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

I feel sorry for Americans

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FREE THE REFUGEES!

Perception correction.

Bearing witness.

"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time ... but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." - Lilla Watson, aboriginal educator and activist, Brisbane

Peace.

Copyright 2003-present

 



* Other Things *

 

Australia blows the budget on the arms trade ($12.4 billion), refugee concentration camps ($2 billion) and News Corporation ($882 million).

Billions in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry as public transport services are slashed, and fares become extortionate.

Billions in subsidies to the profit seeking insurance industry and mega health corporations as public hospitals and universal health care are savaged.

Billions of dollars in tax breaks to the property industry and the wealthy (eg negative gearing) reducing housing affordability and creating homelessness

Billions in subsidies to elite private schools, christian "independent" schools chaplain proselytisers and programs to attack the teaching profession (eg NAPLAN) at the expense of secular public education.

Pensioners eat cat food and work 'till they die.

Media silence on this illogic: Priceless.

A former teacher of a Toowoomba Catholic school has been charged with indecent treatment of children under 16 years of age. ... [Chronicle - 24/4/14]

Suffer little children: Australia's Minister for Immigration

179 children are imprisoned in Australia's refugee concentration camp on Nauru. Immigration Detention and Community Statistics Summary, 31 March 2014 [PDF]

One of our 15yr old artists has been indefinitely detained for over 2 years with her family.

Image: @RefugeeArtProj - Refugee Art Project [22/4/14]

Guardian [24/4/14]:

Oliver Laughland

Security guards at the family camp on Nauru have been accused of verbally and physically abusing child asylum seekers in a letter of concern from staff at the centre.

The letter by a Save the Children Australia worker to the charity’s Nauru contractors expresses “extremely alarming” allegations of “mistreatment and inappropriate behaviour” directed at asylum seekers by guards employed by Wilson Security, also now contracted at the Manus Island facility.

The letter, obtained by Guardian Australia, alleges that on 27 March a Wilson guard was seen by a Save the Children staff member chasing an asylum-seeker girl in the recreation area inside the centre and “hit her on the back of the head”.

It continues: “His [the guard] force and size was so big that the blow caused the child to fall to the ground.”

It says the guard proceeded to verbally abuse staff from Save the Children, which provides support to child asylum seekers on Nauru.

Guardian Australia understands this guard was a local employee and is being investigated by the Nauruan police, having been stood down from duties in the family camp following the allegations. It is unclear if he continues to work for Wilson.

On the same day a Wilson security guard was also observed by a Save the Children employee using “excessive force” to remove a child from the playground in the centre.

The letter continues: “The father [of the child] also witnessed the incident and yelled out to the guard, believing that it was not the first time this guard has mistreated his child.”

The serious allegations raise doubts about remarks made by the immigration minister, Scott Morrison, on Tuesday. He described the detention centres on Nauru as “running well”. Morrison has consistently maintained that Nauru is an appropriate location to send families and has recently begun transferring unaccompanied minors to detention centres on the island.

Further questions about the safety of the Nauru detention centre were raised on Tuesday after Guardian Australia revealed that an unexploded second world war bomb was found inside the family camp.

The allegations in the letter of concern include that on 30 March, an asylum-seeker child reported to a Save the Children staff member he had been pushed by a guard at the recreational tent, which also serves as a classroom. The letter states this was not witnessed by Save the Children staff, but the guard was later seen “standing over the child in an intimidating/ threatening manner”.

The letter continues: “The guard reported to staff that the child had sworn at him and when the Save the Children staff member raised the issue of his intimidating behaviour, he waved his arms and walked away agitated.”

On 25 March, a child asylum seeker was reported as being “very unwell” and needing “pressing medical attention” because he was “close to passing out and was extremely weak”, but Save the Children staff reported the approach of Wilson guards to assisting the child was “very casual and resistant”.

The family of the child were told they would have to wait for half an hour before being moved to medical facilities.

One contractor on Nauru told Guardian Australia there was “a lot of conflict” between Save the Children staff and Wilson Security personnel.

The letter continues: “The nature and extent of these incidents is extremely alarming given the mistreatment and inappropriate behaviour directed from Wilsons staff.”

It adds that all the allegations – which also include another on 26 March of a guard swearing at and mocking an adult male asylum seeker – would be formally reported as incident reports, which are submitted to the Department of Immigration.

A spokesman for Save the Children said the organisation had a “zero-tolerance approach to issues of physical or mental abuse of children”, describing the safety and wellbeing of children on Nauru as their “No 1 priority”.

“Save the Children immediately documents and escalates any incidents of concern involving children. While we remain concerned about the harmful impacts of prolonged detention on children in Nauru, we are satisfied that for any such incidents raised, appropriate steps are taken to prevent any additional harm,” the spokesman said.

A spokeswoman for Wilson Security said the company had started a “thorough and detailed internal investigation” as a result of the allegations. She said it would be “highly inappropriate to speculate” until due process had been followed.

“Wilson Security staff all receive training in working with children and other vulnerable groups. All staff undergo mandatory police and character checks. Operations are closely supervised, and include oversight from independent parties,” she said.

The company did not comment on whether the guard accused of assaulting a child was still employed by Wilson.

A spokeswoman for Morrison said the allegations were being “taken seriously” and that any instances of assault were referred to the Nauru police for investigation.

Asked if the allegations had any effect on the policy of offshore processing for asylum-seeker children, she said “the government will continue to operate the full suite of border policies”.

The minister had been advised Wilson Security had a “positive working relationship” with all other service providers on Nauru, the spokeswoman said.

“Transferees also have access to a robust service provider complaints mechanism at the offshore processing centres,” Morrison’s spokeswoman said.

5 years today - UN confirms at least 20000 casualties, LTTE calls for international aid, Sri Lanka rejects aid envoy [Tamil Guardian - 24/4/14]

This week Prime Minister Kevin Rudd asked the Indonesian President to stop a boatload of Sri Lankan asylum seekers from coming to Australia. President Yudhoyono obliged and sent three warships to take the boat to West Java where the Sri Lankans are refusing to disembark. The Prime Minister says he makes no apology for taking a tough line with "illegal" immigrants. ... [ABC - 14/10/09]

 

65 days since Reza Barati's murder and still no arrests.


63 days since the Syrians on Manus Island have been on hunger strike.

 

Refugee Rights Action Network WA

 

Calling urgently on Syrian authorities and the opposition to allow aid access, end siege warfare and halt the indiscriminate bombing of civilians, the top United Nations humanitarian officials today also issued a strong challenge to “those with the responsibility, power and influence” to find the courage to re-energize a thus-far failed diplomatic push to end the brutal three-year conflict. ... [UN Media Release - 23/4/14]

What are crimes against humanity?:

“Crimes against humanity” include any of the following acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

murder;
extermination;
enslavement;
deportation or forcible transfer of population;
imprisonment;
torture;
rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
persecution against an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or gender grounds;
enforced disappearance of persons;
the crime of apartheid;
other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious bodily or mental injury.

Prosecutors charge 2 with crimes against humanity

Yahoo New [24/4/14]:

Prosecutors will charge two former prison commanders with crimes against humanity for the deaths of political prisoners at lockups they commanded when Romania was a Communist country.

Alexandru Visinescu, commander of the Ramnicu Sarat prison from 1956 to 1963, was initially charged with genocide but Romania modified its criminal laws this year.

The court informed him Wednesday of the new charges for his alleged role in the deaths of six prisoners. Another prison guard Ion Ficior is expected to be informed of the new charge on Thursday.

Ficior is accused of causing the deaths of 103 political prisoners when he ran the Periprava labor camp in 1958-1963. Both men have pleaded innocent. No date has been set for the trials.

About 500,000 Romanians were condemned as political prisoners in the 1950s as the nation's Communist government sought to crush all dissent.

Exhumations at suspected Serbia mass grave begin [EURO News - 23/4/14]

ASIS witness to appear in East Timor legal battle in the Hague

Brisbane Times [21/4/14]:

David Wroe and Tom Allard

An international panel of jurists has ordered Australia to make available East Timor’s star witness – a former Australian spy – in a high-stakes legal battle between the two countries over $40 billion of disputed oil and gas reserves.

In a major blow to Australia, the panel of jurists has cleared the way for the former Australian Secret Intelligence Service officer to testify that he helped bug East Timor's cabinet room during negotiations over the Greater Sunrise oil and gas fields.

East Timor is trying to have the agreement, which was struck in 2006 with Australia over the reserves in the Timor Sea, overturned on the grounds Canberra did not negotiate in good faith.

Australia tried to block the officer from testifying, on the grounds he would be breaching Australian national security laws. His passport has been cancelled and his house was raided in December by security agency ASIO.

ASIO also raided the home of East Timor's Australian lawyer Bernard Collaery and seized more than a dozen documents including a statement the ASIS officer had given alleging the spying activities.

The latest ruling was made by an arbitral panel of three eminent jurists, which has jurisdiction over the dispute, based on the umbrella Timor Sea Treaty which the two countries signed in 2002 shortly after East Timor gained its independence.

The panel has previously met in The Hague, regarded by convention as the city for international legal disputes. If it were to meet there again to hear the ASIS witness' testimony, the Australian government would need to issue him a new passport or temporary travel documents.

However it is understood he could also give evidence via video link.

The 2006 agreement splits ownership of the reserves 50-50, even though they lie considerably closer to East Timor than Australia. The East Timor government is pushing to claim a considerably larger portion of the reserves than half.

The dispute has soured relations between Dili and Canberra.

Separate to the arbitration on the agreement itself, East Timor took Australia to the International Court of Justice in The Hague over the raids and seizure of documents in December.

East Timor demanded Australia seal the documents and return them either to Dili or to the court, and also that Australia stop spying. It raised concerns that Canberra was trying to gain advantage in the legal dispute.

However Attorney-General George Brandis argued the raids and seizures were driven by Australia's national security interests. He gave an extraordinary undertaking not to view the documents, a fear raised by East Timor given Senator Brandis is in charge of both ASIO and Australia's case in the legal dispute.

