Home' Greymouth Star : June 19th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
10 - Thursday, June 19, 2014
Iraq has asked the United States for
air support in countering Sunni rebels,
the top US general said overnight, after
the militants seized major cities in a
lightning advance that has routed the
Shi’ite-led government ’s army.
However, General Martin Dempsey,
the chairman of the US military’s Joint
Chiefs of Staff, gave no direct reply
when asked at a Congressional hearing
whether Washington would agree to the
Baghdad said it wanted US air strikes
as the insurgents, led by fighters from
the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
(ISIL), battled their way into the biggest
oil refinery in Iraq and the president of
neighbouring Iran raised the prospect
of inter vening in a sectarian war that
threatens to sweep across Middle East
“ We have a request from the Iraqi
government for air power,” Dempsey
told a Senate hearing in Washington.
Asked whether the US should honour
that request, he said: “It is in our national
security interest to counter ISIL
wherever we find them.”
In the Saudi city of Jeddah, Iraqi
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said
Baghdad had asked for air strikes “to
break the morale” of ISIL.
While Iraq’s ally, Shi’ite Muslim power
Iran, had so far not inter vened to help
the Baghdad government, “everything
is possible”, he told reporters after a
meeting of Arab foreign ministers.
The White House has said President
Barack Obama has not yet decided what
action, if any, to take following the rebel
onslaught, and was due to discuss the
options with leaders of Congress later
US officials, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said the Iraqi request had
included drone strikes and increased
sur veillance by US drones, which have
been flying over Iraq for some time.
However, any air targets would be hard
to identify because the militants did not
have traditional supply lines or major
physical infrastructure and mingled with
Sunni fighters were in control of three-
quarters of the territory of the Baiji
refinery north of Baghdad, an official
said there, after heavy fighting at gates
defended by elite troops who have been
under siege for a week.
The refinery is the fighters’ immediate
goal, the biggest source of fuel for
domestic consumption in Iraq, which
would give them a grip on energy supply
in the north where the population has
complained of fuel shortages.
The refinery was shut on Tuesday and
foreign workers flown out by helicopter.
ISIL aims to build a Sunni caliphate
ruled on mediaeval precepts, but the
rebels also include a broad spectrum of
more moderate Sunnis furious at what
they see as oppression by Baghdad.
Some international oil companies have
pulled out foreign workers. The head
of Iraq’s southern oil company, Dhiya
Jaffar, said Exxon Mobil had conducted
a major evacuation and BP had pulled
out 20% of its staff. He criticised the
moves, as the areas where oil is produced
for export are mainly in the Shi’ite south
and far from the fighting.
Washington and other western capitals
are trying to save Iraq as a united country
by leaning hard on Shi’ite Prime Minister
Nuri al-Maliki to reach out to Sunnis.
Maliki met Sunni and Kurdish political
opponents overnight, conc luding with a
frosty, carefully-staged joint appearance
at which an appeal for national unity was
In a televised address overnight Maliki
appealed to tribes to renounce “those
who are killers and criminals who
represent foreign agendas”.
But so far Maliki’s government has
relied almost entirely on his fellow
Shi’ites for support, with officials
denouncing Sunni political leaders as
traitors. Shi’ite militia — many believed
to be funded and backed by Iran — have
mobilised to halt the Sunni advance, as
Baghdad’s million-strong army, built by
the US at a cost of $25 billion, crumbles.
Maliki announced overnight that
59 officers would be brought to court
for fleeing their posts last week as the
insurgents seized Mosul, northern Iraq’s
Like the civil war in Syria next door,
the new fighting threatens to draw in
regional neighbours, mustering along
sectarian lines in what fighters on both
sides depict as an existential struggle for
sur vival based on a religious rift dating
to the 7th century.
Iraqi troops are holding off Sunni
fighters outside Samarra north of
Baghdad, site of one of the main Shi’ite
shrines. The fighters have vowed to
carry their offensive south to Najaf and
Kerbala, seats of Shi’ite Islam since the
Saudi Arabia, the region’s main Sunni
power, said Iraq was hurtling towards
civil war. Foreign Minister Prince Saud
al-Faisal, in words clearly aimed at Iran
and at Baghdad’s Shi’ite rulers, deplored
the prospect of “foreign inter vention”
and said governments need to meet
“ legitimate demands of the people”.
Maliki’s government has accused
Saudi Arabia of promoting “genocide”
by backing Sunni militants. Riyadh
supports Sunni fighters in Syria but
denies aiding ISIL.
With battles now raging just an hour’s
drive north of the capital, Baghdad is
on edge. The city of 7 million people
saw fierce sectarian street fighting from
2006-07 and is still divided into Sunni
and Shi’ite districts, some protected by
razor wire and concrete blast walls.
