Thursday, March 31, 2005


The inquiry found the UN chief did not improperly influence the awarding of contracts

UN secretary-general Kofi Annan came under ATTACK BY US CONGRESS?, on Tuesday over a report that raised "serious questions" about his son Kojo's dealings with the scandal-plagued oil for food program in Iraq.


A commission of inquiry found the UN chief did not improperly influence the awarding of a contract to Swiss firm Cotecna, which employed Kojo, but said Mr Annan's investigation into a possible conflict of interest was "inadequate".


Kojo Annan also actively tried to cover up his financial dealings with Cotecna and deceived the secretary-general about them, said the panel headed by former US federal reserve banking chief Paul Volcker.

It added that the secretary-general's former chief of staff ordered the shredding of three years of documents, which could have been potential evidence, one day after the UN Security Council approved the Volcker probe.

Revelations about wrongdoing in the UN's $US64 billion oil-for-food program, which oversaw oil sales by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, have embarrassed the United Nations and led to calls from the US Congress for Mr Annan's resignation.


The fact is US Congress has been trying to undermine the UN after they illegally went to war with Iraq so what does that make them?


The secretary-general expressed his "relief" after saying he had been exonerated by the inquiry.

"I was absolutely confident that a thorough inquiry would clear me of any wrongdoing. The committee has now done so," Mr Annan told a press conference after the release of the investigation's interim report.

"This exoneration by the independent enquiry obviously comes as a great relief," he said.

Mr Annan says he will not resign as head of the UN and indicated he would continue to work to push through his ambitious reform plan.



"There is no evidence that the selection of Cotecna in 1998 was subject to any affirmative or improper influence of the secretary-general in the bidding or selection process," the Volcker report said.

It said the evidence was "not reasonably sufficient" that Mr Annan knew in 1998 that Cotecna was bidding on an oil-for-food contract to inspect goods being shipped into Iraq.

But after the firm's contract was reported in the media in January 1999, Kojo Annan "actively participated in efforts by Cotecna to conceal the true nature of its continuing relationship with him," the report said.

It was later revealed that Kojo continued to receive payments from Cotecna as part of a "non-compete" agreement, long after his employment by the firm was said to have ended.

"He also intentionally deceived the secretary-general about this continuing financial relationship," the Volcker panel said.

"Serious questions remain about Kojo Annan's actions during the fall of 1998 as well as the integrity of his business dealings with respect to the oil-for-food program," it said.

Furthermore, if Mr Annan had ordered a thorough investigation of a possible conflict of interest, Cotecna's contract "likely" would not have been renewed, the panel said.

Document shredding

The interim report, to be followed by a final report in the coming months, also found that Mr Annan's then chief of staff Iqbal Riza, ordered the destruction of documents in April 2004.

The documents were of "potential relevance" to the Volcker commission, it said.

"The timing of this destruction order is striking because of Mr Riza's awareness of the committee's pending investigations," it said, adding that the destruction continued more than seven months after Mr Annan ordered all files to be preserved.

There is no question about the United Nations and Mr Annan's ability to lead the world body through his reform proposals.

By Mark Honigsbaum posted 31 March 05


Annan urges UN members to 'make poverty history'
World governments must embrace a broad strategy ranging from trade and debt forgiveness to handing out mosquito netting to "make poverty history", United Nations chief Kofi Annan says.

Attacks kill 21 two years after Iraq invasion
IRAQ: At least 21 people were killed on Sunday in attacks mainly targeting US/Iraqi security forces on the two-year anniversary of the US-led illegal and degrading war on of Iraq.

Wolfowitz's World Bank nomination worries Oxfam
The head of Oxfam in Australia has raised concerns about the nomination of US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz as the next head of the World Bank.

It seems the United States of America (The World Watchdog) is dictating and practising double-standards --- a unique law for America and another set of laws for all other countries.

Two years after the invasion of Iraq, there is more opposition to the war in the US, in the coalition countries, and all over the world than ever before.

Returning veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan
In the last two years, nearly one million U.S. service-members have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Regardless of how you may feel about the war, most of us agree that those service-members deserve the best possible care and treatment our country can provide.

The Veil of Freedom
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two years after the invasion of Iraq and just weeks before the country's first free election, [occupation, US puppet gov't] "Amina" began wearing a headscarf for the first time in her life. Her father insisted upon it.

Iraqi women eye Islamic law
BAGHDAD - Covered in layers of flowing black fabric that extend to the tips of her gloved hands, Jenan al-Ubaedy knows her first priority as one of some 90 women who will sit in the national assembly: implementing Islamic law.

IRAQ: Shiite and Sunnis to unite against occupation?
Iraq: "I call on all religious and political powers that pushed towards the elections and took part in them to issue an official statement calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of the occupation forces from Iraq", Moqtada al Sadr, the popular young Iraqi Shiite cleric who last year led an armed rebellion against the US-led occupation, declared on February 4.

Democracy, Iraqi style
"In a darkened hall, candidates for Iraq's main Shia party sit listening to a turbaned cleric speaking into a microphone. They are being told how to campaign for the election without getting killed.

Violence continues ahead of Iraq Shoe Sale
Pre-Shoe Sale violence in Iraq is showing no signs of abating with the deaths today of two American militants following on from yesterday's killing of 22 US/Iraqi militants.

US transport company pulls out of Iraq
A large American transport company has become the first contractor to pull out of Iraq because of the continuing violence.

Rumsfeld's war, torture and occupation ideology!
War criminal Donald Rumsfeld faced critical questioning at a Washington media conference, after the announcement that it was a suicide bomber who caused the blast inside a US military base in Mosul yesterday, killing 22 people including 14 illegal militants.

Annan admits to a tough year
United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan admits he has had his worst year at the United Nations and he is looking forward to it being over.

Iraq sale to be contested by 100 buyers
A hundred buyers, blocs and independents will contest Iraq's first shoe sale, in decades, on January 30, the George Dubya Bushit - Iraqi Sales Commission (GDB/ISC) said.

Fallujah refugees in desperate need of aid: UN
More than 200,000 people who fled Fallujah ahead of the US attack have yet to return and many are in desperate need of aid, with temperatures in Iraq heading towards freezing, a new UN emergency report says.

UN panel proposes criteria for legitimate military action
With countries still bitterly divided over the war in Iraq, a high-level panel appointed by the United Nations has recommended a five-step guideline to determine when to use military action.

Indonesians rally against Fallujah assault
About 8,000 Indonesian Muslims have staged a peaceful rally against a major US-led assault on Iraq's rebel city of Fallujah, which has claimed 2,000 lives.

UK politicians launch Blair impeachment bid
Parliamentarians and celebrity campaigners have launched a bid to impeach UK Prime Minister Tony Blair for "gross misconduct" over his justification for the Iraq war.

'This One's Faking He's Dead' 'He's Dead Now'
Fallujah: Video shows US soldier killing wounded insurgent in cold blood
by Andrew Buncombe in Washington.

US: Very superstitious? Writing's on the wall!
The US military says it has discovered close to 20 torture sites in the course of its massive attack against the resistance in the Iraqi city of Fallujah?

World Vision Aust pulls out of Iraq
The organisation says the country has simply become too dangerous and its decision to leave was made before the apparent murder of Care Australia's Iraq director Margaret Hassan.

US Senator slams !!! 'dysfunctional, rogue' CIA
Influential US Republican Senator John McCain blasted the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as a "dysfunctional" and "rogue" organisation that needs to be reformed.