The court ruled the documents be sealed and kept from Australian officials, although it did not order they be returned to Dili.

A spokesman for Senator Brandis said: "Until the tribunal determines otherwise, all decisions and orders of the tribunal are confidential to the parties. As such, it would be inappropriate to comment on the content of those orders."

Andy Coulson: Palace mole supplied NOTW with information for cash

Hacking Inquiry [23/4/14]:

Martin Hickman

Andy Coulson had a palace mole who supplied the News of the World with information about the Royal Family in return for cash, he said today.

He told the phone hacking trial that this source had tipped him off “from inside the palace” about an intruder at Prince William’s 21st birthday party – which made a front-page story in the tabloid in 2003.

Under cross-examination from Clive Goodman’s lawyer, David Spens QC, Mr Coulson told the Old Bailey he had at least two sources for royal stories.

One, whom he did not name, was female and sometimes paid in cash – via a third party.

Asked about her payments, Mr Coulson told the Old Bailey: “I’m pretty sure she was paid both in cash and on other occasions through the system.”

Judge John Saunders asked: “In her own name?”

“No,” replied the journalist, deputy editor between 2000 and 2003 and editor for the next four years.

“She gave me a different name, who would receive money on her behalf.”

He said he gave his employers, News International, an address for the source, but was not sure if it was a false address, because his source may have been sharing the property with the third party.

Mr Coulson agreed with Mr Spens that his other source was Mark Bolland, deputy private secretary to the Prince Charles between 1997 and 2002.

Mr Bolland, the first director of the Press Complaints Commission, had improved as a source after he left the Royal Household, he told the Old Bailey.

Mr Spens suggested that Mr Coulson had given Mr Goodman a “storyline” that Prince Charles’s Principal Private Scretary, Sir Michael Peat was having an affair – and that the tip “had come from Mark Bolland.”
Mr Colson said he could not remember whether that was so.

In response to Mr Coulson’s earlier evidence denigrating Mr Goodman’s work record, Mr Spens suggested that his client had been a “loyal NoW stalwart” and read out letters from NoW executives regularly praising him for exclusives.

The lawyer suggested that two of the tabloid’s executives were bullies, which Mr Coulson rejected.

“No, I don’t accept that, he said, when asked if one executive was “particularly aggressive.”

Challenged whether another journalist was “bullying and domineering,” Mr Coulson replied: “Not in my experience.”

Mr Coulson, who become Prime Minister David Cameron’s director of communications, denies conspiring to hack phones between 2000 and 2006. He and Mr Goodman are jointly charged with – and deny – conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.

The trial continues.

Andy Coulson denies 'covering up' phone hacking at News of the World [Guardian - 23/4/14]

$3 Million Jury Verdict in Texas Fracking Nuisance Case

Desmog Blog [22/4/14]:

A jury in Dallas, TX today awarded $2.925 million to plaintiffs Bob and Lisa Parr, who sued Barnett shale fracking company Aruba Petroleum Inc. for intentionally causing a nuisance on the Parr's property which impacted their health and ruined their drinking water.

The jury returned its 5-1 verdict confirming that Aruba Petroleum “intentionally created a private nuisance” though its drilling, fracking and production activities at 21 gas wells near the Parrs' Wise County home over a three-year period between 2008-2011.

Plaintiffs attorneys claimed the case is “the first fracking verdict in U.S. history.”

The trial lasted two and a half weeks. Aruba Petroleum plans to appeal the verdict.

The pollution from natural gas production near the Parrs' Wise County home was so bad that they were forced to flee their 40-acre property for months at a time.

The Parrs were represented by attorneys David Matthews, Brad Gilde and Rich Capshaw.

“They’re vindicated,” said Mr. Matthews. “I’m really proud of the family that went through what they went through and said, ‘I’m not going to take it anymore. It takes guts to say, ‘I’m going to stand here and protect my family from an invasion of our right to enjoy our property.’ It’s not easy to go through a lawsuit and have your personal life uncovered and exposed to the extent this family went through.”

According to Mr. Matthews' blog post, the verdict included $275,000 for the Parr’s property loss of market value and $2 million for past physical pain and suffering by Bob and Lisa Parr and their daughter, $250,000 for future physical pain and suffering, $400,000 for past mental anguish.

The Parrs' petition to the court is attached below. The case was Parr v. Aruba Petroleum, Inc., No. 11-1650 (Dallas Co. Ct. at Law, filed Mar. 2011)

Testimony of a CSG worker [Coal Seam Gas News - 23/4/14]

Like me, and all of us with a conscience, we are unlikely to get a good night’s sleep until we put an end to mandatory detention in this country.

Sydney Morning Herald [22/4/14]:

Ben Pynt

In my day job in the construction industry, I specialise in alternative dispute resolution in the thriving gas pipeline sector in Western Australia. By night, I get to follow my true passion as a human rights advocate. I work with the men, women and children interned in the Manus Island, Nauru and Christmas Island detention centres. I speak with them daily, organise lawyers to represent them and co-ordinate complaints on their behalf (complaints are taken more seriously if an Australian lodges them). I sometimes put them in touch with journalists.

More than half of the people I work with have suffered torture and/or trauma before seeking asylum in Australia by boat. They are then detained indefinitely, without having committed a crime, in conditions unduly harsh for even the most despicable murderer or paedophile; conditions that lead about a third of asylum seekers to attempt self-harm and/or suicide during their time in detention.

Those who speak with me send me photos and testimonies and beg me to have them published. They tell me they are under constant threat of reprisals: from locals who taunt them by making the sign of slitting their throats, and guards who they allege encourage them to commit self-harm. Many feel a return to their homeland and the prospect of being killed there is better than the uncertainty of indefinite detention and possible death on Manus Island.

Over the past week, I have relived a dozen times the trauma of the February attacks on the Manus Island detention centre. I travelled to London, Paris and Geneva for eight days to tell the world about what is happening on Manus. I organised interviews and meetings with media, non-government organisations and international human rights specialists.

Every day, as I explained the circumstances of detention at Manus, and as I showed photos sent to me by the men interned there of the horrific injuries they sustained in the attacks, I felt like I was there. I have read their testimonies so many times they are committed to memory and I experience the scenes vividly. I see the attackers (I know their faces from social media), I see the men being pulled from under their beds and hacked with machetes or beaten with rocks and boots, and it brings tears to my eyes. Every time.

After these meetings, I would often walk around aimlessly for a while, staring into the distance. I rode the London underground from Victoria to Walthamstow before realising I had gone seven stations too far. I went to the theatre on my last night in London, but don’t really remember the show.

The people I met were shocked and disbelieving of my version of events. Until they saw the photos. Until they heard the voices of asylum seekers speaking over the telephone from Manus Island about what happened to them. Until they saw that everything we have reported since one day after the attacks has been verified by the media and, to a large extent, admitted by the government. Then they were horrified.

An audience of millions tuned in to engage with our BBC Radio 4 Today show package – the most listened-to news program on English radio. Journalists, when they had the full situation explained and saw the evidence for themselves, were eager to write about the Guantanamo Bay of the Pacific: Australia’s national shame.

The meeting with the United Nations was the most important but the hardest of all. The people I met with are hardened human rights specialists who spend their days sifting through complaints alleging serious crimes including extra-judicial killings, and even they were shocked at what they heard and saw.

The UN wanted more details than the journalists and advocates I met with, I spent hours taking them through the minutiae.

I can’t bring myself to listen to my own interviews, and I don’t really read the news about asylum seekers any more. I skim the headlines and know what’s happening. I speak with other advocates, with sympathetic politicians and asylum seekers themselves, but reading the news is too distressing.

The government has brought about a siege mentality in asylum advocates. We’re always on the back foot, always reacting rather than anticipating. Always reassuring people they’re going to be OK, hoping beyond hope our words are true.

I’m now working closely with the UN, human rights advocates and non-government organisations to take the next steps to shame Australia for its actions at the international level. I am working with journalists around the world to make sure their readers and listeners know what our government does to people who ask for our assistance. Because when people hear the truth, they are outraged.

They are aghast that Australia has institutionalised mental torture on a massive scale, and facilitates the physical abuse of asylum seekers by sending them to places with inadequate medical facilities and an unacceptable risk of contracting malaria, dengue fever, cholera or infectious diarrhoea.

They can’t believe that we do this to pregnant women and newborn babies. But we do.

Australia doesn’t have a bill of rights. The only constitutional rights protections that we have are about voting, religion, and equality before the law. But the Abbott government recently removed access to legal aid for asylum seekers, so the last guarantee has become ineffective.

What can we do? We can speak out. We can write to our local members. We can tell our friends in Australia and overseas the truth about what is happening at Manus. The same truth that has been reported by Amnesty, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and countless advocates.

The truth that is communicated by brave men in detention at great personal risk. The truth that the government denies and is trying to suppress. The more we talk, the more pressure we place on the Abbott government to act in accordance with international human rights obligations.

Until then, the men at Manus will continue to sleep in shifts, because they are afraid of being attacked again.

Like me, and all of us with a conscience, we are unlikely to get a good night’s sleep until we put an end to mandatory detention in this country.

Ben Pynt is the director of human rights advocacy at Humanitarian Research Partners.

Lifeline 131114
MensLine 1300789978
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Manus Island: the 'Guantanamo of the Pacific' [AUDIO - 3AW - 23/4/14]

... "They hid some people in the motels and those people had injuries that would be very embarassing for government, for instance a man who had gunshot wounds in his hip, and another man who lost an eye." ... [RNZI - 23/4/14]


... "It won't go away. A young man was killed, many injured, Australia's international reputation is in tatters and it's time for Bill Shorten to come out and back a full, frank parliamentary inquiry which has to include the committee visiting Manus Island." [Calls for Australia's "opposition" to support Senate inquiry - RNZI - 23/4/14]

UNCHR still waiting for Australian Government response on asylum seeker turn-back policy

ABC, AM [23/4/14]:

... GEORGE ROBERTS: The two-day [Bali Process] meeting about protecting asylum seekers at sea attracted delegates from 13 countries, including Australia, and was co-hosted by Indonesia and the United Nations refugee agency.

