speak to a duty lawyer.

Break and enter, Anstead [QPS Media - 6/11/14]

Man tasered, charged over disturbance – Southport [QPS Media - 6/11/14]

Break and enter and assault, Pimpama [QPS Media - 6/11/14]

Attempted robbery charge, Magnetic Island [QPS Media - 5/11/14]

Palmer launches Palmer United Party's Victorian election campaign

ABC [6/11/14]:

Clive Palmer has launched his party's election campaign for Victoria, saying he is aiming to seize the balance of power in the Upper House.

The leader of the Palmer United Party (PUP) announced he will field at least two candidates in all eight regions in the Victorian Legislative Council, but the Queensland MP will not reveal who they are until Sunday.

Mr Palmer also spruiked his Victorian credentials, telling the press conference that he was born in Footscray, in Melbourne's west, and lived in Williamstown until he was 10.

He remains a keen Western Bulldogs fan.

Mr Palmer said he aimed to address the "morally repugnant" state of politics and "get some normal people elected".

"It's not about doing deals and having a political career," he said.

"The problem is we have career politicians.

"I've been in the system for 40 years, I've seen what happens."

...

Palmer United Party government to resume Queensland asset leases if elected [PUP Media Release - 4/11/14]

Darling Downs farmer sends solar message to G20

Chronicle [6/11/14]:

A Darling Downs farmer has has sent a direct appeal to world leaders attending the G20, ploughing the message GO SOLAR in giant letters in a field.

Rob McCreath, a Felton farmer who led the fight against Ambre Energy's plans to set up a petrochemical plant near his home, said he was prompted to take action after Brisbane Airport rejected a billboard calling for climate change to be put on the G20 agenda.

"Farmers are at the pointy end of climate change," Mr McCreath said.

"Last year was our hottest on record, this one's shaping up to be even worse, and we've got a raging drought over a vast area.

"In spite of the overwhelming scientific evidence, our idiotic politicians are hooked on coal and gas, which is the cause of the problem.

"Australia is one of the richest per capita countries in the world, with the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the developed world. We have huge reserves of sunshine, so making use of it is simply a matter of common sense.

"Our government's reluctance to do so is an international embarrassment.

"Unlike coal, solar power really is good for humanity, because it can provide the clean energy needed to lift people out of poverty across the world, without stuffing up the climate even more."

Mr McCreath said he hoped Angela Merkel "shirt-fronted" Tony Abbott and ask "If Germany can go solar then why on earth can't Australia?"

Wooo Spooky ... today's anti protest propaganda [G20 protest group's bomb-building manual - SBS - 6/11/14]:

... It also provides basic information on the use of fuel-fertiliser explosives.

While the website appears to have been created a decade ago, it remains easily accessible. ...

Meanwhile ... [Nine MSN - 6/11/14]:

A quantity of fuel and an empty fertiliser box have been identified as the "hazardous" items that sparked a major security scare on a Defence base last month.

Officials say a routine inspection of accommodation on HMAS Cerberus naval base on October 16 revealed what were initially described as "a number of hazardous materials".

As a precaution, a 400-metre safety zone was established around the accommodation block and access to and from the base was restricted to essential personnel.

At the time a school group was touring the base.

"Appropriate hazardous material precautions have been implemented," Defence said in a hot issues brief at the time.

The brief also revealed a Defence member was helping Victorian police with their inquiries.

A Defence spokesman said today Victorian police later assessed there was no suspicious material.

"However, there were some hazardous items identified which Defence does not permit to be stored in on-base accommodation. These included fuel and an empty box of fertiliser," the spokesman said.

No charges were laid.

G20: Soldier in hospital after being injured in Brisbane training exercise [ABC - 6/11/14]

A soldier has been taken to hospital in Brisbane overnight after being injured in a G20 training exercise, the Australian Defence Force says.

Police said a Black Hawk helicopter landed in Downey Park at Windsor on Brisbane's northside about 9:00pm (AEST) last night and a male soldier was taken by ambulance to hospital.

Defence confirmed in a statement that an ADF member was injured during a G20 training exercise in Brisbane on Wednesday.

It said the soldier was taken to a civilian hospital, where he remained in a stable condition.

The ADF said it would not be commenting further on the soldier's medical condition, service history, or the training exercise.

Not terrorism: Vietnam Airlines mid-air scare

ABC [6/11/14]:

A New Zealand man says he had to punch a fellow passenger to restrain him from trying to open the emergency exit of a Vietnam Airlines plane flying to Sydney on Monday night.

Auckland resident Mark Ansley and three fellow passengers resorted to brute force to restrain the 27-year-old man from Sydney, who was reportedly trying to jump out of the plane.

"I was having a really good sleep and I just heard screaming, really loud panicked screaming," Mr Ansley told TVNZ.

"And I sat bolt upright, looked down towards the first bulkhead where the exit row is, and there was a guy actually at the exit door trying to get it open."

Mr Ansley said he was scared but never thought twice about stepping in.

"A cable tie was handed to me and I couldn't get it around his hands, he was fighting too much," he said.

"That's when I decided to stun him or knock him out, which didn't work, after a couple of goes.

"But eventually I did stun him enough that he stopped struggling.

"It's flight or fight isn't it, and I tend to fight."

Australian Federal Police confirmed they responded to a request for assistance on Tuesday at Sydney airport.

They escorted the restrained Greenacre man to St George Hospital for medical assesment.

"After the man had undergone an initial medical assessment he was issued a notice for the offence of endangering the safety of an aircraft," the AFP said.

The man is required to attend Downing Centre Court on December 16.

The AFP said enquiries in relation to the incident were ongoing.

Brisbane G20: Symbolic flame to burn during summit

Brisbane Times [6/11/14]:

... Police have approved the small fire in a section of Musgrave Park, where a temporary aboriginal embassy was set up in December 2012.

Jagera elder Kevin Vieritz said the fire was important.

"The flame is symbolic," he said. "It was used to cleanse and it is used to burn off."

Mr Vieritz said the symbolism was the link between the past and present.

"You burn off bad ideas and bad thoughts and bad grievances," he said.

"You explain it all and the fire burns the animosity away. It burns it away around the fire."

The embers from the fire at Musgrave Park come from the fire burning at the long-running Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.

"The Canberra fires have been spread around Australia and the same ideals that are there, are here," Mr Vieritz said.

"Aboriginal sovereignty our country, or just compensation for land theft and resource theft."

He was asked by his Jagera clan to be one of the liaison people during G20 and will be at Musgrave Park as hundreds of people slowly begin to arrive to take part in the talks, protests and marches planned during G20.

On Thursday a handful of tents and camping gear were in the section of Musgrave Park near the Jagera Community Hall, with many more people expected to arrive.

The fire has been lit every Wednesday night at weekly Aboriginal embassy meetings.

It will now remain burning until the conclusion of G20.

"That goes on whether the G20 is here or not," Mr Vieritz said.

"We hope to keep it going. The struggle hasn't ended."

...

Hong Kong protesters scuffle with police overnight

BBC [6/11/14]:

Protesters in Hong Kong have scuffled with police in the first increase in tensions for more than a fortnight.

The clashes took place in the Mong Kong area after dozens of people wearing Guy Fawkes masks staged a march.

Activists are angry about a decision by China to screen candidates for Hong Kong's 2017 leadership election.

A top Hong Kong adviser has suggested that student activists, who have called for direct dialogue with Beijing, be given a say in the screening process.

The latest bout of clashes with police which happened after midnight on Thursday. Protesters gathered on a pavement near the Mong Kok protest site and scuffled with officers trying to push them back.

At least three people were arrested, said local media.

Earlier, scores of people wearing Guy Fawkes masks - a symbol use by anarchist and anti-capitalist protests around the world - had turned up at both the Mong Kok and Admiralty protest sites chanting in support of "genuine suffrage", reported the South China Morning Post.

Student representation Hong Kong activists have occupied key spots in the city for more than a month calling for full democracy, attracting tens of thousands at the height of protests. Numbers have dwindled to just a few hundred.

China insists that candidates for the upcoming 2017 chief executive election be handpicked by a nominating committee.

Student activists are expected to announce on Thursday their plans on approaching Beijing for a dialogue.

The Hong Kong Federation of Students are mulling the idea of sending leaders to the capital.

Former security chief Regina Ip has suggested that students have greater say in the city's chief executives On Wednesday, Regina Ip, a former security chief and top adviser to Hong Kong's chief executive CY Leung, suggested that the federation be given seats on the nominating committee.

