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! LEGALISE FREEDOM!
Perception correction. Bearing witness. Unfashionable.
"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 *
"How many deaths does it take?"
Refugees protest on Nauru on Australia Day.
Image: @KarlMathiesen - journalist, Guardian [27/1/15]
Protest in Boston to shut down Australia's off-shore detention centre on Manus Island #shutdownmanus
Image: @juliadehm [26/1/15]
@juliadehm [26/1/15]: Solidarity and support to detainees on Manus Island from the Boston #shutdownmanus
Former Australian Prime Minister - @MrKRudd [26/1/15]: Just gave Oz Day address here in Boston to a bunch of Australians in the middle of a blizzard. Snowballs always handy
Refugee resettlement is not possible without the participation of the United Nations.
These men have been exiled.
The ABC - and other Australian media outlets- are also ignoring the recommendations of last year's Senate Inquiry i.e. that the United Nations, Human Rights Commissioner, lawyers and journalists should have access to the refugees on Manus Island.
The ABC refuse to hold the IOM and Minister for Immigration to account.
They are protecting those responsible for committing human rights atrocities in the name of the Australian people.
@abc730 MT @Liam_Cochrane: On #abc730 tonight, my story on prospects for #Manus refugees resettling in #PNG + @leighsales with PNG PM Peter O'Neill [27/1/15]
United States Memorial Memorial Museum:
...Theresienstadt served an important propaganda function for the Germans. The publicly stated purpose for the deportation of the Jews from Germany was their "resettlement to the east," where they would be compelled to perform forced labor. Since it seemed implausible that elderly Jews could be used for forced labor, the Nazis used the Theresienstadt ghetto to hide the nature of the deportations. ...
Where are these men? Are they still alive? ----> "We are 58 people, they beat the shit out of all of us"
United States and "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On Jan. 25, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 21 airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted 13 airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists. All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Jan. 25, and 8 a.m., Jan. 26, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
• Near Al Qaim, an airstrike destroyed three ISIL armored vehicles.
• Near Ar Raqqah, two airstrikes destroyed six ISIL armored vehicles and an ISIL vehicle.
• Near Dayr az Zawr, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle.
• Near Kobani, 17 airstrikes struck 14 ISIL tactical units, a large ISIL unit, and two ISIL fighting positions, and destroyed six ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, and an ISIL staging area.
• Near Fallujah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator.
• Near Haditha, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
• Near Mosul, four airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL bunkers, two ISIL vehicles, and an ISIL armored vehicle.
• Near Tal Afar, seven airstrikes struck a large ISIL unit and destroyed three ISIL mortar firing positions, three ISIL VBIEDs, eight ISIL armored vehicles, an ISIL checkpoint, 15 ISIL vehicles, and three ISIL fighting positions.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Al Jazeera [27/1/15]:
A former CIA officer who allegedly shared secrets with a New York Times reporter about the US effort to disrupt the Iranian nuclear programme has been convicted on espionage charges.
Jeffrey Sterling on Monday was found guilty on nine counts for disclosing classified information in a US court in Alexandria, Virginia in a case seen as a prime example of the Obama administrations efforts to go after whistleblowers. ...
Argentina to dissolve intelligence agency [Al Jazeera - 27/1/15]
LRA commander Dominic Ongwen appears before ICC in The Hague [BBC - 26/1/15]
Auschwitz survivors remember day of liberation on 70 year anniversary [ABC - 27/1/15]
Hundreds of people are attending ceremonies throughout New Zealand today to mark 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp. ... [RNZI - 27/1/15]
British media continues reports on Manus ---> Manus Island hunger strike continues, Theresienstadtesque charade of "good" refugees being released deemed sufficient information for ABC consumers for today [Guardian - 27/1/15]
Welfare of beaten, "arrested" men unknown.
Whether refugees have access to proper medical care, lawyers or the United Nations also unknown, unasked, unremarked upon.
On Friday @abc730′s online producer contacted me. I gave them info about #Manus and told them I have a source who wants to speak to them.
I was told their interview producer would contact me. I am still waiting to hear from them.
Palmer United Party to refer Ray Stevens to Senate Inquiry
PUP Media Release [27/1/15]:
The Palmer United Party will refer controversial Queensland LNP parliamentarian Ray Stevens to the Senate Inquiry into the activities of the Newman Government, says the party’s federal leader and Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer.
Mr Palmer said the role of Mr Stevens, the Government Leader of the House and MP for the Gold Coast seat of Mermaid Beach, with a proposed cableway project in the Gold Coast Hinterland had a “serious toxic stench”.
“The Palmer United Party will be referring the Ray Stevens matter to the ongoing Senate Inquiry into the Queensland Government headed by our Senate leader and Senator for Queensland, Senator Glenn Lazarus,” Mr Palmer said.
“How can Mr Stevens be an investor and advisor to this controversial Gold Coast project while being a local Member of Parliament and leader of the Government in state parliament?
“This seems a clear conflict of interest yet Campbell Newman has thrown his support behind Mr Stevens and says the Integrity Commissioner has given him the all clear.
“It looks like a blatant favour to Mr Stevens, a former Gold Coast Mayor who behaved disgracefully when questioned about this serious issue by the media this week.
“The Stevens saga is a typical example of the Newman government doing favours for mates.
“But the Palmer United Party is determined to pursue this matter further at the Senate Inquiry into the Queensland Government. It’s time to put an end to this rubbish.”
Mr Palmer said the voters of Mermaid Beach also had the opportunity on January 31 to take action against Mr Stevens.
“The people of Mermaid Beach have the chance to replace Ray Stevens with the Palmer United Party’s Alex Caraco, a man of honour and integrity,” he said.
Mr Palmer said the Senate Inquiry into the Newman Government was playing a key role in addressing public concerns about the Government’s activities and decisions.
“There is no Upper House in Queensland and therefore the role of the senators in investigating the Newman Government is crucial for ensuring accountability,” he said.
The Senate Inquiry public hearing scheduled for 28 January in Bundaberg appears to have been cancelled.
The next public hearings are as follows:
4 Feb 2015 Townsville
5 Feb 2015 Cairns
19 Feb 2015 Chinchilla
... “The real story behind Mr Newman calling the election during the vacation period is that Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald sought earlier this week to have a meeting to disband the Senate Inquiry while its chairman Senator Glenn Lazarus was on holidays in the United States,” Mr Palmer said. ... [PUP Media Release - 12/1/15]
Traitors work very hard to ensure that the access of Australian citizens to any shred of a democratic process is stifled.
"Put the LNP last" = a vote for the ALP
Queensland has Optional Preferential Voting - this means you don't have to give a vote to either major party if you don't want to.
Mining Scorecard: Independents and Minor Parties Stand Up for Land and Water [Lock The Gate - 27/1/15]:
The results are in on Lock the Gate Alliance’s candidates’ survey for the Queensland State Election - with the independents and minor parties blitzing the field and leaving the two major parties in their wake when it came to protecting land and water from unsafe mining.
Lock the Gate’s President, Drew Hutton, said the survey showed that the LNP was completely out of touch with community sentiment on mining in rural and regional areas, and that the ALP still had a long way to go, even though it had promised to reverse some of the LNP's worst policy excesses.
Lock the Gate surveyed each of the parties for their policies on coal and gas mining, and also surveyed independent candidates in a number of key electorates.
The survey included questions on people’s rights to object to mining, the protection of farmland and water and the need for clean politics. The full survey can be viewed here.
"The parties that scored extremely well included the Katter Australia Party, the Greens and the Palmer United Party - who all have a record of taking action in either state or Federal Parliament on this issue - plus One Nation," said Drew Hutton, president of Lock the Gate Alliance.
"The independents also scored very highly on the report. Independents such as Peter Wellington in Nicklin, Alex Douglas in Gaven, and Carl Judge in Yeerongpilly have been the sole courageous voices of opposition in the Queensland Parliament to the State Government's capitulation to the mining industry.
"Along with Ray Hopper, who is running for the Katter Australia Party this election, they have been the conscience of the Queensland Parliament when it comes to protecting land and water.
"Whilst not holding any seats in the Queensland Parliament, the Greens have been the most active of the parties in extra-parliamentary campaigning."
Mr Hutton said the ABC Vote Compass showed 85 per cent of respondents from both the city and country areas agreed that ‘Landowners should be able to prevent mining companies from operating on their property’.
“The LNP is completely out-of-step with its constituents on so many levels, and the ALP, while having improved somewhat, is still a long way off the mark,” he said.