The UNHCR's regional representative is James Lynch.

JAMES LYNCH: We have in Syria six million either internally displaced or refugees and they have found themselves in the neighbouring countries. And a country like Iraq, which has its own internal problems, has been able to accept 250,000 Syrian refugees.

GEORGE ROBERTS: He says the thousands of asylum seekers that had been arriving in Australia until late last year is not insignificant.

JAMES LYNCH: But I think when you sit and listen to what countries in the region like Iraq are dealing with or Jordan or Lebanon, it's hard to see it as a crisis.

GEORGE ROBERTS: Mr Lynch says he understands Australia wants to stop smuggling networks and prevent deaths at sea.

JAMES LYNCH: But at the same time there are obligations as a signatory to the 1951 convention and the 67 protocol which say: if you intercept in your territorial waters, you should allow those in need of protection to have access to the asylum system.

GEORGE ROBERTS: Do you mean that's Australia's not living up to its obligation under the convention, then?

JAMES LYNCH: Well, that's what we have been, we've heard from the seven boats that have been turned back. People on the boats have said to us that they were either landed or were in Australian territorial waters.

We have written to the Australian Government expressing our concern and would like to hear from them their side of the story. We don't have evidence on the other side; we only have the accounts that we've heard from people who were on the boat that say that they were in Australian Territorial waters.

GEORGE ROBERTS: The Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's office hasn't responded to questions about whether a boat reached Australian territory in January, and if so, when he was made aware of it.

The UNHCR's James Lynch again:

JAMES LYNCH: Well, I would think that if you have lived up to your obligations and stand prepared to honour those obligations, you would want to do an investigation to show that you are not in violation. And I think it's more of that on that line that they would want to show that they have not in any way violated their obligations under the convention.

GEORGE ROBERTS: The official summary issued by the co-chairs of this week's meeting shows that it was recommended, among other things, that countries "ensure the full promotion and protection of the rights of rescued or intercepted persons at sea and upon disembarkation, in accordance with relevant international obligations."

Indonesia's director general of multilateral affairs, Hasan Kleib, says Australia's policies weren't discussed at the workshop as it was focused on protecting so-called "irregular migrants" at sea.

This is George Roberts in Jakarta, reporting for AM.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And a spokeswoman for the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says the Government will continue to use the same border protection policies because they are clearly working. She says there have been no successful people smuggling ventures to Australia in four months and the Government's strong stand is benefiting the region.

.. "Australia cannot continue to isolate itself from the region or the world.

"We must take our fair share and help carry the burden by increasing the number of refugees we take. " [Abbott must be upfront with UN and Australian public - Greens Media Release - 23/4/14]

Indonesian Foreign Minister’s comments on refugee protection welcomed

Refugee Council of Australia Media Release [22/4/14]:

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) today welcomed Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa’s plea for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to share responsibility for the protection ofrefugees.

Mr Natalegawa, speaking at an international conference in Jakarta on irregular movement by sea, acknowledged the human rights of asylum seekers “no matter their legal status” and called for assistance to people smuggled across borders “simply because they are fellow human beings”.

RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power said Mr Natalegawa’s comments showed a quality of political leadership missing for some years from regional discussions about asylum.

“For years, the Asia-Pacific region has desperately needed constructive leadership on asylum policy to counter Australia’s aggressive pursuit of deterrent measures to block people seeking protection.

“We have seen the Gillard, Rudd and Abbott governments maintain a singular focus on border protection, deterrence and repelling people seeking asylum in Australia. As time has gone by, Australia has not been content to repel asylum seekers from its own borders but has focused more and more attention on drawing other nations into its singular obsession with deterrence.

“Unfortunately, successive Australian governments have lacked the foresight and honesty to acknowledge, as Mr Natalegawa has done yesterday, that many people on the move in the region are vulnerable people who need protection from persecution, not detention and forced removal.

“In Australia, nearly all of the political debate has been focused on whether or not people have prior permission from governments to cross borders despite the fact that the great majority of the world’s refugees have little choice but to cross borders without permission to reach places of safety.

“History has shown that most refugees cannot rely on states to protect them in their greatest need. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, millions of people attempting to escape Nazi Germany had their paths blocked and ultimately died because international assistance was limited to what other states regarded as manageable numbers.

“Part of the post-war response to this immense human tragedy was to develop the Refugee Convention, which came into force 60 years ago today. It was, in fact, Australia’s ratification of the Convention on 22 January 1954, as the sixth state to accede, which brought it into force 90 days later.

“Six decades on, the Abbott Government could choose to play a similar leadership role to that played by the Coalition Government of Robert Menzies, looking at how the principles of the Refugee Convention can best be applied to meet the needs of people in our region who need its protection now.

“Regrettably, Australia’s hard-line asylum policies have made the Asia-Pacific region a much more dangerous place for refugees and asylum seekers. This could change if the Abbott Government is prepared to consider Mr Natalegawa’s comments and look again at the situation of highly vulnerable people in our region, considering practical steps to support neighbouring states to provide those seeking protection with the security they desperately need.”

We can't take them all [Sultana's Dream - April 2014]

‘I’d rather face death in Somalia than be destitute in Hong Kong’, says asylum seeker [Somalia Diaspora News - 22/4/14]

UNESCO chief denounces killing of journalist in the Philippines

UN Media Release [22/4/14]:

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom has denounced the killing of journalist Rubylita Garcia and called on authorities in the Philippines to investigate the case.

“It is essential that the authorities of the Philippines do all they can to identify and bring to trial those responsible for this cowardly crime,” said Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“Murderers cannot be allowed to set limits to journalists’ freedom of expression or on citizens’ rights to information,” she added in a news release.

Ms. Garcia, 52, was a reporter for the Remate newspaper in Bacoor City and host of a talk show on dwAD radio. She was shot dead by two gunmen in her home on 6 April.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet every day around the world, journalists and media workers are under attack, facing intimidation, threats and violence from governments, corporations, criminals or other forces that wish to silence or censor.

On 3 May, the international community will mark World Press Freedom Day, an annual observance that aims to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom throughout the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Death is not the worst that can happen to men

BBC [VIDEO - 23/4/14]:

A court in Egypt has been shown video and audio evidence in the trial of three al-Jazeera journalists accused of terrorism-related offences.

However, observers inside the court said the prosecution evidence was difficult to follow or to understand.

The three, including ex-BBC reporter Peter Greste, deny spreading false news and helping the Muslim Brotherhood.

From Cairo, Orla Guerin reports.

Peter Greste case: Australian Al Jazeera journalist's trial again adjourned until May 3 [ABC - 23/4/14]

U.S. to deliver Apache helicopters to Egypt: Pentagon

Yahoo News [23/4/14]:

The United States has decided to lift its hold on the delivery of 10 Apache attack helicopters to Egypt imposed last year after the military's ouster of President Mohamed Mursi and an ensuing crackdown against protesters, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel informed his Egyptian counterpart, Colonel General Sedki Sobhi, of the decision in a call, saying the helicopters would support Egypt's counterterrorism operations in the Sinai Peninsula, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

"The secretary noted that we believe these new helicopters will help the Egyptian government counter extremists who threaten U.S., Egyptian, and Israeli security," Kirby said in a statement.

Obama, Abe under pressure to salvage TPP pact

Japan Today [23/4/14]:

A meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week in Tokyo may not seal one of the world’s biggest trade pacts, but it could give it a much-needed boost.

A central element of Obama’s strategic shift towards Asia, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would connect a dozen Asia-Pacific economies by eliminating trade barriers and harmonizing regulations in a pact covering two-fifths of the world economy and a third of all global trade.

After four years of talks and missed deadlines, negotiators from several TPP countries say they hope Thursday’s summit will lay the groundwork for tough concessions, including a possible easing in Japan’s protectionist stance on beef, sugar, dairy and wheat - a step that could breath life into the struggling TPP.

“Hopefully this will provide some clarity about the level of ambition we can expect in a hopefully successful TPP,” New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser said.

The White House had hoped to complete the deal last year but has faced disagreements over barriers such as Japanese import duties on agricultural products. Tokyo is fighting to maintain import tariffs in five agricultural categories: rice, wheat, dairy, sugar, and beef and pork products.

Washington, meanwhile, has sought ways to protect U.S. carmakers from their Japanese rivals.

Experts are looking for signs of concessions, especially from Japan given its staunch protection of its beef, sugar, dairy and wheat industries. Under one optimistic scenario, the leaders could announce they expect concrete outcomes soon, perhaps next month, when TPP negotiators meet in Vietnam.

A senior U.S. official said the summit would likely produce a statement giving a nudge for the negotiations to move to the next stage, a view shared by some industry groups.

“I think it will be something artfully worded to say we have made significant progress and our negotiators continue to work on this with a goal of concluding,” said James Fatheree, senior director for Japan and Korea at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington and president of the U.S.-Japan Business Council.

The stakes are high for both Obama and Abe.

Failure to unveil a significant advance could stall the ambitious pact, undermining the trade-policy arm of Obama’s so-called “pivot” of U.S. military, diplomatic and trade resources to the Asia-Pacific region.

An agreement between the United States and Japan is crucial for setting the tone for other countries engaged in the TPP: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

An official from a developing country involved in the negotiations said failure to move talks forward during Obama’s trip would make it difficult to clinch a TPP deal.

“We all want to be optimistic about reaching a deal, but the reality is on the basis of the declarations made by officials from one country or the other, there are still important differences to be resolved.”

Some countries such as Malaysia are still a long way from signing up to a TPP pact. “We are not ready and I think some of the other countries are also not ready,” Paul Low, a minister in the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Department, was quoted as saying by The Edge financial daily.

