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Friday, December 2, 2016

Eddie Obeid too sick for jail

by JANET FIFE-YEOMANS, The Daily Telegraph
December 1, 2016 6:30pm
Despite his years of skulduggery, the former ALP powerbroker was able to rely on 55 character references attesting to his honesty, integrity and “good deeds”, including one from former Rabbitohs rugby league player, coach and administrator George Piggins.
“I have always found him to be good humoured, genuine, and a very willing helper and as having a real desire to help the club, its supporters and the people of the South Sydney District,” Mr Piggins said in a reference tendered to the court. Mr Piggins said of Obeid that he had “never had an occasion to doubt his honesty”.
Other references came from members of the Lebanese community as his legal team urged the court not to jail Obeid.
The former MP was charged over his lobbying of a senior public servant about lucrative Circular Quay leases without revealing his family’s stake in the outlets. His family had leases for Cafe Sorrentino and Quay Eatery.
“The time he has left on this planet, not to be too dramatic about it, is shortened,” his counsel Brad Hughes SC, said, urging a suspended sentence or home detention.
“Any time taken out away from his family is more precious because it is limited.”
Mr Hughes said Justice Robert Beech-Jones should take into account Obeid’s public work: “You are dealing with a man who has 20 years of service in parliament and that should not be discounted.’’
But Crown Prosecutor Peter Neil SC said Obeid was “far from death’s door”.
“We wish him well,” Mr Neil said, acknowledging Obeid had a “constellation” of medical issues including diabetes and a recent stroke.
“(But) the courts have repeatedly stated that ill-health cannot be allowed to become a licence to commit crime. Nor should offenders expect to escape punishment because of ... their health”.
Mr Neil said the only appropriate penalty was jail: “The public are entitled to accountability and transparency from those holding public office, especially elected politicians, and the avoidance of conflicts of interest.’’
There is no maximum penalty in NSW for misconduct in a public office and Mr Neil referred to former state prisons minister Rex Jackson, who was jailed for 10 years with a non-parole period of five years for accepting bribes. Justice Beech-Jones continued Obeid’s bail and will sentence him on December 15.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Moutia Elzahed sent home

Hamdi Alqudsi

One of the wives of Isis recruiter Hamdi Alqudsi got a shock this week when her case was thrown out by the judge.

Moutia Elzahed, joined by her husband and two sons, launched a civil case for compensation over 'assault and battery, wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and intimidation' when her Sydney home was raided in September 2014.

But there was a problem.  She refused to stand for the judge or remove her face covering.  She would never reveal herself to any man who is not related by blood, she said.

Judge Audrey Balla went out of her way to accommodate her wishes and offered to close the court while she gave evidence, as well as offering another room for her to speak via video link.  But both options were refused by her lawyer Clive Evatt because the male legal counsels would still be able to see her face.

So the judge sent her home.  "It's not fair" she said.

Her husband, Hamdi Alqudsi is currently serving a minimum of six years jail for helping young Australians to travel to Syria to fight in the war where Australian soldiers are currently serving.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Paul Wilson, Paedophile

It must have been a terrible shock for 75 year old Paul Wilson, after living his whole life as a respected criminologist, to be found guilty of child abuse this week.

And it has since been discovered that he has a history of defending paedophiles and promoting 'man-boy love.'

In 1981, Wilson published a book called The Man They Called A Monster based on the life of Clarence Howard-Osborne, a government official.  In the book he defends his child abuse and called it a mere 'hobby' and that paedophiles go to great lengths to look after the child they sexually abuse.

He also argued that the age of consent should be abolished. So you have to wonder then why Howard-Osborne committed suicide when he discovered that police were about to arrest him.

There was nothing wrong with having sex with children, Wilson believes, provided no 'violence, fraud, or pressure' was used. Paedophiles were portrayed as 'folk devils created by a vengeful society and a sensational press.'

In a section dealing with the 'rights of children', he added 'It is only logical that children should have the right to conduct their sexual lives with no more restrictions than adults do.'

Fast forward twenty years and Wilson's words came back to bite him.  He was found guilty of sexually abusing a girl under the age of 12 at his home in Brisbane between 1973 and 1976.