Civilian death toll to rise in Fallujah
The attack on the Iraqi city of Fallujah has taken its toll on Iraqi civilians no doubt including children and young babies. Iraqi's have witnessed civilian casualties. Yesterday during the assault on the main hospital nurses and patients were blindfolded after the US/Iraq militia stormed the main hospital and took control.

Illusionary demons blamed for US led Attack Iraq, Fallujah
In the name of an illusionary figure thought up by US militants suggests that Al Qaeda's? ally "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi" has called on Muslims to take up arms against their US enemy as American militia attacked the Iraqi city of Fallujah? Just a coincidence or just good timing?

Full-scale attack on Fallujah begins
Correspondents say radio traffic heard at a US militant's staging post just outside Fallujah indicates US/Iraqi militia have moved at least four blocks into Fallujah, and are still advancing.

US/Iraqi militants storm Fallujah hospital
United States troops and US/Iraqi militia have seized the main hospital in the Iraqi city of Fallujah without a fight, according to a pool reporter travelling [in-bed] with the troops. Those in hospital beds did not resist they were too sick and the doctor kept on operating regardless.

US warplanes and artillery attack Fallujah!
Journalists [in-bed] with the US military say warplanes fired at suspected resistance targets around Fallujah as night fell on Sunday, while artillery shells pounded a nearby town.

State of emergency: Allawi 'killer of saints'
The US puppet, Iyad Allawi otherwise known as "Sock" killer of saints has declared a state of emergency for 60 days to quell violent resistance gripping the country ahead of January's shoe sale.

US Empire Votes For Pre-Emptive War!!!
United States President George Dubya Bushit has been re-elected, winning four more years to press his war on liberty after a bitter campaign against Democrat John Kerry that focused on the US empire's role as - imperialists - initiating pre-emptive war - on the sovereign nation of Iraq - without the United Nations approval and in direct contravention of International law.

Saddam's family dismiss lawyer
The family of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has dismissed the head of his defence team. Other team members had accused the lawyer, Mohammad Rashdan, of acting without consulting them.

Who's counting the dead in Fallujah? CARE?
In distress: CARE says it is deeply concerned about the wellbeing of Mrs Hassan. But who's counting the dead in Fallujah?

Iraqi civilian deaths put at 100,000
Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed in violence since the US-led invasion last year, according to public health experts who estimate there were 100,000 "excess deaths" in 18 months.

Unknown News Update - 2009
More than 103 times as many people have been killed in these wars and occupations than in all terrorist attacks in the world from 1993-2004. About 241 times as many people have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq than in the ghastly attacks of September 11, 2001.

Bushite group threatens civil liberties in Iraq
Allegedly a group led by George W Bushite has forced freedom fighters to threaten to behead a Japanese hostage it said worked with Japanese forces in Iraq if Tokyo does not withdraw its forces from the country within 48 hours.

US secretly moved prisoners out of Iraq for questioning: report
The CIA has secretly transferred detainees out of Iraq for interrogation after asking the US Justice Department to write a memo justifying the practice, which violates the Geneva Conventions.

Weapons inspectors missed WMD in Iraq
An Iraqi minister has said United Nations nuclear inspectors are welcome to return in response to concerns of an "apparent systematic dismantlement" of Saddam Hussein's once-vigorous nuclear program.

US accused of breaching international law
The United States is violating international law by holding prisoners in its war on terror incommunicado and in secret hiding places, Human Rights Watch said in a report to be published on Tuesday calling for an end to such practices.

Allies 'planned' Iraq war despite denials
The United States, Australia and Britain started to plan the invasion of Iraq months before the conflict, according to a report Wednesday quoting a leaked Pentagon document.

UN warns of Iraqi malnutrition
One in four Iraqis are dependent on food rations to survive and many of them have to sell what little food they have for basic necessities like medicine and clothes, the UN World Food Program (WFP) said.

Jordan's king doubts Iraqi elections possible
Iraq is far too unsafe to hold elections as scheduled in January and extremists would do well in the poll if Baghdad tried to hold it, Jordan's King Abdullah said in an interview. Excluding troubled areas from the nationwide poll would only isolate Iraq's Sunnis and create deeper divisions in the country, he said.

Annan tells world leaders to respect law
United Nations (UN) secretary-general Kofi Annan has made an impassioned plea to bring about the rule of law across the globe today. Mr Annan told world leaders to respect international law at home and abroad.

The 'coalition of the killing's' complicities - the US, Britain and Australia - have insisted that their countries' military action in Iraq was legal after they have committed war crimes against humanity.

Iraq war illegal, says Annan
United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan says the United States decision to invade Iraq in March 2003 was "illegal". Australia was a key supporter of the war on Iraq and sent troops to join the United States-led invasion last year.

Bush team 'knew of abuse' at Guantanamo
Evidence of prisoner abuse and possible war crimes at Guantanamo Bay reached the highest levels of the Bush administration as early as autumn 2002, but Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, chose to do nothing about it, according to a new investigation.

Journalists ordered to leave Najaf as fighting continues
Journalists have been kicked out of Najaf as clashes flared in the Iraqi city, prompting speculation that a major United States-led assault on enemy Shiite fighters was imminent.

Enemy Mortars attack opening of Iraqi summit
US Enemies have fired mortars at a meeting where Iraqi puppet government leaders met to pick an interim national assembly, killing at least two people.

Iraqi Women in the Occupation Prisons As Material and Means of Violations It is important to say at the beginning that there are many psychological, social and cultural obstacles for Iraqi women to talk openly about what they actually went through inside the occupation prisons.

Ancient Babylon ruined by foreign troops: Iraqi minister
Iraq: Foreign forces in Iraq have caused severe damage to the site of ancient Babylon, one of the world's most renowned archaeological treasures, and need to leave the area as soon as possible, Iraq's Culture Minister Mofeed al-Jazaeri said.

Whatcha Gonna Do, When They Come For You? Bad boy!
Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was a threat and sought to possess weapons of mass destruction, United States President George W Bush reaffirmed when asked why no such weapons had been discovered in Iraq.

Saddam trial US propaganda
Saddam Hussein's trial will play an important part in the US election no doubt and for that to work at its potential just put a "women" behind it "She called the trials". Then add some "cleansing" like she's just doing the dishes and then some "reconciliation" by slaying Hussein during a US election. Now you can go and tell everyone you're reversing the trauma but really you're killing two birds with one Saddam.

Decade after inspector left in disgust, report tells of filth

UK: Dirty, mice-infested cells, high levels of self-harm, and widespread bullying over drugs and medications were just some of the damning findings of a report into conditions at Holloway, Britain's largest women's prison.

Nearly a decade after her predecessor, Sir David Ramsbotham, walked out of the jail in disgust over conditions, the chief inspector of prisons, Anne Owers, found that many of the north London jail's "fundamental problems" remained.

In particular, Ms Owers said that four out of seven key recommendations made by an inspection team nearly three years ago had still not been met. She also criticised the jail for failing to meet a principal recommendation from 2002 that girls should no longer be kept at Holloway.

However, she praised the prison's management team for making significant improvements since her last inspection, to Holloway's healthcare system and the amount of time inmates were spending out of their cells.

Designed in the 19th century as a mixed prison, Holloway has been plagued with problems ever since the 1970s when it began admitting increasing numbers of women.

In 1995 Sir David called for "immediate improvements" when he pulled out of an inspection after seeing rats, ants and cockroaches, and finding heavy-handed security, bullying, inadequate education facilities,low staff morale and poor healthcare.

