Assange indictment: is the Australian Government ignorant or complicit?

Assange indictment: is the Australian Government ignorant or complicit?

Greens communications spokesperson Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, Wednesday February 29th, 2012

“A private intelligence firm in Texas has known of a sealed Grand Jury indictment on Australian citizen Julian Assange for more than one year. When did our government know?”

Australian Greens communications spokesperson, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, will ask this question of the Prime Minister’s representative in Senate Question Time today.

“Has the United States Government kept this indictment secret from Australia for 13 months, or has the Prime Minister been keeping it secret from us?”

“The Australian Government has either been kept spectacularly ignorant by the US, or is complicit in this attempt to destroy the WikiLeaks organisation.”

An email sent on 26 January 2011 by Stratfor Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton states: ‘We have a sealed indictment on Assange.’

“My questions on notice have yielded little on this matter. Our now-former Foreign Minister was ‘not aware of any current extradition request’, and when pushed said he had asked but that this was a matter for the Attorney General. The then Attorney General said he was ‘not aware’ and that this is a matter for the US anyway.

“My Freedom of Information requests to the Prime Minister, Attorney General and Foreign Minister have been inordinately delayed and frustrated at every turn. It’s time for the truth.”

For Senator Ludlam’s work on Wikileaks and Assange see:

Media contact: Giovanni Torre – 0417 174 302

Govt MPs banned from #westpapua meeting by @kruddmp ‘s replacement ABC News: Labor MPs defy West Papua meeting ban

( Btw I’m blogging this to auto tweet because abc’s iPhone App won’t let me RT it – SBS RTs fine )

Labor MPs defy West Papua meeting ban
A small group of Federal Government backbenchers has defied a party warning by attending an event promoting human rights protection in West Papua.

The Greens hosted the launch of the Australia-Pacific chapter of International Parliamentarians for West Papua in Parliament House today.

West Papua, a …

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#Australia Govt won’t reveal stance on #Iran war, appears clueless after Qs from @SenatorLudlam

Government won’t reveal stance on Iran war

Media Release: Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, Monday February 27th, 2012.

The Government refused to answer three successive questions from the Greens in the Senate today regarding the possibility of strikes on Iran, and on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Greens Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam said “Senator Stephen Conroy, representing whoever is the Foreign Minister at the moment, provided meaningless responses to these vital questions”.

“Asked to explain the Government’s position on a military strike by the US or Israel on Iranian nuclear facilities, the Government expressed neither support nor opposition.

“Asked what, if any, representations the Australian Government has made to the governments the United States or Israel on the potential for a military strike, Labor dodged again.

“It was a clueless showing from the Government on a matter of urgent importance. Given the key role Russia has played in assisting Iran’s nuclear ambitions, I also asked what the Government was doing to ensure Australian uranium sold to Russia would not end up in Iran. Again, there was no answer.

“There are 78 million people living in Iran. A strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, located in built-up urban areas, would be catastrophic, and could precipitate yet another drawn-out war. We have learned from Iraq that the evocation of alleged weapons of mass destruction as a pretext for war should be treated with extreme caution.

“The Government should make their position clear. This is not an issue to be skirted around. The prospect of war is not a public relations exercise to be finessed. The Australian people have a right to know where their Government stands.”

Media Contact: Giovanni Torre – 0417 174 302

#australia Labor Govt trying to sneak #nuclear waste Bill thru during #respill #oscars & #gifiles – V @senatorludlam “Labor attempts to sneak nuclear waste dump under the radar”

Thanks to Scott and team for this
(Ed: Of all the lowdown, dirty, underhanded, conniving, cynical, morally bankrupt, dangerous, duplicitous ….)

Labor attempts to sneak nuclear waste dump under the radar

Media Release: Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, Monday February 27th, 2012.

Labor’s attempt to pass widely-opposed nuclear waste dump legislation under the cover of their leadership squabble is cynical and shameless, the Australian Greens said today.

The Greens spokesperson for nuclear issues, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, said Labor wants to pass the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill behind the fog of the leadership dispute because the law is “completely rotten”.

“The Traditional Owners do not want this eternal radioactive waste dump on their country; the locals don’t want it; the Northern Territory government does not want it; and medical experts have criticised the Government’s scheme.

“There is a Federal Court case currently unresolved as to the status of this land, yet the Government pushes on – lead by a resources and energy minister obsessed with the nuclear industry. This legislation does not just represent a problem for Muckaty – it places enormous and virtually unchecked power in the hands of that solitary minister.

“Medical experts have argued correctly that we don’t need a reactor to make medical isotopes. This dump is not about ‘low level medical waste’ – but high level waste which is scheduled to land in Australia from the UK and France.

“Last month, in a report to the US Energy Secretary, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future strongly recommended a ‘consent-based approach to siting nuclear waste storage… noting that ‘trying to force such facilities on unwilling states, tribes and communities has not worked’. The Government ignores the lessons of history and blunders on at the behest of the nuclear industry.”

Media Contact: Giovanni Torre – 0417 174 302

#Law – International #Justice Conference #Perth – Standard registration fee closes Friday 2 March 7 CPD POINTS

Please share this with your local legal Eagles and Justice activists – see the formidable line-up of speakers and issues below.

Robert Richter QC has requested a registration extension for the standard fee to Friday the 2nd of March so his colleagues have more time to review their court diaries.

Late registration fees apply from the 3rd of March – no further extensions.


17 speakers over 3 days – 7 CPD points

· Dr Thomas Muller – one of Europe’s leading profilers, the Austrian criminal psychologist has worked on cases for abductor Josef Fritzl (Austria), cannibal Armin Meiwes (Germany), serial offenders Jack Unterweger (Austria), Horst David and Frank Gust (Germany), Moses Sithole (South Africa) and Misha Ebner (Switzerland) and letter bomber Franz Fuchs (Austria).

· Dr John Olsson – an independent forensic linguistics expert who has worked on more than 400 cases at the highest courts in the UK, USA, Australia and Canada.

· Professor Richard Shepherd – a leading forensic pathologist in the UK who has worked on inquiries and investigations for the Bloody Sunday, Diana, Princess of Wales, Dodi Al Fayed, Dr David Kelly (former United Nations weapons inspector), 9/11 and Bali bombing.

· Robert Richter QC – one of Australia’s leading criminal barristers.

· Joe Slemko – a Canadian specialising in the science of bloodstain pattern analysis and crime scene reconstruction.

· Gerard Dutton – one of Australia’s senior and most accomplished forensic firearms experts.

· Clint Hampson – an expert in forensic science. DNA, blood spatter analysis, crime scene management, fingerprinting, forensic photography and digital forensics.

· Robin Napper – a forensically-driven crime investigator who was at the forefront of the DNA revolution in the UK.

· Barry C. Scheck– a Professor of Law and co-founder of the Innocence Project in USA that uses DNA evidence to exonerate the wrongly convicted.

· Estelle Blackburn – award winning investigative journalist.

· Professor Paul Wilson OAM – an Australian criminologist and forensic psychologist who has worked on a number of miscarriages of justice cases.

· Lieutenant ColonelDan Mori – US Marine and David Hick’s former lawyer.

Hear firsthand from those whose terrible ordeals as victims of injustice have been portrayed in Hollywood movies, including Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton (Australia), Dr Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter (USA), Betty Anne Waters (USA) and Graham Stafford (Australia). It will also be the first time that David Bain has spoken about his experience (New Zealand).

Go to

For registration enquiries, please contact EECW Pty Ltd on eecw


Paul Montani B.Bus FCA CFP


Founder and CEO

PO Box 8455


“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing”

– Edmund Burke

#australia #law #indigenous – pls share: “Struggling for Justice, Three Years on” – Bellotti Support Group (BSG)

Please read and circulate, share, post on your social media sites.

