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* Other Things *

Superheroes welcome refugees in #Australia #Sydney

Image: @RemeSakr - journalist, Press TV [25/10/14]


... Sometimes I need to hide a piece of butter in my hat or pockets to take it for my son ...

Letter from Nauru [The Saturday Paper - 25/10/14]

Phosphate hill family camp, Christmas Island

Image: @KayeBernard

... 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]


Detainee at Afghan Prison to Face Trial in US

Naharnet [24/10/14]:

A Russian held for years by the U.S. military in Afghanistan will be flown to the United States to face trial, marking the first such transfer for a foreign fighter from the country, officials said Friday.

The detainee is one of 13 foreigners who remain under detention by U.S. authorities at a wing of the Parwan prison near Bagram in Afghanistan, on suspicion of fighting with Taliban insurgents.

"We can confirm that a detainee at the Parwan detention facility in Afghanistan will be transferred to law enforcement custody and brought to the United States for trial," a defense official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The detainee will face "terrorism-related charges" in federal court, the official said.

The detainee was a Russian national, known by the nom de guerre of Irek Hamidullan, who allegedly led insurgent attacks in 2009 that wounded or killed American forces, officials said, confirming media reports.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the case.

Although other detainees at Parwan have been quietly repatriated to other countries, this was the first time an inmate had been transferred to U.S. soil from the prison.

The American combat mission in Afghanistan is due to wrap up this year, and Washington is anxious to transfer the remaining foreign detainees at Parwan by the end of December.

A Pentagon spokesman said the U.S. military was seeking to transfer more detainees out of the prison, without confirming whether they might be flown to the United States for trial.

"The Defense Department is working diligently to transfer the handful of remaining non-Afghan detainees at the Afghan National Detention Facility-Parwan prior to December 31," Lieutenant Colonel Myles Caggins said.

Argentina sentences 15 to life over La Cacha prison

BBC [25/10/14]:

An Argentine ex-police chief and ex-interior minister have both been given life sentences for running a detention and torture centre in the 1970s.

They were among 19 people charged with the kidnap, murder and torture of 128 prisoners in the city of La Plata.

The detention centre also functioned as a maternity unit for pregnant prisoners who gave birth before being executed.

Tens of thousands of Argentines were kidnapped or killed by the military junta between 1976 and 1983.

The former police chief of the province of Buenos Aires, Miguel Etchecolatz, and ex-Interior Minister Jaime Lamont Smart were part of a group of 21 army, navy, police and prison service officers and members of the Buenos Aires provincial government, who ran the centre from 1976 to 1978.

Fifteen of them - including Etchecolatz and Smart- were sentenced to life, with four others receiving sentences ranging from 12 to 13 years.

One suspect was cleared, while another had his sentence suspended for health reasons.

The judge said those convicted were accomplices in a genocide against mostly young, left-wing activists in Argentina between 1976 and 1978.

The detention centre was in an old radio station building on the outskirts of La Plata nicknamed La Cacha after a cartoon witch who abducted small children.

The men were accused of crimes ranging from murder, kidnapping and illegal detention to holding and hiding a child under 10 years of age.

Among the prisoners was the daughter of the head of a leading campaign group, the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

Their victims were mostly young, left-wing opponents of Argentina's military junta and also included the father of the present Argentine ambassador to Spain.

The judges heard 130 witnesses over the 10 months of the trial.

Some of the survivors who testified during the trial said they were treated "like dogs".

"We were given sleeping pills, we were held hooded and naked at a warehouse," one of the witnesses, Alberto Alfio Cavalie, said during the trial.

"They used to tie a wire to our toes, it was connected to a machine that gave us electric shocks."

"We could hear the screams of the men and women that were being tortured. I weighed 30 kilos when I was able to leave the centre," he added.

The trial was part of a continuing series of actions against Argentine officers and other officials associated with the military dictatorship.

Legal action began once democracy returned to Argentina in 1983, but President Raul Alfonsin brought an end to the trials in 1986, arguing the country needed to look to the future and not the past.

Three laws granting amnesty for crimes committed during the so-called Dirty War were passed in 1986 and 1987 but were later overturned in 2003.

Since then, a number of high-profile figures from the military regime have been convicted, including the de facto Presidents Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone.

General Videla had already been convicted of homicide, torture and kidnap amongst other crimes in 1985, but he was granted amnesty by President Carlos Menem in 1990.

About 250 convictions have been secured, including that of Alfredo Astiz, who in 2011 was given a life sentence for the part he played in infiltrating left-wing groups and betraying their members to the junta.

United States continue bombing Iraq and Syria

Centcom [24/10/14]:

U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria Thursday and today using bomber aircraft to conduct six airstrikes.

Separately, U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted twelve airstrikes Thursday and today using bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists in Iraq.

In Syria, six airstrikes near Kobani struck three ISIL units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle. In Iraq, three airstrikes southeast and west of the Mosul Dam destroyed two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL mortar position.

Three airstrikes south of the Bayji Oil Refinery struck two small units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle. Two strikes near Bayji struck an ISIL training camp. Three airstrikes near Fallujah struck two small ISIL units and destroyed three ISIL vehicles.

Finally, one airstrike near Zumar destroyed five ISIL buildings. All aircraft departed the strike areas safely.

Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community.

The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project power and conduct operations.

Among the coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq are the U.S., France, United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the U.S., Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Bahrain.

Iraqi Spring Media Center [24/10/14]:

Anbar: Amiriyat AlFallujah police has evacuated one of schools from the displaced people under the pretext that it saves their lives and accuses some of the displaced people of communicating with the insurgents and captures them imposing a beseige on all shools and shells describing the them Daish [ISIS] families ......

ISIS seized 2,500 armored military vehicles confirms Pentagon [IraqiNews.com - 24/10/14]

IraqiNews.com [24/10/14]:

11 civilians were either killed or injured due to two bomb explosions in eastern and western Baghdad on Friday.

Security source mentioned to IraqiNews.com, “Four persons were injured due to a bomb explosion in Shaab area of northeastern Baghdad.”

“A civilian was killed while six others were injured due to a bomb explosion in Amel neighborhood of southwestern Baghdad,” the source added.

United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon will not deploy on Syrian border [Daily Star - 25/10/14]

Syria Air Strikes Kill 10 Children, 5 Women in Aleppo [Naharnet - 24/10/14]

School gunman was Homecoming prince, students say

Yahoo [24/10/14]:

A student recently crowned freshman class Homecoming prince walked into his Seattle-area high school cafeteria Friday and opened fire, killing one person and shooting several others in the head before turning the gun on himself, officials and witnesses said.

Students said the gunman was staring at students as he shot them inside the cafeteria at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

The shootings set off a chaotic scene as students ran from the cafeteria and building in a frantic dash to safety, while others were told to stay put inside classrooms at the school 30 miles north of Seattle.

The gunman was identified as student Jaylen Fryberg, a government official with direct knowledge of the shooting told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Students and parents said Fryberg was a member of a prominent family from the nearby Tulalip Indian tribe and a freshman who played on the high school football team. He was introduced at a football game as the school's 2014 Homecoming court freshmen class prince, according to a video shot by parent Jim McGauhey.

Marysville Police Commander Robb Lamoureux said the gunman died of a self-inflicted wound, but he could not provide more details.

Shaylee Bass, 15, a sophomore at the school, said Fryberg had recently gotten into a fight with another boy over a girl.

"He was very upset about that," said Bass, who was stunned by the shooting.

"He was not a violent person," she said. "His family is known all around town. He was very well known.

That's what makes it so bizarre."

Three of the victims had head wounds and were in critical condition. Two young women were taken to Providence Everett Medical Center, and a 15-year-old boy was at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, hospital officials said. Another victim, a 14-year-old boy, was listed in serious condition at Harborview as well, the hospital said.


Egypt declares state of emergency in Sinai

Al Jazeera [24/10/14]:

Egypt has declared a state of emergency in the north and centre of the Sinai Peninsula after a suicide car bombing killed at least 30 soldiers.

The measures will begin on Saturday at 03:00 GMT "for duration of three months," Presidency Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said in a statement, in the wake of the deadliest attack on the security forces since the army deposed President Mohamed Morsi last year.

A three-day mourning period has been declared across the country, while a curfew has been put in place between 7pm and 7am in areas covered by the state of emergency declaration, according to state media.

The attack on Friday afternoon hit an army checkpoint at Karm al-Qawadeis, southwest of Sheikh Zuweid in Sinai.

Egyptian sources said the suicide car bomber detonated his explosives near the checkpoint's magazine, causing it and an army vehicle to explode. Fighters then attacked the site with guns and a rocket-propelled grenade.

The source said the group attacked as soldiers were on break inside their tents. State media reported that 28 other people were wounded, several of whom were in critical condition.

"Most have been seriously injured and not all of them have been taken to hospital yet," health ministry official Tareq Khater told the AFP news agency.

Three more members of Egypt's security forces were killed in a separate attack at a checkpoint outside nearby al-Arish. It was not immediately clear whether the dead were soldiers or police.

Local media said the president also ordered a meeting of the government's national defence council following the blast.

The council is made up of the prime minister, the head of the parliament, the minister of defence and the commanders of the Egyptian armed forces, and is chaired by the president.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Peter Bechtold, a former US State Department official, said that anger is brewing in the region following the ouster and imprisonment of Morsi.

Bechtold quoted sources as saying that Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the most active armed group in Egypt, may be linked to the attack.

