4zzz Headlines (Pt. 21)

  • Charges dropped for Talisman Saver protestors
  • WA Greens condemn shark drum lines
  • Greens call for inquiry into Manus Island clash
  • Egypt files claim with ICC against their military
  • Migrants protest Israel’s detention policy
  • Lebanese refugees want to go home: Dr Rifi
  • ACCC chairman calls for more government privatisation
  • Sudan and South Sudan join to protect oilfields
  • Hamas PM announces clemency for Fatah

Charges dropped for Talisman Saber protestors
Charges have been dropped against the four Brisbane activists who had been charged with hindering the Talisman Saber military exercises in July 2013.
Jim Dowling, David Sprigg, Andy Paine, and Robin Taubenfeld were arrested for lying on the road outside the Rockhampton army barracks holding photographs of victims of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Andy Paine says the dropped charges are proof of wrongful police attempts to shut down peaceful protests. Talisman Saber 2013 was one of the world’s largest ever military exercises, involving 18,000 American and 9,000 Australian troops.

AMA Qld calls for state government support
The Australian Medical Association Queensland has announced it’s agenda for 2014, calling on the state government to focus on creating new contracts with medical personnel.
AMA QLD President Dr Christian Rowan says the current situation is bad for the health system as well as for patients. The AMA is currently working on a campaign targeting high obesity rates in rural and regional Queensland, which will be rolled out in the first half of 2014. Dr Rowan says it is unacceptable that obesity-related illnesses increase and life expectancy rates decrease the further Queenslanders live from urban areas

WA Greens condemn shark drum lines
Western Australian Greens member Lynn MacLaren has slammed the state government’s tender for shark drum lining.
According to MacLaren, the way the move has been advertised could open the state government to prosecution. The Western Australian premier has been accused by opposition of failing to consult key stakeholder groups before announcing the policy, and of not following correct procedure when announcing the policy. Drum lines capture sharks on the drum line’s hook, thus preventing them from reaching beaches and other waterways.

Greens call for inquiry into Manus Island clash
The Australian Greens are calling for an independent inquiry to be made into a fight at the Manus Island detention centre in October between the special unit police force and the PNG Army.
It was later revealed that the federal government had covered up certain details about the matter, in a move the Greens describe as disgraceful. Greens immigration spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will move the inquiry when parliament resumes in mid-February.

Egypt files claim with ICC against their military
Egypt’s deposed government has filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court against their military.
The complaint requests the ICC investigate what it described as crimes committed by the military against its members. Egypt’s military staged a coup against the country’s first elected president Mohamed Morsi and his government, which was followed by the detention of its members. The complaint alleges that extreme force was used to remove civilians who gathered to protest against the coup. The complaint will be investigated, with a legal team expected to meet with an ICC prosecutor over the coming days and weeks.

Migrants protest Israel’s detention policy
Israel’s illegal migrant detention policy has been protested by thousands of African migrants in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
Protesters gathered around the US, French, Italian, British, Canadian and German embassies on Monday, to hand over letters appealing for international support. The UN Human Rights Committee has released a statement in response, saying that Israel’s incarceration of migrants, caused “hardship and suffering” and did not follow a 1951 world treaty on the treatment of refugees. The UN has also criticized Israel’s official description of migrants as “infiltrators”.

Fears for Bundaberg turtles as king tides rise
Queensland National Parks rangers are concerned for nesting turtles near Bundaberg, and the effect coming king tides could have on them.
Mon Repos near Bundaberg is the nesting site for loggerhead, flatback and green turtles from November to March, but beach erosion is making it difficult for them to find safe places to lay their eggs. Last year approximately 60 per cent of  the egg clutches was lost due to heavy flooding, and rangers are concerned the same thing could happen this year.

UQ scholarship offers a ‘mistake’
A technical error in the University of Queensland’s administrative system has meant that 400 students who were offered scholarships at Christmas have had that offer withdrawn.
100 scholarships are offered through the Link Access Scheme, but Deputy vice-chancellor Professor Joanne Wright said acceptance letters were accidentally sent to the 500-odd applicants. The university has apologised and is offering the students a $500 start-up bursary and five bonus ranks applied to any preferences.