As a community we all have a duty to fight for the rights of all, otherwise human rights will eventuate for none of us.

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Tuesday 6th March 2012 – 3 years since Rex Bellotti Junior was run over by members of the WA police in their 4WD.

In the three years since Rex Bellotti Junior, then 15 years of age, nearly lost his life, his family has continually fought for justice, demanded accountability from within the WA police, pleaded for mental health support services… a sign from the community, and from those who possess the most power within our community, to acknowledge that what happened to Rex Junior is abhorrent and unacceptable.

Rex Bellotti Junior has undergone numerous vital surgeries in attempts to save his leg from amputation, and these surgeries are far from over, as is the risk of amputation.

Since March 6th, 2009, the Bellotti family has not stopped fighting for their son, despite receiving minimal (if not non-existent) support.

It is time that all members of the community take a stand against young lives being cut short and life chances being destroyed.

On Tuesday, 6th March, the Bellotti Support Group (BSG) is holding a rally outside parliament house, commencing at 12:30.

This rally is to show that we have not forgotten, we will not give up and we will continue to demand justice for a young Aboriginal boy who lost what no person should, at the hands of the WA police. Please attend and take a stand for the human rights of all members of the community.

Sincerely and in Solidarity,

Shilo Harrison

Bellotti Support Group Project Coordinator


#australia #NFP #NGO – Volunteer Peak Bodies to Amalgamate into New Funding Model – Pro Bono News

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In this edition, funding for Volunteering Australia and state and territory peak bodies will be amalgamated into a new National Project Fund under new funding arrangements announced by the Federal Government.

Not for Profit sector leader Liz Gillies is to be awarded a three year fellowship as part of a new partnership between one of Australia’s oldest independent trustee companies and Melbourne Business School (MBS).

Watching the Gillard/Rudd political manoeuvres? Who will be the best “Leader” for the Not for Profit sector? Take our Instant Poll.

And for a lighter perspective on the Australian Not for Profit sector, check our weekly NFP Kneebone cartoon!

Our news service is live and updated regularly online, so if you want to know what’s happening before your regular updates arrive in the inbox, just visit

Karen Mahlab – CEO and Founder, Lina Caneva – Editor, Jackie Hanafie – Journalist

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Volunteer Peak Bodies to Amalgamate into New Funding Model
Funding for Volunteering Australia and state and territory peak bodies will be amalgamated into a new National Project Fund under new funding arrangements announced by the Federal Government.
NFP Leader Liz Gillies To Be Awarded Inaugural Charitable Fellowship
Not for Profit sector leader, Liz Gillies, is to be awarded a three year fellowship as part of a new partnership between one of Australia’s oldest independent trustee companies and Melbourne Business School (MBS).
Insurance Website Assists Australians with Experience of Mental Illness
Australians with experience of mental illness now have a new website resource to turn to for assistance with insurance, through the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) and depression Not for Profit, beyondblue.
More Women Participate in Cultural Activities – ABS Survey
More women participate in cultural activities, but men are more likely to get paid for their involvement, according to results released from a new survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Social Media Use Impacts Families and Relationships
Issues related to social media and technology use are cropping up more often in family and relationship counselling sessions, says a Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV) survey.
A ‘Next’ step for YouTube Not for Profits
Worldwide video-sharing website YouTube has launched an initiative it says will help Not for Profits better accomplish their mission. It’s called YouTube Next Cause.
UK Street Fundraiser Closes its Doors
One of the longest standing street fundraising companies in the UK, Gift Fundraising, has gone into voluntary administration with some 300 staff reportedly being made redundant.
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Switch Youth Programs Case Work Leader Northern Rivers Social Development Council

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#mentalhealth Patrick McGorry deserves praise for about-turn on Psychosis Risk Disorder

Patrick McGorry deserves praise for about-turn on Psychosis Risk Disorder

Yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald (20 February 2012) included an article titled About-turn on treatment of the Young [1] which stated;

Concerns about the overmedication of young people and rigid models of diagnosis have led the architect of early intervention in Australian psychiatry, Patrick McGorry, to abandon the idea pre-psychosis should be listed as a new psychiatric disorder.

The former Australian of the Year had previously accepted the inclusion of pre-psychosis – a concept he and colleagues developed – in the international diagnostic manual of mental disorders, or DSM, which is being updated this year…But he believes young people at risk of psychosis are already over-medicated and inclusion in the manual could worsen the problem. “I think it’s a valid point to be concerned about the harms particularly in places like America,” he said. “I think probably I have given a bit more weight to that argument now”.…”It’s quite a legitimate debate, what the boundaries of mental illness are,” he said.

“We want to provide help, but we don’t want to turn everyone into a brain disease.” (full copy available at )

Professor McGorry’s change of heart was reported at this website on 15 June 2011 following a long, robust, but cordial series of exchanges between Professor McGorry and myself. (see )

It is heartening to see him restate his new position unambiguously in the mainstream media. Professor McGorry deserves praise for considering his critics arguments about the risk over-medication and giving ‘a bit more weight to that argument now’.

Martin Whitely MLA

POSTSCRIPT: Perhaps Professor McGorry could teach his colleague Professor Hickie about the value of robust debate. Professor Hickie has not responded constructively to the controversy surrounding his article expousing the virtues of agomelatine in the Lancet. (see ) It is such a pity Professor Ian Hickie dismisses his critics as defamers[2], defenders of the mental health establishment[3] or anti-psychiatry[4], rather than like professor McGorry engaging in constructive, robust, debate.

#burma #MSF Médecins Sans Frontières calls for urgent action to save lives in Myanmar #HIV #TB


Médecins Sans Frontières calls for urgent action to save lives in Myanmar

Embargo 2.30pm EDT, 22 February 2012 – In a report released todayMédecins Sans Frontières, the largest provider of HIV treatment in Myanmar (1), highlights the critical need for increased HIV and tuberculosis (TB), including multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), treatment in the country, and calls for donors – including Australia – to increase funding to enable treatment scale-up.

According to the report, 85,000 people in urgent need of lifesaving anti-retroviral therapy (ART) in Myanmar are today unable to access it. Of an estimated 9,300 people newly infected with MDR-TB each year, so far just over 300 have been receiving treatment.

Lives in the Balance shows the devastating effect that the cancellation of an entire round of funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, will have on the struggle to provide HIV and TB treatment in Myanmar. The cancellation of Round 11 means that there will be no foreseen funding to expand treatment for HIV or TB and its drug-resistant forms until 2014.

“Yet again, donors have turned their backs on people living with HIV and TB in Myanmar” said Peter Paul de Groote, Head of Mission for Médecins Sans Frontières in Myanmar. “Everyday we at Médecins Sans Frontières are confronted with the tragic consequences of these decisions: desperately sick people and unnecessary deaths.”

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people living with HIV die every year in Myanmar because of lack of access to lifesaving anti-retroviral therapy (ART). TB prevalence in Myanmar is more than three times the global average and Myanmar is among the 27 countries with the highest MDR-TB rates in the world. MDR-TB has the same airborne transmission as non-resistant TB, but it is far more complex and lengthy to treat (2). As with non-resistant TB, perfectly healthy people can easily be infected with MDR-TB.

"Without increased availability of treatment, HIV and TB will continue to spread unchecked in many areas. The time to treat is now," said Médecins Sans Frontières’ Dr Khin Nyein Chan, "There is a real opportunity here; HIV prevalence rates in Myanmar are relatively low. It is lack of access to treatment that makes it one of the most serious epidemics in Asia.

Myanmar, the least developed country in Southeast Asia, is one of the lowest recipients of Official Development Aid in the world. With political reform being reciprocated by greater engagement from the international community, there is a real opportunity to put access to treatment for people living with HIV and TB at the top of donor priority lists.