The attack was one of the deadliest on security forces since Sisi in July last year overthrew Mohamed Morsi from the presidency, launched a bloody crackdown on his supporters and declared his Muslim Brotherhood movement a terrorist organisation.

Hundreds of soldiers and police officers have been killed in attacks since last year.

8 Troops, Several Gunmen Wounded in Violent Clashes across Tripoli

Naharnet [24/10/14]:

Fierce clashes erupted Friday evening in the northern city of Tripoli, leaving at least eight army troops, including a first lieutenant, and several gunmen and civilians wounded.

Meanwhile, al-Jadeed TV said 15 people were injured, including eight troops. It said the army's casualties include a first lieutenant who was “critically wounded.”

The Tripoli News Network Facebook page for its part said that seven civilians were wounded in the clashes.

The identity of the gunmen and the reason of their attack on the army were not immediately clear, but media reports said the fighting likely erupted following raids linked to the apartment in the Dinniyeh town of Asoun, where troops had arrested Thursday the “dangerous terrorist” Ahmed Salim Miqati and killed three others.

A security official said earlier on Friday that five troops and a number of Islamist gunmen were wounded in a clash in a historic area of Tripoli.

"The number of wounded soldiers has risen to five," said the official, who spoke to Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity, adding that "several gunmen have been injured, while others have been arrested."

The clash that initially erupted in the old souks also extended to other areas. Tripoli's historic heart is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

Several TV channels revealed that the exchange of gunfire had first erupted in the al-Souwaiqa-Khan al-Askar area in Tripoli.

The army brought reinforcements to the areas of clashes and took defensive measures at all of its positions in Tripoli, according to LBCI television.

As a result of these clashes, stray bullets reached "areas far from the old souks and its surroundings," said the Tripoli News Network Facebook page.

“The clashes have spread in Tripoli and sniper gunfire is targeting several neighborhoods,” MTV reported.

Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5) said the fighting started during a raid by the army in al-Tarbiya area, "where Ahmed and Omar Miqati used to live."

Army intelligence agents had raided at dawn Thursday an apartment in the town of Asoun in the northern district of Dinniyeh, which was inhabited by a “group of terrorists,” killing three gunmen and apprehending a fugitive.

The wanted man has been identified as Ahmed Salim Miqati, who was reportedly involved in beheading captive Lebanese soldier Ali al-Sayyed and recruiting defected army troops for the extremist Islamic State group.

Earlier on Friday, the army arrested two wanted men in al-Mankoubin neighborhood in Tripoli after an exchange of fire.

“Army troops apprehended two wanted men from al-Mankoubin neighborhood, one from the Salha family and the other from the Dinnawi family,” said the National News Agency.

Gunfire was exchanged between them before the men were arrested.

On Thursday evening, two masked men on a motorcycle shot at the soldier Khaled Youssef in Ibn Sina street in Tripoli's al-Qobbeh.

Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian teenager near Ramallah

Maan [24/10/14]:

Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager late Friday during clashes in Silwad village near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, medical officials said.

Orwa Abd al-Wahhab Hammad, 14, was shot multiple times with live bullets. He was taken to Palestine Medical Complex where he was pronounced dead.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that soldiers fired at a Palestinian adult who was hurling a Molotov cocktail at forces in the area.

Witnesses said Hammad was hit by an Israeli sniper from close range, insisting the soldier shot to kill.

Orwa was a US national. His uncle was killed during the First Intifada.

UN chief calls for resumption of Cyprus talks

Hurriyet Daily News [24/10/14]:

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a quick resumption of Cyprus peace talks that were suspended during a dispute over rights to offshore oil and gas.

Ban made the appeal after meeting with U.N. envoy Espen Barth Eide who is brokering talks between Cypriot Greek and Turkish leaders on the divided island.

The U.N. chief “expressed concern over the tensions that have arisen in relation to hydrocarbons and over the suspension of negotiations” and said the sides must “return to the negotiating table without delay,” a U.N. statement said.

Greek Cyprus suspended its participation in the U.N.-led negotiations on Oct. 7, to protest moves by Turkey to undermine its right to exploit gas and oil reserves.

Turkey dispatched a survey boat to an area where the Greek Cypriot government had licensed exploratory drilling for oil and gas.

Ban called on countries in the region to help advance the peace process.

DR Congo: UN, African Union urge eastern town to support operations to end rebel threat

UN Media Release [24/10/14]:

Visiting the site of a recent flare-up of deadly violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), United Nations and African Union (AU) envoys met with the Mayor of the town of Beni, Congolese military officials and local leaders, urging a united front to “put an end to the terror imposed on the population by armed groups,” including Ugandan-based rebels operating in the area.

Martin Kobler, head of the UN stabilization mission in the country, known by its French acronym, MONUSCO, Saïd Djinnit, UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, and Boubacar Diarra, AU Special Representative for Burundi and the Great Lakes region, reiterated that only united action by the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC), MONUSCO and the population would the armed groups be successfully reigned in.

According to a press release, the envoys had meetings with the mayor of Beni, FARDC officials and the local population. They stated their assurance in the determination of the FARDC and MONUSCO to end, once and for all, the threat posed by the Ugandan rebel group in Beni territory.

They stressed that the confidence and support of all stakeholders involved to the FARDC and MONUSCO is essential for the success of joint operations. They appealed to the population to unite and cooperate with all actors in eliminating the authors of these terrorist acts.

Nearly a week ago, Mr. Kobler called for “decisive joint military actions” by the Congolese army and UN peacekeeping troops in the wake of two deadly attacks by suspected to quell the activities of suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels near the town Beni.

Around two dozen of people in Eringeti, North of Beni were killed by suspected ADF elements in the night between 17 and 18 October, the Mission says. This follows an incident in the early evening of 15 October, when a group of assailants presumed to belong to the ADF attacked the Ngadi and Kadu localities in Beni area leading to the death of more than two dozen people.

Earlier this week, MONUSCO stepped up its security following several attacks on its bases in Beni, including when a large number of youths converged on the premises, and another which required the evacuation of 12 staff members.

Winter looms as fighting continues to displace people in Ukraine

UNHCR Media Release [24/10/14]:

With the crisis in Ukraine entering its first winter, UNHCR is racing to help some of the most vulnerable displaced people cope with expected harsh winter conditions.

"Fighting in the east, and the resulting breakdown of basic services, continues to drive more people from their homes," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva. He added that the need for humanitarian aid was rising, particularly around the cities of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Kyiv, and in the Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzia regions.

Ukraine's internally displaced population is estimated at 430,000 people, some 170,000 more than at the start of September.

Some 95 per cent of the displaced are from eastern Ukraine and are concentrated in Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv and other cities. In all of these areas, UNHCR has been distributing aid among the most vulnerable.

"We are planning to distribute additional winter clothes and blankets over the coming weeks, as well as providing 400,000 square metres of reinforced tarpaulin sheets for roof repairs in the east of Ukraine," Edwards said.

While the majority of the displaced people are staying in rented accommodation or with family and friends, at least 14,000 are currently living in collective centres. With the onset of winter, one of the urgent priorities is to make sure that these centres are weather-proofed and that warm blankets and winter clothes are being provided for those in greatest need. UNHCR plans to refurbish 40 collective centres in major arrival areas.

Edwards said that cash assistance programmes amounting to some US$250,000 had been established in cooperation with the local authorities to support highly vulnerable individuals, many of whom have not received pensions or welfare payments due to the conflict. So far, some 1,600 people in the Kyiv, Lviv and Vinnytsia regions have benefitted from this. The programme is being extended to six other parts of Ukraine.

In the past two weeks, Ukraine has taken important steps to protect and assist displaced people with new government resolutions on registration and assistance. Some 16,000 families have been registered in the last week. Edwards said UNHCR looked forward to the establishment of a central agency and full and timely registration of the displaced over the coming weeks.

Last Monday, the Ukrainian parliament adopted a law on the rights and freedoms of internally displaced people. The law, which was developed with support from UNHCR and civil society, extends a specific set of rights to internally displaced people, providing protection against discrimination, forcible return and assistance in any voluntary returns. The law also simplifies access to different social and economic services.

"UNHCR hopes that rapid implementation of this legislation will help displaced people in finding safe shelter, jobs and proper access to services. The law obliges the government to start developing a policy on integration of internally displaced people, which is expected to lead to better planning for those in need," Edwards said.

Meanwhile, in the Russian Federation, more than 207,000 Ukrainians have applied for refugee status or temporary asylum since the beginning of this year, according to the Federal Migration Service. In addition, some 180,000 Ukrainians have applied for other forms of legal stay in Russia, such as temporary or permanent residence permits. A larger number of Ukrainians are arriving in Russia under the visa-free regime between the two countries.

Most Ukrainians arriving in Russia stay with relatives, friends or find private accommodation either rented or with a host family. The Russian authorities have adopted several regulations to facilitate the temporary stay of Ukrainians arriving in their territory and UNHCR hopes equal treatment will be afforded to refugees from other countries too.

As of the end of September, more than 6,600 Ukrainians had requested asylum in European Union (EU) countries, compared with 903 applications during the whole of 2013. The EU country receiving the largest number of Ukrainian asylum seekers has been Poland (1,632), followed by Sweden (841). In addition, 581 Ukrainians have sought asylum this year in Belarus.

Detained Myanmar reporter Aung Naing shot dead

BBC [24/10/14]:

A Burmese journalist has been shot dead while trying to escape from custody, the army has said.

A military statement said that Aung Naing was arrested in Mon state at the end of September while covering clashes near the border between Thailand and Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.

The military accused him of working for an armed group in the area.

