Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Man jailed for schoolboy sex abuse

A man who sexually abused six teenage boys in the 1970s and passed some of them on to other men has been jailed for 18 years.

As a young man in his 20s, Philip Cave had a car which he used to impress schoolboys.

He gave them cigarettes and alcohol and went on to sexually abuse six boys aged between 11 and 14.

Today District Court Judge Rauf Soulio revealed that Cave had passed some of his victims on to other men including former television identity Ric Marshall, who was recently dealt with by the courts for other historical child sex offences.

Judge Soulio said Cave had treated the boys like objects and used them to recruit others.

He jailed the 58-year-old for 18 years with a non-parole period of 12 years.

Outside court one of the victims said the lives of some of his school mates had been ruined.

Qld to tighten political donation laws

Queensland's electoral laws will be changed to bring increased scrutiny to political donations.

Under Queensland laws, donations totalling more than $1,500 in a financial year must be declared to the state's electoral commission.

Premier Anna Bligh has told state parliament that in line with proposed commonwealth reforms, the state's Electoral Act would be amended to require political donations of $1,000 and above to be reported.

The disclosure timeframe will also be reduced from 12 months to six months, and candidates will be required to verify their electoral expenditure, to stop them making a financial gain.

Donations from overseas or non-Australian companies will be banned.

Ms Bligh said it was time for a full debate on the funding of political parties.

"I believe many Australians are genuinely concerned to ensure we do not descend down the American path where candidates in a high office require multi-million dollar campaigns to have any prospect of success," she said.

Ms Bligh said she was open to further reforms, including a ban on all political donations.

Related:

NSW Labor faces royal commission call
The New South Wales Greens have called for a royal commission into state planning decisions, following a number of allegations the Government overrode advice to deliver huge windfalls to ALP donors.

Ban on political donations a world first, says Labor
THE proposal by the Premier, Morris Iemma, to ban all political donations would not only be a national first, but an international first, the NSW Labor Party's general secretary, Karl Bitar, told a parliamentary hearing yesterday.

Qld police officer given jail time for assault

A Queensland police officer has been convicted of an assault in Sydney last year.

Queensland Police Media says the officer and another man were given custodial sentences after being found guilty of an incident last November.

The Queensland Police Service says both men have appealed against their prison sentences and have been granted bail.

The officer is on leave, but has been stood down from operational duties.

Quote: How come police officer and co offender are not named here, particularly after they've been sentenced to a term of prison and punishment? How can others avoid these dangerous violent criminals if they are not named like everyone else? Especially seen as how they're out in the community on bail. These are very serious offences. How come the cop wasn't sacked? Do they expect to win the appeal already? Typical of Mulrunji’s killing by Queensland police officer Chris Hurley rates only a footnote in the annals of justice. What about it ABC? Do we want police that assault people?

Aussies hurt as bomber kills 15


TWO Australian journalists were wounded in a suicide bombing that killed about 15 people in Afghanistan yesterday, just two days after an Australian commando was killed in battle.

The freelance photographers, Steve Dupont and Paul Rafael, were injured when the bomber detonated the bomb. A witness reported that the bomber was a young boy.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said one of the men had been seriously injured and required evacuation by air to a US military hospital while the other was treated at the scene.

The ABC named the photographers and Government sources said last night that the two men were working for Smithsonian Magazine.

The Taliban movement said one of its fighters carried out the suicide bombing in the small town of Khogyani.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force [Resource Imperialist Force] said its initial information was that 15 Afghans were dead and 14 wounded after the attack in the town. A witness told Agence France-Presse in Jalalabad, 25 kilometres from Khogyani.

"I saw a young boy who was carrying white papers wandering around the crowd, pretending he was applying for something at the district headquarters. All of a sudden I saw a big, red flame from among the crowd where the boy was standing and a big explosion followed."

On Sunday, Taliban fighters shot dead the Australian commando Lance Corporal Marks Jason Marks in Oruzgan province. He was the fifth Australian soldier to be killed in Afghanistan. Four other Australian soldiers were wounded.

On the same day, the Taliban movement tried to assassinate the nation's [US puppet] President, Hamid Karzai.

Quote: It's all about stealing oil resources and nothing to do with security assistance in relation to the Taliban. The Taliban are Indigenous natives and have the right to be there. NATO has no right to be there at all. Oh! US puppet President, Hamid Karzai would say otherwise but how would he explain this? Read on truth seekers.

IT'S ALL ABOUT OIL!
In 1998, Dick Cheney, now US vice-president but then chief executive of a major oil services company, remarked: "I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian." But the oil and gas there is worthless until it is moved. The only route which makes both political and economic sense is through Afghanistan.

Updated 4.59 pm AEST

Aust soldier stable after Afghanistan shooting
An Australian soldier is being treated for a gunshot wound to the arm after a battle with [Taliban] in Afghanistan's Uruzgan Province. The incident follows the death of another Australian soldier and injuries to four others in a battle earlier this week.

Related

Anzac Day dawn services underway

Return of the digger's daughter
For all those who chose to glorify the killers and those who buried their dead on Anzac day - instead of just remembering them - should also remember how many innocent civilians were killed and murdered in all wars and in the latest illegal and degrading wars on Iraq and Afghanistan - merely for their resources and not because anyone was attacked.

National RSL avoids row over veterans' descendants
The national branch of the RSL says it is staying out of a debate over where veterans' descendants should march in Anzac Day parades

Anzac heirs' marching orders
Sarah Dawson, 13, began marching in 2001 [when John Howard and his corporate cronies started to promote the war in Iraq and religious right wing nationalism] Sarah now says that "she marches in memory of her great-grandfather Harrie James Dawson, who fought in World War I as part of the 21st Battalion." But most likely she does however moved by the corporate claim that 'nationalism promotes wars' like Iraq and Afghanistan. What better way to encourage that by promoting and indoctrinating the youth with past wars as something to be proud about? ] "lf dawson, didn't die?" [Or if Sarah wasn't exploited at 13 years of age?]

Thousands take part in anti-war protests
Thousands of anti-war protesters have marched in Britain and the United States to mark the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq

Draconian power to discharge juror and bend trial

JUDGES will be given [draconian] powers to discharge individual jurors without having to abort a trial under reforms passed through state cabinet yesterday.

Jurors will be able to complain to judges or the sheriff about the conduct of other jurors to enable troublemakers to be discharged. [Bullying ???]

Legal counsel will also be given new powers to contest any decision by a judge to discharge a jury in the Criminal Court of Appeal.

The changes are to be introduced in the Jury Act in the next session of Parliament. They are [allegedly] derived from a Law Reform Commission report.

Judges are often called upon to discharge a juror when they are showing bias, have not declared an interest or are misbehaving, but often this causes a trial to be aborted.

The introduction of legislation to allow judges to discharge jurors and [bend] keep a trial going [allegedly] follows two recent cases where a juror's presence at a trial resulted in successful appeals.

In one recent case (Crown v Brown), a conviction was overturned on appeal because a juror had reported for service a day early and was empanelled in breach of the the Jury Act.

In another case (Crown v Petroulias last year), a judge's decision to discharge a juror because he had incurred driving offences led to a successful appeal in the Court of Criminal Appeal because the defence argued that the entire jury should have been discharged.

The Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, said the proposed changes were the first of a series of reforms to come out of the commission's report on juries.

He said the change to allow jurors to complain about colleagues was important.

"They can complain and the judge can decide whether to discharge the juror," Mr Hatzistergos said.

"It's more to cover "[SMH] [situations]" such as where a particular juror has a conflict of interest they haven't discussed but it becomes apparent during the trial."

The shadow attorney-general, Greg Smith, said although the Government's changes appeared "reasonable", in practice jurors often already complained to judges if they had a problem with someone on the jury.

Quote: These laws are draconian and allow the Judge to push the jury around and sway the trial one way or another. Shame on John Hatzistergos, this creep wants to move trials the government's way when it suits the political agenda. This is not a trial by a jury of your peers. This is bullying. And why didn’t the Sydney Morning Herald get a response from civil liberties lawyers? Because they didn’t like it? Or they were too lazy? Or they want it to suit themselves because finding people guilty of crimes is in the corporate interest when it suits them? Shame on the (SMH) Sydney Morning Herald's bad reporting. What about balancing your articles? What did the Greens say? The most outstanding proposition is that the SMH in addition to these changes tried to make their article look convincing by adding to it some notion about juries getting more money etc and saving the doctors and professionals from having to appear, which is totally irrelevant in relation to the above article that is draconian.