“It’s about time they started listening to the people, rather than the mining companies.”
Mr Hutton said the ALP had promised to commission a cumulative water balance for the Galilee Basin coal mines prior to any construction, and to reverse the LNP policies of giving unlimited water to coal miners for free and removing community appeal rights.
He said a commitment to a departmental study into the mismanagement of Gladstone Harbour was also a good thing, but it should be upgraded to a properly independent investigation.
“But the ALP has a long way to go on protecting Queenslanders from coal seam gas and mining compared to the minor parties and independents,” Mr Hutton said.
"Prior to the election, we'd like to see the ALP unambiguously commit to overturning the Acland coal mine expansion and to fully protecting Strategic Cropping Land from coal mining and coal seam gas with a strict prohibition.
“The LNP didn’t bother responding to this survey, which reveals the extraordinary contempt they have for community concerns on this issue. We can only assume they will continue putting land, water and human health at risk with their reckless mining policies if they are re-elected.
"We're encouraging people to vote for change this election, because it is desperately needed, and to be informed by our scorecard when they cast their vote by numbering every box." <--- This is BULLSHIT. You do not have to give preferences to the major parties. For example, you can vote 1 Greens, then 2 Palmer or 1 Katter and 2 an independent and leave it at that.
Golden Guitar winner Luke O'Shea and father in Maules Creek protest [Lock The Gate Media Release – 27/1/15]
Funnily enough, the former Prime Minster didn't tweet a picture of the people outside (in the blizzard) holding a vigil in solidarity with the refugees on Manus:
@MrKRudd: Happy Oz Day from Harvard guys. Hope the beach is good A brisk 0 degrees here Speaking OZ Day Reception tonight KRudd
American Australian Association:
Australia Day Boston Dinner
An expertly crafted Australian inspired food and wine menu will showcase the quality of Australian products.
Members $165 | Non Members $185
Gold $5,500 | Silver $3,500
Kevin Rudd: Amid Tensions, Asia Needs More Robust Regional Institutions [Asia Society - 23/1/15]
Viewpoint: Students should act against human rights abuse on Manus Island [USA Today - 26/1/15]:
On Jan. 26, while Australians celebrated Australia Day — honoring the 1788 arrival of British ships and the hoisting of the flag of Great Britian — asylum seekers denied refuge in the same land languished in a detention facility on Manus Island.
Students everywhere should demand an end to this blatant violation of human rights.
The trouble began this month when the Australian government denied entry to a group of refugees and detained them on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
Battered by guards and ignored by Australian immigration authorities, some 700 detainees have launched hunger strikes. At least two others attempted suicide.
Strikers protested the government’s plan to resettle them in a major city in Papua New Guinea.
They feared they would be killed if forced to move there.
Australian doctors warned that the Manus Island facilities lacked the resources to cope with such a large hunger strike.
Undoubtedly, many of the strikers know medical care is out of reach. They are so desperate that they would face death over resettlement or continued detention.
That’s because the situation is riddled with human rights violations.
Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton has shown a lack of responsibility and oversight of the detention facilities. On Manus, photos are forbidden, timelines for release are nonexistent and hope for the refugees is dwindling.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government continues to defend its hardline policy while in the camps illness, violence and unrest escalate.
The most notorious of the Manus Island compounds is the Chauka solitary confinement unit. Two men sent to Chauka claimed they were tied to chairs and beaten.
The government’s decision to detain asylum seekers cannot even be justified in purely economic terms. It costs more to house an asylum seeker on Manus Island for one day than to put them up for a night in a five-star Sydney hotel.
The government’s actions contradict pivotal decisions in Australia’s immigration history.
During World War II, German Jews fleeing persecution were admitted (though some were interned in camps). During the Vietnam War, Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser allowed more than 2,000 “boat people” to resettle in Australia.
The turning point for immigration —when many refugees were confined in offshore processing centers — did not come until 2001, the year of the “Pacific Solution.”
That year, the Australian government built Manus Island and other offshore processing sites so it could deal with asylum seekers outside the boundaries of Australian law.
The government said the new facilities were aimed at discouraging people from making dangerous ocean voyages, but human rights groups criticized the move.
Students can help the Manus detainees by organizing and signing international petitions to shut down Manus Island.
Amnesty International makes available posters and logos to promote the campaign in schools and on social media. Many schools offer local chapters for Amnesty International or other human rights groups opposed to Manus Island detention.
The Manus Island detention facilities are so in defiance of basic human rights conventions that concern for the refugees’ welfare should penetrate national borders.
Petition to end the Manus Island abuses before it’s too late.
Caleb Diehl is a student at Lewis & Clark College and a spring 2015 USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent.
Transcript of joint press conference with PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill: Brisbane: 19 July 2013: Regional "Resettlement" Arrangement
“We need to be their voice!”
Adelaide politician, mother of 3 begins hunger strike in solidarity with Manus refugees [Media Release - 26/1/15]:
The State President of the Australian Democrats, Jeanie Walker, mother of 3, will tonight begin a hunger strike in sympathy with the Manus Island asylum seekers who are on the twelfth day of their hunger strike today.
She is planning on continuing until Saturday the 31st January unless the government responds to calls for onshore processing of those currently on Manus.
Manus Island Detention Centre needs to be shut down!
Ms Walker has symbolically chosen Australian Day to begin her hunger strike to show her distress at the way the Australian government are treating genuine refugees in offshore processing facilities.
Ms Walker is passionate about the plight of refugees and has been hosting asylum seekers (some on bridging visas and some who have not been successful in gaining one) in her own home for three years, and has worked with them to become part of the local community.
“It's wrong of our government to take such a hardline approach towards people fleeing war and torture in their country of origin. They deserve our attention and assistance, not the current policies of persecution and I want to highlight this.
“My feeling of utter hopelessness and frustration with our cruel offshore processing policies has led me to the point where I can no longer stand by and watch this tragic story unfolding.
“With reports of asylum seekers sewing their mouths together, swallowing razor blades and eating washing powder, it is time for Australians everywhere to stand up and be counted and let our politicians know loud and clear that we won't be responsible for this pain and suffering in our name.
“The Australian name is being tarnished on the world stage by a government acting in a manner that is totally devoid of compassion or moral responsibility.
“My hunger strike aims to draw attention to their plight, and will provide a more local experience of what it must be like for them.
“My intention of course is not to starve to death but to share the suffering of so many on Manus Island. I have the luxury of being able to end it if and when my health starts to decline - these asylum seekers cannot. Their actions are necessitated by our government’s intransigence.
“We need to be their voice!” said Ms Walker.
Men on #Manus have had their sheets on which they wrote "Freedom" confiscated.
"tweeted" by @KayeWinnell [27/1/15]
Suspend all disbelief before reading/watching this puff piece that lets Dutton, the IOM and Department of Immigration off the hook ---> Exiled refugee happy, admonishes bad hunger strikers calling for the UN [ABC - 27/1/15]
Evidently the ABC edited out footage of the IOM and Department of Immigration chaperones.
source told me that the 2 refugees who moved from #Manus to East Lorengau transit centre on Wed requested to come back. Request was denied.
Source says the 2 refugees were told that @DIBPAustralia is no longer responsible for them and they won’t see them again. #Manus
Source says @DIBPAustralia told the refugees that whatever they are requesting will now have to be put to PNG staff or police. #Manus
@shanebazzi [25/1/15] Refugee says they have not been given any timeframe for resettlement in PNG.
@shanebazzi [25/1/15] Photos from the East Lorengau refugee transit centre
706,000 Australians saw the ABC news on Sunday night.
Countless other Australians have seen this video via "Electronic Graffiti".
We'd like to know if the refugees that the Immigration Minister had beaten and thrown into a crowded prison cell are still alive.
via @ShaneBazzi [26/1/15]:
#Manus employee: Please note that all of us workers know the truth. There was no violence, it was a peaceful protest.
Though it may seem extreme with the lip sewing and hunger strikes, you need to understand these people have been pushed to their limits and have their backs to the wall with nothing left to lose.
The system they have been placed in cannot succeed and everyone knows this - the system is about making life as difficult and unbearable as possible in order to force these people to go back voluntarily.
Those that could go back have already gone.
All that are left have no option otherwise they would not have stayed in hell for 17 months.
There are many serious medical conditions that are not being treated, a few have diabetes and are not receiving treatment.
Fingers and toes are changing colour, sores on purple toes, and one's eyes have also started to cloud over.
Many have serious heart conditions and need surgery but are not getting treatment.
