Friday, January 10, 2014

Sydney's charming Lebanese Muslims at work


Behind bars may be the safest place for Farhad Qaumi.  The alleged leader of the notorious Brothers 4 Life gang was shot in the shoulder 10 days ago, part of what police believe is a deadly internal power struggle involving several shootings in recent months.

Then on Thursday, Mr Qaumi was arrested over a string of drug supply and firearms offences following co-ordinated raids by the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad on properties in Sydney and on the central coast.

Police say Mr Qaumi, 31, and his brother Mumtaz Ahmed Qaumi, 29, are leaders of the Blacktown chapter of Brothers 4 Life, a criminal group founded by convicted murderer Bassam Hamzy, who is serving a 22-year sentence in Goulburn's Supermax jail.

It is alleged that since July last year, the brothers have knowingly directed the criminal activities of the faction, which has been involved in tit-for-tat violence with its Bankstown sister chapter in recent months.

At least two men have been killed and several wounded as gun-toting gangsters compete to fill the power vacuum created by the arrest of kingpin Mohammed Hamzy over the October 2012 murder of fellow gang member Yehyah Amood. Mr Hamzy, 28, was one of a dozen members arrested in November last year.

Police Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas said those arrests, combined with this week's raids, have halved the size of the gang.

"Our sense is that the numbers are certainly small and shrinking by the day," he said. "Speculation that this is the end of the group is probably premature. While these are significant arrests, this is not the end."

The heavily tattooed Mr Qaumi is no stranger to prison, having previously been charged with three murders, although he was never convicted over those deaths.

And he would have known he was a marked man after receiving a gunshot wound to his shoulder when at least 18 bullets were fired at the 32-metre motor yacht Oscar II as it pulled into Rose Bay wharf about 11.30pm on New Year's Day.

For months, police have been frustrated by the refusal of people involved in the violence to co-operate. But the walls of silence are gradually breaking down, Mr Kaldas said. "We pretty much know what has happened with just about all of the shootings that have occurred in Sydney in the last 12 months," he said.

The Qaumi brothers did not apply for bail in Wyong Local Court and it was formally refused. They will reappear in Central Local Court next month.


Radical feminists show their nasty side in campaign to support illegal immigrants

It should be noted that the campaign to stop illegal immigrants coming has bipartisan support in Australia  -- and huge support in the population as a whole

Last week refugee advocacy groups including RISE (which represents refugees, survivors and former detainees) reminded Australians that women in detention do not have easy access to products like tampons and pads. They are forced to queue to get handouts - and when they get to the head of the queue, they get one or two doled out like special precious gifts.

Now this kind of ritual humiliation doesn't happen in every single detention centre. And it doesn't happen all the time. [Maybe it only happened once.  Any excuse will do for a feminist to draw attention to herself.  Truth optional]

But the fact that it happens at all is a symbol of the way in which successive governments have treated those who come to our shores seeking protection.

Kon Karapanagiotidis, who was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2010 for his human rights work with refugee support, says this practice has gone on for years. Kon says those who say it doesn't happen are lying - the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, which he founded 12 years ago, has received these reports for some time.

So a bunch of us at feminist action group Destroy the Joint decided there was only one way to get Scott Morrison's attention. And that was to give him a monthly reminder. We've asked women around Australia to write to Mr Morrison asking him to change the procedures for access to what are described as feminine hygiene products. But not just those little form letters - but ones with an appropriate message: either a pad or a tampon. Also totally ok to send mooncups and sponges.

Don't send used ones. That would be revolting. Unsafe and unhygienic. Those of you who think that would be amusing must know it's not Morrison opening his own mail. It will be a poorly paid administrative assistant who will be instructed to stop the flow as soon as possible. So feel free to write on clean, unused sanitary products with red nail polish or waterproof markers. But send the message.

It's pretty hard to communicate with Morrison to see what he says about these claims. I've given up calling his office because the media team doesn't return calls. Morrison has been on leave from his regular Friday briefings for at least the last two. Reporters have had to wait to get a royal proclamation to hear whether the briefings are going ahead.


Homosexual Brisbane man Ali Choudhry given temporary halt on deportation as tribunal hears case

Note that he was NOT ordered out because he is homosexual.  He is just a chancer

A gay man living in Brisbane has won a temporary reprieve from being deported to Pakistan where he could be jailed for his sexuality.

