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"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time ... but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." - Lilla Watson, aboriginal educator and activist, Brisbane
* Media Page *
New maritime rescue failure leaves unanswered questions
Tony Kevin, Eureka
... Our countrys obligations to rescue people in distress at sea should have nothing to do with policy to deter asylum seekers. Every person in distress at sea, for whatever cause, deserves prompt rescue action within our resources. Something went badly wrong in this case. It is incumbent on Mr Clare to ask his Departmental secretary Michael Pezzullo for a full briefing on all prior Customs and Border Protection knowledge of this boat in the 10 days before 7 May.
We can see from a photo taken from MV Aeolos that the boat was displaying an SOS sign on its roof. ...
Australias expanded excision law a new low in refugee protection
Refugee Council of Australia Media Release [16/5/13]:
The international system of asylum would collapse if other countries followed the lead of Australia which today passed legislation to expand its excision policy to the entire country, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) said today.
RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power said that legislating to exclude asylum seekers arriving by boat from seeking refugee protection on the Australian mainland set an international precedent, seriously undermined Australias claim to uphold its international obligations under the Refugee Convention and set a poor example to countries in the Asia Pacific region at a time when regional leadership was needed.Mr Power said the legislation was a further punishment for people who were being singled out because they arrived by boat to seek asylum.
As a complement to the return of offshore processing in Nauru and Papua New Guinea and the punitive restrictions on work rights and family reunion, the new law completes the Governments package of unfairness and cruelty for people who have asked Australia for refugee protection.
Mr Power said the focus must shift from deterrence measures like excision and offshore processing to constructive policies to address the desperate lack of refugee protection that forces asylum seekers to undertake dangerous boat journeys from countries in the Asia Pacific region to Australia.
In the Asia Pacific region, very few countries are signatories to the Refugee Convention, leaving asylum seekers with few protections and even fewer options.
Movement across borders for people fleeing persecution is now so restricted that few people can get to the safety they need through any legally recognised migration process. Asylum seekers lives are at risk not only in the seas off Australia but at every step in their difficult journeys towards places of greater safety.
If Australia is committed to saving the lives of asylum seekers, it must put a much greater emphasis on working with other governments as positively as possible to improve the appalling conditions faced by many refugees and asylum seekers in various parts of Asia.
Until refugees and asylum seekers can see safer pathways to protection, people will continue to risk their lives on dangerous boat journeys to Australia, to avoid situations where they are at constant risk of arrest and harassment and cannot access adequate health care or education for their children.
The Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill, passed by the Australian Parliament today, may be intended to send a strong message to asylum seekers but it sends an extremely negative message to the rest of the world about Australias commitment to protecting vulnerable people fleeing persecution and violence.
Number of Syrian refugees tops 1.5 million mark with many more expected [UNHCR - 17/5/13]:
The UN refugee agency announced on Friday that the number of Syrian civilians who have fled their country to escape conflict has passed the 1.5 million mark. "The Syrian conflict continues to have a devastating impact on the lives of those who are forced to flee," added UNHCR spokesman Dan McNorton in Geneva.
He told journalists in Geneva that the real number was probably much higher, adding that "this is due to concerns that some Syrians have regarding registration."
The widening gap between the needs and resources available is a growing challenge, McNorton stressed. UNHCR has registered close to 1 million refugees since the beginning of the year this is about 250,000 people each month. Early next month, the UN and NGOs are due to announce a revised funding appeal for the Syria crisis.
"Refugees tell us the increased fighting and changing of control of towns and villages, in particular in conflict areas, results in more and more civilians deciding to leave. Over the past four months we have seen a rapid deterioration when compared to the previous 20 months of this conflict," McNorton said.
Inside Syria, meanwhile, UNHCR continued this week to follow up on the needs and situation of several hundred families displaced in the village of Zamarin, on the outskirts of Tartus, a city on the Mediterranean coast. They fled Banias district in Lattakia governorate, where clashes erupted in early May. Some families found shelter in a mosque and local schools, but the majority have been hosted by families in Zamarin.
These families received UNHCR emergency relief assistance last week, including blankets, mattresses, hygiene kits, children's nappies and sanitary napkins. Many families have reportedly returned to Banias, where children have to take their exams very soon.
The UNHCR aid, part of a UN inter-agency effort, benefitted 3,000 people and was distributed from May 4-11 by the refugee agency's partners. UNHCR has been present in Tartus since early April and is permanently present in five cities the others are Damascus, Aleppo, Hassakeh and Homs. Overall in Syria, UNHCR's relief assistance has reached 860,000 displaced Syrians since the beginning of the year.
In Lebanon, UNHCR has stepped up its capacity to register refugees. "Every day over 4,200 people approach our offices for registration. In April, over 90,000 refugees were registered in our centres. This is more than a ten-fold increase when compared to the same month in 2012," McNorton noted.
Waiting periods for registration have also decreased with an average waiting time of 16-30 days throughout the country, apart from the south where UNHCR's registration centre has just become operational. But there too, each week the waiting period for refugees is decreasing.
