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!
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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 *
Expat doctor to assist in PNG Manus Inquiry
PNG Edge [9/3/14]:
An expatriate doctor has been called in to assist the National Court inquiry into human rights violations at the Manus Asylum Centre.
Dr Paul Crouch-Chivers, a private doctor from Australia, has been appointed by the court as the Specialist Consultant in Clinical and Public Health and will accompany the court inspection team in Manus.
In the inquiry, he will evaluate the provision of clinical and public health services at the centre and provide expert evidence which shall be presented in court at Lorengau.
His evidence will determine the conditions which the detainees are accommodated in and whether the conditions comply with the constitution and international human rights treaties signed by PNG.
Dr Crouch-Chivas is no stranger to the country having lived here and worked on various public health publications and programs. He also previously taught at the University of Papua New Guinea.
The court has ordered that a visa be granted him on arrival and that he be accorded all access to the centre, along with any other assistant.
Other parties wishing to join the court inspection team, especially the media, will be determined on an application to the court.
Meanwhile, Justice David Cannings has refused the application by Opposition Leader, Belden Namah, to be included as an interested party in the inquiry.
In his determination, Cannings said the applicant did not satisfy the court of having sufficient interest in the inquiry.
Namah is challenging the constitutional legality of the agreeent signed between PNG and Australia last year, for the transfer of asylum seekers from Australia to Manus.
... Despite the secrecy, the spotlight on the camps is growing brighter. [NZ Herald - 8/3/14]
Vote For Yossarian C!
Bonds Baby Search 2014
Israeli Teens Say Won't Join Army because of Occupation
A group of Israeli teenagers have informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu they will refuse to serve in the military because of its role in the occupation of Palestinian land.
"The main reason for our refusal is our opposition to the occupation of the Palestinian territories by the army," 50 youths wrote in a letter to Netanyahu published Saturday by an Israeli pacifist group.
The youths referred to "human rights violations" in the West Bank, including "executions, settlement construction, administrative detention, torture, collective punishment and unfair distribution of water and electricity."
"Any military service perpetuates the current situation, and therefore we cannot take part in a system that carries out these deeds," read the letter posted on the Facebook page of Yesh Gvul.
Yesh Gvul (There is a limit) describes itself as a "peace group campaigning against the occupation by backing soldiers who refuse duties of a repressive or aggressive nature."
Military service is compulsory in Israel, with men serving three years and women two.
Car bombing in Iraq kills 35
Al Jazeera [9/3/14]:
A suicide car bomber has rammed his vehicle into a security checkpoint in southern Iraq, killing at least 35 people and injuring more than 100.
Of the people killed in Sunday morning's blast at the entrance of Hillah city, at least six were security personnel and three civilians, according to two police officers there.
The Shia Muslim-majority city is located about 95km south of Baghdad.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to release information.
Iraq has seen a spike in violence since last April, with the death toll climbing to its highest levels since the worst of the country's sectarian bloodletting in 2006-2008.
The UN says 8,868 people were killed in 2013, and more than 1,400 people were killed in January and February of this year.
Afghanistan: 15 civilians killed or injured in Helmand roadside blast
At least seven civilians were killed and eight others were injured following an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion in southern Helmand province.
Local government officials in Helmand province said the incident took place on Sunday morning in Mosa Qala district.
The officials further added that the incident took place after a civilian vehicle struck with the roadside bomb, leaving seven people dead and eight others injured.
According to local officials, the victims of the incident are members of the same family and at least two children and three women were also among those killed.
No group including the Taliban militants has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.
Local officials Taliban group for the incident as Taliban fighters frequently use improvised explosive device (IED) to target Afghan and coalition security forces which normally lead to civilian casualties.
The Afghan vice president Mohammad Qasim Fahim passed away on Sunday.
The presidential palace media office following a statement announced Sunday that Vice President Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim died due to the illness he was suffering from.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Marshall Mohammad Qasim Fahims death was a major loss since he was a patriotic and a great Mujahid leader.
The Afghan government also announced three days of national mourning over Marshal Fahims death and the flag of Afghanistan will be half hoisted.
Man loses leg in crash after police chase
Nine MSN [9/3/14]:
A man has had part of his leg amputated after crashing an allegedly stolen truck into a tree during a police pursuit in Perth.
Police received a report at 3am (WST) on Sunday that a flatbed truck had been stolen from a concreting business in Bassendean.
The vehicle was soon spotted by police in Guildford and allegedly failed to stop when called upon.
During a pursuit, the truck allegedly side-swiped a police vehicle, but no officers were injured.
A tyre deflation device was then deployed, police said.
A short time later, the truck hit a tree at the intersection of Welshpool Road East and Lewis Road in Wattle Grove.
A 29-year-old female passenger in the vehicle was uninjured.
The 41-year-old male driver received severe leg injuries and was taken to Royal Perth Hospital by ambulance.
