SPRING HILL VOICE
The Australian website where spooks, media advisors, media monitors, partisan shills, sentiment miners, establishment media purloiners, fabricators, marketing and PR people start their day!
... There's no rationalisation for what you do and you are satan's little helpers. ... Bill Hicks
I feel sorry for Americans
STOP THE WARS! TAX THE RICH!
FREE THE REFUGEES!
"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
* Other Things *
Australian authorities undertake "enhanced screening" turn back 37 Sri Lankan refugees
#UltimOra Dal natante il pattugliatore Sirio #MarinaMilitare ha recuperato tutti i 174 #migranti (22 donne 21 minori)
Image: @ItalianNavy [28/11/14]
Australian authorities have turned back a boat of Sri Lankan asylum seekers after intercepting them near the Indonesian coast, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said.
Mr Morrison said the asylum seekers, who were first spotted two weeks ago, were handed over to Sri Lanka's navy and arrested on Thursday.
He confirmed that while 37 of the asylum seekers were transferred, one remains in the care of Australian authorities and will go through the process of being considered a refugee.
Sri Lanka's superintendent Ajith Rohana said investigations were ongoing.
"The boat left Sri Lanka on November 1," Mr Rohana said, adding that six children were among the passengers.
"Investigations are being conducted by the anti-people smuggling unit of the CID (Criminal Investigation Department).
"They are being held in custody but will be taken before a magistrate shortly."
Palaniappan Kumarasamy from the Australian Tamil Congress said there were fears the returning asylum seekers would be persecuted if they were linked to the separatist Tamil Tigers.
"If the Sri Lankan Government think that these people are involved in the past with the LTTE then of course their life will be in danger," Mr Kumarasamy said.
"They may be imprisoned and tortured.
The Sri Lankan asylum seekers turned back were the first since July, when a boat loaded with 41 nationals was intercepted by Australia.
Sri Lanka charged them with illegally leaving the country, and their cases are due to be taken up by a court next May.
Australia has gifted two vessels to Sri Lanka's navy to patrol its shores and stop boats leaving the island, as part of Canberra's border protection policy.
Australia faces international censure over its treatment of asylum seekers who are denied resettlement in Australia and sent to camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
Meanwhile, Mr Morrison announced Australia would help review Myanmar's border management plans under a new deal.
The Immigration Minister said the review was part of a five-year Memorandum of Understanding that has been agreed to by the two nations.
The plan would be developed with the assistance of Australia's Immigration Department.
Mr Morrison said that when the region has stronger borders, then Australia has stronger borders.
Sri Lanka "opposition" candidate resists foreign war investigation [Arab News - 28/11/14]
Bangladesh proposes interning, repatriating up to 270K Rohingya to Myanmar [Al Jazeera - 26/11/14]:
Bangladesh has outlined proposals to intern thousands of undocumented Rohingya before repatriation to Myanmar, which they fled because of targeted violence and systematic discrimination, an official Foreign Ministry document obtained by Al Jazeera America reveals.
An estimated 270,000 stateless Rohingya live in overcrowded camps, on the outskirts of already impoverished townships, finding shelter in locals’ homes or using plastic sheeting and bamboo to construct huts in forests. An additional 30,000 have official status as refugees, living in U.N.-run camps but lack freedom of movement and the right to employment.
Dhaka announced a new national strategy for the undocumented Rohingya in February but has refused to make the details public. An International Organization for Migration (IOM) official provided the Foreign Ministry’s summary of key proposals to Al Jazeera America.
The document, dated March 31, 2014, reads, “It has been suggested that a survey/listing of undocumented Myanmar nationals in Bangladesh would be carried out in order to identify them and determine their actual number and location. The listed individuals would be housed in temporary shelters in different suitable locations pending their repatriation to Myanmar through regular diplomatic/consular channels.”
It says the IOM would provide basic humanitarian needs, with the International Committee of the Red Cross assuming coordination of the delivery of humanitarian services.
An official at Myanmar's foreign ministry who spoke on condition of anonymity said the country would only accept Rohingya from U.N.-run refugee camps. Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said it is was also very unlikely that any significant number of Rohingya would voluntarily repatriate.
ABC, AM [16/9/14]:
... CHRIS UHLMANN: Now some of the same people in the left are concerned about your border protection policies. Is there any likelihood you'll abandon your commitment to offshore processing?
BILL SHORTEN: No.
CHRIS UHLMANN: That's a firm rolled gold commitment; you're not going to abandon it?
BILL SHORTEN: No.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Will it be changed in any way?
BILL SHORTEN: No, we support regional resettlement. And we support the offshore processing.
Australia is an abusive, violent and discriminatory country which flouts international law and has concentration camps
UN Committee against Torture: Concluding observations on the fourth and fifth periodic reports of Australia [28/11/14]
AUSTRALIA: Violence against women; trafficking in persons; indigenous people in the criminal justice system; compliance with non-refoulement obligations under the Convention; mandatory immigration detention for unauthorised arrivals, including children; offshore processing of asylum seekers claims; work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; anti terror legislation.
UNHCR urges Australia and other countries to stop detaining children [ABC - 28/11/14]
Manus Island asylum seeker had to rip out infected tooth, says case worker [Guardian - 28/11/14]:
... “Men literally had to walk through open sewerage to get into the tent to eat, and the smell is consuming, constantly,” she said. Every transferee was instructed to write a request if they needed to see a doctor or a nurse, she said, but many did not know how to do so. “As a caseworker, we are very, very clearly instructed that we are not allowed to assist them in writing, even if it is our client,” she said. ...
Concentration camps draw sadists, abusers like flies. [Radiologist Max Mehta, on US sex child charge, worked on Christmas Island [Guardian - 27/11/14]
Morrison does a deal with the ALP on 31,000 asylum seekers [Guardian - 27/11/14]
Geronimo Was a Prisoner in a Detention Centre Too [Manusleaks - 14/11/14]
... George and Amy Sheppard, key members of best-selling band Shepaprd and writers of the hit single ‘Geronimo’ must have a keen sense of irony. The pair, whose manager and financial backer is a director of the company that runs the Manus Island Detention Center, named their number one single after one of history’s most prominent detainees, a man who was a refugee in his own land and locked away for 27 years in a detention center.
We’re talking Geronimo here, the last leader of the Apache nation. Are Sheppard taking the piss, or are they simply ignorant of history?
Australia for UNHCR [29/11/14]:
The Italian Mare Nostrum rescue operation has saved over 150,000 lives in the Mediterranean this year. Congratulations on a heroic effort in protecting refugees!
Indigenous leaders to meet at First Nations Summit for Freedom [Guardian - 27/11/14]:
... “The heritage act is having a big impact on Western Australia,” Sansbury, who is a long time Aboriginal advocate and was heavily involved in the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, told Guardian Australia. “The closures of the communities over there. Aboriginal people are going to be removed off their land and there are suggestions that the SA government is thinking along the same lines.” Federal government cuts to Aboriginal legal services and frontline organisations and attempts by state and territory governments to water down land rights and other Indigenous legislation are also on the agenda.
Increasingly high rates of Indigenous incarceration, suicide, protective orders on children, and recent deaths in custody are also not being addressed, organisers have said.
George Brandis hides his own metadata [The Age - 27/11/14]
Stepfather filmed 12-year-old girl showering [News Mail - 27/11/14]
UN torture prevention body announces country visits for 2015 – agenda includes Nauru
OHCHR Media Release [26/11/14]:
Guatemala, Italy, Nauru and the Philippines are among the countries the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) plans to visit in 2015.
In addition, after receiving assurances from the Azerbaijani authorities, the SPT is to return to Azerbaijan. Its September 2014 mission there was suspended after the Subcommittee encountered obstructions in carrying out its mandate.
The SPT’s role is to prevent and eliminate torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment of detainees. It works with national governments that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT).
The SPT will also conduct advisory visits to the Netherlands and Turkey regarding their national preventive mechanisms (NPMs), which are independent, national bodies that monitor places of detention.
The SPT also plans two follow-up visits to previously visited countries.
“This will be the most far-reaching programme of work which the SPT has so far undertaken,” said Chairperson Malcolm Evans. “The process agreed by the UN General Assembly this year to strengthen the work of all 10 human rights treaty bodies concluded that there should be a renewed emphasis on providing states with technical advice and assistance on how to comply with their treaty obligations – and this is exactly what the mandate of the SPT under the OPCAT provides for. We are looking forward to the challenge of fulfilling that task.”