In recent years, prison reformers have expressed concerns about levels of drug abuse, self-harm and suicide. And last year, Inquest, an organisation that works with families of those who have died in custody, reported that Holloway officers were cutting down as many as five women a day from nooses.

In her 2002 report, Ms Owers said it was "inexcusable and depressing" that young girls were being held on wings alongside older women inmates.

In her new report Ms Owers found the practice continued.

She also found "unacceptable" standards of cleanliness and parts of the jail with serious infestations of mice, pigeons and insects.

Inmates were forced to use sanitary towels as improvised seats on filthy toilets and to plug gaps under doors in an attempt to keep out rodents.

"Holloway has undoubtedly progressed since the last inspection but not to the extent that managers had hoped and we had expected," said Ms Owers.

"The previous management team have tackled some of the acute problems with enthusiasm but aspects of the underlying culture remained unaddressed."

The chief inspector also revealed that none of the staff working with children and young adults had received enhanced checks from the Criminal Records Bureau and highlighted the "extremely unsafe practice" of locking young women in bathrooms while showering.

"While the intention was clearly to keep others out, the reality was that juveniles and young adults were locked in showers in groups of three without prior risk assessments and without constant staff supervision," said the report.

Yesterday Tony Hassall, the governor of Holloway, said this practice had now been discontinued. He also said he planned to transfer the last juvenile to more suitable accommodation this week.

According to the chief inspector's report, half the inmates of Holloway felt "noticeably less safe" than in other women's prisons and staff are having to manage a "very high level of distress".

Minority ethnic and foreign national prisoners were particularly vulnerable, said Ms Owers.

Although Ms Owers recognised that pressures on staff and management should ease following the opening last year of HMP Bronzefield, a new women's prison in Ashford, Middlesex, she recommended that Holloway should rework its anti-bullying strategy, comprehensively review its procedures for managing women at risk of self-harm and suicide and ensure that under-18s were no longer held.

Welcoming the chief inspector's findings, Phil Wheatley, the director of prisons, pointed out that Holloway had just opened a new mother and baby unit and a refurbished healthcare centre was due to be completed in April.

"The governor and senior management team are determined to maintain the impetus for change," he said.

However, Mark Leech, editor of the Prisons Handbook, said it was high time that Holloway was demolished.

"This prison has had more than enough 'final chances' and if nobody can improve it, I believe it is time to make a radical decision about its future."

By Mark Honigsbaum posted 31 March 05

End of years of despair as Holloway closes its doors

But now Holloway prison in north London - where Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be executed in Britain, was hanged in 1955 - has been earmarked for closure, along with several other women's prisons, which have been hit by a spate of suicides.


Most women 'should not be jailed'
Women make up 6% of the prison population in England and Wales. Imprisonment of women should be "virtually abolished", a prison reform group has said. The Howard League for Penal Reform said jail should be reserved for women who commit serious or violent offences and remain a danger to the public.

Youth 'murdered for officers' pleasure'
UK: An Asian teenager was murdered by a white racist after they were placed in the same cell as part of a game to fulfil the "perverted pleasure" of prison officers, a public inquiry heard on Friday.

Inquest blames jail for overdose death
UK: An inquest jury returned a verdict itemising a catalogue of faults at Styal prison in Cheshire, concluding that the prison's "failure of duty of care" contributed to the death of Sarah Campbell, 18, who took an overdose of tablets on the first day of her three-year sentence.

Put in the way of self-harm in a place intended to protect others
UK: Sarah Campbell, 18, spent the last hours of her life in the segregation unit of Styal prison, Cheshire. "The seg", as those places are referred to, used to be known as "the block", short for punishment block. [ Seg is a bullshit word for Punishment, Solitary Confinement, Torture, Mental Illness, Self-Harm, Human Rights Abuse and that is State Terror.]

Britain 'sliding into police state'
The home secretary, Charles Clarke, is transforming Britain into a police state, one of the country's former leading anti-terrorist police chiefs [false flag police chiefs] said yesterday.

UK solitary confinement
UK: Segregation units are prisons within prisons - the places where the most unchecked brutality is meted out to prisoners. In recent years conditions in high security segregation units have deteriorated, and the use of long-term segregation as a control mechanism has increased.

Inquiry must root out prison racists
UK: It is difficult to imagine a more brutal murder than that of Zahid Mubarek. The 19-year-old was clubbed to death by his cellmate at Feltham Young Offender Institution in the early hours of 21 March 2000. He was due to be released just a few hours later.

Prison suicides soar as jails hire 'babysitters'
UK: Prison officers are being taken off suicide watch and replaced by unqualified 'babysitters' because the system is overwhelmed by an epidemic of self-harm.

Plan to sell off juvenile jails as job lot
UK: The government is to put out to tender all its dedicated juvenile jails that hold children under 18 in a departure in Whitehall's privatisation programme.

Failure to sack 'racist' prison staff condemned
UK: Two prison officers suspended for racism are still on full pay three years after a stash of Nazi memorabilia, neo-fascist literature and Ku Klux Klan-inspired 'nigger-hunting licences' was found in a police raid on their home.

Report slams 'unjust' jailing of women on remand
UK: Six out of 10 women sent to jail while they await trial are acquitted or given a non-custodial sentence, a report published today reveals. Introducing the report, Lady Kennedy QC calls for a complete review of the use of remand and bail for women saying it is "inhumane and unjust".

Concern as UK prison suicides hit record level
UK: More prisoners took their own lives in English jails in August than in any other month since records began, prison reformers said today.

End of years of despair as Holloway closes its doors
But now Holloway prison in north London - where Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be executed in Britain, was hanged in 1955 - has been earmarked for closure, along with several other women's prisons, which have been hit by a spate of suicides.

How detox and self-help brought suicide jail back from the brink
UK: Six suicides in 12 months made Styal jail notorious and the Prisons Ombudsman criticised the prison and its staff for serious failures. But things are changing.

Belmarsh detainees consider suicide, says freed man
UK: The first of the Muslim detainees released from Belmarsh high security prison after being held on suspicion of terrorism has told the Guardian his fellow prisoners are suffering such severe mental problems that they constantly consider suicide.

Suicides and unrest have soared, admits Home Office
UK:The already overcrowded prison population is set to go on rising and will top 80,000 within the next three years, a senior Home Office civil servant warned yesterday.

England tops the EU in imprisonment
England and Wales jail more offenders per capita than any other European, Union country, according to new figures.

The HoWARd Government is simply robbing the disabled blind

Pro-Government Head-kicker Michael Brissenden?

Welfare [Social Services] sector braces for cuts?

KERRY O'BRIEN: Federal cabinet adjourned today still undecided about the final formula for what has become politically one of the toughest reform challenges the Government will face this term. For the past two decades, the disability support pension has been one of the fastest growing welfare payments [social security payments.] in the country and while unemployment is significantly lower these days, there are more people claiming the disability pension than ever before. The welfare [social] sector is bracing for the inevitability of a tougher Government approach, particularly after it takes control of the Senate from July. But there's still a great deal of argument about how reforms should be applied.

Political editor [Government Stooge and Corporate Media headkicker with eyes like Satan] Michael Brissenden?

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Mel Harrison is just one part of an alarming statistic - she is one of the 705,000 people in Australia who now claim the disability support pension.

MEL HARRISON: I've been in a wheelchair since I was 14 years old. Throughout my life I've had scoliosis and a range of other problems with my spine.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Australia has one of the highest rates of people on disability support pension in the world and the numbers are growing every day. For any government, this is a costly welfare crisis.