But the federation's deputy secretary general Lester Shum said there was little room for negotiation in their key demand - which is for direct nomination of candidates by the public - and that the proposal would be likely vetoed by lawmakers anyway, reported the Post.

Meanwhile several members of Hong Kong's Legislative Council, popularly known as Legco, have called for an investigation into Mr Leung's dealings with an Australian company.

Mr Leung is alleged to have received £4m ($6.4m) from engineering firm UGL. The payments relate to a deal struck between Mr Leung and UGL in late 2011 when the company was acquiring DTZ Holdings, a firm of which Mr Leung was a director.

The payments were not declared when he became chief executive, but his office have denied wrongdoing, while UGL said it was not obliged to reveal the deal.

The motion on Wednesday was backed by about 20 out of 70 democratic members of the council, which acts as the city's parliament.

Thousands march in Mexico City in support of 43 missing students

France 24 [6/11/14]:

Thousands of protesters marched in Mexico City on Wednesday to demand the safe return of 43 students missing since last month after authorities arrested the main suspects in the disappearance.

Demonstrators chanted "they took them alive, we want them alive" and held a large banner with images of the 43 college students, whose disappearance has drawn international outrage and turned into a full-blown crisis for President Enrique Pena Nieto.

After a month on the lam, Jose Luis Abarca, the former mayor of the southern city of Iguala, and his wife Maria de Los Angeles Pineda were arrested in a gritty neighborhood of Mexico City on Tuesday.

Their capture raised hopes that they could offer solid clues about the students' whereabouts almost six weeks after they were attacked by Iguala police officers linked to the Guerreros Unidos gang.

The night of terror left six people dead and the 43 students missing.

Prosecutors accuse the mayoral couple of colluding with the gang and ordering the attack over fears the students would disrupt a speech by Pineda, who was head of the local child protection agency.

But protesters, who were joined by the parents of the missing, said the arrest was not enough.

"The anger over the disappearance of the 43 students has not gone away with Abarca's arrest," said Bardomiano Martinez, deputy director of their teacher-training college in Guerrero state known as a bastion of left-wing radicalism.

"This is what we want to show the government with this march. We will mobilize until they are back, alive," he said.

The investigation has led authorities to a dozen mass graves containing 38 bodies, raising fears of a tragic end to the mystery.

Officials say preliminary DNA analyses have shown that at least 28 of them are not the students, but independent Argentine forensic experts will give the final word.

Despite the gruesome discoveries, parents of the missing and some officials harbor slim hopes, with Guerrero's interim governor saying the abductors are possibly moving them around to elude the search.

...

Happy 2 report that wonderful mum Nicole has returned home to her family, incl little twins; no charges laid #pilliga

Image: @LockTheGate [6/11/14]

Katter’s blast on damage from coal seam gas

North West Star [5/11/14]:

Federal member for Kennedy Bob Katter slammed coal seam gas mining as detrimental to the mining industry.

It comes after a far north Queensland council banned future CSG mining in the region amid fears it would affect water quality.

Douglas Shire Council lies to the north of Cairns and includes the towns of Mossman, Port Douglas and takes in the Daintree area.

Councillors voted on Tuesday to ban any future coal seam gas projects in the region.

Mr Katter praised the council’s decision to ban any future CSG mining in the shire and pointed to the minimal economic benefits of CSG mining in Queensland as another reason for concern.

“We have always been proudly a mining state. Coal seam gas has, and is, seriously damaging the mining industry,’’ he said.

“This industry contributes virtually nothing to the Australian economy.

“When the construction and development phase is over next year, the industry comes back to 2500 jobs, and almost its entire $25,000 million a year income, will line the pockets of rich foreign CSG mining giants.’’

Last year, Mr Katter introduced laws to place a temporary suspension on aquifer drilling for coal seam gas extraction.

Mr Katter warned community members of the potentially catastrophic social and economic costs of coal seam gas aquifer drilling, which he says threatens to contaminate water and the lifeblood of Australia’s agricultural industries and post significant risks to human health, air quality and levels, natural environment and threaten native and domestic animals.

CQ News [5/11/14]:

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) today advised Crinum Mine employees that it would begin ramping down longwall development work at the Crinum underground mine, near Emerald, commencing in November 2014.

The decision follows a detailed review of the mine plan which has resulted in the early ramping down of the final longwall panel, which was due for extraction in financial year 2016.

This was based on a range of factors including the analysis of the reserve depletion with the mine coming to the end of its reserve life.

BMA Asset President Lucas Dow said the ramp down of development work will occur in two phases over six months and will impact approximately 100 roles.

It is expected that this will be completed by around April 2015.

...

North West Star [5/11/14]:

The Cloncurry district based Osborne Mine is scheduled to close next August.

The mine’s owners were considering further projects in the Cloncurry district including the Merlin Project, which could provide 10 per cent of the world’s rhenium.

Chinova Resources employees presented the plans of closure and the company’s future prospects to landowners in a meeting timed with Melbourne Cup day at the Osborne mine’s village, about 150 kilometres south of Cloncurry.

General manager of operations Neal Valk said the company was looking at developing a large molybdenum and rhenium deposit north of the existing Osborne mine, in the company’s existing leases.

“It’s the world’s highest grade of moly [molybdenum] known,” Mr Valk said.

...

Port Hedland tugboat strike threat to affect iron ore industry

WA Today [6/11/14]:

Australia's busiest mineral export port could be brought to a halt as early as next week, amid renewed threats of a tugboat strike at Port Hedland.

More than six months after the threat of a tugboat strike first emerged, the union representing the engineers on the tugs - the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers - has today informed tugboat operator Teekay Shipping of its intention to hold a strike on Wednesday, November 12.

The strike is expected to last four hours and be staged on Wednesday morning, and is expected to temporarily prevent Port Hedland tenants like BHP Billiton, Fortescue Metals Group, BC Iron and Atlas Iron from exporting iron ore.

Each tugboat is staffed by one engineer, one master and one deckhand, and it is understood the tugs cannot sail without a full complement of staff.

Without tugboats, the giant cape-sized vessels that carry Australian iron ore to Asia cannot leave or enter the port, halting an export industry that ranks as Australia's most lucrative.

The miners warned earlier this year that an extended shut-down at the port could force some of the mine and rail operations in the Pilbara to also slow down to avoid a huge bottleneck at the port, but it is unlikely that a four-hour strike at the port would warrant such drastic action.

It is believed that the engineers' main desire is for a limit on the number of hours that can be worked in a single day.

"The union and its members are concerned that hours of work are routinely exceeding 12 hours a day," said a spokesman for the AIMPE.

...

Canada: 122 birds died after landing on 3 northern Alberta tailings ponds

CBC [5/11/14]:

The Alberta Energy Regulator says 122 waterfowl died on tailings ponds operated by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Syncrude and Suncor in the northern Alberta Oilsands.

CNRL has found 60 birds so far at the Horizon site. Syncrude had to euthanize 30 birds that landed on a pond at the Mildred Lake site.

The Alberta Energy Regulator has sent investigators to ensure wildlife deterrents were working properly at the time. The regulator believes weather may have been a factor in the birds' deaths.

CNRL spokeswoman Julie Woo said in an email the birds landed early Tuesday morning when there was “extreme fog” in the area.

She said deterrents including radar units, long range acoustic devices, propane cannons and scarecrows were working at the time.

“We are saddened that approximately 60 waterfowl were not deterred and we are currently in the process of confirming the final affected number,” she said.

Syncrude spokesman Will Gibson says the company noticed increased bird activity in the region and put its deterrent system on high alert.

“It's disappointing to us when wildlife are harmed by our operations. We're going to review our system to see if there's additional ways beyond additional improvements we've already implemented to ensure this kind of incident doesn't happen again.”

Carolyn Campbell, conservation specialist with the Alberta Wilderness Association, says deterrents like scarecrows, cannons and flagging aren’t very effective.

When Syncrude was fined $3 million after 1,600 birds landed on a tailings pond in 2008, Campbell says the government promised to increase regulations and shrink the size of tailings ponds at that time, but little has been done.

She believes the Alberta government needs to standardize the rules to keep wildlife away from tailings ponds.

Saudi Aramco Says Operations Unaffected by Pipeline Leak

Naharnet [6/11/14]:

Saudi Aramco operations are unaffected by a leak and fire which hit a diesel fuel pipeline near the capital Riyadh, a company statement received on Thursday said.