I'm amazed that there haven't been more deaths as most of these people are barely holding on.
The Australian govt are lying about the conditions there - It only takes common sense to see through their lies and games.
If things were like they say there would be no need for all the secrecy.
If the truth got out, without a doubt, Australia would be charged with crimes against humanity.
What we are doing to these ppl is so wrong it's beyond belief that any civilised nation could contemplate doing such things.
150 asylum seekers are still on the hunger strike in Foxtrot...
Manus: Mike compound ends its hunger strike [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney - 26/1/15]:
The compound that started the mass hunger strike on Manus Island has ended their hunger strike – 13 days after it began – for now at least.
It is expected that asylum seekers in Mike will begin eating this evening.
The protest was called off after Wilson’s security entered Foxtrot this morning. It is reported that a number of people were arrested but there are no details available.
Wilson’s had flown reinforcements to the island on Sunday afternoon. The much-anticipated raids on the compounds began at Foxtrot this morning. Asylum seekers in Foxtrot were herded into the gym area, and guards began going room to room.
It is clear that Foxtrot was targeted because a lot of information was coming out of that compound.
“It is tragically ironic that the Immigration Department celebrated Australia Day by trying to stamp out free speech on Manus Island,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“The information from Manus Island has put the lie to government statements about the mass protests since day one, when Minister Peter Dutton denied the protest was taking place. The government, the Minister, Transfield and Wilson’s have all been exposed as abusers of human rights on Manus.
“That news has gone around the world.
“The hunger strike has prevented the planned forced transfer of refugees to the accommodation at Lorengau that was planned for 22 January. Now the government must halt any plan to force refugees into that temporary housing. And address the stark fact that there are no arrangements for safe resettlement in PNG.
“Independent observers are still urgently needed to ensure there are no reprisals against compounds or individuals. Those held in isolation must be released. All of those in Lorengau jail must be returned to the detention centre.
“Sooner or later, the government will have to face up to the fact that offshore processing is untenable; the sooner the better.
“Manus Island must be closed and all of the asylum seekers and refugees must be brought to Australia.”
It is understood that the hunger strike is continuing in other compounds in the detention centre.
A photograph of a banner drawn by asylum seekers in Mike compound for Australia Day is below.
Poignantly it celebrates an “enjoyment of freedom” for the Australian people – a freedom they are being denied.
PNG: Government convenes special meeting over police behaviour following shooting [PNG Loop - 26/1/15]
Vaki: Police Lack Command and Control [EMTV – 26/1/15]
Non-stop march around ASIO headquarters to protest indefinite detention [Canberra Times - 26/1/15]:
Protesters will march non-stop around ASIO headquarters in Canberra for 32 hours to draw attention to the plight of at least 32 refugees locked in indefinite detention.
Organisers who have travelled from Melbourne are expecting a small turn-out for the march on Wednesday, with other protesters from Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.
Sam Quinlan, spokesman for the group Walking for Freedom, said 25 to 30 protesters would march in shifts on public land to draw attention to the problem of indefinite detention and the secrecy of assessments.
"Not a massive crowd, but enough," Mr Quinlan said.
Several of the 32 refugees deemed a national security threat by ASIO have been held in immigration detention for more than five years.
But the refugees – most Tamils who fled Sri Lanka's civil war and judged to have a well founded fear of persecution – are not permitted to know the detail of the ASIO adverse assessment or appeal the finding in court.
The government refuses to issue the refugees a visa but they cannot be returned home and no other country has been willing to settle them.
Mr Quinlan said the refugees had become trapped in an "absurd bureaucracy" and the protesters would march to federal parliament later in the week in an attempt to draw further attention.
Another protester Jasmine Pilbrow said she had visited the Broadmeadows detention centre in Melbourne's north, where most of the refugees are held, for two years since moving from Alice Springs.
"Seeing the way that their hope and mental health has deteriorated has been really depressing," Ms Pilbrow said.
Fairfax Media revealed in August almost a quarter of the refugees with adverse assessments in indefinite detention – which numbered more than 50 two years ago – have threatened or attempted suicide.
The Abbott government had pledged to abandon a review set up by the Gillard government in 2012 after backbench pressure on the issue, with retired federal court justice Margaret Stone examining the ASIO findings.
But Attorney-General George Brandis announced in December Ms Stone's position would be extended for another two years.
A spokeswoman for Ms Stone said this month the review had recommended the ASIO finding was "not appropriate" in seven cases and had upheld 28 assessments.
Ms Pilbrow said there needed to be more transparency in the assessments and a quicker review process.
Turkey opens biggest refugee camp for 35,000 from Kobani
Turkey opened its biggest refugee camp on Sunday to house 35,000 people fleeing fighting between Kurdish forces and Islamist militants in Syria's Kobani, national disaster management agency AFAD said.
Located in the southeastern border town of Suruc, the tent city has two hospitals, seven medical clinics and enough classrooms for 10,000 children, AFAD spokesman Dogan Eskinat told Reuters.
He said months of fighting in Kobani had caused an influx of some 200,000 refugees into Turkey and that AFAD would see how the situation develops before deciding whether any more facilities should be constructed.
Turkey has some 24 camps housing 265,000 Syrian refugees with another set to open in Mardin next month, Eskinat said. More than 200,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the Syrian civil war since March 2011.
The majority of Turkey's 1.7 million refugees live outside camps, sometimes on the streets and in shanty towns, causing tensions with the local population. Authorities have begun to transfer those living on city streets to camps.
Islamic State militants attacked Kobani more than four months ago. Iraqi Kurdish forces were dispatched to help Syrian Kurds fight the advance and a U.S.-led coalition has bombed Islamic State fighters and equipment to push the group east out of the city and surrounding villages.
The Kurds, who have secured effective self-rule in northern parts of Syria, now control around 90 percent of Kobani, said the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the war that has dragged on for four years.
Assad: US plans to train Syria rebels 'illusory' [Daily Star - 26/1/15]
Assad seeks agreement over US air strikes in Syria [Reuters - 26/1/15]
US Won’t Admit to Killing a Single Civilian in the ISIS War [Daily Beast – 24/1/15]:
... Stuart Jones, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told al Arabiya that U.S. and coalition strikes in Iraq and Syria have killed 6,000 ISIS fighters. That no civilians could be among that figure strikes observers and even military officials as all but impossible.
Yet neither the Iraqi and Syrian governments nor the Congress are pushing U.S. military for answers. And with no American ground troops to assess the damage of the air campaign, human rights groups and Pentagon officials alike admit that one casualty of the war itself is an accurate breakdown of who has been killed in it. ...
Government will return Afghan refugees in shortest time: Mosazai
Janan Mosazai, the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan said on Saturday that the national unity government of Afghanistan was taking measures for the return of 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees from Pakistan in the shortest possible time.
“There is a three-way agreement between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and all three signatories agree on voluntary, dignified and gradual return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan,” Ambassador Mosazai told media.
Janan said that Afghanistan was ‘incomplete in its essence’ without the homecoming of its people, who had to leave the country decades ago because of security conditions.
He said the Afghan government had welcomed five million of its refugees from Pakistan and Iran since the fall of Taliban, which he described as the ‘largest return of refugees to their homeland in history’.
“Refugees’ arrival has slowed down for some time, but this issue is our key priority on which we fully focus. The fabric of the Afghan society is not complete without our refugee brothers and sisters. We are improving our environment to encourage their return so that they see no uncertain future and no shortage of basic amenities,” said Mosazai.
Ambassador said at present 1.6m registered Afghan refugees were residing in Pakistan, most of whom lived in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan while their number in Sindh was 65,000.
He, however, was not sure about the number of unregistered Afghan refugees, which he guessed might be between 400,000 and one million.
Afghanistan: 5 people wounded in Jalalabad blast
An explosion has injured five people in a hotel in Jalalabad city today.
Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal, spokesman for Nangarhar police headquarters confirmed the incident.
Mashriqiwal says the explosion took place in Baba Wali Hotel this afternoon when people were having food in the hotel.
He added that no one was arrested in connection to with the incident but an investigation was initiated into the incident.
No group including Taliban have claimed responsibility for the explosion.
US drone strike kills three in Yemen: officials
A suspected U.S. drone attacked a car in Yemen's eastern Marib province on Monday, killing three suspected al Qaeda militants, local officials told Reuters.
It was the first reported such strike by a remotely piloted plane since Yemeni president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a leading advocate of U.S. counter-terrorism measures in the region, resigned on Thursday along with his government.