With 76 states having ratified the Optional Protocol, it was essential that the SPT continued to work ever more closely with national, regional and other international mechanisms involved in the prevention of torture,. Mr. Evans explained.
“We look forward to deepening our contacts with National Mechanisms and will continue to explore new ways of making their and our work as effective as possible, so that we can better protect the rights of those deprived of their liberty to be free torture or ill-treatment,” the SPT Chair said.
“The SPT is at the centre of this international framework of independent torture prevention mechanisms and we need to become ever more closely involved in encouraging and supporting all those involved in this work, at whatever level,” said Mr. Evans.
UN Review Cites Torture & “Ill Treatment” in US Army Field Manual’s Appendix M [Fire Dog Lake – 28/11/14]
Rev. Sharpton: Legacy of Civil Rights Movement Shows Need for Feds to Bring Justice if State Fails [Democracy Now – 26/11/14]:
AMY GOODMAN: "Strange Fruit," Sung by Nina Simone. "Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees," about lynching. She said, Billie Holiday, the original singer of the song, said every time she sang the song, she had to throw up afterwards.
Defense lawyer abused, sent hate mail.
Gee, why are Queenslanders so ignorant about the justice system?
A lawyer has told the media outside the appeal court in Brisbane he has been subjected to abuse for acting for the killer of Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe.
Brett Peter Cowan, 45, is serving a life sentence in jail for abducting and murdering the 13-year-old teenager on the Sunshine Coast in 2003.
Lawyers are continuing to argue in Queensland's Court of Appeal today that Cowan should be set free or granted a retrial.
Cowan wants an acquittal or a retrial and he is appealing on the grounds his confessions to undercover police should not have been allowed in the trial.
Cowan's lawyers also said the trial judge made an error in directing the jury on evidence by paedophile witness Douglas Jackway.
Lawyer Tim Meehan said outside court this morning he understood how upsetting it would be for the Morcombes to be in court again.
Bruce and Denise Morcombe were attending the hearing again today.
Mr Meehan said he had been abused since he first started representing Cowan.
"People seem to have a particular view about criminal defence lawyers, and that's borne out by the fan mail that I've been receiving particularly yesterday and today," Mr Meehan said.
"People seem to be really concerned about how I sleep at night.
"I'm a parent - I can't begin to imagine how terrible it must be for [the Morcombes].
"I can't dwell on that - I have a job to do, and that's what I'm doing - and that is to ensure again that justice is done according to law."
Hacking Inquiry [26/11/14]:
The Sun has a 7ft-high safe stuffed full of unpublished photographs, stories and videos of people in public life, one of its former executives told the paper’s corruption trial.
Ben O’Driscoll, who denies three counts of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office, described the safe as he began his defence.
Sun journalist not guilty over civil servant payments [Hacking Inquiry - 26/11/14]
Too little too late: Wine dick MP slams Queensland's phone hacking scum media jackals [Yahoo - 27/11/14]
Mark Scott: The man who delivered the final blow to your ABC
News Corp’s $882m blew the budget [Australian Financal Review - 17/2/14]
Australian taxpayers pay Rupert Murdoch to watch the ABC, SBS. [ABC and SBS could save $6m a year by refusing to pay a fee to Foxtel - Guardian - 28/11/14]:
The ABC and SBS could save $6m a year by refusing to pay Foxtel for retransmitting their services and another $5.9m a year from abandoning digital radio, according to a leaked version of the still-secret efficiency review commissioned by communications minister Malcolm Turnbull.
ABC, PM [24/11/14]:
... MARK COLVIN: You talk about localism. The people out in the bush are probably the most likely to have bad or almost non-existent internet, so they're the ones that are going to suffer most when you cut a program like RN Bush Telegraph, aren't they?
MARK SCOTT: No I don't necessarily follow that. I think our commitment to regional and rural Australia remains very strong, we are working very hard to protect our investment for that overall. I'd say you know one of the most frequent requests I get is for people who want local radio from regional Australia to be streamed, we currently don't stream that, one of our priorities is to provide streaming of those broadcasts, the same way that this program is available for streaming...
MARK COLVIN: Most of the people I know on the land listen to the ABC while driving the tractor or in the pickup truck on the radio.
MARK SCOTT: Well many do Mark, of course they do. But increasingly they want to be able to experience it streaming the way that we can and regularly do - you think of the content that you stream, they want to be able to take advantage of that opportunity, they need two things for that, they need fast broadband, which is coming, and they need the services streamed, which we're looking to deliver.
ABC staff will be axed because they do quality journalism - right-wing, partisan personalities on $190,000 PA are sitting pretty. [ABC sacks Quentin Dempster - Sydney Morning Herald - 29/11/14]:
... Within two hours of ABC managing director Mark Scott's announcement to staff on Monday that 400 jobs would be lost around the country, director of news, Kate Torney, called Dempster into her office to tell him he had no future role at the ABC.
"I will be among 300 staff retrenched in the first round of the ABC's cuts," he said.
"This is a very emotional time for me.
"I have worked extremely hard for the ABC to faithfully use the opportunity it has given me."
On why he was being "sacked", Dempster says he "only ever sought to uphold the integrity of Her Majesty's institutions, the Parliament and the police, in Queensland and NSW."
"That's not left-wing," he said. "There could be nothing more conservative.
"Why isn't Rupert Murdoch being sacked for phone hacking, invasion of privacy, intimidating the politicians, his tax havens and all those tits on page three? Just asking."
What Mark Scott is really doing with the ABC cuts [The Saturday Paper - 29/11/14]
ABCs Mark Scott talks media to Christian business people [VIDEO - 2009]
Greek journalists on strike
Greek journalists are on a 24-hour strike, pulling all newscasts off the air a day before a nationwide general strike against austerity measures.
Radio and television stations were not broadcasting any news bulletins Wednesday, and current affairs websites were not being updated from 6 a.m. No Thursday newspapers will be published.
Thursday's general strike is expected to disrupt services across the country. Schools will remain shut, state hospitals will only handle emergencies, and ferries and flights will not operate. Journalists' unions usually hold work stoppages a day early so reporters can cover the general strike.
Greece has been dependent on billions of euros in international bailouts since 2010. In return, successive governments have had to impose deep spending cuts and tax hikes in an effort to reform the economy.
Hong Kong policemen arrested for allegedly assaulting protester [Channel News Asia - 27/11/14]
Hong Kong student leaders banned from Mong Kok protest site [Reuters - 27/11/14]
LAPD begins arrests in downtown L.A. during demonstrations over Ferguson decision [LA Times – 27/11/14]
Protesters fuming over the presumed slaughter of 43 students blocked the highway linking Mexico City and Acapulco on Wednesday to mark two months since the disappearance rocking the government. ... [France 24 - 27/11/14]
Victoria election 2014: Catholic Education Office tells parents not to vote Greens
The Victorian Catholic Education Office has sent letters to parents at Catholic schools in Melbourne's inner city, advising they should not vote for the Greens in Saturday's election.
The letters were circulated in seats where the Greens are expected to poll well - Melbourne, Brunswick, Richmond and Prahran - and questioned the Greens' commitment to funding Catholic schools if the party held the balance of power.
In the letter, executive director Stephen Elder said while both the Labor and Liberal parties would legislate on funding arrangements for the first time, the Greens wanted to create a body to determine whether the schools deserved any money.
"We are most concerned that the need of a school community could be measured through the value of its land and not the needs of its students," Mr Elder wrote.
"The Greens do not distinguish between Catholic schools and other non-government schools.
"This approach is likely to adversely affect many Catholic schools."
Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber said the party had always stood for increased education funding based on equity and the needs of students.
"It's a last-minute scare campaign, there'll be a few more of those, they're not based on fact," Mr Barber said.
"But if you look at education, everybody from community-based childcare to the tertiary education union has given the Greens top marks for our education policies."
The Catholic Education Office told the ABC the letter was sent to principals on Wednesday and most likely distributed to about 5,000 families on Thursday.
The two major parties have said funding for Catholic schools would be linked to the cost of educating a student at a government school, which Mr Elder said would alleviate the need to increase fees.
The parties have also dedicated $120 million for facility and building upgrades at Catholic schools.
Mr Elder said he wrote to the Greens earlier this year about the issue and said the party was "non-committal".
"With such little detail, I am very concerned about the threat of fee increases for parents like yourself and whether Catholic schools would struggle to welcome disadvantaged students and their families," the letter said.
"There is a chance the Greens could hold the balance of power in the Victorian Parliament, which could put the commitments from the major parties at risk.
"When you go to the ballot box this Saturday, and you balance what's really important to you, please remember that both Labor and the Liberals are committed to secure, ongoing and community-building funding for local Catholic schools like yours."
