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... There's no rationalisation for what you do and you are satan's little helpers. ... Bill Hicks

I feel sorry for Americans



Perception correction.

Bearing witness.

"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


Copyright 2003-present


* Other Things *


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.

I will meet you there.


Princess Diana walking through a minefield in her campaign against landmines.

Photograph: Tim Graham/The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

[Can Diana's legacy end cluster bomb tragedies? Guardian - 2/8/07]

Refugees and young people seeking asylum - landmine survivors - young people with mental health issues - people with disabilities - people affected by conflict - young people with learning disabilities

Continuing the Princess' humanitarian work in the UK and overseas [Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund]:

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund was established within days of the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales on 31 August 1997, in response to the public donations that poured in to Kensington Palace.

The general public, community groups and companies donated some £34 million.

£38 million was generously donated from sales of Sir Elton John and Polygram’s CD of Candle in the Wind ’97.

A further £66 million was subsequently raised through investments, an eight-year programme of commercial partnerships, and proceeds from the exhibition, Diana: A Celebration, kindly donated by Lord Spencer.

Creating a lasting legacy

Diana, Princess of Wales was dedicated to helping improve the lives of the most disadvantaged people in the UK and around the world.

During her lifetime, the Princess gave her personal support to many humanitarian causes and spoke out on a wide range of often unpopular causes, using her high profile to raise both awareness and funds.

When the Fund was set up in 1997 as a grant-making charity, the aim was to create a lasting legacy to the Princess' humanitarian work. From the outset, the Fund was determined to remain a resolute and influential supporter of the people on the margins of society and of the charities that work alongside them.

By the time the Fund closed, it had awarded 727 grants to 471 organisations, and spent over £112 million on charitable causes. On 31 December 2012, the Fund closed as a staffed, operational organisation, having successfully completed its ambitious, time-limited programme of work aimed at improving the lives of the most disadvantaged people in the UK and around the world.

Future Donations

In March 2013 The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will take over the legal ownership of the Fund in order to safeguard both the Fund’s name and ensure any future income donated to the Fund is used for charitable work.

Donations and legacies can still be paid to the Fund after 31 March 2013. They will be transferred to the Foundation to support its important charitable work.

The Fund’s operations remain fully closed in perpetuity, and The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge does not continue the Fund’s grantmaking activities in any way.

Two children dead in suburban Melbourne

Nine MSN [20/4/14]:

Two children have been found dead and a man has been taken into custody at a property in Melbourne's northeast.

Police said the two children were found dead at the Longmuir Road address in Watsonia and a man was arrested at the scene just after 2.30pm.

He is now being interviewed by police.

Police are investigating the circumstances of the deaths, but it is believed they are known to each other.

Homicide Squad detectives are on the way to the scene.

An Ambulance Victoria spokesman said paramedics were called to treat two patients in a critical condition just before 3pm.

The patients were worked on by paramedics for some time at the scene, but could not be saved, the spokesman said.

Man run over on Melbourne road

Yahoo 7 [20/4/14]:

A man has died after a car ran over him while he was lying on a Melbourne road.

Police have been told the man, in his 20s, was lying in the middle of Canterbury Rd at Box Hill when he was run over at 12.20am (AEST) on Easter Sunday.

He died at the scene.

The two people in the car were not injured.

It was Victoria's first road death during the Easter break.

Also in the early hours of Sunday, a man died when his car veered onto the wrong side of the road and crashed into a pole in Logan in Queensland's south.

The latest deaths bring to nine the national Easter holiday road toll.

Charges: unlawful wounding, Carseldine

QPS Media [20/4/14]:

Police have charged a 30-year-old man from Wavell Heights after a wounding that occurred at Carseldine last night.

Police will allege around 11pm, they were called to Dorville Road where a 24-year-old Carseldine man had sustained a cut above his right eye.

Information supplied to police suggests he was attending a party when a man approached him from behind and struck him with a glass bottle before fleeing the scene.

The 30-year-old is scheduled to appear in the Pine Rivers Magistrates Court on May 12.

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.

Charges – Disturbance, Urandangi

QPS Media [20/4/14]:

Police are investigating following a disturbance at a licensed premise at Urandangi last night.

About 11.50pm, officers attended an address on Hutton Street, following reports of a group of approximately 20 people attempting to break into the establishment.

Police will allege approximately 10 people were barricaded inside the premises while the group outside damaged cars, threw rocks at the building and threatened harm.