Lebanese refugees want to go home: Dr Rifi
The majority of detention-centre Lebanese refugees want to return home, according to Dr Jamal Rifi, who visited Manus Island and Nauru yesterday.
A member of the council advising the Federal Government on asylum seekers, Dr Rifi spoke with more than 60 Lebanese asylum seekers, whom he says had economic reasons for seeking asylum and had been duped by people smugglers. However many of the asylum seekers affirmed their wish to stay in Australia, due to personal issues and circumstances or fear of prosecution. Applications for protection visas by Lebanese nationals rose by 400 per cent in 2013, compared with 2008.

ACCC chairman calls for more government privatisation
The Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Rod Sims has reaffirmed his belief that the federal government should privatise more of its holdings, as it begins its root and branch review of competition policy.
Mr Sims has been vocal in calling for the federal government to sell off Australia Post and Medibank Private, although later commented that he was speaking in generalities, not specifics. Mr Sims also believes that privatising the state electrical companies will bring down electricity prices.

Sudan and South Sudan join to protect oilfields
Officials from Sudan and South Sudan have met to discuss setting up a joint force to protect oilfields during the ongoing crisis in the South.
Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir met Salva Kiir, president of South Sudan, in a diplomatic effort to halt fighting in South Sudan yesterday. The visit comes after fears the three-week-old conflict in South Sudan could disrupt oil flows and damage Sudan’s struggling economy. The on-going fighting in South Sudan has left thousands dead and about 200,000 people displaced.

North Qld beaches closed after jellyfish invasion
Beaches in northern Queensland will remain closed until weather conditions change, lifeguards have said.
Recently two children were stung by irukandji jellyfish on beaches near Cairns, forcing the closure of beaches at Palm Cove, Clifton and Kewarra. Lifeguards recently caught more than 100 young box jellyfish in a single drag off Townsville’s Strand, the largest number in over a decade.

Petrol companies selling off assets?
Petrol companies Royal Dutch Shell and BP are reportedly planning on selling many of their refineries and petrol stations, in order to free funds to channel into energy production.
Shell is in talks with several firms, including a consortium of Australian businesses, while BP is examining a $3 billion sale of its petrol stations and refineries in Queensland and Western Australia. The number of petrol stations in Australia has fallen dramatically, from 20,000 in 1970 to around 6300 in 2011.

Brisbane is 13th most expensive city, data shows
New data shows Brisbane is the 13th most expensive city in the world to live in. Brisbane is also the second most costly city to live in, in Australia, falling just behind Sydney.
The figure is based on an analysis of food, housing, clothing, transport, toiletries and entertainment prices in 1617 cities around the world.  Reportedly, London is the most expensive city in the world, followed by Oslo, Geneva, Zurich and New York.

High court challenge planned for ‘anti-bikie’ laws
A high court challenge is reportedly being planned against Queensland’s new ‘anti-bikie’ laws.
Bill Potts, a lawyer for two men who were arrested on the Gold Coast while visiting family and who deny bikie connections, says a number of organisations are considering challenging the VLAD laws.  Potts argues that a high court challenge would not be about a particular case, but about combating laws which reach into people’s private lives to deny them the right to associate with other people even when no crime occurs.

Hamas PM announces clemency for Fatah
The prime minister of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, has announced that members of Fatah can return to Gaza without any conditions.
Fatah members have been exiled from the territory since fighting broke out in 2007, and the clemency excludes Fatah members accused of killing Hamas members in that conflict. However Fatah leaders have described the announcement as superficial and are calling on Hamas to implement past accords on Palestinian unity. Both parties have been accused by human rights groups of carrying out wide-scale arrests of each other’s members and abusing them while in detention.

Bangladesh PM calls for talks with opposition
Bangladesh’s new prime minister Sheikh Hasina has said she is open to talks with the opposition, provided they stop engaging in what she calls ‘terrorist activities’.
Sunday’s election was the most violent in the nation’s history, with 24 people killed and hundreds of polling booths across the country attacked. The opposition to the ruling Awami League party boycotted Sunday’s election, which led to a majority of the country doing the same. The opposition is demanding Hasina declare the election invalid, and to have the next election organised by a non-government party.

DPP drops cases, wastes millions
225 serious criminal cases have been dropped in the past year, costing the public millions of dollars.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said the majority of these cases were dropped due to witnesses refusing to testify, new information coming forward or through courts ruling evidence inadmissible. However a police union representative said that while these excuses are understandable, many cases are still being dropped too soon by the ODPP. Of those dropped, some of the indictments proceeded with fewer charges and some of the cases were replaced with new indictments.

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