The Labor MP for Melbourne, Jennifer Kanis, said she did not know if it would affect voting.
"I don't know whether it will hurt or harm me," she said.
"What I'm looking at is delivering for families in Melbourne and this is one of the many pressing issues the Greens have failed to address in their campaign."
Evangelicals also in Bali preying on schoolies [Australian teen cleared of methanol poisoning - Sydney Morning Herald - 27/11/14]
Senate to NSW Govt: reverse decision to truncate Newcastle rail line [Greens Media Release - 27/11/14]
Icelandic hacker says guilty of stealing money from Wikileaks
An Icelandic computer hacker and former associate of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange unexpectedly pleaded guilty on Wednesday to embezzling 30 million Icelandic crowns ($240,000) from the organization.
Sigurdur Thordarsson's courtroom plea is the latest twist in the saga of Wikileaks, which released thousands of secret U.S. embassy cables in 2010 and 2011, deeply embarrassing Washington.
Known as 'Siggi the Hacker', Thordarsson has previously said that he turned an informant for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2011, a year before Assange fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault accusations that he has denied.
In the run up to his Iceland trial, Thordarsson rejected charges that he stole the proceeds of the sales of Wikileaks-branded items, and his U-turn on Wednesday was a surprise.
"After going over the charges thoroughly and speaking with my client, he has decided to plead guilty to all charges," Thordarsson's lawyer, Vilhjalmur Vilhjalmsson, told the court.
The lawyer would not make any comment after the court session, including why Thordarsson had changed his mind.
No date was set for sentencing in the case.
Thordarsson posted a long description of his ties to Wikileaks including photos of him with Assange, his dialogue with the FBI and his defense against the fraud charges, on an Icelandic news website in June 2013.
He originally said his own bank account had to be used to take in money for Wikileaks merchandise because a block had been imposed on company credit cards after the release of the cables.
Wikileaks said it believed Thordarsson had talked to the FBI in Denmark.
"He was a volunteer who abused his position through fraud to obtain money from T-shirts and coffee mugs just after we were imposed with the banking blockade," Wikileaks representative Kristinn Hrafnsson, himself Icelandic, said by telephone.
"We lodged a complaint in Denmark pertaining to a meeting that took place between him and FBI agents in 2011. We want that to be probed on the basis that it was an illegal operation according to Danish law," he said.
There has been no immediate word from the Danish authorities about the complaint.
Assange targeted by FBI investigation, US court documents reveal [Sydney Morning Herald – 20/5/14]
PNG: 79 arrested, detained for "being in possession of weapons"
The National [27/11/14]:
Security forces in Hela have arrested 79 people from two tribes involved in fights in recent months – and police are now worried about where to safely detain them while awaiting their court cases.
Hela provincial police commander Superintendent Mark Yangen confirmed yesterday that the 79 were from the tribes of Lineapini and Papiali in the Tari-Pori electorate. He said police officers and soldiers on Monday went to Lineapini and Angore villages and arrested 22 for “being in possession of weapons”.
The areas had recently been declared a fighting zone, meaning anyone in possession of weapons can be arrested. Yesterday, the security forces conducted a dawn raid at Papiali and arrested 57 for being in possession of weapons. A public servant was among them.
Yangen told The National that the biggest problem now was finding a magistrate to hear their cases in court because it would be difficult to keep the 79 detainees at the police station for a long time.
He said provincial chief magistrate Vincent Linge was out of the province.
“The Hawa correction service (in Hela) is rundown and the police station is too small to accommodate everyone,” he said.
“I have squeezed everyone in but it is risky.
“On numerous occasions, people on remand have escaped.”
He said the 300 police officers and soldiers deployed to the area two weeks ago, following a K2 million funding by the provincial government, had managed to stop the three tribal fights raging in Tari-Pori and Komo-Margarima.
“There is no more fighting in Hela,” he said.
Yangen said most of the people involved in the tribal fight had fled from the area and the security forces were trying to track them down.
He said the most urgent need now was finding a magistrate to hear the cases and get the process rolling.
“When there is no magistrate, the whole operation becomes useless,” he said.
“I am confused what to do next.
“Our job is to arrest and prosecute and the court deals with it and the job is completed.”
He said the province was beginning to see peace and normality restored.
But the security forces would continue to conduct raids in certain villages in the fighting zone areas.
“Fights have stopped but the guns are still in the hands of villagers.
“We want people in possession of illegal guns, those who kill other people, rape mothers and young girls to come out and surrender,” he said.
Yangen said some tribesmen were now wanting to negotiate peace.
“But the time for negotiating peace is over.”
Earlier this month, Hela Governor Anderson Agiru had convened a provincial executive council meeting to declare a fighting zone in Tari.
Independent MP calls for Heiner "cover-up" inquiry
Brisbane Times [27/11/14]:
Queensland Independent MP Liz Cunningham has asked in State Parliament on Thursday that a special Commission of Inquiry be called to investigate the "cover-up" of the 1990 decision by the Queensland cabinet to shred documents required by a court.
"It calls for an investigation into the full scope of what became known as the Heiner Affair," Ms Cunningham told the house.
The Parliamentary (Heiner Afffair and Related Matters) Commission of Inquiry Bill 2014 was referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee, which is chaired by Ipswich MP Ian Berry.
At the time of the shredding of the documents in 1990 Mr Berry was the solicitor seeking the documents on behalf of his client.
Whistleblower Kevin Lindeberg said he expected Mr Berry to stand aside from any investigation.
Ms Cunningham said supporting documentation lodged with the bill raised serious questions about some members of the judiciary.
Those concerns were raised with the Crime and Misconduct Commission in January 2014, she said.
"Given the seriousness of the allegations and the alleged involvement of the judiciary, the then CMC referred it back to the Attorney General."
Ms Cunningham said those concerns should not stop there.
"The legal concerns involved in this bill and supporting documentation are critical."
Ms Cunningham referred to the central rape allegation of a then 14-year old girl at the John Oxley Youth Detention Centre as the "foundation" of the inquiry.
"She, along with others at this place deserves justice and sympathy.
"A full, unfettered and open Commission of Inquiry is the one avenue remaining to give her and others directly involved justice and peace."
Ms Cunningham does not want another investigation into the shredding of the documents.
She instead wants an investigation into why it took from 1990 until July 2013 – 23 years – for a properly-constituted inquiry to find that there was a prima-facie case against the 1990 Queensland Cabinet members for shredding the documents.
It would be similar to the 1989 Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry that saw Judge Angelo Vasta removed from office.
It is the "Why did it take so long to investigate?" Liz Cunningham wants answered, not the "What happened originally?".
The Carmody Inquiry
On July 1, 2013 Commissioner Tim Carmody found a case existed against Goss government cabinet ministers.
He reached the conclusion after spending months on the Child Protection Inquiry, which included investigating the shredding of Magistrate Noel Heiner's inquiry document in 1990.
"The available evidence is legally sufficient, as it stands, for a jury to find that in resolving to hand the Heiner documents over to the state archivist for destruction, the premier and each participating cabinet minister meant to ensure that they could not be used in evidence if required in an anticipated judicial proceeding," Mr Carmody wrote on July 1, 2013.
However the Office of Public Prosecutions found there was "no reasonable prospects of a conviction".
Spain Health Minister Ana Mato resigns amid Gurtel scandal
Spain's Health Minister Ana Mato has resigned after a judge accused her of benefitting from illegal payments.
Her ex-husband, Jesus Sepulveda, was found to be linked to a huge corruption case involving the ruling People's Party.
A court issued a formal ruling which signalled that Ms Mato had no knowledge of any possible crime.
The scheme caused a scandal for PM Mariano Rajoy, who apologised after party members were arrested by police.
Ms Mato has not been named as an official suspect in the case, but will have to sit in during court hearings, judicial sources have told Spanish press.
In a statement, Ms Mato said she had not herself been linked with any crime but that she was standing down for the good of the government.
Judges have been investigating the so-called Gurtel network, a huge scheme involving illegal party donations or kickbacks from businesses seeking contracts.
It is the largest pre-trial investigation in the history of Spain's criminal court, and involves many Popular Party officials and public figures.
Interesting points raised at today's Queensland Government Senate Inquiry hearing in Brisbane
Senator Macdonald lurks behind [whistleblower] Simone Marsh at hearing #qldinc #auspol
Image: @lockthegateQLD [28/11/14]
Simone Marsh tells media she wanted to give evidence in public not behind closed doors @lockthegateQLD [28/11/14]
$20 million has been spent on policing since the anti rights (VLAD) legislation was introduced. Propagandising and intimidating the citizenry, rather than fighting crime, appears to be the goal of this expenditure.