Five men aged 42, 33, 23, 32, 47 and two women aged 31 and 42, all from the Northern Territory have been charged with an array offences including break and enter with intent, attempted entry, willful damage, unlawful assembly and threatening violence.

They are due to begin appearing before the Mount Isa Magistrates court from April 22.

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.

Parmelia man charged over laser strike on police helicopter

WA Today [20/4/14]:

A 51-year-old man has been charged after a police helicopter was targeted with a green laser for over an hour in Parmelia on Saturday night.

The helicopter was struck a number of times while on patrol between 11.20pm and 11.30pm, media spokeswoman Susan Usher said.

"The air crew advised ground units where the laser light was coming from and police attended a residence in Bournan Heights," Ms Usher said.

It's alleged that police found two lasers at the house during the search.

The man will appear before Rockingham Magistrates Court on May 13.

Man charged over Wheatbelt pedestrian crash

WA Today [20/4/14]:

Police have charged a man over a pedestrian crash that seriously injured two women and a man, in the Wheatbelt town of Kellerberrin, 200km east of Perth.

The 27-year-old Kellerberrin man allegedly hit the group of four, who had been standing near the corner of King and Price Street, at 1.45am on February 8.

A 22-year-old man and two women aged 22 and 25, were seriously injured and taken to hospital for treatment. The man was flown to Royal Perth Hospital.

The driver suffered serious head injuries and was also flown to Royal Perth Hospital.

He has been charged with three counts of dangerous driving causing harm and is due to appear before the Northam Magistrates Court on May 12.

Mini tornado, Upper Coomera

NBN News [VIDEO - 20/4/14]:

An Upper Coomera family has told how close they came to tragedy, when their home was rocked by a powerful ‘whirlwind”.

The family describes it as a ‘mini-tornado’.

Suicide bomber attacks university in north Baghdad

France 24 [20/4/14]:

A suicide bomber attacked a university in north Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least one person and wounding at least nine, security officials said.

The attack, which comes as Iraq suffers a prolonged surge in bloodshed, occurred less than two weeks before a parliamentary election that will be a major test for security forces.

Officials gave varying accounts of the attack on Imam Kadhim University.

A police colonel said a suicide bomber entered the university before detonating explosives, while another bomber and a gunman were killed by security forces.

An interior ministry official meanwhile said that the bombing took place at the entrance to the university, while a second bomber was shot dead.

Iraqis vote on April 30 in the first parliamentary election since American troops left the country in late 2011.

While they were able to keep violence to a minimum during provincial polls last year, the security forces have failed to halt a subsequent year-long surge in unrest.

The heightened violence has been driven principally by widespread anger among the Sunni Arab minority, who say they are mistreated by the Shiite-led government and security forces.

It has also been fuelled by the bloody civil war in neighbouring Syria, which has bolstered militant groups.

Violence has killed more than 460 people in Iraq this month and upwards of 2,700 this year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.

Violence Kills 29 as Iraqi Forces Hit Militants [Naharnet - 19/4/14]

Road accident leaves 42 dead, 17 others injured in Pakistan

Khaama [20/4/14]:

According to Pakistani security officials, at least 42 people were killed and 17 others were injured following a deadly traffic incident on Sunday.

The officials further added that the incident took place in southern Pakistan after a bus travelling to Karachi collided with a tractor pulling a trolley.

A senior police officer in Sukkur, Fida Hussain Shah said a number of women and children were also among those killed or injured following the incident.

Mr. Shah further added that the accident happened in the town of Sukkur, 425 kilometres (266 miles) north of Karachi in the southern province of Sindh.

He said the bus driver was killed on the spot while the driver of the tractor-trolley was wounded.

Another senior police official, Sharjeel Khan told AFP the injured have been taken to a nearby government-run hospital.

Explosion injure six government employees in Kabul city

Khaama [20/4/14]:

An explosion took place in the 8th district of Kabul city early Sunday morning, leaving at least six government employees injured.

Kabul police spokesman, Hashmatullah Stanekzai said the incident took place after a magnetic bomb planted under the vehicle of agriculture ministry employees went off.

Stanekzai confirmed that a number of agriculture ministry employees were injured following the explosion however he did not disclose the exact number.

No group has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

Farmers Targeted with Israeli Gunshots in the South

Naharnet [19/4/14]:

Israeli forces fired gunshots at farmers in the South on Saturday without causing any injuries.