Police said one leg was amputated below his knee.
Major crash officers and the internal affairs unit will investigate the incident.
India: AAP leader Ashwini Upadhyay calls Arvind Kejriwal 'CIA agent'
Zee News [9/3/14]:
Protesting over not getting a ticket for 2014 General Elections, Aam Aadmi Party's legal cell president Ashwini Upadhyay on Sunday called Arvind Kejriwal a 'liar' and a 'CIA agent'.
The founder member of AAP, Aswini blocked Kejriwal's way outside his residence when the latter was heading for his rally in Mathura today.
While engaging in a verbal scuffle with Kejriwal, Ashwini said that the AAP chief is diverting from the real issues he had raised initially. This man is a liar. He tells lies, shouted Ashwini.
Besides this, he also said that corruption, communalism, high command culture, dynastic rule and caste-based politics were main issues of AAP, but now compromises were being regarding these issues.
On the other hand, Kejriwal in front of the media refused to give ticket to Upadhyay. We will not give you ticket, he told Ashwini.
Ashwini has asked 11 questions to Kejriwal. Moreover, he has also said that he will sit on fast unto death till he gets the answers to his questions.
He had earlier questioned AAP for entertaining people funded by American organisations like the Ford Foundation by including them in the various committees to formulate policies.
UK: TV licence fee non-payment 'could be decriminalised'
Not paying the TV licence fee could become a civil offence, rather than a criminal one, under plans being considered by ministers.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller said "decriminalisation of the licence fee should be on the table" during the BBC's charter review before 2017.
The BBC said changing the law could lead to more people failing to pay.
In 2012 about 155,000 were convicted and fined for not paying the £145.50 fee.
In total 180,000 people were prosecuted for not paying their licence - which is needed to watch or record live broadcasts on any device - accounting for more than one in 10 criminal prosecutions that year.
In October 2013 Huffington Post reported that in response to a Freedom of Information Request the Ministry of Justice had revealed that 107 people were jailed between January 2011 and March 2013 for licence non-payment.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has now told the Daily Telegraph "serious work" would be done on the proposal to make non-payment a civil offence and that it could ease the pressure on criminal courts.
He said: "The culture secretary and I both agree that this is a really interesting idea - particularly given the pressure on our courts system.
"Our departments will be doing some serious work on the proposal."
Ms Miller said: "This is an interesting idea but timing is crucial and decriminalisation of the licence fee should be on the table during charter review, not separate to the process.''
The BBC's current Royal Charter, which expires in 2016, sets out how it should be funded, what it does and how it is managed.
A spokesman for the culture secretary added: "Maria will put decriminalisation of the licence fee on the table during charter review discussions, but to do it before makes no sense.
"She has made clear that the BBC needs to get its house in order, particularly when it comes to governance and transparency, having decriminalisation on the table during the negotiations will focus the BBC's minds."
But Conservative MP Andrew Brigden is seeking to introduce the change through an amendment to the government's Deregulation Bill.
It would make non-payment of the licence fee a civil matter, with a fine for offenders set by the government.
He told the Daily Telegraph: "It is outrageous that so many people are brought in to the criminal justice system through this means.
"I believe that non-payment should be treated in the way that parking tickets are.
"It is absurd that the courts are being clogged up by such a minor offence."
The newspaper reported that the amendment had been backed by 101 cross-party MPs.
A BBC spokesman said: "Legislation is a matter for the government, however changing the law could lead to higher evasion.
"Just a 1% increase in evasion would lead to the loss of around £35m, the equivalent of around 10 BBC local radio stations."
Singapore: 1,000 people take part in night cycling safety initiative
Channel News Asia [8/3/14]:
Some 1,000 cyclists took part in a night cycling safety initiative on Saturday evening - aimed at promoting tolerance and respect among road users.
Participants pedalled along Singapore's eastern and northern park connectors.
The theme of the night was Be Bright, Be Safe.
The event is jointly organised by See and Be Seen, the Singapore Motor Sports Association and Federation Internationale de l'Automobile's Road Safety Grant Programme.
Main organiser - See and Be Seen - also gave out some 1,000 bike lights and reflective stickers to cyclists, as well as foreign workers, at their dormitories.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan also cycled some 42 kilometres with the participants.
Dr Balakrishnan said: "Cycling is a wonderful sport. And one which we really need to promote in Singapore, but to be honest with you, we have problems. We have to negotiate with both motorists and pedestrians and we have to create a safe niche for cyclists. So this event (of) promoting safe cycling, especially one at night, is very apt, and I'm here to support the cause."