The state-owned firm is the world's largest oil company in terms of crude production and exports.

"There were no injuries reported and there were no interruptions to the company's core business activities," the statement said.

On Wednesday evening, fire broke out after a leak occurred in the diesel line along the Riyadh to Al-Qassim highway.

"The leak took place when highway workers working in the area inadvertently caused a small rupture allowing the fuel to escape," the company said.

Leaked fuel reached the road where it ignited but "was isolated away from the pipeline."

Saudi Arabia's civil defense department on Wednesday night described the incident as accidental and said the blaze had been brought under control.

Saudi Arabia is the biggest producer in the OPEC oil cartel.

World oil prices hit three and four-year lows this week in the face of a global supply glut.

Maralinga: Traditional owners given unrestricted access to former nuclear testing site

ABC [5/11/14]:

A ceremony at the former nuclear test site at Maralinga in outback South Australia today will see traditional owners given unrestricted access to the land.

The area was contaminated when nuclear weapons were tested between 1952 and 1967.

An expensive clean-up over eight years led to part of the the land, known as section 400, being formally given back to the Maralinga-Tjarutja people in 2009, but their access remained restricted because it fell within the Woomera Prohibited Area used for defence operations.

The Defence Department now will officially give full control of the area back to its traditional owners at a ceremony held near the Maralinga air strip.

Defence Minister David Johnston and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion will take part.

Maralinga-Tjarutja general manager Richard Preece said the handover would lead to new tourism opportunities for the remote region.

"We're going to set up bus tours so people can be taken around by Robin (local caretaker), who is a walking encyclopaedia of Maralinga," he said.

...

A nuclear engineer involved in the Maralinga clean-up, Allan Parkinson, said there were 100 square kilometres still contaminated above the clean-up criteria.

CTV engineer David Harding to pay $10,000

3 News [6/11/14]:

The man who designed the ill-fated CTV Building has been suspended from the register of Chartered Professional Engineers (CPEng) and ordered to pay $10,000 in costs.

David Harding, an engineer for 40 years, failed to tell officials about his involvement in designing the Christchurch building when he re-applied to the industry's professional body in 2011, a disciplinary committee has found.

Mr Harding was the principal designer of the building, which collapsed during an earthquake in February 2011 and killed 115 people.

The engineer, who had designed the building under the supervision of Dr Alan Reay in 1986, applied for reassessment as a Chartered Professional Engineer just five months after the collapse.

CPEng's disciplinary committee found Mr Harding breached his obligations under its code of ethics.

"Whist Mr Harding's actions may fall short of dishonesty, [we are] firmly of the view that he failed to act with integrity and objectivity," it reads.

The $10,000 payment is not a fine but was ordered to cover the cost of the inquiry.

A report about Mr Harding's conduct as a member of the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) is still to be released.

Neoliberalism kills

Gladstone Observer [6/11/14]:

As Graham Lamb lay dying on the ground, his family tried desperately to communicate with emergency services on their mobile phones to save his life, but phone reception kept cutting out.

The landline at the home had been out of order for more than two weeks - his wife Doreen and other neighbours had complained several times to Telstra about the main line being down, preventing her and her neighbours from using their phones.

The family had previously mentioned to each other how terrible it would be if an emergency was to happen while the phone line was down.

As Graham lay on the ground, his son Brendan and Brendan's wife, Nikki, continued performing CPR until an ambulance arrived.

But fate was working against the family, with the ambulance crew from the nearest station at Howard already attending to another serious case.

That meant the family had to wait 45 minutes be given assistance when an ambulance crew arrived from Maryborough at 1.45pm.

A second crew from Hervey Bay arrived at 1.51pm, but it was too late.

Graham, 57, had died, leaving his family devastated and questioning the convergence of events that hampered emergency assistance reaching their husband and father.

...

Cost of privatising meat inspection creeps up as Europe rejects the industry inspection model [ABC - 5/11/14]:

... The new system of Australian Export Meat Inspection Service AEMIS is recognised by the US as equivalent to its own, even though the US has a large federal meat inspector workforce.

But an activist group in America, Food and Water Watch, is accusing Australia of missing contamination, alleging 'serious food safety violations, traces of faecal matter on meat, and positive tests for E.coli'.

The union representing the remaining 200 Australian Government meat inspectors says the members are worried.

"Our members are aware that cases of contamination are increasing, and this is due to the management of Australia's meat inspection system being outsourced," says Rupert Evans of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).

...

Czech nuclear plant shuts down 2 reactors after cooling system leak

RT [5/11/14]:

The Dukovany nuclear power plant in the southern Czech Republic has halted operations of two of its reactors after a pipe in the facility’s cooling system started to leak.

The Wednesday shutdown was necessary as the repair was likely to take more than three days, which is allowed under safety regulations, the plant’s operator, Czech electricity company CEZ said.

The leaking in the technical water system, which is used for cooling the important technical and safety devices at the plant, was discovered Monday, the company said.

Reactors 3 and 4 at Dukovany have been stopped, while reactors 1 and 2 will continue working on full capacity, CEZ added.

"It is impossible to run the plant in the long run without the system being perfectly tight. But this situation has no influence on safety," said Dana Drabova, head of the State Nuclear Safety Authority (SUJB), the Czech News Agency reported.

Customers won’t feel any impact from the shutdown as the energy market is capable of covering for the loss of power the shutdown caused, said Barbara Pulpanova, a company spokesperson.

The leak is the first serious malfunction in nearly three decades of Dukovany’s operations.

The plant, which supplies one-fifth of the country’s electricity consumption, was built jointly by Czechoslovakia and the USSR in 1985-87.

Spent fuel rods removed from No. 4 reactor building at Fukushima

Japan Today [6/11/14]:

The operator of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant removed 400 tons of spent uranium fuel from a damaged reactor building, the first of four sets of used rods to be removed in a cleanup expected to last decades.

The year-long operation is a rare success for Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) since the meltdowns at the plant more than three years ago. The overall clean-up has been plagued with delays and leaks of radioactive water.

TEPCO completed the removal of 1,331 spent fuel rods from the upper levels of the badly damaged reactor No. 4 building on Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.

The No. 4 building was a source of concern during the disaster because of fears it would collapse in another earthquake, leading to exposure of the spent fuel.

TEPCO still needs to remove 180 fuel assemblies that haven’t been used but these are considered less dangerous than spent fuel as they have not been irradiated in the reactor.

The unused assemblies will be moved to reactor No. 6, which was unscathed when an earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and cooling in March 2011.

The spent rods and 22 unused assemblies were placed in a storage pool at ground level at the plant, TEPCO said.

It must repeat the task in the three reactors that experienced meltdowns during the disaster and are holding almost 1,400 fuel assemblies in storage pools on their upper floors.

Once the spent fuel has been removed, TEPCO can address the most difficult task of extracting the three reactor cores that melted during the crisis, an unprecedented occurrence.

TEPCO and the Japanese government plan to delay by five years the removal of the melted fuel to around 2025 because of holdups in the decommissioning work, Kyodo News reported last week.

Dozens more dead dogs found dumped in Japan

Channel News Asia [5/11/14]:

Japanese officials said Wednesday that the number of bodies in a bizarre dog dumping case had reached nearly 70 animals, days after police launched a criminal investigation.

Authorities said they had found almost 30 more dead dogs, following the discovery last week of 40 canine corpses by a river in the eastern part of the country.

The newly discovered bodies were mainly small breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Toy Poodles, a local police officer said.

The site in Tochigi prefecture is 20 kilometres from the original dumping site.

"The bodies are decaying badly," the officer said. "Police are investigating a possible link between the case today and last week."

Jiji Press news agency reported last week the police suspect an animal undertaker may have dumped the dogs, but authorities have only said they were "looking into various possibilities".

New Zealand: Newly-stranded whales die

RNZI [6/11/14]:

A group of pilot whales that stranded again near Opotiki in eastern Bay of Plenty this morning have died.

About 60 whales came ashore near Ohiwa Harbour on Tuesday afternoon.

Department of Conservation staff and Project Jonah volunteers managed to get over a dozen whales back out into the Harbour yesterday, but 22 restranded this morning.

Peter Huggins from department said another rescue effort was launched, but they could not be saved.

"Had six that had died overnight - as the morning rolled on over that first hour or so another eight whales died so then a decision was made that given the animal welfare imperative we needed to euthenise the remaining eight whales."