But his family and colleagues denied this, and activists said his death was a rights violation.

The military statement came in response to a request from Aung Naing's wife.

It said he had been shot dead on 4 October when he tried flee military detention by seizing a gun from a soldier.

The military described Aung Naing as a "communications captain" of a Karen rebel faction, but his colleagues said he was a reporter.

Aung Naing often reported on ethnic issues along the Myanmar-Thai border for several papers based in Yangon (Rangoon).

He had met opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on several occasions.

Campaigners say that journalists are still being taken to court by the authorities despite the government's pledges to improve press freedom His wife Than Dar told the Irrawaddy newspaper that she had not been informed of his death.

She said she would bring a legal case against the army for torture and death.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Yangon says that while the media is now relatively free, anything to do with the army or its activities is still extremely sensitive.

Free speech advocate Zaw Thet Htway said the truth about his death needed to come out.

"Whether he was a journalist or an officer from an armed group, this is a human rights violation," he said.

The army has been fighting armed groups in eastern, northern and south-eastern regions, despite efforts to bring an end to six decades of conflict.

Recent clashes reported in Karen, Shan and Kachin states may jeopardise a ceasefire agreement planned for later this year, correspondents say.

16,000 Armenians Rally Against Poverty, Graft

Naharnet [24/10/14]:

Some 16,000 opposition supporters rallied in the Armenian capital on Friday to protest against President Serzh Sarkisian's rule and demanded snap polls.

They accused the government of failing to stem poverty and corruption in the landlocked former Soviet republic.

A country of 3.2 million, Armenia was badly affected by the global downturn. It is economically isolated as its borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan are blocked due to ongoing international disputes.

"A powerful movement for the change of government is being launched," Armenia's former president and leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress party, Levon Ter-Petrosian, told the applauding crowd in Yerevan's Freedom Square.

The rally was called by three main opposition parties, Prosperous Armenia, Heritage, and the Armenian National Congress, to protest against the government's economic policies and its failure to tackle graft.

Last Friday a similar rally attracted over 10,000 protesters.

Drones brought in to prevent use of guns in weddings in Black Sea district

Hurriyet Daily News [24/10/14]:

A district administration in the Black Sea province of Tokat has decided to start using two multicopter drones to prevent the traditional firing of weapons during weddings.

Shooting guns or rifles in the air in celebration remains a tradition in some parts of Turkey, especially in rural areas. Many people are accidentally wounded or killed in these shootings.

The Erbaa district of Tokat province decided to buy two multicopter surveillance drones to be used by gendarmerie and police forces in the district to monitor wedding ceremonies. The drones will be purchased within the next two weeks.

Erbaa Local Administrator Abdulkadir Demir said they had seized more than 10 guns in weddings in the last month alone.

“We are determined to end this [use of arms in weddings]. Fireworks are also banned. We have conducted almost 200 checks in weddings and given fines around 20,000 Turkish Liras so far,” Demir said, adding that two people had been wounded in weddings due to firearms so far this year.

He also said 77 people had fined a total of 14,553 liras so far this year in the district after inappropriately using fireworks. Demir added that the police had seized four guns, 24 blank guns, 32 bullets, and five rifles from wedding ceremonies.

In addition to monitoring wedding ceremonies, the new drones could also be used to monitor and prevent forest fires in the district, he also said.

Fannie Mae settles shareholder lawsuit for $170 million

Reuters [24/10/14]:

Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) has reached a $170 million settlement of a lawsuit accusing it of misleading shareholders about its finances, risk management and mortgage exposure before it was seized by the U.S. government during the 2008 financial crisis.

The settlement, which requires court approval, was disclosed in a Friday filing with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

It resolves shareholder allegations that Fannie Mae defrauded shareholders and inflated its stock by issuing false and misleading statements about its internal controls, capitalization, accounting, and exposure to subprime and low-documentation "Alt-A" mortgages.

The settlement allocates $123.8 million to common stockholders and $46.2 million to preferred stockholders between Nov. 8, 2006 and Sept. 5, 2008.

Fannie Mae's market value peaked during that period at more than $60 billion. It is now $2.71 billion.

"We are pleased to put this matter behind us," Joseph Grassi, Fannie Mae's interim general counsel, said in a statement. "This is another sign of progress as Fannie Mae continues our focus on serving the market and helping lenders make mortgage credit available to qualified borrowers."

The government seized Fannie Mae and the smaller Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB) on Sept. 7, 2008, and put them into a conservatorship under the Federal Housing Finance Agency, where they remain.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac together drew about $187.5 billion of bailout funds, but have returned roughly $218.7 billion to taxpayers in the form of dividends.

The lead plaintiffs suing Fannie Mae are the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board, the State-Boston Retirement Board and the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System, and are seeking class-action status.

They said the settlement averts potential "numerous and substantial risks" of continuing the lawsuit after similar litigation against Freddie Mac was dismissed last year.


Asylum seekers win appeal over immigration department data breach

Guardian [24/10/14]:

Paul Farrell

A group of asylum seekers who took the immigration department to court over the exposure of their personal details in a major data breach have won a federal court appeal, and the immigration minister has been ordered to pay their costs.

In February the immigration department inadvertently exposed the personal details of thousands of asylum seekers in their care by disclosing their details on a file on its public website.

The breach sparked a wave of court actions from asylum seekers, but some had failed in an earlier bid in the federal circuit court to seek orders preventing their deportation and declarations that would require the data breach to be considered when their claims were being processed.

The progress of the cases has been confused because of two different federal circuit court judgments that took different views on how the cases should progress.

Appeals relating to both those matters were heard on Friday by a full bench of the federal court before justices Nye Perram, Jayne Jagot and John Griffiths.

Perram, with the agreement of Jagot and Griffiths, found that for at least two of the asylum seekers before Judge Rolf Driver the earlier decision “miscarried” and the matter sent back to the federal circuit court.

“It seems to me in these circumstances that the appeal should be allowed,” he said.

“The minister should be ordered to pay the costs of this court and the costs below.”

The immigration minister’s counsel also conceded during the hearing that there was no process in place to deal with the asylum seekers’ claims at the time a letter from the department secretary was sent out informing them of the breach.

The letter advised asylum seekers affected by the breach that the department would “assess any implications for you personally as part of its normal processes”.

Morrison’s counsel argued that a new bill before the parliament would put a clear process in place, but the bill has not been passed.

On Friday Clive Palmer indicated he had some reservations about its contents.

In one of a series of sharp exchanges, Griffiths said: “So there were no normal processes in place at the time?”

The minister’s counsel responded: “They were in development.”

Griffiths observed: “They still haven’t been developed as of today.”

Perram remarked that the relevant provisions of the Migration Act and the circumstances of the case posed a number of difficulties, describing the act as “a wall of mirrors really”.

He later added: “I feel like I’m in Alice in Wonderland.”

The matter continues.

Temporary protection visa deal with Palmer United Party looking shaky [Guardian - 24/10/14]

Iraq: 40 casualties in mortar attack, Fallujah

IraqiNews.com [24/10/14]:

On Thursday, the general hospital in Fallujah announced that 40 people is the number of the casualities that resulted from several mortar shell falls in different areas of the city.

The hospital spokesman, Ahmed al-Shami, said: “The general hospital had received 1 dead body and 39 injured civilians on the back of their houses being attacked by mortar shells in Al-Julan, Al-Askari, Al-Nazal, Al-Dobat, Al-Andalus, Al-Sajar and Al-Geghefi neighborhoods.” Al-Shami added: “Many have been critically injured and are kept for medical treatment.”

France says airstrikes take out weapons arsenal in Iraq [Daily Star - 24/10/14]

Iraqi Spring Media Center [23/10/14]:

Fallujah: The civilian homes in Albu Hawa ,Zoba'a,Falahat and Fehelat have been targeted by air force resulted in killing and wounding of persons ........

A girl was killed and a woman with her children -Hussain Aboud family - wounded as government's army targeted them near Ahmad Al-Aboud Bridge in Zankoora in Ramadi....

Ground offensive against Islamic State months away in Iraq: US [ Reuters - 24/10/14]

US Central Command says Iraq army starting to act like an army i.e. killing Iraqis at the same rate the US did. [Al Arabiya - 24/10/14]:

Iraq’s fractured army began to reform and stage local attacks on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants, but was still shy of hurling a major offensive, senior U.S. military officials said on Thursday.

The officials, who were not authorized to be quoted by name, added that it would take the army many months to stage and launch a major attack against the militant group.

“We've seen them start to act like an army,” one official said.


"We've always been at war with Eastasia": Free Syrian Army sends forces to help Kurdish fighters in Kobane [Al Arabiya - 24/10/14]

"Illegal and unconstitutional": The Iraqi parliament is divided over the planned deployment of Kurdish forces to aid the embattled Syrian town of Kobane, with some parliamentarians saying Friday the move violates the constitution. ... [Naharnet - 24/10/14]

ISIS continues to gain ground in Iraq despite more than 1,700 bombs [Al Akhbar - 24/10/14]

Car bomb kills at least 10 soldiers in Egypt's Sinai

Daily Star [24/10/14]:

At least 10 soldiers were killed Egypt's Sinai Peninsula Friday by a car bomb that targeted two armored vehicles stopped at a checkpoint, security sources said.

At least 27 soldiers were injured in the attack in the al-Kharouba area northwest of al-Arish, near the border with the Gaza Strip, the sources said.

Eyewitnesses had earlier heard a loud explosion near the Egyptian town of al-Arish in the Sinai Peninsula Friday afternoon in what appeared to be an attack on a nearby army installation.