"Israeli troops targeted four farmers with gunshots in the southern village of Khyam,” the military institution said in a communique on Saturday evening.

"No injuries were reported as a result of the shooting,” it added.

On Thursday, the Israeli army kidnapped five Lebanese, including 2 women and a child, from Lebanese territories in the South.

The kidnapping occurred in the farm of Bastara after a unit crossed the technical fence, said the army in a statement.

However, later in the evening, all five abducted Lebanese were released.

Israel 'blocks' UN envoy from Easter service [Al Jazeera - 20/4/14]

Myanmar Army Says 22 Dead in Clashes with Rebels

Naharnet [20/4/14]:

Fighting between the military and ethnic minority rebels in northern Myanmar has left at least 22 people dead this month, the army said Sunday, dimming hopes of a nationwide peace deal.

Bloodshed in the state of Kachin, the scene of the last major active civil war in the former junta-ruled country, has uprooted tens of thousands of people and tempered optimism about sweeping political reforms.

Eight government soldiers, including one officer, have been killed in clashes this month, according to a military statement carried by the army-owned Myawaddy newspaper.

The military also retrieved the bodies of 14 Kachin Independence Army (KIA) fighters along with weapons, it added.

There was no immediate comment from the KIA, one of the country's largest rebel armies.

Kachin sources said thousands of villagers were taking refuge along the border with China.

According to the U.N., about 100,000 people have been displaced in remote, resource-rich area since a 17-year ceasefire between the government and the rebels broke down in June 2011.

The total death toll from the conflict is unknown.

The military said fighting flared up earlier this month after one of its officers was killed in an ambush by the KIA, prompting it to deploy troops to clear areas along supply lines.

President Thein Sein's reformist government has struck a series of tentative peace deals with major rebel groups in the country, which has been wracked by civil conflict since independence from Britain in 1948.

After numerous rounds of talks, the government and Kachin rebels signed a seven-point plan in May 2013 aimed at ending hostilities.

At the time the agreement was hailed as a breakthrough by the government, which is now seeking to ink a nationwide ceasefire with a coalition of rebel groups to burnish its reform credentials as it woos foreign donors and investors.

Another round of peace talks is scheduled for early May although it could be delayed because of the fresh unrest, according to a person close to the talks who did not want to be named.

Since decades of outright military rule ended three years ago, former general Thein Sein has won international praise by freeing hundreds of political prisoners, easing censorship and letting opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi enter parliament.

But optimism has been marred by the Kachin conflict, several outbreaks of deadly Buddhist-Muslim strife around the country and concerns about continued repressive laws.

Families protest over ferry rescue operation

RNZI [20/4/14]:

Families of passengers on a sunken South Korean ferry have protested angrily over the rescue operation.

Police stopped up to 100 people trying to leave Jindo island intending to march to the country's capital, Seoul.

After more than three days, divers have now finally entered the ferry, retrieving 22 bodies and bringing the death toll to 54.

However, another 248 people are still missing from the Sewol ferry, which sank on Wednesday.

The BBC reports some 174 passengers were rescued.

Since the capsize, many of the relatives of those on board have been on Jindo, in the south-west of the country.

Hundreds have been camping at a gymnasium on the island, awaiting news from the rescue operation.

Scuffles broke out when some family members tried to cross a bridge to the mainland, reportedly to march on the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, some 420km to the north.

"Bring me the body so that I can see the face and hug my child," shouted one woman.

Lee Woon-geun, father of missing passenger Lee Jung-in, 17, said: "We want an answer from the person in charge about why orders are not going through and nothing is being done. They are clearly lying and kicking the responsibility to others."

Relatives are anxious for the bodies to be retrieved before they decompose.

About 200 ships, 34 aircraft and 600 divers have been taking part in the search operation. Squid fishing boats with powerful lights have been brought in to help the divers operate at night. But the currents are still strong and the visibility remains challenging.

Coastguard official Koh Myung-seok told a briefing that divers had discovered a number of routes into the ferry, and found bodies in different locations.

The captain and two other crew members are in custody and have been charged with negligence of duty and violation of maritime law.

Officials said on Saturday that the ferry was being steered by an inexperienced third mate in unfamiliar waters when it sank.

The captain of the ferry, Lee Joon-seok, was not initially on the bridge when the ship ran into trouble.