As well as the welfare of the animals, DOC said, the developing weather conditions and the available options to refloat the mammals were taken into account.

Staff remain on standby and will be monitoring the situation in case any further groups of whales get into difficulty.

Pike River decision a final blow, widow says

RNZI [6/11/14]:

Pike River families feel the decision not to re-enter the mine is like a final blow, the widow of one of the men who died says.

Mine owner Solid Energy told families at a meeting in Greymouth this morning the company considers the risks to life remain too high to re-enter the mine drift.

Prime Minister John Key, Energy Minister Simon Bridges and Environment Minister Nick Smith along with Solid Energy chief executive Dan Clifford and board chair Pip Dunphy met dozens of relatives this morning.

Anna Osborne, whose husband Milton was among 29 men killed in the West Coast mine, said families felt like they had been slapped in the face by Solid Energy, former owners Pike River Coal and the Government.

"There's just been no justice for us, I mean to not be able to have my man home and for no-one to be held to account over this - what's wrong with our justice system."

Laurie Drew, whose son Zen died at Pike River, said there was still no clear indication of what will happen with the mine now the owner has said it will surrender its mining permit.

"We know this decision will be very disappointing to the family members and friends of the men who died in the mine," board chair Pip Dunphy said in a statement.

"However any further loss of life in this mine is unacceptable and any possibility of other families having to go through what the Pike families have suffered is not something our board can support."

The company said now it had reached its decision the board had decided to surrender the Pike River mining permit.

...

Girraween National Park reopens after fire

Chronicle [6/11/14]:

Bushwalkers are allowed back into most of Girraween National Park as bushfires in the Southern Downs region are brought under control

The popular tourist attraction was closed on Monday last week due to a large bushfire burning in the Ballandean and Eukey areas.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service principal ranger Michael Phelan said the park was reopened on Tuesday.

"Girraween is a much-loved park and one of the key tourist attractions in the Granite Belt, so it's important to let people know we're open for business again," Mr Phelan said.

"Last week was a very nervous and arduous time for our rangers and the broader community, who battled to save homes and farms as well as the park.

"The community worked together to beat the blaze and keep local tourism going."

He said vegetation in nearly a third of the park - about 3000 hectares of shrubby open forest and heath had been burnt.

"Fire is part of the natural environment; the park will bounce back and we can expect a good wildflower season next year."

Queensland regional manager Acting Superintendent Lawrence Laing said a specialist firefighting team remained at the Ballandean fire until yesterday.

He said rural fire brigades from the areas surrounding the Ballandean fire, as well as a fire burning north of Toowoomba at Ravensbourne, would keep watch over the blazes.

Residents were warned to be mindful of the hot, dry weather due to hit the region this weekend and asked to wait until conditions were more favourable before doing any burning.

Timor-Leste Kicks Out Judges Over ConocoPhillips Tax Fight

Jakarta Globe [6/11/14]:

Timor-Leste has ordered five foreign judges out of the country after a court ruled in favor of US oil and gas producer ConocoPhillips in cases tied to $236 million in disputed tax assessments.

ConocoPhillips operates the Bayu Undan gas field in the Timor Sea between Timor-Leste and Australia. Royalties and taxes from the field are the main source of revenue for Timor-Leste, one of the world’s poorest nations.

The young country, which won independence from Indonesia in 2002, had hired international judges and prosecutors to beef up its judicial system, but Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has been unhappy about the rulings on the tax cases, among other issues.

The government’s move on the judiciary raises concerns about the rule of law in Timor-Leste, which needs foreign companies to develop its oil and gas resources.

An Timor-Leste embassy spokeswoman in Canberra, Australia, confirmed on Wednesday that five judges and two prosecutors had been ordered to leave the country on Tuesday. She said it was not yet clear when they would depart.

ConocoPhillips has challenged the government in 28 cases over tax assessments that were higher than what the company says it owes, and has won all seven that have been decided so far.

The government’s move to expel the judges and prosecutors was done according to the law to “protect the interests of our people”, Timor-Leste Foreign Minister Jose Luis Guterres said in an interview on Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

ConocoPhillips says it has paid all the taxes that are due under Timor-Leste law and has paid “under protest” all taxes, interest and penalties assessed by the government, adding that it still highly values its relationship with the government.

“In our view, an independent and impartial court system is crucial to create a good investment climate for Timor-Leste,” ConocoPhillips President Australia-West Todd Creeger said in an emailed statement commenting on the deportations.

“If the business community and potential investors are confident they will be treated fairly, Timor-Leste’s long term economic development will benefit.”

The move by Timor-Leste comes amid talks with the Australian government to try to resolve a long-running dispute over the treaty that gives Timor-Leste a 50 percent share of the royalty revenue from another gas field, Greater Sunrise, which straddles the maritime boundary between the two countries.

The governments recently agreed to adjourn an international arbitration over the dispute for at least six months to try to resolve their differences directly.

A resolution would help clear the way for a decision to develop the Greater Sunrise project, which remains untapped 40 years after its fields were discovered, and is key to the growth prospects of Australia’s biggest oil and gas producer, Woodside Petroleum.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the talks do not involve negotiating permanent maritime boundaries with Timor-Leste and that Australia continues to support current treaty arrangements.

“Through the consultations we hope to find a way to resolve our differences amicably, rather than through litigation,” a department spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.

China to send 1,000 medics to West Africa

Al Jazeera [5/11/14]:

China says it plans to send around 1,000 medical workers and experts to West Africa to help in the fight against the deadly Ebola outbreak that has claimed nearly 5,000 lives.

China's National Health and Family Planning Commission said on Wednesday, it was planning to send "1,000 medical workers and public health experts" to Ebola-afflicted countries.

"In the months to come, more than 1,000 medical workers and public health experts will be sent by China to assist in the battle against Ebola in West African countries," state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

China, Africa's biggest trade partner, has come under fierce criticism for not doing enough in the fight against the worst outbreak of Ebola on record.

While Beijing has already sent a total of 252 people to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three hardest-hit countries, Cuba has sent 165 doctors and nurses to help efforts in Sierra Leone and plans to send 296 others soon to Liberia and Guinea.

On Friday, China's Foreign Ministry said it would send an elite unit of the People's Liberation Army to help Liberia, the country worst-hit by the outbreak that has killed 4,951 people out of 13,567 infected in eight countries.

Doctors and nurses have been the most vulnerable to contracting Ebola, because the virus is spread through bodily fluids. More than 500 health workers have contracted Ebola, and around half have died.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says 4,500 health workers are still needed.

US releases Kuwaiti Guantanamo prisoner

Al Akhbar [5/11/14]:

One of two remaining Kuwaitis held in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay was sent home Wednesday after nearly 13 years in detention, a Pentagon spokesman told AFP.

Fawzi al-Odah, 37, boarded a Kuwaiti government plane at 5:30 am, Lieutenant Colonel Myles Caggins said.

He is the first inmate freed since late May, bringing the total number of detainees at the prison on a US naval base in Cuba to 148.

...

Catalonia vows to hold independence vote despite latest court blow

Guardian [5/11/14]:

The Catalan government has vowed to push forward with a symbolic vote on independence on Sunday, in defiance of a court order and the central government in Madrid.

“We will continue with the participative process,” the Catalan government spokesperson Francesc Homs said. “And we’ll do it with all the consequences.”

Homs said 40,000 volunteers had been recruited to stage the vote. Two questions will be put to Catalans: whether Catalonia should be a state, and if so, whether it should be an independent state.

His statement came shortly after Spain’s constitutional court announced it had agreed to hear the central government’s challenge of the watered-down vote. It was the second time in as many months that the court has acted to halt a planned Catalan vote on secession.

...

2 teens killed, 4 injured in shelling nr Donetsk school, E. Ukraine

RT [5/11/14]:

Two schoolchildren were killed and four injured as an artillery shell hit a stadium in front of a school in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, local self-defense forces said.

"All the wounded were taken to the Donetsk regional trauma unit,” Natalya Yemchenko, a militia official with the Donetsk People’s Republic, was cited as saying by Interfax-Ukraine news agency. “They are now in intensive care. One of them is in critical condition and three other are in a state of moderate severity.”

“There were children – a lot of them – at the stadium” when the shell hit, Yemchenko wrote on her Facebook page.

“When attempts were made to evacuate them from the pitch, the massive shelling continued in the area. It was hard for the medics to get to them,” she said.

Yemchenko said the school building was also seriously damaged in the explosion.