A lot of fear among those detained on Manus about another attack. Communication with one of the compounds still out, brief with others
"tweeted" by @xBorderOps [9/3/14]
National Court of Justice (PNG) inquiry into treatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island, opening statement (Cannings J):
Published by Brynn O'Brien
The National Court, having taken judicial notice of the alleged detention at the regional processing centre at Lombrum Naval Base, Manus Province, of a considerable number of persons seeking refugee status or asylum in Australia, who have been transferred to Manus pursuant to memoranda of agreement between the Governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia, known generally as asylum seekers or transferees, and reports of alleged human rights violations and complaints about the conditions of detention and disturbances resulting in injuries to such persons, decided on its own initiative to inquire into such matters by invoking Section 57(1) of the Constitution. This is the text of the Courts opening statement.
Sydney arts festival boycott successful - Van Thanh Rudd - Red Flag [9/3/14]
Transfield & Human Rights, Paul Smith - General Manager, Strategy and Communication, Australian Ethical [7/3/14]:
... Following the recent incident at Manus Island, Australian Ethical conducted a thorough review of our portfolio were happy to confirm that to the best of our knowledge, we have no investments in companies directly associated with mandatory detention centres.
The corporate web of ownership and supply chains means that this kind of research is challenging, however.
As an example, we invest in Seek, a recruitment website that assists people find work and employers find staff. We have identified that Seeks site has been used by service companies to advertise jobs for detention centre cleaning staff. After some deliberation, weve decided that Seeks involvement does not constitute the support of the mandatory detention of asylum seekers. Being an ethical investor can be tough sometimes!
It is likely we are the only superannuation fund that can make the claim to totally avoid any direct association with mandatory detention, although due to the lack of transparency of other funds, we cannot say this for certain. ...
The cost of housing Immigration Department staff on Christmas Island has blown out by $11 million since December, despite the number of asylum seekers detained on the island falling by more than 430 people in that time.
Staff working at the Christmas Island detention centre and ''alternative places of accommodation'' - lower-security facilities where families are held - are housed at the Christmas Island Resort, owned by Soft Star Pty Ltd.
The resort, which boasts a fine dining restaurant and nightclub, charges $285 a night for a single room, although the Department of Immigration is charged a bulk-rate for staff staying at the facility.
Owner David Kwon declined to speak to Fairfax Media. ... [Brisbane Times - 9/3/14]
Frequently Asked Questions: Why did The Salvation Army work in Nauru and Manus Island?
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State to Visit PNG:
Dennise Mathieu, the U.S. Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Affairs, will be in Papua New Guinea March 4 - 8, 2014.
A few Photos from the reception sponsored by ExxonMobil PNG via @USEmbassyPOM - U.S. Embassy - Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea [7/3/14]
U.S. Embassy - Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea [24/2/14]:
Harriet Tubman was known by many names, but she is most remembered for leading slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad.
Araminta Harriet Ross, or Minty, was one of nine children born to Harriet "Rit" and Ben in Maryland sometime between 1820 and 1825. Harriet's early life was filled with intense hardship. In 1849, when she saw a chance for freedom, she made the 90 mile trek to Philadelphia. Remembering the journey, she later recalled: "When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person."
Rather than remaining in the safety of the North, Harriet Tubman made it her mission to rescue her family and others living in slavery.
When she died in 1913, she was buried with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn. A survey at the end of the 20th century named her as one of the most famous civilians in American history.
Harriet's heroism and courage continues to inspire us all.
In the U.S., February is Black History Month! Celebrate with us everyday at Noon as we post a new #BHM fun fact. ...
Immigrant detainees on hunger strike in Washington state
Hundreds of detainees at an immigration holding center in Tacoma have gone on hunger strike to demand better conditions at the facility and an end to U.S. deportations, their attorney said on Saturday.
While advocates for the strikers put their numbers at 1,200, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement that, on Friday evening, meals had been refused by 750 of a total 1,300 inmates at the Northwest Detention Center, operated by the GEO Group.
The hunger strike, in its second day on Saturday, will continue for at least five days and is likely to go longer, said Seattle-area attorney Sandy Restrepo, who represents several of the strikers and, in recent years, has represented hundreds of detainees at the privately run facility.
"People in detention can't wait any longer," Restrepo said. "They are human beings, not criminals, and they deserve better treatment."
Under President Barack Obama, deportations from the United States have hit record highs, according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security data.
In addition to protesting U.S. deportation policy, the strikers' demands include better food, increased pay for their work inside the facility and better over-all treatment by the guards, Restrepo said.
Along with the hunger strike, many detainees have also begun a work stoppage, she said.
The official average stay for detainees is four months, but most wind up staying longer, including a client whose release Restrepo secured after nearly two years in the facility, she said, adding that most of the detainees are from Mexico.
"ICE fully respects the rights of all people to express their opinion without interference," said Seattle-based ICE spokesman Andrew Munoz.
Once detainees have refused food for 72 hours, they will be considered to be on hunger strike and be medically monitored, ICE said in a statement.
Officials for GEO Group did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Supporters of the strikers plan to protest outside the facility every afternoon until Tuesday, said Maru Mora Villalpando, founder of the Seattle-based Latino Advocacy, an immigrants rights group.