Failure would also hurt Abe’s ‘Third Arrow’ plan to kick-start Japanese economic growth through structural reforms.

“It would probably be worse for Obama because he would be seen as not able to deliver, whereas Abe would be seen as defending national interests,” said Aurelia George Mulgan, Japanese politics professor at Australia’s University of New South Wales. “However, internationally, failure could be bad because the ‘Third Arrow’ looks even floppier.”

TPP partners have no official deadline for completing the talks or making progress on key areas. Experts say an open-ended time frame is unlikely to motivate Japan.

“My experience is that they are often intractable until the last minute,” said one former U.S. negotiator who has dealt with Japan in previous trade rounds. “What motivates negotiators, particularly Japanese trade officials, to resolve seemingly intractable disputes is a credible deadline.”

U.S.-Japan talks have intensified in the run-up to the summit and are likely to continue through Wednesday. Japanese media have floated one possible outcome: Japan will be allowed to maintain tariffs on rice and wheat in exchange for a larger import quota for U.S. producers. Tariffs on beef would be cut over time, likely to around 9 percent, reports said.

Officials on both sides refuse to confirm details and warn against focusing too much on individual parts of what will be a delicately balanced final agreement between the 12 countries.

“Any agreement will be very complicated and it will involve a complex and holistic agreement,” Japanese cabinet councillor Kazuhisa Shibuya told reporters on Monday.

The senior U.S. official, who declined to be identified, cautioned that it would take some months to translate a final TPP agreement into a proposal for lawmakers. But judging from the Japanese leaks, progress seems likely at least on beef.

Yukio Okamoto, a former diplomat and adviser to two Japanese prime ministers, said farmers could receive subsidies to make up for lower tariff protection.

“Of course there is opposition in the Diet (parliament) but the Japanese government should not make that a pretext not to advance, because what awaits is our being excluded from this free, prosperous market in the Pacific,” he said in Washington.

U.S. beef and pork lobby groups are urging the White House to insist on complete tariff elimination, warning they may oppose the TPP if it does not go far enough.

“The U.S. needs to stick to its principles and work out something that both countries can support, but something that’s not going to jeopardize our future,” National Cattlemen’s Beef Association senior official Kent Bacus said.

The United States should publicly question Japan’s membership of the TPP if the country does not open up, said Nick Giordano, vice president of the National Pork Producers Council.

“The only area for compromise is the duration of time in which tariffs are eliminated, that’s it,” he said.

Damages phase of BP Gulf spill trial set for January

Reuters [22/4/14]:

The high-stakes penalty phase of BP's trial over its role in the 2010 U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil spill will start next January, court officials said on Tuesday, and billions of dollars could be on the line.

Fines under the Clean Water Act could top $17 billion, an amount more than BP's profit in 2013, which after items was $13.4 billion.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans has considerable leeway and could assess a much smaller fine after the third and likely final stage of the trial, which will assess the environmental impact of the largest offshore spill in U.S. history. The third phase will run from January 20 to February 5 of 2015.

The trial's first phase dealt with the issue of negligence and concluded last April. The second phase of the trial, which ended last October, focused on estimating how many million barrels of oil leaked from the blown out Macondo well for 87 days after the accident that killed 11 workers.

Findings from the first two phases will affect the size of the fines.

BP has set aside more than $42 billion in provisions for cleanup, compensation and fines since the spill.

Separately on Tuesday, the British major said it had agreed to sell interests in four, mature BP-operated oilfields and related pipelines on the North Slope of Alaska to the production company Hilcorp as it works to invest in new opportunities there.

4 Years After BP Disaster, Ousted Drilling Chief Warns U.S. at Risk of Another Oil Spill [VIDEO - Democracy Now - 21/4/14]

Queensland Police, media and politicians partake of their favourite pastime: Projection

QPS Media [22/4/14]:

Queensland Police are primed to ensure the spirit of the Anzacs is not tarnished this Friday (April 25).

Commissioner Ian Stewart said Queenslanders can be assured the QPS is committed to ensuring Anzac Day events are conducted in a manner which honours the ultimate sacrifice made by many of our servicemen and women in conflicts across the world.

Commissioner Stewart said any speculation that police were planning to disrupt marches to target particular groups, including organised criminal gangs, had no basis in truth.

“The QPS does not intend to target Anzac Day celebrations unless there is specific intelligence indicating that gang members were intent on disrespecting one of the most important days of commemoration for Australian and New Zealand citizens, by breaching the law.

“Demonstrations of violence or criminal activity by anyone, let alone criminal gangs will not be tolerated.’’

Commissioner Stewart said police would monitor events to ensure they are not disrupted, and if need be, conduct follow-up investigations into suspect criminal activity post-event.

“The message is clear. If you are not breaking the law, you have no need to be concerned, but maintaining public order and community safety is paramount to the QPS.

“The QPS is committed to stopping crime and building relationships for the safety of all Queenslanders.’’

Australian Federal Police officers have moved into Queensland Police headquarters in Brisbane as part of a national crackdown on criminal gangs. ... [ABC - 23/4/14]

Most frontline police in regional Victoria will carry stun guns under a $13.5 million government plan to roll out nearly 600 weapons to 24-hour police stations. ... [580 police Tasers to hit the streets across Victoria - The Age - 23/4/14]

... Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive officer Fiona McCormack said there was a ''gaping hole'' in the protection system, which was geared towards picking up the pieces. She said at-risk offenders should be monitored, with information shared between child protection agencies, parole officers, and women's and children's services. ... [The Age - 23/4/14]

Family violence epidemic [The Age - 23/4/14]

Look up kristallnacht in your encyclopedia


The region’s top cop has vowed to continue the ‘‘relentless’’ crackdown on bikie gangs, defending police tactics of ripping down at least five Hunter clubhouses in the past six months. ... [The Herald - 20/4/14]

 

Then look up stasi. Crime Commission pushes for communications data to be stored [Guardian 22/4/14]

And eugenics.

The world’s largest genomics company, Illumina, has chosen a researcher from The University of Queensland to join as Director of Scientific Research. ... [UQ News - 22/4/14]

 

... Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know
He's in the best selling show ...

'Life On Mars?', David Bowie [1971]


Shock! Richmond Valley Council turns out to be a bunch of pro CSG stooges

Northern Star [23/4/14]:

Protestors can no longer legally camp at Bentley after Anzac Day following an unexpected move by Richmond Valley Council to reject a development application to enlarge the camp.

Richmond Valley Council general manager John Walker announced that the original two-month approval for a primitive camping site allowing for up to 200 campers would expire on Friday.

"The site's subsequent growth since the approval was originally granted, the length of time that the camp has been operating, the ongoing breach of many of the approval conditions and the inability of the consent holder to control the activities of many of the campers and visitors to the site makes the use of a Section 68 approval under which it has operated as a primitive camping site inappropriate," Mr Walker said in a statement.

Mr Walker said that the development application to continue to use the site as a temporary primitive campsite for up to 600 campers lodged by the landowner on 14 April was refused due to its lack of essential detail, objections by NSW Police and Roads and Maritime Services, and the proposed inappropriate land use.

The council said in a statement it was reviewing its options regarding closing the campsite and removing its occupants.

AUSTIN, Texas — A review by a University of Texas at Austin researcher highlights the rapid proliferation of gas industry operations in urban areas and questions whether state and federal air pollution regulatory programs are well designed to ensure health and safety. The review recommends increased government monitoring, health impact studies and regulation of air pollution. ... [U Texas - 27/3/14]

Accused Gold Coast drug lord denied bail

Yahoo 7 [22/4/14]:

The alleged kingpin of the Gold Coast's party drug scene is taking his bid for freedom to the Supreme Court after a $2 million surety failed to secure his release.

Ivan Tesic, 40, was arrested in April in the biggest drug bust the glitter strip has seen.

Police allege Tesic is the mastermind behind a massive interstate drug syndicate and distributed cocaine through Club Liv, which he part owns.

Investigators say the ring was smashed in a 19-month operation that stopped $26 million worth of drugs hitting the streets.

Tesic was refused bail in the Southport Magistrates Court on Tuesday, despite supporters stumping up a $2 million surety.

The Gold Coast nightclub owner is facing charges of trafficking and drug possession.

He's also been charged under the state's anti-bikie legislation, with police claiming he's a participant of the Hells Angels motorcycle club.

But solicitor Darren Mahony says his client is not bikie and will take his quest for bail to the Supreme Court.

"Mr Tesic clearly rejects the suggestion that he's a member of a criminal organisation," he told reporters outside court.

"It is this mere allegation that places him in a more difficult position on bail."

Magistrate Dermot Kehoe remanded Tesic in custody until a committal hearing mention on May 29.

Police prosecutors had argued Tesic should be kept behind bars because he's a major flight risk.

To date the dismantling of the alleged drug ring has led to the arrests of 152 people, including 37 alleged outlaw bikies and associates.

Officer served with NTA for drink driving

QPS Media [23/4/14]:

A 43-year-old male sergeant from Brisbane Region has been served with a notice to appear for drink driving (0.061%).

The officer was off-duty and driving a private vehicle when he was stopped for a random breath test in Carseldine on April 21.

He has been charged with drink driving and is due to appear in the Sandgate Magistrates Court on May 5.

This matter will be considered within the Queensland Police Service disciplinary process.

In keeping with our commitment to high standards of behaviour, transparency and accountability, we have an undertaking to inform the public when an officer faces court proceedings.

This does not mean that the allegations against the officer have been substantiated.

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

Racism

Four Queensland youths sentenced to remote bootcamp [Yahoo 7 - 22/4/14]

A Gangulu/Wongan/Goongarrie man who spent 6 years in Cherbourg boys dormitory says hearings by the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse have been deferred for a third time. ... [NIRS - 22/4/14]

Publican tells of horror during "wild riot", Urandangi [North West Star - 21/4/14]

‘We’ve got nothing’: Mum’s anguish after suspected arson attack destroys home, Tamworth [North West Star]

Esk man to be sentenced for murder

River 949 [23/4/14]:

A man is being sentenced for the murder of his partner in Esk, at the height of the 2011 floods.

