Sunday, January 08, 2012

Bad grades prompt surge in university death threats

Australia gets a lot of its overseas students from Malaysia, some of whom are Muslim. Note that ethnicity is carefully not mentioned below

UNIVERSITY lecturers are getting death threats from international students who have received bad grades. Victoria Police are investigating one case at a state campus after an email was sent to a lecturer stating: "I will kill u and your family."

It is understood the email was sent from a student who was given a low mark at the end of last semester and warned the lecturer to expect an attack on university grounds.

Four staff members from three Victorian universities told the Sunday Herald Sun threats against tertiary staff by international students were becoming more common. Cars had been defaced with graffiti, teachers' houses vandalised and staff physically intimidated and stalked by students.

One source said universities were reluctant to act on threats because international students were full fee-paying "cash cows". They are required to pay fees in advance and usually spend between $14,000 and $35,000 a year for a bachelor of arts and more for other degrees such as medicine, according to Australian Government estimates.

More than 151,000 international students were enrolled in different degrees at universities in Victoria last year.

Clinical psychologist Lisa Warren said she dealt with up to 15 cases involving university staff last year. Dr Warren said the majority of the threats were made by email or on social networking sites by international and local students.

In the incident being probed by police, the emailer wrote: "Why did u give the f---ing low marks? I will kill u and your family next year 2012. "I promise i will kill u excluding any cost, believe me."

The victim, who did not want to be named, told the Sunday Herald Sun he was shocked and afraid the threat would be carried out. "I have colleagues in the rooms next to me and if someone was to come in waving a gun it is a threat against all of us," he said.

Police have contacted the Immigration Department about the threat, the victim said.

Dr Warren said in severe cases victims of threats could be traumatised for life. "Most of the time it is just a blunt and ineffective way of communication, but anything that suggests the student has personal information, such as where the victim's house is or where their child goes to school, is worrying," Dr Warren said.


Wharfies back in old form now Gillard's in charge

They were famous for their outrageous demands until they were crushed during the Howard government

INDUSTRIAL action that would have shut down half of the Port of Melbourne for 48 hours from Sunday night has been called off, the wharfies' union says.

About 500 DP World stevedores were to stop work in Melbourne for 24 hours from 10pm (AEDT) today following an eight-month dispute between the company and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) over pay and conditions.

The company was set to retaliate with a 24-hour lock-out of its staff to begin immediately after the stoppage.

The action would have shut down half of the container terminal facilities in the Port of Melbourne for 48 hours.

After a 48-hour stoppage by the union last week in Adelaide, DP World retaliated with a 24-hour lock-out, disrupting operations for 72 hours.

The stoppage by Melbourne workers was called off on Saturday after they accepted an in-principle agreement for a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA).

The agreement was reached following a seven-hour meeting between the union and the company in Sydney on Friday night, MUA assistant national secretary Warren Smith said in a statement.

"The in-principle agreement will still need to be put to members but in the meantime it will be business as usual at the Port of Melbourne," he said.

The union was asking for a pay rise of 15 per cent over three years, improved conditions and an increase in superannuation.


Greenies don't like being watched

Greens leader Bob Brown has accused Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson of turning Australia into a police state, after reports he pushed for increased surveillance of environmental activists.

A report in Fairfax newspapers details documents, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, that show Mr Ferguson requested additional monitoring of anti-coal mining groups and other environmental groups.

Senator Brown claims coal and fossil fuel companies pressured Mr Ferguson into having the federal police spy on environment groups who protest against energy companies.

Senator Brown says tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money is being spent having private contractors monitor activists.

"That paying of private corporations to spy on community groups is an abuse of taxpayers' money," he said. "Martin Ferguson should never have been allowed to promote that and it should be stopped. "The Attorney-General, if not the Prime Minister, should see that it stops immediately."

A spokeswoman for Mr Ferguson says governments are concerned with maintaining energy security. She says this includes maintaining the rule of law and energy supply, where issues-motivated groups seek to engage in unlawful activity.


Man to be released after decade without trial

His imprisonment may have been reasonable but doing so without a trial to test the allegations is most certainly not

A mentally impaired West Australian man who spent 10 years behind bars without ever standing trial will be released from prison shortly.

Marlon Noble has spent the past decade in a WA prison on child sex assault charges despite having never faced trial because he was deemed intellectually disabled.

It is alleged he sexually assaulted two children in the state's Gascoyne region in 2001.

Last November the Mental Health Review Board recommended he be released under strict conditions and the State Government has agreed.

Greens spokeswoman for Disabilities Alison Xamon says those conditions are too harsh. "[The conditions] really stop his ability to be able to walk around Geraldton, which is his home town," she said.

Ms Xamon says advocates for Mr Noble will continue to pressure the Government to reduce or abolish the restrictions imposed on him. "I think people need to be aware that the struggle to free Marlon Nobel is far from over," she said. "We're really relieved that he is finally going to be out of prison, but the next step is to be to ensure that the conditions attached to his release are lessened and finally removed."


CO2 shortage may flatten soft drink supplies

Perhaps they should attach a pipe to Al Gore. He seems to have a huge supply of the stuff

The temporary closure of two key sources of carbon dioxide gas, including Orica's controversial explosives plant near Newcastle, is causing supply shortages of the essential ingredient that makes soft drinks bubble.

The major supermarkets say supply disruptions have been minimal so far, but there could be shortages of soft drink if carbon dioxide production does not return to normal soon.

Orica's Kooragang Island explosives plant, which produces ammonia, makes carbon dioxide as a by-product. The plant has been closed since August following an accident and is only now in the process of slowly being brought back online.

Gas supplier BOC runs a carbon dioxide production facility at Kooragang Island which remains out of action until the explosives plant resumes feeding it raw gas for processing. BOC says it is sourcing alternative supplies from Queensland and Victoria to maintain supply in New South Wales. "BOC is currently maintaining normal CO2 supply in other Australian states," the company said in a statement.

Another major source of CO2, Origin and AWE's Lang Lang processing plant in Victoria, is closed for upgrades for about four months.

The production disruptions are starting to hurt supply to Australia's major soft-drink makers. Schweppes says it has experienced a shortage of CO2 at its largest east coast facilities over the past two months.

"As a consequence of this shortage, we have not been able to produce the volume of soft drinks that we normally would be producing at this time of the year, particularly at our factory in Victoria," the company said in a statement. "This has resulted in product shortages, largely in Victoria. We have put several workarounds in place to minimise the impact to customers."

Schweppes's production is also being cut by a lockout of about 150 staff at a factory in Victoria.

A Coles spokesman says the supermarket giant has seen an impact on the availability of some Schweppes products, but has so far still been able to cover that with supplies from other providers.

A Woolworths spokeswoman says the company is watching the situation closely. "We've not yet experienced notable supply shortages of carbonated products. Having said that, we would be concerned about supply if the CO2 shortage was not rectified very soon," the company said.

Schweppes says its carbon dioxide supplier has advised it will be increasing supplies from the end of next week, allowing full soft drink production to resume.

But Orica says the restart of Kooragang Island is a complex process and there is no firm timeline for the resumption of full production.


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