Security forces face a jihadist insurgency that has killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since the army toppled President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood last year after mass protests against his rule. Most attacks have been in Sinai.

Six soldiers were killed on Sunday by a roadside bomb southwest of al-Arish.

Afghanistan: Taliban militants kill five civilians in Nangarhar province

Khaama [24/10/14]:

At least five civilians were killed after a group of Taliban militants opened fire on a civilian car in eastern Nangarhar province.

According to local security officials, the incident took place early Friday in Khogyani district.

Provincial police spokesman, Hazrat Hussain Mashriqwal said the militants opened fire on a civilian vehicle which was travelling through Khogyani district.

Mashriqwal confirmed that five civilians were killed and two others were injured following the attack.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the incident so far.

Nangarhar is among the relatively volatile provinces in eastern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are actively operating in a number of its remote districts.

Israel confiscates more Palestinian land in northern West Bank

Al Akhbar [24/10/14]:

Israeli authorities on Thursday confiscated 20 dunums (5 acres) of Palestinian land near the Zionist settlement bloc of Ariel in the northern West Bank, on the same day that Israeli authorities halted plans to take 15 dunums (4 acres) nearby.

Israeli bulldozers began razing 20 dunums of agricultural lands in the Palestinian village of Haris near Barqan settlement on Thursday, while locals said dozens of Israelis from the nearby Zionist settlement came to help destroy the fields.

Palestinian local Mohammed Suf told Ma'an news agency that the lands belonged to his grandfather Ali Abed Daoud Jaber Suf from Haris near the Khillet Habiba area north of Barqan settlement.

The land seizure and destruction of Palestinian agriculture comes on the same day that Palestinian officials, working in coordination with the local Committee Against Israel's Separation Wall and the Settlements, announced that they had succeeded in saving 15 dunums of land from confiscation just a few kilometers away, in the southwestern part of the Ariel settlement bloc.

The office of the Salfit governorate said in a statement that the land, located in Bruqin village, had been under threat since its owners were handed a 2013 evacuation order that stated the land was Israeli state property.

A lawyer representing the Committee Against Israel's Separation Wall and the Settlements, Alaa Mahajna, managed to demur the Israeli claims by proving the land was privately-owned Palestinian property that has been under constant cultivation by the owner.

As a result, Israeli authorities retracted the confiscation decision and recognized the land as private property.


Russia accuses Sweden of escalating tension in Baltic Sea

RT [24/10/14]:

The Russian Defense Ministry believes the military operation in the Baltic conducted by Sweden in search of possible “foreign underwater activity” can only lead to undermining stability and escalate tension in the region.

“Such unfounded actions of the Swedish Defense Department, fuelled by the Cold War-style rhetoric, are only leading today to escalation of tension in the region,” Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told journalists on Friday.

“It might result not in strengthening of a particular country’s security, but in undermining the principles of the naval economic activity in the Baltic Sea,” he added.

Konashenkov said Russian military officials were anticipating “the culmination of the exciting operation” accompanied by “never-ceasing speculations by the Swedish over detecting a ‘Russian submarine’ in the region of the Stockholm archipelago.”

Sweden started its largest since the Cold War military operation in the Baltic a week ago, explaining that the troops were engaged in search of a possible “foreign underwater activity.”

The Swedish media alleged the operation could be the hunt for a “damaged Russian submarine” in the area.

Moscow has long denied any of its vessels have been damaged.

Konashenkov on Friday once again ruled out any possibility of the Swedish military ever finding a Russian submarine in the Stockholm archipelago.

The Swedish military announced on Friday it is curtailing the search operation.

"This means the bulk of ships and amphibious forces have returned to port," the armed forces said in a statement, cited by Reuters. The military have however said the area would still be monitored by smaller forces.

That’s a U-turn from Thursday’s statement by Swedish Armed Forces spokesman Erik Lagersten, who said that the operation was not scaling down, but was entering a “new phase.”

"The intelligence-gathering operation is continuing just as before,” Lagersten said, according to the Local.

“We still believe there is underwater activity."

On Tuesday, Sweden announced it was ready to use force if it detects any foreign submarine in the waters of the Stockholm Archipelago.

Stockholm has chosen not to prolong the program for military exchange with Moscow, citing Russia’s alleged “challenging” activity in the Baltic Sea, according to Sweden’s draft budget, made public on Thursday.

“This means that Defense Forces’ cooperation with Russia is suspended until further notice,” the text of the budget says.

The draft budget says Sweden has to boost its security. According to the document, Stockholm plans to increase its military spending for 2015 by 680 million kronas (US$93.7 million).

Putin: new serious conflicts involving world powers possible [ITAR-TASS - 24/10/14]

NATO’s Involvement in Ukraine Conflict Counterproductive: CSTO Secretary General [RIA Novosti - 23/10/14]

French journalists in Papua convicted, but will be freed on Monday

RNZI [24/10/14]:

Reports from Indonesia say the two French journalists have been convicted for misusing their tourist visas to work in Papua but will be freed on Monday.

Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat were arrested in August for working as journalists in Papua illegally and put on trial this week.

The prosecution asked for the two to be jailed for four months for the visa breach which can be punished with up to five years imprisonment.

French media reports say the court in Jayapura sentenced them to two and a half in prison - a term, which will see them free on Monday.

The two were working for the German-French television station, Arte.

Their arrest was denounced by media organisation and human rights groups, with Human Rights Watch saying the Indonesia's chokehold on Papua media coverage has effectively turned foreign journalism in the province into a criminal activity.

A foreign ministry official has said foreign journalists who intended to report from across Indonesia must apply for a permit to the Indonesian representative in the countries where they come from.

The official says 18 ministries and related institutions are involved in the process of issuing a permit.

China, 20 other countries sign MoU to set up regional bank

Channel News Asia [24/10/14]:

China and 20 other countries moved forward on Friday towards setting up an Asian infrastructure lender seen as a counterweight to Western-backed international development banks.

The signatories put their names to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The institution, whose development has been driven by China, will be based in Beijing according to the official news agency Xinhua, and is expected to have initial capital of US$50 billion. It is intended to address the region's burgeoning demand for transportation, dams, ports and other facilities, officials say.

"In China we have a folk saying," Chinese President Xi Jinping told delegates after the signing ceremony.

"If you would like to get rich, build roads first, and I believe that is a very vivid description of the importance of infrastructure to economic development."

China's rise to become the world's second-largest economy has been accompanied by a desire to play a greater role in international organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the ADB, which have been dominated by Europe, the United States and Japan.

But other than China, among Asia's 10 largest economies only India and Singapore signed the AIIB memorandum, with three of the top five - Japan, South Korea and Indonesia - notably absent.

The Japanese head of the Asian Development Bank, another regional lender, said after the signing ceremony that questions remained over the AIIB's structure and that it needed to adhere to international standards.

"It is vitally important that AIIB adopt international best practices in procurement and environmental and social safeguard standards on its projects and programmes," ADB President Takehiko Nakao said in a statement.

The Japanese government has expressed concern, while the United States is reportedly fiercely opposed to the AIIB.


Roller Derby is not "grassroots" or "underground". It is discriminatory, bullshit US cultural imperialism

... You know how the game serves us, it has a definite social purpose ... Corporate society was an inevitable destiny. ...

'Rollerball' [1975]

3 News [24/10/14]:

A Wellington sportswoman has laid a complaint with the Human Rights Commission, saying she wasn't picked for a national team because she's deaf.

Marcia Taylor was shocked when the New Zealand roller derby coach appeared to have a go at her hearing loss.

Ms Taylor started losing her hearing at 12. She says it's never been a disability, so she took exception when the coach had a go at her deafness on Facebook after Ms Taylor failed to make her team.

Stacey Roper wrote on her Pieces of Hate Official Fan Page: "What I do not like is that everyone has to walk on eggshells around someone because they have a disability. These players have so much to take on. Expecting them to learn sign language in nine months on top of that is just not fair. I'm real sorry, but it's called a disability for a reason."

Ms Taylor says she is devastated.

"It was heart-breaking enough not to make it on the team. This is not sour grapes about not making it on the final 20; this is about comments, the attack on my identity and who I am and it's something I can't change."

Ms Roper says the comments were taken out of context.

"It was a silly off-the-cuff comment. It meant no disrespect. It was just trying to explain to people the thing you go through when you are looking at considering people for teams."

But Ms Taylor wants an apology and has complained to the Human Rights Commission.

"This is probably the first time I've felt discriminated against for anything, for who I am as a person," she says.

The Humans Rights Commission didn't want to comment on the complaint but its website clearly states it's unlawful to discriminate on the basis of disability including deafness.

Chicago: Key player in red light camera scandal plans to plead guilty

Sun-Times [23/10/14]:

Martin O'Malley — a key player in Chicago's red light camera scandal involving Redflex Traffic Systems — plans to plead guilty in December, according to court records filed Wednesday.

O'Malley, 73, of Worth, was employed as a "consultant" for Redflex when its deal to provide red light cameras to the city began in 2003.

But his main role was allegedly to funnel cash and perks to his pal, city worker John Bills, who is accused of helping rig the contract for Redflex in return for kickbacks.

O'Malley has been cooperating with federal prosecutors for some time, sources say.

A court filing Wednesday indicates he plans to change his plea to "guilty" on Dec. 10. The terms of his planned plea deal have not been made public but are likely to include a requirement that he testify against his co-defendants.