[PS) a Google search for this article reveals the real truth i.e. "Did you mean: Power to discharge jury and save trial."]

[PPS) "The New South Wales Law Society says millions of dollars will be saved under new reforms giving judges the power to discharge individual jurors without aborting a trial." But it's not about saving millions it's about a fair trial and justice for all not justice for the state government, corporations or even the Law Society. How many millions does it cost to keep an innocent person in jail? So much for the Law Society's comment. ]

Related:

Ruthless and grubby: DPP lashes Morris Iemma's team
THE Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, has dumped a bucket on the Iemma Government, describing it as "ruthless", guilty of "grubby" tactics and saying it has "crucified" his office.

NSW Govt 'trying to muzzle DPP'
The New South Wales Government is fighting off accusations it is interfering with the independence of the state prosecutor by appointing a manager to his office.

DPP urges tougher child identity laws
The New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions is calling for even stricter conditions on the naming of children involved in criminal proceedings.

Lift the veil and show us what the jurors see
The NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, sees some problems in all this. He points to the tension between the public's right to know and the community's "confidence in the administration of justice". If the media edits or selects bits of the evidence the reporting would be very bias and unfair, unless you trust corporate media that is. Anyway I think this is right wing propaganda make up your own mind I guess...

TRIAL BY MEDIA! or trial by a Jury?
Once a person is charged there should be a media black ban on that case until a jury has found the person either guilty or not guilty. If the media have the power to elect our political parties then they also have the power to find people guilty. Especially people who are being tried over and over again. Now with no double jeopardy rules and majority verdicts in NSW then high profile cases have become susceptible to being tried by the media and not by the jury in my humble opinion.

In addition to this story and typical of the right wing corporate media propagandists with one saviour Nicholas Cowdery

Naming and shaming a bad idea, say MPs
A STATE parliamentary committee has rejected calls for juvenile criminals to be "named and shamed" and instead wants media blackouts on identifying children broadened.

Govt unveils cannabis research centre


As is the case with nicotine and caffeine, THC in Cannabis, it seems, is to protect the plant from herbivores or pathogens. THC occurs mainly as tetrahydrocannabinol. THC has analgesic effects that, even at low doses, cause a high, thus leading to the fact that medical cannabis can be used to treat pain.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has launched a new cannabis research centre, saying young Australians are more likely to have used marijuana than tobacco.

The Federal Government is spending $14 million on the new National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, based at the University of New South Wales.

The latest figures show cannabis is the most widely-used illicit drug in Australia, although the numbers are falling.

Ms Roxon says it is worrying that about one in five 18-year-olds have smoked cannabis in the past year.

"There is growing evidence that for vulnerable people cannabis can cause physical, psychological and social damage," she said.

The centre will conduct research in Australia and analyse overseas studies, as well as offering a hotline to provide information to members of the public.


Cannabis researchers get $14m Fed Govt boon

The latest figures show young Australians are more likely to have tried marijuana than cigarettes, although the numbers are falling.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon says cannabis is still the most widely-used illicit drug.

"We know that the damage that can be caused includes a higher risk of respiratory diseases associated with smoking like cancer, poor short-term memory, affected learning ability, reduced motivation in study and work, and dependence," she said.

Ms Roxon says it is worrying that about one in five 18-year-olds have smoked cannabis in the past year.

"There is growing evidence that for vulnerable people, cannabis can cause physical, psychological and social damage," she said.

Quote: Is Nicola Roxon taking too much cocaine? If the latest figures show that quote: "young Australians' are more likely to have used marijuana than tobacco" unquote. Then I don't see the figures? Then she says, quote: "growing evidence". Does that mean more people are growing the herb opposed to buying it? Perhaps not paying government tax revenue on the substance? And what about handing out some medical assistance to these people who are all trying to give cannabis up? How come cannabis doesn't have patches for people to give up the drug like that legal drug tobacco? Why discriminate? Wouldn't that help those poor victimes get off the illicit drug? I mean if it is more widely used than tobacco then we owe it to those Australians' to provide medical assistance to them..

Related:

Australia's cocaine use up, smoking down
AUSTRALIANS are smoking fewer cigarettes and less cannabis but using more cocaine, a report shows. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare survey found that from 2004 to 2007, the proportion of people aged 14 and more who smoked daily fell from 17.4 to 16.6 per cent. Recent cannabis use dropped from just more than 11 per cent to just more than 9 per cent.

Tetrahydrocannabinol dummies guide
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, Δ9-THC, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), Δ1-tetrahydrocannabinol (using an older numbering scheme), or dronabinol, is the main psychoactive substance found in the Cannabis plant. It was isolated by Raphael Mechoulam, Yechiel Gaoni, and Habib Edery from the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel in 1964. In pure form, it is a glassy solid when cold, and becomes viscous and sticky if warmed. An aromatic terpenoid, THC has a very low solubility in water, but good solubility in most organic solvents such as butane or hexane. As is the case with nicotine and caffeine, the role of THC in Cannabis, it seems, is to protect the plant from herbivores or pathogens. [2] THC also possesses high UV-B (280-315 nm) absorption properties, protecting the plant from harmful radiation.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Racist escapes conviction over 'disgusting' fake leaflets incident


Liberal Party member ... Jackie Kelly's husband, Gary Clark, has pleaded not guilty.

A Sydney magistrate has told a man who escaped conviction over the distribution of fake leaflets during last year's federal election campaign there was national disgust over the incident.

The leaflets, attributed to a non-existent Islamic group, were distributed in the Western Sydney seat of Lindsay days before the election.

They alleged the ALP wanted the Bali bombers forgiven and urged Muslims to vote Labor.

Two of five men charged over the incident have pleaded guilty, but 37-year-old Troy Craig had no conviction recorded.

Magistrate Pat O'Shane said although there was national disgust over the incident and he should feel ashamed, it was at the lower end of the scale of offences.

The estranged husband of Liberal candidate Karen Chijoff, Greg Chijoff, did plead guilty. His case has been adjourned until next month.

Quote: What about some community service? Washing Muslims feet!

Updated: 30 April 2008

Kelly seemed involved, court told
THE former federal Liberal MP Jackie Kelly appeared "at the face of it to be involved" in the fake leaflet affair in her western Sydney seat at the last election, a court has heard.

A volunteer who was asked to distribute the leaflets - and who faced court yesterday with four others, including the husbands of Ms Kelly, the retiring MP, and the Liberal candidate contesting the seat - might have been entitled to think it had been approved, because he had been asked to meet at Ms Kelly's home, his barrister said yesterday.

The party machine also owed its volunteers a "duty of care" not to ask them to engage in unethical and criminal behaviour, the barrister and former NSW Liberal Party vice-president, Alex Howen, told the Downing Centre Local Court.

Five men were accused of allegedly breaching federal election legislation by distributing a brochure that did not bear the names, address and authorisation of their political masters. The brochure, distributed by the Liberal Party volunteers, was claimed to have been published by the fake "Islamic Australia Federation", and bore the ALP insignia.

But the magistrate, Pat O'Shane, said the stupid and offensive action was "an ugly chapter" and the community had shown its view of it already. The Liberal Party lost the seat of Lindsay, which Ms Kelly had held with a margin of almost 10 per cent.

The court heard about 15 brochures were distributed in the St Marys area on November 20 before witnesses saw the men.

Those being prosecuted include Ms Kelly's husband, Gary James Clark, who pleaded not guilty, and the now estranged husband of the election candidate Karen Chijoff, who sought to replace Ms Kelly as the local member. Greg Alex Chijoff pleaded guilty yesterday, but disputed some of the facts.

Another senior Liberal party official, Jeffrey Michael Egan, who left the party after the scandal, also pleaded not guilty. Robert Mathew Holstein, who failed to appear in court, did not enter a plea.

Mr Howen said his client, Troy Matthew Craig, had not been a party member for about seven years, but had volunteered because he was a friend of Ms Chijoff's.

Mr Howen said Craig was asked to come to Ms Kelly's and Clark's home, where he saw the brochure for the first time.

