Sunday, March 28, 2010

Radical Islamic elder preaching hate in an Australian suburb

There can be little doubt that this is incitement to violence (which conventionally falls outside free speech protections) but officialdom seem to be sitting on their hands. If you laugh at the Koran, however, they will be down on you like a ton of bricks. And critics of Islam are "far-Right white supremacists" who must be silenced as engaging in breaches of "Racial and Religious Tolerance". The guy below certainly seems to be in breach of religious tolerance

A RADICAL Islamic elder who praises the Taliban and preaches violent jihad to a band of keen followers is being investigated in Perth by WA and Federal police. Sources confirmed the joint-agency investigation after The Sunday Times revealed to police that the newspaper had infiltrated a group in which the sheik described armed jihad as the "top" ideal for Muslims and likened the Taliban to "angels".

Muslim community members said they warned police weeks ago that the Middle Eastern man was recruiting disaffected young Muslim men at a Perth mosque and spreading dangerous messages - about armed jihad, or holy war, against those fighting Islam; and that he claimed to know, and have trained with, Osama bin Laden. They stressed that mainstream WA Muslims did not share the views and were concerned police had not acted on their tip-offs. They alerted The Sunday Times as a last resort "before something really bad happens . . . before this poison spreads".

In an undercover investigation, The Sunday Times obtained information from meetings at the sheik's northern suburbs home where, before a group of young men, he promoted armed jihad as the highest ideal for Muslims, praised the Taliban and said he had fought in Afghanistan against Soviet forces.

In other meetings, he praised bin Laden - and even Hitler, justified the actions of suicide bombers, claimed that US presidents were priests and said that Allah would "get" the US and Jews for their actions.

The man, an Australian citizen whom The Sunday Times has not named under police advice, also said that though Islam forbade killing, people who had tried to stop those bringing the religion to others in the past were killed so that people could receive the word of God.

Muslim community members said they feared police were waiting for the man and his followers to do something "terrible", so they could make a dramatic arrest and then point to "home-grown terrorists" as justification for repressive police measures and surveillance of all Muslims.

But sources confirmed an investigation was under way because of earlier information received. It involved both the WA Police State Security Investigation Group and the Australian Federal Police.

Last Saturday, in front of five men and youths, the man said that jihad, at its "top" end, was to fight those who fought against Islam, and that going into battle and "putting your life on the line" for Islam was the highest ideal. "I'm not afraid to say that if angels walk this earth, they are the Taliban," he said.

In the same meeting he told one youth that he had fought in Afghanistan during the Soviet conflict.

On another occasion he said that people could say Osama bin Laden "is no good . . . but he helped a lot of people when they are needing help, he built hospitals, he built schools, he give food when people was hungry".

He said Allah would punish Jews for their wrongdoings and of Hitler he said: "He enjoyed art, and he enjoyed music, that means he had some softnesses (sic) in him. He looked after his people".

The man also said that suicide bombers were the result of bombing by the US and its allies. "In Iraq, (a man) come home, he find his wife leg there, head there, his children (in) three pieces and his father (in) five pieces and the home is gone," he said. "What do you expect from this person? "I make myself pieces to at least kill (those) who killed my father, who killed my wife."

When The Sunday Times contacted the elder yesterday, he denied encouraging jihad anywhere, or any wrongdoing, and said he was a loyal Australian, but that the Koran said "jihad is top of the worshipping because this is (a believer) risking his life".

Asked about his views that Allah would punish the US and Jews, he said: "Allah (is) not punishing anyone doing the right thing."

He said he had met bin Laden when working for a relief agency in Afghanistan in 1980-81 and had "asked him for some donation for some people" as part of that relief work. He denied claiming he had trained and fought alongside him.

Yesterday he agreed he had said the Taliban were like angels. "Compared to what we are seeing from the other side when the killing coming (sic) or the bombarding happening, I said we can consider Taliban like angels for that, because they are not attempting to hurt the people, but the war is happening there," he said.

WA Police would not reveal any details of its investigation, but a spokesman said officers worked collaboratively with Federal Police and the Australian intelligence community on such issues. A Federal Police spokeswoman said the AFP did not "comment on who it may or may not be investigating".


Australian intelligence agency sinking under "asylum-seeker" workload

AUTHORITIES were last night preparing for another mass transfer of asylum-seekers from Christmas Island, as Australia's intelligence watchdog warned ASIO was struggling to cope with the deluge of security assessments on boatpeople.

The warning from the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Ian Carnell, came as the authorities on Christmas Island readied for the arrival this morning of a Qantas Boeing 737, the third and largest charter flight to arrive on the island in four days.