Prosecutor Phil McCarthy previously told the jury that Wilson had a persistent sexual interest in his victim and the abuse didn't stop until her family moved away.

He was convicted of four counts of indecent treatment of a child on Wednesday after an eight-day trial. The jury of 6 men and 6 women reached a unanimous verdict after two hours deliberation.

Wilson was sentenced to 18 months jail, to be suspended after six months.  

Credit must be given to the woman who was brave enough to bring this powerful, well respected man to justice after all this time.  It just goes to prove that no matter how long ago the abuse took place, justice can still prevail.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Let Dr Chamari Liyanage stay in Australia

Dr Chamari Liyanage

Two married doctors in Western Australia were living a happy professional life, according to their patients, friends and associates, but they had no idea what was really going on behind closed doors.

Dr Liyanage 36, bludgeoned her sleeping husband to death with a mallet and after reading what he expected her to do as his wife, it could be argued that she did a great service to the community.

She was acquitted of murder and sentenced to four years jail for manslaughter.

Her story is a sorry tale of physical and sexual abuse which sounds like a convenient defence for murdering your husband, but when police found what was on his computers, it became clear that what she had been saying, was true.

She said he used a metal chair to beat her with a wooden rolling pin and there were marks on the walls where he threw dinner plates at her.

He was addicted to porn and would keep her up at night to perform sexual acts to be streamed to strangers online and forced her to watch little children being sexually abused while they had sex.

Dr Dinendra Athukorala.

The court heard that her husband - Dr Dinendra Athukorala - kept 13 terabytes of encrypted child exploitation and bestiality images on his three laptops and hard drives.

Dr Chamari Liyanage is currently serving a four year prison term at Greenough Regional Prison and has been eligible for parole since June.  

But if her parole is granted early next year, she will be moved to an immigration detention centre and deported back to Sri Lanka because her visa was cancelled when she went to jail.

So she has asked Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to reconsider her case.  Because there is a shortage of doctors and it's very unlikely she will reoffend, it seems like a reasonable request.  

But Minister Dutton said he was unable to comment, as her visa cancellation is under review.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Springvale Commonwealth Bank fire

They all arrived at once. Dandenong Hospital's emergency department director Rachel Rosler cleared out the ER wing and they were ready and waiting.

"We didn't really know what was going to happen" she said. "People were on ambulance trolleys and chairs all being assessed by medical staff....their faces and necks were all black, all exposed skin covered in soot."

They were all victims of a 21 year old refugee who said the Commonwealth Bank had given him the run around and he had had enough.  Because he wanted them to pay, he was responsible for injuring twenty seven people, including children, two of whom are currently still in hospital fighting for their lives.

CCTV footage shows Nur Islam, a Burmese refugee who arrived by boat in 2013, then aged 17, leaving the bank and walking past the Asmara Cafe with an empty plastic container to a service station and returning with it full of brown liquid.  Witnesses allege he then poured the liquid over himself and on the floor of the bank before setting it alight and running around on fire.

It's a sad tale.  He has no relatives in Australia and his bridging visa prohibits him for working, but he is entitled to benefits of $430 a fortnight from Centrelink.

His housemates, other refugees from Burma, said they noticed the change in his personality as he became more and more frustrated with his immigration status.

When his mother told him his sister at home was sick and needed help to pay her medical bills, he was distraught and his housemates pooled $500 to help him.  

But last month his welfare payments were cut off and he was told he had to renew his income support information but when he went to Centrelink to have the problem sorted out, he became agitated and didn't wait, he left saying the 'line was too long.'

It's alleged that his case officer told him his welfare had been approved, but when he went to the bank, there was nothing in his account.  He went back week after week, until finally he snapped. 

His poor English didn't help him at the bank, he begged them to fix the problem because he didn't have enough money to buy food.

Nur Islam spent time on Christmas Island and then at a detention centre in Weipa. He moved into the share house about two months ago.

Mr Joseph who lives in the house first met Nur three years ago in detention.  "We stayed together in the camp for one month" he said. "After that he was released and when I was released, I came here to Springvale."