The attack suggests Washington's campaign against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is continuing, at least in its use of drones, despite the absence of Hadi and a deepening power vacuum in the capital, Sanaa.
Two U.S. security officials said on Friday the collapse of the U.S.-backed government of Yemen had left America's counter-terrorism campaign "paralyzed", dealing a major setback to U.S. efforts to undermine one of al Qaeda's most potent wings.
AQAP claimed responsibility for deadly shootings in Paris on Jan. 7 and American officials fear al Qaeda will gain strength in Yemen's current power vacuum.
President Barack Obama on Sunday defended his strategy of attacking al Qaeda militants in Yemen with drones, saying the alternative would be to deploy U.S. troops, which was not sustainable.
@jeremyscahill [26/1/15]: This is the teenager allegedly killed in today's CIA drone strike, along w 2 #AQAP, according to the group
Officials say 2 sons of Egypt's Mubarak freed from prison
Daily Star [26/1/15]:
Egyptian security officials say two sons of ousted President Hosni Mubarak have been released from prison, nearly four years after they were first arrested along with their father.
The officials said the two, wealthy businessman Alaa and Mubarak's one-time heir apparent Gamal, walked free from Torah Prison in a southern Cairo suburb shortly after daybreak Monday and were believed to have headed to their respective homes in the capital.
The two along with their father still face a retrial on corruption charges. The two sons separately face trial on insider trading. They had been acquitted of other charges.
Mubarak stepped down in February 2011 in the face of a popular uprising. He and his two sons were arrested in April that year.
Pakistan most important neighbour and iron brother: China
Pak Tribune [26/1/15]:
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif’s official visit to China, in which he called on China’s Vice Chairman Central Military Commission, Gen Fan Changlong in Beijing.
During the unprecedented meeting held in a warmth and cordial atmosphere on Sunday morning 25,January,2015, Gen Fan termed Pakistan-China as solid strategic partners, most important neighbours and iron brothers.
China termed Pakistan a solid strategic partner, ISPR Director General Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa tweeted on social media.
Showing solidarity with people of Pakistan, armed forces versus any challenge, Gen Fan praised the success of Zarb-e-Azb military operation against terrorists and termed it bold, hard blow for terrorists, without any discrimination.
Gen Fan praised national consensus to combat terrorism, Pakistan’s resolve, efforts and sacrifices in fighting the menace of terrorism. He also assured China’s full support to Pakistan in its fight against terrorism.
The COAS said that with nation’s support, Pakistan armed forces are fully determined and will go to any extent to eliminate terrorism from our soil.
General Raheel held a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Gen Qi Jianguo and discussed full range of regional security and defence related issues.
According to ISPR, the matters pertaining to bilateral cooperation including enhanced long-term defence collaboration, security and counter terrorism cooperation, intelligence sharing and training exchanges were discussed in the meeting.
Earlier at his arrival, General Raheel Sharif was presented Guard of Honour at the People’s Liberation Army Headquarters.
Obama, Modi Move Closer With Nuclear Liability Breakthrough [Bloomberg – 26/1/15]
UK: Two come forward to claim they were abused by former Home Secretary
Leon Brittan was today accused of “multiple child rape” as detailed accusations of sex abuse were levelled against the late former Home Secretary for the first time.
Labour MP Tom Watson said he had spoken to two people who claimed they were abused by the Conservative peer, including a witness known as Nick who alleged he had been attacked more than a dozen times as a boy and seen the politician assault others.
Lord Brittan died last week from cancer, aged 75. He had always categorically denied any allegation of sexual wrongdoing or cover-up.
Friends and former Cabinet colleagues paying tribute to him said his final months had been unjustly clouded by a “smear campaign” and “innuendo”.
The peer had hitherto been named in relation only to his handling of a dossier containing the names of alleged Establishment paedophiles which he insisted had been passed to police but which could not be found on Home Office files.
This is the first time detailed allegations of child sex abuse against the senior Tory have been made public.
Mr Watson, a former defence minister, said he believed the alleged victims he had spoken to were “sincere”.
The MP said he – along with others, including media organisations – had known of the accusations but had decided not to speak out for fear of prejudicing any jury trial that Lord Brittan might have one day faced.
Mr Watson told the Sunday Mirror: “It’s not for me to judge whether the claims made against Brittan are true. It’s for the police to investigate these claims as they continue to do so. But I believe the people I’ve spoken to are sincere.”
Have seen similar in a private hospital in Queensland - and there is not a damn thing the LNP or ALP will do about it
Lebanon charges hospital pharmacist over fraud [Daily Star - 26/1/15]:
Financial prosecutor Judge Ali Ibrahim filed charges against the chief pharmacist at Rafik Hariri University Hospital on charges of fraud and tampering with medication expiry dates, a judicial source told The Daily Star.
Ibrahim issued a warrant for search and seizure against Mona Baalbeki after she had apparently gone into hiding.
The suspect was accused of changing expiry dates on drugs and selling them at lower prices at the government-run hospital, the source said.
Ibrahim referred the case to First Investigative Judge of Beirut Ghassan Oueidat for processing, the source added.
Greece's SYRIZA, ANEL Agree to Form New Government
Greece is to have an anti-austerity government, Panos Kammenos, Independent Greeks, has told reporters after coalition talks with SYRIZA's Alexis Tsipras in Athens.
Tsipras is due in the Presidency in Athens at 15:30 EET (13:30 GMT) on Monday and is tipped to become Greece's youngest ever Prime Minister at the age of 40.
Kammenos held a conversation with Tsipras on Monday morning that continued less than an hour. It took place after leftist SYRIZA party won the country's early elections by a wide margin, gaining 149 seats and thus falling two seats short of a majority in Parliament.
"I want to say, simply, that from this moment, there is a government," the Guardian quotes him as saying.
He has added his party will give a vote of confidence to "Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras".
The Independent Greeks (abbreviated ANEL in Greek) party is also an anti-austerity party, but unlike SYRIZA is on the right side of the political spectrum.
The two parties differ on a number of issues including immigration, but are unanimous that the old political parties need to be replaced in the government.
ANEL was set up in 2012s with lawmakers splintering off conservative New Democracy of outgoing PM Antonis Samaras.
A government including SYRIZA and ANEL would have a majority of 162 MPs by including ANEL's 13 lawmakers and will be able to push through its agenda which includes revoking austerity measures adopted in the past few years.
Tsipras maintains Athens should not keep to its international commitments agreed as part of a bailout program worth EUR 240 B aimed at helping Greece to tackle its debt.
Questions pour in for Gladstone Meet the candidates
Gladstone Observer [26/1/15]:
All four candidates have agreed to appear at The Observer's Meet the Candidates debate on Tuesday night - and the questions from the public are pouring in.
The debate will be held at the Leo Zussino building at CQUniversity Gladstone Marina campus, in the lead-up to the election on Saturday.
It is open to the public, and will help you get a better understanding of the priorities and policies of our candidates.
The decision you make next Saturday - and the decision the rest of the state makes - will be vital for Gladstone.
On the evening, candidates will answer questions we pose to them on your behalf and we will also give them the opportunity to state their campaign platform.
The meeting will be chaired by Kurt Heidecker.
We look forward to seeing you there, on what will undoubtedly be a lively and informative session.
Doors open at 6pm for a strict 6.30pm start. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided.
Attendance is free, but registrations are essential because space is limited.
Contact Kyra Bell to register at email@example.com or phone 4970 3085.
If you have a question you want answered on the night, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to PO Box 351, Gladstone.
Drains in Gladstone struggle to cope with deluge [Gladstone Observer – 26/1/15]
Reveal asset sale cost: Katter
North West Star [26/1/15]:
Campbell Newman must fess up on the impact of the LNP’s asset sales in the North West, says state member for Mount Isa and Katter’s Australia Party candidate Rob Katter.
As Mr Katter travelled through small rural towns this week, he said the common concern from voters was the cost of asset sales.
“What I’m seeing and hearing out in the hinterland is challenging me to front up to the LNP and say it’s time for them to come clean and count the real cost of asset sales,’’ he said.
“The real cost will be borne by these small towns.
“How many rural jobs have already been lost to rural towns?
‘‘We’ve already seen 60 job losses from the railways in small towns in the North West in 2014 and the government washed their hands clean of any responsibility.’’
When he appealed in Parliament to the Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Scott Emerson for help regarding those railway workers laid off last year, the minister said he would like to help, but the railways were now privately owned, so he couldn’t, Mr Katter said.