JUST US: But their medical practitioner and the government qualifies the numbers.

These people are not simply shunted on to the disability support pension. They claim they're sick and are provided with a medical certificate (to say that they are disabled) and the government is suppose to check it out and qualify those resuts and they did and they do. In other words they are certified less able!

And it is not as costly an exercise as reaping the 300 billion in corporate tax revenue received every year by the federal government! And if you account for the GST then the Government, Mr Brissenden, gets half the money back? Then if the government go on and spend that money on military hardware or war then one could easily argue that that money could be better spent on the social dollar?

PETER DUTTON, WORKFORCE PARICIPATION MINISTER: We know over the last 24 years, the disability support pension (DSP) cost has gone up by 34 per cent. The Australian population has grown by 35 per cent. It's almost a tenfold increase over and above population growth. There's 300 people a day go on to a disability support pension. There is about 705,000 on a DSP. We know that is a phenomenal growth?

JUST US: Really Mr Dutton so where are these figures? 300 PEOPLE A DAY GO ONTO A DISABILITY SUPPORT PENSION? Clearly that is just nonsense and because no one else argued against it and there are no figures shown to prove it, then what you and Brissenden are saying is we all have to believe you?

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Why is it happening? For all the seriously disabled recipients like Mel Harrison, critics say there are many others for who the DSP has become a refuge. It's attractive for the permanently unemployed for instance. There's no requirement to go out and there are no work tests?

JUST US: For all the serious disabled recipients? Excuse me but does that mean the others aren't serious? They're just faking it? Fake doctors certificates? Fake injuries?

Then who let them undeservedly get through the gate? In other words someone is not doing their job and has caused fraudulent claims that have burdened the real claimants?

PROFESSOR BOB GREGORY, SOCIAL SCIENCES, ANU: These are the sort of people, on average, who might have had unskilled factory jobs, warehouse jobs driving trucks and things and all those unskilled jobs, especially amongst the men, have largely disappeared.

JUST US: Well perhaps these are some of the people, on average, who might have had unskilled factory jobs that are now obsolete because of improvements in technology and got sick of looking for a job because there weren't any and became depressed? That still makes them disabled if they have been provided with a doctor's certificate and can prove they are disabled. And certainly they are not the majority of claimants.


PETER DUTTON: Three hundred people a day in this country going on to a disability support pension raises alarm bells for anybody objectively looking at the DSP.



MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The Government has proposed changes to tighten up the tests for the disability support pension before?

[BUT, BUT, BUT], but the legislation that included a proposal to half the work test to 15 hours a week was blocked by the Opposition in the Senate. Currently pensioners are moved on to the dole if it is deemed they can work for 30 hours a week or more. Only a few weeks ago a tough report from the OECD also recommended that eligibility for the DSP should be tightened. Now it seems the time has come. Today Cabinet put a number of proposals to tighten up the criteria back on the table. After July, there won't be an intransigent Senate and as a result there surely will be a tougher DSP regime. All the groups and the Government agree assessing the extent of anyone's disability and their capacity to work is an extremely grey area.

JUST US: But does than mean most people who are not disabled average 15 hours work per week? What about 30 hours per week? Then they're disabled in relation to an able bodied person, who can work untold hours per week?



And THE DISABLED should get support, for the duration of time they cannot work. Unless you are going to argue that, 15 or even 30 hours on an average pay rate with an additional $10 dollars (they get from working for the dole) and (loss of their current benefits) will then average out their income? Then the government is simply robbing the disabled blind.

PHILLIP FRENCH, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: It's not so much whether a person can lift a pen or speak on the telephone or do any number of other tasks, but whether they can get on the bus that they need to travel to work on or whether they can get on the train they need to travel to work on. Whether their employer is capable of making workplace adjustments that would allow them to get into the building or use an alternative to a keyboard and those sorts of things.

JUST US: Or whether they lack the ability, or whether they are too sick, or whether they're marginalised, or whether they're victimised, or whether they are vilified?

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: One of the proposals being looked at by the Government is the idea of a comprehensive testing and assessment regime by a panel they'll might include psychologists, labour market specialists and therapists.

JUST US: But they already have a number of those people who have gleaned the files, after their own doctors have certified them, and in some cases by more than one doctor and by Centrelink?

PETER DUTTON: I think it's a more comprehensive work test that would provide support to people with a great diversity of abilities and disabilities. When you talk about 700,000 people, you are talking about a great variance of conditions. Some people with the same condition have a very different work capacity. That is one of the great challenges the Government faces?


MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: But for the Government the emphasis is not moving people off welfare, rather they say it's helping people into work.

JUST US: Not helping people into work Michael but a the disabled to do more work than they can. Reducing their income and benefits. And spending the social dollar on warfare and not welfare? Where is the justice in that?

PETER DUTTON: We know that is a much better outcome for people if they are able to put welfare behind them and move on to a job. It provides for a better future for them and their family.

JUST US: We also know Peter that it is much better for people to do what they naturally can do so that their nature will be satisfied. In other words most disabled people already work part time or do volunteer work for the community!

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: It has to be said the truly disabled are wary. Mel Harrison, for instance, says the current system allows her to both work and claim benefit. She's certainly worried that the proposed changes would prove to be a disincentive for her to continue working. Hardly the outcome the Government is hoping for.

JUST US: THE TRULY DISABLED? Yes doctor BRISSENDEN qualified are we to make those assumptions are you? Went to medical school did you? You spinner of the week! And not truly a disincentive for her to continue working but for every other disabled person.

MEL HARRISON: I'm currently working 28 hours a week, paid. If these changes go through, that is over the amount of hours that I can actually work without losing my disability pension. I would not be able to stay at my job if the hours are decreased because my position is only a part-time position, which enables me to work up to 30 hours a week. I wouldn't be able to stay there if I could only work up to 15 hours a week.

PHILLIP FRENCH: I think Mel is a great example of a person with disability who faces substantial barriers to gaining employment, but nevertheless very strongly wants to be able to participate in the work force. If she fears that as a result of attempting employment she will lose her pension, then she will become risk averse and her health professionals and so forth will say she's too disabled to achieve employment.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Clearly this is not just about the seriously disabled? Economists like Bob Gregory point out the disability support pension has become a symbol of a wider economic problem that has yet to be adequately addressed. He, and some in the disability support area, worry that the wider social and structural problems will be overlooked in an effort to rein in the increasingly expensive welfare problem.

JUST US: More worrying is the wider economic social problem of paying the disabled $10 dollars for working for the dole? Taking away their benefits?

The Government then saving the difference of $20 dollars a week by posting them to Newstart and then spending their welfare dollar on military hardware and war?

BOB GREGORY: Those who come from unemployment benefits, about 40 per cent, have already been unemployed for four or five years or more. There may be people who are there that shouldn't be there, but that is not what this is about. This is about a large growth in people who can't find jobs in a modern economy subject to all the pressures that a modern economy generates.



Welfare Reform for Warfare Expenditure?

John Howard: "Self-evidently we would have liked the major combat to have gone differently ... [but] coalition withdrawal or defeat is unimaginable."

By Just Us 31 March 05


Encouragement is the key to social-services-to-work programs
Corporate Welfare! I think we should start with Ingeus Company. Telling us what we already know for $$$$!

Peter Saunders shake-up is long overdue: Welfare Not Warfare
Peter Saunders: Many DSP claimants are older men with limited skills who have had difficulty finding work?