Bills, 52, and former Redflex CEO Karen Finlay, 54, both deny playing roles in a $2 million scam to steer $124 million in red light camera contracts to Redflex.

The firm's contract was canceled by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year, after allegations about the bribery scheme were first published by the Chicago Tribune.

O'Malley allegedly funneled much of the $2 million he was paid by Redflex to Bills, who got a $177,000 condo, Super Bowl tickets, golf outings, a boat, his children's school fees and even his girlfriend's mortgage and his divorce attorney's bill paid by Redflex, the feds say.

They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45

Milton Mayer

... Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head. ...

New blue lagoon on Kirra Beach

Brisbane police officer suspended over assault charge [Brisbane Times - 24/10/14]:

A Brisbane police officer has been suspended over an allegation of assault.

The 41-year-old has also been served with a notice to appear in the Pine Rivers Magistrates Court on December 2.

The officer is suspended with pay but has been called upon to explain why the remuneration should continue within 14 days.

The officer is also facing allegations over a number of other disciplinary matters.

Anti rights laws arbitrarily applied, Kurwongbah [QPS Media - 24/10/14]

Anti rights laws arbitrarily applied, Gold Coast [QPS Media - 24/10/14]

... And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. ...

Legal appeal against Gold Coast City Council's decision to pander to a bigoted minority [ABC - 24/10/14]:

... Salsabil Charitable Organisation lodged an appeal in the Planning and Environment Court yesterday, five weeks after the council rejected the Currumbin Waters development.

The decision drew cheers from scores of locals [a handful of bigoted locals and blowins] who [having received plenty of sympathetic coverage from the Murdoch controlled media] attended the council planning meeting, some of whom had brought along placards denouncing Islam.

The Council had initially approved the mosque with 50 conditions, but reneged citing community concerns, car parking and opening hours [thereby pronouncing to the world that Muslims are not welcome on the Gold Coast].

Salsabil had been planning to transform an old factory at Currumbin Waters into a place of worship.

President of the Gold Coast Islamic Society Hussin Goss said an appeal had been lodged with the Planning and Environment Court.

"Well we've put our papers into appeal of course and we believe there's a good chance of winning," he said.

"It is up to Council now to study and go through it but we've got our solicitors working on it and it'll take probably three to six months to make it happen."

Appeal for witnesses, Annerley

QPS Media [24/10/14]:

Detectives investigating an incident in which three men were injured when a vehicle drove at them in Annerley last weekend are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Around 10.20am on Saturday, October 18, five men were involved in a physical altercation in the front yard of a Waterton Street residence.

A short time later, three of the men were standing on a nearby footpath when a green 1997 Hyundai Coupe drove at the trio, striking two of them and forcing the third man to jump out of the way.

The vehicle then fled the scene along Lambton Street.

An 18-year-old man sustained a fractured rib and lacerations while a 23-year-old man and a 47-year-old man received injuries to their hands and forearms. They were transported to the Princess Alexandra Hospital for treatment.

Investigators are urging anyone who may have witnessed the incident or has any information which could assist with their inquiries to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Update – suspicious death investigation, Varsity Lakes

QPS Media [24/10/14]:

Police investigating the death of a man at Varsity Lakes are appealing for public assistance.

Detectives would like to speak to anyone who had contact with 57-year-old Gregory John Hudson since he arrived on the Gold Coast on Monday, October 20.

Mr Hudson was located deceased at a Mulgrave Crescent address around 11am yesterday.

The residence has been declared a crime scene with forensic and scientific officers continuing their examination of the scene.

The cause of death has not yet been determined with police treating the matter as suspicious at this time.

“Mr Hudson arrived on the Gold Coast from Sydney on Monday and we would like to hear from anyone who has spoken to him or seen him since he got here,” Detective Superintendent Dave Hutchinson, Regional Crime Coordinator said.

“If anyone has any information that could assist us we are asking them to contact Crime Stoppers.”

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.

Tourist drowns in Lockyer Valley pool

Chronicle [24/10/14]:

A French tourist has drowned in a pool at Laidley.

Emergency services were called to a Campbell St address at 12.40pm.

Police said the man was found in a pool.

The man was taken to Laidley Hospital but did not survive the incident.

A report is being prepared for the coroner.

Girl, 3, critical after Stradbroke Island balcony fall

ABC [24/10/14]:

A three-year-old girl has been airlifted to Brisbane from North Stradbroke Island after falling from a balcony onto concrete.

The Brisbane toddler and her family were at a Point Lookout holiday home on Friday afternoon when she fell, RACQ CareFlight Rescue said.

She suffered suspected head injuries and was flown to the Mater Hospital, where she was in a critical condition.

Car, trucks crash near Coffs Harbour

NBN News [24/10/14]:

A 24-year-old man is tonight in a serious condition, following a horrific crash north of Coffs Harbour.

Police believe the man’s car crossed to the wrong side of the Pacific Highway, and into the path of two oncoming b-double trucks.

Truck explodes on Pacific Highway

NBN News [24/10/14]:

There’ve been dramatic scenes on the Pacific Highway south of Coolongolook on the New South Wales mid north coast.

A truck carrying explosive material burst into flames, causing traffic chaos.

Truck fire, M5 Moorebank [Liverpool Champion - 24/10/14]

WA Premier backs ex-minister over job linked to government contracts

ABC [24/10/14]:

WA Premier Colin Barnett has defended former transport minister Troy Buswell's decision to accept a job with a company responsible for building some of the state's major roads.

Troy Buswell relinquished his Treasury and Transport portfolios in March after crashing his ministerial vehicle into a series of cars while driving home from a wedding.

He quit politics last month.

It has been revealed he has since been hired on a part-time basis by civil contractor Brierty, which has worked on dozens of state roads such as the Great Northern and Albany Highways.

The ministerial code of conduct states former members of Cabinet should exercise care when accepting jobs that have a contractual relationship with government.

But Premier Colin Barnett insists Mr Buswell's prior knowledge will not be misused.

"Troy is perfectly entitled and free to pursue a career having left politics," he said.

"He is a private citizen, he's not a lobbyist, he's working for a company, and clearly he's got knowledge but that will not be misused."

Mr Barnett believes the move complies with the code of conduct.

"Obviously, initially there will be some caution within Government to make sure that things were proper," he said.

"If there is seen to be any potential conflict with his former role as minister, then the Government will take responsibility for ensuring that it is not in any way misused.

"That scrutiny is the responsibility of government, not of Troy, so obviously within government there will be some caution about that.

"But you know, I think for Troy it's great, move on, he's a good friend and I wish him well."

Barnett government's shark drum line policy sunk

WA Today [24/10/14]:

The Barnett government's controversial shark cull is dead in the water after it withdrew its application to the federal government to continue its catch-and-kill policy.

Following a spate of shark attacks, the WA government introduced a 13-week trial in January, where 72 baited drum lines were set off Perth and South West beaches.

More than 170 sharks were killed on the drum lines, but none were great whites.

The Barnett government applied to Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to continue the shark cull for three years, but it hit a snag when the Evironmental Protection Authority rejected the proposal.

Premier Colin Barnett said in a release on Friday, WA had withdrawn its application to get federal government approval to place baited hooks off the WA coast.

He said the federal government gave WA approval to drop drum lines and catch and kill sharks if they posed a threat to beachgoers.


ABC [24/10/14]:

Nearly 700 sharks have been killed in the last year in Queensland's shark control program, but a conservation group says there is no evidence it actually works.

The state's strategy has not generated as much publicity or controversy as Western Australia's culls, but conservationists say it is the toughest in Australia.

Queensland is the only jurisdiction that uses shark nets and drum lines.

In the 12 months to August, 667 sharks including endangered species such as the great white and grey nurses were killed, figures from the Fisheries Department revealed.

About 100 dolphins, turtles and dugongs were also unintentionally killed.


Humpbacks and Highrises [24/10/14]:

Recently the Sea World Research & Rescue Team went out to help an offshore bottlenose dolphin entangled in fishing line off the Gold Coast. The dolphin, named Larry, has line wrapped around his tail fluke and we were able to remove a some of this line including plastic bag material.

Larry still has a section of the line which is wrapped very tightly around his tail which we were not able to cut free from the rescue boat.

Larry is of a healthy weight and is able to swim and we are working with the Queensland government on a new method to remove the remainder of the line.

You can help to prevent marine animals like Larry being entangled by always collecting your rubbish and discarded fishing gear.

Fraser Island: Native title rights granted to Indigenous people by Federal Court

ABC [24/10/14]:

Queensland's popular Fraser Island has been returned to its Indigenous people, with the Federal Court today granting native title rights.

The ruling recognised the World Heritage-listed island's Indigenous heritage of the Butchulla people and opened up possible economic opportunities for the future.

Federal Court Justice Berna Collier held an on-country sitting of the court today on 1,640 square kilometre island.

"The history of Australia, the European civilisation of Australia, is very closely linked with the Butchullas here on Fraser Island," Justice Collier said.

The Butchulla People have called Fraser Island home for at least 5,000 years, known to the local Indigenous people as K'Gari, which means paradise.

The world's largest sand island had not always been an idyllic home, with its people fighting off forced removal, sand mining and environmental damage, to maintain their connection to the island.

The CEO of Queensland South Native Title Services, Kevin Smith, said it was a significant claim that had been in the Federal Court for many years.

Mr Smith said the determination of native title was a testament to the strength of the Butchulla people and their ongoing connection to the land.

"K'Gari is internationally renowned for its striking natural beauty and unique environmental and Aboriginal cultural values," he said.

