News in Brief – Wednesday 9 June 2015

Independent Local, National and International Current Events from 4ZZZ Zedlines fm 102.1

Hezbollah repels ISIS on Lebanon border

Government launches survey on ‘country of origin’ food labelling

Developers and West End residents to meet and discuss Absoe site development

Claims that Australian officials paid thousands of dollars to people smugglers

Workers claim Joe Hockey “out of touch” on housing

Sarah Hanson-Young wins defamation case against ZOO magazine

Orange withdraws telecommunications services from Israel

Labor “backroom deals” around IFED proposal

Immigration staff to go on strike

Man held in WA immigration detention centre claims he is aboriginal

West Papuan advocates call on halt to Australia-Indonesia military co-operation

Finnish government boycotts Jewish National Fund

Mayor of Scenic Rim shire found to have dealt dishonestly in Tasmania

Cowra to pursue Justice Reinvestment not jails

Report on children’s exposure to weapons in US

Peace talks in Libya break down

Saudi Arabia airstrikes in Yemen


Hezbollah repels ISIS on Lebanon border

Shia Lebanese militia Hezbollah has repelled attacks by ISIS on the Syria/Lebanon border.

Independent sources say that, in recent weeks, ISIS has targeted several Hezbollah positions outside the Lebanese border village of Ras Baalbek which is a Christian Orthodox town.

Shia militia have been training Christian Lebanese to repel the attacks by ISIS which is armed and backed by US ally, Saudi Arabia. Hezbollah news channel Al Manar claim that by Monday, Hezbollah has cleared 64 percent of the territory once occupied by ISIS and the Nusra Front in Syria’s Qalamoun mountain range along the border with Lebanon.

Sources – 4ZZZ Zedlines, Al Manar.

Government launches survey on ‘country of origin’ food labelling

An online community survey on ‘country of origin’ food labeling was opened yesterday by the federal government working group on the issue.

The government working group, headed by industry minister Ian McFarlane, was formed following controversy surrounding contaminated berries sold by Patties earlier this year.

After two months of industry consultation, the new labelling scheme will see companies forced to label whether food made in Australia was made using above or below 50% imported ingredients. Consumers are asked for preferences on the graphics used.

The survey is available on the website.

Developers and West End residents to meet and discuss Absoe site development

West End residents and community groups will meet with representatives from Brisbane City Council and developer Payce this Sunday to discuss the proposed development of the former Absoe site on Boundary St.

The former furniture factory, and more recently site of the Boundary St. Markets, is proposed to be developed into 7 residential sites of over 15 stories, with a total of 1350 units.

Councillor for Woolloongabba Helen Abrahams says she is holding a public meeting so people can hear from the developer on the merits of the proposal, as well as concerns of the local residents’ group.

QLD government commits to rooftop solar and renewable energy target

At a well attended meeting at the Moorooka Bowls Club in Brisbane last night, organised by the Qld Conservation Council, the Qld Minister for Energy and Water Supply, Mark Bailey, committed his government to have one million homes with roof top solar power by 2012. The minister also announced a renewable energy target of 50% in Qld by 2030.

 Claims that Australian officials paid thousands of dollars to people smugglers

Asylum seekers who were aboard and an Indonesian police chief claim that Australian officials last month paid thousands of dollars to the captain and crew of a boat carrying asylum seekers, who were then returned to Indonesia.

On returning to Indonesia the crew were arrested for people smuggling, but police chief Mr Hidayat says the six crew members said they had been given $US5000 each by an Australian official named Agus who spoke fluent Indonesian. A letter to the New Zealand government signed by all 65 asylum seekers on board also claims Australian officials paid the six crew members at least $A7000 each.

Mr Hidayat says that it is the first time he has heard of Australian payments to people smugglers and that he was surprised the crew members had that amount of cash. Since the money was not crime-related he sent it to the families of the crew.

The asylum seekers say they were headed for New Zealand but were intercepted in Australian waters, detained on a navy ship then given two smaller boats and sent back.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton denies the story and refused to answer any questions. Professor of international law Don Rothwell says its unlikely to breach any laws, but could be seen as a form of people smuggling.

Workers claim Joe Hockey “out of touch” on housing
Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey who penned an autobiography ‘Not Your Average Joe’ sent out a challenge to house-hunters to find higher paying jobs.

The treasurer responded to concerns about housing affordability by saying that rising house prices were good for property owners, and that “the starting point for a first home buyer is to get a good job that pays good money.