Local journalist Andrey Krasnoshchekov, who visited the scene of the shelling, said that the boys were playing football when the tragedy happened.

“Neither the ambulance, nor the Donetsk militias have reached the two dead bodies yet. It’s only us [journalists] and crying parents and relatives here,” Krasnoshchekov wrote on his Twitter account, almost an hour after the mortar hit as the medics tried to make their way through the shelling.

...

Palestinian runs over Israeli settlers after string of "hit and runs"

Al Akhbar [5/11/14]:

An Israeli soldier was killed and nine other Israeli settlers were wounded Wednesday when a Palestinian ran down a group of Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem, a day after a Palestinian was run over by an Israeli settler in the West Bank.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the driver had first struck a group of Israeli soldiers who were crossing the road near border police headquarters, before continuing south and hitting a group of settlers.

The driver was shot dead by Israeli forces in the area.

Emergency services spokesman Zaki Heller said two of the wounded were in very serious condition.

Palestinian faction Hamas on Wednesday said that the Palestinian driver was group member Ibrahim al-Akari.

Hamas did not say, however, whether it had ordered al-Akari to carry out the attack or whether he had carried it out on his own initiative.

"Al-Akari, whose blood was shed in Jerusalem, rose up for his people, his city, Jerusalem, and the al-Aqsa Mosque," Hamas said in the statement.

Hamas' armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, meanwhile, hailed the operation carried out by al-Akari.

"We salute all of Hamas' mujahedeen and the heroes of Jerusalem who sacrifice their blood on its doorsteps," Qassam spokesman Abu Ubaidah said on Twitter.

Moreover, scores of Ultra-Orthodox Jews demonstrated in Jerusalem on Wednesday to demand the dismissal of Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch following the incident.

Protesters chanted for Aharonovitch's dismissal and for "death to saboteurs," in reference to Palestinians.

The incident comes two weeks after Palestinian Abdul-Rahman Shaludi rammed his car into Israeli settlers, injuring six and killing one. Shaludi was also shot dead.

Meanwhile, an Israeli settler driving through the occupied West Bank city of Beit Jala hit a Palestinian with his car on Tuesday, witnesses told Ma'an.

Locals said Ibrahim Hamdan was on his way to work when he was hit by an Israeli settler vehicle, lightly injuring him.

The sources said the settler appeared to hit Hamdan "deliberately."

Hamdan was taken to a hospital in Beit Jala for treatment, locals said, without providing further details.

Hate crimes by Israelis against Palestinians, referred to as “price tag” attacks, are common in the West Bank, and are rarely investigated or prosecuted by Israel.

According to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) monthly report, 10 Palestinians were killed, including 4 children, in October.

...

Egypt Crackdown on Activists, Morsi Supporters Under Fire at UN

Naharnet [5/11/14]:

The U.N.'s top human rights body took Egypt to task Wednesday for a litany of rights abuses, including its crackdown on supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, journalists and activists.

In the Human Rights Council's first review of Egypt's rights record since 2010, which covers the period since long-ruling leader Hosni Mubarak was toppled to the turbulent ousting of Morsi, several Western envoys voiced alarm at the worsening human rights situation in Egypt.

Rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said the situation is unprecedented and urged the council to order an international probe into the crackdown, mass arrests and unfair trials.

But Egypt hit back, insisting that the government of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had made human rights a priority since toppling Morsi in June last year.

"The prioritization of human rights is at the core of the political life of the new administration," Egyptian Minister of Transitional Justice Ibrahim el-Heneidy told the council.

"Egypt will fulfill its international obligations," he said.

...

Sisi's government began clamping down on Morsi supporters after the Islamist president was ousted in July 2013, leaving at least 1,400 dead and more than 15,000 jailed. Hundreds have also been sentenced to death after often speedy trials.

Over a period of just a few days of clashes in Cairo in August 2013, police killed hundreds of protesters.

Britain's Karen Pierce raised concern over "the numbers of detainees in pre-trial detention, reports of mistreatment or torture, use of mass trials and trial irregularities (and) retention of the death penalty."

She also decried the decreasing space for civil society and the media to operate."

Sweden's representative meanwhile highlighted "the precarious situation of women in Egypt," calling for legislative reform to "combat sexual harassment and gender-based violence."

Seven Egyptian non-governmental organizations announced Wednesday that they would not participate in the U.N.'s Universal Periodic Review, which all 193 U.N. countries must undergo every four years, for fear of reprisal.

Cairo has set a November 10 deadline for all NGOs to register with the government, in a move activists warn will deal a death blow to the country's civil society.

"Civil society is on the verge of disappearing," warned Philippe Dam of Human Rights Watch.

Nicholas Piachaud of Amnesty warned via video link that many people in Egypt were facing "grossly unfair trials", while others were disappearing and "torture is once again rife."

"All of these things are happening against the backdrop of rampant discrimination," he said, demanding "robust action" from the council.

DR Congo: UN mission says police arrest more than 200 suspected of recent attacks

UN Media Release [5/11/14]:

The United Nations stabilization mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) announced today that more than 200 people have been arrested in relation to the recent attacks against civilians around the town of Beni in the long-restive eastern part of the vast African country.

According to an announcement on Radio Okapi, created by the UN mission known by its French acronym MONUSCO, and the Swiss non-governmental organization Fondation Hirondelle, MONUSCO spokesman Charles Bambara said among those arrested were members of the Ugandan-based rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), who are believed to be responsible for these attacks.

Weapons, ammunitions, bombs, radio sets and other military equipment were seized in the operations, according to Mr. Bambara.

He said more than 200 people had been arrested in the operations carried out by the National Police and MONUSCO police, while UN mission forces are also intensifying their patrols in the region.

Briefing the UN Security Council in New York last month, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for the DRC and the head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler, underlined the need for a “proactive, not reactive” response in countering the country's rebel groups and boosting protection for civilians.

Mr. Kobler noted that despite initial hopes that “the seeds of peace” would spread throughout the DRC's eastern regions, recent outbursts of violence in villages in and around the city of Beni in North Kivu reminded the world “just how fragile those hopes can be.”

He was referring to a series of massacres committed by ADF rebels between 2 October and 17 October during which they “brutally massacred” over 80 civilians, mostly women and children, with machetes.

At UN Headquarters today, the Security Council is scheduled to take up the DRC this afternoon.

US Drone Strike 'Kills Qaida Commander' in Yemen

Naharnet [5/11/14]:

A suspected U.S. drone strike killed an al-Qaida commander in central Yemen, a security source said on Wednesday.

"Shawki al-Baadani, alias Khawlan al-Sanaani and also Abu Maissara al-Hanki, was left dead by a drone raid" that killed 20 al-Qaida fighters this week in the region of Rada, the source told Agence France-Presse.

The source said that Baadani was among the most wanted leaders of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, seen by the United States as the jihadist network's deadliest branch.

Baadani was suspected to have been the brains behind a 2012 bomb attack on an army parade which killed nearly 100 soldiers in the capital Sanaa.

The attack was later claimed by al-Qaida.

On Tuesday, tribal sources and witnesses reported that twin drone strikes killed at least 20 suspected al-Qaida militants near Rada, the focus of deadly fighting between the jihadists and advancing Shiite rebels.

The United States is the only country operating drones over Yemen, but U.S. officials rarely confirm individual strikes.

Mortar attack hits Yemen military airport [Al Jazeera - 5/11/14]

United States continue bombing Iraq, Syria

Centcom [5/11/14]:

U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria Nov. 3-5 using attack and fighter aircraft to conduct four airstrikes.

Separately, U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted ten airstrikes in Iraq Nov. 3-5 using fighter, attack and remotely-piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.

In Syria, three airstrikes conducted near Kobani struck a small ISIL unit, two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL dump truck used to construct fighting positions.

One airstrike in Syria north of Sinjar destroyed an ISIL fighting position used to launch mortar attacks and struck a small ISIL unit manning the position.

In Iraq, an airstrike near Mosul destroyed ISIL-occupied buildings, to include one housing a generator used for oil production and another used to manufacture explosive devices such as IEDS and VBIEDs.

Three airstrikes near Bayji struck two small ISIL units, destroyed an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL-occupied bunker and an ISIL anti-aircraft artillery piece. One airstrike near Fallujah struck a small ISIL unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

Three airstrikes in the vicinity of Ramadi damaged an ISIL vehicle and destroyed an ISIL checkpoint.

Two airstrikes north of Sinjar, Iraq, struck a small ISIL unit and destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle. All aircraft departed the strike areas safely. Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.