Yesterday, Coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison declared the transfer, the latest in a growing number of flights, marked the "end of universal offshore processing". "This is a significant departure of policy," Mr Morrison told The Weekend Australian. "They are implementing their plan to abolish universal offshore processing and that is a consequence of their failed policies on border protection," he said.

The arrival of today's jet, which seats about 190, comes after Customs delivered a further 68 people from two boats to the jetty yesterday. The charter is the latest in an increasing number of flights from Christmas Island, which is desperately overcrowded because of the surge in boat arrivals.

Today's charter follows a jet that took detainees to Perth on Wednesday, and another yesterday that delivered eight Indonesian crew and 51 asylum-seekers without visas into various forms of mainland detention in Brisbane and Melbourne.

It came as Mr Carnell told The Weekend Australian the number of complaints against ASIO has more than quadrupled, after a blowout in processing times for asylum-seeker security checks. And he warned ASIO had been forced to transfer skilled staff from other visa security screening categories to cope with the surge.

The Immigration Department said those transferred on Thursday were considered "vulnerable", meaning they were unaccompanied minors, family groups or crew. Those aboard today's flight will join more than 250 asylum-boat passengers and crew already on the Australian mainland.

The growing number of boatpeople detained on the mainland without visas has prompted the opposition to accuse the Rudd government of using the transfer to relieve the overcrowding on Christmas Island, a claim rejected by the government.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans has denied there is anything unusual about the transfers, noting that the Howard government also flew people at risk to the Australian mainland.

The stoush came as Mr Carnell said there had been a "major" increase in complaints against ASIO over the time it was taking to perform security checks.

Speaking to The Weekend Australian, Mr Carnell said this financial year alone his office had received 670 complaints. That compared with just 157 for all of 2008-09. "There's obviously a surge of work there," Mr Carnell said. "ASIO generally treat detention cases as priorities. To the extent they can, the Christmas Island cases have priority." One consequence of that priority was that ASIO had had to divert resources from other visa categories, such as onshore migrants, Mr Carnell said.

Writing in a parliamentary submission, the intelligence watchdog said: "It also seems that there has been an impact from the diversion within ASIO of resources to deal with increased numbers of irregular arrival cases. The large majority of irregular cases must, under the current criteria, be assessed from a security point of view."

But Mr Carnell defended the agency, saying the number of complaints was "not high" when set against the large number of assessments it was not required to perform.

And, in a parliamentary submission on the subject, he suggested asylum-seekers from one unnamed country might be making vexatious complaints against ASIO on the instructions of migration agents.

"It is notable that a large proportion of the recent complaints come from visa applicants in one particular country, and one possibility is that some migration agents are routinely advising clients to make a complaint after a visa application is made."

Mr Carnell said the surge in asylum checks presented a "conundrum" for ASIO. "The resources really sit in-house," he told The Weekend Australian. "For the complex cases you can't just recruit people off the street."

Yesterday, ASIO said the reason for the surge in complaints lay outside its control. But a spokeswoman for the agency refused to say if the demands posed by the surge in boat arrivals had forced ASIO to pull staff from other duties.

"We are unable to make comment on matters relating to operational requirements of the organisation," the spokeswoman told The Weekend Australian.

All told, there were 1966 people on the island yesterday, leaving just 74 spare beds. But another 130 people from three intercepted boats this week were on their way.

On board yesterday's charter flight were two families without visas - the department has increasingly used its discretion to transfer selected young people and families who are deemed to be vulnerable and close to receiving visas to the mainland.

Two babies and a young boy clutching a teddy bear were among the asylum-seekers who arrived at Christmas Island yesterday on board Customs vessel Triton. They were from boats intercepted near Ashmore Reef and Adele Island off the Kimberley coast and had undergone initial health checks aboard Triton. [Healthy parasites are welcome, apparently]


Negligent government railway bureaucracy ignores basic safety procedures

The line concerned winds its way up a mountain range so has always had safety problems but you would never know that from the actions of Queensland Rail. Bureaucrats don't give a stuff about anything. Their jobs will never be at risk

Seats in the Kuranda tourist train's VIP carriages became flying missiles during Friday's terrifying landslide crash because they were not properly secured to the floor, rail union officials say.

In a series of potentially deadly safety breaches, up to 80 lounge seats in the train's two Gold Class carriages were not anchored and could be moved around by passengers, who paid an extra $45 to ride in the luxury section.

Other unsecured items such as water coolers and public address systems were also sent flying when the train carrying more than 220 passengers derailed about 16km into the journey from Cairns to Kuranda when it ploughed into a landslide shortly after 10am on Friday.