The Sewol, carrying 476 passengers and crew, capsized during a journey from the port of Incheon in the north-west to the southern holiday island of Jeju.

French hostages tell of Syria basement ordeal

BBC [20/4/14]:

French journalists released from captivity in Syria have been speaking about their ordeal at the hands of suspected Islamist rebels.

Didier Francois said the four men were chained to each other and kept in basements without natural light.

His colleague Nicolas Henin added that they were "not always well treated".

Mr Henin and Mr Francois, along with Edouard Elias and Pierre Torres, were greeted by their families and President Francois Hollande on arrival in France.

They had been found by Turkish soldiers on the Syrian border late on Friday.

The jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has been accused of kidnapping them.

Television footage after their reappearance showed the men looking unkempt, with beards and long hair, but in good health.

Mr Francois, 53, said he was "very happy to be free to see the sky, to be able to walk and to be able to speak freely".

"We spent six whole months in basements without seeing daylight, and for two-and-a-half months we were chained to each other," he told his own radio station, Europe 1.

"It was a long haul, but we never lost hope," Mr Francois added. "From time to time, we got snatches of information, we knew that the world was mobilised."

The journalists were found blindfolded and handcuffed in a no-man's land in Turkey's border province of Sanliurfa and were taken by Turkish soldiers to a police station in the nearby town of Akcakale.

The men went missing in two separate incidents last June.

Mr Francois, a veteran war correspondent, and Mr Elias, a photographer, were abducted in early June on their way to Aleppo.

Mr Henin, who was working for Le Point magazine, and Mr Torres, reporting for French-German television channel Arte, were taken later that month near Raqqa.

Negotiations with their kidnappers had been going on for several weeks but it is not known if anything was offered to them in return for freeing the men, the BBC's Hugh Schofield reports from Paris.

Welcoming them at Villacoublay air base, south of Paris, President Hollande called it a "day of great joy" both for the four journalists and for France.

"France is proud that these compatriots serve the freedom of the press and France is proud to have been able to secure their liberty," he said.

Mr Hollande also denied that France had paid a ransom.

Syria has become one of the most dangerous places for journalists.

More than 60 have been killed in the country since the beginning of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad three years ago.

US weighing military exercises in Eastern Europe

Jakarta Post [20/4/14]:

The United States is considering deploying about 150 soldiers for military exercises to begin in Poland and Estonia in the next few weeks, a Western official said Saturday. The exercises would follow Russia's buildup of forces near its border with Ukraine and its annexation last month of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in recent days has said the U.S. is looking for ways to reassure its NATO allies of its strong commitment to collective defense.

The Pentagon's press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said in a statement Friday that American officials are considering a range of additional measures to strengthen air, maritime and ground readiness in Europe.

Ground exercises in Poland and Estonia would last about two weeks, but such exercises would continue off and on over time, the official said, and other locations in Eastern Europe would be considered. The official was not authorized to discuss the plan by name because it has not been made final and requested anonymity.

No specific date for the deployment of an Army company, which usually consists of 150 soldiers, has been set but an announcement is expected next week, the official said.

Kirby's statement about additional measures didn't offer specifics. "Some of those activities will be pursued bilaterally with individual NATO nations. Some will be pursued through the alliance itself," he said.

On Thursday, Hagel met at the Pentagon with his Polish counterpart, Tomasz Siemoniak, and told reporters that they had identified new areas of military-to-military cooperation, including special operations forces, air forces and additional military exercises and training, as part of their discussion of closer defense ties.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Siemoniak said the decision to deploy U.S. ground forces to Poland had been made on a political level and that details were being worked out, the newspaper reported.

"The idea until recently was that there were no more threats in Europe and no need for a U.S. presence in Europe any more," Siemoniak said, speaking through an interpreter during a visit Friday to the newspaper.

"Events show that what is needed is a re-pivot, and that Europe was safe and secure because America was in Europe."

Voyage of the Damned [1976]

Sunday 20 April
1:50pm - 5:00pm - 7TWO

Drama | PG

A tragic true story of deceit, deception, disappointment and terror. It is the story of 937 German Jewish refugees who left Nazi occupied Germany, only to learn that nobody wanted them.


Based on actual events, this film tells the story of the 1939 voyage of the MS St. Louis, which departed from Hamburg carrying 937 Jews from Germany, ostensibly to Havana, Cuba. The passengers, having seen and suffered rising anti-Semitism in Germany, realised this might be their only chance to escape.