...

Naharnet [5/11/14]:

Shelling of a rebel-held area in the northeast of the Syrian capital killed 13 children Wednesday, a monitor said revising an earlier toll, with activists saying a school had been hit.

"The number of children killed by mortar fire on areas of Qabun district has risen to 13," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding: "The toll might rise because several others were critically injured."

Activists blamed forces loyal to President Bashar Assad for the killings, which they described as a "massacre of children".

The Syrian Revolution General Commission, a network of activists across the war-torn country, said the shelling hit a school, and an activist group in the neighborhood shared a grisly video of the aftermath.

The footage posted on the group's Facebook page showed the bodies of at least nine children lying on a white tiled floor, some of them surrounded by smears of blood.

Rebels and the army reached a truce in Qabun earlier this year, but activists say there have been frequent violations.

Nearly 190,000 people have been killed in Syria since an uprising against Assad's rule erupted in March 2011.

@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [5/11/14]:

Anbar: News reported that Civilian homes in Ta'ameem hay in Ramadi have been targeted by government's army resulted in killing and wounding of civilians ....................

Anbar: The civilian homes in Fallujah have been shelled by government's army ....................... .... [VIDEO]

Wasit/agencies/security source: Two civilians were wounded as a roadside bomb exploded in the middle of Kut.............

War mongering Australian media and military keep pretending Iraq hasn't said no to dirty diggers. [Australian fighter jets fly 144 missions against Islamic State - Brisbane - 6/11/14]

Humanitarian system ‘scrambling’ to meet skyrocketing needs, warns UN refugee agency chief

“To those who trigger and prolong conflicts, leaving humanitarians to clean up the mess, it is time to say that this must stop. We can no longer pick up the pieces.”

UN Media Release [5/11/14]:

The global humanitarian system has reached its limits in dealing with the upward trend in forced displacement due to mounting pressures from conflicts and persecution around the world, the head of the United Nations refugee agency warned today, calling on the humanitarian community to “think out of the box” when it comes to funding emergency response.

In a briefing to the UN General Assembly’s main social, humanitarian and cultural body (Third Committee), António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said that at the end of 2013, more than 51 million people were in displacement due to multiplying conflicts, climate change, population growth, urbanization, food insecurity and water scarcity, and events indicate that this number will be even higher by December of this year.

“The humanitarian community is scrambling to respond, but every new crisis clearly shows that the system has reached its limits,” he stressed.

“To those who trigger and prolong conflicts, leaving humanitarians to clean up the mess, it is time to stay that this must stop. We can no longer pick up the pieces,” he added.

Presenting his agency’s report, Mr. Guterres said that one of the reasons for the system reaching its limits is that humanitarian funding is close to bankruptcy. While funding has increased, the needs have grown much faster, causing the gap to widen.

To address the growing shortfall, measures must include continuing the strong investments already being made in building partnerships with emerging donors, as well as further expanding opportunities with the private sector and reviewing the relationship between humanitarian and development funding.

“It is also essential to think out of the box and be more creative when it comes to funding emergency response,” he said, noting that, in the future, humanitarian response should be able to rely partially on assessed contributions.

Such action could minimize the dramatically increasing gap between needs and available resources in humanitarian response, he said. Under the leadership of Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is now commissioning a study to explore how this might work.

The total international humanitarian budget reaches just 10 per cent of what is available globally for development cooperation, Mr. Guterres continued. In the current global context, development funds are not accessible quickly enough in many situations where they are needed, forcing humanitarian actors to act as substitutes for the absence of structural assistance.

“Humanitarian assistance only gets a fragment of the resources, but it often has to cover things it really should not,” he said.

As such, development agencies, donors and international financial institutions should work together to increase flexibility and complementarity between short and longer-term interventions, as well as be present on the ground from the very beginning of a crisis.

“It is in our common interest, and our collective responsibility, to ensure that ‘bridging the gap’ is more than a slogan. But this requires strong political leadership to change the objectives, the priorities, and, above all, the organizational culture of development cooperation,” he stressed.

Another factor is the need to building an effective universal partnership for humanitarian action, Mr. Guterres said, expressing hope that the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul can be used to work towards a universal approach to humanitarian values and principles.

“The present multilateral humanitarian system is essentially a Western creation,” he said.

“But today, what is needed is a truly universal partnership that can draw on the totality of efforts and resources to meet humanitarian needs,” he added.

There was some encouraging progress in Africa, Mr. Guterres noted, including the recently launched voluntary return operation of some 30,000 former Angolan refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In the Americas, a comprehensive initiative for Colombian refugees is being implemented in Ecuador, combining improved livelihood opportunities, resettlement and facilitated labour mobility in the region.

Mr. Guterres concluded his address by emphasizing that the most important way in which the humanitarian system must change course to avoid a complete failure of humanitarian response in the future is conflict prevention.

Conflict prevention and conflict resolution should always be led by the countries affected, although countries require stronger international support, including in mediation and stabilization efforts, he said.

“This extends far beyond the realm of humanitarian action, and essentially comes down to a question of international political resolve to address the root causes of displacement,” he said.

Manus governor: No refugee from death camp will settle in Manus Province

Australian media outlets: No journalist will travel to Manus or Nauru to humanise refugees and find out what the fuck is going on - Rupert and the government will tell us

PNG Facts [5/11/14]:

The Governor of Manus Island Charlie Benjamin has declared that no refugee will be allowed to make a home in his province.

Mr Benjamin stated yesterday that he had been unaware of the cabinet’s decision to finalize the processes necessary to engage refugees in PNG jobs and citizenship adding that he would not allow this arrangement on Manus.

"It's news to me and they will not find a home in Manus they won’t be resettled here permanently, they're here to be moved on to another province or another country," Governor Benjamin said.

The governor reminded all that the detention of asylum seekers on the island and the resettling of refugees in the country was a major part of Australia's offshore processing policy, designed to discourage dangerous boat journeys to Australia and that as such, PNG need not bring discomfort to its people while hosting a separate country’s burdens.

He further added that he welcomed the prospect of refugees being released from detention but disclosed that it was not a part of his long term vision for his province.

Governor Benjamin’s concern was raised after his office was made aware of the National Executive Council’s decision only on Wednesday.

The NEC met on Monday and asked Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato to finalise all refugee status determinations.

An Immigration’s officer who requested anonymity disclosed that the refugee status determinations will render the ministry capable of distinguishing genuine asylum seekers from the rest.

The officer also said that the long-term plan for refugees in Papua New Guinea remains unclear and that the sentiment felt by most workers at the Immigrations Ministry is that more time could be spent on other immigration matters to do with the PNG populace.

Immigration Minister denies claims asylum seekers were offered deal if witness statements on Reza Barati's death withdrawn [ABC - 6/11/14]:

... "This is a false and offensive suggestion made without any basis or substantiation by advocates with proven form of political malice and opposition to the Government's successful border protection policies. The government once again rejects these claims," Mr Morrison said.

...

Refugees offered relocation if witness statements on Reza Berati's death withdrawn - still no word on what is happening with Manus constitutionality case

ABC [6/11/14]:

Prominent human rights lawyer Julian Burnside QC says asylum seekers on Manus Island were offered relocation to Australia in return for withdrawing witness statements about the death of Iranian detainee Reza Berati.

Mr Burnside, an outspoken critic of the Federal Government's immigration detention policies, made the claim while accepting the Sydney Peace Prize last night.

He said a confidential source told him witnesses to the death of Mr Berati were offered transfer to Australia if they took back their statements.

"My understanding is that some people in the Manus Island detention are being offered the opportunity of being taken to mainland Australia on condition they withdraw any witness statements they've made," he told the function at Sydney Town Hall.

The ABC was not able to verify Mr Burnside's allegations last night.

Federal Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has been contacted for comment.

...

An official report found Mr Berati suffered a severe brain injury caused by a brutal beating by several assailants and died a few hours later.

Mr Burnside said he was told 13 to 14 people were involved in the death of Mr Berati.

He told the function he had received a sworn statement from an eyewitness about Mr Berati's death.

"An employee of the detention centre, armed with a length of timber with two nails driven through it, had lashed out at Reza Berati and had brought down two crushing blows on his head," Mr Burnside said.

He said Mr Berati's scalp was lacerated and he fell to the ground.

He was then kicked repeatedly by a dozen employees from within the detention centre including two Australians. They kicked him in the head and stomach as he tried to protect himself with his arms, Mr Burnside told the crowd.