"He is entitled to think that this was all approved. The federal member appears at the face of it to be involved," he said.

Craig thought it was stupid, crude and "dumb politically and dumb because of its content", Mr Howen said. He also realised it lacked the required authorisation but "simply went along with the distribution".

Craig had been told "the brochure was OK and everything in it is true", Mr Howen told the court.

Clark had pleaded guilty, facing a maximum $1000 fine, but Ms O'Shane discharged the case against him without recording a conviction, after hearing he would lose his job as a valuer if he received a conviction.

"That kind of material arose in a political climate of divisiveness and disharmony which had been generated over several years. It is now well recognised across the country that this was an ugly chapter in our history. The people of this country have moved on … and are trying to build an inclusive civil society and you need to be part of it," she told Craig.

Chijoff's lawyer told the court he disputed the allegations that he distributed the leaflet with the other co-accused in the suburb of St Mary, but instead pleaded guilty to distributing the leaflet by himself in Oxley Park. His case was adjourned until May 7. The cases against the others will return to court later next month.

Related:

'Charge Howard with war crimes'
FORMER Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has called for ex-prime minister John Howard and other Western leaders to be charged with war crimes over the conflict in Iraq.

Things can only get better, Howard tells party faithful
What about asking about John Howard's top three failures? War crimes against humanity. Waging illegal and degrading war against innocent citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan. Introducing draconian laws and racism.

Corby informant paid $120,000 cash, court told


A former friend of Schapelle Corby was paid "something like" $120,000 in cash by Today Tonight for a fabricated story, a defamation jury heard today.

Jodie Power was also given an all-expenses paid holiday to Canada with her two children by the current affairs show, Stuart Littlemore QCF told the NSW Supreme Court.

A defamation case brought by Mercedes Corby, sister of the jailed Schapelle Corby, opened this morning.

In his address to the jury of three men and one woman, Mr Littlemore, QC, representing Mercedes Corby, said that Today Tonight's presenter Anna Coren, reporter Bryan Seymour and the supposed informant Jodie Power had been involved in a conspiracy to fabricate an untrue story in February last year.

He said that between them they had presented Mercedes Corby, an ordinary Australian, with nothing to answer for other than being Schapelle's sister as "a drug smuggler".

Mr Littlemore said that Ms Coren and Mr Seymour had conspired to create "the most sensational program they could buy, telling lies".

He said the program had gone to air in Sydney, and the network had broadcast it all over Australia. The story had been picked up by Sky News and Ms Coren had promoted the program on 2day FM.

Mr Littlemore said Ms Power had been paid "something like $120,000 in cash" and had an all expenses paid holiday to Canada with her two children.

But Mr Littlemore said Ms Power hated Mercedes Corby, who had once been her best friend and she had celebrity status from appearing on television. She had been moved by revenge, he said.

Mr Littlemore said the unfortunate fact was that Ms Power had her own "personal problem with drugs".

The case continues today.

Related:

Corby loses sentence appeal
Convicted Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby has lost a final appeal to have her jail sentence reduced.

Corby may serve 9 more years before transfer: Indonesia
Convicted cannabis smuggler Corby has served less than four years of a 20-year sentence.

Jail work could cut Corby's sentence
THE convicted drug trafficker Schapelle Corby may be eligible for a prison job that could shave years off the 20-year sentence she is serving in an Indonesian jail.

AFP colluded with Andrews: Haneef lawyer


Lawyers representing former [scapegoat] terror suspect Dr Mohamed Haneef have accused federal police of attempting to re-write history following claims investigating officers were caught unaware by a decision to cancel his work visa.

Dr Haneef's legal team on Tuesday dismissed the story.

"It's bullshit because we know that the AFP was in contact with the migration department before the visa was cancelled," Lawyer Rod Hodgson said.

"They cooked up a scheme between the two of them to cancel the visa in the event that they got an adverse finding in the magistrate's court."

Mr Hodgson, from law firm Maurice Blackburn, has joined Dr Haneef's legal team ahead of a judicial inquiry into the case which begins in Canberra on Wednesday.

He echoed calls from fellow lawyer Peter Russo for the inquiry head John Clarke QC to be given "coercive powers" to force witnesses including Mr Andrews and AFP chief Mick Keelty to give evidence.

Both men have stated they will cooperate with the inquiry but Mr Hodgson said he remained sceptical.

"I do not have confidence that there will be full and frank cooperation from some of the key players," he said.

"We don't have answers to questions we want answered and are concerned that Mr Clarke is going to have some trouble getting to the bottom of those matters without being given coercive powers."

Dr Haneef was held without charge for 12 days after being arrested at Brisbane International Airport last July for his alleged links to [another false flag operation?] in the UK.

The Indian national was eventually charged with supporting terrorism but the charge collapsed within days, prompting his return to his family in Bangalore.

His legal team then successfully appealed Mr Andrews decision to cancel his visa on "character grounds", paving the way for his return to work in Australia if he can find work.

Mr Clarke will outline how he intends to conduct the inquiry at Wednesday's hearing and is due to report back to the federal government by September 30.

He is expected to produce a public report and a private one.

Related:

Haneef inquiry could be waste of time and money: lawyer
Someone must have been telling lies about Dr Mohamed Haneef, because without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine evening.

Georgiou repeats call to scrap citizenship test

Liberal backbencher Petro Georgiou says Australia's controversial new citizenship test should not just be reviewed - it should be scrapped altogether.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans says he has no plans to abolish the Howard Government-era test, but he is open to making improvements.

Mr Georgiou broke party lines to oppose the test when it was introduced by the former government and says his views have not changed.

"I would hope that the review recommends that we go back to the early form of the test which was about basic English and not have funny little questions about which cricketers were the best cricketers in Australia's history," he said.

Mr Georgiou says the test is deterring substantial numbers of people from applying for citizenship.

His comments came after the release of new Government figures showing there has been a drop in the number of people applying for citizenship.

There are also reports that some people fear they will fail the test and be deported.

Mr Evans says there may have been a surge in applications before the new test was introduced six months ago.

He said that application numbers will be looked at.

"It may be in part explained by a surge and a dip, but we have had reports from some communities that people are concerned about failing the test, and some have expressed concern that they might feel they would be deported if they failed the test," he said.

"There's a real fear in a couple of communities."

Question: Who was Australia's war criminal Prime Minister? Now that would be a better question, sport!

Related:

Charge Howard with war crimes'
FORMER Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has called for ex-prime minister John Howard and other Western leaders to be charged with war crimes over the conflict in Iraq.

Things can only get better, Howard tells party faithful
What about asking about John Howard's top three failures? War crimes against humanity. Waging illegal and degrading war against innocent citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan. Introducing draconian laws and racism.

AMA to release damning 'ice' report

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) says it will lobby state and federal governments for new funding to overhaul the way the health system deals with methamphetamine users.

A paper to be released by the AMA today reveals that more than three quarters of methamphetamine users suffer from mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and aggression.

AMA president Rosanna Capolingua says drugs like speed and ice are putting a huge strain on the nation's emergency departments, and she has called for increased funding for both the prevention and treatment of methamphetamine use.

"These people present with violence and aggression so that if they are brought into an emergency department they are very difficult to manage," she said.

"They're threatening to the staff in the hospital that's trying to look after them and very threatening to other people in the hospital, other patients that are there.

"The AMA very much wants to deal with supporting and providing infrastructure and funding for services to treat those patients and people that are already methamphetamine dependant.

"At the same time we have to have community program awareness, prevention, so that we don't have the continuing take-up of methamphetamine use.

"This is serious and it has an impact on the individual and those trying to manage or look after them."

Naming and shaming a bad idea, say MPs

A STATE parliamentary committee has rejected calls for juvenile criminals to be "named and shamed" and instead wants media blackouts on identifying children broadened.

A report made public yesterday said a ban on identifying all children involved in court proceedings should remain because the notoriety of naming juvenile offenders would only encourage them to reoffend.

And the ban should be extended to cover children who were yet to be charged, but were likely to be involved in criminal proceedings, the report said.

The committee chairwoman, Christine Robertson, a Labor MP, said young offenders should be protected from the "stigma of being associated with a crime … to assist in their rehabilitation".