The film details the emotional journey of the passengers who gradually become aware that their passage was planned as an exercise in propaganda, and that it had never been intended that they disembark in Cuba.

Rather, they were to be set up as Pariahs, to set an example before the world.

As a Nazi official states in the film, when the whole world has refused to accept them as refugees, no country can blame Germany for the fate of the Jews.

The Cuban Government refuses entry to the passengers, and as the liner waits off the Florida coast, they learn that the United States also has rejected them, leaving the ship no choice but to return to Europe.

The captain tells a confidante that he has received a letter signed by 200 passengers saying they will join hands and jump into the sea rather than return to Germany. He states his intention to run the liner aground on a reef off the southern coast of England.

Shortly before the film's end, it is revealed that the governments of Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have each agreed to accept a share of the passengers as refugees.

As they cheer and clap at the news, footnotes disclose the fates of some of the main characters, suggesting that more than 600 of the 937 passengers who did not make it to the UK ultimately lost their lives in Nazi concentration camps.

As at 11 AM on 20 April, the Close Australia's Refugee Concentration Camps on Manus and Nauru petition needs 162 signatures to reach its 15,000 goal.


Outside Scott Morrison's office is packed. #Refugees #LoveMakesAWay

Image: @_MarcusCampbell [19/4/14]

Nauru Dengue outbreak: AMA calls for independent doctors to investigate [Medical Observer - 17/4/14]:

An outbreak of dengue fever at the Australian detention centre on Nauru has led the AMA to press for an independent team of doctors to check conditions for asylum seekers held offshore.

The office of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Thursday that two asylum seekers and a staff member at the detention centre had contracted the mosquito-borne disease, saying the three patients were being treated and expected to make a full recovery.

But AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said the government should let in independent doctors and specialists who would report back to parliament, so all Australians would know what was going on in the offshore processing camp.

Immigration disbanded its 12-member advisory panel of health experts in December, replacing them with a single adviser, military surgeon Dr Paul Alexander, to watch over the health of detainees in the offshore camps on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

“We have no problem with Major General Alexander,” Dr Hambleton said. “We are saying an independent assessment is needed.”

International Health and Medical Services, the company contracted to supply health services on Nauru to match Australian standards, might be doing an excellent job, he said.

“But we have no way of knowing that.”

Dr Hambleton said the AMA offered to supply the government with a list of qualified Australian doctors and specialists to fly to Nauru, including a psych team to assess mental health problems arising from past torture and the effects of incarceration.


The desperate residents of a besieged district of Damascus are expected to run out of food on Sunday, leaving 18,000 people facing starvation and leading relief agencies to declare the crisis "unprecedented in living memory".

Food packages have not been delivered to the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp for 10 days, and Syrian authorities are not expected to allow food trucks in over the Easter weekend. ... [Guardian - 20/4/14]

Kenya: Some 281 refugees have so far been taken back to their camps from Nairobi since Thursday, the Government has said. ... [Standard - 19/4/14]

International Lawyers Seek Justice for Iraqis

Dahr Jamail, Truthout [19/4/14]:

International lawyers and activists converged at a conference titled The Iraq Commission, in Brussels, Belgium, April 16 and 17, with the primary aim of bringing to justice government officials who are guilty of war crimes in Iraq.

"Within a few days of this, a lawless atmosphere developed within my unit,” Ross Caputi, a former marine who took part in the brutal November 2004 siege of Fallujah told the Iraq Commission.

"There was a lot of looting going on. I saw people searching the pockets of the dead resistance fighters for money. Some people were mutilating corpses."

The conference represents the most powerful and most current organized attempt in the world to bring justice to those responsible for the catastrophe in Iraq, and included powerful international lawyers like International Court of Justice lawyer Curtis Doebbler and Louie Roberto Zamora Bolanos, a lawyer from Costa Rica who successfully sued the government of his country for supporting the war in Iraq.


Woman found dead in Queensland beach village

Yahoo 7 [20/4/14]:

A woman has been found dead on the main street of a tiny beach village in far north Queensland.

Locals found the 26-year-old woman's body at Bingil Bay, a few kilometres north of Mission Beach, on Saturday afternoon.

Police say they are treating her death as suspicious.

Queensland woman dead from suspected stab wounds

Yahoo 7 [20/4/14]:

Police are investigating the suspected stabbing death of a woman in far north Queensland.