Her group helped to organize protests outside the facility last month that blocked a bus and two vans with immigrants about to be deported from leaving the facility, she said.
The strikers are inspired in part by a days-long hunger strike begun last month outside an ICE office in Phoenix, Villalpando said, in which local media reported that family members of detainees demanded their release and an end to deportations.
Last year in California, prisoners went on a two-month hunger strike to protest the policy of keeping some inmates in near-isolation for years. They ended the strike in September, after state lawmakers agreed to hold hearings on the practice.
Syrian government forces have seized a town from rebels near the Lebanese border, their latest attempt to cut off opposition fighters' fluid supply lines from the country, state media and activists said. ... [West Australian - 9/3/14]
Rockets Hit Town in Hermel, Shells Land in Akkar Villages [Naharnet - 8/3/14]
threatens to bomb North Korean tanker if it ships oil from rebel port
[Reuters - 8/3/14]
Police close Gezi Park during Women's Day demonstrations in Istanbul
Hurriyet Daily News [8/3/14]:
Police prevented a group of women from demonstrating to mark International Women's Day at the entrance of Gezi Park in Istanbul's Taksim Square on March 8.
Around 50 members of an association against the murder of women gathered on the steps entering Gezi Park facing Taksim Square, carrying banners denouncing domestic violence.
Riot police officers used their shields to disperse the women from the park, before temporarily closing it to the public, daily Hürriyet reported.
A police officer in plainclothes approached the spokeswoman of the group while she was peacefully reading a statement and shouted: "You are not allowed to stage a demonstration here. Get out!" footage showed.
Police often block off access to Gezi Park and Taksim Square's central monument at the whim of the province's governor, Hüseyin Avni Mutlu, under whose watch police acted with frequent brutality during the Gezi Park resistance. The measures are even taken during demonstrations to mark symbolic events, such as World Peace Day on Sept. 1.
The officer then violently pushed several women down the stairs, as the group refused to disperse and tried to resist the police attach with their banners.
As tension rose, riot police arrived at the scene, surrounding the group and eventually dispersing them with their shields.
The women chanted Gezi Park slogans as they dispersed. After the incident, police temporarily cordoned off the iconic park, which became a symbol of anti-government protests after last year's nationwide demonstrations.
In the aftermath of their violent removal from Gezi Park, hundreds of women gathered at Galatasaray Square before attempting to march on Taksim Square despite a steady downpour and cold temperatures.
The demonstrators, who frequently chanted "Tayyip, escape, woman are coming" in Turkish and "Women, Life, Freedom" in Kurdish, advanced as far Zambak Street before they were met by a cordon of riot police and a TOMA.
Police used their shields to shove a number of those that had reached the security force's lines before organizational leaders called for a retreat toward Galatasaray.
Half million wiretapped in Turkey in last two years: Communications body [Hurriyet Daily - 7/3/14]
Lebanon protesters march over domestic violence bill
"He was telling me, 'I will not let her out I want her to die in front of you, I want her to die in front of you' and he killed her in front of my eyes."
Thousands of people have marched through Beirut to demand politicians in Lebanon pass a law against domestic violence.
The rally, which coincided with International Women's Day, was led by relatives of victims.
Lebanon is viewed as the one of the most liberal countries in the Middle East, but has no law protecting women from violence by family members.
The new bill has languished amid stiff opposition from religious figures.
There are no national statistics on domestic violence in Lebanon.
But campaigners say one woman is killed by her husband every month on average, while thousands are subjected to physical or verbal abuse every year.
Protests marched through the streets of the Lebanese capital on Saturday carrying posters reading "Break the silence", "We say no to abuse, do you?" and "Speak out. Stop domestic violence".
The proposed bill on domestic violence has polarised politicians, and was amended by parliament after lobbying from Lebanon's powerful religious establishment.
Many campaigners want the changes reversed so the bill focuses on women and includes a move to criminalise marital rape.
A number of alleged domestic violence killings in the past year have drawn renewed attention to women's rights in the country.
Rights groups say Manal Assi died last month after her husband beat her with a pressure cooker.
Her mother, Nada Sabbagh, said she saw her daughter being killed.
"I walked in and started jumping in shock then begged him to let me take her out," she said.
"He was telling me, 'I will not let her out I want her to die in front of you, I want her to die in front of you' and he killed her in front of my eyes."
While there is no law against domestic violence, a rapist can escape punishment if he marries his victim.
Ghassan Moukheiber, an MP and a member of the parliamentary Human Rights Committee, said he hoped the draft bill would be unanimously approved once parliament meets.
"I look forward for the voting of this bill because it is going to be a very important and meaningful step toward stopping all sorts of violence against women and other members of the family that could be subject to violence."
Assange hints at more WikiLeaks
Speaking over Skype from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says his living situation is a bit like prison - with a more lenient visitor policy.
The Australian also hinted that new leaks are coming from WikiLeaks, though he gave no specifics on what these might be.