"The weight of evidence presented to the committee clearly indicates that naming and shaming juvenile offenders is more likely to increase the likelihood of their reoffending, rather than reduce it," she said in the report.

Ms Robertson said calls to name young offenders often followed well publicised crimes such as the recent machete and baseball bat attack by teenage youths on a western Sydney high school.

"In some instances, publicly naming juvenile offenders would give victims and their families a sense of vindication. However, there is evidence that confidential processes, such as youth justice conferencing, which protect the identity of all children involved, give victims a greater role in, and greater satisfaction with, criminal justice outcomes for juvenile offenders."

Existing legislation prevents the publication of anything that identifies anyone under 18 who is a criminal offender, victim or witness to a crime.

Related:

DPP urges tougher child identity laws
The New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions is calling for even stricter conditions on the naming of children involved in criminal proceedings.

The Privacy Commissioner's position on Child Offenders and Privacy

Monday, 28 April 2008

Elderly gambler avoids jail over welfare fraud

An elderly woman who pretended for seven years that her mother was still alive to collect her pension has avoided jail.

A court heard that Eleonora Spiniello, 72, from Fulham Gardens in Adelaide became addicted to poker machine gambling after her mother died in 1999.

She stole nearly $82,000 by failing to tell welfare authorities of the death.

Spiniello was jailed for three years but had the sentence suspended.

District Court Judge Gordon Barrett took account of the woman's age, medical history, her early guilty plea, efforts to pay back the money by selling her house and her having to care for a violent father.

'Fantasy' led to sex with girl, 12

A 27-year-old man who had a year-long sexual relationship with a 12-year-old neighbour has been jailed for three years.

The man was living with his father and stepmother when he began "grooming" the girl.

No parties to the matter, including the judge, can be named for legal reasons.

The prosecutor told Melbourne County Court that the man wooed his teenage neighbour with flattery.

"The prisoner would tell the complainant how gorgeous she was, he would say she looked like Drew Barrymore," he said.

He told the court the pair would go on walks and to the movies together and that the man gave her a mobile phone.

"This was part of his grooming (of her) providing her with a clandestine means of communication," the prosecutor said.

The court heard the man told the girl he loved her. They discussed waiting to have sex until she was 16 so it would be legal, but a few weeks later he sent her a text message that said: "F--- it, we should have sex, we should not have to wait because we are in love."

The pair had sex regularly between July 2001 and July 2002.

Counsel for the man said his client suffered depression and was living in a fantasy world at the time.

His psychologist told the court a symptom of his depression had been a fantasy of a stable and loving relationship that would lead to marriage and children.

Today, the judge said he accepted the defence's submissions and agreed that the man's sentence be reduced, because of his mental state and the significant delay between charges being laid and his case coming before the court.

"You lived in a fantasy world and were not able to think rationally or act accordingly," the judge said.

"You are not a predator or pedophile and are not likely to re-offend in the future."

But he said the charges were very serious and demanded a term of imprisonment.

"The offending involved some level of grooming and planning," he said.

"The complainant was young vulnerable and the court has to take into account that these types of offences were introduced to protect the young persons who are susceptible to these types of approaches."

He said the victim felt she had been robbed of her childhood because of the relationship.

The man pleaded guilty to four representative counts of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and was sentenced to 36 months jail with 26 months suspended.

Alcopop tax an ineffective 'quick fix': Tas AHA


The Tasmanian Hotels Association has described the Commonwealth's move to increase the tax on ready-to-drink spirits as a quick fix for a complex problem.

The Federal Government has raised the tax on pre-mixed spirits by 70 per cent, saying it will help curb binge drinking by teenagers.

But the association's state manager, Steve Old, has said the plan probably will not work.

"We don't want to see young kids getting into trouble with alcohol, and we want to sit down with the government, but at this stage we've been put at arms length and the government has said 'we'll solve the problem, we know how to fix it'," he said.

"Well I'd argue that they don't, and they'd probably be best to sit down with us and work through it."

Alliance tackles drunken violence
THE TOLL of alcohol-related violence has reached the point where one in five Australians now say they have been directly affected or know someone who has been affected by this type of violence, a new survey shows.

Support for booze public education
A SURVEY of 1000 Australians found more than three-quarters of those questioned about attitudes to drinking said there was not enough public education about the dangers of alcohol, despite the Rudd Government's promise of a multimillion-dollar binge-drinking strategy.

1 in 4 police recruits failed exams: NSW Opp

The New South Wales Opposition has accused the State Government of playing politics with police numbers.

The NSW Opposition has obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act, which they say paint a worrying picture of police training.

They say the documents show that one in four recruits in from the Police Academy's class of 2007 failed their first on-the-job exam.

NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell says the recruits were denied crucial training.

He says the State Government rushed the recruits through as a way of boosting police numbers during an election year.

"The Iemma Government put politics ahead of community safety as it cut corners to boost numbers ahead of last year's election campaign," he said.

"Most of the recruits were allowed to re-sit the exam, and have since passed."

But NSW Acting Police Minister Matt Brown says his figures show around 11 per cent of probationary constables failed their first exam.

"Many of those probationary constables have gone out, done their training in the area commands and are fully-qualified constables and I give them full credit," he said.

"If a few of them did fail and they wanted to resit their test, well that's not the first time this has happened."

Learner 'caught speeding at 160kph with dad'

Police say a learner driver has been caught speeding at 160 kilometres per hour in Sydney's south-west while driving with his father.

They say the 23-year-old man from the ACT was stopped last night in a 110 kph zone on the Hume Highway at Campbelltown.

The man's 52-year-old father was a passenger in the car.

The 23-year-old has been charged with speeding and not displaying his L-plates as required.

His father has been issued with an infringement for failing to prevent learner breach.

Australia's cocaine use up, smoking down

AUSTRALIANS are smoking fewer cigarettes and less cannabis but using more cocaine, a report shows.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare survey found that from 2004 to 2007, the proportion of people aged 14 and more who smoked daily fell from 17.4 to 16.6 per cent.

Recent cannabis use dropped from just more than 11 per cent to just more than 9 per cent.

The 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: first results report also found methamphetamine (or "ice") use had declined, in contrast with popular perceptions it was increasing.

The proportion of men and women using cocaine, however, increased from 1.3 to 2.2 per cent.

Welfare agency spokesman Mark Cooper-Stanbury said Australia now had one of the lowest smoking rates.

The report found about one in four teenagers put themselves at risk of short-term alcohol-related harm at least once a month. "The proportion was higher among females (28.3 per cent) than males (24.5 per cent)," he said.

The report also raised concerns about girls' smoking habits - 16 to 17-year-old females were "almost twice as likely to be daily smokers (7.4 per cent) as their male counterparts (4.1 per cent), although both of these figures dropped by about half from the previous survey".

Related:

Ciggy substitute abuse on rise
ABOUT 425,000 Australians are fuelling a boom in the nicotine replacement market, now worth more than $90 million a year.

Alliance tackles drunken violence
THE TOLL of alcohol-related violence has reached the point where one in five Australians now say they have been directly affected or know someone who has been affected by this type of violence, a new survey shows.

Support for booze public education
A SURVEY of 1000 Australians found more than three-quarters of those questioned about attitudes to drinking said there was not enough public education about the dangers of alcohol, despite the Rudd Government's promise of a multimillion-dollar binge-drinking strategy.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

'Charge Howard with war crimes'


FORMER Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has called for ex-prime minister John Howard and other Western leaders to be charged with war crimes over the conflict in Iraq.

In a speech in London, Dr Mahathir called for an international tribunal to try US President George Bush, former British prime minister Tony Blair and Mr Howard for their part in the conflict, said a spokesman for the Muslim Ramadhan Foundation.

Spokesman Mohammed Shafiq said Dr Mahathir, 82, wanted to see the trio tried "in absence for war crimes committed in Iraq".

"It was a opportunity for students to put a range of questions about war crimes and the international situation," he said.

"He said that people have to stop killing each other and use arbitration, negotiation and discussion as an alternative to violence, war and killing."

Related:

Prosecute War Criminal John Howard
To: International Criminal Court
We, the undersigned, called for the indictment and prosecution of John Winston Howard (currently Australian Prime Minister) for acts of terrorism and war crimes.