Myanmar suffers from an underfunded state healthcare system. While there are promising efforts to increase the health budget, which Médecins Sans Frontières encourages to continue, it will be years before the country has a fully comprehensive healthcare system.

“I want to see the treatment be accessible for every patient in Myanmar. I want people to stay alive by taking treatment, like us” said Zaw Zaw a female 30-year-old Médecins Sans Frontières patient, whose husband and youngest child are also HIV positive and receiving ART from a Médecins Sans Frontières clinic.

“The maths is simple. Rapidly scaling up HIV and TB treatment now will prevent further transmission and save both lives and money. Less people infected means fewer lives lost, and less people in need of treatment,” concluded de Groote. “It is critical that donors help Myanmar ensure more patients across the country can receive treatment for HIV and MDR-TB.”

Médecins Sans Frontières staff will be visiting Australia in March to ask the government to provide additional support for HIV and TB programs in Myanmar.

The report Lives in the Balance and accompanying image/audio slideshow is available for download at


(1) MSF provides lifesaving to over 23,000 HIV patients in Myanmar, with a further 6,000 to be enrolled in our clinics in 2012.

(2) It take two years to treat an MDR-TB patient compared to the usual 6 months for non-resistant TB patients. During that time patients have to take an even bigger cocktail of drugs with severe side effects.

For more information contact James Nichols at james.nichols

James Nichols

Head of Communications

Médecins Sans Frontières Australia
PO Box 847, Broadway NSW 2007 Australia

Direct + 61 2 8570 2610
Mobile + 61 407 525 700
Office + 61 2 8570 2600
Australia 1300 136 061 (local call cost)
New Zealand 0508 633 324 (toll free)


ABC#australia now covering #KhaderAdnan two-month hunger strike

Palestinian prisoner nears two-month hunger strike
A Palestinian prisoner is said to be close to death, two months after he began a hunger strike over Israel’s decision to jail him without charge or trial.

More than 300 Palestinians are currently being held in what is called administrative detention, which means they can be detained for years with…

To read the full story on your mobile please use this link

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#SeaShepherd E-News: Cove Guardian Erwin Vermeulen Freed

Dear Tony,

Sea Shepherd is not a protest organization. We are an interventionist, anti-poaching organization. Our volunteer driven international activism shows results in terms of actual numbers saved. In other words — we deliver.

Please support us so we can continue to deliver the lives of whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, and other sea creatures from the shameful hands of those who pillage and plunder the oceans in the name of profit and greed.

Erwin Released from Detention
Final Verdict to Come February 22nd
Things are looking up for Cove Guardian Erwin Vermeulen! Following closing arguments by the prosecution and defense on Feb 16, the trial court judge signed an order presented by the defense for Erwin to be released from custody pending the judge’s verdict, which will be delivered on Feb 22.

Erwin has now rejoined his fellow Cove Guardians but will be back in court on Feb 22 to hear the judge’s verdict on the assault charges. The prosecution has only asked for a small fine of 100,000 Yen ($1,300 USD) should Erwin be found guilty. No jail time was requested. (more)

If you would like to help with Erwin’s legal fees, please donate to our Legal Defense and Education fund.

Op Divine Wind in Effect Until End of March

We have had the Japanese whaling fleet on the run for over sixty days and we will keep them on the run through snow, sleet, hail, freezing rain, icebergs, ice floes, high winds, and heavy seas as long as possible.

This has become an epic campaign for many reasons. We have endured months at sea and bad weather, but we are interfering drastically with their whale killing operations and we will continue to do so until the end of March when the Antarctic ice will force the whale serial killers from the Southern Ocean. (more)

The ICR’s Injunction is Denied
The same day a Japanese judge in Japan ordered Cove Guardian Erwin Vermeulen to be freed, a US District Court judge in Washington made a ruling denying a request from the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) to have Sea Shepherd’s bank accounts frozen and halt our activity in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Indeed, Feb 16th was a good day in court for Sea Shepherd. (more)

Sea Shepherd Crewmember Knocked into Antarctic Waters by Japanese Water Cannon
The illegal whalers are growing more and more desperate with each passing day. They are now showing complete disregard for human life.

Nine miles away from our vessel, the Steve Irwin, our crewmember Beck Straussner was carrying out a direct action confrontation with the Japanese harpoon vessel Yushin Maru No. 2 when he was knocked off his jet ski into frigid Antarctic waters by the Yushin Maru No. 2‘s water cannon. (more)

Cove Guardian Radios Banned by Police in Taiji
The Police in Taiji keep changing the rules in their ongoing effort to protect the slaughter of dolphins at the infamous Japanese killing Cove.

They have issued the Cove Guardians a notice stating they would be arrested if they don’t use Japanese made two-way radios, which would allow police to monitor their communications. (more)

Watch CTV’s Profile on Captain Paul Watson
Canada’s largest television network recently did a fantastic profile on the life of Captain Paul Watson. The segment was surprisingly positive and informative.

If you want to learn about Captain Watson’s life, the genesis of Sea Shepherd, and our campaigns, check out the article and then watch the video segment by CTV. (more)<

West Aussie riders for #mentalhealth – February Update

Black Dog Ride Newsletter

February Update

Header Hi Tony

This newsletter started out as a January Update but I’ve been delaying it week after week so I could include confirmation of some exciting developments which I can now share with you. Take 10 minutes out of your busy day, grab a cuppa and let me bring you the latest news from BDR.

Lifeline – a new partnership

Header BDR’s primary mission since my inaugural solo Ride aound Australia on 2009 has been to raise awareness of depression. By virtue of having lost my Mother and a dear friend to suicide, the Rides have also had a strong emphasis on suicide prevention. It therefore seemed a natural progression for BDR to form a partnership with Lifeline for the new National 1 Day Ride which will take place in April.

Lifeline connects people with care by providing services in Suicide Prevention, Crisis Support and Mental Health Support. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide seek immediate help. Call 13 11 14 for 24hr Crisis Support.

I am very proud that BDR now supports and is supported by two wonderful organisations. The Black Dog Institute, our patner for the third year on the Ride to the Red Centre and Lifeline, new partners for the new National 1 Day Ride.

National 1 Day Ride and a WORLD RECORD

Header I received a fantasic response to my request in the December Newsletter for State coordinators to help bring together this exciting new April BDR. We can now announce Registrations are open for One Day Rides in NSW, ACT, VIC, TAS and WA. All except TAS will take place on Sunday 29 April. The Tasmanian leg is on Sunday 22 and because it’s a week earlier than the others Tasmania will be the inaugural WORLD RECORD holders for the most “Black Dogs on Motorbikes”. The competition will be fierce the following week to see which State or Territory can wrestle the title from the Apple Isle. More details and Registration forms can be found here.

You can help promote the Ride by downloading a flyer for your State or Territory here and sending it to a friend. WA NSW ACT VIC TAS

The purchase of the Winston black dogs for our WORLD RECORD attempt was made possible by Luke Berry from NextHotSpot . Thanks Luke.

Ride to the Red Centre

Header During the past 2 years our Ride to the Red Centre has raised $240,000 for the Black Dog Institute which has helped fund a national 3 year plan to roll out their community and professional education programs. So this means the money which was raised through the community goes back in to the community. Keep up the great work BDI and I guess BDR can give itself a pat on the back for helping to make this happen.

This year, on Saturday August 18, riders from every State and Territory will set out on the third Ride to the Red Centre which is shaping up to be the biggest and best yet. In an exciting development, talks have begun with two TV Networks who are interested in being involved with our awesome Ride.

We hope to open Registrations late March or early April.