President Hassan Rouhani says Iran
would do whatever it takes to protect
revered Shi’ite Muslim holy sites in
Iraq against Sunni militants fighting
the Baghdad government.
“Dear Karbala, Dear Najaf, Dear
Kadhimiyah and Dear Samarra,
we warn the great powers and their
lackeys and the terrorists, the great
Iranian people will do everything to
protect them,” he said, naming the
sites of the shrines in an emotive
speech in Khoram-abad, near the
Rouhani on Saturday pledged to
help Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki’s government if it asked
for assistance, although at that
time no such request had been
In his speech overnight, Rouhani
mentioned petitions signed by
Iranians who said they were
willing to fight in Iraq “to destroy
the terrorists and protect the holy
sites”, which are visited by hundreds
of thousands of Iranian pilgrims
“Thank God there are enough
volunteers Shi’ites, Sunnis and Kurds
in Iraq to fight the terrorists,” he
The Iranian pledges follow a call by
top Shi’ite cleric Grand Ayatollah
Ali al-Sistani for Iraqis to volunteer
to resist the onslaught spearheaded
by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq
and the Levant (ISIL), also known
as ISIS, who hold the major cities
of Mosul and Tikrit and are fighting
north of the capital.
Iran is 90% Shi’ite. Maliki, a Shi’ite,
spent years in exile in Iran when
Sunni Arab dictator Saddam Hussein
was in power in Baghdad.
ISIL considers Shi’ites to be
The major Shi’ite shrines in Iraq are
in Najaf and Karbala, south of the
capital, in the district of Kadhimiyah
in Baghdad and in Samarra to the
north, which the militants have made
repeated, but so far unsuccessful,
efforts to enter.
At least 5000 Iranians have pledged
on-line to defend Iraq’s Shi’ite
shrines against the Sunni extremists,
a conser vative news website in Iran
reported earlier. — AFP
Iran vows to protect Iraqi shrines
The World Heritage Committee
has given Australia seven months
to prove it is protecting the Great
Barrier Reef or risk having the reef
listed as in danger.
UN cultural agency UNESCO
warned Australia of the “serious
decline in the condition” of the reef
and said “a business as usual approach
to managing the property is not an
Heritage Committee meeting in
Doha overnight called on Australia
to submit a report on its actions by
February 1, 2015.
A decision will be assessed on
whether Australia has implemented
a list of recommendations set out by
the committee in 2012.
In documents presented at
the meeting, UNESCO raised
particular concern about the
approval in December of the Abbot
Point coal port and allowing the
dumping of three millions of tonnes
of dredge waste within the marine
Any in-danger listing for the
reef would admit Australia to an
undesirable club that includes the
likes of the Democratic Republic of
Congo, which has all five of its World
Heritage sites on the danger list.
The committee welcomed progress
made by Australia, specifically around
water quality and its endorsement of
a 2013 reef water quality protection
Australia’s intention to restrict
future developments to current port
blueprints along the Q ueensland
coast was also commended.
But the committee added that
because the Queensland Ports
Strategy could not be applied
retrospectively, Australia needed to
ensure developments outside these
areas are not approved.
It requested Australia ensure the
decision to dump the spoil offshore
wouldn’t impact the reef ’s “overall
universal value” and was the least
damaging option available.
WWF Australia spokesman
Richard Leck, who attended the
Doha meeting, says the committee
has effectively put Australia on
notice to prove it is protecting the
“The committee has stood firm on
the need for stronger reef protection,”
“They ’ve really put the government
on notice that they need to lift their
Queensland Resources Council
chief executive Michael Roche says
the committee has delivered a vote of
confidence in Australia’s management
of the reef.
“The decision is global
acknowledgment that Australia is
on track to deliver a long-term plan
for conser vation of the Great Barrier
Reef ’s outstanding universal value,”
Port-related activities along the
2300km reef occupy less than 1%
of the coastline and areas set aside
for dredged spoil to be dumped
represent less than 0.02% of the
World Heritage area, he said.
Aust put on notice to protect reef
fighting with jihadists in Iraq, with
one convicted terrorist believed to be
Attorney-General George Brandis
said late yesterday the Government had
long been concerned that Australian
extremists were fighting in Syria and
believe some may now have crossed the
border and are fighting in Iraq.
News Corp reports convicted terrorist
Khaled Sharrouf is thought to be among
the fighters associated with the Islamic
State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also
known as ISIS.
Brandis was unwilling to discuss
details, other than to state it was believed
Sharrouf had travelled to Syria.
However, Sharrouf ’s social media
profile showed him in military fatigues
waving the ISIL flag, while counter-
terrorism sources had confirmed the
picture was of him and that he was
believed to be in Iraq, the report said.