"This native title determination reinforces the Butchulla people protecting K'Gari as their island paradise for current and future generations.

"This is an opportunity to honour the courage and resilience of Butchulla elders past and present, to have their rights and interests to their traditional country recognised by the Australian legal system."

He said about 400 Butchulla people and various dignitaries were at today's hearing on the island.

The formal court recognition and related Indigenous Land Use Agreement strengthens the Butchulla people's ability to enjoy and protect their rights and interests over their traditional lands and waters.

Mr Smith said it also meant there could be economic opportunities for current and future generations of Butchulla people through eco-tourism and related business development.

"This momentous occasion closes the chapter on the long, frustrating struggle for legal recognition and opens another that involves the management and leverage of recognised legal rights," he said.

"[This is] a chapter that will be written by the Butchulla people themselves, a task that they will embrace with the same vigour, creativity and passion they have become legendary for."

Mr Smith said today's determination meant the State Government, national parks and the Butchulla tribe would be able to work together to help enhance the natural beauty of the island, which was largely covered by national parks.

"There [were] a number of things that [would] be recognised - obviously the right to come onto country, hunt, fish and take water for domestic purposes, but very importantly to practise culture on Fraser Island," he said.

"After the determination, there will be discussions with the State Government as to how the Butchulla people will utilise their native title."

Butchulla elder Susan Graham said the traditional owners had been trying to gain native title for decades.

"It's really important that it's publicly recognised, that the Government is recognising it and the community understand, and for our people it is just important to understand that this is the country we belong [to]," she said.

Clive Palmer announces plans to save solar in Newcastle

Palmer United Party Media Release [24/10/14]:

The federal leader of the Palmer United Party and Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer, says the people of Newcastle need better access to cleaner and less expensive energy sources such as solar power.

Mr Palmer, who was joined in Newcastle by the CEO of the Australian Solar Council, John Grimes, said the Palmer United Party was committed to saving Novocastrians money.

“It’s important the people of Newcastle have better access to clean energy,” he said.

“Electricity is too expensive. An average household will reduce its power bill by 65 per cent when it installs solar. Two million Australian households have done this and millions more want to get solar power including thousands of Novocastrians.”

Mr Palmer said encouraging Australian home owners to put solar panels on their roofs was a great way to protect them from higher electricity prices.

“People on low incomes, self-funded retirees, pensioners and community groups are among those who will be able to slash their power bills,” he said.

Mr Palmer said any move by the Abbott government to reduce or abolish the Renewable Energy Target (RET) was irresponsible and would not be supported by the Palmer United Party.

“The RET has to be retained. Australia needs to move towards cleaner renewable energy sources such as solar power and the RET supports this,” he said.

“The RET was also responsible for creating 24,000 new jobs and if left unchanged will create an additional 18,400 jobs by 2020.”

Tyalgum could be Australia's first off-the-grid town [Tweed Daily News - 24/10/14]

Major employer sacks 100 workers in Victorian premier's hometown ahead of election [Nine MSN - 23/10/14]:

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has been dealt a blow today with one of the biggest employers in his electorate announcing plans to sack 100 staff.

Wind turbine tower manufacturing company Keppel Prince, one of Portland’s major employers, blamed the cuts on sustained losses and uncertainty over Australia's renewable energy target.

“It is quite distressing actually. It is probably the toughest announcement I’ve had to make in my 40 years of working in this organisation ,” Keppel Prince general manager Steve Garner said.


Casino-Murwillumbah rail-corridor protections ‘still in place, for now’ [Tweed Shire Echo - 24/10/14]

Old school building moves on

Daily Mercury [24/10/14]:

... The old Mt Pelion school building was to have travelled more than 30km to Sarina today on the back of a truck.

Loaded and ready to go, the former single-teacher school building was farewelled by students of Northview State School yesterday.

The historic Queenslander-style building was last used by Northview State School as an exhibition building to show students what school was like in the early 1900s.

But Northview State School deputy principal Wendy Ross said the school could not continue to maintain the deteriorating building.

"It became a safety hazard, so we had to keep the students away from it," she said.

The historic building was today being delivered by police escort to Railway Square Sarina, where it will form part of the Sarina Tourist Art and Craft Visitor Information Centre.

Board member Ron Ailwood said the Mt Pelion building would give the registered information centre new character.

"It will be attached to the existing visitor information centre," he said.

"The information centre is the old Sarina watch-house.

"The arts and craft centre is the old courthouse.

"It's going to be a great complex when it is finished. All staff are looking forward to it."

Keen to preserve history, Mr Ailwood said he was glad the old school house could be re-used.

"We will renovate it, of course," he said.

"It needs a bit of work done, we will give the building new life and put it to good use.

"We always tell visitors about the history of our buildings, people are very receptive of that information."

Most people in the Mackay region would have missed the move. Police vehicles were scheduled to escort the house at 3am today to beat the morning traffic.

New Zealand: ANZ staff take further strike action

RNZI [24/10/14]:

Hundreds of ANZ workers around the country are walking off the job again today.

First Union members have rejected the Bank's offer of a 3 percent rise this year and 2.7 percent increase next year.

They are also fighting ANZ's attempts to change the days and hours staff will work each month.

ANZ said it is just responding to customer demand to be open longer and on the weekends.

But First Union's retail and finance secretary Maxine Gay said ANZ doesn't have to change the collective agreement to do that.

"Already the bank can employ people for example Tuesday to Saturday, or Sunday through Thursday. The bank already has the ability to meet customer demand and that's evidenced by the fact that the bank made $1.37 million in profit."

Maxine Gay said the proposed changes would make it particularly hard for staff with families to arrange childcare.

Bank staff have also filed legal action against their employer, saying the bank has breached the Employment Relations Act.

ANZ said it will meet with the Union early next month to discuss the legal action being taken and employment issues.

About 500 bank staff took strike action earlier this month.

They also protested against the $4.1 million salary of ANZ chief executive David Hisco who is the highest paid executive in New Zealand.

New Zealand: Warning on calls to arm police

RNZI [24/10/14]:

A criminal defence lawyer has issued a warning about arming police after a call by Police Association members for sworn officers to carry guns.

Police Association members voted unanimously in favour of arming sworn officers at their annual conference on Thursday and have called on the Police Commissioner to start the process of arming officers.

But the lawyer Marie Dyhrberg has warned that if all police were armed, more criminals will start carrying guns.

She has campaigned for years against officers carrying tasers and is on a consultative body with the police on the use of force.

Ms Dyhrberg said if criminals know they will face officers with guns they will be more inclined to arm themselves.

"In my view it's going to increase the danger and ultimate safety of police officers and members of the public if all officers and frontline are going to be armed because the natural response to that is going to be the criminals are going to be armed as well."

Marie Dyhrberg says police officers she has spoken to are against being armed.

The Police Commissioner said calls from the Police Association to arm all officers are not backed up by evidence which shows assaults on staff are falling, along with crime.

Commissioner Mike Bush said arming the police would change the police's relationship with the public beyond repair.

He said it was incorrect to say that the Police Association was talking on behalf of all police staff.

The Police Association is calling on the Commissioner to start the process of arming officers.

Mr Bush said it was on police staff's own authority as to how they accessed firearms that were available to them.

"I'm quite sure that the majority of New Zealanders don't want to change their relationship with the New Zealand police."

He said assaults on police staff actually fell 30 percent between 2008 and 2012.

Delegates at the association's conference approved the motion on Thursday, calling on the Commissioner to start the process of arming officers immediately.

A similar call from the association in 2010 prompted the New Zealand police to place guns in lock-boxes inside front-line patrol cars.

Association president Greg O'Connor said guns in patrol cars were still too far away to provide protection for police officers and the public.

"I'm referring to the fact that a police officer was shot just last month.

"I'm referring to the fact that police officers on the street are increasingly stumbling across firearms, just last week two officers visiting an address on a bail check happened across armed offenders."

Mr O'Connor said having firearms locked up was not helpful in an unpredictable situation like the shootings in Canada yesterday.

He said nine police officers had been shot in 18 months.

But Police Minister Michael Woodhouse said he backed the Commissioner's view that police did not need to be armed generally.

Ottawa gunman ‘privately-educated’ son of Canada immigration chief, acted alone

RT [23/10/14]:

Following the Canadian shooting attack which threw Ottawa into lockdown, a 32-year-old, Quebec-born male was identified as the sole perpetrator – and his mother was found to work at Canada’s Immigration and Refugee board.

The gunman responsible for the attack on the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa acted alone, authorities confirmed on Thursday, adding that that there is no link to an attack in Quebec earlier in the week.

“We have no information linking the two attacks this week,” said Bob Paulson, commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, saying that the shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau may also have held a Libyan passport.

Police also said that checks by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) found no evidence of national security related offenses, although the Canadian-born Zehaf-Bibeau had a record of drugs violations and, violence related activity, Paulson said. Authorities said Zehaf-Bibeau wanted to go to Syria.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had converted to Islam prior to the attacks in Ottawa and had previously had his passport revoked and been arrested several times. He was privately educated and the son of the deputy chairperson of Canada’s immigration division, Susan Bibeau, reported CTV News.

Despite his education he had been regarded as somewhat disturbed by one of his friends from his youth and in later years had several drug and robbery arrests and one weapons charge – he was also classed as a high-risk traveler despite his mother’s position.

One friend, friend Dave Bathurst, told Canada’s Globe and Mail that he had exhibited some signs of possibly suffering mental illness: “We were having a conversation in a kitchen, and I don’t know how he worded it: He said the devil is after him,” he said.