The 27-year-old was found by officers who were called to a home at Woree in Cairns just before 4am on Sunday.

A 32-year-old man is assisting police with their inquiries.

Police say the pair knew each other.

Burglary with violence, Tingalpa

QPS Media [20/4/14]:

Police are investigating after a 64-year-old man was assaulted during a burglary this morning in Tingalpa.

Initial inquiries indicate that around 6.20am, three men kicked open the rear door of a residence on Boundary Street, disturbing a man who was in the bedroom.

One of the men made demands for money and then himself and a second man assaulted the resident.

Another of the men rummaged through the man’s property, before all three left the scene on-foot with possible property from the house.

It is believed they were heading north down Boundary Street in the direction of Carmichael Park and all wearing dark-coloured hooded-jumpers.

The man was transported to the Princess Alexandra Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

There is no further information available.

Investigations are continuing.

Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.

Off-duty policeman over the limit

Nine MSN [19/4/14]:

An off-duty policeman has been caught drink driving in Victoria.

The officer encountered a random breath testing site on the Old Princes Highway, at Beaconsfield in Melbourne's south-east, just after 8pm (AEST) on Friday.

The Leading Senior Constable is alleged to have recorded a blood alcohol level of .077 per cent, which is mid-range offence.

The officer was issued a penalty notice for $433, which also carries a loss of license for six months.

Drink-driving police officer also charged with assaulting and resisting police

North West Star [19/4/14]:

A police officer who was charged with drink-driving last month has had further charges laid against her.

As a result of investigations into the incident, the officer has since been charged with one count of assaulting police and one count of resisting police.

About 10pm on Monday, March 24 police from Canobolas Local Area Command stopped a vehicle in Byng Street, Orange.

The female driver, a senior constable, was subjected to a road-side breath test, which returned a positive reading.

She was arrested and taken to Orange Police Station where a breath analysis allegedly showed a reading of 0.102.

Her driver’s licence was suspended and confiscated.

She was issued with a Court Attendance Notice for the offence of Drive with Middle Range PCA.

The officer is due to appear in Orange Local Court on April 24.


Australia's political and media establishment continue laughing at the disabled, this time on Easter Sunday

ACOSS Media Release [20/4/14]:
DOORSTOP: 12.30pm Sunday April 20, 2014, Press Gallery boxes, Canberra

The Australian Council of Social Service and disability advocacy members today urged the Federal Government to ensure that changes being considered to the Disability Support Pension do not further exacerbate the health conditions, poverty and disadvantage experienced by people who rely on the important payment.

“ACOSS supports a review of income support payments, but we won’t support any changes that simply take money away from people in desperate situations and which will risk making them sicker and more disadvantaged,” said ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie.

“Reform is needed to improve job prospects and invest more in skills development and support. The last thing we need is to plunge people into further distress. If the Government chooses to go down that road – it would be a major backward step and extremely damaging to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

“We know that people with disabilities and those with severe work incapacities, such as mental illness, face enormous challenges. More than 600, 000 people with disability are living below the poverty line. A shocking 42% per cent of people on the DSP are already living in poverty. This is unacceptable and it would be unconscionable for us to make the plight of those who rely on the DSP worse.

“We cannot accept that people with major work incapacities are shifted onto the below poverty line Newstart Allowance payment of $36 a day, purely to save a few pennies that will make little difference to the overall Federal Budget. This would merely further punish people who are already doing it tough.

“It would be wrong to put people who are in a vulnerable position through constant reassessments in-order to retain crucial income that they need to keep their head above water. And creating a tiered payment structure would add further complexity to an already complicated system.

“Our nation does not have a DSP or 'welfare crisis' but rather a jobs crisis, with record low rates of employment of people with disability including in the Commonwealth Public Service.

“How will these changes open up job opportunities? How will they tackle discrimination? How will they improve training and support?

“People with disability and major work incapacities like mental illness want to be in paid work when able – but many simply can’t without additional support. The Government and the private sector can and should do more to increase employment opportunities for this group of people.

“A great place to start is in the public service where employment of people with disabilities has more than halved from six per cent in the early 90s to just 2.9 per cent now.

“The federal government should focus on how to better transition people on DSP into secure paid employment, while ensuring those with significant barriers to work are still provided adequate support.