He said another employee took a rock and smashed it on Mr Berati's head with "such ferocity, it killed him".

Two PNG men were charged with murder but their trial was delayed because they did not have lawyers.

In a wide ranging speech on Australia's human rights record, Mr Burnside accused both the Coalition and Labor of treating asylum seekers in a cruel and selfish manner.

But he said he was not party political.

"Labor has never contradicted the Coalition's dishonest message about asylum seekers," he said.

"The Coalition call them illegal. It's a lie.

"The Coalition call them queue jumpers. It's a lie."

...

If former Christmas Island administrator Jon Stanhope was truly challenging the ALP over refugees he'd leave the party - it is beyond reform

By remaining in the party he is accepting the policies and enabling them. [Canberra Times - 6/11/14]:

Former Chief Minister continues to challenge ALP over refugees: The former territory Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, who has recently returned from Christmas Island, spoke last night at the Manning Clark Centre at the ANU.

He echoed the comments he made in the Canberra Times on Sunday, challenging Labor leader such as Tanya Plibersek, Anthony Albanese and Andrew Leigh to look him in the eye and say turning back the boats is consistent Labor values.

"It distresses me that, on my assessment, that the ALP's current asylum seeker policies fail any test of what is just, and what is right.

"What I can't accept is that the current hard-hearted, punitive, mean, dehumanising, and, at times, cruel and destructive policies are either just or right, or indeed, the best Australia can do," he told the crowd.

ABC can send a hack to Zaatari to promote "orderly migration" but can't send a journalist to Nauru and Manus?

Russian photographer reports from Nauru, Al Jazeera journalist reports from Manus. Why are Australian media outlets allowing Murdoch propagandists to control the narrative?


... What is this place? ...

Samar Alzeiny, sister of refugee incarcerated at Australia's refugee death camp on Manus Island.

... When planes started arriving with transferees we were not allowed to go to the airport, and to this day we are not allowed to go into the centre, and we don't know what is actually happening there. ...

Ruth Mandrakamu - Mayor, Lorengau, Manus Island


Strangers in Paradise [VIDEO - East 101 - Al Jazeera - 24/10/14]

 

Nauru: Dream Turned Nightmare for Boat Refugees Seeking Asylum in Australia [RIA Novosti - 2/11/14]:

... Amnesty International tried to visit the island state in early 2014. Nauru’s government turned down their request along with a request from UN human rights observers, citing “the current circumstances and incredibly busy time”, as well as “practical difficulties”, Amnesty International said in a news release.

“Nauru’s refusals to allow an independent review of the conditions in the detention centre are another damning development in Australia’s offshore asylum processing system,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

Under new regulations, introduced by Kevin Rudd, then prime minister, in July, 2013, asylum seekers, brought to Nauru or the Manus Island, are banned from receiving a refugee status from Canberra and relocating to Australia. If eligible, they can receive refugee status and stay in Papua New Guinea or Nauru.

However, leaving these island nations is just as hard as bringing relatives there. Furthermore, refugees are not allowed to share their stories with the outside world.

Despite apparent attempts to prevent human rights activists and journalists from coming to the island, Russian photographer Vlad Sokhin managed to visit Nauru as a tourist. He has recently shared a heart-breaking account of what it is like to live on the islands as a refugee in Russian Reporter magazine.

“Everyone is spying on us here. Every our step is reported to the police. We are strictly forbidden from talking to foreigners or journalists,” Mujtaba, a Shia refugee from Pakistan, told Sokhin. Mujtaba works at Capelle & Partner, the only supermarket on the island, which makes him one of the few lucky refugees to have work. Unemployment in Nauru is as high as 90 percent.

Mujtaba recalled deplorable conditions in the detention center, where he had spent 10 months. Like other asylum seekers, Mujtaba had to share a tent with 20 people.

“The tents got unbearably hot in the sun; it was extremely hot inside – no fans, no air conditioning. Children and pregnant women had to live under the same conditions. There were eight toilets for 400 people. We were allowed to use shower for two or three minutes if there was water. Sometimes there was no drinking water,” Mujtaba said.

“I think, Australians deliberately forced us to live under such conditions, so that we would spread the word – don’t try to enter Australia illegally, you will go to hell instead.”

Adnan, his wife Mariam and their 12-year-old son fled from Iranian Kurdistan. Adnan’s wife is six months pregnant and in desperate need of medical attention.

“My wife is due soon. But she has pregnancy complications,” Adnan told Sokhin. “She suffered from anxiety when we lived in the detention center as if it were prison. The doctor at the Nauru hospital is completely incompetent. Several times my wife was prescribed medication contraindicated in pregnancy. There is no ultrasound scan. We cannot buy vitamins here,” he explained.

These are far from being isolated cases. Vlad Sokhin talked to other people, who were trapped on the small island fleeing persecution in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Somalia. Following Australia’s agreement with Cambodia, signed last month, they have now an option to settle in the South East Asian nation.

But Papua New Guinea, Nauru or Cambodia hardly compare to a developed country and all the opportunities it can provide to people seeking better life. Yet Australia continues to deny them what the UN considers a basic human right.

Thanks Mark Scott and ABC!

Reuters [5/11/14]:

News Corp (NWSA.O), publisher of the Wall Street Journal, reported quarterly revenue and profit above estimates, helped by higher sales at its book publishing and online real estate businesses.

Shares of the company rose 4 percent in extended trading.

Along with from the Journal and the New York Post, News Corp's properties include the Australian newspaper, book publishers HarperCollins and Harlequin Enterprises, stakes in Australian pay-TV and digital real estate businesses, and education company Amplify.

Revenue from book publishing - which accounts for about 19 percent of total revenue - rose about 24 percent to $406 million in the first quarter, helped by higher book sales at its HarperCollins unit.

Revenue from digital real estate services also rose 24 percent. Real estate brokers are expected by analysts to spend $14 billion on online advertising in 2014, of which News Corp's Move unit is expected to corner about 2 percent.

In September, the company said it will buy Move Inc (MOVE.O), the owner of property websites such as realtor.com, for about $950 million to expand its digital business as print advertising dwindles.

Revenue at the news and information unit, which holds newspaper and online assets, fell about 3 percent, hurt by lower advertising and subscription sales, but overall company revenue rose 4 percent to $2.15 billion.

Net income available to the company's shareholders was $65 million, or 11 cents per share, in the first quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with a loss of $27 million, or 5 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 9 cents per share.

Analysts expected a profit of 3 cents per share on revenue of $2.09 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of the company closed at $15.30 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday. They have fallen about 15 percent this year.

From 'Crikey!' [11/12/08]:

"A meeting of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation board today is expected to consider offloading its book publishing arm to ... wait for it ... Rupert Murdoch.

The licence -- possibly in perpetuity -- to run ABC Books has been on the market for several months. Crikey understands the one unsuccessful bidder was Melbourne University Publishing, but that the News Corp subsidiary HarperCollins is now the front-runner to get the nod and aquire a new imprint: ABC Books

Under an existing arrangement, Allen and Unwin manages sales and distribution for ABC Books titles. This has expired and ABC Commercial Director Lynley Marshall is understood to have made it clear she believes the stock risk for ABC Books should be held by an outside "partner" rather than the corporation itself. Consequently the proposed deal is expected to place control of all contracts, outstanding advances and stock into the hands of HarperCollins."

http://www.crikey.com.au/Media-Arts-and-Sports/20081211-ABC-enters-book-deal-with-Rupert-Murdoch-ABC-half-dies.htm

http://stopmurdoch.blogspot.com/2009/06/when-will-abc-stop-promoting-murdoch.html

PNG: $60 million lawsuit against Murdoch's Post Courier filed

PNG Facts [3/11/14]:

Cloudy Bay Sustainable Forestry Limited, Ibrahim Elomar and Mamdouh Elomar today filed a writ of summons in the National Court against both the South Pacific Post Limited and its Editors.

The writ of summons claims damages against South Pacific Post Limited (the owner of Post Courier) and its editors for defaming them in three publications by the Post Courier in its paper and online editions of 3 September 2014, 4 September 2014 and 19 September 2014.

The plaintiffs bring the proceedings in circumstances where they say the publications were grossly defamatory of them, were utterly false, and were published in bad faith.

The first publication was a work of fiction.

The Post Courier was asked to make good its allegations, but in cowardly fashion did not even answer Cloudy Bay’s correspondence.