His parents had reportedly gone long periods of time without seeing their son.

On Wednesday, his mother, Susan Bibeau told AP that she was crying for the victims of her son’s attack, 24-year-old soldier Nathan Cirillo, rather than for her son.

“Can you ever explain something like this?” she said through tears, during a telephone call. “We are sorry.”

She added that she did not know what to say to the people who were injured.

“No words can express the sadness we are feeling at this time. We are so sad that a man lost his life. He has lost everything and he leaves behind a family that must feel nothing but pain and sorrow,” the parents said in their official statement read.

“I don't understand and part of me wants to hate him at this time. You write that our son was vulnerable, we don't know, we (he) was lost and did not fit in. I his mother spoke with him last week over lunch, I had not seen him for over five years before that.”

Bibeau was killed by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers shortly after his attack on Parliament Hill and a shooting at the National War Memorial.

The shootings which shook Canada on Wednesday morning put the capital on lockdown as well as all military bases nationwide. Three people were hospitalized in the storm of bullets he unleashed on Parliament Hill before he was shot dead.

Strangers in paradise

101 East [Al Jazeera - 22/10/14]:

We travel to remote Manus Island in Papua New Guinea to investigate Australia's refugee detention programme.

"It's like a prison, like Guantanamo Bay, the one America built in Cuba," says Faisal. As he sits in a refugee detention centre on an island in the middle of the Pacific, his dream of starting a new life in Australia is fading.

Many refugees fleeing war and persecution dream of starting new lives in Australia, but recently any who try to travel there by boat instead end up on shores far away in Papua New Guinea.

More than 3,500km away from Faisal, his sister Samar waits by the phone in her Sydney home. When he calls, he tells her he has no news of when he will be released.

This is the life of more than 1,000 men detained behind the barbwire fences of Australia's refugee processing centre on PNG's remote Manus Island. Most of them are fleeing countries like Iran, Iraq, and Sri Lanka.

They are detained for months or years while their claims are being processed, after which they are either sent home or to a third country.

It is difficult to gain access to the detention facility - where refugees live behind high fences and appear to be housed in shipping containers. Tensions are high. Detainees are frustrated over long waiting and processing periods.

Earlier this year, frustration at the camp exploded into violence. Riots broke out over two days and were brutally put down by PNG police. At the height of the violence, Reza Berati, a 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker, was killed.

The Australian government insists sending asylum seekers to Pacific Islands for processing deters refugees from risking their lives on dangerous sea journeys. For the more than 60,000 Manus islanders, hosting the refugee processing centre promises job opportunities and increased Australian aid.

But at a nearby village, angry locals are calling for the detention centre to be shut down. According to Ruth Mandrakamu, the mayor of the provincial capital, Lorengau, the centre is breeding resentment and animosity.

"We are not benefitting in the way we should be," she says. "I just want to make sure the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea bring something permanent here for the local people."

The Australian government recently announced that their resettlement policy in PNG will be revised. But it provides little information of its plans for the Manus Island detention centre or the refugees held inside.

What is clear is that many locals staunchly oppose accepting refugees into an already impoverished nation.

Airs GMT: Saturday 0330, Sunday 1630

Caught in the Crossfire: A staggering number of refugees bear wounds from the Syrian conflict. These 12 survivors in Lebanon are learning to be whole again. [UNHCR - 23/10/14]

United States continue bombing Iraq and Syria

Centcom [23/10/14]:

U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria Wednesday and today using fighter and bomber aircraft to conduct six airstrikes.

Separately, U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted nine airstrikes Wednesday and today using fighter, attack and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists in Iraq.

In Syria, four airstrikes near Kobani destroyed ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, and an ISIL command and control center. East of Dawr Az Zawr, two airstrikes destroyed ISIL oil holding tanks.

In Iraq, four airstrikes south of the Mosul Dam struck four small ISIL units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle. South of Bayji, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

Three airstrikes south of Fallujah destroyed an ISIL building and struck a large ISIL unit.

Finally, near Fallujah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL training facility. All aircraft departed the strike areas safely. Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community.

The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project power and conduct operations.

Don’t Ask the Pentagon Where Its Money Goes, It won't tell, Medea Benjamin [Anti War - 23/10/14]

President Barack Obama proudly signed the law that repealed the Pentagon’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, freeing lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans (although not trans people) to openly serve in the military four years ago.

But when it comes to budgeting, the concept lingers on. “Don’t ask us how we spend money,” the Pentagon basically says. “Because we can’t really tell you.”

Every taxpayer, business, and government agency in America is supposed to be able to pass a financial audit by the feds, every year. It’s the law, so we do our duty. There’s one exception: the Pentagon.


New York police shoot man dead, officer critically wounded

Protesters shut down Times Square #NYPD Station in #NYC while marching against Police Brutality! #o22

Image: @JamesFTInternet [22/10/14]

Reuters [23/10/14]:

A hatchet-wielding attacker charged a group of New York City police officers posing for a photograph on Thursday, wounded two, one critically, before the assailant was shot dead, police said.

The officers were on foot patrol when they were asked by a freelance photographer to pose for a picture on a Queens street at about 2 p.m., a New York Police Department spokesman said.

Suddenly a man carrying a hatchet charged the officers, swinging it and striking one officer in the right arm and then swinging it again and striking a second officer in the head, the spokesman said.

The remaining two officers fired their weapons at the man, hitting him. The suspect, whose identity was not yet confirmed but who was said to be approximately 32 years old, was pronounced dead at the scene.

A 29-year-old female bystander was struck by a stray bullet. She underwent surgery and was recovering at the hospital, the spokesman said.

Both officers were being treated at Jamaica Hospital, with the 25-year-old officer who was hit in the head undergoing surgery and in critical condition. The other officer, who is 24 years old, was in stable condition, the spokesman said.

"At this point, no known motive for this attack has been established," Police Commissioner William Bratton told a press conference.

Police declined to comment on media reports that the attack was tied to terrorism and that an internal memo urged officers to maintain a heightened level of awareness in the wake of recent attacks in Canada.

All four officers involved in the New York City incident graduated on July 8 from the city Police Academy.

Key characteristics of ur fascism include militarism and the fetishisation of violence ... Darling Downs girls take aim on the shooting range [Chronicle - 24/10/14]

Pig hunters ambushed, held at gunpoint [Chronicle - 24/10/14]

US judge wavers on UN immunity in Haiti cholera case

France 24 [23/10/14]:

A US judge on Thursday deferred a decision on whether the United Nations can be sued by thousands of Haitian families over a deadly cholera outbreak that is widely believed to have been caused by negligence at the hands of the world body.

Dozens of Haitians braved driving rain outside the Manhattan courtroom to call for the UN to be stripped of its immunity so that thousands of plaintiffs who lost family members to the devastating cholera outbreak can proceed in their suit against the organisation.

More than 8,500 people were killed and 700,000 sickened after human waste, allegedly from a UN peacekeeping base, leaked into a central Haitian river.

Federal Judge Paul Oetken presided over the hearing, which reviewed the technical interpretations of a 1946 convention which has so far been understood to offer the UN immunity in the case.

Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom argued that the UN had forfeited its right to immunity by refusing the right to out-of-court settlements under section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.

“The US is arguing that the UN has absolute immunity from suits unless it is expressly waived, but that’s just not an issue in this particular case,” Lindstrom told FRANCE 24 outside the courtroom.

“This case is about whether the UN can essentially operate with immunity when it has refused to provide any kind of remedies to the victims. The principles of basic rights to justice demand that victims are able to come to court here because it is the last resort that they have to seek justice.”

But Judge Oetken, who surprised those involved in the case by agreeing to hear the two sides after a year of impasse, warned of a “steep hill” for Lindstrom and the plaintiffs. Oetken said that US courts were reluctant to proceed with lawsuits when United Nations immunity was asserted.


Pipeline Explosion in Germany Kills One, Injures 26

RIA Novosti [23/10/14]:

One person was killed and 26 were injured in a pipeline explosion in western Germany Thursday.

The explosion took place at the construction site in the German city of Ludwigshafen. The causes of the explosion are still unknown, but it is believed that it was caused by a gas leak, The Local news portal reported.

The explosion killed the driver of an excavator, who was at the epicenter of the explosion. Seven out of 26 injured sustained severe injuries, The Local reported, citing the local police.

The explosion knocked out all the windows within 100 meters radius and damaged about 50 buildings. In addition, several cars parked near the construction site burned. The area around the explosion is currently blocked.

New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager has law on his side says lawyer

RNZI [24/10/14]:

Nicky Hager's lawyer Felix Geiringer says the Dirty Politics author has the law on his side, as he fights to protect documents taken from his home from police scrutiny.

Police raided Mr Hager's home earlier this month, seizing documents and devices in a bid to identify the hacker known as Rawshark, a key source of Mr Hager's book.

Officers have not examined the seized devices, which are secured by the High Court.

Mr Hager is challenging the legitimacy of the search warrant.

Mr Geiringer said Rawshark was given an assurance of confidentiality, and the law said that when a journalist does that, the relevant information was privileged.

He said the legal challenge to the search also encompasses the fact police took away all Mr Hager's documents, which could compromise his other sources.

However, a Canterbury University law expert said current legislation may not protect information about sources stored in equipment seized from Mr Hager.

Canterbury University's Ursula Cheer said journalistic privilege may not apply to his work.

Ms Cheer said it was usually applied to commercial radio, television, and print journalists, and Mr Hager may be an exception since he writes books.

"That has to be for the purpose of breaking stories regularly in the news medium and writing a book may not actually fit that definition.