We believe that under Australia's Criminal Code Act 1995, and under the articles of the International Criminal Court, there is a prima facie case for the prosecution of Howard for complicity in illegal attacks upon and mass murder of civilian populations of Afghanistan and Iraq, between 2001 and 2005.

These prosecutions should include the following crimes, committed by the accused in their official capacities:
Complicity in the massacre of hundreds of civilians in Baghdad, Basra, Khormal, Babel, Nassariya, Najaf, Karbala and Anbar, in March 2003, through aerial bombardment, including cluster bombs, assisted by Australian 'imagery specialists'
Complicity in the S.A.S. backed murder of ten Sabri tribespeople (mostly teenagers) in Afghanistan, 16 May 2002
Complicity in the massacre of between one thousand and three thousand prisoners, after US operation 'Anaconda' operation at Shah-i-Kot, Afghanistan, March 2002
Complicity in the maintenance of an international network of torture, from Pakistan to Iraq to Egypt to Guantanamo Bay (US-occupied Cuba)
Complicity in the criminal two attacks on the civilian population of Falluja, in April and November 2004 - where between one thousand and two thousand people were murdered in attacks which included the use of napalm, and the blockading of Falluja Hospital

We reject utterly the claim that any of these crimes could be carried out under any 'democratic mandate' from Australian citizens.

We urge responsible prosecution authorities such as the Australian DPP, and the International Criminal Court to take immediate action.
Sincerely,

The Undersigned

Things can only get better, Howard tells party faithful
What about asking about John Howard's top three failures? War crimes against humanity. Waging illegal and degrading war against innocent citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan. Introducing draconian laws and racism.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Police cannot cope with backlash

Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, has warned the Federal Government that many indigenous people displaced by the emergency intervention are creating unrest and straining police capacity.

Mr Henderson told the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, in confidential discussions last month that the intervention was having a perverse effect on towns and cities and further action was needed to make it work.

His comments are the first official indication that the $1 billion territory intervention to eradicate child abuse and improve education standards is running into difficulties despite bipartisan support.

Alice Springs is battling to cope with the unintended consequences of the intervention, including a rise in public drinking and a jump in the number of violent assaults.

The town's once-thriving small business sector has also been hit by Centrelink's quarantining of welfare payments, a policy that encourages Aborigines to shop at the big three retailers Coles, Woolworths and Kmart.

Leaked minutes of a ministers' meeting in Darwin last month show Mr Henderson confirmed that many people had migrated from remote communities to urban centres to avoid alcohol and gambling bans and welfare quarantining. Cards issued by Centrelink for food and clothing are more easily traded in urban centres such as Alice Springs for cash and alcohol.

The newly elected mayor of Alive Springs, Damien Ryan, this week called on federal and territory governments to rethink aspects of the intervention and face the unintended negative effect on indigenous and non-indigenous residents and business.

There is consensus among police, politicians, business groups and welfare agencies that an influx of bush people into Alice Springs has led to further overcrowding and a worsening of conditions in the 20 or so town camps home to more than 2000 people.

The camps, notorious for violent assault, domestic violence, substance abuse and theft, appear mostly untouched by the intervention. At one camp people drink openly despite a liquor ban. Many children do not go to school and can be seen playing among empty beer cans and bottles.

Territory crime statistics show that in December in Alice Springs the number of assaults rose 16 per cent from the previous quarter to an average 93 assaults each month, and house break-ins rose 17 per cent from the previous quarter. But much of the violence in the camps goes unreported.

Emergency workers report greater numbers of people forced to sleep in parks and the Todd riverbed because of the acute accommodation shortage.

In an interview, Mr Ryan urged an immediate review of Centrelink's policies that were affecting small businesses. He also called on the big retailers to provide work for the town's swelling indigenous population.

A Country Liberal Party MP and former opposition leader, Jodeen Carney, said there were insufficient resources to implement the dry-town policy and called on governments to take the matter more seriously.

Ms Macklin is understood to be reviewing the situation and has indicated that $18 million in housing funds is available to refurbish accommodation.

Related:

'Racism to blame' for Aboriginal health problems
The Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTAR) group says racism is directly to blame for many health problems in the Aboriginal community.

2020 Indigenous youth delegate calls for national body
An Indigenous youth representative at this weekend's 2020 summit says a new national Aboriginal body should be created to avoid some of the add-hoc policies surrounding the federal intervention.

Call for new indigenous body
Former ATSIC Commissioner Klynton Wanganeen says he will raise the idea of a new national body to represent indigenous communities at the 2020 Summit.

Aboriginal delegation heads to UN
The National Aboriginal Alliance is taking its concerns about the Northern Territory intervention to the United Nations

Haneef inquiry could be waste of time and money: lawyer


The lawyer for former Gold Coast [scapegoat] terrorism suspect Dr Mohamed Haneef says he is worried a Government-ordered inquiry into the case will be a waste of time and money.

It is believed that Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty and former immigration minister Kevin Andrews will neither give evidence in public nor face cross-examination during the inquiry which is due to begin next week.

Peter Russo says he is concerned that the full facts about last year's bungled prosecution might not be revealed.

"The problem is that the inquiry should be able to get to the truth, but without having proper coercive powers there is some difficulty in the inquiry getting to the bottom of why Mohamed was first of all detained, and what information the AFP were in possession of," he said.

Related:

Haneef: The Interrogation.

Genre
Theatre
Location
Carlton Courthouse
Address
349 Drummond St, Carlton
Date
16 April 2008 to 3 May 2008
Phone Bookings
(03) 9347 6142

There is little moralising; the real villain is the legislation itself.

Someone must have been telling lies about Dr Mohamed Haneef, because without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine evening.

OK, so you have heard the Kafka line 100 times before, but as Graham Pitts' play about the Haneef affair suggests, there is an uncanny and disturbing correspondence between Dr Haneef's detention by Australian Federal Police in Brisbane in July 2007, and that of Joseph K. in Kafka's The Trial.

As it is, what is on trial in Haneef: the Interrogation is not so much Haneef or the police, but the anti-terrorism legislation that allowed and facilitated his arrest in the first place.

Pitts has based his play on the transcripts of more than 6000 questions asked of Dr Haneef during his detainment on suspicion of assisting a terrorist organisation. There are two basic roles, that of Haneef (Adam McConvell) and his interrogator (Simon King), and both actors demonstrate a fine commitment to the understandably wordy script.

Pitts uses the transcripts verbatim, but he injects a further dimension into the play by having the actors periodically step out of character to comment on the action, and the frequent absurdity of their discourse.

These shifts in tone and perspective bring fresh insights, though not all are successfully executed. The first transition, in particular, is difficult to bring off, especially as the audience is not expecting it. This feature will no doubt improve, however, as the actors settle into the rhythms of the play and their multiple roles.

This production makes simple but effective gestures to interrogation, with chairs, naked light bulbs, and closed-circuit TV projections dominating.

The director, Gorkem Acarolgu, toys with the audience at times, but ensures that absurdity and indignation go hand in hand with anxiety and uncertainty, just as in Kafka.

Pitts has edited the transcripts carefully, allowing the characters of the interlocutors to develop. Our sympathies are pushed towards Haneef, with a few jokes generated from dim-witted questions by the interrogator.

Yet like the complex treatment of interviewing detainees in Theatre du Soleil's Le Dernier Caravanserail (seen here in 2005), the play is careful not to over-simplify, nor to belittle the policemen who, after all, are just doing their jobs. There is little moralising; the real villain is the legislation itself.

Haneef tickets going fast, writer to speak

The Civil Rights Defence tickets for 'Haneef: the interrogation' are going fast.

The writer, Graham Pitts, has agreed to give a forum at the end of the
performance! Graham is a great raconteur. The La Mama bar will also be open

To reserve a ticket email:
tebbutt.john@gmail.com

The tickets are $20. The event is a CRD fundraiser.

Tickets can be picked up & paid for at the New International Bookshop (see
below)

Performance details:
Friday, May 2nd, 6.30 (no late entries)
La Mama Carlton Courthouse,
Drummond St (nr the cnr of Elgin).
Pick up and pay at:
New International Bookshop in Trades Hall Building
54 Victoria St (cnr of Lygon St) Carlton, 9662 3744.
They only accept cash.
Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Friday: 12pm-7pm
Saturday: 12.30pm-5pm
Call to confirm late opening
Closed Sunday & Monday

Haneef's lawyer says inquiry is weak
The inquiry into Australian authorities' handling of the Mohamed Haneef case needs stronger powers to avoid becoming a "toothless tiger", the former terror suspect's lawyer says.