“We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes made by past governments, where welfare reform involved little more than shifting vulnerable people on to lower payments to make budget savings, putting them through further assessments, and in and out of training program's leading no-where - while failing to provide sufficient support to improve their chances of securing paid work, and providing a pathway into a real job,” Dr Goldie said.


The Undeserving Disabled [New Left Project - 23/7/10]

Mission Australia bonds with Murdoch gang to attack the most defenceless of us all. What have we become?

Image: @chrismurphys [8/4/13]

Awesome! John Butler climbs tripod at #BentleyBlockade. Holds aloft sign : I showed up! Will you?

Image: @CSGFreeNR [20/4/14]

400 Rally in Support of Washington University Students Against Peabody

Students Against Peabody Energy [19/4/14]:

This Saturday afternoon, 400 people rallied at Brookings Hall to call upon Washington University to end its relationship with Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal corporation.

The rally was organized by Wash U Students Against Peabody, which is currently in its twelfth day of a sustained occupation outside of Brookings Hall to pressure the University to Cut Ties with Peabody.

Currently, Peabody CEO Greg Boyce sits on the Wash U Board of Trustees and, in 2009, Peabody donated $5 million to the University to found its “Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization,” a research entity housed in the school of engineering.

The students cite numerous reasons why the University should end its relationship with Peabody, including Peabody’s contribution to global carbon emissions, participation in ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), marginalization and displacement of indigenous and rural communities in places including Black Mesa, Arizona and Rocky Branch, Illinois, and interference in democratic processes via their lawsuit against the local Take Back St. Louis ballot initiative.

The students are demanding:

1. Peabody CEO Greg Boyce is removed from the Board of Trustees.

2. Chancellor Wrighton must attend community-organized tours of communities affected by Peabody’s extraction and release public statements about his experiences.

3. The name of Wash U’s “Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization” must be changed so as not to incorporate the term “clean coal” or any other misleading industry terms. 4. Increased student voice in Board of Trustees decisions.

Numerous community organizations and environmental justice leaders from throughout the state spoke at the rally in support of the students. Supporters included: Show Me $15, Take Back St. Louis, the Labadie Environmental Organization, and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.

Many speakers called attention to Peabody’s detrimental affects on St. Louis, including its 2010 tax break that took $2 million away from St. Louis Public Schools. “Peabody is another greedy company that takes money away from our communities,” said Patrick Leeper, a worker at Chipotle and leader in Show Me $15 and the fast food worker movement.

Also in attendance were community members from Rocky Branch, Illinois who have been resisting Peabody’s attempted expansion of the Cottage Grove Mine. There has been significant controversy over the expansion. Earlier this week, the Saline County Board voted to yield control of Rocky Branch Road to Peabody Energy for its proposed strip mining operations.

The closure of Rock Branch Road is the most recent of a string of controversies regarding Peabody’s involvement in the region. Over the past year, Peabody has been accused of blasting less than 200 feet away from people’s homes, threatening community members into selling their homes, and making attempts to clear-cut surrounding forests without proper permits from the EPA.

Wash U Students Against Peabody is in ongoing negotiations with Chancellor Mark Wrighton and Provost Holden Thorp. Before the rally, Provost Thorp met with Judy Kellen, one of the Rocky Branch residents in St. Louis for the rally.

“After talking with Provost Thorp about the destruction that Peabody Coal is causing in my community, I would hope that he chooses to stand with me instead of Mr. Greg Boyce. I told Provost Thorp that he could come visit me in Rocky Branch any time if he needs to see why Washington University’s relationship with Peabody is dangerous,” said Judy Kellen, a leader in Rocky Branch, Illinois who has been tirelessly resisting Peabody’s expansion of a strip mine in her town.

Students Against Peabody is optimistic. “We are very confident that Washington University will do the right thing and end its relationship with Peabody Energy,” said Julia Ho, one of the students involved with the occupation. “Washington University has to make a choice between the approval of Peabody, the world’s largest coal corporation, and the approval of students, alumni, faculty, and communities across Missouri.”


TV presenter shot in car in Karachi

RNZI [20/4/14]:

Gunmen shot and wounded one of Pakistan's best known television presenters in the city of Karachi on Saturday. Hamid Mir's car came under fire as he left the airport.

The presenter for Geo TV was hit by three bullets, but officials said he was in a stable condition.

There have been previous attempts on the life of Mr Mir, who the first journalist to interview Osama bin Laden after 9/11.

The BBC reports Mr Mir's brother has accused the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) of orchestrating the latest attack.