Amy Bell, who works as an early childhood educator in Randwick, said Mr Hockey was “out of touch” with most Australians. She would love to buy a house, but could not afford to borrow the money she needed.

One worker quipped Hockey is ‘a below average Joe’.

Sarah Hanson-Young wins defamation case against ZOO magazine
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has won her defamation case against Bauer Media’s publication, ZOO magazine for their 2012 article entitled “ZOO’s Asylum Seeker Bikini Plan”.

The article was accompanied by a photograph of the Senator’s face photoshopped on a lingerie model’s body, posing at the entrance to a bedroom.

Senator Hanson-Young says she pleased it has been resolved. “Whether it is a smutty men’s magazine or in pages of the daily newspapers, there is no place for the degradation of women and the right of women to have views or opinions.

As part of an agreed settlement ZOO magazine will publish an apology to Senator Hanson-Young on their website.

Orange withdraws telecommunications services from Israel
THERE is a controversy raging over the decision by French Telecommunications company Orange withdrawing from Israel.

Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog was reported in the Jerusalem Post as saying the call by Palestinian civil society for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel is ‘the new intifada’.

Palestinian news source, The Electronic Intifada, states that “the Israeli affiliate of Orange provided direct material support to Israeli soldiers who participated in the deadly assault on Gaza last summer.”

In Gaza, Palestinians who survived the assault have told of Israeli soldiers executing their relatives in cold blood.

Orange CEO Stephane Richard, speaking at a conference in Cairo, said “We want to be one of the trustful partners of all Arab countries.”

Orange does a lot of business in Egypt through another subsidiary Mobinil.

 Labor “backroom deals” around IFED proposal

Environmental groups are criticising the Palaszczuk government for what they call backroom deals around the Integrated Food and Energy Developments (or IFED) mega-farm project in north Qld.

This follows revelations that Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham and Agriculture Minster Bill Byrne met with departmental staff, IFED representatives, and ex-Labor ministers Keith De Lacy and Tim Mulherin two months ago. Mr Mulherin was apparently described as a future member of the IFED board to the meeting.

The Wilderness Society claims that the Palaszczuk government has not only backflipped on an election promise to scrap the proposal, but is now doing secret deals with recently retired party powerbrokers.

The IFED proposal has met resistance from environmental groups, who say its water usage threatens the $230 million Gulf fishing industry and existing pastoralists already struggling with drought.

Immigration staff to go on strike

Community and Public Sector Union National Secretary Nadine Flood said:
“Border protection staff are being told many could get a pay cut from 1 July as their welcome to the Border Force.

CPSU secretary Flood claimed that staff are angry after a year of failed enterprise bargaining, and ‘now there is prospect of Government wiping out a chunk of their pay packet at the stroke of a pen’ has them ‘going ballistic’ Ms Flood said.

Minister for Employment Eric Abetz’s spokesman said he had met the union several times.

“The CPSU should abandon its excessive 12 per cent pay claim which is unsustainable and out of line with community expectations, and which will cost 10,000 jobs,” she said.

“Strike action in support of this claim in the current economic climate is highly irresponsible.”

Man held in WA immigration detention centre claims he is aboriginal

A 39 year old who claims he is indigenous and born in Australia is being held in Western Australia’s Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre.

The Immigration Department say they have used fingerprint and facial recognition analysis and have found Eddie David to be a Fijian national with a fake passport.

Mr. David says he was born in the Torres Strait and was a member of the stolen generations. His claim is backed up by the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council and his bricklayer employer.

Human rights lawyer George Newhouse, who is representing Mr David, says “an Australian being wrongfully detained is a very serious matter and the Government needs to clear this issue up as a matter of urgency.”

West Papuan advocates call on halt to Australia-Indonesia military co-operation

Free West Papua Party is calling for an immediate ban on Indonesian military training in Australia by the Australian Defence Forces and has provided evidence of Australian taxpayer funded genocide.

The Free West Papua Party in Australia spokesperson has asked for a moratorium on military co-operation with Indonesia until there is an open public enquiry into Federal government complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The party says it is wrong to make the Australian Defence force train Kopassus, the arm of Indonesian Defence force notorious for human rights abuses.

Dr Clinton Fernandes Associate Professor of the Australian Defence Force Academy at the University of NSW has uncovered some evidence under freedom of information legislation that implicates the Australian government having knowledge of Indonesian military using napalm on East Timorese in the 1980’s, that the Australian Government had kept silent and was complicit in war crimes in East Timor.