Assange, who has been confined to the embassy since June 2012, discussed government surveillance, journalism and the situation in Ukraine on Saturday in a streaming-video interview beamed to an audience of 3,500 attendees of the South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas.
Assange's hour-long remote appearance was spiked with technical glitches. As the audio cut out, he sometimes asked audience members to raise their hands if they could hear him.
Benjamin Palmer, the co-founder of marketing firm The Barbarian Group who interviewed Assange, at one point resorted to texting his questions.
... Assange blasted President Barack Obama's administration, saying it was not taking fellow secret leaker Edward Snowden's revelations about the NSA's surveillance activities seriously.
"We know what happens when the government is serious," he said.
"Someone is fired, someone is forced to resign, someone is prosecuted, an investigation (is launched), a budget is cut. None of that has happened in the last eight months since the Edward Snowden revelations."
Assange's appearance at this five-day conference - which will host Snowden in a similar remote interview on Monday - signal the growing concern in the tech community around issues of online privacy, surveillance and security, even as internet giants like Google and Facebook reap billions in advertising revenue from collecting information about their users. ...
Assange: NSA, GCHQs ability to surveil everyone on planet almost here [RT - 8/3/14]
Julian Assange - SXSW - March 8 2014 [VIDEO]
Road train rollover injures NSW man
Nine MSN [9/3/14]:
A man has fractured his spine after the road train he was a passenger in rolled in central NSW.
Police say a 27-year-old man who was driving the truck lost control as he turned onto Cardigan Street in Tullamore early on Saturday morning.
The truck rolled onto its side, trapping the driver and passenger inside the cabin.
The pair were freed after emergency services were called to the scene and the 28-year-old passenger was flown to Royal North Shore Hospital.
He's in a stable condition but scans have revealed the man suffered a fracture to his spine.
Detectives are appealing for anyone who saw the crash to contact them.
Toddler dies after driveway accident
A toddler has died in Bibra Lake after she was struck by a car which was reversing out of a driveway.
Police say the vehicle was being driven by the 16-month-old's mother.
The accident happened just before 8:00am today.
The girl was taken to Fremantle Hospital but later died.
Officers from the Major Crash Squad are investigating.
Attempted armed robbery, Inala
QPS Media [9/3/14]:
Police are investigating the attempted armed robbery of an Inala grocery store last night.
Preliminary information suggests that two men, both armed with knives, entered the Biota Street business around 6.40pm and demanded cash from a male store employee.
The man refused to hand over any money and the pair fled the store empty handed and were last seen heading down Japonica Street.
One of the men is described as being Caucasian with a slim build, and the other man is described as Caucasian with a solid build.
Robins Kitchen put into liquidation
North West Star [9/3/14]:
One of Queensland's most well-known retail companies, Robins Kitchen, has gone into liquidation, putting hundreds of jobs at risk and ending 38 years of the brand.
Following a long and bitter ownership struggle, Robins Kitchen was put into liquidation on Friday night, with instructions that stock be removed from shelves and sent to a central location.
Former owner Warwick Parer had put Robins Kitchen into voluntary administration shortly before Christmas.
That followed several hurdles for the private company, including a decision by wholesaler PlayCorp to stop supplying stock to Robins Kitchen.
PlayCorp's managing director is Steven Lew, son of retail magnate Solomon Lew, who has been involved in a battle for control of Robins Kitchen with Sydney businessman Fred Bart since the company went into administration.
Steven Lew is also the executive chairman of House, one of Robins Kitchen's main competitors.
Administrator FTI Consulting had recommended Mr Bart's proposal for a deed of company agreement to Robins Kitchen creditors in January.
That DOCA was appealed by the Lew camp in the Federal Court after its offer was rejected by creditors.
Most Robins Kitchen staff would have kept their jobs.
A complaint against PlayCorp and House has been made to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Robins Kitchen employed about 300 people at 36 stores in Queensland, 18 in New South Wales and one in the Australian Capital Territory.
TAFE NSW cuts almost 400 positions
Nine MSN [9/3/14]:
Almost 400 jobs have been shed from TAFE NSW in the past year but the Greens claim there is worse to come.
Data released by the minor party on Sunday, after a question on notice to Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, shows 395 full-time positions have been lost since January 2013.
About 260 jobs went from three TAFE institutes in Sydney and 40 from the Hunter and Illawarra.
Greens MP John Kaye said the O'Farrell government was telling TAFE institutes to prepare for next year's start to the competitive market for students and funding.
Under the Smart and Skilled government plan, TAFE institutes will have to compete with private colleges for students because government funding will go to the college where students enrol.
The 2015 "reforms" will allow students to choose a subsidised place in a course at TAFE identified on a skills list, or with a private college.
Dr Kaye claimed managers were shedding staff and courses to bring down costs so they could fend off low-cost, low-quality private providers.