"Then two months ago, he had no place to stay and because we are all Burmese people, we helped him."

But Mr Joseph became concerned when he saw how he was behaving.  He started talking to himself and would pace back and forth in the backyard in the dark and thought there were spirits and ghosts in the house. 

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group living in Myanmar and are one of the most persecuted people in the world.

Melbourne mother Phalla Neary Khmer was inside the bank with her three children when Mr Islam entered the bank, doused himself with fuel and set both himself and the bank on fire.

She said two of her friends managed to escape but she and her children were trapped inside the bank when its emergency door locked them and several others inside.  "I thought I was going to die" she said.

Junior Dean

She said they owed their lives to brave onlookers including a quick-thinking father of twelve, New Zealand man Junior Dean who sprinted down a nearby arcade and charged into the bank's rear entrance and helped the people out.

It was there in a rear laneway that he caught the man and held him there until police arrived.

So if someone at the bank or someone at Centrelink or his case officer had taken pity on the boy and helped him resolve his problem with the system, would it have come to this?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Melania Trump's new job

The former Melania Knauss started dating Donald Trump in 1998. They married in 2005 and she gave birth to their son Barron the following year.

Before Melania, Donald was married to Marla Maples, a television personality, former beauty queen and mother to their daughter Tiffany Trump.  The couple met while Donald was still married to his first wife Czechoslovakian Ivana Zelnickova who he married in 1977.  They have three children - Ivanka, Eric and eldest child, 38 year old Donald Trump Jnr.  Ivana and Donald's marriage ended in 1992.

Melania grew up in communist Yugoslavia and speaks five languages - Slovenian, English, French, Serbian and German.


Sevnica, the Slovene town where Melania grew up has a population of around 5,000.  She moved to the US in the mid-90s, changed her surname from Knavs to Knauss and hasn't been back to her hometown for over 20 years.  Her parents and sister also live in the US.

A childhood friends remembers Melania as a quiet, kind girl who never complained and was always the mediator in a quarrel.

Nobody knows if Donald Trump and his wife are a happy couple, Michelle Obama and her happy family, is a hard act to follow.

So can this quiet, shy woman cope with the enormous task of being the wife of the most powerful man in the world?  Only time will tell and we can only wish her well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Australian shearers accused of cruelty

Animal welfare group PETA have produced video footage of shearers abusing sheep who may be on drugs.

"They use sports enhancing drugs to shear more" one Victorian worker said.

The videos - which show sheep being stomped on, hit in the head with a handpiece and stitching up wounds without anaesthetic - were taken as part of an investigation by the US affiliate of PETA and published online.

Sam Beechy from the Australian Workers Union said he'd heard reports of sheep having eyes gouged and jaws broken by frustrated shearers.

"A lot of these unfortunate instances could well be stopped very early if farmers and shearing contractors would take action as soon as this behaviour is noticed" he said.  "They're scared, they're scared to take action against the shearers."

The video footage was allegedly taken at 19 different shearing sheds in Victoria, NSW and South Australia.

Shearer piecework agreements mean the faster the shearer works, the more he gets paid and it's been suggested that some contractors don't care if their shearers are on drugs because the end result is what really counts - it's all about productivity.

But if they are being paid piece rates, I don't understand how abusing sheep adds to their tally at the end of the day.  

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce thinks the video is a setup. "One of the questions I ask is with the close-up shot of the man hitting the sheep - which is obviously exceptionally cruel and in many instances would mean instant dismissal - where exactly was the camera?"

"Did the person know he was being filmed, were they actually part of the process, there are a lot of questions that need to be asked."

PETA Australia has denied any suggestion that the video was a setup or staged.

There's talk of changing the payment system but it won't work.  A good shearer shearing 200 a day will not tolerate being paid the same as someone who shears 130 - he'll walk away.

South Australian livestock agent Peter DeGaris said the video could damage the entire Australian sheep industry and it is not a true indication of the shearing community.

"There's a growing demand for our mutton overseas, we're in a good period in the next 10 years and this could affect it" he said.

Absolutely it could affect it because cruelty to sheep won't be tolerated by anyone,  - not now, not ever!