Sponsorship Opportunity

Header A ground floor opportunity is available for a business or corporation to align itself with Black Dog Ride and become part of something which is really making a difference to the mental health of our nation. Naming Rights or Sponsorship Packages can be negotiated for either the new BDR National 1 Day Ride, the BDR to the Red Centre or both events. Some of the benefits to your business in forming a partnership with Black Dog Ride are:

i. increase brand awareness

ii. achieve brand association with Black Dog Ride and its Key Values

iii. reach an engaged target audience

iv. make a difference in the community

v. fulfil social responsibility

vi. increase number of brand ambassadors

For more details please contact Steve Andrews or m.0408 868 500.

Any time, any place, any person.

Header A couple of weeks ago, here in WA a family friend lost his darling wife to suicide following a battle with depression. He has quite a high profile and the tragedy was covered extensively but compassionately in the media. Thousands of kilometres away in remote Coober Pedy S.A., a town which has a special connection with our Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre, a community was trying to come to terms with the sudden and tragic loss of “a great bloke”. Margaret Mackay, Editor of the Coober Pedy Times contacted me to inform me of Dave’s passing and expressed the difficulty she was experiencing trying to come to terms with the emotions she and other members of the tightly knit community were feeling. Here is the article Margaret wrote after saying her last goodbyes.” Download the newspaper {pdf} and find the article about Dave’s passing on page 3 along with excerpts from a letter I sent to Margaret.

Depression and suicide do not discriminate at any level. It can be any time, any place and any person.

Black Dog Ride PO Box 524, Claremont 6910, Western Australia.

steve | Twitter | Facebook



#refugees #australia ABC News: Calls for end to ‘crass’ asylum point-scoring

By Abbott’s logic we should stick some refugee heads on spikes as a deterrent to refugees.

Alleged journalists following this line should be sent back to their family’s original country at their own expense.

A55hole5 😡

Calls for end to ‘crass’ asylum point-scoring
A key immigration adviser to the Federal Government has called on both sides of politics to do more to present the real story about asylum seekers in community detention.

News Limited’s Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph has sparked another round of debate between the Opposition, Government and re…

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direct from @austingmackell – Arrested: inside my Egyptian nightmare( subscribe to his blog ) #egypt #fuckscaf

New post on The Moon Under Water

Arrested: inside my Egyptian nightmare

by Austin G. Mackell

Had my account of our Feb 11,12 and 13, arrest and detention published over at The Drum

Traffic was light on the road out of Cairo. The oppressive density of the metropolis gave way to an uneven patchwork of small green fields and shoddily constructed red brick apartment blocks. A peasant in traditional garb hand fed a donkey with one hand while he stroked its neck with the other.

We – an American masters student called Derek Ludovici, my regular translator and close personal friend Aliya Alwi, our taxi driver Zakaria Ahmad, and myself – were on our way to Mahalla El Kubra. Mahalla has a special place in the recent history of Egypt. It was here in 2008 that the famous April 6 uprising took place.

The day was originally planned as another in a long run of strikes by workers in the city’s massive Misr Spinning and Weaving Company, with more than 20,000 employees. The strike itself was a failure, with security forces (500 of whom were employed full time inside the factory) managing to intimidate the workers into returning to their posts. Outside the factory walls, however, the city exploded into open rebellion. Protesters stormed the main square, tearing down billboards bearing Mubarak’s face, calling for the fall of the regime, and fighting running battles with police. It was a preview of the January 25 uprising in 2011 that would unseat the dictator and begin the revolution that continues to reshape Egypt.

This is why we had decided to spend February 11 – the first anniversary of Mubarak’s fall – there, with one of town’s better known union organiser and political activists, Mr Kamal Elfayoumi.

No sooner had we found him, at the petrol station by the square, and exchanged greetings than we were set upon by a group of at least six, perhaps as many as 20 people – it was not clear exactly who was participating and who was watching. The mob, a mix of angry young men and children, were shouting insults at us, calling us dogs and accusing us of working to destroy the country and their livelihoods. We got back into the car, which they banged on as they continued to shout at us, and pulled away.

We then saw another car, containing a camera crew who has also been in the petrol station, presumably also to meet Mr Elfayoumi. We followed them thinking that they might be heading to a new, safer meeting point. The path they took, however, led back through the square where we were again mobbed. The taxi driver – clearly overwhelmed by the situation – got out to attempt to reason with them – he would later say he saw someone with a brick who was threatening to attack the car with it. When he heeded our pleading calls and got back in the car, he told us that a policeman had taken his driver’s license. A path was then cleared through the crowd, which had grown to at least 30 people by then, possibly many more – it was impossible to see past the bodies pressed up against the car, shouting that Derek and I were spies, and that Aliya was a traitor, or worse.

We then followed the police to the main police station in Mahalla where we were told to come inside, for our own protection. No more than five minutes had passed since we first laid eyes on Mr El Fayoumi.

Our IDs were taken and a few questions were asked, then we were put in a side office where we were held for hours – though whenever we asked we were told our release was imminent.

We were treated politely at this stage, and offered tea. Mr Elfayoumi arrived, having come to see what had happened to us. One of the police who were with us in the room showed us a video on his mobile phone of the army beating two bound men around the head. It wasn’t clear if this was an attempt to intimidate us, or if the young officer, who grinned with genuine glee as he watched, thought of it as a way to relieve our boredom. Also during this time, we were informed that witnesses had come forward, claiming they had seen us distributing money to children as payment for vandalism we wanted them to commit. We dismissed this as ridiculous. The police seemed to agree.

We were then told that from here we would be transferred to another location, where we would fill in some paperwork before being released. When we arrived at the location – another police station only a short drive away, this didn’t happen. Instead we were brought into another office where all the questions we had already answered were repeated. Again we were told we were to be moved to another location, where the release paperwork could finally be completed. By this stage any hint of believing that our captivity had anything to do with our protection had faded completely. On the way out of the building we saw that a small crowd had gathered, one with none of the aggression of the mob in the square. A local journalist stepped out and approached me, I managed to tell him through Aliya that the charges against us were ridiculous, but got no further before being piled into the waiting vehicle.

Two police sat in the front of the car, Derek, Aliya and I in the back seat, Mr Fayoumi and Mr Ahmed rode in the tray behind us, along with the three "witnesses", one of whom was a boy of no more than 11 years. Aliya looked back at and made eye contact with the child, smiling giddily, and staring right back in her eyes, he drew his finger across his throat in a "you’re dead" motion.

Aliya – who still had her smart phone at this stage, frantically tweeted that we were on our way to the adjacent town of Tanta. Soon after this the convoy was stopped and a man from the leading car came back and demanded our phones and my laptop be handed over. Unfortunately for them, word was already out.

In Tanta we were taken to a Ministry of the Interior building, where the interview was repeated, and our possessions taken from us one by one. As I handed over my passport (which had been returned to me as a reassurance that our release was imminent), a well dressed thug asked me in English where it was issued. I told him the Australian embassy in Cairo. He repeated this information to a colleague in Arabic, adding as an epithet "their mothers c*nts".

As we were handcuffed for the next step of our journey, the witnesses, who had been allowed to film us on their mobile phones and taunt us the whole time (Aliya got the lion’s share of their attention), were allowed to leave. They did so reluctantly, one waiting near the car that would take me, snarling as I entered; "urkab ala moot" – ride to death.