The VLAD laws have greenlighted police harassment and innocent people have been placed in solitary confinement.
Queensland politicians aren't interested in exploring how this climate of fear has precipitated the recent police shootings.
When the Barrett Centre closed there were no contingency plans in place for teenagers and staff.
Despite the obvious examples of neoliberal health policy failing in Queensland, politicians belive healthism, outsourcing and activity based funding must continue without question.
The Nyanda (Salisbury) State High School site was sold to a christian college at a bargain basement price. i.e. privatise the profits, socialise the losses and proselytise children.
Some unionists still believe what the ALP says.
ERMP was given unfettered access to the government, with dinners and meetings (at the Queensland Club) not declared.
Between 11 PM and 4 AM on Thursday night only 12 Energex crew were restoring power to Brisbane households and businesses because workers would have had to have been paid overtime.
Anything you see in the media about the government's response to natural disasters is a PR stunt.
Queensland government misleads on power restoration after Brisbane storm [Minister for Energy and Water Supply Media Release - 28/11/14]
Trucks and members remain idle while customers wait for power, ENERGEX management fails Qld electricity customers. [ETU Queensland - 28/11/14]
Additional food waste bins for Brisbane suburbs in blackout [Brisbane City Council Media Release - 28/11/14]
Queensland government reassures its constituents in the fossil fuel industry after last night's storm
Ice hail and glasses. Merry Chrismas #brisbane! And the summer festive season is only starting #bnestorm
Image: @lockyn [27/11/14]
Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Media Release
Queensland’s resources sector will be supercharged for 30 years of job-creating growth thanks to a new plan unveiled by Premier Campbell Newman.
Mr Newman said the ResourcesQ action plan would make Queensland a world leader in the resources industry – driving economic growth, developing the regions and creating new jobs for decades to come.
The 30-year ResourcesQ action plan was developed in partnership with the resources sector and launched at the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) annual lunch in Brisbane.
The Newman LNP Government and QRC will each provide $1 million this year to fund the plan’s key actions, which include:
•creating “one window” for State Government departments to provide a coordinated and streamlined service for resource project development
•implementing investment attraction activities and providing a single point of contact for potential investors
•hosting a ResourcesQ investment summit to showcase Queensland’s resources sector to the world
•reviewing the mining, equipment, technology and services sector to identify and address supply chain gaps
•providing a State of the Industry Report every two years to report on progress
•developing regional resources industry development plans to identify new opportunities
Mines Minister Andrew Cripps said the plan gave Queensland’s resources sector a bright future.
Oil price collapse sinks Australian share market [ABC, PM - 28/11/14]:
... VLADO VIVODA: We're probably talking maybe a few more months, and no one likes it, none, all of the other non-OPEC producers, I mean, Russia does not like what's going on. Even the non-oil producers, the countries that are producing, you know, exporting LNG, like Australia it's hurting as well, because LNG is indexed to oil, the lot of it.
PAT MCGRATH: And so Australia's oil and gas producers have taken a pummelling on the share market today. Santos has closed down 13 per cent. Woodside has ended the day down 7 per cent. Those losses helped pull down the entire market by 1.5 per cent. And Craig James from Commsec says Australian energy producers are right to feel like collateral damage in a war they're not involved in.
11 killed in China's coal mine blast
Business Standard [27/11/14]:
Eleven people were killed today in a coal mine explosion in China's southwestern Guizhou Province, in the second deadly incident in two days in the country's dangerous mining industry.
The incident happened in Songlin coal mine in Songhe Town of Pan County, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
When the explosion occurred, 19 people were working underground out of which eight workers managed to survive.
Rescue operations are underway and the cause of the explosion is being investigated.
Today's blast follows a major coal mine fire yesterday in northeastern Liaoning province in which 26 workers were killed.
WA FIFO inquiry: three workers suicide in past three months [WA Today - 27/11/14]
FIFO suicides at a disgraceful level: union claims [Surat Basin News – 25/11/14]
Exxon rapes PNG of its resources, Lynda Babao-O’Neill calls a tax write off a contribution to universal health care.
PNG Facts [27/11/14]:
Four containers of life-saving medical supplies and equipment will be delivered to Papua New Guinea next year following the successful First Ladies Luncheon attended by Ms Lynda Babao-O’Neill, and the generous support of ExxonMobil and PNG / LNG.
The luncheon that was held in Denver, the United States, on 5 November, raised funds to ship more than 4 million Kina (USD 1.6 Million) in medical supplies. The event was organized by global health non-profit, Project C.U.R.E, was funded by ExxonMobil PNG Limited for $100,000 USD, and it was the Tribal Foundation that brought its partners together to make the Luncheon a reality for the benefit of PNG.
At the fund raising event Ms Babao-O’Neill had the opportunity to discuss progress being made in the delivery of healthcare in the nation, and the challenges that have been experienced.
She said despite underinvestment in healthcare in the past, where infrastructure did not keep pace with a rising population, progress is now being made.
“The country now has clear priorities that include the provision of universal free healthcare,” she told the audience.
“This is important, because if our people are not healthy, the other elements in life diminish in importance.”
Ms Babao-O’Neill thanked ExxonMobil and Tribal Foundation and Project Cure in providing assessments and medical supplies throughout the country. “I would like express my most sincere gratitude for ExxonMobil and the company’s continuous support, particularly in empowering women in Papua New Guinea.”
The news of the medical shipment was provided by Mr Laurie S. Porter, the Events Manager at Project C.U.R.E. in Colorado who arranged the First Lady’s Luncheon. Mr Porter expressed his delight to participate in the program that will be appreciated by people around Papua New Guinea.
GT Bustin, President of the Tribal Foundation said, declared the event a great success.
"The word from our partners at Project C.U.R.E. Is that this is the most successful First Ladies Luncheon they have ever had,” Mr Bustin said.
“Ms Lynda Babao-O'Neill did an exceptional job of representing Papua New Guinea and the people of Colorado are still talking about how impressed they are with her genuine and kind disposition. I wish all of Papua New Guinea could have been there to witness the event. It was a proud moment for us all."
Ms Babao-O'Neill and Children's Hospital Colorado will identify the deliver site of one of the four containers. ExxonMobil & PNG/ LNG will identify the delivery site of the remaining three containers, while Papua New Guinea Tribal Foundation will handle the logistics and delivery of the four containers.
There is a further chance that a fifth container could be delivered dependent upon the shipping costs for each container. The Papua New Guinea Tribal Foundation is working with local shipping and transport partners to facilitate this potential shipment.
Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill faces leadership tribunal over loan [ABC - 27/11/14]
Wild storm brings havoc to Perth
West Australian [27/11/14]:
Two houses were destroyed and three people taken to hospital after thunderstorms caused havoc and sparked several fires north of Perth yesterday.
The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting showers and thunderstorms today with gusty winds, hail and heavy rain possible with thunderstorms about the hills this afternoon.
Yesterday, one house was destroyed by fire in Wanerie 90km north-west of Perth and another by wild weather in Gingin, while at least three planes were forced to return to Perth Airport after they were struck by lightning.
The thunderstorms left about 5000 homes without power, mainly in Lancelin and the northern fringe suburbs.
A Skippers Aviation flight had just left Perth with 50 passengers when it was hit by lightning just before 5.30pm on Wednesday and was forced to return.
It landed safely and two male passengers were taken to Royal Perth Hospital for treatment.
The hospital said on Thursday morning that one of the men had been discharged while the other was in a stable condition.
A Skippers spokesman said it wasn't clear whether the men had sustained injuries but they might have suffered a huge fright.
"It's normal practice to come back home," he told AAP. "Our pilots will always err on the safe side."
A number of airlines also cancelled flights. In Wanerie, firefighters were called to a house on Bennies Road but were unable to save it.
A 73-year-old man believed to be helping defend his neighbour's property was treated for smoke inhalation. Shire of Gingin residents in Sovereign Hill, Redfield Park Estate and Seabird were told to evacuate or prepare to defend as a 5km front burned towards them through Moore River National Park.
About 60 firefighters worked to contain the blaze. An evacuation centre was set up but the alert level had been downgraded by 5pm.
About 280km north of Perth in Eneabba, residents were also told to leave or prepare to defend because of another fire started by lightning.
Sections of the Brand Highway were closed and water bombing aircraft were called in. By 5pm, the alert level for the Shire of Carnamah had been downgraded.