Push for overhaul of laws on terrorism
Anti-terrorism laws are just 'state sanctioned terrorism' aimed at 'innocent people' and using them as 'scapegoats' for Australia's 'alleged war on terror'. These laws were meant to project 'fear' in the community that we somehow need to be protected so that the government can wage war on innocent people for resources around the world unchallenged.

Hicks media gag order ends
As part of the deal, he was also banned from speaking to the media after his release in December 2007.

Habib mistreated but not in Aussie embassy
There was little doubt that Mamdouh Habib was badly mistreated after he was detained by Pakistani and US authorities in the wake of the September 11 attacks and no doubt whatsoever that he was taken to Egypt against his will, a Federal Court judge has found.

ASIO, police don't trust each other, report finds
A LACK of trust between the Australian Federal Police and ASIO has hindered co-operation between the anti-terrorism agencies, a report commissioned after the collapsed prosecution of the Sydney doctor Izhar ul-Haque has found.

Secret policemen's bill: $7.5m
Mr McClelland separately ruled out compensating or apologising to the Sydney medical student Izhar Ul-Haque, who a Supreme Court judge said had been kidnapped by ASIO officers. The conduct of ASIO in the case of Mr ul-Haque, who was cleared of terrorism charges, is being reviewed by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Ian Carnell.

Tough police powers outlive APEC
CONTROVERSIAL powers granted to NSW police during last year's APEC summit are likely to be made permanent - or at least available to police for any special event - under a proposal to be taken to state cabinet.

Faheem Lodhi - another non-terrorist jailed under Australia's 'anti-terror' laws?
Jack Thomas, a non-terrorist, has been jailed under Australia's anti-terror laws. Now Faheem Lodhi has been convicted under the terror laws on flimsy, circumstantial evidence. It is likely he is another non-terrorist jailed for political purposes under the terror laws.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Anzac Day dawn services underway



Gallipoli (Gelibolou)

Thousands of people have gathered at Anzac Day dawn services around the country this morning, to mark the 93rd anniversary of Australian and New Zealand troops landing at Gallipoli.

The first national service commenced in Sydney and as always, thousands of Australians made the pilgrimage to Gallipoli.

Up to five thousand are expected at the first ever dawn service at Villiers-Bretonneux in northern France.

It marks 90 years since the battle which is known as the turning point of World War I.

389 Australian servicemen lost their lives in the two day surge which regained control of the small village from the Germans.

Related:

Return of the digger's daughter
For all those who chose to glorify the killers and those who buried their dead on Anzac day - instead of just remembering them - should also remember how many innocent civilians were killed and murdered in all wars and in the latest illegal and degrading wars on Iraq and Afghanistan - merely for their resources and not because anyone was attacked.

National RSL avoids row over veterans' descendants
The national branch of the RSL says it is staying out of a debate over where veterans' descendants should march in Anzac Day parades

Anzac heirs' marching orders
Sarah Dawson, 13, began marching in 2001 [when John Howard and his corporate cronies started to promote the war in Iraq and religious right wing nationalism] Sarah now says that "she marches in memory of her great-grandfather Harrie James Dawson, who fought in World War I as part of the 21st Battalion." But most likely she does however moved by the corporate claim that 'nationalism promotes wars' like Iraq and Afghanistan. What better way to encourage that by promoting and indoctrinating the youth with past wars as something to be proud about? ] "lf dawson, didn't die?" [Or if Sarah wasn't exploited at 13 years of age?]

Thousands take part in anti-war protests
Thousands of anti-war protesters have marched in Britain and the United States to mark the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq

Return of the digger's daughter


War means imperialism, killing, bloodshed, destruction and murder

For all those who chose to glorify the killers and those who buried their dead on Anzac day - instead of just remembering them - should also remember how many innocent civilians were killed and murdered in all wars and in the latest illegal and degrading wars on Iraq and Afghanistan - merely for their resources and not because anyone was attacked.

More than anything in today’s world war means imperialism, killing, bloodshed, destruction and murder for oil.

War is a lethal meme and is the root cause of domestic violence in our community. It remains a contradiction in terms to continue to glorify murderers’ and killers’ sent abroad and to jail murderers’ and killers’ in Australia for domestic crimes here.

Those who raped, pillaged, plundered and buried their dead for imperialism, queen and country should not be glorified in any way shape or form. Remember them as being stupid, scared or dead yes but glorify them no.

The quicker we reform the military into a Humanitarian Aid Group - who can also defend Australia the better - and the more likely that internal crime and domestic violence will be impeded - based on the very notion of leading a county by the example that; violence does not win.

Most of the corporate media and the Australian government in the lead up to this Anzac day have done there nationalist-corporate darn best - not to just remember them but to also glorify war and to exploit the children of war veterans. Shame on them.

Anzac heirs' marching orders
Sarah Dawson, 13, began marching in 2001 [when John Howard and his corporate cronies started to promote the war in Iraq and religious right wing nationalism] Sarah now says that "she marches in memory of her great-grandfather Harrie James Dawson, who fought in World War I as part of the 21st Battalion." But most likely she does however moved by the corporate claim that 'nationalism promotes wars' like Iraq and Afghanistan. What better way to encourage that by promoting and indoctrinating the youth with past wars as something to be proud about? ] "lf dawson, didn't die?" [Or if Sarah wasn't exploited at 13 years of age?]



Updated 29 April 2008

Commando death puts spotlight on military strategy


The news of the death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan has underlined the dire security situation in the country and brought fears that it will not be the last Australian casualty.

Twenty-seven-year-old Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) member Lance Corporal Jason Marks was killed yesterday morning during an attack on a "substantial number" of Taliban militants about 25 kilometres south of the Australian base at Tarin Kowt.

Lance Corporal Marks was a married father-of-two, his wife Casandra said his family was devastated.

The death takes the Australian death toll in Afghanistan since 2001 to five, and has again put the focus on Australia's military strategy.

Politicians, defence officials and experts on the region all agree the Australian death toll is likely to rise as the illegal and degrading war becomes bloodier - particularly in southern Afghanistan.

Unknown News
"News that's not known, or not known enough."

-- IN IRAQ --

30,000 IRAQI TROOPS KILLED
and 90,000 SERIOUSLY INJURED Aug. 2003

785,957 IRAQI CIVILIANS KILLED
and 1,414,723 SERIOUSLY INJURED June 2007

3,615 U.S. TROOPS KILLED
and 50,677 SERIOUSLY INJURED June 2007

287 OTHER COALITION TROOPS KILLED
and 861 SERIOUSLY INJURED June 2007

160 U.S. CIVILIANS KILLED
and 288 SERIOUSLY INJURED June 2007

251 OTHER COALITION CIVILIANS KILLED
and 452 SERIOUSLY INJURED June 2007

-- IN AFGHANISTAN --

8,587 AFGHAN TROOPS KILLED
and 25,761 SERIOUSLY INJURED July 2004

3,485 AFGHAN CIVILIANS KILLED
and 6,273 SERIOUSLY INJURED July 2004

342 U.S. TROOPS KILLED
and 1,026 SERIOUSLY INJURED Jan. 2007

278 OTHER COALITION TROOPS KILLED
and 834 SERIOUSLY INJURED June 2007

? U.S. and COALITION CIVILIANS KILLED
and ? SERIOUSLY INJURED

Related:

Thousands take part in anti-war protests
Thousands of anti-war protesters have marched in Britain and the United States to mark the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq



National RSL avoids row over veterans' descendants
The national branch of the RSL says it is staying out of a debate over where veterans' descendants should march in Anzac Day parades

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Girl who bashed policeman walks free

A teenage girl accused of instigating a vicious beating of an off-duty police officer and his girlfriend on the Gold Coast has walked free from court.

Tiani Slockee, 18, had pleaded guilty to two counts of grievous bodily harm in the attack on Constable Rawson James Armitage and Michelle Renee Dodge at Coolangatta in November last year.

Slockee was the alleged ringleader of almost a dozen youths who kicked and punched the couple, inflicting severe bruising and lacerations.