The UNHCR Lebanon office is also reducing the backlog by more than 8,000 individuals per week. UNHCR has opened new registration centres. The agency is using enhanced registration mechanisms, ensuring that individual protection interviews still take place, providing transportation assistance to refugees and expanding the number of shifts.
Passengers and crew from a boat suspected to have entered Australian waters "illegally" have been transferred to Christmas Island.
The unnamed vessel thought to be carrying at least 130 people was travelling in the waters east of Christmas Island when it got into distress on Thursday.
HMAS Larrakia, operating under the co-ordination of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Coordination Centre was sent to the scene.
A statement from the Home Affairs department on Saturday confirmed that Border Protection Command had transferred those on board to the authorities.
They will now undergo security, health and identity checks.
Investigation ordered into dehydration deaths of cattle
Brisbane Times [18/5/13]:
The RSPCA has backed an investigation into the deaths of 46 heifers at a state government research station.
The cows were found dead at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's Swans Lagoon property near Ayr earlier this month.
DAFF director-general Jack Noye said the heifers died after they were left in a holding paddock without water following a muster at the station.
A DAFF spokeswoman could not provide details about when the cattle were found or how long they had been left without water in the paddock.
That will be part of the investigation, she said.
Agriculture Minister John McVeigh was unavailable for comment, but a spokesman said that Mr McVeigh had ordered an independent investigation as soon as he found out on Friday.
Mr Noye said that full independent investigation was already being initiated.
"There is a clear need for an independent investigation into this matter as the department is responsible for administering the Animal Care and Protection Act," he said in a prepared statement.
RSPCA Queensland chief inspector Daniel Young said the loss of life at the Swans Lagoon facility was alarming, particularly given the good reputation of such government facilities in Queensland.
He said an independent investigation was a good place to start.
Hopefully theyll get to the bottom of it and if people need to be held accountable, they are, he said.
If its a matter of rectifying procedures and how they manage cattle in these facilities, then thats certainly something that needs to take place.
Mr Noye said operations at Swans Lagoon and other stations would be reviewed to ensure there was no repeat incidents.
Mr Young said that course of action was appropriate.
Usually (the governments) standards are quite high, so thats why I think its very important that an investigation is conducted as soon as possible in relation to this matter, he said.
It certainly isnt the norm, however that doesnt take away from the severeness of the incident.
No bats found on property where horse died from lyssavirus
No bats have been found on a southern Queensland property where a horse died from the bat-borne lyssavirus.
The yearling died at Highborne Farm near Allora last weekend.
It is the first confirmed case of lyssavirus in a horse, however another horse died from similar symptoms on the property a fortnight ago.
Highborne Farm owner Cameron Osbourne says the symptoms and the progress of the illness were similar in both horses.
However he says he is mystified by the deaths because there is no evidence of bats found on the property.
"We've scoured the property from one end to the other and found no bats," he said.
"So it is suggested, of course, given we're dealing with a bat virus that that's probably the cause, but we've certainly got no evidence of that on the property.
"We were mystified because this is a professional horse business where we take biosecurity very seriously and we've done all that we possibly could to avoid any mishap with our horses."
Mr Osbourne says the vet that euthanased the horses took all necessary precautions, but it is too late to test whether the first horse had the disease.
"We have been offered and taken up the offer of vaccination for rabies virus which is somewhat akin to lyssavirus and we've been reassured and I'm very happy to take that reassurance that that treatment will protect us completely," he said.
Biosecurity officers are on the farm assessing the remaining 20 horses.
The six people who came into contact with the sick horses have been given preventative treatment.
Only three human cases of lyssavirus have been confirmed in Australia - all in Queensland - and all three people have died.
Mixed reaction to Coolangatta skate park opening
NBN News [VIDEO - 18/5/13]:
There has been a mixed reaction to the opening of a $200,000 skate park at Coolangatta.
Some teenagers are angry its come at the expense of the one used for the last 15 years.
June 1-8: Take part in the week of action for Bradley Manning
Bradley Manning Support Network:
... June 1st will mark the beginning of Bradley Mannings fourth year in prison and the start of his trial.
The June 1st Ft. Meade protest for Bradley Manning will be the largest action of our campaign! People across the nation (and the globe) will converge on Ft. Meade to stand up for the Army whistle-blower who risked everything to give the public real facts about our governments wars in the Middle East and foreign policy worldwide.
Join Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, LGBT activist US Army Lt. Dan Choi, former US diplomat US Army Col. Ann Wright (ret.), and former soldier Ethan McCordwho rescued the wounded children in the van in the Collateral Murder videoand hundreds of our supporters of heroic WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning at Ft. Meade. Together well make history.
Save The NHS Rally, London
Image: @OccupyLondon [18/5/13]
Occupy News Network UK [VIDEO - 18/5/13]:
This demonstration has been called by an unprecedented coalition of London residents, medical staff, trade unions and health campaigners who have come together to raise the alarm regarding the biggest threats to A & E's, maternity units and in-hospital care for a generation.
Closures planned across the capital include nine accident and emergency departments, a number of maternity units and thousands of hospital beds that campaigners believe will put lives at risk.
Hospitals and community services are also threatened with take-over by multi-national private companies.