From here we were taken to a military intelligence facility in Cairo, where we were separated for the first time and the repetitive interrogation continued. An hour or two in, I began to lose my cool. I had just held my tongue throughout an interrogation where I was lorded over by a heavyset officer who was absurdly pleased with himself for having been the first to realise – more than 12 hours into my incarceration – that my visa had been expired for months. Soon another, older and better dressed man appeared, with four young underlings. Each of these four went to a corner of the room, as their boss positioned himself on the couch opposite the desk where I was writing yet another statement. He asked me to tell him about my work in Egypt, what had I covered? I mentioned a few of the topics I had worked on, and suggested he peruse my blog. "All my work is public," I pointed out. He insisted I continue, after a few seconds of silence I decided to let him have it: "I covered a country," I said looking straight into his eyes "where old men have too much power, and never have to answer any hard questions because they hold all the cards. That’s why it is run so badly – but the young people are breaking through now, and we will see some new ideas."

I took great pleasure at the obvious discomfort on his face. It wouldn’t last long. After one of his underlings whispered in his ear, he turned the conversation to the topic of Aliya, enquiring as to the nature of our relationship. I insisted it was purely professional, but perhaps by this stage a note of panic had entered my voice.

It came home immediately to me how false my courage was. I knew that the power my interrogator possessed was a product of an international system in which I, as a westerner, outranked him. He would act tough, but he couldn’t touch me. Aliya, however, as an Egyptian and a woman, was doubly vulnerable. Whatever I had dished out on him, he would likely in turn take out on her. She would tell us later of being subject to a much more arduous and degrading interrogation, focusing more on the intimate details of her life than on the events of the day. Our taxi driver, Zakaria, however, was treated even worse, being beaten on the legs and treated in a generally aggressive and derogatory manner. He had no history of politics, he told them – he was just the driver. That, of course, was the point. They thought they could turn him.

They were wrong, as time passed his resolve grew stronger. He had told the truth at from the beginning, but by the end would tell it with conviction, and add at the end the question "this is justice in Egypt?"

We were left in our interrogation rooms overnight, to sleep in chairs with only our clothes to ward off the cold. In the morning we were told, again, of our imminent release elsewhere. After a brief discussion with the first officer to have bothered to have even a cursory look at my blog before speaking to me. We then spent hours in the back of a police truck, where I had the honour of being handcuffed to Mr Elfayoumi, whose strength and humour were so great they seemed to spill over onto the rest of us. He regaled us with stories of his previous incarcerations, focusing mainly on the various different ways they had been let out. When that line of conversation ran dry, we decided that since we had nothing else to do, we might as well conduct the interview that had been the original purpose of the trip.

After a brief stop in Tanta, where we were kept in the back of the truck, while, presumably, some paperwork was done, we returned to Mahalla and the second police station we had been taken to (conveniently enough, called second station). Within only minutes however, we were marched back out of the building, and taken to yet another location. We would later learn the reason for our quick departure. Outside the building were Shahira Abouelleil, Kareem Elbehairy, and Omar Kamel, activists with the group No to Military Trials, often referenced via the hash-tag #NoMilTrials. This is a network first formed to combat the practice of putting civilians before military courts, but which has since played an important role in combating other injustices. Shahira was among the first to be tweeting from the morgue on the night of the Maspero massacre, for example. Through their extensive network they had managed to find us, despite the authorities’ best efforts.

Indeed they had also been outside the MOI building in Tanta, and had even known we were on the fourth floor. The point of our constant relocation, it seems, was to keep us away from them, and the lawyers, journalists and other advocates that they would bring. The whole thing was a shell game, with us five the ball, moved from shell to shell in a sleight of hand designed to deceive and confuse.

The trick had failed however, and when we got to the prosecutor’s office where we would be charged, which was also in Mahalla, at around 7.00pm, a group of supporters was waiting for us, including – and this is exactly what they didn’t want – lawyers. Someone also had a bag of food for us – the first we had been offered in nearly 30 hours. I had been hungry before but found that now, as crunch time approached, I was too nervous to eat more than a few bites.

After several hours, most of which I spent in a room down the hall from the one in which my lawyer, who I had had no chance to confer with, argued my case, I was brought in to make a statement. Thankfully this would be the last time I would have to tell it – and the first where there was any sense of being listened to. As the proceedings closed our lawyer pointed to a strong consistency between our testimonies, which stood in stark contrast to the contradicting stories given by our accusers. He went on to raise the pattern over the past few months of the public prosecutor being dragged into xenophobic witch hunts such as the one against us.

The public prosecutor seemed to cede both points, and we left the building in the early hours of Monday morning in a positive mood. On our way out, for the first time, we saw Aliya’s mother and brother, and behind them the #NoMilTrials activists, one of whom was filming us as we walked. Our spirits soared. From there we would be moved again, returned to the second police station. Zakaria and Mr Elfayoumi would be released from here shortly, having been re-classified from suspects to witnesses. Aliya, Derek and I, loaded up with cigarettes, junk-food bottled water and juices that Shahira, Omar and Kareem brought in for us, would be placed in the cells below.

From our cells we could hear intermittent agonising screams, accompanied by short sharp sounds I took for slaps, but which Derek rightly pointed out were probably electric shocks. Around lunchtime, staff from the Australian embassy would arrive, and upon my request, bring toilet paper, blankets and pillows for Derek and I (at this stage we were under the impression Aliya had been released) allowing us the first proper sleep in days.

I awoke from this rest when the door opened. We bundled up our precious bedding under our arms, suspecting we were being moved to another location – indeed we were then told that for Derek and I at least, more interrogation awaited, this time at the Ministry of the Interior’s Cairo headquarters. We were in fact, finally released.

As Aliya’s brother drove us back to Cairo, our lawyer sat beside him in the front. That left four of us to squeeze into the back, so Aliya sat on her mother’s lap – a regression to an earlier time that both seemed to enjoy. Shahira and others contacted us by phone, we began to get a sense of the scale of the massive mobilization in our support.

The case was (and remains) open, and a travel ban is in place. Our faces – particularly Aliya’s and mine – had been flashed on state TV along with alarmist headlines about foreign agents. This has made things difficult and dangerous for us – my landlord changed the locks and aggression from some neighbours has meant I cannot go back to my apartment. Aliya, while unmolested so far since her release, probably faces much greater danger.

The experience though, overall, has strengthened our resolve to keep shining a light on Egypt’s continued injustices. Not only did we see a glimpse of the ugly stupid cruelty of the Egyptian "justice" system in which many have suffered unjustly for years and continue to suffer, we saw the lengths to which Egypt’s once-feared enforcers went to – with dozens of personnel involved in our handling – all to avoid the public gaze and fair procedure.

When the secret police – once able to torture people to death with impunity – are hiding from the political activists, rather than the other way round, it is hard to miss the long-term trend.

Some people might be fooled by fake prosecutions like this – or the one against 43 NGO workers, including 19 Americans (who face travel bans like mine and Derek’s) – into associating protests, strikes and civil disobedience with the ill-defined "foreign agendas" that are constantly the subject on state TV and other tame outlets. Many of course believed similar lies about the revolutionaries in Tahrir Square during those first glorious and terrifying 18 days.

Those protesting, striking and civilly disobeying, however, know what they are doing and why. They are fighting for bread, freedom, and social justice, and by now they know they are winning.

Their enemies, on the other hand, are flailing, with increasingly little to lose, and even less to gain, they are making desperate moves. They shuffle the shells ever faster, but they have no new tricks to show us.

Austin G. Mackell | February 17, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Tags: Arrested journalists, Egypt, Feb11, Kamal El-Fayoumi, Mahalla | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:

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Robin Chapple MLA news: #Indigenous #nuclear #recycling #renewables

Robin’s Roundup is the latest from the Office of Robin Chapple, MLC for the Mining and Pastoral region.
Welcome to the first electronic edition of Robin’s Roundup. You are receiving this email because you have been in contact with our office, and we thought you might like to hear more from us. If you would prefer not to receive future editions then you can easily unsubscribe – click the button at the end of this email. If you like receiving this message, please forward it to other interested people.