Southport District Court Judge John Newton placed Slockee on two years' probation, noting she had already spent 91 days in custody.

Slockee and Harley Lee Trindall, 18, along with seven other minors who cannot be named, were all sentenced after pleading guilty.

The harshest sentence was reserved for Trindall, who punched Constable Armitage.

He was sentenced to nine months in jail.

The court had earlier been told of the viciousness of the bashing, which crown prosecutor Stuart Shearer likened to an animal attack.

Const Armitage's head was stomped on while he lay unconscious and Ms Dodge had tufts of her hair pulled out by teenage girls as she tried to call for help.

Judge Newton sentenced each of the accused separately, with Trindall the only person to be sentenced to jail time.

Two boys, aged 15 and 16, who both admitted kicking Const Armitage in the head, received sentences of 15 months to be served in a juvenile detention centre.

The other youths, including a 17-year-old boy and three girls aged between 14 and 17, were given varying punishments, including probation orders and hours of community service.

After a full day of hearing sentencing recommendations yesterday, Judge Newton directed his opening remarks today to the nine youths seated in his courtroom.

"You have all committed serious offences of violence against two members of the public," he told them.

"Yesterday, the learned crown prosecutor categorised your behaviour in very strong terms, with words `gutless', `cowardly' and so forth and indeed even your own advocates recognised the sickening nature of your conduct.

"Let me just say this, you have brought disgrace and shame on yourselves, your families and your peers by what you have done.

"You have absolutely nothing to feel proud of."

Slockee was the only one to make a comment as she walked from court with her grandmother, and said: "I am very, very sorry."

Gold Coast police acting Inspector Matt Rosevear, speaking on behalf of the victims, said Const Armitage had accepted the judge's ruling.

"He believes the sentences have been just and obviously the ruling by the judge is what we abide by," he told reporters.

A mother of one of the teenagers said they had all been deeply affected by the event.

"Kids become separate from their victims and once they heard what the victims went through they were incredibly sorry," she said.

"They're deeply sorry and I think this is going to change all of their lives."

CFMEU calls for household formaldehyde probe

Australia's biggest building union is calling for the Federal Government to start an urgent large-scale investigation into the use of formaldehyde in household products.

The Government has already confirmed up to 50 Northern Territory intervention staff and police officers were exposed to concerning levels of the substance in the converted shipping containers they were living in for six months.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) says high levels of the dangerous carcinogen could be found in thousands of Australian homes as it is used in particle board and furniture.

The CFMEU's health and safety coordinator, Martin Kingham, says union members are exposed to the potentially carcinogenic substance in their daily work.

He says the health concerns extend to householders as well.

"There's also a long-term health effect for ordinary householders - particularly when you think of a kitchen, kitchen cupboards, that's where you store food, and tests have indicated that the formaldehyde cures out of the product into the air for up to 20 years after it's been installed," he said.

No jail for doctor who raped patient

The District Court in Adelaide heard that in 1989, when Tori Barnes was 16, she was on a houseboat holiday at Renmark in the South Australian Riverland with family and friends.

A friend of her parents, who was also the family's GP, woke her and raped her twice.

It was not until 2001 that Ms Barnes reported it to police.

A jury found the doctor, now 58, guilty.

Judge Peter Herriman today said he was hesitant about suspending a two-year jail sentence.

He told the doctor his conduct was exploitative and disgraceful and there had been no sign of remorse.

Outside the court, Ms Barnes said she was disappointed at the suspension of the jail term but pleased that the six-year court process was over.

The name of the doctor has been supressed.

Judge jails p-plater for driving 255 kph

A P-plate diver who was clocked at 255 kilometres an hour on the Hume Highway last year, has been jailed for nine months.

20 year old Justin Andrew Pickering sped away from police during five pursuits between Sydney and Melbourne in August last year.

The court heard the P-plater was caught driving his Subaru Impreza at 255 kilometres per hour.

In sentencing, Magistrate Rob Kumar said in all his years on the bench he had never seen anything like the speed this man was driving at.

He said it was almost certain someone would have died on that day if police had not called off the pursuits when Pickering reached dangerous speeds.

He has been sentenced to nine months jail with a minimum of three months and has been disqualified from driving for five years.

Disabled 'deserve secret ballot'

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission says it is time for New South Wales to introduce better voting methods for people with disabilities.

The call comes after the New South Wales Electoral Commission was found to have discriminated against a blind man, who was not able to cast a secret ballot in braille during the 2004 local government elections.

Darren Fittler asked for an application in braille four weeks before the Randwick City Council election so he could vote in secret.

But the commission failed to provide him with one.

The New South Wales Administrative Decisions' Tribunal ordered the state electoral commission to pay $5,000 for hurt and humiliation suffered.

The Electoral Commission says it will offer ballot papers in braille in the future.

But Human Rights Commissioner Graeme Innes says New South Wales lags way behind other states and territories in providing equality.

"This is a real wake-up call for the New South Wales Electoral Commission," he said.

"Many of us have been drawing it to their attention for some years. It really sends a signal that it's about time that they let everyone have a secret ballot and not just the majority of people in New South Wales."

Quote: The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission may be right here but everyone knows that they are just another stooge and arm of government and will only push what the government will allow them to. In other words if it is too hard for them and the government won't allow it then they wouldn't take any legal action to providing equality. So I particlularly don't think there is any need whatsoever to give them any credit, at all, for the likes of this article, opposed to all the other inequality and human rights abuses, right under their noses, that they have overlooked, especially during the John Howard government. For the likes of Graeme Innes all human rights abuse and inequality is a real wake up call for Australia. Not just when someone else has to take the action. Quote: "Many of us have been drawing it to their attention for some years."

NSW cracks down on rock-throwers

The New South Wales Government is introducing laws to make it illegal to throw rocks at vehicles or boats, whether the rock hits them or not.

Under the changes it will no longer be a defence for an offender to say they did not mean to hurt anyone.

NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos says under the new laws someone found guilty of the offence could spend five years in jail.

"The offence will apply to any person who intentionally throws or drops on or towards a vehicle or vessel on a road, rail or waterway and it delivers on a commitment by the [NSW] Government to legislate against this type of behaviour," he said.

"Rock throwing is a stupid and idiotic act which is extremely dangerous and won't be tolerated."

The laws have been announced a day after three teenagers were questioned by police over a rock-throwing incident in Sydney's West.

A driver called police about 4:30am (AEST) yesterday and reported the boys throwing rocks from the overpass at Cowpasture Road in Bossley Park.

Detective Acting Inspector Bob Tunks says officers found the 17-year-olds in nearby scrub.

"The boys ran off and were caught a short time later by police. All the boys have been spoken to," he said.

"At this stage police are making further enquires. The boys will be brought back to the station in a couple of days time and a decision will be made in regard to what action will be taken in regards to them."

Debate about rock-throwing laws was prompted by an incident in which a rock thrower caused a woman permanent brain damage.

The rock shattered the car's side window, hitting the rear passenger, 22-year-old Nicole Miller, in the head and shattering her skull.

In March 2008, a 25-year-old man was sentenced to four years in jail for the attack.

Quote: The fact is that children and youths will always throw something. For instance; if a person skipped a rock across the water and it landed next to a vehicles or boat do they get 5 years jail anyway? Why should taxpayers pay for that stupidity? What the state government is saying is we have got plenty of taxpayers money to throw away on learning curves? This is nothing but cheap political stunts and diversionary grandstanding over law and order issues. I'm sure the laws already cover throwing misiles at a person or property and 'depending on the damage caused' to that person or property, then a fine or punishment is imposed. Quote: "In March 2008, a 25-year-old man was sentenced to four years in jail for the attack."

Thousands flock to Canberra ahead of torch relay



Thousands of people have been streaming into Canberra ahead of the Olympic torch relay this morning.

Scores of buses have been arriving from interstate, and the city centre and parliamentary triangle areas are already packed.

International legs of the relay has been marred by clashes between pro-Tibet and pro-China supporters over human rights abuses in Tibet.

Police have been working with protest organisers to ensure the Canberra leg is peaceful and the two groups are kept separate.

Sam Wong from the ACT Chinese Australian Association says both sides have given assurances their protest action will not turn violent.