Five people, including a two-year-old boy and a 62-year-old woman, were taken to Cairns Base Hospital and treated for minor injuries.

The Sunday Mail can also reveal that a routine test run by a 4WD scout vehicle was not carried out before the train left Cairns, despite assertions by the rail union that the 9.30am train should never have left the station because of the inclement weather.

A test run is supposed to be completed before every service [because of the known dangers -- dangers which materialized in this instance] and one was done before the first train of the day left for Kuranda at 8.30am.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union spokesman Les Moffitt said its members had been instructed not to work in the Gold Class carriages until the safety issues are rectified.

"The seats in the Gold Class section are just like you would have in your loungeroom, you can pick them up and move them around and it's just unbelievable the train was allowed to operate with seats that weren't anchored," Mr Moffitt said.

"Queensland Rail's engineers surely should've known you just don't put loose items like that on any train, let alone a popular tourist train with hundreds of passengers that can get up to 60km per hour." he said.

"Trains have been cancelled for less intense weather before and it's unbelievable that a test run was only carried out before the first train left."

A Queensland Rail spokesperson said the issue of unsecured seating would be included in the crash investigation and confirmed a test run was not carried out ahead of the 9:30am service.

QR said it was too early to say when the line would reopen. Salvage crews planned to return to the crash site on Sunday in a bid to get the locomotive back to Cairns for repairs.


Rudd’s "Yes Minister" hospital plan

The most telling part of the Health debate this week was when a journalist questioned Kevin Rudd about the fact that what was desperately needed (and not in his shiny new plan) was more hospital beds.

Rudd responded in classic bureaucrat-speak, asserting that “the funding that we’ve provided already, the 50% increase in the grants to the hospitals of the States, is the equivalent of 5,750 hospital beds”.

That might be so Mr Rudd, but where’s the evidence that even one actual real bed has been created? Patients can’t sleep on an “equivalent bed” that exists only in the accounting world – they actually need the real thing.

This is a classic example of how bureaucratic aims and actual outcomes are often wildly divergent.

It’s reminiscent of the classic Yes Minister episode where the Minister visits the most efficient hospital in Britain, only to find it has no actual patients. “Yes, but that’s what makes it so efficient Minister” asserts the process-driven public servant.

No one questions the Rudd Government’s ability to create a new policy, and for that policy to be articulated with effective political spin so as to give the impression of a “monumental change”.

No one questions the Rudd Government’s ability to spend taxpayer funds on grandiose ideas. But what should be questioned is their ability to actually deliver real, tangible outcomes that represent value for taxpayer funds. And no where is that more vital than in our public hospital system.

Rudd’s hospital plan, as far as I can tell, creates a new large bureaucracy and changes the funding mix from 40% Federal, 60% State to a 60% Federal, 40% State mix. It’s hard to see how this will improve accountability, let alone “end the blame game”.

And while there is not an extra dollar in health funding until 2014 in Rudd’s plan, when the responsibility of increased funding does fall to the Commonwealth, the question must be asked – will we get value for money? Will we see the desperately needed extra hospital beds, doctors and nurses, or will it be more about political outcomes?

The Australian people have a right to be sceptical about Labor’s ability to deliver. Who would have thought that a seemingly simple Government program to give away free home insulation could be so mismanaged as to result in 4 deaths, scores of houses catching fire, thousands of homes under safety threat and endless stories of rorting and rip-off?

Speaking of which, the $16 billion funding for school halls is a debacle of growing proportions. Some estimates predict that the Government will receive only about $7 billion worth of building works for their $16 billion. Not surprising considering they paid more than 10 times commercial rates for some buildings.

So that’s $9 billion of taxpayers’ money utterly wasted. Gone. Ostensibly it’ll be in the ledger as an investment in “Education” – but there is absolutely nothing to show for it. I wonder how many real hospital beds (as opposed to Mr Rudd’s “equivalent” ones) could have been purchased with that wasted $9 billion.

If Labor can’t run a program to give away free pink batts, and they can’t run a cost-effective program to build school buildings, then why should you trust Labor to deliver a practical over-haul of the public hospital system?

It’s a fair question - one that should be legitimately asked without being met with faux indignation and accusations of “negativity”.

Mr Rudd’s own bureaucrat-speak about “equivalent” hospital beds confirms that he is more interested in what figures can be presented by the bean-counters, rather than the number of patients actually being treated and the quality of the care they receive.

But that’s no surprise – the Rudd Government has been a triumph of spin over substance. Why should this new “latest, greatest, monumental” policy be any different?


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