"The cuts so far have devastated TAFE colleges, students and teachers across NSW but there is far worse to come," he said in a statement.
"The front-line impacts are already being felt by students with special needs, the unemployed and second chance learners.
"Next year it will reach into the core of TAFE with unacceptable long term consequences for the future of skills in NSW."
The reduction of full-time positions at TAFE NSW includes nine head teacher positions in the Hunter and 21 head teacher jobs in Northern Sydney.
Northern Sydney has seen 102 job cuts in the past year, the data tabled in parliament this week shows.
The government says of the 394 positions culled, 45 were vacant.
A spokeswoman from the NSW education department said changes to staff levels were in response to changing demand.
"... and are designed to ensure TAFE is operating efficiently, remains competitive and training is focused on areas of jobs growth," she said in a statement.
Changes were vital to ensure TAFE could continue to make student and employer needs central and forge strong industry partnerships, she added.
QantasLink cuts number of Gladstone to Sydney services
Gladstone Observer [8/3/14]:
Gladstone residents should check their flight bookings after QantasLink canned three services on the Gladstone to Sydney route for poor performance.
And there's been no word on whether Qantas staff in Gladstone will be made redundant following the airline giant's announcement that up to 4000 staff would be given until the end of the month to accept a redundancy package.
Exactly one year after the service to Sydney began, The Observer can report that three of eight return flights to Gladstone will be cancelled from April 28 due to poor commercial performance.
Many Gladstone residents have been informed that flights booked from May onwards will detour via Brisbane.
Coincidently QantasLink will begin direct weekend flights from Sydney to Hervey Bay in May.
Five Gladstone services will continue to operate on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and a double return service on Friday, by the Dash 8 Q400 aircraft.
There has been talk for some time that Qantas was reviewing the flights, with poor feedback on passenger numbers from those using the service.
Deputy Mayor Matt Burnett said it was clear the market was not supporting particular flights, but he was positive that Gladstone residents could still travel direct to Sydney.
"As long as you can still fly every weekday its good for business and good for locals," Cr Burnett said.
"There are direct flights to go down and watch the rugby and come back."
While Ken O'Dowd is toeing the LNP line, he believes the regional services are doing okay, despite Qantas reporting the revenue of its domestic business was "further impacted by softening resource sector demand, particularly in the Western Australian and Queensland markets".
"While it's an Australian icon foreign investment is not such a dirty word," Mr O'Dowd said.
USQ staffer receives facial burns from smashed acid bottle
A University of Southern Queensland employee sustained facial burns after a five litre bottle of nitric acid was dropped.
Firefighters and paramedics rushed to a chemistry lab at the Toowoomba USQ campus on Friday afternoon, after it was reported that the bottle of nitric acid has smashed and injured a 40-year-old woman.
Colleagues placed her in the chemical shower, and she was taken to Toowoomba Hospital with facial burns.
Firefighters remained at the university for a number of hours to ensure the scene was safe, as the acid had gone through the shower's drainage system.
Holding banks to account
Tweed Daily News [8/3/14]:
Uki resident Barbara Thomas has been an ANZ customer all her working life, but now she's looking to make a move.
Unimpressed with big banks investing in and lending money to fossil fuel industries, Ms Thomas is putting her money where her mouth is.
"My philosophy is for the environment and social justice, not just huge money-making," she said.
Ms Thomas said she was aware "ethical investing" wouldn't have the highest turnover right now, but she said growing popularity could put the industry into a growth stage.
She said more people would have to change their perceptions before it was possible to abandon fossil fuels.
"We need renewable energy; we need to stop fossil fuels now," she said.
Australian Bankers Association chief executive Steven Munchenberg said customers were entitled to change financial institutions for ethical reasons - but he couldn't say how much impact it would have.
"Banks are very conscious of the fact that communities are concerned about fossil fuels," Mr Munchenberg said.
"But they're not going to stop lending overnight.
"This is something that needs to be addressed over time."
Mr Munchenberg said no bank would like losing even one customer.
Still, he couldn't speculate on how many lost customers would inspire a re-evaluation.
"Banks are always mindful of community concerns and expectations," he said.
Mr Munchenberg said if banks became aware of an issue becoming broadly significant for communities, they would be more likely to consider change.
Tweed Climate Action Now is holding a divestment information evening at the Imperial Hotel, Murwillumbah, on Monday at 7pm.
It's for anyone interested in switching banks.
For more on "divestment day", visit marketforces.org.au/divestmentday.
Prostitute feared for her life after dealer shot dead client
Tweed Daily News [8/3/14]:
A prostitute has described fearing for her life after learning her drug dealer allegedly shot her client dead in the middle of a busy road and then claimed it was "self-defence".
Claudia Guevara-Koulis was not in the car when her husband George Koulis demanded Colin Lutherborrow, who had just spent two and a half hours paying for sex with his wife, get out.
"If you go to police you're dead, your family's dead," she said Mr Bagley told them when she got back in the car.