"I think it'd very generally accepted that his is a journalist, so it would be awful thing if that definition did not fit him in some way."

The Engineers, Printers, and Manufacturers Union said any attempt by police to access the sources of Mr Hager was an attack on media freedom.

EPMU senior industrial officer Paul Tolich said a ruling in favour of the police could set a dangerous precedent.

"It goes back to that age-old right of the journalist to remain silent about who his sources are, one of the pillars of the free press and one that needs to be defended, especially in this age where there is increasing surveillance."

A Domain of Personal Tyranny: A Real History of Rupert Murdoch

Bruce Page's review of Michael Wolff's biography of Rupert Murdoch - The Man Who Owns the News [Counterpunch - May, 2009]:

... A true outline can be stated briskly. Rupert’s father, Sir Keith, founded the dynasty during World War I as a dirty-tricks minion for “Billy” Hughes, probably Australia’s nastiest prime minister. His cover myth as a heroic war reporter has been so thoroughly dismantled that now it impresses none but family retainers and – of course – Mr. Wolff.

At Versailles, Keith was Billy’s ever-present aide in striving to make the Peace Conference into a vicious cock-up, rich in racist and imperialist content. Curiously, the pair would have had zero leverage but for the failure of a plot of Keith’s, which sought in 1918 to remove Australia’s battlefield commander on the Western Front, John Monash, for being an unheroic Jew. (Monash wrote home that it was a bore having to fight a “pogrom” at the same time as fight Ludendorff.) The overall commander, General Douglas Haig, wouldn’t play: and Monash’s divisions led the British breakthrough at Amiens which, ruining Ludendorff, put Germany – suddenly, unexpectedly– at the Allies’ mercy.

Haig and other soldiers hoped there might be space for a decent peace. But politicians of various brands thought otherwise and none outdid Keith’s boss in vengeful demagoguery, destroying at last all the credit Monash had gained for Australia. Billy and Keith weren’t prime authors of the Versailles debacle in 1919. But none toiled harder in its cause.

This ironic history yields two items of present relevance. One, we see the core of the Murdoch business: offering political propaganda services, disguised thinly as journalism. Two, there’s the stunning Murdoch talent for seizing the wrong end of any available political or military stick. Keith’s estimate of Monash and Rupert’s of the pseudo-warrior Bush Jr. were reciprocals, to be sure, but identically crass.


Fight free of Anzac, lest we forget other stories, Marilyn Lake [The Age - 23/4/09]:

... The myth will remain our creation story until the nation is reborn, until we have the courage to detach ourselves from the mother country, declare our independence, inaugurate a republic, draw up a constitution that recognises the first wars of dispossession fought against indigenous peoples. Thus we can truly make history in Australia.


While Queensland Police are busy arbitrarily applying anti rights laws [Taskforce Maxima located drugs and cash on the Gold Coast - QPS Media - 24/10/14], disproportionately policing ethnically diverse regions, enthusiastically revenue raising at GC600, and flying around in the QPS chopper for the 'Gold Coast Cops' propaganda spectacle ...

Armed robbery, Helensvale [QPS Media - 24/10/14]:

Police are searching for two men following the robbery of a golf club in which a 60-year-old man was assaulted at Helensvale overnight.

Around 9:40pm two men wearing balaclavas entered a Helensvale residence before one of them struck a male occupant with a baseball bat. The other man also intimated he was armed with a firearm, however, none was sighted.

The pair then forced the man to attend a nearby golf club on Country Club Drive and gain entry to the clubhouse.

Once inside the clubhouse, the men stole a sum of cash before forcing the man into the boot of his own vehicle and driving a short distance along Country Club Drive.

The 60-year-old man was let out of the boot before the pair drove away in the stolen white Hyundai Sonata with Queensland registration 515HEY.

The man’s wallet and mobile phone was also stolen during the incident.

He was transported to Gold Coast University Hospital with cuts and abrasions to his head and torso.

Anyone who may have seen the vehicle or has any information regarding the matter is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Man's body found at bottom of stairwell [Chronicle - 24/10/14]:

Police aren't ruling out foul play as they investigate the discovery of a man's body at the rear of a Drayton hotel.

Officers were called to the Drayton Tavern in Brisbane St about 7.20am today after the body of a middle-aged man was found at the bottom of a rear stairwell.

Darling Downs district officer Detective Acting Inspector Paul Hart said it was difficult to determine what had happened at such an early stage of the investigation.


Former detective jailed for stalking, again

Chronicle [24/10/14]:

A former Toowoomba police detective has now been jailed twice for stalking different former girlfriends.

Scott Peter Jones, 42, had just been released from prison in 2013, and was on probation attending court-ordered relationship counselling, when he began stalking another woman.

Between May 31 and August 5, not long after the love-sick Jones and the woman had broken up, he bombarded her with text messages.

He sent about 300 messages over 13 days, and 600 in total over the two months, threatening to reveal intimate photos of her, to kill himself, questioning her fidelity and blaming her because he could not get a job.

Jones also tried to call her 100 times.

He turned up at her house on June 13, but left when she asked him to and apologised for going there.

When Jones saw the woman in a Toowoomba shopping centre in August he followed her and urged her to get in his car.

But she refused and when she drove away he pulled in front of her as she was driving home.

The woman was so frightened she spent the night at her daughter's home.

Judge Julie Ryrie sentenced Jones to 35 months, with an immediate parole release date considering the 14-and-a-half months he has spent in jail for stalking another woman.

He and his family, in the Brisbane District Court to support him, broke down in tears when Judge Ryrie told him he would be released on Thursday.

She said he was fortunate none of his texts were violent messages.

Jones was placed on a two-year restraining order.

He will not return to Toowoomba, but will move to the north coast to live with family.

The Queensland Health Minister's new laws aren't about protecting health workers or patients, they're about further cementing the police state

Yahoo [24/10/14]:

People who assault health workers in Queensland will face up to 14 years in prison under tough new legislation introduced by the state government.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg announced the crackdown on Friday, as part of the government's $44.5 million Safe Night Out strategy, aimed at curbing alcohol-fuelled violence and anti-social behaviour in trouble hotspots like entertainment precincts.

Mr Springborg said the tough penalties were in response to startling statistics that show 24,500 nurses, doctors and paramedics have reported being a victim of a violent incident at work in the past five financial years.

More than 4400 last financial year alone were victims, he said.

"If you think it is okay to assault our health workers, we'll give you up to 14 years to think again," Mr Springborg said.

"It is simply not acceptable and that is why we have doubled the penalty."

A campaign will complement the new laws, raising awareness of the increased penalty, and will highlight graphic injuries received by nurses, doctors and paramedics.

The new laws come after Police Minister Jack Dempsey last year announced tougher penalties for people who assault police officers.

Three cars collide on Peak Downs Highway

Daily Mercury [24/10/14]:

A three vehicle pile-up delayed drivers heading towards Mackay .

QFRS, police and QAS crews were called to the scene just after 7.30am.

Drivers travelling in both directions on the Peak Downs Hwy just east of the Eungella turnoff experienced 15 minute delays.

Paramedics treated people with minor injuries at the scene.

By 9am all debris and the three damaged vehicles had been cleared from the scene.

The accident involved a late model Subaru wagon, a Hilux ute and a white Commodore ute.

People at the scene said a group of vehicles travelling east had slowed in the 90km speed zone because of a slow moving truck ahead of them.

However, one vehicle is believed to have struck the rear of another, sending it into the rear of the vehicle ahead.

Two of the vehicles were extensively damaged.

Young boy on motorbike collides with car near Yeppoon [Morning Bulletin - 23/10/14]

Teenager injured in two-car crash [Gladstone Observer - 23/10/14]

Woman dead after night of crashes

West Australian [24/10/14]:

A woman has died and two others have been seriously injured after crashes last night – two of which allegedly involved drivers who had been drinking.

A 21-year-old woman died after the car she was a passenger in left the road and hit a tree on Jindong-Treeton Road, Treeton at about 1.30am.

The driver - a 23-year-old male – was taken to Bunbury Regional Hospital with minor injuries.

In separate crash, a woman is fighting for life in Royal Perth Hospital after she was involved in a crash between two cars in Warnbro at about 8.20pm last night.

The 41-year-old woman was airlifted from the crash by the RAC Rescue helicopter after she received serious head injuries when the Nissan Pulsar she was a passenger in collided with a Toyota Kluger.

The 44-year-old male driver of the Nissan was allegedly driving with a blood alcohol concentrate of more than 0.08 and has been charged by police.

He has also been charged with having no authority to drive and dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm and will appear in Rockingham Magistrate’s Court today.

A 47-year-old man at the wheel of the Toyota was uninjured and his 40-year-old female passenger was treated for shock.

A 25-year-old Balga man also has serious injuries in Royal Perth Hospital after the Holden Commodore he was a passenger in hit several trees on Dandaragan Road in Dandaragan just after midnight.

The 27-year-old man at the wheel has been charged with driving with a blood alcohol level in excess of 0.08.

Police have asked anyone who witnessed the crashes to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Truck overturns in front of house in Sydney’s west

Nine MSN [24/10/14]:

A truck has overturned in the front yard of a Penrith home this morning.

9NEWS Choppercam images showed the truck on its side in the front of the house on Dunheved Road.

Paramedics have attended the scene where they have treated the male driver for minor trauma.

The driver is being treated for injuries.

The accident took place on Dunheved Road.

The driver is in a stable condition but has been taken to Nepean Hospital as a precaution.


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