Welfare Reform for Warfare Expenditure?
John Howard: "Self-evidently we would have liked the major combat to have gone differently ... [but] coalition withdrawal or defeat is unimaginable."

Govt plots post-July strategy?
Fascist Prime Minister insists he is not on a mission to punish welfare recipients [social services.]

HoWARd 'determined' to make the disabled woRK?
The Federal Government is considering a system of "coercion" and incentive to force the disabled to work. But what happened to 6 billion-budget surpluses? Why do they need to force disabled people to work? Do they need more money and less disabled people? Or do would they rather spend the money on WAR?

Opposition pension claims valid
The Federal Governments secret agenda to cut pensions, including the disability and single parent payments while spending billions on military hardware is just too much for most disabled people to accept.

Thousands march for disability protest
"We are not prepared to go back to the dark ages. This has to be reversed," Mr Preston said. "We are hoping that the community sees that we shouldn't be taking money from people with disabilities. These people have had it tough all their lives (and) there is already more unmet need than we can cope with."

Howard's Job Network Bailout
Up to 670,000 people on disability support pensions will be encouraged to sign up to the Job Network under a radical new plan to get disabled people off welfare and into work.

Corporate Welfare

Corporate welfare or how to steal social services?
Ever wondered why there are so many homeless, why we need a 10 pc GST, lack of services for mental disability, still paying off the Olympics, poor public transport planning etc etc etc?


Work for the dole is legal slavery
Work for the dole was originally sold to us by Howard as a warm and fuzzy light work project. We would be working for nothing but we would be enjoying giving back something to the community, so it was reckoned.

Peter Costello commended this result in his budget speech. Even if we were to believe this figure it still means more than half a million living at a level much lower than that is recognised as poverty.

Mark Latham's, token gestures for older unemployed
StandUp appreciates the fact that Mark Latham is concerned about older unemployed people. His specialist job network proposal aimed at older people might provide a bit of assistance.

Work for the dole failure for two thirds
THE Un-Australian: " MORE than a third of the people who completed the Howard Government's work-for-the-dole programs last year were in jobs or studying within three months of finishing.

Work for the dole? $10.00?
StandUp! Wishes to draw your attention to a serious attack on all of us--work for the dole. We were assured that unemployed would not be forced to work in areas where employed workers would normally be employed. This has shown to be a lie! Under work for the dole, unemployed have been forced to carry out; concreting, tiling, landscaping, repairs, renovation, painting, gardening, nurses and teachers aid work.

A major independent study commissioned by the Government and released today under Freedom of Information by The Australian newspaper indicates that the 'Work for the Dole' program actually reduces the job prospects of unemployed people.

Youth welfare system unfair: ACOSS
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is warning urgent action is needed to fix youth poverty and disincentives for the unemployed to improve their job prospects.

Bringing up children Can we afford it?
Peter Costello expects us to carry out our patriotic duty by going home and having more children. But for most people it is a struggle to bring up one child let alone two or three.

Federal Budget: Tax cuts for the rich!
For the Howard government, unemployed people are not even worth thinking about.

Private job network agency blues
Can you trust a private job network agency? No you can't! A friend of ours is registered at MTC Marrickville.

Indigenous Social Justice Association Djadi Dugarang

Centrelink puts the screws on prison debt
A 1999 study by the Brisbane Prisoners Legal Service revealed that on leaving prisoners had an average debt of $14,031. Almost one in five had a debt to Centrelink while in prison. This debt arose as a result inability to cancel things such as leases, Social Security payments, utilities and telephones.

Democrats approve tougher welfare penalties: But how does that pan out?
There used to be an old saying in Australia" if your hungry steal a sheep and leave the pelt on the fence.

Six weeks, six months, six years: inmates have little chance of making fresh start Even prisoners who serve short sentences are likely to suffer long-term consequences, including increased rates of homelessness and unemployment.

Military Spending

Howard: We as a nation have got to invest heavily in defence?
Fascist Prime Minister John HoWARd has indicated the Government will make major changes to work place laws, cut disability support forcing the disabled to work and increase his defence commitment.

Hill primed for war!
Australian Caretaker Defence Minister Robert Hill has announced a multi-million dollar upgrade of the Pearce Air Force base in Western Australia. Hill says $87 million would be spent on a major upgrade of the base, which is Australia's main flying training facility.

Troop deployment not a deepening of effort: Hill
Deploying an extra 30 troops to Iraq was not a deepening of Australia's involvement because they were being sent to protect those already there, Defence Minister Robert Hill said yesterday.

Auditor Generals damning defence report
The Defence Department computer system upgrade has cost Australia tens of millions of dollars in a gigantic bungle, according to the Federal Opposition. The Commonwealth auditor-general has issued a damning report into the project.


The Australian Coalition Against Death Penalty (ACADP) is (again) calling on U.S. President George W. Bush, to join the civilised world and destroy all chemicals of mass destruction, for the dignity and respect of every human life.

The three chemicals (poisons) of mass destruction are;


A barbiturate which induces general anaesthesia ...In lethal injections sodium thiopental is used at much higher than clinical dosage levels.


A muscle relaxant ... For lethal injection execution, Pavulon is administered in a massive high dose of up to 100 mg. Tubocurarine chloride and Succinylcholine Chloride are similar chemicals.


A toxic salt ...During lethal injection executions, a dose of around 50-100 milliequivalents is administered over a short period. Its effect at these concentrations is to upset the electrical signalling essential in regulation of heart function and to induce cardiac arrest.

Politicians in the U.S. should reflect upon the damage these chemicals (poisons) used in lethal injection inflicts on their country's reputation. The U.S. president frequently promotes America as the world's most progressive force for human rights. In his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush said that the U.S. long ago made a choice to respect 'the dignity of every human life'.

Chemicals (poisons) used in lethal injection have also shown they fail to deliver the suffering-free execution its proponents claim. There have been a number of cases in which it has failed to bring about the quick, clean and painless death as advertised.

Apart from technical failures in administering these chemicals to a human being, the pain and stress involved with inserting needles and tubes and the often lengthy time spent strapped to the death-gurney waiting to die - is both emotional and physical human torture.

The respect for all human life must begin with the world role model for human rights, George W. Bush, the self-acclaimed compassionate leader of the free world.

Chemicals used for the destruction of human beings must be either destroyed, or administered in the appropriate doses for surgical purposes only, as advised by qualified medical practitioners.

Failure to destroy chemicals of mass destruction for the intent of killing human beings - the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment of state-sanctioned murder - starkly gives the lie to the claim that the United States of America is a leading force for the preservation of human life.

By ACADP 31 March 05
© ACADP Incorporated ¨
The Premier Australian Internet
Resource on Capital Punishment


The difference between life and death can rest on the whim of a president or the ability of a lawyer. Whether or not the death penalty can be justified is very much up for grabs.

US: The American media reports that thousands of Iranians cheered, whistled and clapped as a serial killer was publicly executed in Iran last week.

The United States of America has withdrawn from an international agreement that gives detained foreign nationals the right to seek assistance and talk to their consular officers.

Corby lawyer pleads for Australian help
Schapelle Corby, 27, is accused of carrying over four kilograms of marijuana into Bali and could be sentenced to death if she is found guilty.

OHIO: Appeals court tosses death sentence for U.S.-British citizen
In Cincinnati, a federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out the conviction and death sentence of a man with dual U.S.-British citizenship who was convicted of killing a 2-year-old girl by starting a fire in his ex-girlfriend's apartment.