Brisbane Supreme Court has heard how there was a heated verbal exchange, which turned physical at one point, between Mr Lutherborrow and accused murderer Anthony Stewart Bagley.
Mr Koulis testified how Mr Lutherborrow quickly moved in front of the car gesticulating at Mr Bagley, a former Hervey Bay resident, and threatened to kill him.
He testified Mr Bagley opened the door of the car, leaned out and shot Mr Lutherborrow.
Under cross-examination, Mr Koulis agreed it would have taken "three lunges" for Mr Lutherborrow to reach Mr Bagley's rear driver's side door.
He agreed Mr Lutherborrow was carrying a black mobile phone with him that night, July 20, 2011, at Broadbeach Waters on the Gold Coast.
"It might look very like he's got a gun as well?" defence barrister Mark Johnson suggested.
"It could look like that," Mr Koulis agreed Mr Johnson suggested those three lunges could have meant that in "less than a second" Mr Lutherborrow was going to put his "you're going to die" threats "into action".
"He was directing threats to Mr Bagley three steps, bang, he could have been dead?" Mr Johnson said.
Mr Koulis agreed it was possible but he did not see an object in Mr Lutherborrow's hand.
Ms Guevara-Koulis told the court when she returned to the car shortly after, Mr Bagley "said it was self-defence".
She said Mr Bagley demanded to go to the Chevron Renaissance where he changed out of the tracksuit he had been wearing.
Ms Guevara-Koulis said he gave them two bags, one with the clothing to burn and one with the gun to bury.
She said she was "freaking out" and then her and her husband then drove to somewhere near Somerset Dam.
Ms Guevara-Koulis said they bought buckets and concrete from a small country town and then burned the clothes on a barbecue.
The gun went in one bucket and the clothes ashes in another before they were filled with concrete and dumped.
The trial continues on Monday.
Plenty of public money for trade trips to New York and bogus Cruise Ship Terminal community consultations
NBN News [8/3/14]:
There are fears a funding stoush will threaten volunteer fire services on the Gold Coast.
Rural teams have no money to cover operating costs, after Council dropped its Emergency Services levy when the Queensland Government recently imposed its own.
Mayor Tom Tate has proposed an increase of $2 to the States Levy.
Local doctor and MP oppose closure of children's ward at Murwillumbah Hospital
A Murwillumbah doctor says the community has put $500,000 of local money into a ward that is slated for closure.
Doctor Doug Warne says it is a blow to the people who have raised money for the Murwillumbah Hospital children's ward.
He says the hospital's medical staff council was only given a fortnight to consider the proposal.
Dr Warne says closure would be a waste of a great paediatric resource.
The facility is really quite an impressive one," he said.
"We've got five bedrooms, it's actually about the same floor space as the Tweed Heads paediatric service and much better set out and really first class.
"Mainly because the community has supported it, and again to close the ward for the very small amounts of money they are hoping to save really doesn't make any sense."
The state member for Lismore says he does not support closure plans.
The Health Department says admissions to the ward are dropping, and children needing hospital treatment can be better cared for in a new paediatric room attached to the emergency department.
But Nationals' MP Thomas George does not agree.
"I cannot support the shutting of a children's ward down," he said.
"Because Murwillumbah Hospital does service the needs of people west and south-west of Murwillumbah.
"People travel a long way to get to Murwillumbah Hospital, and then they don't have the mechanism or the transport to be able to travel to Tweed.
"I'll be meeting with the doctors, and also meeting with some residents and mothers in Murwillumbah next week, and when I've heard those concerns, I'll certainly be taking (them) to the minister."
ALEC trains sights on city and local government
The rightwing group ALEC is preparing to launch a new nationwide network that will seek to replicate its current influence within state legislatures in city councils and municipalities.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, founded in 1973, has become one of the most pervasive advocacy operations in the nation.
It brings elected officials together with representatives of major corporations, giving those companies a direct channel into legislation in the form of ALEC model bills.
Critics have decried the network as a corporate bill mill that has spread uniformly-drafted rightwing legislation from state to state. ALEC has been seminal, for instance, in the replication of Floridas controversial stand-your-ground gun law in more than 20 states.
Now the council is looking to take its blueprint for influence over statewide lawmaking and drill it down to the local level. It has already quietly set up, and is making plans for the public launch of, an offshoot called the American City County Exchange (ACCE) that will target policymakers from villages, towns, cities and counties.
The new organisation will offer corporate America a direct conduit into the policy making process of city councils and municipalities. Lobbyists acting on behalf of major businesses will be able to propose resolutions and argue for new profit-enhancing legislation in front of elected city officials, who will then return to their council chambers and seek to implement the proposals.
In its early publicity material, ALEC says the new network will be Americas only free market forum for village, town, city and county policymakers. Jon Russell, ACCEs director, declined to comment on the initiative.