Ali Choudhry has been living in Brisbane for four years with his partner, Brisbane neuroscientist Dr Matthew Hynd.

He is due to be deported after his application for a partnership visa was refused by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

His supporters say he is at risk of being jailed for his sexuality in Pakistan, where he does not read the language and has few contacts because he grew up in the United States.

Mr Choudhry and Dr Hynd were one of the first gay couples in Queensland to register their civil union on March 12, 2012.

Despite this, Mr Choudhry says the Government has ruled it does "not consider that you are in a long-standing relationship".

He has now lodged an appeal to the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT) and the Immigration Department says he can remain in Australia on a bridging visa while the appeal is considered.

"A bridging visa is granted whilst an application is being processed. At no time was Mr Chaudry in danger of being deported," a spokeswoman for the Immigration Minister said.

Mr Choudhry says he met with authorities on Tuesday morning.

"The official told us that until MRT makes their decision I'm OK to stay in the country," he said.

"But he was adamant not to give us anything in writing even though we asked him several times."

Mr Choudhry was born in Pakistan but grew up in New Jersey in the United States before going to university in Canada.

The spokeswoman for Mr Morrison says same-sex partners are assessed no differently than de facto heterosexual couples.

She says Mr Choudhry did not satisfy the requirements for a partnership visa.

"Mr Choudhry came to Australia as a student in 2009. He applied for a further student visa in March 2011 but was refused as he had not enrolled in his course," the spokeswoman said in a statement.

"He was then unlawfully in Australia for four months before lodging a partner visa application."

On his crowd-funding project on Pozible to raise funds for the MRT appeal, Mr Choudhry says his student visa paperwork was never received during the chaos of the Brisbane floods in 2011.

Mr Choudhry and Dr Hynd were one of the couples who lost everything in the flooding.

The Immigration Department says because Mr Choudhry did not hold a "substantive visa" at the time he did not satisfy the requirements for a partnership visa.

"He needed to provide compelling reasons why he should be granted the visa while onshore in spite of being in Australia unlawfully," the spokeswoman said.

If Mr Choudhry is deported he will attempt to get a tourist visa so that he can stay with friends in either the US or Canada. However, the visa would only last three months.


Overseas education crucial to universities

INTERNATIONAL education is Australia's fourth biggest export earner, providing crucial cash flows for universities. But newly released archives reveal a Cabinet power struggle between ministers focused on revenue and those concerned with aid.

International education in Australia began as a post-war overseas aid scheme, with students from the Asia-Pacific region sponsored to study here under the Colombo Program. But by 1987, these students were paying about 45 per cent of the average commercial fees.

Education minister Susan Ryan wanted the payments maintained at that level for the next three years, saying the Overseas Student Charge had risen annually since 1980. "There have been rises of the order of 40 per cent in each of the last two years," Senator Ryan noted in a March 1987 submission.

She advocated "certainty and predictability" in the charge, partly because of the effect "controversy surrounding the charge has on Australia's image as an attractive destination".

Senator Ryan said the charge had reached a "practical ceiling" because it was almost as high as the full fees paid on some commercial courses. "To increase the current level of OSC would bring into question the whole rationale for the subsidised program."

A draft press release included in the submission lauded the overseas student program's benefits in ``reinforcing understanding and goodwill and in more firmly establishing Australia as a friendly neighbour in the Asia-Pacific".

But other departments were hostile to the proposal. "It is not apparent that the benefits of the program justify such a large subsidy to overseas students," says a summary of Treasury's views.

"Increases in the OSC to date do not appear to have deterred applications," Treasury noted, adding that it would agree to more enrolments "subject to full fees being levied."

The Department of Foreign Affairs argued for annual increases in the charge until ``full cost recovery" was achieved, while the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet said fixing future years' charges constituted "an inflexible constraint on future budgetary planning".

The Expenditure Review Committee said the charge should be lifted to 55 per cent in 1988, 65 per cent in 1989 and 75 per cent in 1990. But this was overridden by Cabinet, which settled on 55 per cent for all three years.

Cabinet also accepted Senator Ryan's recommendation that the annual intake quota be set at 3500 students "provided that aggregate student numbers do not in future years significantly exceed the current level".

Last year there were over 500,000 foreign students in Australia.


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