Hundreds of thousands of London residents have pledged their opposition to these privatisation plans for the NHS.
Across the capital, tens of thousands have taken to the streets to protest and demonstrate to save their local hospitals. 80,000 signed a petition against the closures in North West London. 25,000 joined the demonstration to defend Lewisham hospital.
The local campaigns have joined up to call on the government to stop these closures. We are working together to undermine the government's divisive tactics of playing one hospital off against another.
Instead we are demanding that the government provide the funding needed for safe levels of care across the capital.
Jakarta Globe [17/5/13]:
Eleven Jakarta hospitals announced on Friday that they backed out of the Jakarta Health Card program, saying that growing numbers of patients have exceeded their capacity.
The citys Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama confirmed the news, but refused to name the hospitals.
Yes, they cant handle it anymore. What can we do? Basuki said on Friday.
Governor Joko Widodo introduced the health program, known as KJS, in November last year as a way to provide free health care to all of Jakartas 4.7 million poor people.
But a few months into the health care programs implementation, reports of Jakarta hospitals refusing to treat patients have made headlines.
Joko instituted the KJS system in November of last year in an attempt to increase the capitals health service capacity. The card entitles holders to free medical treatment at community health centers and third-class wards in local hospitals.
Hospitals have seen a roughly 70 percent influx in patients since the program was launched, according to the Jakarta Health Department. Community health care posts (puskesmas) and local hospitals were unprepared for the surge in patients.
Basuki asked hospitals in the city to bear along and not abruptly terminate the agreement to treat KJS cardholders.
I ask for the hospitals to be patient for two more months. We will calculate how much its going to cost, then talk support with data, he said.
If you allow the public school and teacher bashing Murdoch Press (North-West News is owned by Rupert Murdoch), the ALP and right-wing unions to monopolise your campaign, you will lose.
Brisbane Times [18/5/13]:
As the sign at Fortitude Valley State School proudly stated it was taking enrolments for 2014, a group of parents were outside fighting to make that pronouncement a reality.
In what Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek described as union-led hysterics linked to the upcoming federal election, a group of about 100 parents and pupils chanted and waved signs at traffic on Saturday morning in a bid to save their school from closure.
Fortitude Valley State School P&C president Tony Holcroft said although the school had just 52 pupils, it was in the middle of a high-growth area.
At the moment theres urban sprawl happening here. Weve got high-density residential buildings going up left, right and centre and itd be a shame to close the school at a time like this when our numbers are actually increasing, he said.
Mr Holcroft said despite the small physical footprint of the school, there was still room to expand.
It has to stay open. Theres no real reason to close it except for the value of the land, he said.
Along with Fortitude Valley, Everton Park State High, Nyanda State High, Old Yarranlea State School, Wyreema State School, Stuart State School, Charlton State School and Toowoomba South State School have been earmarked for possible closure, while Coorparoo Secondary College is set to merge with Brisbane State High.
Mr Langbroek a decision on school closures would be made by the end of July, to give people a clear six months before people have to plan for 2014.
Away from the cameras, Everton Park State High School parents were involved in a similar albeit smaller road-side protest in north-west Brisbane.
Canteen committee volunteer Sue Ellis, who has two children at the school, said EPSHS served an important role in the community.
We want to save our school. Its the best school for kids that arent sporty or really academic she said.
Parent Lauren Millard, whose twins are in Year 8, said she her family would be left scratching our heads about where to go should the school be closed.
Every teacher knows every child by name even the good kids, she said.
Thats unusual and you cant replace something like that. (Moving to another school) would be an emotional upheaval for them.
A Message from Monica Ratliff [Network for Public Education - 12/5/13]:
Here we go again. Another local school board race where the a billionaire a boys Club and Michelle Rhee create a massive war chest to beat an underfunded candidate. Monica Ratliff is a fifth-grade teacher.
Please help her.
Monica Ratliff for Board of Education 2013
Dear Friends, Family and Supporters,
Thank you all for your amazing support of my desire and belief that we can make a difference. Your donations have all been instrumental in our movement to send a message to billionaires from LA to NYC and all the way to Australia.
Yes, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch along will Walmart king pins have all donated to an independent expenditure campaign supporting our opponent to try and buy a seat on the Los Angeles School Board.
Why? Why do they want to invest over 1.7 million dollars? When that much money is spent, how can one not wonder why? ...
Rupert Murdoch Wins Contract to Develop Common Core Tests [Professor Diane Ravitch - 17/3/13]:
Amplify, the company owned by Rupert Murdoch, won a $12.5 million contract to develop formative assessments for Common Core tests.
The award was made by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two groups funded by the Obama administration to create national tests, administered online. Joel Klein runs Murdochs Amplify division.
When Murdoch purchased Wireless Generation in the fall of 2010, he said:
When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching, said News Corporation Chairman and CEO, Rupert Murdoch. Wireless Generation is at the forefront of individualized, technology-based learning that is poised to revolutionize public education for a new generation of students.
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JUDICIAL CRITICISM OF THE MURDOCH MACHINE
BOB BROWN, THE FIRST GULF WAR AND UNITED NATIONS INTERVENTION
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