Fairfax media reports Australians who
left to fight against the Syrian regime of
Bashar al-Assad have now joined forces
with ISIL and have crossed the border
into neighbouring Iraq.
The report said at least several
Australians had entered Iraq and had
seen fighting in the north of the country.
Big battle near huge refinery
A teary-eyed King Juan Carlos
has sealed his abdication of the
Spanish crown after a four-
decade reign, clearing the throne
for his 46-year-old son, Felipe VI.
The 76-year-old monarch signed
the act of parliament ending
his reign with a golden pen at
a ceremony in Madrid’s Royal
Palace overnight, then hugged his
son, who will be sworn in today.
The embrace between the
elderly king and his heir under
the palace’s chandeliers marked
the first royal succession in Spain’s
Dressed in a dark blue suit and
pink tie, Juan Carlos, who uses
a cane following repeated hip
operations, stood unaided during
part of the ceremony, but had to
briefly hold Felipe’s arm to steady
A band struck up the national
anthem as Felipe in a dark suit,
his wife and future queen Letizia
in a black top and white skirt, and
Juan Carlos’s wife Queen Sofia,
applauded the abdicating king.
Minutes earlier, cannons had
fired a salute and shouts of “Long
Live the King!” rang out as the
royals arrived by car at the old
palace in western Madrid.
Juan Carlos is credited
with helping guide Spain to
democracy after the death of the
dictator Francisco Franco, but
his popularity was damaged by
scandals in recent years.
Madrid was bedecked with flags
and flowers to hail the soon-to-be
proclaimed after swearing to
uphold the constitution and
delivering a speech to parliament.
He and Letizia will then be
driven through Madrid’s streets
and appear before the crowds on
the front balcony of the Royal
Juan Carlos outraged Spaniards
in 2012 by going on a luxurious
African elephant-hunting safari
during a recession, while Felipe’s
49-year-old sister Cristina risks
being put on trial for alleged tax
fraud. — AFP
Tearful Spanish king quits throne
PICTURE: Getty Images
King Juan Carlos of Spain signs the official abdication papers at the Royal Palace in Madrid.
Germany is seeking extradition of
an 89-year-old Pennsylvania man
in connection with the deaths of
hundreds of thousands of Jewish
men, women and children at the
Auschwitz and Buchenwald Nazi
concentration camps, a United
States judge said overnight.
Johann (Hans) Breyer was arrested
by US authorities on Tuesday at his
home in Philadelphia on allegations
that he ser ved as a Nazi SS guard
at the concentration camps. The
retired tool-and-die maker, born
in Czechoslovakia, is accused of
joining the Waffen SS at 17.
Breyer immigrated to the US
in 1952. He was the subject of
deportation proceedings in the
1990s when his attorneys argued he
was a natural US citizen because his
mother was born in Philadelphia.
They also argued that Breyer had
been coerced into joining the SS.
Germany has issued a warrant
for his arrest, US Magistrate Judge
Timothy Rice said at Breyer’s court
appearance in US District Court in
Newly discovered evidence has
strengthened the case against
Breyer, the New York Times
reported. War-era records show
he was at Auschwitz earlier than
he has acknowledged and that he
also ser ved as a guard in a notorious
subcamp, known as Birkenau, used
exclusively to kill prisoners, the
In court overnight, Breyer’s
lawyers argued that he was not
healthy enough to be held in federal
detention while his case is being
decided. — Reuters
Germany seeks to extradite alleged Nazi, 89
The former head of the Marist brothers
in Australia has denied he made a hasty
decision to put a prolific child sex abuser
on a plane to Canada three days after it
became known police were investigating
Although he knew the brother had
confessed to molesting a boy who later
committed suicide, Brother Alexis
Turton, the order’s provincial in 1989,
thought it best to get Gregory Sutton
therapy at a Canadian centre for priest
He denied repeatedly at a child sex
abuse Royal Commission hearing in
Canberra yesterday that he sent Sutton
to the Southdown centre near Toronto
because police had begun asking
Sutton was extradited from Canada
and jailed for 12 years in 1996 after
pleading guilty to multiple charges
of assaulting children in schools in
New South Wales, Australian Capital
Territory and Queensland from 1975 to
He had quit the Marists in 1991 and
Turton said he lost track of him after
Turton said he sent Sutton to Canada
because treatments in Australia had not
One Australian therapist had said he
could not work “with this man (Sutton)
because he does not have sufficient self-
awareness to have true therapy with me”.
A document dated August 31, 1989,
produced at the commission showed that
Sutton was telling people at the centre
his provincial had sent him “due to the
fact that investigations were occurring
on himself for school activities five years
ago regarding his child abuse.”