A nuclear free state

I’ve campaigned against uranium mining and the nuclear industry for decades, and this year will be critical. As we head toward the first anniversary of the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, our state government forges ahead unabated with plans for uranium mining in WA. This year I will work with my fellow Greens and people of common sense across the state to ban uranium mining permanently. With Mark McGowan’s backflip signaling the starter’s gun for a race to open a uranium mine – this year will see the campaign extend across the desert, into the courts and onto the streets.

My parliamentary speech expressing grief at the disaster in Fukushima is here. I’ve created a straight shooting video setting out the health risks for workers and communities near uranium mines – it’s here. My media release outlines the concerns about the proposed Uranium mine at Wiluna.

10c can make a difference

Greens across the country are working to establish container deposit schemes – a 10c refund for recycling cans and bottles. Victorian Green Colleen Hartland has developed an excellent model, which is being applauded across the country, and I’ve picked up the model in my private member’s bill. The ALP also has a Bill, using the Greens model. It’s great to see growing support for the legislation and we’ll keep pushing for this one until it becomes a reality. WA is currently the worst recycler in the country, and this scheme could make the world of difference. You can read more about my Bill here.

Renewable energy and optimism
Meeting the climate change challenge can seem daunting, but for me there is real optimism in the growth of the renewable energy industry. In 2011 the State government was overwhelmed by community support for renewable energy, and the government’s initial forecast was dwarfed by the actual demand for the household solar panel feed-in tariff. Unfortunately the Minister reacted by axing the scheme – but the fact remains that the community wants to move to renewable energy. The Barnett government provides massive subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, like $89 million to re-open the oldest dirtiest coal fired generators at Collie, and $124 million for the James Price point gas hub. At full production this gas hub alone would have the same annual CO2 emissions as the whole of Singapore.

Details of the debate on my private members bill for a gross freed in tariff for all renewable energy generation are here. This bill was defeated in the upper house, but has opened doors for more work in the area. More on climate change and the state government’s support for the fossil fuel industry is in my budget reply speech.

Singing the songlines
The destruction of Aboriginal heritage is in many ways facilitated by the ironically named Aboriginal Heritage Protection Act. The Act gives the Minister the final say, and allows mining companies to appeal, without giving the same right to Aboriginal custodians. This year we have seen industry proceed with destruction of heritage sites, backed by the State government, flouting even the minimal requirements of the Aboriginal Heritage Act. I’ve lodged complaints, and asked a series of questions in parliament in support of Traditional Owners’ efforts to protect sacred sites, including those at James Price Point in the Kimberley. I’m calling for an inquiry into FMG and the state government’s handling of their applications to destroy Yindjibarndi sites in the Pilbara. You can see more on my website here.

All the best for the coming year, I look forward to working with you,

Robin Chapple, MLC

Connect with the Greens

Robin Chapple MLC Mining and Pastoral Region, Alison Xamon MLC East Metropolitan Region,
Lynn MacLaren MLC South Metropolitan Region, Giz Watson MLC North Metropolitan Region Greens in Federal Parliament

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Copyright © 2012 Robin Chapple MLC, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this newsletter because you have been in contact with the Office Of Robin Chapple MLC, and we thought you might like to hear more from us. This is our first electronic newsletter and we apologise if you’re unhappy about receiving it. You can easily un-subscribe at the bottom of this email – and you won’t receive future editions. If you’ve really liked it, please forward it to other interested people.
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#indigenous #australia dying for help ABC News: Town being torn apart by suicide ‘epidemic’

Town being torn apart by suicide ‘epidemic’
The remote Indigenous community of Doomadgee in north-west Queensland is in crisis after a spate of suicides.Doomadgee has been described as a place of hopelessness and despair, where high unemployment and drug and alcohol addiction is taking its toll on residents. The tiny town in Queensland’s v…

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#australia locks up #children #refugees for more than a year! ABC News: Amnesty reports detention centre horror stories

Amnesty reports detention centre horror stories
Amnesty International representatives say children are being held in immigration detention for more than year while their claims for asylum are being processed. The group visited two Darwin detention centres yesterday as part of a tour of Australian refugee facilities, including Christmas Island…

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Media Release – #OccupyPerth backs Noongar Tent Embassy on Heirisson Island

Click here for Noongar Cultural website

Occupy Perth backs Noongar Tent Embassy on Heirisson Island

Media statement: Occupy Perth Collective – Thursday February 16, 2012

Occupy Perth today welcomed the establishment of the Noongar Embassy on Heirisson Island.

The group praised the embassy as an important part of the movement for Aboriginal self-determination and land rights. To demonstrate their support, Occupy Perth activists will gather at the embassy this evening at 6.30pm.

Dave Suter of Occupy Perth condemned the “ongoing land grabs by the State Government in the south-west”.

“Occupy Perth supports the Noongar embassy and stand with them against the institutionalised racism of the state toward Aboriginal people.”

Mr Suter, who is also a member of the WA Deaths in Custody Committee, said “Occupy Perth is shoulder to shoulder with the Noongar people in their struggle against the Barnett government and the big mining interests they represent”.

Occupy Perth’s Emma Brown said the group “supports the right of aboriginal people to self determination, and to have control of their own lives”.

“Control of country is a vital element in self-determination. In our own fight against the dictatorship of the one per cent we can never forget the long struggle of the Noongar people for their rights, liberty and dignity," said Ms Brown.

Media Contact: Dave Suter – 0414465089!/occupyperth


Greens @SenatorLudlam calls for impact study on US Marine deployment on Darwin #auspol #australia – ABC News: Senator fears Top End ‘invasion’ by US Marines

I’m not sure about the ABC headline re ‘fear’ and ‘invasion’ – did he use either word?

Senator fears Top End ‘invasion’ by US Marines
A Greens senator says a social impact study should be done before large numbers of US troops are sent to the Northern Territory.US President Barack Obama, during his visit to Australia last year, announced plans to increase the US military presence in Darwin.It is expected that about 2,000 US def…

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Press Release: For the Love of Australia – Big Wave Surfer Jeff Rowley becomes an Ambassador for Tourism Australia

16 February 2012

For the Love of Australia – Big Wave Surfer Jeff Rowley becomes Ambassador for Tourism Australia

Australian Big Wave Surfer and Adventure Athlete, Jeff Rowley has been invited to become an ambassador for Tourism Australia to promote Australia to the world as part of their ‘Friends of Australia’ campaign.

Tourism Australia has enlisted high-profile Australians including Dick Smith, Baz Luhrmann, The Wiggles and Curtis Stone to share why there is no other destination like Australia.

According to Managing Director, Andrew McEvoy, the ‘Friends of Australia’ campaign "harnesses the power of bright and influential individuals who are making a name for themselves on the world stage, and who have a genuine affinity with Australia".

Rowley has made an impact on the world stage as a big wave surfer and extreme adventure daredevil.

Rowley became the first Australian to paddle in to and catch gigantic waves at "Jaws" Peahi, Maui on 4 January 2012 – at the same time achieving his 2011/12 ‘Charge for Charity’ mission, his personal quest to paddle in to and catch a 50 feet (15 metres) wave while attempting to raise $1,000,000 for Breast Cancer Australia.

Rowley is the only adventure athlete that has been declared a ‘Friend of Australia’ to share his experience of why there is no place like surfing in Australia.

On receiving the honourable invitation, Rowley exudes "I absolutely love Australia – It’s an easy job promoting Australia".

"I just tell everyone about the koala’s we drive past on the way to the surf or how we go camping and wake up to kangaroos eating grass outside our tent in the morning – there’s no other place like Australia".

"There’s nothing better than waking up to check the surf and have a joey drink from my mug, that’s my Australia".