Gold Coast beaches fit for summer: GCCC
Blue Green Algae, Surfers Paradise [27/11/14]
Gold Coast City Council Media Release [27/11/14]:
The Gold Coast’s iconic beaches are in great shape and more than ready for the crowds of locals and visitors who’ll be enjoying them over the summer months.
That’s the verdict of Mayor Tom Tate as he surveyed our 30 kilometres of coast from The Spit to Rainbow Bay, inspecting our beaches and the efforts of City staff and community groups to prepare them for the long hot summer ahead.
As set out in our Ocean Beaches Strategy 2013-2023, City of Gold Coast works year round to maintain, manage and protect Gold Coast beaches and waterways.
Mayor Tate took the opportunity to thank all those who had contributed to the city’s beaches being in such good condition ahead of the summer season.
“It’s no easy task looking after Australia’s best beaches, and it’s a responsibility we take very seriously. I’d like to thank the many thousands of unsung local heroes who care for our beaches every day of the year, from local residents who pick up rubbish every time they step onto the sand, to the volunteer groups who care for our dunes, to the City staff including engineers, beach cleaners and lifeguards who all do their bit to make a difference,” he said.
“As a result of their efforts, the City’s annual beach protection works, and minimal storm impacts last year, the health of our beaches has improved, and we are in a good position to better manage this summer’s storm season.”
For general information on Gold Coast beaches, see our Coastal Management section.
During storm season, our beaches may be impacted by unsettled and sometimes extreme weather events including low pressure systems, storms and king tides. This summer’s king tides are due around 20-23 January, with higher than usual tides also expected either side of 23 December and 19 February.
For beach advice and updates during summer, see our Beach Update page.
Lake Awoonga blue green algae at high level
Morning Bulletin [27/11/14]:
Blue-green algae in Lake Awoonga is now at a high alert level.
Gladstone Area Water Board chief executive Jim Grayson said the recreational hazard alert had been upgraded to high and was expected to remain at that level throughout spring and summer.
He said the increase in blue-green algae cells usually occurred in late October or early November, and was a natural phenomenon in many Australian waterways, especially in tropical and sub-tropical regions.
"The treatment process used by the Gladstone Area Water Board is designed to efficiently remove algae cells to produce safe drinking water," Mr Grayson said.
"This process is constantly monitored to ensure confidence in the provision of high quality drinking water to the Gladstone community."
However, people coming into direct contact with raw water in Lake Awoonga should be aware that blue-green algae may cause skin and eye irritation.
Drinking untreated or boiled water may result in illness.
Anglers are reminded that glue-green algae toxins can accumulate in the internal organs of fish and in mussels.
Floods hit drought stricken Brazil
The Weather Network [26/11/14]:
A heavy rain storm flooded large parts of Sao Paulo Tuesday just as evening commuters were leaving work causing travel headaches and traffic jams several miles long.
A large, dark rain cloud hovered over the megacity of 20 million people dumping a short, heavy onslaught of rain that quickly flooded streets, highways and entire neighbourhoods.
The flooding caused significant disruption to transport, with cars, buses and trains becoming stranded in the flood waters.
The city of Sao Paulo and the surrounding region is in the midst of the worst drought it has have faced in 80 years.
Government agencies said the rain brought some relief, but despite the problems it was causing, it would not be enough to impact stressed reservoirs that collectively sit at about 16% of capacity.
The wet season in this part of Brazil usually occurs between November and January and the forecast is for more rain in the coming days.
However, the national weather service has said it will not be enough to replenish the areas reservoirs and reverse the drought.
OPEC heading for no output cut despite oil price plunge
OPEC Gulf oil producers will not propose an output cut on Thursday, reducing the likelihood of joint action by OPEC to prop up prices that have sunk by a third since June.
"The GCC reached a consensus," Saudi Arabian Oil MinisterAli al-Naimi told reporters, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. "We are very confident that OPEC will have a unified position."
"The power of convincing will prevail tomorrow. I am confident that OPEC is capable of taking a very unified position," Naimi added.
A Gulf OPEC delegate told Reuters the GCC had reached a consensus not to cut oil output. Three OPEC delegates separately told Reuters they believed OPEC was unlikely to take any action when the 12-member organisation meets on Thursday after Russia said it would not cut output in tandem.
The OPEC meeting will be one of its most crucial in recent years, with oil having tumbled to below $78 a barrel due to the U.S. shale boom and slower economic growth in China and Europe.
Cutting output unilaterally would effectively mean for OPEC, which accounts for a third of global oil output, a further loss of market share to North American shale oil producers.
If OPEC decided against cutting and rolled over existing output levels on Thursday, that would effectively mean a price war that the Saudis and other Gulf producers could withstand due to their large foreign-exchange reserves. Other members, such as Venezuela or Iran, would find it much more difficult.
Brent crude LCOc1 was trading down 73 cents at $77.60 a barrel at 1919 GMT.
Naimi said earlier on Wednesday he expected the oil market "to stabilise itself eventually", after talks with non-OPEC member Russia on Tuesday yielded no pledge from Moscow to tackle a global oil glut jointly.
The UAE sided with Naimi, saying oil prices would soon stabilise, while ramping up pressure on non-OPEC nations.
"This is not a crisis that requires us to panic we have seen (prices) way lower," UAE Oil Minister Suhail bin Mohammed al-Mazroui told Reuters.
"The oversupply came from the evolution of the unconventional oil production. I think everyone needs to play a role in balancing the market, not OPEC unilaterally," he said.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said some OPEC members, although not Iran, were now gearing up for a battle over market share.
"Some OPEC members believe that this is the time where we need to defend market share. All the experts in the market believe we have oversupply in the market and next year we will have more oversupply," he added.
The group could opt to roll over output levels but stress the importance of better compliance, while also agreeing to hold an extraordinary meeting if prices keep falling, a Gulf OPEC delegate and several OPEC watchers said.
Serious traffic crash, Gaven
QPS Media [27/11/14]:
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating a serious two vehicle traffic crash that occurred this morning in Gaven.
Initial information suggests that about 8.25am a hatchback entered onto Banyulla Drive from Coolibah Crescent, where it collided with a sedan towing a trailer that was travelling north on Banyulla Drive.
It is believed that the sedan swerved to avoid the hatchback and as a result, travelled off the road and into a culvert.
The male passenger of the sedan was transported to the Gold Coast University Hospital with life-threatening injuries and remains in a critical condition. The driver, also of the sedan, was transported there for treatment of minor facial injuries.
There is no further information available as the Forensic Crash Unit continue their investigations.
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.
Worker critical after accident at Royal Adelaide Hospital site
A worker at the Royal Adelaide Hospital site is in a critical condition after an accident this morning.
The construction union said the 54-year-old worker suffered a head injury and was found on a scissor lift just after 7:00am (CDST).
It was confirmed the man started his shift at 6.00am, but it was unclear how long he had been injured before being found by co-workers.
All work was suspended at the site as Safework SA carried out an investigation.
Union secretary Aaron Cartledge said the mood had been sombre and workers would meet again on Friday to discuss when they would return to work.
"A lot of guys knew this worker, he's been in the industry some time, is very popular on the site," Mr Cartledge said.
"This is a small industry - the South Australian building industry - there's a lot of guys that are devastated."
Earlier this morning Ambulance Services SA said the man went into cardiac arrest while on a scissor lift and fell.
He was resuscitated while being taken to hospital.
Police pursuit tactics haphazard - IPCA
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has criticised police over a car chase along Auckland's southern motorway that left an innocent man seriously injured.
The police were chasing a stolen BMW after an armed bank robbery in September last year.
Road spikes were laid but the driver, Michael Rai, avoided them the first time by going on the wrong side of the road and through red lights.
The high speed chase continued after Rai dodged a clump of spikes a second time.
He was driving at 160 kilometres an hour when he hit Hugh Foster in his ute.
Mr Foster suffered a broken neck.
The IPCA said police failed to comply with policy and their use of road spikes was haphazard and risky.
Cyclist hit by car in Dickson taken to hospital
Canberra Times [26/11/14]:
A cyclist has been taken to hospital after colliding with a car in Dickson on Wednesday morning.
An ACT Police spokesman said the crash happened on Morphett Street about 8.34am.
An ACT Emergency Services spokesman said paramedics attended the scene and took the 45-year-old male cyclist to the Canberra Hospital in a stable condition.
Australia Obligated To Protect Refugees In Nauru, Say Legal Groups
New Matilda [26/11/14]:
Legal experts and asylum seeker advocates have contradicted Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s claim that violence against refugees settled [exiled] on Nauru is “wholly a matter for Nauru”, after another incident left two teens hurt and escalated fears about the safety of the island’s growing refugee community.