The second article purported to include a report of statements by the Prime Minister in Parliament, but in fact egregiously misreported him.

The third article falsely and maliciously connected Cloudy Bay and its directors to the activities of third parties in Australia, misreporting material in the Australian "newspaper" in order to do so as the Post Courier sought to maintain the false attack on the plaintiffs.

The Post Courier has not only attacked the reputations of innocent parties, but also has wilfully disregarded the interests of the many Papua New Guinean employees of the company and their dependents, and the interests of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea itself in fostering sustainable development.

The false and defamatory publications have caused Cloudy Bay to be put in a financial position which may lead to further lay off of its national staff. That in itself is a cause of considerable distress to the directors of the company.

Cloudy Bay and its directors have no intention of standing idly by while their reputations are destroyed, its business ruined, and consequently the livelihoods of its employees and their dependants taken away.

They bring these proceedings in the expectation that their reputations will be fully vindicated and that those responsible will be ordered to pay compensation for the massive losses that have been incurred as a result of this irresponsible and mischievous "journalism".

In the writ of summons Cloudy Bay is claiming special damages. At this stage the claim is estimated to be in order of $60,000,000 (USD) to $200,000,000 (USD) being the current estimated financial loss to Cloudy Bay occasioned by cancellation of commercial contracts caused by the publications.

The directors are also seeking aggravated damages on the basis that the imputations in the publications were false and the editors of the Post Courier were aware of that falsity.

Protests erupt again as Santos resume CSG work in the Pilliga forest

Lock The Gate [6/11/14]:

A Coonabarabran mother of three is this morning courageously halting work and risking arrest stopping bulldozers in the Pilliga forest in north west New South Wales where gas giant Santos has begun work for its latest round of coal seam gas exploratory drilling.

Santos' exploratory drilling program earlier this year was delayed and interrupted by repeated protests by farmers that rely on groundwater for their livelihood. Santos began clearing work on the latest round of exploration yesterday.

Nicole Hunter has attached herself to a bulldozer to stop Santos clearing a patch of the forest for a new coal seam gas drill pad. She is being supported by a group of Coonabarabran locals.

Mrs Hunter's husband comes from a Gulargambone farming family, but she and her husband recently moved to Coonabarabran to raise their children.

She said, "We want to raise our children on a local farm and settle here for life. We love this area, and don't want to see it industrialised. We want to preserve the character of our town and region. We don't want to see our region industrialised and our towns become boom-bust mining towns.

"Our whole focus as a couple is our kid's future in the bush. We're devastated that our kids could potentially suffer the same health impacts as children in Queensland.

"I'm afraid to do this, but it's worth getting arrested to defend what we’ve got here."

Narrabri business owner Rohan Boehm is at the protest and said, “It’s not right that people like Mrs Hunter should be wedged into a situation where they need to take personal risk like this to protect their community and their family. Residents of Narrabri and beyond are very concerned about the negative health and water impacts of coal seam gas fields in the region.

Over 40 spoken presentations from local community members called on the Planning Assessment Commission in Narrabri to reject drilling program.

Last month, the NSW Chief Scientist recommended an overhaul of coal seam gas laws in NSW. Her recommendations have not been implemented.

"Why is the State Government dragging its feet and letting Santos go ahead with this project? We need them to act to stop it. We won’t stand for it: Santos are not welcome here."

Queensland government bullies, bribes 250 public schools to transition to charter schools

Premier and Minister for Education Media Release [5/11/14]:

... Premier Campbell Newman and Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek today announced 250 state schools would become Independent Public Schools in the next three years.

Mr Newman made the announcement while visiting Cairns State High School, one of 50 Queensland state schools set to become an Independent Public School in 2015.

...

Giddyup! No belt tightening here! [Premier and Minister for National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing Media Release - 4/11/14]:

Racing on the Gold Coast is being revitalised and hundreds of jobs secured thanks to new infrastructure at the city’s Turf Club and bigger prize monies for the industry.

Premier Campbell Newman joined the huge crowd at the track today to enjoy its Melbourne Cup Day event and celebrate the turnaround of Queensland racing.

...

Queensland Police application to appeal "serious assault" sentence refused

Queensland Police Service v Terare [2014] QCA 260 [17/10/14]

Fascists in the political and media establishment want to be able to use "serious assault" to get more prison sentences - especially for the poor and indigenous.

In the case of Queensland Police Service v Terare (2013) the District Court dismissed the police service appeal in late 2013.

Queensland Police took it to the Court of Appeal.

While intoxicated, Mr Terare urinated on a police officer's lower pant cuff. It was argued in the Magistrate's Court that the police officer had contributed to the urination on the cuff by grabbing Mr Terare while he was in mid-stream making him spin around, thus causing the urination on the pant cuff.

Here is what the Minister said before the appeal to the District Court. [Minister for Police and Community Safety Media Release [17/5/13]:

The Queensland Police Service has appealed the inadequate sentence a man received for urinating on a police officer who was performing her duties, in Ayr.

Police Minister Jack Dempsey said the appeal was lodged after Ellian Stewart Terare, 25, received a three-month suspended jail term for urinating on the officer’s feet and pants.

“The Newman Government has already made it clear that assaults on police will not be tolerated by doubling the maximum sentence for a serious assault on police from seven to 14 years,” Mr Dempsey said.

“These penalties will be reviewed in 12 months’ time to ensure they are meeting the expectations of the community. [i.e. the government's intention as reflected by the Murdoch dominated media.]

“Any assault on a police officer is unacceptable and the punishment should meet the community’s expectations.

“Assaults involving bodily fluids are particularly traumatic for officers and a message needs to be sent that urinating on, spitting on or biting a police officer is absolutely deplorable.”

West Australian [8/9/14]:

A man accused of taking a sneaky leak on a Cairns street is in hot water after allegedly punching a police officer in the face.

Police say the 32-year-old lashed out when he was approached by a male officer while urinating on a fence and footpath in the city's CBD about 2am (AEST) on Monday.

He is accused of punching the officer in the face, cutting his mouth and injuring his knee.

The man will appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court this month charged with urinating in a public place and seriously assaulting an officer.

Meanwhile, Brisbane's Murdoch controlled media are enthusiastically reporting that the sacred fire at Brisbane's Sovereign Embassy has been extinguished again.

It hasn't.

This is the scene we arrived at this morning... even after the cops & firefighters had destroyed everything and put out the fire - a brother just decided to relight the Sacred Fire!

Image: Occupy Brisbane [12/12/12]

“And the question is for families: do they really want their loved ones life to be remembered by the stock exchange?”

Crikey [21/6/11]:

... In life (and death), and now in Australia, family funeral homes are concerned they might soon be in the gun, after the competition watchdog gave the green light for local firm InvoCare to acquire one of its competitors, Bledisloe Group.

The $890 million funeral industry employed 7,615 people as of last year. But this latest move has left at least one funeral director miffed—Mark Allison, a director of the John Allison/Monkhouse funeral group, says the growth of InvoCare may lead to less of a personalised service for clients.

A sixth generation funeral director, his family has been in the memorial business for over a century.

“I think that many families would be unaware of the significant market control one listed corporate has, owning a number of household names in the funeral sector,” he told Crikey. “And the question is for families: do they really want their loved ones life to be remembered by the stock exchange?”

In November last year, InvoCare made a $114 million play to acquire one its largest competitors Bledisloe Group.

Bledisloe operates 52 homes in Australia and New Zealand, as well as three cemeteries and crematoria in Queensland. At the time InvoCare said the deal would increase its overall funeral market share by 4% to 26%.

In an attempt to allay any concerns over reduced competition, the deal was put before the ACCC—who ultimately found after a seven month review that they would green light the deal.

Allison is particularly concerned by the significant market share InvoCare could have in Sydney—he suggested in a submission to the ACCC inquiry that the giant could claim as much as 83% of the market in some areas.

The consumer watchdog has noted such concerns. In their requirements they have ordered InvoCare to sell the Gregory and Carr funeral directing service brand in northern Sydney, as well as the Great Northern Garden of Remembrance crematorium in Brisbane’s Deception Bay. The company must also make clear when advertising in Brisbane which brands belong to it.

...

#MillionMaskMarch I'm a proud Englishman right now. Well done London.

Image: @Mrferguson420 [5/11/14]

The Million Mask March is sweeping the globe across Wednesday as demonstrators protest against austerity, mass surveillance and oppression. ... [RT - 5/11/14]

 

6 November 2014

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