After spending the last few months in Hawaii chasing massive waves, Rowley will return to Australia to attend Tourism Australia’s prestigious annual event for its ‘Friends of Australia’ on 22 February 2012 at The Rocks, Sydney and to prepare for the Australian winter surf season.

Jeff Rowley is available in for exclusive interview in Sydney from 21 – 23 February 2012 and in Victoria from 24 – 27 February 2012. Contact minnie to arrange an interview.

All images provided are available for full media use. * Please credit Minnie Vuong for all photographs.

To donate to Rowley’s ‘Charge for Charity’, visit

Like Rowley on facebook:

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Read Rowley’s blog on Tumblr:

See Rowley’s photo gallery on Flickr:

Visit Rowley’s official website:

To become a sponsor or to partner with Rowley, contact minnie

WA MP says: “Professor Ian Hickie- Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.” #Mentalhealth # Bigpharma #australia #drugs

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Professor Hickie

Yesterday (13 February 2012), in response to issues I raised in my last blog, Professor Ian Hickie made three misleading claims in The Australian and on ABC Radio. (Previous blog available at )

I have addressed each of the three claims below:

1- ‘I [Professor Hickie] absolutely reject the allegation that we misrepresented in any way the data available. That’s a slur on us, it’s a slur on the journal [the Lancet] and its editorial processes to suggest that.’[i]

Put simply, the Lancet is not on Professor Hickie’s side. They may have asked him to write the article and trusted him to do it properly. But clearly they don’t trust him now. The Lancet published six letters critical of Hickie’s paper as misrepresenting the safety and efficacy of agomelatine (brand name Valdoxan) and of the Lancet’s decision to publish the article; and then accepted that the critics were substantially correct.

That is why the Editor of the Lancet, Richard Horton, tweeted the following series of tweets beginning the night before the six critical letters were published in the 21 January 2012 edition. ‘Tomorrow, we are very heavily criticised for publishing a review on melatonin-based drugs for depression. Biased and overstated, say many… The bias in this paper is very disturbing – it might be fine to argue your case in a Viewpoint or letter. But… this paper purported to be an unbiased review of a new drug class. Peer review improved it, yet not enough… As troubling is the fact that one author took part in speaking engagements for the company making one of these drugs… It is this kind of complicity that damages any hopes of a positive partnership between medicine and industry.’[ii]

As stated in my previous blog, ‘the Lancet and in particular Richard Horton deserve praise for acknowledging the shortcomings of their editorial process. It appears the Lancet is considering changing its editorial policy to preclude drug literature reviews being promoted as original research. If published they would instead be identified as opinion pieces.’[iii] How Professor Hickie could interpret this as a ‘slur on the journal’ is beyond me.

While defending Professor Hickie, his colleague and close ally Adjunct Professor John Mendoza said, ‘I mean you don’t get asked to write pieces for The Lancet unless you have a high standing in terms of your scientific rigor and approach.’[iv] Given the Lancet Editor’s comments, I doubt Professor Hickie will be asked to author another article any time soon.

2- ‘Professor Hickie says… he declared his links with Servier in the article.’[v] and ‘…he says he did declare his links to the drug company that makes the new anti-depressants.’[vi]

My previous blog stated ‘Both Hickie and Rogers have significant financial links to Servier. Professor Hickie has been a high-profile key opinion leader appearing at a Servier Valdoxan briefing in April 2011, and presenting at Servier funded master-classes and symposia. While he declared some of his earlier research ties to Servier, he did not declare his appearances at Servier events in the original Lancet article, or in the authors’ response to criticism.’[vii]This was entirely accurate – Hickie did not fully disclose his ties to Servier.

The original article under conflicts of interest stated; ‘[Professor Hickie]…has led projects for health professionals and the community supported by governmental, community agency, and drug industry partners (Wyeth, Eli Lily, Servier, Pfizer, AstraZeneca) for the identification and management of depression and anxiety…and has participated in a multicentre clinical trial of agomelatine effects on sleep architecture in depression…He is a participant in a family-practice-based audit of sleep disturbance and major depression, supported by Servier, the manufacturers of agomelatine.’[viii]

As previously stated, ‘he did not declare his appearances at Servier events in the original Lancet article, or in the authors’ response to criticism.’ The other declared conflicts of interest should are not trivial. However, the most significant conflict of interest, that is, acting as an advocate for Servier at Valdoxan promotional events, should have been disclosed to the Lancet. The Lancet would have then had the option of not publishing such conflicted research.

In summary, Hickie declared some of his ties to Servier but not the most significant conflict of interest that might have prevented the publication of the article by the Lancet. Yes, the Lancet asked Hickie to write the article, but he had an obligation to tell them the whole truth and let them make an appropriate, fully informed, decision as to whether to publish the article.

3- Professor Hickie, ‘says he and psychiatrist and former Australian of the year Patrick McGorry are the targets of a social media, blogging and newspaper campaign attacking their ethics and their research because they have challenged the mental health establishment. “This is part of a more concerted campaign, a reaction against our advocacy for new investment in mental health . . . against basically taking forward the mental health agenda in this country,”[ix]

This is misleading on two counts. Firstly, of the eleven critics who wrote the letters critical of his research nine were based in Italy, France, Britain or America. Professor Hickie’s international reputation is under question and it is entirely appropriate to question whether he should be a leader of mental health reform in Australia.

Secondly, the Australian critics of Hickie are not defenders of the ‘mental health establishment’ and do not as Adjunct Professor Mendoza seems to suggest ‘want to hold onto old 19th century style institutional beds.’[x] Hickie’s critics are however, concerned about the evidence basis for his assertions and about his advocacy for widening the use of psychotropic drugs.

In conclusion, if Professor Hickie has lost credibility, it is as a result of his Lancet article. If he wishes to protect any further damage to his credibility he should stop making inaccurate blanket denials and address the specific charges of his critics.

Martin Whitely MLA

#Egypt Aussie Journalist @austinmackell thanks activists & Union official – ABC News: Freed Australian journalist insists he’s no spy

Freed Australian journalist insists he’s no spy
An Australian journalist who has been freed after being arrested in Egypt says he was accused of spying and denies crossing the line between journalism and activism.

Cairo-based reporter Austin Mackell was on his way to the textile city of Mahalla to interview a prominent union figure when he was …

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#Mentalhealth #australia ABC News: Psychiatrist embroiled in conflict-of-interest row

#Mentalhealth #australia see
Martin Whitely post below…

Psychiatrist embroiled in conflict-of-interest row
Several academics have sent letters to British medical journal the Lancet, claiming prominent psychiatrist Professor Ian Hickie had a conflict of interest in his review of a new drug.

Professor Hickie, who is from Sydney’s Brain and Mind Institute and one of eight new national mental health commis…

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#mentalhealth #australia Professor Ian Hickie – Visionary Mental Health Reformer or Paid Pharmaceutical Indust ry Opinion Leader?

West Australian Politician & Mental Health Activist Martin Whitely reveals yet another high profile "Advocate" whose links to Big Pharma have largely been ignored by mainstream media.

Professor Ian Hickie – Visionary Mental Health Reformer or Paid Pharmaceutical Industry Opinion Leader?

For the full story see

Also see today’s Australian (Monday 13 February 2012) available at

Professor Ian Hickie is one of the most high profile and powerful psychiatrists in Australia. Feted by both the Gillard Government the Abbott Opposition and frequently quoted in the media as an ‘independent mental health expert’; Professor’s Hickie has made his priorities for reforming Australia’s mental health system, national priorities. However, critical attention is now turning to Professor Hickie.

In May 2011, an article in the Lancet which Professor Hickie and Naomi Rogers co-authored, evaluated the use of melatonin analogs, commonly used to treat sleep disorders, for combating major depression.[i] The literature review based article extolled the virtues of agomelatine (brand name Valdoxan), an antidepressant that is sold in Europe and Australia by French pharmaceutical company Servier.