Ronald Michael Craig was found guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court last month, of cutting the throat of Kylie Hitchen, in the kitchen of their home.

The court has heard the couple had a history of domestic violence.

Body found on road after reports of fight

Brisbane Times [23/4/14]:

A man has been found dead in a Brisbane street shortly after a woman was violently assaulted in suspected domestic dispute in a nearby home.

Police officers were sent to Idamea Street at Carina Heights about 2.30am on Wednesday after receiving reports about a violent assault.

The man’s body was found on a nearby footpath close to the intersection of Ormuz Street and Mons Road a short time later.

The man, believed to be aged in his 50s, was found with a stab wound.

Early investigations suggest his injuries were self-inflicted.

The woman was taken from Idamea Street to the Princess Alexandra Hospital with multiple fractures, a Queensland Ambulance spokeswoman said.

It is understood the woman, believed to be 40 years old, has spoken with detectives.

Inspector Shane Hancock said two crime scenes were quickly established after police arrived at the scene.

"About 2.30am this morning police were called to an incident at Carina Heights. Upon arrival we established one crime scene and a couple of blocks away we’ve discovered another crime scene where there has been a deceased person," he said.

"A couple of streets are shut down here, there’s some continuity between the two crime scenes. We’re working as quickly as we can. It’s important we gather the evidence we have to gather and with minimum impact to the residents."

Detectives and forensics officers remain at the scene.

"We’ve got a number of detectives on the scene here at the moment until we get some more information from those inquiries it’s really unclear what the circumstances are here," Inspector Hancock said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Cyclist injured in Brisbane's north

Brisbane Times [23/4/14]:

A female cyclist has been taken to hospital after a collision with a car in Brisbane’s north.

The woman, believed to be aged in her 30s, was injured on Bilsen Road, Geebung about 7am on Wednesday.

She was taken by ambulance to the Prince Charles Hospital with grazes and back pain.

Police are investigating.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Pedestrian killed in Broome crash

West Australian [23/4/14]:

Police are investigating the death of a 52-year-old man who was hit by a car in Broome last night.

The man was walking north along Herbert Street, near Anne Street, when he was struck by a Toyota Rav 4 travelling in the opposite direction at about 7pm.

St John Ambulance paramedics rushed to Herbert Street but the man died at the scene.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or saw either party before the collision is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Woman hurt after being hit by ambulance

West Australian [23/4/14]:

An ambulance rushing to a job in Sydney has hit a young woman who stepped into its path.

Paramedics aboard the ambulance on Tuesday evening had to help the 23-year-old, who suffered serious facial, leg and arm injuries when she walked in front of the vehicle on Anzac Parade in Kensington, police said.

Another ambulance nearby was diverted to take on the job that the paramedics had been attending.

Police believe the first ambulance had its warning lights and sirens going when the incident happened.

The woman remains in a stable condition in St Vincents Hospital.

Police are investigating.

Man crushed to death by car, Helensvale

Yahoo 7 [23/4/14]:

A man has been crushed to death after the car he was working on fell on him on the Gold Coast.

Police don't know how long the 47-year-old was trapped before he died at a Helensvale property.

A neighbour found the man's body under the car about 5.30pm (AEST) on Tuesday.

More suspected human bones found in Queensland's Gold Coast seaway

ABC [23/4/14]:

More bones have been found in the Gold Coast seaway as Queensland police continue to search the area for suspected human remains.

Recreational diver Drew Valentine found what is believed to be a human bone last Thursday and handed it to water police.

Mr Valentine says he has found a second bone.

"Thought we'd go out for a nice dive and got to the south wall and five minutes into the dive I've had a look down and there was another bone," he said.

"[I] retrieved that one and actually brought it back to the water police yesterday afternoon."

Mr Valentine says the both could have been in the water for years.

"There's a lot of agitation here and there and you know the water the way it comes in and goes out, there's a lot of rock cabins underneath there," he said.

"Anything could have been trapped under the rock cabin for a while, so a bit of water would bring it out."

The bones have been sent for examination at the John Tonge Centre in Brisbane.

Senior Sergeant Lucas Young says police divers have since found two more bones while diving off the southern sea wall this morning.

"Those bones - we can't comment on whether they're human or not," he said.

"They will now go to the John Tonge Centre for the experts to do an examination of them."

Results could take several days.

Fire completely destroys East Bundaberg business

News Mail [23/4/14]:

Fire crews have put out a blaze on Sheridan St, East Bundaberg which has this morning completely destroyed smash repair business Auto Hospital.

Bundaberg Police have asked residents to be careful and avoid the area as "toxic fumes" emanate from the burning business.

Businesses in the surrounding area are being evacuated and residents of East Bundaberg are instructed to close their windows due to the chemicals in the fire, stay inside and stay well clear of Sheridan St.

Two Bundaberg Fire and Rescue crews had to smash through the building's glass doors to gain access as smoke from the blaze could be spotted across town.

More crews are being sent to the blaze which has been contained, but has destroyed the business and left its roof collapsed.

It is believed there have been no serious injuries as a result of the fire.

The business backs on to bushland.

...

Fatal house fire, Inala

QPS Media [22/4/14]:

Police are investigating a house fire that occurred earlier this morning in Inala.

Initial information suggests that at around 8.50am, a fire broke out at a residence on Partridge Street.

On arrival, emergency services removed a 61-year-old woman from the residence and she was pronounced deceased a short time later.

Police remain at the scene and there is no further information available at this time.

The cause of the fire will continue to be investigated.

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.

Police Seeking Information – Dog Shooting Tinana

QPS Media [22/4/14]:

Between 3:00pm and 4:00pm on Saturday, March 29 on Gympie Road, Tinana, an unknown person has allegedly used an air rifle to shoot a small dog owned by a local resident.

The owner of the dog noticed the animal bleeding from its stomach and took it to the vet.

X-rays showed a puncture wound to the right side of the dog’s stomach.

The dog has undergone emergency surgery where the veterinarian has located an air rifle pellet in its stomach cavity.

Police are seeking any information that can help us find the person who shot the dog.

Please contact Crimestoppers or Constable Jordan Powell, Maryborough Police Station on 4123 8111

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.

Group shines a light on Fraser Island dingo plight [News Mail - 22/4/14]

Victorian police chase ends in crash, arrests

Nine MSN [22/4/14]:

Two alleged armed robbers have been arrested following a police pursuit in Melbourne.

Police believe the man and woman were fleeing from as service station they had held up in Hampton early on Tuesday morning.

Local police gave chase when they saw the couple's car being driven erratically. It ended when car crossed to the wrong side of busy Nepean Highway and collided with another vehicle.

The man and woman ran off, but were arrested.

Man wielding a brick steals goods from adult store, Mackay

Daily Mercury [21/4/14]:

A man wielding a brick threatened staff and took goods from a Mangrove Rd adult shop this afternoon.

Police are investigating the incident, which occurred about 12.30pm.

The man left the scene on a motorbike.

He is described as being 175cm tall with a heavy build and blond hair.

Woman's body found in Sydney home

Nine MSN [21/4/14]:

A woman's body has been found in a western Sydney home and police have placed a seriously injured man found at the same premises under guard at hospital.

The 42-year-old's body was found by emergency services in a Doonside home on Monday evening and the death is considered suspicious, police say.

An injured man, 38, was also located inside the home and was taken to Westmead Hospital in a serious condition.

It's expected the man will be arrested when he's discharged.

Police wouldn't provide details of the pair's relationship.

Have your say on the theft of Queensland assets

Alex Douglas MP, Gaven and Queensland Parliamentary Leader, Palmer United Party - Media Release [23/4/14]:

Good afternoon

I would like to hear your views on asset sales at a forum I'm hosting next Thursday, May 1st at 5 pm.

As your local State Member, I want to hear how you feel about selling the state's assets to pay off our state's debt which has been grossly exaggerated by the Treasurer.

I dispute the Treasurer Tim Nicholls' argument that we need to sell assets as the only way of saving our state because the facts show a very different story.

Our state NET debt is somewhere between $13 and $25 billion, which is $67 billion less that what the Treasurer is stating as our GROSS debt.

I believe our state actually has a strong cash position and it would be foolish to sell our assets.

I encourage the local community to attend the forum at my electorate office in Nerang, and for those unable to attend but wanting to complete the "Strong Choices" submission form, there are forms available in my office.

One needs to look at the financial position in total, in particular our NET state debt, rather than concentrate on GROSS debt which the Treasurer and Premier are highlighting in their push to sell assets.

Government-owned corporations' debt makes up 70 % of state gross debt. It is returning an average 9 % return - 3½ times the Federal official interest rate.

Queensland's state income is expected to rise by at least 2 percent this year and expenditure growth is less than that. State growth is 4 % currently and Australia's best. It could be 6 % if the LNP Government better managed the state.

Our interest payments on our NET debt are less than one-third of that stated by the Treasurer, at worst at $1.6 billion annually, not $4 billion annually.

We have net assets of $170 billion. Our consolidated balance sheet, including our state balance and our 100 % owned QIC balance sheets put us in a very strong cash position of a $10 billion surplus.

That's why it is important to look at Queensland's financial status as a whole.

I look forward to seeing you at next week's forum.

NSW Supreme Court rules Councillor Katie Milne and Bob Ell to pay own costs

Tweed Daily News [21/4/14]:

The NSW Supreme Court has ruled Cr Katie Milne and billionaire developer Bob Ell must each pay their own costs in the defamation case that was awarded against the Tweed Greens councillor.

On March 7, Cr Milne was ordered by Judge McCallum to pay the founder and executive chairman of the Tweed's biggest developers, Leda, $15,000 in damages.

