Sunday, November 02, 2014

No. No. We want you to stay in Australia, randomly kidnap people off the street, behead them and videotape it'

Chilling ISIS message to jihadists in Australia which led to US threat level being raised

A senior US congressman has provided chilling purported details about an Islamic State terror plot to kidnap and behead an Australian, in an apparent reference to last month's terror raids.

Mike Rogers, the chairman of the US House Intelligence Committee, told FOX News 14 Australian IS recruits were 'ready to go to Syria' at the time and 'further their radicalisation'. 

But Rogers said the recruits were told to stay in Australia. He said they received a note from IS which said: 'No, No. What we want you to do, stay in Australia. We want you to randomly kidnap people off the street, behead them, videotape it, send it to us for further propaganda.'

Terrorism expert Professor Greg Barton told Daily Mail Australia the remarks were presumably a reference to the September 18 dawn terror raids, the largest the nation has witnessed.

More than 800 NSW and federal police were involved in the operation, which saw Omarjan Azari, 22, arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act.

A court heard Azari had received a call from senior Australian Islamic State militant Mohammad Ali Baryalei and was instructed to behead a random member of the public in Sydney.

Prof Barton said it was unclear what briefings Rogers had received on the matter, and whether his remarks about Australians intending to flee to Syria were accurate.

'He seems to be speaking with some confidence on these (issues)', Prof Barton, from Monash University's Global Terrorism Research Centre, told Daily Mail Australia. 

Rogers linked a security boost at 9,500 US federal buildings with the alleged terror plot. 'They wanted to have a high-profile event in a Western country,' Rogers said.

'They wanted to show that they could reach out and strike a Western country, which is why we believe now you see all of this activity - Canada, the United States, across Europe, Germany, France, Spain, because they're actively working at trying to find an event that happens in a Western country that they can take credit for.'

Daily Mail Australia has approached the Australian Federal Police for comment on Rogers' remarks.

Friends this week said the ringleader of the alleged beheading plot, Mohammad Ali Baryalei, had been killed in the Middle East.

The Federal government was attempting to verify Baryalei's death on Wednesday.


Political correctness taking over Australian sport

FIRST Kurtley Beale from rugby union, then Paul Gallen from league.  Two elite players who committed sins of ­electronic communication have been hung drawn and quartered by sports bureaucracies that care more about process than people.

We now have these great sports run by men who treat the role as if it were just ­another business. The coaches are their senior executives and the players mere employees, governed by over-legalised human resources protocols as if they were office workers, and just as expendable.

Yet the true expendables are sports executives so cowed by political correctness and legal advice they have forgotten that without the players they have nothing.

Thus State of Origin hero Paul Gallen, who captained NSW to its first win in nine years, finds himself fined $50,000 with his international career and Blues captaincy under threat.

He didn’t stand on a blackjack table and urinate on a croupier. He didn’t assault anyone. He didn’t trash a hotel room. He wrote 18 words on twitter. “Steve Noice (sic) actually cared about players from cronulla’s feelings. Couldn’t say that about any other c*** from NRL.” That’s it.

Gallen was expressing his dismay at the sacking of Cronulla Chief executive Steve Noyce and discontent with the management of the NRL. Judging by the hyperbolic response to his tweet, his feelings were understandable.

He apologised immediately but there was no mercy from the NRL management he had so offended. What’s happened to judgment and proportion and fairness? Not to mention free speech.

Similarly, Wallabies star player Kurtley Beale was hung out to dry after committing what admittedly was a more serious transgression, when he sent an offensive text message inadvertently to the team’s business manager Di Patston.

He apologised and his apology was accepted. But four months later, the issue was embroiled in the ruthless machinery of human resources. It has almost destroyed his career, and has cost Patston and coach Ewen McKenzie their jobs.

Instead of being dealt with on a human level, the incident escalated into a managerial process-fest, dragged out with legal advice at 10 paces, and ­expensive external media ­consultants brought in to hose down the inevitable ­reputational damage suffered by everyone involved. A clue to the problem came from ARU CEO Bill Pulver, who was quoted saying, mid-drama: “I said that if anyone in my team inside the ARU sent text ­messages with that type of comment and content, that I considered it a dismissible ­offence.”

He considered the player was no different from an office worker, subject to the same workplace rules.

Going by that logic, the football field presumably is a workplace, so it won’t be long before someone works out that there are assaults going on there every day.

Common sense and basic human understanding has been replaced by procedures and integrity units and committees and tribunals, codes of conduct you need a law degree to understand and layer upon layer of management designed to offload decision-making.