If you haven't heard about it yet, you will. There's a celebration in the air: Kenny is an innocent man living on death row in an Ohio prison and the authorities may finally acknowledge what we've known all along.

To prepare for Connecticut's first state-sanctioned killing in 45 years, the state Department of Corrections has spent more than US$33,000 on such items as training personnel, drugs (poison), intravenous catheters and tubing, portable restrooms, mobile offices, lighting and curtains for the witness observation room.

Child Offenders on Death Row
Recent Australian studies of alcohol and cannabis use show that girls are increasingly inclined to behave boldly. But boys out number the girls, two to one; and three to one in the juvenile justice system, mortality figures, speeding infringements and car crash statistics.

US death row numbers don't change policy?
The number of prisoners on death row in the United States appears to be falling, mostly credited to a single Governor who commuted the sentences of all the death row prisoners in his state.

Despite Drop in Crime, an Increase in Inmates
US: The number of inmates in state and federal prisons rose 2.1 percent last year, even as violent crime and property crime fell, according to a study by the Justice Department released yesterday.

How Denying the Vote to Ex-Offenders Undermines Democracy
For starters, hundreds of thousands of people who are still eligible to vote will not do so this year because they will be locked up in local jails, awaiting processing or trials for minor offenses.

DNA Evidence of Bipartisanship
Last week the U.S. Congress passed the Justice for All Act, which includes provisions of the Innocence Protection Act. As of this posting, the legislation has not yet been signed by President Bush. Attached is an analysis of the legislation prepared by the Justice Project.

Our Two Priority Bills sent to White House
US: The 8th National CURE Convention last June lobbied on Capitol Hill the Innocence Protection Act in the Senate and the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2004 in the House. On Sunday, October 10th, Congress passed both bills and sent them to the President to be signed.

US: A Californian man who beheaded a german shepherd dog he had named after his girlfriend, has been sentenced to 25 years to life under California's three-strikes law.

SAVE THE LIFE OF NGUYEN TUONG VAN:A PLEA TO SINGAPORE PRESIDENT On behalf of the Australian Coalition Against Death Penalty (ACADP) and in the spirit of respect for human life, I make a heartfelt plea for clemency, compassion and mercy, to spare and save the young life of Nguyen Tuong Van, currently under sentence of death at Changi Prison in Singapore. Nguyen Tuong Van, is a 23-year-old Australian man of Vietnamese origin. Nguyen was arrested at Changi Airport in December 2002, whilst in transit from Cambodia to Australia. He was later charged and convicted of drug-trafficking. In March 2004 he was sentenced to death for his crime.

A long-standing convention not to extradite people out of Australia if they face the death penalty has been abandoned.

Kids from 3 to 83 years old beat candy labeled "Justice" out of a big Texas-shaped piqata on Aug. 1 as dozens gathered in the Houston City Hall Park to celebrate the 30th birthday of Nanon Williams, an innocent person on Texas death row.

THE LAND OF BIBLES, GUNS, PATRIOTS AND THE 'WORLD ROLE MODEL' FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: The state of Alabama, USA, executed James Barney Hubbard. So what? ... you might say ... America executes prisoners almost every week!

Appealing a Death Sentence Based on Future Danger USA-HOUSTON, June 9 - Texas juries in capital cases must make a prediction. They may impose a death sentence only if they find that the defendant will probably commit more violent acts.

Forensics? In proposing a new death penalty for Massachusetts last month, Governor Mitt Romney offered firm assurance that no innocent people would be executed: Convictions, he said, will be based on science.

Silencing the Cells: Mass Incarceration and Legal Repression in U.S. Prisons People without a voice are not people in any meaningful sense of the word. Silenced people cannot express their ideas; they can neither consent nor protest. They are reduced to being pawns in the schemes of the powerful, mendicants who must accept whatever is imposed upon them. In order to keep people in a state of subjugation, silencing their voices is essential. Nowhere is this clearer than in U.S. prisons.

U.N. Group Seeks End To Executions The United States, Japan, China, India and Muslim nations including Saudi Arabia opposed the resolution. Burkina Faso, Cuba, Guatemala, South Korea and Sri Lanka abstained.

US: Execution Dear Friends, this is so sad especially for our dear friend, San Nguyen. San who lives in Oklahoma worked very hard with the rest of the Vietnamese community to stop Mr. Le's execution. You may remember San from being at CURE's First International Conference in New York City in 2001. San also plans to be at the 8th National Convention this June in Washington. Charlie

Please contact the Governor The Vietnamese-American Community, the ACLU, and many others want the March 30 execution of Huang Thanh Le commuted.

Cherie Blair attacks US over death penalty in Catholic paper Cherie Blair has renewed her attack on America's use of the death penalty. In a book review in the Catholic journal The Tablet, under her maiden name Cherie Booth, she says: "Capital cases are uniquely prone to error and thus call into question whether we can ever be really sure of obtaining the just result.

Death penalty: a lawyer sees the light The observation "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus" is illustrated by the two nations' differing reactions to the use of the death penalty as a legitimate punishment for murder.

OHIO: Judges join dissent on execution delay In Columbus, 5 federal appeals court judges say a convicted killer's request to delay his execution was illegally denied because 2 senior judges participated in the vote.

Stephen Romei: Death knell sounds for US capital law GEORGE Ryan gets my vote as Australian of the Year, even though he's the outgoing governor of the US state of Illinois. There's just no one I admire more right now, not even Greg's Kables Community News Newtwork..

Mexico Awaits Hague Ruling on Citizens on U.S. Death Row Sbaldo Torres, a convicted murderer on death row in Oklahoma, should have been dead by now, his appeals exhausted, his time up.

Jury Passes On Business Of Killing US: This drives the death penalty crowd in the legislature nuts. Yet another jury - another 12 men and women, tried and true, who had all attested to their belief in the death penalty - has refused to join in the killing business.

Ultimate Punishment Scott Turow has long juggled two careers‹that of a novelist and that of a lawyer. He wrote much of his first and best known legal thriller, Presumed Innocent, on the commuter train to and from work during the eight years he spent as an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago, and he has churned out another blockbuster every third year since joining the firm of Sonnenschein Nath and Rosenthal in 1986.

A Question of Innocence Rubin Carter: Day after day, week after week, I would sit in that filthy cell, seething. I was furious at everyone. At the two state witnesses who lied, at the police who put them up to it, at the prosecutor who sanctioned it, at the judge who allowed it, at the jury who accepted it, and at my own lawyer, for not being able to defeat it.

Amnesty steps up campaign to abolish death penalty Human rights watchdog Amnesty International is urging people around the world to pressure countries to abolish the death penalty.

'LAND OF THE FREE' SET TO EXECUTE TWO PRISONERS BY FIRING SQUAD: Wanted: Willing executioners for two convicted murderers. Must be psychologically sound and familiar with .30-calibre rifles. No victims' relatives need apply.

TEXAS EXECUTES 300th PRISONER Keith Clay was executed tonight, becoming the 300th prisoner in Texas to die by lethal injection since the rogue state resumed the death penalty 20 years ago.

AUSTRALIAN COALITION AGAINST DEATH PENALTY " ... Our nation was built on a promise of life and liberty for all citizens. Guided by a deep respect for human dignity, our Founding Fathers worked to secure these rights for future generations, and today we continue to seek to fulfil their promise in our laws and our society.

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Please note the following article shows clearly the hateful, uncaring and anti-human rights attitude as reflected by the Governor of Texas (and most other elected Texas officials).