Both Hickie and Rogers have significant financial links to Servier.[ii] Professor Hickie has been a high-profile key opinion leader appearing at a Servier Valdoxan briefing in April 2011, and presenting at Servier funded master-classes and symposia.[iii] While he declared some of his earlier research ties to Sevier he did not declare his appearances at Servier events in the original Lancet article, or in the authors’ response to criticism.

He has a track record of not always disclosing his substantial links to pharmaceutical companies and other conflicts of interest.[iv]

The latest edition (21 January, 2012) of the Lancet published six letters from experts in America, Britain, France, Italy and Australia scathing in their criticism of Hickie and Rogers’ article. Among the problems identified were, exaggeration of the efficacy of agomelatine, downplaying of potential harms, including liver toxicity, misrepresentation of the cited literature, and conflicts of interest. An ‘Authors Reply’ from Hickie and Rogers was published in the same edition. (Extracts from the critical letters and the full author’s response are available at

Many of the detailed criticisms in the six letters, most notably the ignored negative studies and the misquoted research, are not addressed in the authors reply; at least not to the satisfaction of the Lancet’s editor Dr Richard Horton.

The day before the six letters and authors reply was published Horton began a series of tweets which stated:

Tomorrow, we are very heavily criticised for publishing a review on melatonin-based drugs for depression. Biased and overstated, say many… The bias in this paper is very disturbing – it might be fine to argue your case in a Viewpoint or letter. But… this paper purported to be an unbiased review of a new drug class. Peer review improved it, yet not enough… As troubling is the fact that one author took part in speaking engagements for the company making one of these drugs… It is this kind of complicity that damages any hopes of a positive partnership between medicine and industry.[v]

The Lancet and in particular Richard Horton deserve praise for acknowledging the shortcomings of their editorial process. It appears the Lancet is considering changing its’ editorial policy to preclude drug literature reviews being promoted as original research. If published they would instead be identified as opinion pieces.

In the meantime Professor Hickie remains the darling of the mainstream Australian media (particularly the ABC), the Gillard Government, the Abbot Opposition and the Greens. In my view this is largely because the mainstream media have persistently portrayed him as a visionary mental health leader. But it is also because mental health is such a mysterious policy area for non-experts that the certainty offered by seemingly ‘authoritative voices’ like Hickie, is attractive to time pressured and confused journalists and politicians.

Will some of the gloss come off Professor Hickie now that significant international players seem to regard him, in part at least, as a paid pharmaceutical industry opinion leader? Will the Gillard Government, the Abbott Opposition or perhaps the Greens abandon the herd and begin to question the substance of advice proffered by the likes of Hickie (et al)?

Martin Whitely MLA

Author Speed Up and Sit Still – the controversies of ADHD diagnosis and treatment

@SenatorLudlam urges Govt action over #egypt detention of journalist Austin Mackell, Aliya Alwi & Derek Ludovici

Greens back efforts to free Australian journalist and colleagues in Egypt

Media Release: Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, Sunday February 13th, 2012

The Greens today encouraged all efforts by the Australian Government to secure the release of Australian journalist Austin Mackell and his colleagues from custody in Egypt.

Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said the Greens “are completely behind the Government doing all it can to guarantee the release and safety of Mr Mackell, translator Aliya Alwi and American student Derek Ludovici”.

“The arrest of Mr Mackell, Ms Alwi and Mr Ludovici in Mahalla is an attack on press freedom and another example of the toxic way the military has hijacked the Egyptian revolution.”

“One year ago the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – SCAF – pledged to protect the revolution and realise its objectives. Instead they have been responsible for a series of bloody crackdowns on dissent and free expression in Egypt.”

“Mr Mackell has been accused of paying Egyptians to protest – this is in keeping with the junta’s self-serving claims that foreigners are responsible for all and any discontent in Egypt. These arrests are also part of a campaign to intimidate journalists into leaving the country. It is no coincidence that the arrests occurred the same day student activists staged strikes to mark the first anniversary of the overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak.”

“According to Ms Alwi, charges of inciting protest and vandalism have been brought. Egypt is in its second day of a general strike, strikes were occurring in Mahalla before Mr Mackell and his colleagues arrived in the town, and one of the three witnesses produced by police is an eight year-old child. The charges are patently absurd.”

Media Contact: Giovanni Torre – 0417 174 302

a rose to the the thorns <3 for Valentines #australia let your MP know you support #humanrights & equality #GLBT #GLBTI from @GetUp

Dear tony,

We’re closer than ever before to real marriage equality in Australia. Parliament will consider the matter through an upcoming Senate inquiry but right now the debate in Canberra is centred on politics not love.

What better way to remind our political representatives of the love that should be at the centre of this issue than by using Valentine’s Day to spread some love, and show our politicians that in matters of the heart, we’re united for equality?

We’ve arranged a massive roses delivery to the Parliament House offices of local MPs from across the country. Click below to send a rose to your MP. When you chip in, we’ll also send a rose on your behalf to the PM and Opposition Leader to make sure their offices are flooded with a message of love they can’t miss!

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, we’re reminded of how far we’ve come in the past year: we’ve gathered more than 150,000 petition signatures, rallied alongside more than 10,000 other supporters at the ALP National Conference and produced the "It’s Time" video, which is still going strong with more than 5 million views and counting! The ALP came under such intense pressure that they changed their party platform, but they’ve stopped short of actually changing the law.

This is the year we can take marriage equality from political rhetoric to political reality.

Let’s flood the offices of our political representatives with a reminder that Australians believe that two people who want to make a lifelong commitment deserve full and equal recognition before their family, friends and the law.

Thanks for sharing the love,
The GetUp Team

#australia Greens dig in to stop #nuclear waste dump

Greens dig in to stop nuclear waste dump

Media Release: Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, Tuesday February 7th, 2012.

The Australian Greens today vowed to continue the fight against the planned nuclear waste dump at Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory.

The Government has listed the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill for debate tomorrow. Greens Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam said Labor’s attempt to force the Bill through the Senate before the completion of a Federal Court case over the status of the land in question was a disgrace.

“The Traditional Owners do not want this eternal radioactive waste dump on their country. The locals don’t want it. The Northern Territory government does not want it. Traditional Owners visited the parliament last year and Dianne Stokes wept here telling the story of her country. There is a Federal Court case currently unresolved as to the status of this land, yet the Government pushes on – led by a minister obsessed with the nuclear industry.”

“This legislation does not just represent a problem for Muckaty – it places enormous and virtually unchecked power in the hands of one minister.”

“In 2007 the IAEA noted examples of states which, having used undemocratic methods lacking public involvement and acceptance, have ‘had to reconsider their programs’. One of the conclusions of the study was that ‘reassessment can become necessary because past decisions were not reached through socially acceptable process’.

“Last month, in a report to the US Energy Secretary, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future strongly recommended a ‘consent-based approach to siting nuclear waste storage… noting that ‘trying to force such facilities on unwilling communities has not worked’. And indeed Labor’s stated policy aims to ‘establish a consensual process of site selection, which looks to… the centrality of community consultation and support’, yet the Government ignores both Labor policy and the lessons of history.”

“The Greens will move an amendment to establish a genuinely Independent Commission on the Long Term Safe Storage, Transport and Management of Australia’s Radioactive Waste to find a real solution to this problem.”

“South Australia resisted a nuclear waste dump and won. A Territory has less power and that is why the Government, like the Howard Government before it, targeted the Northern Territory – because it believed it could not resist. But it can and it will resist.”

Senator Ludlam will move to amend the bill to delay its debate until after the resolution of the case over the traditional ownership of the land in the Government’s sights.

Media Contact: Giovanni Torre – 0417 174 302