Madeline Gleeson, Research Associate at the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW, told New Matilda Australia had a “clear legal obligation” to protect refugees in its care, including those temporarily settled [exiled] in the Nauruan community.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has remained largely silent on the situation on Nauru. After the October incident he told media: “This incident is wholly a matter for Nauru."
Cambodia Khmer Rouge tribunal postpones war crimes trial to January [Jurist - 25/11/14]
The Khmer Rouge tribunal has capitulated to a sustained boycott of Khieu Samphan’s genocide trial by his defense team, adjourning proceedings until next year so the lawyers can prepare an appeal against his recent conviction for crimes against humanity. ...[Cambodia Daily - 25/11/14]
International Criminal Court: Ruto lawyers counter witness evidence he incited violence in 2007 election run-up [Nation - 25/11/14]
Fascism 101: Ignore the human rights atrocity: Singapore reaffirms ties with Nauru [Asia One - 26/11/14]
Poland establishes diplomatic relations with Nauru [MSZ - 25/11/14]
Greece: 200 Syrian refugees go on hunger strike
Some 200 Syrian refugees protesting in front of Greek Parliament for the last six days went on hunger strike on Monday, as Kathimerini online reports.
The protesters have taped shut their mouths as they demand asylum and medical assistance. One of the Syrian women taking part in the protest fainted and had to be taken to the hospital.
Attica Governor Rena Dourou said that she spoke to the head of the Church of Greece Ieronymos, Public Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias and Deputy Interior Minister Giorgos Dolios on Sunday in an attempt to find a way to help the refugees.
Hundreds of migrants on crippled ship off Crete
Ships from Greece rushed to help after a crippled freighter crammed with hundreds of migrants floundered for hours Tuesday in gale-force winds and high waves in the Mediterranean Sea, officials said.
The 77-meter-long (250-foot) Baris cargo ship carrying some 700 people trying to enter Europe suffered engine failure around dawn 30 nautical miles southeast of the Greek island of Crete, the Greek Coast Guard said in a statement.
Four merchant ships, the Greek navy frigate Hydra and an air force rescue helicopter were sent to the area to evacuate the vessel if necessary, although authorities said they would probably try to tow it to Crete.
"The likeliest scenario right now is for the frigate to tow it to a safe haven, coast guard spokesman Nikos Lagadianos said. "It would be a very difficult operation and should take at least 10 hours."
He told The Associated Press there were no reports of health problems onboard but anyone in need would be airlifted to a hospital.
The coast guard said initial indications suggested the passengers included Syrians and Afghans heading for Italy.
The freighter was flying the flag of Kiribati, a small Pacific Ocean island, but it was not known which port it left from.
#UltimOra La nave mercantile Filomena 1^ in evento #SAR ha soccorso 107 #migranti e li ha trasbordati su nave San Giorgio #MarinaMilitare
#UltimOra La nave mercantile Stjerneborg in evento #SAR ha soccorso 99 #migranti e li ha trasbordati su nave Bergamini #MarinaMilitare
United States continue bombing Iraq, Syria
U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria Nov. 24-26 using bomber and fighter aircraft to conduct ten airstrikes. Separately, U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted seven airstrikes in Iraq Nov. 24-26 using attack, fighter and remotely-piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
In Syria, ten airstrikes near Kobani struck an ISIL fighting position, a large ISIL unit, two tactical ISIL units, and destroyed four ISIL staging areas and six ISIL fighting positions.
In Iraq, two airstrikes near Mosul destroyed an ISIL bulldozer, two ISIL vehicles, three ISIL-occupied buildings and an ISIL fighting position, and also struck a large ISIL unit.
Near Kirkuk, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL tank, an ISIL HMMWV and an ISIL vehicle, as well as struck two ISIL units.
North of Sinjar, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL HMMWV and an ISIL vehicle. Northwest of Ramadi, an airstrike damaged an ISIL checkpoint.
Finally, west of Bayji, an airstrike destroyed one ISIL vehicle and damaged another.
All aircraft returned to base safely. Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.
US drone strike in Pakistan kills five [Reuters - 26/11/14]
41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground [Guardian - 25/11/14]
At least 63 people, half of them civilians, were killed when Syrian war planes struck the northeastern city of Raqqa on Tuesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria. ... [Reuters - 25/11/14]
Suicide bombers kill at least 44 in Nigeria's northeast [Reuters - 25/11/14]
Afghanistan: Significant Rise in Violence Against Women
Over the past seven months, more than 2,000 cases of violence and sexual abuse against women and girls were registered at the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA), officials said on Tuesday, marking the international day for the elimination of violence against women.
Deputy Minister for MoWA, Muzhgan Mustafawi, expressed deep concerns over the rapid rise in sexual abuse against women and children. She mentioned this year five children, below the ages of ten, suffered sexual abuse.
During the past seven months, 2,224 cases of violence against women and children were recorded with majority documented in Kabul, Herat, Sar-e-Pul, Balkh and Faryab province.
Mustafawi told reporters that the major parts of these cases have taken place in remote areas due to so-called social values and absurd customs.
According to the ministry's statistics, 5,406 cases were registered in 2013, while 4,505 cases were registered in 2012 illustrating a 16 percent increase in violence against women in over a year.
"We are really concerned about the situation because in the recent years these cases have increased tragically," Muzhgan said, adding that the children below 10 years of age have faced the most cases of sexual abuse.
"We want the national unity government to take solid steps in eliminating violence against women," said Rehana Azad, member of the Parliamentary commission on women's affairs. "Most of these efforts have been symbolic so far."
Since the fall of the Taliban regime in 200, the Afghan women have played a vital role in various social spheres with significant presence in the government and non-government institutions. But their rights seem to have not been guaranteed yet, as the women's rights advocates accuse the government of not doing enough to adopt the law on elimination of violence against women.
Iran will not sink 'to knees' on nuclear deal
Al Jazeera [25/11/14]:
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader has, said that Western powers will not be able to bring the country to its knees in nuclear talks, but gave his indirect approval for a continuation of the negotiations.
Iran and major global powers agreed on Monday to extend talks into next year after failing to meet a November 24 deadline.
The US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany agreed with Iran to try to sign a political deal by 1 March, with confirmation of the full technical details of the agreement by July 1.
In his first remarks since the extension of the deadline, Khamenei said: "On the nuclear issue, the United States and European colonialist countries gathered and applied their entire efforts to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees, but they could not and they will not,"
Khamenei made the remarks to a group of clerics, according to his website.
In a nationwide broadcast on Monday, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani told the nation that it "has achieved a significant victory" and "negotiations will lead to a deal, sooner or later".
Rouhani also said many obstacles in the talks "have been eliminated". But he also vowed that Tehran would not relinquish its right to nuclear capability."Our nuclear rights should be admitted by the world," Rouhani said. "We will continue the talks."
Four Killed in Nicaragua Mine Disaster
Search teams in Nicaragua on Tuesday recovered the bodies of at least four men killed in a cave-in at an old gold mine in the country's northwest, authorities said.
The cave-in occurred Monday night at the Rincon de Los Garcia mine in the town of Villanueva, 132 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of Managua after heavy rains in the area, the town's mayor told Radio Ya.
The four were killed as they were leaving the mine after a 10-hour shift, said the mayor, Juan Gomez.
Their bodies were recovered early Tuesday, he said.
It was the second deadly mine disaster in Nicaragua since August when seven men were killed in the Caribe mine.
Long live freedom of expression!
See reason ... Tk Tk Tk ... Broadbeach [26/11/14]
Just like Queensland!
Egyptian court jails 78 teenagers for belonging to "an outlawed group"
Al Jazeera [26/11/14]:
Seventy-eight Egyptian minors have been handed sentences of between two and five years in prison by a juvenile court in Alexandria on charges of "belonging to an outlawed group," according to Egypt's state news agency.
Heavy security was seen outside the court in Alexandria on Wednesday, where judicial sources said those sentenced were aged between 13 and 17.
The minors' lawyers were barred from attending the court hearing while their family members were forced to wait outside.
The 78 minors were arrested for taking part in protests organised by the Muslim Brotherhood that called for the fall of the government and the return of deposed former president Mohamed Morsi to power.
They were also charged for obstructing traffic and for spreading fear among local residents and store owners.
The minors had denied the charges and said that they were arbitrarily arrested. Nevertheless, the presiding judge handed down combined sentences totalling 340 years. Their sentences can be appealed.