Finnish government boycotts Jewish National Fund

Relations between Israel and Finland are said to be strained following a decision not to allow Jewish National Fund to participate in an exhibition of non-governmental organisations in Helsinki.

The decision is part of a worldwide push for boycotts, divestments and sanctions from companies involved in Israeli military activities in Palestine.

Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that the Jewish National Fund had permission to participate, but recently received a notice prohibiting it from joining because of “the existence of question marks on the legitimacy of its activities”.

While the decision was celebrated by Finnish advocates for Palestinian rights, two Jewish organisations announced they would be boycotting the exhibition, and the Israeli ambassador accused Finland of anti-Semitism.

Mayor Brent in trouble again – found to have dealt dishonestly in Tasmania

mayor brent article
Earlier charge of impropriety

One-time favourite of former Premier Campbell Newman to become deputy Premier, Mayor John Brent of the Scenic Rim Shire and formerly of Boonah Shire, has been found by the Supreme Court of Tasmania to have ‘dishonestly dealt’ with a vegetable grower in that state.

John Brent owns a vegetable processing business ‘Bunny Bites’ that bought carrots from a Tasmanian farmer.

When payment on the contract was not made the Tasmanian farmer took Brent’s company to court.

In his defence, Mayor John Brent claimed that his signature on the contract had been forged.

Mr Justice Blow said in his judgement that “The plaintiff, in this case the Tasmanian farmer, bears the onus of proof that John Brent did sign the deed.

“There was no evidence that John Brent authorised the forging of his signature on the deed. The judge said.”It is possible that he did, but the plaintiff bears the onus of proof, and has not discharged it.”

The plaintiff’s claim against him must therefore fail.”

Instead Justice Blow ordered that the Mayor’s brother Peter Brent pay up the contract price plus interest..

Mayor Brent has made no comment on the judgement.

Cowra to pursue Justice Reinvestment not jails

The town of Cowra in western NSW has held a public meeting to consider alternatives to jail and how to better spend the $46 million spent on incarcerating Cowra citizens over the past 10 years.

“The Cowra forum decided that about 50 percent of the costs of incarceration – some $23 million – had been spent for crimes such as traffic, drug, public order or justice procedure offences, which could be considered as amenable to a Justice Reinvestment approach.

The town will attempt to reinvest that money into the community – into a Safe House, a Halfway House, skills training, housing the homeless and similar positive initiatives that address the underlying causes of crime rather than sending young people away to detention.

Report on children’s exposure to weapons in US

The British Medical Journal have posted online a report that says more than 17.5 million children in the United States, or about one in four, have been exposed to weapon violence, either as a witness or as a victim.

About two million, or one in 33, have been exposed to violence involving a highly lethal weapon, such as a gun or knife, the new study has found.

These figures, Michael McCarthy, one of researchers wrote, indicated that “weapons based violence is one of the largest public health crises affecting children in the United States, far exceeding the numbers of children with illnesses such as diabetes or cancer.”

Unlike Australia, US Health Care companies are in the top 20 listed on the share register.

Peace talks in Libya break down

UN-brokered talks between the rival factions claiming control over North African country Libya have broken down, with the internationally-recognised parliament claiming that the UN has “succumbed to extortion”.

Libya has slid into chaos since the US overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with various rebel militias claiming control over different areas and the democratically elected parliament controlling only a fraction of the country in the far east.

The latest UN proposal was a deal that gave more power to the rebels who last year seized the capital city of Tripoli. But spokesman Essa Abdel-Kauoum says the deal has “brought us to square one…to appease an ideological group in a horrible way”.

As the rival groups struggle to find a solution, the unrest has allowed fighters affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) group to take over the central city of Sirte and march towards key oil terminals.

Saudi Arabia airstrikes in Yemen

Iran has told the UN Security Council that Saudi-led air-strikes have twice hit close to its embassy in Yemen and warned of “serious consequences” if more such bombings occur.

The Saudi-led coalition has launched air strikes on Yemen to push back Houthi tribes who had seized the capital Sanaa and are advancing on the southern city of Aden.

President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi was forced to flee into exile in Saudi Arabia during the Houthi advance on Aden.

Sources say that Saudi Arabia does not wish to engage the Yemeni army or the Houthi rebels on the ground because many of Saudi mercenaries are Yemenis.

Saudi Arabia and Yemen are home to over one-quarter of known oil deposits in the world.

United Nations will open a round of talks in Geneva on Sunday between Hadi’s government, the Houthi tribal leaders and other political parties to end the violence in Yemen and chart a course for a political settlement.

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