“That was his excuse last year and we’ll expect to hear more of those excuses next term when they’ve sold off our ports, our power companies, our rail lines and our water pipelines and thousands of Queenslanders have lost their jobs.
“‘We’d like to help, but we can’t because they’re now privately owned’.
“That will be the refrain from the LNP if they persist in their asset sales.
“It will be the same when prices increase and service levels diminish.
“The recent claim by the Treasurer that NSW and Victoria’s experience shows prices will go down is either grossly ignorant or straight-out misleading.
“The only reason the prices didn’t increase in those states is because they didn’t have network expansion demands like Queensland did.
“Anyone with any knowledge of the electricity industry is well aware of this fact.”
Toowoomba nurse wins national accolades
Toowoomba Hospital clinical nurse consultant Robyn Dealtry's work in pain management has earned her a national accolade.
Mrs Dealtry was quick to highlight the efforts of her colleagues when discussing her Order of Australia Medal for services to nursing and medical education.
This month marked her 49th year in the profession and she said she hoped to beat the half century.
She has specialised in pain management since 1991, working at Sydney's Westmead Hospital until moving to Toowoomba with husband Bob in 2004.
The letter informing her of the honour came as a surprise.
"It's an incredibly humbling experience because really I accept the award on behalf of all nurses," Mrs Dealtry said.
"You can't achieve anything by yourself.
"It is very much a team effort."
The 66-year-old said she loved her job.
"Since I was four-years-old that is all I have wanted to be, a nurse."
Passing on her knowledge in acute pain management is something she particularly enjoys.
"I love teaching them.
"Actually being at the bedside with the patient is probably the most rewarding thing."
She said her work in advanced cancer pain management was among her proudest achievements.
"You can get them pain free and still enjoying life with their families."
Serious assault, Atherton
QPS Media [26/1/15]:
A Redlynch man has been charged after an incident which left a 22-year-old man with serious facial injuries at Atherton last night.
Initial information suggests the incident occurred at a Tinaroo Dam camp ground around 6pm.
A 22-year-old German National was allegedly struck in the face with a shovel during what is reported to be an unprovoked attached.
A 20-year-old Saint Lucia man was also injured after allegedly being assaulted with a shovel.
Both men were transported to Atherton Hospital.
Police have charged a 20-year-old Redlynch man with one count each of grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning bodily harm and common assault.
He is expected to appear in the Mareeba Magistrates Courts on January 27.
Police investigations are continuing.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Suspicious fire, Logan Central
QPS Media [26/1/15]:
Detectives have charged a man after a home at Logan Central was severely damage by fire overnight.
Initial information suggests the blaze started shortly before midnight and caused substantial damage to the Ewing Street home. No one was injured during the incident.
A 36-year-old Alexandra Hills man has been charged with acts intended to disfigure, endangering particular property by fire, enter premises and commit indictable offence and drink driving. He is expected to appear in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court today.
Police investigations are continuing with Scientific and Forensic Officers expected to examine the scene later today.
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.
House fire, South Stradbroke Island
QPS Media [26/1/15]:
A house on Doeblin Drive at South Stradbroke Island has been destroyed by fire overnight.
The house at Couran Point was unoccupied at the time of the blaze which started around 9:30pm.
The cause of the fire is yet to be determined with Scientific and Forensic Officers expected to examine the scene later today.
Police investigations are continuing.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Serious traffic crash, Nerimbera
QPS Media [26/1/15]:
A 74-year-old man has been transported to hospital in a critical condition following a single vehicle crash at Nerimbera this morning.
Preliminary information indicates around 9.30am, a utility travelling west along Emu Park Road failed to navigate a bend and travelled into a ditch before colliding with a large steel shed, situated on private property.
The 50-year-old driver and sole occupant of the vehicle was transported to the Rockhampton Base Hospital in a serious condition.
The 74-year-old man was inside the shed at the time of the collision and was also taken to the Rockhampton Base Hospital.
Police investigations are continuing into the cause of the incident.
Former police officer believed to be one of two people found dead in possible murder-suicide
A man found dead in the backyard of a house in Perth's northern suburbs is believed to be a former police officer.
Police found the bodies of a man and a woman in the backyard in Dianella on Sunday after receiving a call at midday.
The pair were aged in their 50s.
Police are trying to determine whether the deaths were a murder-suicide.
Officers from major crime and forensics remained at the scene overnight.
... Anyone will tell you it's a prisoner island, hidden in the summer for a million years ...
Darwin's new state-of-the-art Holtze prison has suffered two blackouts due to the Top End's notorious humidity causing security system failures and cutting the water supply.
Excessive moisture tripping a circuit breaker had resulted in a four-hour blackout on November 30 and a two-hour blackout on January 26, corrections commissioner Ken Middlebrook confirmed to the ABC.
The outage meant surveillance cameras, security doors and the water supply were inoperable at the $500 million facility which opened in September 2014.
"From our point of view, it's unacceptable," commissioner Middlebrook said.
"There's a lot of backup power systems there to prevent this sort of thing happening.
"However, moisture getting into this circuit breaker doesn't allow those emergency services to kick in."
Building company Baulderstone and Sitzler set up a temporary solution after the first blackout in November.
With the failure of those measures, commissioner Middlebrook demanded the builders return to the complex to fix the problem once and for all, without charging the Government.
"I've been involved in five new prisons in my career and I've never yet seen one open and not have some teething problems," he said.
Evidently ABC journalist Liam Cochrane has left Manus Island?
#BREAKING: source says PNG police & Wilson guards searched Foxtrot compound this morning. 12 asylum seekers have been removed. #Manus
Source is not sure if the 12 asylum seekers were taken to Chauka or Lorengau jail.
Photo from Foxtrot after the search today
"Our land | Your borders" w/ flowers on steps of Vic parliament ...
Image: @conoilseed [26/1/15]
Aboriginal rights protest disrupts Australia Day Parade in Melbourne [The Age - 26/1/15]
@emocthefirst [26/1/15]: Sovereignty never ceded #InvasionDay Brisbane rally and march
More evidence of abuse, but hunger strike continues [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney - 26/1/15]:
Manus Island detainees are bracing for increased security harassment today after the arrival of more Wilson security guards on the island yesterday.
Hundreds remain on hunger strike into the 14th day, with almost 100 per cent of Mike and Oscar compounds involved in the protest.
Meanwhile more evidence of the witch-hunt and medical abuse emerges.
One Sudanese asylum seeker in Mike Compound collapsed, and was taken to IHMS on 20 January after six days on hunger strike.
At the medical centre, three security guards sprayed him with chemical spray before being forcibly restrained and removed him to an isolated room where he was tied to a bed.
He was isolated for three days, before being returned to Mike compound. He states that he still cannot see clearly and the damage to his eyes is still clearly visible, in the photos below taken on 24 January.
Despite media reports it seems that no asylum seekers shifted to the Lorengau jail in the round up of so-called ringleaders, have yet been moved to Port Moresby.
Fifteen of them have been moved back to the detention centre, the rest of the 58 remain in Lorengau jail.
One of the jailed asylum seekers swallowed razor blades and has been admitted to Lorengau hospital.
“Manus Island urgently needs independent human rights observers. The numerous reports of collective punishment and human rights abuses, must be investigated,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“Wilson’s and the Immigration department are running rampant. Holding people in Chauka is a clear violation of their human rights. But the Immigration department is acting with impunity.
“The people in Lorengau have been arbitrarily jailed to try and break the mass protest. It seems very clear that detaining the asylum seekers with no charge violates the PNG constitution.
“It should be obvious that more force is not going to resolve the hunger strike protest. It is the brutality and arbitrary detention that is driving the protests. Manus Island must be closed.”
Refugee advocates are now trying to engage legal assistance for the asylum seekers being held in Lorengau jail.
International protests over Manus Island are planned over the next couple of days . ...
Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to walk the path of his murdered family at Auschwitz [Canberra Times - 26/1/15]:
... Westfield boss Frank Lowy, a Holocaust survivor who lost many members of his family at Auschwitz, will be recognised at the ceremony as one of the six major donors to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, which needs 120 million euros ($170 million) to establish an endowment for the permanent preservation of the buildings and artefacts at the site.
Fairfax has been told that Mr Lowy will not be at the ceremony, but may have representatives there.
The Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says he'll use next week's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to promote Australia's financial services sector. ... [ABC - 14/1/15]
A crowd gathers outside #manly council to protest the recent shocking treatment of Refugees in #manus [February 2014]
Image: @justice22 [22/2/14]
How Subjected Bodies are Connecting the Struggle Against Collaborating States, Adam Hudson [Al Akhbar - 24/1/15]
Philippines: Lack of coordination led to Maguindanao massacre
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is urging the Philippine National Police (PNP) to immediately conduct an internal investigation into Sunday's Maguindanao clash, which left at least 30 police commandos dead.
Trillanes, said it is possible the policemen were fed the wrong information which led to their ambush.
At least 30 elite cops were reportedly killed as members of the PNP Special Action Force clashed with the Muslim rebels in Maguindanao on Sunday.
An MILF spokesman said at least four of its members and more than 30 cops were killed in the clash that happened near the remote town of Mamasapano.
Reports said the police were hunting Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias ''Marwan'' and Basit Usman, a Jemaah Islamiyah bomb-making expert, in Tukanalipao village.
Trillanes said he is puzzled as to why the police did not seek help from the military in pursuing the terrorists.
''They should coordinate with the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) first and the AFP will determine if the area involved is covered by the peace agreement then they would coordinate if necessary… Even for operational purposes, the Armed Forces would know the area better than the PNP,'' Trillanes told ANC.
The 10,000-member MILF had agreed to end decades of rebellion in the mainly Catholic nation in exchange for a proposed law now being debated in parliament that would give the minority Muslims self-rule in several southern provinces.
"This is the first encounter between the MILF and (government forces) this year. Hopefully, this will be the last," Iqbal told AFP by telephone.
He said the police had entered an MILF-influenced area without notifying the group, which disagrees with the peace talks and broke away from the MILF in 2008.
The clash in Mamasapano was only the second since two soldiers and 18 Muslim gunmen were killed in a clash in Basilan in April 2014.
Such incidents once broke out with much greater frequency prior to the signing of the treaty, during a rebellion that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
After the April fighting, the government accused the MILF of helping Islamic extremists under attack from security forces. The group acknowledged four of its members were killed.
Since the peace deal was struck, government forces have been going after the BIFF, a group of several hundred Muslim gunmen who last year pledged allegiance to Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria.
Trillanes, meanwhile, advised the government not to over-react until all details involving the fatal clash are in.
''The worst thing we can do right now it to over-react. We need to get the facts straight. We need to investigate both internally on the part of the PNP, and through the mechanisms of the peace agreement,'' he said.
''There are so many questions right now on the part of the MILF. Why were the terrorists in their area? Some terrorists which were supposed to be served warrants of arrest by the PNP."
The government in the Philippines is facing calls for an inquiry after it admitted relocating homeless people temporarily during Pope Francis' visit. ... [BBC - 23/1/15]
British lawmakers demand freeze on fracking
France 24 [26/1/15]:
A committee of British lawmakers demanded a national moratorium on fracking due to environmental concerns on Monday, ahead of a crucial vote intended to boost the shale gas industry.
An inquiry by the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee, which examines the effect of government policy on the environment, found the extraction and burning of more fossil fuels was contrary to Britain's pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
It warned that fracking -- in which water, chemicals and sand are pumped at high pressure underground to extract gas -- posed uncertain risks to public health, air quality, and water supplies.
"A moratorium on the extraction of unconventional gas through fracking is needed to avoid both the inconsistency with our climate change obligations and to allow the uncertainty surrounding environmental risks to be fully resolved," the report said.
It comes as lawmakers prepare to vote on the Infrastructure Bill, which contains a number of measures intended to kick-start the fledgling British fracking industry.
Britain has pledged to cut greenhouse emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and several MPs on the committee tabled an amendment to the bill to call for a moratorium.
The report was the latest blow to Cameron's pledge to go "all out" on developing shale gas and oil, which the government says will boost the economy, provide employment and help Britain be less reliant on energy imports.
Last week, a report by Lancaster County Council recommended rejecting plans by British energy firm Cuadrilla to drill at two sites, saying it would have an "adverse affect" on the life of local residents.
The report noted public opposition to fracking, and criticised a provision in the Infrastructure Bill that would make it easier for energy companies to drill beneath homes without residents' permission.
In addition to the moratorium, the committee recommended that fracking be banned outright in protected areas such as national parks, ancient woodlands, and areas that feed groundwater sources.
The report found that an argument in favour of fracking which contends it could be a "transition" fuel used to replace dirtier coal was invalid, as coal would be phased out by the time large-scale extraction was underway.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change rejected the report.
"UK shale development is compatible with our goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions," a spokesman said.
"To meet our challenging climate targets we will need significant quantities of renewables, nuclear and gas in our energy mix. Shale gas has huge potential to create jobs and make us less reliant on imports."
WikiLeaks demands answers after Google hands staff emails to US government
Google took almost three years to disclose to the open information group WikiLeaks that it had handed over emails and other digital data belonging to three of its staffers to the US government, under a secret search warrant issued by a federal judge.
WikiLeaks has written to Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, to protest that the search giant only revealed the warrants last month, having been served them in March 2012.
In the letter, WikiLeaks says it is “astonished and disturbed” that Google waited more than two and a half years to notify its subscribers, potentially depriving them of their ability to protect their rights to “privacy, association and freedom from illegal searches”.
The letter, written by WikiLeaks’ New York-based lawyer, Michael Ratner of the Center For Constitutional Rights, asks Google to list all the materials it provided to the FBI.
Ratner also asks whether the California-based company did anything to challenge the warrants and whether it has received any further data demands it has yet to divulge.
Google revealed to WikiLeaks on Christmas Eve – a traditionally quiet news period – that it had responded to a Justice Department order to hand over a catch-all dragnet of digital data including all emails and IP addresses relating to the three staffers.
The subjects of the warrants were the investigations editor of WikiLeaks, the British citizen Sarah Harrison; the spokesperson for the organisation, Kristinn Hrafnsson; and Joseph Farrell, one of its senior editors.
When it notified the WikiLeaks employees last month, Google said it had been unable to say anything about the warrants earlier as a gag order had been imposed. Google said the non-disclosure orders had subsequently been lifted, though it did not specify when.
Journalist covering prosecutor's death flees Argentina
Al Jazeera [25/1/15]:
A journalist who broke the news of the death of an Argentine federal prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre has fled the country.
Damian Pachter of the English-language Buenos Aires Herald left the country on Saturday, the local journalism group Foro de Periodismo Argentino said.
Pachter was the first journalist to report on the death of state prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was investigating the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires which killed 85 people.
After landing in Israel at Tel Aviv airport on Sunday, Pachter told the the Reuters news agency that he had quit Argentina because he feared for his life.
"I left because of my news report regarding the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman who died in [an] unresolved way last week so I was the first who report on that and now I am kind of suffering the consequences of that," Pachter said.
"They [the Argentina government] use their security forces to chase me and I just had to move fast and quick - as fast as I could in order to get into a plane and just leave the country right away."
In a statement, Pachter's employer said the journalist had not expressed his concerns to the newspaper and the organisation was ready to help him in any way possible.
Nisman was found dead in his apartment late on January 18, with a gunshot wound to his head and a pistol by his side along with a single shell casing.
He had been scheduled to appear before the Argentine National Congress the following day to answer questions about his allegation that President Cristina Fernandez conspired to derail his investigation of the attack.
His death and a storm of conspiracy theories around it have rocked Argentina.
Argentine courts have accused a group of Iranians of planting the 1994 bomb.
Nisman had claimed that Fernandez opened a secret back channel with Iran to cover up Tehran's alleged involvement in the bombing and gain access to Iranian oil needed to help close Argentina's $7bn per year energy deficit.
Fernandez's government called the accusation absurd.
False flags and how to start a 'colour revolution' in Argentina [ICH - 23/1/15]
Military-clad English-speakers caught on camera in Mariupol shelling aftermath
Armed people in uniform speaking fluent English with no accent have been spotted in Mariupol in the aftermath of the rocket hit, fuelling allegations that foreign private military contractors are serving among Ukrainian troops.
The port city in eastern Ukraine, under Kiev’s control, saw a surge of violence on Saturday, when several rockets hit a residential area in the east of the city, reportedly killing 30 civilians.
Numerous videos from the scene showed destruction in the aftermath of the attack, for which local militia and Ukrainian troops blamed each other.
But among footage shot in Mariupol, there are some videos showing armed men in military uniform, who speak English fluently.
One video uploaded on YouTube is apparently raw footage of a local news channel MSN (Mariupol News Service). One episode shows a man passing resolutely by the camera.
The man holds a carbine in his hand and is wearing a tactical vest. As the correspondent points her microphone with a request to comment, the man covers his face with the other hand and says, “Out my face, out my face!”