This is the disease of managerialism, which afflicts almost every modern human enterprise. It’s the idea that generic management skills can be ­applied across any industry.

Whether it’s sport or journalism or a vehicle production line, it’s all the same.

Thus the Australian Rugby Union chose as its CEO ­Pulver, a successful businessman with no experience of sports administration other than as a schoolboy player.

“I look at Australian rugby as I would any other enterprise,” he declared when he took the job.

In league, CEO Dave Smith sang from the same songsheet when he was appointed last year. A Welsh banker, he couldn’t even name the Kangaroos captain.

Journalism experienced managerialism at Fairfax under former McKinsey ­manager Fred Hilmer.

Time and motion experts and management consultants were set loose on newsrooms in the vain hope that journalism could be boxed up and measured. Journalists became “content-providers” for ­advertising platforms.

Athletes are much the same. The flesh and blood that provides the magic that wins football matches, and catches the imaginations of the fans who pay for it all, is just ­another cog in a process which must continually be improved upon.

Managerialism’s finest ­moment in sport came last year when the nation’s five most powerful sports bosses trooped dutifully to Canberra to act as dumb props for the Gillard government’s latest ­diversionary tactic. They stood mute at that farcical press ­conference as Jason Clare and Kate Lundy slandered their players with claims their sports were riddled with drugs and organised crime.

Few of those claims ever stacked up, but the players were left with the smear.

Alarm bells should have rung before any of the sport bosses agreed to front up. But not one refused.

They just went along with the process, no matter how stupid, because that’s what managerialism demands.


Phil Rothfield reports that NRL judiciary chairman Paul Conlon has resigned today over the treatment of Paul Gallen.

Conlon emailed his resignation this afternoon to NRL chief executive Dave Smith and ARL commission chairman John Grant, claiming the $50,000 fine for swearing on social media was a gross overreaction.

In his resignation letter obtained by The Daily Telegraph, Conlon, who is also a District Court judge, wrote: “My role as judiciary chairman involves ensuring that charged players rights are protected and that they receive a fair and just hearing.

“I have never witnessed a penalty more disproportionate to the offending conduct than that dealt out to Paul Gallen.  “My role as a judge involves ensuring that punishment fits the crime.”

The long-serving judge also attacked the game’s hierarchy for demanding a please explain from NSWRL chairman Dr George Peponis for his support of the embattled Cronulla captain.

Peponis’ crime was to tell the Saturday Telegraph he ‘felt sorry’ for Gallen.

Conlon had been in charge of the judiciary for eight years.

“No player in the history of the game has been under as much pressure, stress and tension as Paul Gallen over the last two years,” Conlon said.


Independent umpire to watch Qld hospitals

THE performance of Queensland's public hospitals will soon be tracked by an independent umpire instead of the state's health department.

QUEENSLAND'S health ombudsman will audit and report data on how long patients at public hospitals must wait for surgery and emergency treatment from July 2015, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg says.  The information is currently managed by the state's health department.

Mr Springborg said the government was responding to calls by the Australian Medical Association for more community oversight of Queensland Health facilities.

"This will give the public even greater confidence in our public hospital system," he said in a statement on Sunday.

Mr Springborg said the latest quarterly report showed wait times for surgery continued to reduce and would soon fall into line with recommended time frames.

The ombudsman, Leon Atkinson-MacEwen, will report on more areas of public hospital performance in future, the health minister said.

The health ombudsman role was introduced by the Newman government to investigate complaints in the public health sector.

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said Mr Springborg's announcement was "complete and utter spin" and it was well known there was a "waiting list for the waiting list".

Ms Palaszczuk said the government didn't care about people and had cut health staff across Queensland.

"There is nothing more important than ensuring that families get the right access to health services right across this state," she told reporters on Sunday.

"And you can't get the right access when you've cut 4800 health workers across Queensland."


Road to hellish environmental concern

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Unfortunately the Anglican Church of Australia seems to have set out on its own journey to that fiery destination.

Campaigners in the Anglican Diocese of Perth, led by convicted Hilton bomber Evan Pederick, have followed national church policy and forced the Perth synod to dump all its fossil fuel investments.

Other dioceses, as well as Anglican National Super which provides superannuation for the wider church, have now followed Perth’s lead.

According to Pederick, the decision to sell off coal, gas and oil holdings was an entirely moral one taken to protect God’s creation and the livelihoods of human beings.