"Australian people in general are peaceful, harmonious, loving people," he said.

"Among all the communities, including the Chinese and Tibetan, those who live in Australia, I personally have had to deal with them in many, many years, they are strongly supportive of peace and harmony, because we are a great multicultural nation here."

Overnight a small crowd held a candlelit prayer vigil outside the Chinese embassy, just a few blocks from the route of the torch relay.

Tight security

Security will be tight today as the Olympic torch relay swings into action.

Barricades line the entire route and road blocks will ensure the public is kept at a distance from the runners.

A one-kilometre convoy will follow the runner incorporating 18 vehicles and 6 motorcycles.

ACT chief police officer Michael Phelan says he is hopeful protesters make for a peaceful day.

"Both our intelligence and our liaison with all of those groups has been very good," he said.

"They've assured us that they're looking for a peaceful event to try and showcase not only the message they want to get across but also showcase Australia and Canberra."

Related:

Four arrested in Kings Cross Tibet protest
Three Sydney men and a woman will face court next month after flying a pro-Tibet protest flag from a building in Kings Cross. The four have been charged with trespassing, after they gained access to a building and draped the flag over a well-known sign in Darlinghurst Road yesterday afternoon. The four will go before court in mid-May.

Tension builds as Canberra prepares for torch relay
The demonstrators have lit several hundred candles, some spelling out the phrase 'Free Tibet'.

Sydney Harbour Olympic protesters arrested
Two protesters were arrested on the Sydney Harbour bridge as the Olympic torch flew into Canberra this morning to a red carpet welcome.

Olympic torch touches down in Canberra
The flame flew in from Jakarta, where it was paraded through a heavily-guarded stadium last night after police stopped about 100 pro-Tibet protesters from disrupting the Indonesian relay leg.

Police get extra powers for torch relay

Amnesty International has published their annual death penalty count and China remains the top executioner in the world. April 16 2008

Tension builds as Canberra prepares for torch relay


The demonstrators have lit several hundred candles, some spelling out the phrase 'Free Tibet'.

Pro-Tibet activists held a candlelight prayer vigil outside the Chinese Embassy in Canberra last night as the city prepares to host the troubled Olympic torch relay.

A small crowd has gathered outside the embassy, just a few blocks from the route of the torch relay, and a low security presence is keeping protesters behind a fenced off area.

The demonstrators lit several hundred candles, some spelling out the phrase 'Free Tibet'.

The Tibetan community is planning more action today as the flame is carried through the streets of the national capital.

The protesters outside the embassy have been joined by a group of peace marchers from Sydney's Tibetan community, who have walked into Canberra.

The 17 pro-Tibet activists arrived at the embassy as fireworks were going off around the city to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic flame.

They had walked from Bungendore, 42 kilometres from Canberra, going without food for the past three days.

Protesters have been urged to demonstrate peacefully during today's torch relay and not to respond to any provocation by Chinese supporters.

Related:

Sydney Harbour Olympic protesters arrested
Two protesters were arrested on the Sydney Harbour bridge as the Olympic torch flew into Canberra this morning to a red carpet welcome.

Olympic torch touches down in Canberra
The flame flew in from Jakarta, where it was paraded through a heavily-guarded stadium last night after police stopped about 100 pro-Tibet protesters from disrupting the Indonesian relay leg.

Police get extra powers for torch relay
Amnesty International has published their annual death penalty count and China remains the top executioner in the world. April 16 2008

Report calls for Welfare to Work policy overhaul

A new report into welfare to work is calling on the Federal Government to make urgent changes to the policy in the May Budget.

The report was funded by the New South Wales Department for Women and looks at 70 single parent mothers and how they coped with the introduction of the policy in 2006 and 2007.

It found women were being forced to leave their careers and move into low-paid, unskilled work to meet the policy's requirement of working 15 hours a week, or having welfare payments cut off.

One of the report's author's, Eva Cox, says the Federal Government needs to make core changes to the system.

"I think what we should be looking at is not a 'one size fits all', not a rigidity - about 15 hours - but looking at people who can earn a reasonable amount of money in the time they're working, regardless of whether that's 10 hours or 15, or even eight in some cases," she said.

Kids used as bait over tobacco laws

Questions have been raised over the use of minors as bait to catch out vendors who are willing to illegally sell them cigarettes.

The Opposition claims the South Australian Government is breaching its own industrial relations laws by rewarding the undercover helpers with department store vouchers, rather than paying them.

Children as young as 14 are regularly sent in to try to catch out cigarette retailers who are selling to minors.

The Health Department offers $50 vouchers for the work.

But Opposition MP David Pisoni says the young people are being short-changed.

"The issue here is that we have the Minister for Health breaking his own State Government's industrial relations laws," he said.

Mr Pisoni says it is illegal to pay the children anything less than the appropriate award rate.

Dr Kevin Buckett of the Health Department disagrees, arguing the children are volunteers who perform a community service and are thanked with vouchers.

"We're consistent with the legal advice that we've had and we've run the program for six or seven years now and it's been a very successful program," he said.

"These are not volunteers, these are kids out there working for the government. Volunteers work for Meals on Wheels, volunteers don't work for government agencies."

The Health Department has ruled out any review of the program.

Cat clubbed: man avoids jail

A man who bashed a neighbour's cat with a golf club has been fined almost $3,000 but spared a jail term.

Michael Farrell, from Adelaide's northern suburbs, pleaded guilty in Elizabeth Magistrates Court to attacking the cat in his shed.

The animal was left with a fractured skull and severe internal injuries.

It crawled home but later died.

Farrell was sentenced to six weeks' jail but it was suspended in favour of a 18-month good behaviour bond.

'Pistachio murder': man found not guilty

A Supreme Court jury has found a 29-year-old man not guilty of murdering another man during a fight over pistachio nuts outside a Sydney pub in April 2005.

Twenty-five-year old John Tamapeau died from head injuries after the fight with Damien Hopper outside the Mortdale Hotel in southern Sydney.

The prosecution alleged the fight started when Mr Tamapeau refused to give Mr Hopper a pistachio nut.

Witnesses said they saw the victim trip, fall to the ground and hit his head.

They say another man then sat on him and punched him in the face up to 18 times.

But forensic consultants told the court it is most likely John Tamapeau died from an initial head injury when he fell to the ground.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Sydney Harbour Olympic protesters arrested


Two protesters were arrested on the Sydney Harbour bridge as the Olympic torch flew into Canberra this morning to a red carpet welcome.

There were no incidents at the tightly guarded airfield, but police said a man and a woman were arrested in Sydney while trying to display a banner on the Harbour Bridge.

The flame has become the focus of international demonstrations against China's role in Tibet and the Olympic host's human rights record.

"Two people, a man and a woman, were detained by security officers as they tried to unfurl a banner on the bridge," a police spokeswoman said.

There were reports the pair had planned to unveil a Tibetan flag, but the spokeswoman said she could not confirm that.

Overnight, a laser light display was used to project the slogans "Don't torch Tibet" and "One Dream: Peace in Tibet" onto one of the bridge's pylons.

Paul Bourke from the Australia Tibet Council said the display was designed to protest a plan to carry the Olympic torch through Tibet, saying it had nothing to do with sport.

"It is a blatant political manoeuvre by the Chinese leadership to symbolically cement and legitimise their control over the region," he said.

Related:

Olympic torch touches down in Canberra
The flame flew in from Jakarta, where it was paraded through a heavily-guarded stadium last night after police stopped about 100 pro-Tibet protesters from disrupting the Indonesian relay leg.

Police get extra powers for torch relay
Amnesty International has published their annual death penalty count and China remains the top executioner in the world. April 16 2008

Sydney paedophile has sentence reduced

The Court of Criminal Appeal in Sydney has reduced the jail sentence of convicted paedophile Gary Featherstone by six years.

The 59-year-old former music teacher was sentenced to 13 years jail in 2006 after pleading guilty to 12 charges of indecently assaulting four young boys.

The assaults occurred between 1983 and 1989 on victims aged between 11 and 14.

At the time of sentencing, the judge described Featherstone as a predator who targeted vulnerable boys for his own pleasure.

But Featherstone today successfully appealed against the severity of his sentence.

He will now spend a minimum of seven years in jail and will be eligible for parole in September 2011.