The other piece is longer and apparently shows another armed man in uniform sweeping the area for unexploded munitions. The man behind the camera is apparently a guide, as he speaks in English with a clear accent. But the person he films speaks as if her were a native speaker.
“May be exploded, may be not, so blow up in situ,” he instructs at a crater left by an artillery hit.
The footage then shows a building with shattered windows signposted as the No 42 kindergarden in Mariupol. The building is in Kiyevskaya Street where the barrage hit.
The video description claims the person is an American member of the Azov voluntary battalion, but offers no proof of this. The uniforms features a round blue-and-yellow patch on shoulder, but its details are indistinguishable as is the man’s face.
The presence of foreign volunteers among Ukrainian voluntary battalions is no secret. Earlier media reports said many of them have right-wing leanings or even Nazi sympathies.
However, so far claims of private military contractors (PMCs) like the infamous Blackwater working in Ukraine remain unproven. Such a presence would indicate a more substantial military support for the Ukrainian government by its foreign backers, since governments usually keep an eye on PMCs working in politically challenging environments.
If a Western government didn’t want a PMC to sign a contract with Ukraine, it would find a way to put leverage on it. Finding such specialists complimenting Ukrainian troops would suggest the actual support for Kiev is a tad higher than the purely non-lethal assistance officially offered to Kiev by the West.
If only Australia had a political party that stood for the people, freedom and human rights
... But like the rose that comes back with the springtime
You will return to bring the springtime to my heart ...
'The White Rose of Athens', Nana Mouskouri 
Captures the mood here in Greece
Image: @HC - Helene - Channel 4 news producer [24/1/15]
... In a triumphant speech before a large and boisterous crowd outside Athens University, Tsipras said the leftists’ victory was “a victory for all peoples of Europe fighting austerity.” “Greece is turning a page, advancing with firm steps in a Europe which is changing.”
“The mandate of the Greek people today cancels, in an indisputable way, the memorandums,” Tsipras said, referring to Greece’s loan agreements with its international creditors.
“It makes the troika a thing of the past.”
He said his government would seek a mutual solution that would allow the country to emerge from its mountainous debt and pledged to to make good on his party’s promise to curb the corruption that contributed to Greece’s debt crisis in the first place.
“Today the Greece of the oligarchs, of the elite, of the cover-ups was defeated. Victory was for the Greece that strives, that hopes,” he said. ...
Is This The Day Europe Gets Its Future Back? [The Automatic Earth – 25/1/15]
... And there is something unseemly about enduring puritanical little homilies on how we need to learn to live with less from guys wearing shoes that cost more than the typical American family earns in a quarter. ...
The hypocrisy and material self-indulgence on display at Davos may rankle, but the deeper problem is the unspoken assumption that the sort of people who gather in Davos are the sort of people who have the answers to social problems. Historically speaking, there is little evidence to support that proposition. ...
Davos’s Destructive Elites, Kevin D. Williamson [National Review – 25/1/15]
This is what #WAR [Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance] thinks of the 15 million dollar @RecogniseAU campaign for assimilation #RecogniseWhat
Image: @clayton_dixon [14/12/14]
Time to rally community behind constitutional recognition [Greens Media Release – 26/1/15]
'Recognising' The Artful Con That Is The Constitutional Reform Debate, Amy McQuire [New Matilda - 12/12/14]:
The great academic Noam Chomsky once wrote: “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum”.
This quote perfectly encapsulates the current debate around constitutional reform – where there is a bipartisanship backed by reams of PR spin as a “positive”, while in reality it demonstrates one of the most insidious developments in black policy today – a dangerous “Canberra consensus”, as described by Indigenous policy expert Jon Altman.
How can two white leaders agreeing on the best way to shortchange blackfellas, at the expense of Aboriginal opinion, be a good thing?
The debate around ‘Recognise’ is made worse by the fact even the Greens are snuggly in the fold, leaving the opposition to a growing chorus of disenchanted and disenfranchised Aboriginal people, who are vilified for their justifiable and commendable cynicism.
Don’t fall for the Con in Constitutional Recognition [Aboriginal Tent Embassy Canberra - July 2014]:
As the world watches Israel mercilessly slaughter the unarmed civilians of Gaza under the apparent pretense of self-defense the world mourns for the countless life’s lost in the ongoing massacre.
The mainstream news fails to mention the extreme crimes against humanity taking place on our planet as an oppressed and occupied people of Palestine are bombarded with weapons of mass destruction claiming innocent civilians who have nowhere to go and hide from the explosions as the borders are closed on both sides.
The terror of a bomb being dropped on their homes come in the form of a telephone call, telling them to RUN they have 48 seconds to get out of their home.
Where are they supposed to run one asks, as the ground invasion of Gaza shoots them in the streets?
It the most inhuman thing I have ever witnessed in my life and it’s totally heartbreaking to see such blatant cruelty and savagery towards fellow human beings. Why is this happening? Has the human race learnt nothing from the mistakes of the past? Why are world leaders so eager to wage and support war and drop bombs on unarmed people? It totals insanity. When will peace prevail?
While all the carnage happens and with a death toll continuing to climb with over 500+ Palestinian civilians killed from attacks this Statement on the 14 July 2014 from the Zionist Federation of Australia, which Mark Leibler is the Executive President, states: "The Zionist Federation of Australia strongly condemns the continued indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip."
Rockets that have not claimed any lives and are no doubt in the name of true self defense from the cruelty and ongoing oppression of Israel towards them.
The author Nima Shirazi asks, why is Leibler appearing to be an avid campaigner and advocate for Australian Indigenous rights yet works for numerous Zionist organisations that are activity oppressing the rights of Indigenous people of Palestine and systematically cleansing them from their land?
He mentions that his biography reeks of hypocrisy entitling his article: The Hypocrisy of Mark Leibler: Indigenous Rights Advocate Denies Indigenous Rights to Palestinians.
From an Original Peoples perspective here in Australia we can see that Mark Leibler does not appear so hypocritical in his advocacy of denying Original land inhabitants their sovereign human rights and that what he is doing in Australia is part of a well-oiled government process and propaganda machine that has been in operation for many years in this country since the Original Peoples begun in the 1970’s to lobby and campaign for their Land Rights.
A brilliant 1986 satire of Australian colonialism which won the 1987 UN Media Peace Prize.
Day 14 Manus refugee hunger strike: Silence from Australia's political, media and human rights establishment continues
"We are 58 people, they beat the shit out of all of us"
Australia's High Commissioner to PNG @AusHCPNG highlights her career trajectory via a "retweet", congratulates Rosie Batty, thinks she won't ever be accountable for what is happening on Manus Island?:
@dfat [16/1/15]: #OnThisDay 2005 Aust Amb to Bosnia Herzegovina, Deborah Stokes, opening Aust Consulate in Sarajevo ...
Five female vendors in Port Moresby say they were sexually assaulted by over ten police officers, believed to be intoxicated by alcohol, yesterday. ... [EMTV - 25/1/15]
Image: @FrBower [26/1/15]
Eight former Australians of the Year have used Australia Day to call for the immediate release of all refugee and asylum seeker children from immigration detention.
In an open letter published [via UNICEF] on Monday morning, the Australians of the Year write that the indefinite detention of children, who are not accused of any crime, is “inhumane and unnecessary”.
Fiona Stanley, the epidemiologist who was Australian of the Year in 2003, told Guardian Australia the letter was not a partisan attack, but rather a call for all Australia’s political leaders to reconsider policies that had proved ineffective, inhumane and harmful.
“People I speak to are anguished about the fact Australia is keeping children in detention. All the data, all the studies we have, show that children are seriously damaged by being held in detention, there is damage to their mental health, their physical health, their general wellbeing and chances for the future. We are causing long-term harm to these children.”
Stanley said Australia’s international reputation as a nation committed to human rights was being degraded by its holding asylum seeker children in detention.
She said Australia’s immigration detention regime for all asylum seekers should be reconsidered from a more humanitarian perspective, but that children should be released from detention immediately.
“As a mother and a grandmother, I feel anguished. No developed country, no country like Australia, with its respect for human rights, should have children, who have committed no crime, held behind wire. That should stop immediately.”
Australia's Immigration Minister only advises Murdoch claquers where his Perth citizen ceremony is to avoid journalism.