ALEC spokesman Wilhelm Meierling also declined to say how many corporate and city council members ACCE has attracted so far, or to say when the new initiative would be formally unveiled. But he confirmed that its structure would mirror that of ALECs work in state legislatures by bringing together city, county and municipal elected officials with corporate lobbyists.
As a group that focuses on limited government, free markets and federalism, we believe our message rings true at the municipal level just as it does in state legislatures, he said.
In December, the Guardian revealed that ALEC was facing funding problems as a result of fallout from its backing of stand-your-ground laws, in the wake of the shooting in Florida of the black teenager Trayvon Martin.
The Guardian also disclosed that ALEC had initiated a prodigal son project, designed to woo back corporate donors that had broken off relations with the group amid the gun-law furore.
The extension of its techniques to city councils and municipalities across America offers ALEC the chance to open up a potential source of funding that might help it solve its budgetary crisis. There are almost 500,000 local elected officials, many with considerable powers over schools and local services that could be attractive to big business.
ALEC makes the appeal to corporations explicit in its funding material for the new ACCE exchange. It offers companies founders committee status in return for $25,000 a year and council committee membership for $10,000.
By joining ACCEs council committee, corporate lobbyists can participate in policy development and network with other entrepreneurs and municipal officials from around the country.
In committee meetings, lobbyists will be allowed to present facts and opinions for discussion and introduce resolutions for new policies that they want to see implemented in a city. At the end of such meetings, the elected officials present in the room will take a vote before returning to their respective council chambers armed with new legislative proposals.
Nick Surgey of the Center for Media and Democracy, which monitors ALECs activities, said: It just wouldnt be possible for any corporation to effectively lobby the hundreds of thousands of local elected officials in the US, which until now has left our local mayors and school board members largely free from the grasps of coordinated lobbyists. Alec is now trying to change that.
One of the main criticisms that have been levelled against ALEC is that its influence distorts the democratic process by giving corporations a handle over lawmaking. Similar fears are now being expressed about the intentions of ACCE in American cities.
Natalia Rudiak, a Democratic city council member in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said she was offended by the suggestion she needed an outside body such as ACCE, which is licensed in Arlington, Virginia, to tell her what her community needed.
Local politics in America is the purest form of democracy, she said. There is no buffer between me and the public. So why would I want the involvement of a third party acting on behalf of a few corporate interests?
Rudiak added that she found ACCEs boast that it will be Americas only free market forum patronising.
If by free market they mean weighing supply against demand in the best interests of the people of Pittsburgh, she said, then we are debating those issues in the council chamber every single day.
Broadcasting and media industry CEOs with me and @paulwfletcher [Bradfield MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications] after our Ministerial Advisory Council meeting
Image: @TurnbullMalcolm - Federal Member for Wentworth, Minister for Communications [6/3/14]
The Murdoch Press drives division and hatred.
Time for a boycott.
Image: @benhumpert [9/3/14]
Dr Munjed Al Muderis arrived on 1 of these boats & look how they were described "tweeted" by @marghutton [9/3/14]
Call to act on wave of illegals
By Megan Saunders, Peter Krupka , Roger Martin
10 November 1999
A SURGE of 700 boatpeople in the past week has prompted a special parliamentary mission to detention centres in the nation's north-west today and an urgent expansion of holding facilities in preparation for more illegal arrivals.
Authorities revealed yesterday that two new boatloads carrying 184 Middle-Eastern refugees had been intercepted by federal police on Christmas Island and Ashmore Reef, hundreds of kilometres off the coast of Western Australia. Five vessels carrying 693 mainly Middle-Eastern boatpeople have been intercepted in the past week. One carried a record 352 people.
To cope with the wave of arrivals, the Howard Government is spending $1million to prepare the Woomera army base in the South Australian desert to house an extra 400 illegal migrants. It should be ready within a fortnight.
Customs Minister Amanda Vanstone said the Government had begun preparing the base after intelligence sources predicted there would be more arrivals in coming weeks.
Senator Vanstone called on the Opposition to support measures proposed by Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock, which include giving refugees, deemed genuine, a three-year temporary protection visa.
'We've had an increasing flow, especially from the Middle East. That's why the Government took the step of changing the visa entitlements to make us a less attractive place,' she said.
Her comments come as six members of the joint standing committee on migration prepare to tour centres in Curtin, Port Hedland, Broome, Perth and Darwin today and tomorrow.
Committee chairwoman Chris Gallus described the latest wave as 'incredible' and said the detention centres were now 'chock-a-block'.
What are crimes against humanity?
Crimes against humanity include any of the following acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:
deportation or forcible transfer of population;
rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
persecution against an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or gender grounds;
enforced disappearance of persons;
the crime of apartheid;
other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious bodily or mental injury.
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JUDICIAL CRITICISM OF THE MURDOCH MACHINE
BOB BROWN, THE FIRST GULF WAR AND UNITED NATIONS INTERVENTION
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