Protests against the Egyptian government have been held since the army overthrew Morsi last July following mass protests against his rule.
Demonstrations have been staged in support of Morsi but they have lost strength after a fierce security crackdown against his Muslim Brotherhood party.
At least 1,400 people are estimated to have been killed, more than 15,000 jailed and hundreds sentenced to death since Morsi's outing.
The Muslim Brotherhood has started a social media campaign calling for hunger strikes to take place in solidarity with current Muslim Brotherhood prisoners and in response to what they see as the mistreatment of their members.
Commodore driver pulled over by police 15 times since July last year [Morning Bulletin - 26/11/14]
Feel safe Queensland?
Trigger happy police raid 75 houses in 24 hours using arbitrary anti rights laws [ABC - 27/11/14]
Mum denies police shooting victim lunged
No politician raised police shootings in Queensland Parliament, the Senate or House of Representatives yesterday [26/11/14]. Fascists.
The mother of a man shot dead by police on the Gold Coast says her son was "rampant" and "psychotic" at the time, but denies he lunged at officers with a knife.
She has also questioned the need for lethal force.
Troy Foster, 32, became the third person to be fatally shot by police in Queensland in a week, after officers were called to a Southport home on Monday evening.
His mother Rhonda says she called triple zero because he had been drinking and threatening her.
"He hit me with a bottle, threatened me with a knife," she told Channel Seven.
Police have said the two experienced officers who attended the property had no choice but to shoot after a man came at them with a knife.
"It was one step sideways," Rhonda said.
"He didn't run anywhere, he didn't do anything."
She recalled the moment she heard six shots before her son fell to the ground and died.
"Why didn't you let the dogs out, why did you not shoot him elsewhere, why was it so quick to kill?" she said.
Channel Seven has reported that Mr Foster had been taken to the Gold Coast Hospital by police for a mental health assessment on Sunday night.
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has announced an immediate review of training and other policies.
On Tuesday, he met Queensland's Mental Health Commissioner Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck, who praised the review as a step in the right direction.
But she warned no conclusions could be drawn from the six police shootings across Queensland this year because they were subject to coronial investigations.
Four of the shootings have been fatal.
Mr Foster's mother joined the call for changes to police policy.
"I just want them to change a few things in the system so nobody else goes through what me and other families are going through," she said.
Police claim drunk man made threats with firearm [Chronicle - 27/11/14]
Man fined for having hunting knives, knuckle dusters and Viagra in car [Gladstone Observer - 26/11/14]
Man fined after swearing and kicking at police [Gladstone Observer - 26/11/14]
Woman charged with unlawful wounding, Camooweal [QPS Media - 26/11/14]
When the political and media establishment greenlight racism, racists feel above the law: Brisbane train racist caught breaching bail by going to Schoolies [Brisbane Times - 27/11/14]
... State parliament voted on Wednesday to prohibit the sale and supply of electronic cigarettes to children and restrict their advertising and display at retail outlets from January 1. ... [Yahoo - 26/11/14]
Ex-child care centre director shared child porn
Tweed Daily News [27/11/14]:
A Grafton man struggling with his homosexuality and religious beliefs used child porn to please a man he was attracted to.
Instead, Daniel Patrick Maher's behaviour landed him a jail sentence.
The 30-year-old had moved to Cairns and was a child care centre director when he began sharing photos of boys aged between five and eight years with Mark Lawless in Texas.
Maher used Skype to share 13 images, that were not all sexual, and discussed what he liked about the boys with Lawless.
He met the man through a gay couple who allowed their adopted son to be molested in the US.
Peter Truong and Mark Newton invited Maher to live with them in Cairns after they met online through photography website Flickr while he lived in Grafton.
Maher idolised the men as a successful gay couple with a child - something he aspired to.
He said he did not realise they were allowing the boy to be molested.
The photos he shared included a photo of the couple's child and children related to Maher.
Judge Michael Burnett said he accepted a psychologist's report tendered in Brisbane District Court detailing how Maher had struggled to accept his sexuality, having come from a conservative Christian family.
Maher was described in the report as naïve and Judge Burnett accepted arguments Truong and Newton had "groomed" him.
Maher received a 12-month sentence, but only needs to complete one month in jail.
He has already spent 27 days in pre-sentence custody.
Judge Burnett ordered he be released on a $1000 good behaviour bond and go on probation for two years to ensure he received the treatment the psychologist suggested.
Yesterday in the Senate [26/11/14] the ALP and LNP voted against Senator Wright's amendments to anti terror legislation which would have prohibited torture by ASIS
The ALP and LNP also voted together to pass the fascist Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancellation).
Today [27/11/14] in the House of Representatives ALP and LNP MPs are furiously agreeing to dismantle what remains of Australia's biosecurity protections - along with the repeal of other "uncontroversial" regulations i.e. those which restrict corporations from screwing over workers and small business.
Senator Penny Wright [VIDEO]:
Astounding contempt of the Senate last night from the Attorney-General George Brandis, refusing to answer questions about counter-terror legislation. But what Mr Brandis says next to the Chair directly (before microphones are turned off), is unbelievable.
Fake bombs terrify employees during security drill, Sydney
Sydney Morning Herald [26/11/14]:
Police were called after an elaborate safety drill conducted by a leading investment bank caused neighbouring tenants to panic upon finding a fake bomb, reveals AFR's Rear Window.
Two weeks ago, in the lead up to the G20, the Deutsche Bank decided to conduct a security drill. Rather than opt for the classic siren and evacuation plan, they kitted out their building with four suspicious boxes that had been designed to resemble sophisticated explosive devices.
They spread the boxes throughout the Investa tower in the heart of Sydney's CBD: in the lobby, in the loading dock, in the childcare centre and also in the Bank of Queensland offices on level nine.
Unfortunately, the coordinating team failed to warn either the building owner or their fellow tenants.
So when a female employee at the Bank of Queensland discovered a strange box concealing what appeared to be a complex explosive device when entering her office, she alerted security.
The building was evacuated and police poured into the building at around 1130am. Shortly afterwards, they trooped out shaking their heads in disbelief.
Deutsche Bank declined to comment but was reportedly very apologetic about terrifying their co-tenants.Witness tells trial of Swanbourne attack
West Australian [26/11/14]:
A witness has described watching four men repeatedly assault and run over David Liam Johnson after he was dragged from under a car in the lead-up to his death.
Noel Dunn yesterday told a jury he realised the incident was going beyond a beating when the men continued to attack the battered 32-year-old as he lay motionless on a driveway.
"By that time I was pretty much in shock," he said.
Alexander James Stephens and Angus William John Ritchie are on trial in the Supreme Court accused of murdering Mr Johnson in March last year.
The pair were at a gathering in Swanbourne with Mr Dunn when an argument broke out between Mr Johnson and another guest.
Mr Dunn said the guest threatened Mr Johnson with a meat cleaver and followed him outside as he tried to leave before punching him.
The 25-year-old told the court a group of men, including Mr Stephens and Mr Ritchie, kicked Mr Johnson to the stomach, punched him to the head and assaulted him with a stick.
He said Mr Stephens and Mr Ritchie left the house in a car but came back 15 minutes later with a balaclava, gloves, a sack and a small gun.
Mr Dunn ran around the side of the house and started dry-retching after Mr Stephens allegedly reversed his car over Mr Johnson three or four times.
He said Mr Stephens, Mr Ritchie and another man left the house after they put Mr Johnson in the boot of a car.
When they came back about 40 minutes later, they allegedly pulled the carpet lining out of the boot and threw it in a bin.
Prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo is arguing Mr Stephens threw a concrete slab on Mr Johnson's head and shot him in nearby Lime Kiln Field.
At the beginning of the trial, she said the gathering was organised by a gang who were recruiting members.
Under cross-examination, Mr Dunn was asked if he had thought about what he should do when he was watching the attack unfold.
He said he did not know many people at the gathering and did not want to be seen to be going against the beating in case the men turned on him.
"I didn't say anything," he said.
The trial continues.
Fatal traffic crash, Federal
QPS Media [26/11/14]:
Police are investigating a fatal traffic crash that occurred in Federal this evening.
Initial investigations suggest that around 5.30pm a vehicle and a motorcycle travelling on Middle Creek Road have collided.
The motorcycle rider, a 55-year-old man was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The Forensic Crash Unit are currently investigating.
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.
Miner sues for negligence over car crash [Morning Bulletin - 27/11/14]
Abbott Government reportedly set to scrap proposed $7 GP co-payment
Nine MSN [27/11/14]:
The Abbott Government is reportedly set to scrap its proposed $7 GP co-payment amid seemingly insurmountable public opposition.