At a hearing to determine costs on April 11, Judge McCallum again emphasised Mr Ell took the unusual step of not giving evidence in court to the hurt his reputation had suffered due to Cr Milne's allegations and she ordered both parties pay their own costs.

But the Daily News understands it still leaves Cr Milne with a legal bill estimated to be at least $50,000 that was awarded against her in interim arguments during the same case.

However, it could take a year before the costs are independently assessed and will be enforced.

The next council election is scheduled for March 2015.

If forced to declare bankruptcy, Cr Milne would be ineligible to remain a councillor under the Local Government Act.

The defamation action stemmed from a letter to the editor written by Cr Milne in which the court ruled she unfairly linked Mr Ell to murdered Sydney standover man Michael McGurk and made references to Mr Ell's political donations. The judge said the imputations made against Mr Ell were serious but Cr Milne's letter was not written in malice.

Andy Coulson “rubber-stamped” cash payments for royal phone book, phone hacking trial hears

Hacking Inquiry [22/4/14]:

Martin Hickman

Andy Coulson, former editor of the News of the World, today gave his explanation for why he approved a reporter’s requests for cash payments to police officers.

He told the phone hacking trial that he “rubber-stamped” the requests because he didn’t believe the money was actually being paid to police officers.

Mr Coulson, who edited the paper between 2003 and 2007, complained that its royal editor Clive Goodman – who made the requests – was “prone to exaggeration.”

Mr Coulson and Mr Goodman are jointly charged with – and deny – conspiring to commit misconduct in public office over payments to police guarding the royal family.

In emails sent to Mr Coulson in 2003 and 2005, Mr Goodman asked his then editor to approve payments of £750 and £1000 respectively for copies of royal phone directories.

In the first, on 24 January 2003, Mr Goodman wrote: “… one of our royal policemen has obtained the brand new green book, the telephone directory with all the phone numbers of the royal family and their household staff.”

Explaining that he was having difficulty getting cash payments through the News of the World’s managing editor Stuart Kuttner, Mr Gooman stressed: “These people will not be paid anything other than cash because if they’re discovered selling stuff to us, they end up on criminal charges, as could we.”

Mr Coulson replied: “This is fine….”

On 14 May 2005, Mr Goodman made another request for a payment to police, writing: “Andy – know your busy but… One of our palace cops has got hold of a rare and just printed Palace staff phone directory. Every job, every name, every number.

“We usually pay £1,000 for these. It’s a risky document for him to nick.”

After a follow-up email from Mr Goodman, Mr Coulson again replied “Fine.”

Prior to offering his explanation, he suggested Mr Goodman was an under-performing, work-shy journalist who rarely left the office.

“I don’t want to say that Clive was lazy,” Mr Coulson told the Old Bailey, “but he certainly didn’t like travelling much outside the office.”

Mr Goodman, who he said was disappointed at not being made news editor, was “a tricky customer” and “prone to exaggeration,” he added.

Asked by his counsel Timothy Langdale QC about Mr Goodman’s first email to him in 2003, Mr Coulson told the Old Bailey: “I don’t remember this email and I don’t remember the email in 2005 either.”

Adding that had read them for the case, he told the court: “I don’t believe that Clive Goodman was paying a policeman, I still don’t believe that Clive Goodman was paying a policeman.”

He added: “I think what I did was fail to address it properly, but I didn’t because I didn’t believe him and I rubber-stamped it.”

Raising the 2005 emails, Mr Langdale asked: “Did you believe that Clive Goodman was paying a policeman for a royal phone book?”, to which Mr Coulson replied: “No, I did not.”

He also said he had no idea that Mr Goodman was paying Glenn Mulcaire £500 a week for the private detective to hack the phones of royal targets.

In his evidence, Mr Goodman claimed that Mr Coulson had explicitly approved the project.

However, giving evidence today, Mr Coulson said that although he had approved the £500-a-week payments in a quick conversation by his office – he thought they were for a legitimate royal source.

Mr Coulson told the Old Bailey: “Clive came to me and, I think as a response to the pressure – in my view entirely legitimate pressure – to improve his performance – and he told me he had a new royal source.

“Somebody who was able to provide stories, particularly about the younger royals.”

Mr Coulson, who became director of communication to Prime Minister David Cameron, denies two alleged conspiracies – to hack phones and commit misconduct in public office.

Mr Kuttner, managing editor until 2009, denies a charge of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.

Mr Goodman, who also denies conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office, is currently too unwell to attend the trial, which continues tomorrow.

Andy Coulson: I did not knowingly recruit phone hacker to NOTW [Hacking Inquiry - 22/4/14]

Solomons relief stocks gone but just half flood victims reached

RNZI [22/4/14]:

Stocks of relief supplies have run out in Solomon Islands less than a month since floods devastated communities in and around the capital, Honiara.

And with only half of the affected population reached so far, non government organisations in the country are now purchasing supplies from overseas to keep their relief work going.

Save the Children's logistics and emergency manager, Graham Kenna, says the full scale of the disaster is mind blowing.

This is probably the largest disaster ever in the Solomon Islands where at least 50% of the population of Guadalcanal have been affected.

On a scale, you know, its massive. I do not know of any other country where such a population would be affected, so it is a massive scale and there's a lot more assistance required here.

Graham Kenna says Save the Children expects to be continuing its relief work into 2015.

In Solomon Islands flood victims working for the Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil limited are being forced to return to their flood prone housing complex today or lose their jobs. ... [RNZI - 23/4/14]

Italian Alps hit by fresh landslide

EURO News [22/4/14]:

Landslides over the Easter holiday weekend in the Italian Alps have been followed by a fresh fall of 20,000 cubic metres of rock and mud, forcing the Mont Blanc tunnel linking France and Italy to close briefly.

It is still not safe for dozens of people evacuated from the village of La Palud near the Courmayeur ski resort to return home.

Dozens hurt from tear gas as Israeli forces raid Nablus village

Maan [22/4/14]:

Over 35 Palestinians suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation late Monday after Israeli forces raided a Nablus-area village, a local official said.

Qais Awwad, head of the joint services council in southern Nablus, told Ma'an that clashes broke out in the village of Awarta after several Israeli military jeeps entered the area.

Palestinian youths threw stones and Israeli forces fired tear gas and stun grenades, Awwad said.

More than 10 people, including three children and a woman, were taken to National Hospital in Nablus for treatment, he added.

An Israeli army spokesman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Israeli state water company loses Portugal deal and faces global protests [BDS Movement - 21/4/14]

Erdogan Bans May Day Rallies on Taksim Square

Naharnet [22/4/14]:

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday he would not allow May Day gatherings on Istanbul's Taksim Square, the scene of protests that have dogged the government for months.

A similar decision in May last year to ban the use of the square -- a traditional and symbolic rallying point -- led to violent clashes between police and protesters which were followed by a wave of nationwide anti-government demonstrations in June.

"Those who insist on celebrating it here (in Taksim Square) are just saying: 'I am ready for clashes," Erdogan said at a meeting of his parliamentary party.

"Give up on your hopes of Taksim. Do not engage in a fight with the state. Do not disturb the peace of our people. Our people do not want to see streets where stones and Molotov cocktails prevail," he said.

"We will not tolerate this. You are not above the law."

Erdogan has instead suggested other venues, and offered free transport on May 1.

The leftist unions have already vowed to ignore the ban.

On Monday, police fired tear gas at members of the May 1 Committee -- made up of unions and civil society groups -- to prevent them from issuing a statement about May Day demonstrations in Taksim.

Eight people died when a relatively small environmentalist movement to save Istanbul's Gezi Park -- adjacent to Taksim -- evolved into a nationwide wave of protests against Erdogan.

Fresh protests have erupted over a graft scandal implicating key Erdogan allies and controversial measures taken by the prime minister including an Internet crackdown that saw Twitter banned for two weeks.

Despite the protests and the corruption scandal, Erdogan's Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party scored a crushing victory in March 30 local elections.

NYPD twitter campaign implodes, flooded with photos of police abuse [RT - 22/4/14]:

Just before 2 pm EDT, the New York City Police Department called via Twitter for photos of citizens with its officers. Almost immediately the campaign #myNYPD seemed to backfire, as users flooded the hashtag with photos decrying alleged police brutality.
...

Taiwan Anti-Nuclear Activist Starts Hunger Strike

Jakarta Globe [22/4/14]:

Former Taiwanese opposition leader and anti-nuclear activist Lin Yi-hsiung Tuesday launched an indefinite hunger strike in protest at a nearly completed nuclear facility, while some of his supporters clashed with police.

“It’s very meaningful to be doing something good for Taiwan — I feel very calm,” Lin told a crowd of reporters and supporters before he began the hunger strike.

He added he had been forced into the situation because the authorities had ignored public opinion on nuclear power. He said the majority of people in Taiwan were against a fourth nuclear power plant.

Lin, who led the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) from 1998-2000, has devoted himself to battling the island’s nuclear power policy in the past two decades.

“If anything unfortunate should happen to me, I want my family and friends to know that [those in power] murdered me,” the 72-year-old said before entering a church in Taipei to begin his indefinite fasting.

Outside parliament, dozens of protesters briefly clashed with the police as they attempted to surround the building in a show of support for Lin.

They unfurled a large yellow banner reading “Salute chairman Lin Yi-hsiung, stop building fourth nuclear [plant],” and held placards calling for the project to be terminated.

“If Lin Yi-hsiung loses his life, it is the evil government who have caused it,” said the group’s leader Tsai Ting-kuei.

Taiwan’s three existing nuclear power plants supply about 20 percent of electricity.

Construction of the fourth began in 1999 but intense political wrangling has repeatedly delayed the project.

State-run Taiwan Power [Taipower] says it is 98 percent completed and due to start operating in 2015.

The DPP opposes it on safety grounds, while the ruling Kuomintang party says the island will run short of power unless it goes ahead.

Last year the government agreed to hold a referendum on the new nuclear plant but it has failed to agree the terms of the vote with the opposition.