@ash_gillon - Ashleigh Gillon - Sky "news" personality via @SoniaKohlbacher - propagandist at 'The Australian' [26/1/15]: Oh dear! RT @PeterDutton_MP speech to 619 new Aus citizens in Perth temporarily lost. Host resorts to singing happy birthday to 3 citizens
... Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said Australia stood "like a beacon -- one of the safest, most tolerant, diverse, vibrant and peaceful societies in the world". ... [Daily Mercury - 26/1/15]
Australia’s focus on deterrence challenged in global forum [Refugee Council of Australia - 11/1/15]
... Rear Admiral Michael Noonan, who used a forum devoted principally to the protection of vulnerable refugees and migrants travelling by sea to promote the Australian Government’s claims about its success in deterrence of asylum seekers.
“In 2013, the Australian Government introduced a broad range of measures designed to deny people smugglers from having a product to sell while ensuring that those who were owed protection received it,” the Australian Government statement said.
“This has included putting in place a regional deterrence network with our partners, preventing smugglers using our region as a transit point, and a robust returns process for those found not to be in need of protection. This is fundamental to the integrity of protection systems.”
In response, Mr Power [Chief Executive Officer, Refugee Council of Australia] said he was sad that Australia was now leading the world among Refugee Convention signatory states in the harshness of its responses to people fleeing persecution.
“The Australian Government says repeatedly that it is stopping boats because of its concern about the loss of life at sea,” Mr Power said.
“There is scant evidence that the Australian Government cares about the lives of those same people in any other context.
“Where is the evidence of concern about Rohingya people being oppressed in Myanmar, the human rights crisis in Sri Lanka, the lack of safety in north-west Pakistan for many Afghan refugees, the mistreatment of urban refugees in Thailand and Malaysia or the desperation of asylum seekers who are seeking admission to detention centres in Indonesia in order to avoid starvation?”
Mr Power said the Australian representative had mentioned that his Government was shifting from a regional cooperation framework to a regional deterrence network.
“If replicated widely around the world, this approach would greatly exacerbate an already complex series of problems.”
Sydney Morning Herald [13/8/1/15]:
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has backed an independent report on asylum seekers, saying the government will move urgently to restart offshore processing on Manus Island and Nauru.
Ms Gillard told reporters in Canberra this afternoon that the government would reintroduce its migration bill, with amendments, to the Parliament tomorrow.
The expert panel on asylum seekers, Michael L'Estrange, Angus Houston and Paris Aristotle, have handed their recommendations to the government.
The government will also move immediately to implement the report's recommendations to remove family reunion concessions for people who arrive by boat.
An expert panel led by former Defence chief Angus Houston has recommended that Australia process asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, and that the Malaysia people swap should be "built on further" before anyone was sent to Malaysia.
Ms Gillard and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen [protect] told a special Labor caucus meeting this afternoon that the government should adopt all 22 recommendations in the report.
Prince Philip pictured at Nazi funeral [Daily Mail - 6/3/06}:
Prince Philip has broken a 60-year public silence about his family's links with the Nazis.
In a frank interview, he said they found Hitler's attempts to restore Germany's power and prestige 'attractive' and admitted they had 'inhibitions about the Jews'.
The revelations come in a book about German royalty kowtowing to the Nazis, which features photographs never published in the UK.
They include one of Philip aged 16 at the 1937 funeral of his elder sister Cecile, flanked by relatives in SS and Brownshirt uniforms.
One row back in the cortege in Darmstadt, western Germany, was his uncle, Lord Mountbatten, wearing a Royal Navy bicorn hat.
Another picture shows his youngest sister, Sophia, sitting opposite Hitler at the wedding of Hermann and Emmy Goering.
Explaining the attraction of the Nazis, 84-year-old Prince Philip told an American academic: "There was a great improvement in things like trains running on time and building. There was a sense of hope after the depressing chaos of the Weimar Republic.
"I can understand people latching on to something or somebody who appeared to be appealing to their patriotism and trying to get things going. You can understand how attractive it was."
He added that there was 'a lot of enthusiasm for the Nazis at the time, the economy was good, we were anti-Communist and who knew what was going to happen to the regime?'
Philip stressed that he was never 'conscious of anybody in the family actually expressing anti-Semitic views'. But he went on to say there were 'inhibitions about the Jews' and 'jealousy of their success'.
Philip was born Prince of Greece and Denmark on Corfu in 1921, the youngest of five children and the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. All four of his sisters married German princes and three - Sophie, Cecile and Margarita - became members of the Nazi party.
Sophia's husband, Prince Christoph of Hesse, became chief of Goering's secret intelligence service and they were frequent guests at Nazi functions.
Philip went on to fight with distinction for the Allies in the Second World War before marrying the young Princess Elizabeth in 1947, five years before she became Queen. He served with the Royal Navy where, by 1945, he had risen to the rank of first lieutenant on a destroyer and was mentioned in despatches.
All of his sisters and brothers-inlaw are now dead but he keeps in contact with his German relatives.
His comments on the family's Nazi connections appear in Royals and the Reich, by Jonathan Petropoulos, to be published in Britain in May.
Meet The Natives: England and USA [Documentary]:
... In the past 100 years the British monarchy has lost a lot of its shine. However, in a tiny corner of the South Pacific, one royal is worshipped. A far cry from Britain's most controversial prince...
The locals of Tanna eagerly await the return of Prince Philip, who they believe is an ancestral spirit who emerged from a volcano to marry the queen.
"According to a prophecy, the spirit who became Prince Philip is due to return".
In anticipation, his 89th birthday saw the island erupt in celebration, and although the 'second coming' never happened the villagers spirits aren't dampened.
"One day his spirit will come and rest here".
Our experience shows clearly that PNG businesses, contractors & suppliers are not primary beneficiaries of asylum centres. Australians are.
Little thought given to long term effects of PNG Solution: 10yrs work by Tourism PNG been destroyed in 4 days. Thank you Australia
PNG protest meeting over the PNG Solution, Port Moresby [July 2013]
Image: @Tavurvur - journalist, Deni ToKunai [23/7/13]
Transcript of joint press conference with PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill: Brisbane: 19 July 2013: Regional "Resettlement" Arrangement
... I am very suspicious of this deal, of this arrangement.
I am fully aware that Kevin Rudd's brother Greg
Rudd has some special relationship with Peter O'Neill ... if there is some deal
struck somewhere I am very suspicious of this deal. ...
ABC [VIDEO - 23/7/13]:
Papua New Guinea's opposition leader Belden Namah says he will challenge the deal with Australia to process and resettle asylum seekers in the country's courts.
Mr Namah has told Australia Network's Newsline the deal is in breach of Papua New Guinea's constitution and human rights standards in United Nations conventions.
"I have instructed my lawyers, we are filing next week to challenge the asylum seekers arrangement with Australia," he said.
"I personally believe that I have a very good chance of success because Papua New Guinea's prime minister Peter O'Neill has failed to adhere to the constitution of our country."
Mr Namah says the asylum seekers are looking for protection in Australia and should not be forced against their will to stay in Papua New Guinea.
"We are basically acting against the rights of individuals who are seeking to find asylum in Australia," he said.
"We are pushing these people, who have travelled miles, travelled through stormy waters to reach Australia - they are not coming to look for asylum in Papua New Guinea."
He says the deal is a "political gimmick" and is not needed to boost Papua New Guinea's economy given the country's wealth of natural resources.
"We already have a multi-billion LNG project that's enough money already to be able to buy enough medicine, to be able to buy enough beds for hospitals, rural hospitals in Papua New Guinea."
"We don't need money from asylum seekers - I see it as a total joke."
Mr Namah says Papua New Guinea's high poverty rate is due to the "poor financial management" of successive leaders and governments, rather than a lack of funds.
"It's not because we don't have money," he said.
West Papua Citizenship an Unresolved Issue
West Papua Citizenship in Papua New Guinea is an issue regarded as long overdue.
An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 West Papuans live in refugee camps in Papua New Guinea.
Their efforts to receive citizenship status are undermined by the high fees charged for Papua New Guinean citizenship; they will have to pay K10,000 to be granted citizenship.
Today, Oro Governor Gary Juffa expressed his disappointment over this oppressive treatment of West Papuans by the Papua New Guinea Government.
He said West Papuans living in Papua New Guinea should be given citizenship at no cost.
“They are Melanesians; Pacific Islanders rightfully deserve citizenship over asylum seekers brought into the country," he said.
Many of the West Papuans have no access to basic services such as health and education.
"It’s like they are living in a prison camp in PNG," Juffa says.
He has taken up the fight of the West Papuans to bring global attention to their cause.
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