The cost-cutting measure, which has not yet been introduced to Parliament as legislation, was widely condemned as discriminating against lower-income people when outlined in the May budget.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott would not be drawn on the future of the controversial policy overnight, but reports by the ABC and Fairfax Media said he has privately conceded it would never make it through the senate.
Using a nautical analogy earlier this week, Mr Abbott vowed to knock a few “barnacles” off the Government ship before the year’s end, prompting speculation he was ready to dump some unpopular policies.
The paid parental leave scheme, which is the centrepiece of the May budget, is also thought to be in the firing line.
Health Minister Peter Dutton has dismissed the claims though, saying the GP co-payment is under review and the government is holding talks with crossbench senators over the deregulation of university fees.
Bleijie rejects invite to give evidence at Senate inquiry
Sunshine Coast Daily [27/11/14]:
Jarrod Bleijie has rejected an invitation to appear at the Palmer Senate Inquiry on Friday, dubbing it "politically motivated".
The LNP Attorney-General, as well as fellow Sunshine Coast MP Peter Wellington, were named as witnesses in a statement from inquiry chairman Senator Glenn Lazarus on Wednesday.
While Mr Wellington confirmed to APN he would take part, Mr Bleijie released a letter declining the invitation - which he said he was given only hours to respond to.
"I will not be attending the inquiry to give evidence. Public reports confirm my view that this is a politically motivated inquiry that will not deliver any positive outcomes for Queenslanders," he said.
"I regret that Labor and Palmer United Party Senators continue to pursue this expensive political stunt.
"As such, I would rather spend my time working to create jobs and keep Queensland communities safe."
Mr Bleijie said he received an invitation to the inquiry on Wednesday morning and was asked to confirm his availability by the end of the day.
Mr Lazarus said Friday's hearing would examine "human rights issues, legal issues and issues surrounding Queensland Government decision making in relation to major projects".
"The Senate Inquiry is providing a real and genuine forum for Queenslanders to raise their concerns with the Queensland Government under parliamentary privilege," he said.
Mr Lazarus said the date to make a submission to the inquiry had been extended from this month to the end of February next year after "hundreds of submissions" from Queenslanders.
The inquiry last Friday descended into a shouting match when a union witness admitted to being a State Labor candidate at the next election. [The unparliamentary, obstructive behaviour of LNP senators during the inquiry has still not been addressed by the Senate.]
REX visits Wellcamp Airport to prepare for flights [Chronicle - 26/11/14]
Qantaslink to drop Gladstone to Rockhampton flights [Gladstone Observer - 26/11/14]
Casino licence a step closer for Great Keppel Island [Morning Bulletin - 26/11/14]
Sale of Gold Coast light rail to China Rail
Queensland Parliament Hansard [26/11/14]:
Dr DOUGLAS [IND - Gaven]: My question is to the Minister for Transport and Main Roads. Gold Coast Mayor, Tom Tate, has publicly stated at a meeting of southern Gold Coast business owners that he had just returned from China negotiating the proposed sale of GoldLinQ—operators of the Gold Coast light rail—to China rail, and I ask: can the minister inform the parliament regarding details of the prospective purchase by China Rail of GoldLinQ, the operators of Gold Coast light rail, funded by state taxpayers?
Mr EMERSON: I thank the member for Gaven for the question. In terms of GoldLinQ, they have an ongoing contract with us as part of a PPP to provide services. That contract was signed prior to us coming to office. All those obligations continue in terms of GoldLinQ providing Gold Coast light rail.
Since light rail commenced we have seen strong numbers but not as strong as indicated. The business case first put forward by Labor was a flawed business case. They were forecasting figures of more than 40,000. Each day we are seeing figures of 20,000 at the moment. It is still early days. Clearly that contract is in place, no matter who the owner is, to provide that service. There are very clear obligations in that contract.
The owner, whoever they are, is obliged to provide maintenance, equipment and services on an ongoing basis as part of the agreement signed, as I said, before we came to office. We will keep them in place.
In terms of public transport on the Gold Coast, not just the light rail, I point out that since we have come to office we have increased peak morning and peak afternoon services on the Gold Coast heavy rail line. We have seen a 30 per cent increase in morning peak services and a 40 per cent increase in afternoon peak services.
As you know, before we came to office many people on the Gold Coast would have been very much aware, including members on the Gold Coast such as the member for Coomera, who travelled with me on the Gold Coast heavy rail from the Gold Coast to Brisbane, of the ‘Bombay Express’. Again, since we have come to office we have worked to increase services on the Gold Coast line—a 30 per cent increase in morning peak services and a 40 per cent increase in afternoon peak services.
All of those travellers on the Gold Coast have also benefited from our historic cut to public transport fares—a five per cent cut statewide. It is the first time any government in Queensland history has cut public transport fares. That is on top of, of course, the fact that Queensland Rail services are now running the most reliable on-time services ever in their almost 150-year history and are now the most reliable on-time running services of any metro system in—
Dr DOUGLAS: Madam Speaker, I rise to a point of order.
Madam SPEAKER: Pause the clock. What is your point of order?
Dr DOUGLAS: I asked if the minister could provide detail of the prospective—
Madam SPEAKER: What is your point of order?
Dr DOUGLAS: Relevance, Madam Speaker.
Madam SPEAKER: The minister has time on the clock. I remind members when they are putting a point of order to actually put the point of order, not to debate the question they have already asked. I call the minister.
Mr EMERSON: As I was saying, there are extra services on the Gold Coast and Queensland Rail is now the most reliable metro rail system in Australia. Since coming to office, not just in terms of rail but also in terms of public buses, we have put on an additional 3,000 bus and train weekly services. So we have dealt with the mess left to us by Labor in terms of fares, made services more reliable and also put more services on across public transport.
Public Transport, Go Cards
Queensland Parliament Hansard [26/11/14]:
Mr JUDGE [IND - Yeerongpilly]: My question without notice is to the Minister for Transport and Main Roads. At the beginning of 2014, Transport and Main Roads was informed that many commuters struggled to access a go card top-up facility at Moorooka because the nearest facility was at the train station which is approximately 1.7 kilometres away from the Moorooka shopping precinct and bus stops. It was affirmed that TransLink would address the situation. So I ask: knowing this information in advance, why was a new go card top-up facility subsequently installed at the 7-Eleven service station, which is approximately 1.73 kilometres away from the Moorooka shopping precinct and bus stops where it is needed most to service commuters and especially those who struggle with mobility?
Madam SPEAKER: That is a long preamble but I am going to allow it. I call the Minister for Transport and Main Roads.
Mr EMERSON: I will not trouble the House to ask the member to repeat the question or we will run out of time. I thank the member for the question. Obviously, we always want to make access to our go cards as easy as possible. As the member knows, this year for the first time since 2010 we have seen the number of people using public transport in Queensland increase since Labor started those 15 per cent fare increases in 2010—a policy that we have ended. As I have already mentioned today, it was a historic decision to cut public transport fares—it happened for the first time in Queensland’s history across the state.
In terms of go card access, the member may be aware—and I am happy to point him to our ministerial statements and media releases—that we have new technology in terms of getting more go cards into 7-Eleven. They have actually changed their system. The old system involved go card specific machinery being put into 7-Elevens. As part of a contract they have won, they have actually put in new technology which has allowed us to adapt current EFTPOS equipment in those facilities at 7-Eleven to provide expanded services for go card access. Some of those machines that were already in 7-Elevens have been moved out into other areas. I am always seeing more demand for go card machines and I do try to provide that, but there are limited resources and a limited capacity to do that. I will always try to work with local members to do the best we can, but I am sure the member realises, as others do as well, that there is only so much that can go around.
Importantly, we are trying to do our best for public transport, as I have mentioned already. We have put on 3,000 additional weekly bus and train services since coming to office. In terms of Queensland Rail, it is now the most reliable public transport rail metro system in Australia, which is a great benefit to public transport users. We need to applaud the efforts of Queensland Rail in working hard to increase the availability and reliability of those services. As I said, we have more frequent services and more reliable services.
Again, I point back, most importantly, to our work in terms of fares. I can give the member for Yeerongpilly this very strong pledge that we will not be going back to the bad old days, the dark, dim days where we saw Labor increasing fares by 15 per cent year after year after year after year, a policy that was imposed and endorsed by the now Leader of the Opposition when she was transport minister, a policy that she backed in government and that she will keep backing because that is Labor’s record on public transport.
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