Concerns about the island’s nuclear facilities have been mounting since 2011, when the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan was hit by a tsunami which knocked out power to cooling systems and sent its reactors into meltdown.

Like Japan, the island is regularly hit by earthquakes. In September 1999 a 7.6-magnitude quake killed around 2,400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island’s recent history.

Nine killed in attacks in Pakistan's northwest

Reuters [22/4/14]:

Nine people, including policemen, were killed and dozens wounded in two separate bomb and gun attacks in Pakistan's volatile northwest on Tuesday, police said, a week after the Taliban refused to extend a ceasefire with the government.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took power last year promising to end years of fighting with Taliban insurgents through peace negotiations. Talks began in February but have achieved little.

On Tuesday, three people were killed and 33 others, including 12 policemen, were wounded in a bombing in the Charsadda district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province during the morning rush hour.

Six people, including five policemen and an ambulance driver, were killed in a separate attack on a police patrol on the outskirts of the regional capital of Peshawar overnight. Three others were wounded when militants opened fire.

Senior police officer Shafiullah Khan said unknown people had planted a bomb on a motorcycle and parked it near police headquarters in Peshawar.

"The bomb went off when a police van carrying 13 policemen for duty was passing through the spot. Three persons were killed and 33 were wounded," he said. "It seems the police van was the target of the attack."

On April 16, the Pakistani Taliban formally ended a 40-day ceasefire, saying government forces had continued to arrest their men and killed more than 50 people associated with the insurgency.

The first round of talks collapsed in February after less than a week when the Taliban bombed a bus full of police and executed 23 men from a government paramilitary force they had kidnapped.

The Taliban have been fighting for years to overthrow the democratically elected government of Pakistan and impose strict Islamic law on the nation of 180 million people.

A federal appeals panel in Manhattan ordered the release on Monday of key portions of a classified Justice Department memorandum that provided the legal justification for the targeted killing of a United States citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who intelligence officials contend had joined Al Qaeda and died in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen. ... [New York Times - 21/4/14]

New Zealand: Unions seek prosecution over forestry deaths

RNZI [22/4/14]:

In a rare move, the Council of Trade Unions is taking legal action against two forestry companies over the deaths of workers.

A series of coronial inquests was due to begin next month into eight recent deaths in the logging industry, but some of those hearings are now on hold to allow for possible court action.

The CTU says there have been 32 forestry deaths since 2008. It wants to prosecute two companies in relation to two cases that WorkSafe investigated but never laid charges over.

CTU president Helen Kelly told Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme safety systems in place are paper-thin."One worker can make a mistake and therefore they can be blamed for their death."

Ms Kelly said council has applied for permission to prosecute and it should be granted.

Ona De Roy of WorkSafe New Zealand told the programme she could not comment on why the organisation didn't prosecute.

But she said since the organisation started a campaign on forestry safety in August last year, at least 25 crews have been told to stop work immediately because of concerns.

Ms De Roy said WorkSafe is concerned by the level of non-compliance throughout the country.

Indonesia: Transgender Islamic school reopened

Jakarta Post [21/4/14]:

Pesantren Waria (Islamic boarding school for transgenders) in Yogyakarta has once again opened its doors, and brought the subject of freedom of religion for all — regardless of sexual orientation — back into the public arena.

After the death of its founder Maryani last month, the school moved to a house belonging to Shinta Ratri, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual (LGBT) activist, in a heritage area in Jagalan, Kotagede.

“Everyone has the right to observe their religion in their own way,” said Faithful People Brotherhood Forum Yogyakarta Abdul Muhaimin advisory board member in his speech at the launch of Pesantren Waria Al Fatah in Kotagede, Yogyakarta, on Friday evening.

Muhaimin said humans were not allowed to undermine others, including transgender people, since everyone was made by God.

“According to the Koran, we are not allowed to classify people based on economic, social, political, gender or theological values,” said Muhaimin, who also leads Nurul Umahat Islamic boarding school for girls in Kotagede.

He said although transgenderism was not specifically mentioned in the Koran, it had been discussed in fiqh (Islamic legal philosophy).

“I hope the students here are strong as they must face stigma in society. We have to care for them [transgender people],” he added.

Muhaimin lauded the reopening of the Pesantren Waria, which was originally located in Notoyudan.

Waria is a portmanteau of the words for woman (wanita) and man (pria) and is often used to describe transgender women.

Maryani had received local and international media attention since 2008 when she transformed her home into a place for transgenders to study Islam.

She made headlines last year due to her failed pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, last year after her efforts to go to the holy land failed due to documentation problems. Maryani’s dream to make the pilgrimage eventually came true. She flew to Mecca on April 26 and returned May 5, and performed all the pillars of the umrah (minor haj), covered from head to toe as a woman.

Dozens of transgenders, NGO activists, students as well as domestic and foreign researchers attended the reopening of the school.

Wearing mukena (female prayer dress) and sarongs, the transgender women conducted evening prayer together side by side.

After praying, Muhaimin cut a nasi tumpeng (rice cone) in celebration of the opening of the school.

Shinta Ratri said her Joglo-Javanese traditional style house, which was built in the 1800s had belonged to her grandmother before it passed down to her mother.

Shinta said the school, which was supported by the Nahdlatul Ulama University of Jepara, Central Java, offered students various subjects, such as transgender and Islam, Koran reading and shalat praying lessons.

“There are currently 35 students at the school,” she added.

Besides learning Islamic studies, Shinta said the school planned to facilitate ways for its students to make money.

At the old location, the women had a beauty salon and also rented traditional wedding dresses.

“I hope the school can give students self confidence. Being transgender is not a sin. It is allowed in Islam as far as it’s genuine, not fake,” she added.

Meanwhile, Wulan Agustina, a student at the school, said she could now read the Koran and conduct shalat praying after enrolling at the school.

“I also took religious studies, which can strengthen our will to face the hardships of life,” Wulan said.

 

 

... One man's collaboration is another man's conspiracy … One word of truth outweighs the world.

What's happening in Mexico: Opercult | Sons of Assange

 

 

Why won't the Abbott Government release the interim report into the Manus Island violence?

It's been on the Minister's desk for weeks...

"tweeted" by @sarahinthesen8 - Senator Sarah Hanson-Young [22/4/14]

 

Why won't Fairfax say where the "exclusive", "shocking" Manus video comes from and who took the footage?

Where has it been for 2 months?

Where is the refugees' right of reply?

 

... we shout at Mike people and said “why are you throwing stones” but they said “we are not throwing stone that is the G4S lady named [redacted] she is throwing stones.”

Many people saw her she is a blonde news dealer woman ...

I found out that she was the team leader of that command and she encourage them to throw rocks and beat the people.

The Men at Manus [Medium]:

Asher Wolf

This statement from an asylum seeker detained at Manus Island detention centre was received via email on the 16th March 2014. I have had contact (via Facebook) with the author of the statement. I cannot verify the contents.

I was in Fox trot compound and what happened in here is we had a meeting with immigration and I was one of the community leader there on 5th of feb and they gave us the answer on 16 of Feb.

After everyone got the answer they were very angry because there was no different answer for any one.

They were clearly telling us that you will be in here (detention) for ever and they said there is almost no chance for a third country option.

They always give us fake answers and people in here they said that going to PNG is not a big deal but when do you do our process and we want our freedom but they said until you get process you have to stay here.

After people hear all this things, the Oscar compound was very noisy and what we hear was that local people break in the compound and cut the people. We were scared and we went at the end of the compound because we knew that they will come after us and then when we were near the gate which connects to Mike compound where Reza was killed, stones stared coming from there we shout at Mike people and said “why are you throwing stones” but they said “we are not throwing stone that is the G4S lady named [redacted] she is throwing stones.”

Many people saw her she is a blonde news dealer woman with muscular body and after a while people got furious and started hitting that door.

Well later on the riots team cam in the compound beaten up the people with their sticks and their shield and they leave us all on the ground until 4AM with out any food we were sleeping on the grass and in the next day I found out that she was the team leader of that command and she encourage them to throw rocks and beat the people.

The next day people from Mike told us that the night before the local people were all standing behind the fences with knives and big sheddies (big sword) and they were showing us that we will kill you all.

I need to add that when last time almost 3 months ago the local propel had their problem out side of the compound they started to bashing the center and trying to come inside the compound and that was the time when G4S evacuated the center and left us all alone.

The local people were always looking for an issue to enter the center and harm the people and steal our stuff (‘specially cigarettes). So Mike people said that we are sure that tonight they will come inside and police can't control them (police never care about them and opened the door for them.)

They were ready to seek a safe place but they didn't know that there is no safe place.

At night first they started throw rocks on Mike people (G4s sais Mike trowed stone first but actually there was no stone in mike because the previous week they had cleared the whole compounds with the cleaners specially the stones rocks and wooden stuff there was not even a broom in the compound.)

The G4S entered the compound and stared, bating the people (the riots team of G4S) and then they went out and PNG Police and local people entered the compound and then we heared the GUN SHOTS!!

We were terrified and then we saw that the mike people runing to our compound and there are people carried on blankets which were shut by gun and batten by the locals and G4S.

Then they moved us out of the compounds and sent us to the Owal playing ground and keep us there until 6am were sleeping on the ground with no food and nothing well hen they moved us to Bravo camp we saw the injured people which were terrible that was one of the worse trauma that I saw and.......

Now they are keeping the locals out but they give us terrible food and they said it is because the locals are not in they have to come in but we do not feel safe they will kill us.

There is no cleaner in the compound and they said locals have to do it and now asylum seekers are somehow forced to clean the toilets and the rubbishes.
We get threaten by the locals behind the fanses and they can come in again any time PLEASE HELP US

 

Why won't Guardian Australia include an update on the Dengue outbreak in their latest Nauru story?

Establishment media types at Fairfax must know who is responsible for restricting UN access to Nauru, why not stop piss farting around and tell us who it is?