Bush rules out death sentence review US President George W Bush says has dismissed any chance of a review of America's system of capital punishment.

Amnesty urges Bush to shut death row Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has urged US President George W. Bush to take a "moral stand" and abolish the death penalty after the Illinois Governor dramatically emptied that state's death row.

USA - A NATION IN TURMOIL: As the year 2002 draws to a close, little if anything, has changed in the United States in regards to state-sanctioned killing. Various campaigns, calls for clemency, petitions, and international condemnation, have failed to humanize U.S. politicians.

Here come de Judge - Time to Leave [266]
There have always been examples of rulings and interpretations that have supported the saying "The law is an ass". This is increasingly the case, because even the best intentioned judges are now facing an avalanche of new technologies and social change. But, it is no good making excuses for the judiciary and continuing to accept their strange interpretations. We must recognise that not only judges but the whole legal system will struggle more and more. In the end the whole system will become a farce. This is the way empires end.


The Corby drug trial has become Bali's latest tourist attraction. Australians are taking time off to lend moral support to Schapelle Corby.

As Corby arrived at Denpasar District Court yesterday for the final day of defence evidence, a group of Australian wellwishers looked on and expressed sympathy and amazement.

A Sydney judge and her magistrate friend - both of whom requested anonymity - said they had set aside time, to observe how the Indonesian court was handling the high-profile case.

Australians came out of sympathy for a fellow Australian and also to see the Indonesian justice system at work, so they can warn our children to lock their luggage if they come to Bali.

Corby herself has been amazed at the number of Aussie wellwishers turning up in court as well as to Bali's notorious Kerobokan Prison, where a 10,000 rupiah ($1.50) bribe will get them past the prison guards to visit her. "It helps keep Schapelle going," her sister Mercedes said.

Bali is awash with drugs and is known to be the drug capital of Asia. It is obvious that no one is bringing marijuana to Bali because it is not cost-effective. However, unlike 85% of Australians, most Indonesians think Corby is guilty.

By ACADP posted 31 March 05

© ACADP Incorporated ¨
The Premier Australian Internet
Resource on Capital Punishment

Ed: The more younger and good looking the better the bait!

Corby won't die she is just an example piece for the Indonesian Government who have no intention whatsoever in taking her life. All they want to do is scare everyone else off and I think they're doing a fine job at that!


Corby lawyer pleads for Australian help
The lawyer for a Queensland woman facing drugs charges in Indonesia says it is not too late for Australian authorities to assist her defence.

Chris Allen, took to the streets of Bali and found it possible to buy a smorgasbord of illegal narcotics from dealers.

Currently, 214 Australian citizens are languishing in prisons around the world. The majority of these having been convicted of drug-related crimes.

Two-thirds of world's resources 'used up'

The human race is living beyond its means. A report backed by 1,360 scientists from 95 countries - some of them world leaders in their fields - today warns that the almost two-thirds of the natural machinery that supports life on Earth is being degraded by human pressure.

The study contains what its authors call "a stark warning" for the entire world. The wetlands, forests, savannahs, estuaries, coastal fisheries and other habitats that recycle air, water and nutrients for all living creatures are being irretrievably damaged. In effect, one species is now a hazard to the other 10 million or so on the planet, and to itself.

"Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted," it says.

The report, prepared in Washington under the supervision of a board chaired by Robert Watson, the British-born chief scientist at the World Bank and a former scientific adviser to the White House, will be launched today at the Royal Society in London. It warns that:

- Because of human demand for food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel, more land has been claimed for agriculture in the last 60 years than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined.

- An estimated 24% of the Earth's land surface is now cultivated.

- Water withdrawals from lakes and rivers has doubled in the last 40 years. Humans now use between 40% and 50% of all available freshwater running off the land.

- At least a quarter of all fish stocks are overharvested. In some areas, the catch is now less than a hundredth of that before industrial fishing.

- Since 1980, about 35% of mangroves have been lost, 20% of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed and another 20% badly degraded.

- Deforestation and other changes could increase the risks of malaria and cholera, and open the way for new and so far unknown disease to emerge.

In 1997, a team of biologists and economists tried to put a value on the "business services" provided by nature - the free pollination of crops, the air conditioning provided by wild plants, the recycling of nutrients by the oceans. They came up with an estimate of $33 trillion, almost twice the global gross national product for that year. But after what today's report, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, calls "an unprecedented period of spending Earth's natural bounty" it was time to check the accounts.

"That is what this assessment has done, and it is a sobering statement with much more red than black on the balance sheet," the scientists warn. "In many cases, it is literally a matter of living on borrowed time. By using up supplies of fresh groundwater faster than they can be recharged, for example, we are depleting assets at the expense of our children."

Flow from rivers has been reduced dramatically. For parts of the year, the Yellow River in China, the Nile in Africa and the Colorado in North America dry up before they reach the ocean. An estimated 90% of the total weight of the ocean's large predators - tuna, swordfish and sharks - has disappeared in recent years. An estimated 12% of bird species, 25% of mammals and more than 30% of all amphibians are threatened with extinction within the next century. Some of them are threatened by invaders.

The Baltic Sea is now home to 100 creatures from other parts of the world, a third of them native to the Great Lakes of America. Conversely, a third of the 170 alien species in the Great Lakes are originally from the Baltic.

Invaders can make dramatic changes: the arrival of the American comb jellyfish in the Black Sea led to the destruction of 26 commercially important stocks of fish. Global warming and climate change, could make it increasingly difficult for surviving species to adapt.

A growing proportion of the world lives in cities, exploiting advanced technology. But nature, the scientists warn, is not something to be enjoyed at the weekend.

Conservation of natural spaces is not just a luxury.

"These are dangerous illusions that ignore the vast benefits of nature to the lives of 6 billion people on the planet. We may have distanced ourselves from nature, but we rely completely on the services it delivers."

By Tim Radford posted 31 March 05

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Witch-hunt targets scientists

QLD: SCIENTISTS at the John Tonge Centre are being threatened with jail in the wake of a government hunt for the source of leaks highlighting serious problems in the forensic laboratories.

Queensland Health has ordered a sweeping review of the centre after leaks to The Courier-Mail forced an official admission of problems and sparked a review of the centre.

Sources close to the centre said scientific staff were "furious and close to walking out in disgust" after being told to get independent legal advice and prepare for questioning.

Senior bureaucrats will begin a probe into the leaks.

Scientists have been warned a police investigation is probable and any unauthorised disclosure of information about the troubles at the centre could result in prosecution and imprisonment for two years.

News of the inquiry, which was condoned by Health Minister Gordon Nuttall, was leaked and within minutes of scientists being given formal written notices warning of the ramifications.

"They are upset and feel intimidated," said a source at John Tonge. "They are getting advice on whether they will even turn up. The department wants to include past and present staff in the inquiry."

Scientists met and took advice from the Queensland Public Sector Union before deciding to flatly refuse to participate in any investigation.

Mr Nuttall's office confirmed the probe, describing it as an "internal audit around the information provided to The Courier-Mail".

Mr Nuttall, who has responded to revelations about equipment and accuracy problems and a huge backlog by ordering an external review and starting the outsourcing of scientific testing, yesterday refused to comment on the crackdown.

In a statement, Queensland Health said: "It is usual practice for Queensland Health's internal Audit Branch to investigate any unauthorised release of confidential documents as such actions are breaches of the Queensland Health Code of Conduct."

Staff, who have been heartened recently that public disclosure of the problems is finally leading to some ministerial action, are furious.