But as The Australian’s columnist Gary Johns has pointed out, “an effective divestment campaign would increase the cost of power and harm the poor.”

Just who is the church trying to help? Fuel costs are already on the rise hitting poorer people hard in the hip pocket. The church doesn’t seem to care much about them.

Nor is it concerned to protect the jobs of those who live in communities like the NSW coalmining town of Denman.

“At the heart of this issue is people with mortgages, people with families,” says Jody Zammit, a priest in the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle where coal has been the lifeblood of the region for years.

There is little sign the church is being mindful of any issue concerning the well-being of families, communities and people. Nor is it thinking seriously about energy policy.

Nuclear power would be a good alternative to power derived from coal, but the Anglican Church is dead set against that option. And it’s not much keener on cheap, affordable hydro-electric power.

In fact, the Anglican Church is probably not so much concerned with developing an effective national energy policy as it is with struggling to secure its own survival as church attendance drops.

Ageing church members are dying off leaving empty pews that are not being filled by new parishioners. As a result, the size of the Sunday collection put in the plate each week is dropping too.

The church is desperate to connect with a younger generation of people and to stem the drift away from church life.

Many Anglican church leaders think that greater advocacy on fashionable issues such as safeguarding the environment will help them connect with that missing generation.

But while the church is pursuing the idealistic environmentalists it will actually be harming working parents with families to raise, bills to pay, and homes to heat.

G.K. Chesterton once said, “Those who marry the spirit of the age will find themselves widows in the next.”  The Anglican Church of Australia is making the very mistake which Chesterton warned about.

No doubt church leaders are well-intentioned. But sometimes good intentions are not enough. Especially when the consequences of actions have a whiff of sulphur about them.


Where's the outrage over Saudi treatment of women?

An Australian sporting perspective

Imagine a nation that treats a huge section of its population as little more than slaves. A nation where many are not allowed access to a full education or a professional career. Picture a place where some citizens can count themselves lucky if they are allowed to show their faces in public, let alone attend a sporting event.

Now imagine this: a football stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this Sunday. A sweltering cauldron of sound. The Western Sydney Wanderers run on to the pitch to play the second leg of the final of the Asian Champions League against Al-Hilal.

Then, at the opening kick-off, the Wanderers all sit down and decline to play until Saudi Arabia agrees to recognise women as equals.

Our apologies. We'll now interrupt this broadcast and return to normal programming.

You can safely assume this Sunday's final will pass without a mention of women's rights in Saudi Arabia. There may be only one woman in the crowd of 65,000 - devout Wanderers fan Kate Durnell. And she has only been given permission to attend because she will be accompanied by her father and will wear a hijab.

Where is the anger, much less the outrage? Whatever happened to that generation in the 1970s who helped change the world? Did they all grow fat and old and decide sport was no longer a worthy weapon in the battle for human rights?

Say what you like about the 1970s. The naff idealism. The quaint notions of peace amid the threat of nuclear holocaust. At least it was a time when the world belatedly woke up to the evils of the apartheid system in South Africa and decided to do something about it.

Australian sport caught up with public opinion as Sir Donald Bradman directed that a cricket tour of South Africa be cancelled.

"We will not play them until they choose a team on a non-racist basis," declared Bradman who, just a year earlier, had not believed politics should mix with sport.

When the Springboks arrived in 1971 for a series of Tests, more than 700 Australians were arrested for disrupting the tour.

Such was the public outcry that games were played behind barbed wire. Unions banded together, forcing the tourists to travel around the country on air force planes.

These strident public protests eventually led to a stiffening in the resolve of politicians.  By the late 1970s, the world was condemning South Africa. And, little more than a decade later, the practice of measuring a person by the colour of their skin in that country was peeled away.

So where is the outcry as the Western Sydney Wanderers head to Saudi Arabia?

This is a nation that has long suppressed its women. They are not allowed to drive a car. In fact women under the age of 45 require a male guardian's permission to open a bank account, to seek a job, to undergo elective surgery and even to travel.

Enforcement is often swift and brutal and carried out by the Mutaween – a select group of religious police with the powers to detain Saudis and foreigners for whatever they deem "immoral".

Where's the moral outrage? Have we had to look the other way because of the diplomatic nuances required to live in a post 9/11 world?

Does our reliance on the Middle East oil pipeline preclude the West from speaking out against clear and present human injustices?

Or maybe we've just lost the zeal, the passion and the desire to make the world a better place.  Maybe we decided that soccer superiority beats civil rights hands down.


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