How are Australians supposed to figure out the truth in this megaphoned fog of "shocking" yarns which, so far, have served only to advance the interests of the oppressors?

Why aren't any Australian media outlets reporting:

The UN Refugee Convention anniversary;

The Bali Process meeting which is currently underway in Jakarta;

The latest on Justice Cannings Human Rights Inquiry, where refugees incarcerated on Manus Island have had their voices heard?

When charges will be laid for the murder of Reza Berati and the brutal attack?

60th Anniversary of UN Refugee Convention Ratification - Free access for all broadcasters:

AP Assignments will distribute the following video news release on behalf of European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) - the material is free for all broadcasters.

The content will be distributed via AP's satellite network, the Global Video Wire (GVW) at the following times:

Monday, 21 April 2014
1915 - 1930 GMT

Tuesday, 22 April 2014
0300 - 0315 GMT (Replay)
0700 - 0715 GMT (Replay)

The footage will also be available via AP Media Port in the Assignments folder from 1915 GMT, 21 April 2014 (Titles: LZ002 SYRIA AND DR CONGO 20140421P and LZ002 COLOMBIA AND BACKGROUND 20140421P), and via the AP Assignments website from 1915 GMT.

60th anniversary of entry into force of UN Refugee Convention.

On 22 April 1954, the landmark 1951 United Nation Refugee Convention was finally ratified and entered into force. A milestone in refugee protection, it has since helped an estimated 50 million people restart their lives.

The Refugee Convention - the core of international refugee protection, signed by 148 countries - was adopted largely in response to the number of Europeans uprooted after World War II. But in the decades since, refugee crises have spread around the world: Today, with over 15 million refugees worldwide, the role of the Convention in protecting refugees is more vital than ever.

The Convention was adopted at a United Nations conference on 28 July 1951. After ratification, it entered into force on 22 April 1954.

The 'United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees' defines who is a refugee. It also outlines the rights of refugees, and the legal obligations of states towards refugees and asylum seekers.

It defines a refugee as:

Any person who owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country.

In 2012, European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) devoted 30% of its budget to support refugees worldwide. It funded projects in over 25 countries, amounting to more than €380 million and providing protection and assistance to around 10 million refugees.

This VNR
To mark the 60th anniversary of the Convention taking effect, this VNR – in Arabic, French, Spanish and English - includes personal stories from three refugee crises around the world, showing the scale and spread refugee emergencies:

Syrian Refugees
In Jordan, interview in Arabic and B-roll with Ahmed Khalaf Aladdad, a Syrian refugee teacher living in a tented community where about 25 Syrian families live just outside Zaatari Refugee Camp in the north. There are now over 2.6 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries. Over half a million are in Jordan, 100,000 in the Zaatari camp alone. UNHCR estimates that there could be more than 5 million Syrian refugees in total by the end of 2014. (Material shot March 24th and 26th 2014).

DR Congo Refugees
In Uganda, interview in French and B-roll with Enock Mukiza, a priest, one of the 170,000 refugees from DR Congo living in the country, mostly fleeing conflict in North Kivu province which erupted in 2012. Refugees in Uganda live in settlements run by UNHCR together with the Ugandan government. The government gives each family its own plot of land for housing and farming. Enock has arrived in Rwamwanja settlement (52,000 refugees). There are currently on average 700 new arrivals in Rwamwanja every month. (Material shot April 2nd 2014).

Colombian Refugees
In Ecuador, interview in Spanish and B-roll with Doris Charfuelanpozo, one of 55,000 Colombian refugees in Ecuador. An estimated 1000 more are arriving every month, fleeing violence from armed groups. The refugees live in the host community, not in camps or settlements. Conflict in Colombia between guerrillas, government forces and paramilitaries has been continuing since the 1970s. (Material shot February 20th 2014).

Background Interviews
In background interviews, Heinke Veit, Regional Information Officer, European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) in Jordan, and Lucy Beck, Associate External Relations Officer, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Uganda, explain the importance of the Convention in protecting refugees worldwide.

UN mission in South Sudan condemns ethnic killings in Bentiu

The Mission also decried the use of hate speech over the radio “declaring that certain ethnic groups should not stay in Bentiu and even calling on men from one community to commit vengeful sexual violence against women from another community”.

UN Media Release [21/4/14]:

Opposition forces in South Sudan killed “hundreds of South Sudanese and foreign civilians” after determining their ethnicity or nationality when they captured Bentiu last week, the United Nations confirmed today, calling for an immediate stop to the targeting of “innocent, unarmed” civilians.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) strongly condemned the killings, which reportedly included attacks on a hospital, mosque and church, and a UN World Food Programme (WFP) compound.

“These atrocities must be fully investigated and the perpetrators and their commanders shall be held accountable,” said the Officer in Charge of UNMISS, Raisedon Zenenga, who also urged the opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces and the Government troops to respect the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement they signed in January.

Over the past two months, thousands of people are believed to have been killed by fighting that began in mid-December as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy president, Riek Machar.

The Mission also decried the use of hate speech over the radio “declaring that certain ethnic groups should not stay in Bentiu and even calling on men from one community to commit vengeful sexual violence against women from another community”.

The attacks took place between 15 and 16 April, in the same timeframe that UNMISS extracted hundreds of civilians, some injured, who had taken refuge in places throughout Bentiu and Rubkona. The Mission is currently protecting more than 12,000 civilians on its base, and some 60,000 others around the country.

At the Bentiu Hospital, several Nuer men, women and children were killed on 15 April for hiding and refusing to join other Nuers who had gone out to cheer the SPLA as they entered the town.

“Individuals from other South Sudanese communities, as well as Darfuris, were specifically targeted and killed at the hospital,” UNMISS confirmed in today’s statement.

According to the Mission, the SPLA also entered the Kali-Ballee Mosque where civilians had taken shelter, separated people into nationalities and ethnic groups, and killed some of them.

“More than 200 civilians were reportedly killed and over 400 wounded at the Mosque,” UNMISS said.

At a Catholic church and at the vacated WFP compound, SPLA soldiers similarly asked civilians who had taken refuge there to identify their ethnic origins and nationalities and proceeded to target and kill several individuals.

In an interview with UN Radio, Joseph Contreras, Acting Spokesperson of UMISS, said that along with condemning the bloodletting in Bentiu, the Mission deplored the hate speech and incitement to violence as “especially regrettable and unfortunate, given what happened in Rwanda 20 years ago, when radio stations were used to broadcast the hate messages” that fanned the flames of tension, ultimately sparking mass ethnic killings in that country.

While it was difficult to establish a direct like between the hate messages and the violence that erupted on 15 April, “at a minimum, the airing of such messages only further poisons the political and social climate of that part of South Sudan and polarizes even further between the leading ethnic groups in the region.”

“We’ve been monitoring the broadcast of hate messages on a regular basis since the crisis first broke out and we have called on relevant national state and local authorities to take all measures possible to prevent the airing of such messages,” continued Mr. Contreras, adding on a more optimistic note that some of the opposition commanders among those that had captured Bentiu last week had broadcast messages of a very different nature, calling for unity and an end to tribalism in South Sudan.

Unfortunately, those appeals for reason had had to compete with messages of “sheer ethnically- based hatred.”

In all this, he said, UMISS hopes that when negotiating delegations reconvene on 23 April in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, that the new round of peace talks can lead to a more comprehensive political settlement of the differences separating the parties.

“Clearly, the Cessation of Hostilities agreement signed over three months ago has been violated repeatedly by forces loyal to both sides and it a source of concern and considerable dismay to UNMISS that those violations continue” in spite of repeated calls from the United Nations and the wider international community for both sides to honour scrupulously the accord two which they had both agreed.

 

The close Australia's refugee concentration camps on Manus and Nauru petition has now reached over 15,000 signatures.

 

This man imprisoned Reza Berati in Australia's refugee prison on Manus Island ---> [Kevin Rudd cheered at Harvard University - West Australian - 22/4/14]


Journalist Peter Greste determined to stay positive

Chronicle [22/4/14]:

Nick Houghton

Mike Greste, the Toowoomba based brother of Australian journalist Peter Greste currently detained in Egypt, said his family was doing everything they could to keep spirits high ahead of a sixth court date tomorrow.

The al-Jazeera English correspondent and his team have been locked up in an Egyptian jail for 116 days following their arrest by local authorities in December.

Taking turns with brother Andrew, Mr Greste has been travelling to Egypt to be by Peter's side throughout the process.

He said it was important to keep his brother's hopes up in what has become a drawn out process.

"We can see that Peter is in a good place mentally," Mr Greste said.

"He has resigned himself to the fact that he is powerless to fight this himself - he has to leave that to the lawyers, his family and his colleagues and he knows he has to concentrate on his welfare and survival in prison."

Mr Greste said his brother was doing everything he could to maintain his health despite being locked behind bars 23 hours a day.

"Prisoners are given an hour each day for exercise and in that time Peter just runs," he said.

"He understands the importance of maintaining his physical fitness and the benefits that brings to his mental health."

Ahead of yet another day in court, Mr Greste said it has been difficult to witness his brother stuck behind bars while the Egyptian prosecution has failed to make any serious progress in the hearing.

"The Egyptian legal fraternity like to boast about how fair and transparent their legal system is, but I have really had a great deal of difficulty seeing that," he said.

"If there's been three or four court sessions where no evidence has been presented surely that indicates there is no case and at the very least bail should be granted."

Mr Greste said his family was doing everything they could to remain positive, however it was still an anxious time.

"Dad's favourite phrase is 'optimistic with moderate expectations'," he said.

"I am not a religious person, but I hope and pray that I do not have to come back for a second shift."

 

"In working out the length of suspension and fines, your honour should consider that my client will be named and shamed in local vigilante media".

QT's name and shame: This week's drink drivers by Geoff Egan [Queensland Times - 22/4/14]

 


Senate, Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee (Comprehensive revision of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979) Tue, 22 Apr 2014 [Inquiry into surveillance]


[WATCH LIVE]


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