Turton said yesterday: “No. That is
incorrect. That is wrong.”
When it was put to him that sending
Sutton to Canada was first raised by him
on August 15 and he was on a plane on
August 18, Turton said: “I didn’t see it as
excessive haste, I saw it as continuing the
process that we had been through to get
him through to intensive therapy.”
At the time, parents of children at St
Thomas More School in Campbelltown,
NSW, had gone to police alleging Sutton
had abused year 5 girls.
Simeon Beckett, counsel advising the
commission, put it to Turton that his
account to the commission of why he
sent Sutton to Canada was false.
“That is not correct your honour,”
Turton said assurances by alleged
offenders they would cease their
inappropriate behaviour was often
accepted when no complaint of specific
sexual molestation was received.
The commission can find no file notes
kept by the order of allegations against
brothers in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Fish have feelings and intelligence on
a par with other animals and deser ve
better consideration of their welfare,
according to a behavioural biologist at
Australia’s Macquarie University.
Dr Culum Brown came to the
conclusion after reviewing the scientific
evidence on fish capabilities.
He found that fish have good memories,
lived in social communities, co-operated,
and learned from one another.
They displayed behaviours normally
seen in primates and were even able to
build complex structures and use tools.
While their brains differed from those
of other vertebrates, they contained
structures that performed similar
functions seen in other animals.
There was also mounting evidence that
they felt pain in the same way humans
Brown believes fish are just as likely to
be sentient as other animals.
He wrote in the journal Animal
Cognition: “Although scientists cannot
provide a definitive answer on the level
of consciousness for any non-human
vertebrate, the extensive evidence of fish
behavioural and cognitive sophistication
and pain perception suggests that
best practice would be to lend fish the
same level of protection as any other
“ We should therefore include fish in
our ‘moral circle’ and afford them the
protection they deser ve.”
People rarely thought about fish other
than as food or pets, Brown said.
He pointed out that fish were second
only to mice in terms of the numbers
used in scientific experiments.
With more than 32,000 known species,
fish far outweighed the diversity of all
other vertebrates combined, he added.
Fish feel pain: scientist
Scientists have announced an advance
in the quest to solve the growing
problem of antibiotic resistance, saying
they had found a chink in the armour of
A resilient class of germs called Gram-
negative bacteria have an impermeable
lipid-based outer membrane that
defends the cell against the human
immune system as well as antibiotics.
Removing the barrier would cause
the bacteria to become vulnerable and
Scientists at the University of East
Anglia said they have discovered
how cells transport the membrane
building blocks — molecules called
“ We have identified the path and
gate used by the bacteria to transport
the barrier building blocks to the outer
surface,” Changjiang Dong from the
university’s Nor wich Medical School
said in a statement.
“ Importantly, we have demonstrated
that the bacteria would die if the gate is
The discovery, published in the journal
Nature, paves the way for new drugs
to disrupt the building process, thus
bringing down the cell walls, the team
In April, the World Health
Organisation warned the rise of drug
resistance was allowing once-treatable
diseases to once again become deadly.
Drug resistance makes illnesses more
difficult and expensive to cure, and is
spread through an entirely preventable
means — improper use of antibiotics.
Some germs, like those that cause
tuberculosis, can be resistant to
numerous drugs. — AFP
Chink found in superbug armour
Tornadoes hit Willie Nelson’s ranch
Country star Willie Nelson’s Texas
ranch has been partially destroyed by
The singer-songwriter’s home in Luck,
just outside Austin, was hit by tornadoes.
A message on Nelson’s Facebook
page reads: “Our beautiful Luck wasn’t
so Lucky recently. Last week’s tornado
force winds ripped several buildings
apart, including the bank, the post office,
and left World Headquarters holding on
by a splinter.
“ We are happy to report no one was
hurt and the church only had a few
windows blown out. Some towns got it
a lot worse, so we aren’t complaining.
Luck is a tough town. It can be rebuilt,”
the message says.
Nelson built the ranch in the mid-
1980s and used it as the base for his 1986
film Red Headed Stranger. — WENN
Pope Francis will hold a Mass for
peace and reconciliation on the Korean
peninsula as a centrepiece of his visit to
South Korea in August, the Vatican said
Pope Francis, making his first trip to
Asia since his election in March last year,
will visit South Korea from August 13 to
18 to take part in a gathering of Catholic
youth from all of Asia.
According to the trip’s programme
released by the Vatican, the Pope will
conclude his trip on August 18 with a
Mass for peace and reconciliation in the
Myeong-dong cathedral in the South
The two Koreas have been divided
since the Korean war, which left millions
of families separated.
The south and the reclusive, communist
north have been at a near-constant
stand-off since the 1953 armistice.
Pope to call for Korean reconciliation
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