According to his brother, Mr Mir recently told family and colleagues that he had received threats from the ISI because of his political views.

In 2012, the Pakistani Taliban tried to kill Mr Mir by planting explosives under his car outside his home in the capital, Islamabad. But the bomb failed to go off.

PNG: Big quake shakes Bougainville, New Britain

PNG Edge [20/4/14]:

People in Bougainville and New Britain are still nervous after a strongly felt earthquake hit the region shortly before midnight last night.

A tsunami warning was issued by geological survey officials in the US but was later withdrawn.

Residents of Kokopo reported soon after the quake that it was the most strongly felt there for a long time.

Rabaul Observatory is reported on social media to have recorded the quake as 7.5 on the Richter scale.

There were no immediate reports of damage to property but people in Rabaul suffered a power blackout and residents of Kokopo were so scared that they ran outside and saw buildings swaying.

The quake was recorded by the US Geological Survey as being centred 75km south west of Panguna in Bougainville.

It was the latest of several strong quakes felt in that area.

Another earthquake, recorded at 6.6, was felt an hour later and felt strongly at Buka.

There were reports of high tides pouring inland at Torokina on the west coast of Bougainville soon after the quake.

The latest earthquake follows quakes of 7.1 and 6.5 magnitude on April 11 nearby. Between these two major earthquakes, there have been 45 quakes of magnitudes of 4.5 and greater, including one of 6.6 just 12 hours before last night’s big one.

Iran says it watered down, converted over 200 kg of enriched uranium

Reuters [19/4/14]:

Iran said on Saturday it had completed watering down and converting more than 200 kilograms (440 lb) of enriched uranium under a deal reached in Geneva last November with world powers over its disputed nuclear program.

"Based on the agreement with the West, we were supposed to have half of our 200 kilogram stock of uranium diluted and the other half converted to uranium oxide," Iran's atomic chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, told the Arabic-language Al Alam television channel.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Thursday that Iran has acted to cut its most sensitive nuclear stockpile by nearly 75 percent in implementing a landmark pact with world powers, but a planned facility it will need to fulfil the six-month deal has been delayed.

Salehi, who heads the country's atomic energy organization, said the fast process of uranium conversion was expected to expedite the release of frozen Iranian assets in the West.

Under the breakthrough agreement that took effect on January 20, Iran halted some aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for a limited easing of international sanctions that have laid low the major oil producer's economy.

If it complies with the interim deal, Iran will get a total of $4.2 billion in revenues long frozen oversees, in eight instalments over the January-July period. Including Japan's latest payments, it has received $2.55 billion. South Korea, another importer of Iranian oil, has made one payment.

Salehi also said Iran would be ready within a month to answer all six questions raised by the IAEA about Iran's suspected nuclear activities.

"We don't have any more problems with IAEA on the nuclear issue. There are no more questions that we haven't answered. In other words, we can say Iran's nuclear activities is a closed case already," he said.

Speaking about the Arak nuclear reactor, a major bone of contention in the last round of talks in Vienna, Salehi said Tehran had offered to redesign the core of the heavy water reactor to reduce plutonium output to one-fifth of its output capacity.

"We are studying changing the fuel cycle from natural to enriched uranium of between four to five percent. The other side has been informed of our plan and they welcomed the idea, as it removes their concern over plutonium output."

Iran on Saturday criticized a U.S. government move to seize a Manhattan skyscraper owned largely by a foundation that promotes its language and Islamic culture, saying this violated the right to religious freedom in the United States. ... [Reuters - 19/4/14]

Buses, cars burned in Brazil protest against police

France 24 [19/4/14]:

Four buses, a truck and two cars were burned Saturday in Brazil when demonstrators took to the streets to protest the deaths of two young men during police actions.

The 17 and 21 year olds died Friday and Saturday in Niteroi, across the bay from Rio de Janeiro, local press reported.

One was killed when his motorcycle hit an armored police vehicle, while the other was hit by crossfire in a gun battle between suspects and police, the Globo G1 news site said.

In protest, around 30 protesters raised barricades and burned vehicles blocking the large avenues in Niteroi, as many residents were trying to head out of town for the Easter holiday weekend.

With the start of the World Cup less than two months away, Brazil has stepped up security efforts in the Rio area, where tens of thousands of football fans will fly in for the tournament and which will stage seven matches -- including the July 13 final.

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