"It has a (management) culture that refuses to accept there's a problem a culture where everyone who dares to criticise is written off as an idiot," said Ron Grice, a former senior scientist at the centre.

"Staff are demoralised, traumatised and angry. The backlogs there today are worse than three years ago when I left despite the millions of dollars put into the place. Morale is at an all-time low. I often wonder why the whole place doesn't just implode."

Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg accused the Beattie Government of embarking on a reign of terror "to silence public servants and whistle blowers with legal threats and intimidation".

"Rather than fix the problems and answer the questions, they go out to get even with the people who showed them up," he said. "That's clearly the consequence of raising any concerns about this government they will get even with you and fit you up."

Mr Beattie, who leaked Crown Law advice about himself , told Parliament that he valued "open, accountable and transparent processes", but it was wrong for public servants to leak material.

The leaks inquiry will try to determine who provided The Courier-Mail with an internal document exposing flaws in the testing of human DNA.

By Hedley Thomas posted 30 March 05


Fresh swipe at DNA labs
Scientist Kris Bentley, whose departure yesterday follows that of forensic biologist Deanna Belzer after concerns about "inaccurate" DNA results and unvalidated equipment, issued a scathing resignation letter leaked to The Courier-Mail.

DNA leads 'CSI' cold-case squad to first arrest?
Frozen case? I don't really know what to say about them until they come up with their case. They say it involves DNA evidence but that's the only stuff we know.

Criminal's DNA filed under relative's name
The New South Wales Opposition is calling for an investigation into claims that police have entered DNA data for serious offenders under incorrect names.

DNA fingerprinting 'no longer foolproof'...
The genetic profiles held by police for criminal investigations are not sophisticated enough to prevent false identifications, according to the father of DNA fingerprinting.

PROFESSOR BARRY BOETTCHER: Now, there should be a law enacted within Queensland so that when cases come up like this they can be brought to attention and if an appropriate authority such as a judge of your Supreme Court considers that it merits further inquiry, an inquiry be ordered.

'Rape' officer clears his name
UK: A former policeman has been cleared of rape after protesting his innocence for 15 years. Judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh ruled that Brian Kelly, 47, had suffered a miscarriage of justice over crucial DNA evidence.

New unit investigates unsolved deaths?
A new police unit has been established to investigate more than 360 unsolved deaths in New South Wales, with many of the deaths dating back more than 30 years.

Prisoner's bid for review denied
Prisoner Roger Cheney has lost a Supreme Court action to have a judicial review of his 1993 convictions an 30-year jail sentence. Justice Shaw said he was concerned about the prisoner's claim that DNA evidence held by the police could prove his innocence. Although Cheney had requested the results of the DNA tests, he had been denied access to the forensic analysis.

QLD Prisoners DNA Bid THE curious case of Queensland's "cat lady" murder is set to test the state's legal authorities again, with the man convicted of the killing asking the Attorney-General to take the unprecedented step of releasing blood samples for DNA retesting.

Database clears up crimes?
NSW Police Minister John Watkins said at the launch of a Sydney conference of international forensic experts meeting to mark 100 years of fingerprinting in NSW. He said the collection of DNA from prisoners and suspects in NSW during the past two years had led to more than 5,400 matches on the forensic database.

A Question of Innocence
Katrina Bolton: The promise of DNA freeing the innocent as well as convicting the guilty has been repeated by politicians across Australia, usually while DNA laws are being expanded. The promise was made as a national DNA database, ‘Crimtrac’ was created, and it was made as NSW introduced legislation giving unprecedented powers to take DNA samples from prisoners, by force if necessary.

Weak Carr Government suspends Innocence Panel
It's a callous disregard for justice! The panel takes applications from convicted prisoners for DNA evidence to be analysed a move that may help in a future court appeal.

JUST BEAT IT! Govt lauds crime-solving technology?
The New South Wales Government says advances in crime solving technology are helping the progress of hundreds of police investigations.

DNA testing causes debate in murder case
The use of voluntary DNA testing in the investigation of a murder case in New South Wales has been applauded by victim support groups who are ill informed about the process said Justice Action's spokesperson Gregory Kable.

Abolition of double jeopardy law a political stunt: NSW Opp
Why draconian laws? What about the re-trial by media that goes along with it? Twice shy?

The NSW government has finally appointed somebody (Justice John Nader) to head up its Innocence Panel and has produced leaflets and forms for people convicted of serious crimes (eg murder) to apply for DNA testing if they believe it may help prove their innocence. You can get the info by phoning 1300 881 717 or writing to the panel at GPO Box 45 Sydney NSW 2001.

Is the Westminster System flawed?
Most people would say Lady Di got the boot and NSW has so much trouble getting the Innocence Panel moving. I said hey, what's going on!

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder Mass DNA testing of prisoners has led to the first NSW case of a person being charged with a previously unsolved murder as a result of a controversial gene-matching data bank. The Herald reported 25 Nov 02 "a DNA saliva swab led to the charging of a former prisoner with the bashing murder of a woman. Police had been unable to find any witnesses or suspects following the murder in Sydney's inner city two years ago. Detectives had admitted they faced a tough job finding the killer."

Prisoners can prove innocence for $20
Les Kennedy Daily Telegraph reported today that" Prisoners who believe that DNA will prove they were wrongly convicted will have the chance to prove their innocence for a mere $20 administration fee. The move comes 20 months after NSW inmates were asked to provide DNA for comparison with a databank of DNA from unsolved crime scenes for possible convictions.

DNA yours or mine?
Now they have isolated two genes that they say tells you if you're more likely to be depressed. What does that mean? It could mean that you should stay in jail because you are more likely than not to continue your offending behaviour according to a Department of Corrective Services Forensic Psychiatrist.

DNA = Do Not Assume - DNA Controversies!
The national DNA database of all known offenders proposed by Prime Minister Tony Blair could mean that innocent people will be accused of crimes they did not commit.

DNA Evidence of Bipartisanship
Last week the U.S. Congress passed the Justice for All Act, which includes provisions of the Innocence Protection Act. As of this posting, the legislation has not yet been signed by President Bush. Attached is an analysis of the legislation prepared by the Justice Project.

DNA - A Shadow of Doubt
One case points to misinterpretation of evidence that helped put a man behind bars. The other shows just how easy it is to plant falsely incriminating DNA evidence. As our forensic techniques become ever more sensitive, so the possibility of abuse continues to grow.

Here come de Judge - Time to Leave [266]
There have always been examples of rulings and interpretations that have supported the saying "The law is an ass". This is increasingly the case, because even the best intentioned judges are now facing an avalanche of new technologies and social change. But, it is no good making excuses for the judiciary and continuing to accept their strange interpretations. We must recognise that not only judges but the whole legal system will struggle more and more. In the end the whole system will become a farce. This is the way empires end.

2nd Renaissance -15 The Rabbits And The Wolves [180]
Historically, there have been periods when legal distinctions between animals and humans have been blurred. For instance, in medieval Europe, in the 14th and 15th centuries, numerous trials and executions of animals occurred. One source identifies 34 recorded instances of pigs having been tried and cruelly put to death. Besides pigs; rats, chickens, goats, and bees were similarly tried. Some of the pigs were fully dressed in human clothes at the time they were, inevitably, found guilty. In one case a vicar excommunicated a flock of sparrows that infested his church. All this happened despite the theological stance that animals had no soul, and no morals or conscience. They could not really be guilty of transgressing the Rule of Law.