Home' Greymouth Star : July 2nd 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
Wednesday, July 2, 2014 - 7
A bomb in a van carrying charcoal
exploded in a busy market in north-east
Nigeria overnight, killing at least 20
people in the latest suspected attack by
Islamist militants, witnesses said.
The blast from the vehicle bomb
wrecked cars and taxis unloading
passengers and wares on a road adjoining
the market in the Borno State capital of
No one immediately claimed
responsibility for the blast. But in recent
months, the Islamist group Boko Haram
has embarrassed President Goodluck
Jonathan’s government with a spate of
bombings and spectacular raids, mostly
in north-east Nigeria, including the
mid-April abduction of more than 200
The military said earlier it had arrested
a number of suspected Boko Haram
collaborators including a Maiduguri
businessman it said was involved in the
abduction of the schoolgirls.
Boko Haram has also struck at Abuja,
the capital of Africa’s biggest economy,
with three bombings in three months.
Nigeria’s defence headquarters said
in a statement on its Twitter account
that “a van loaded with charcoal and
IED exploded” in Maiduguri’s market
overnight. IED means an improvised
Musa Sumail, a local human rights
activist in Maiduguri who reports on the
violence there, said he counted 20 bodies
at the scene of the market explosion.
“Many people died, mostly drivers
of taxis that were packed near the
roundabout,” a witness, trader Modu
A separate explosion at a busy
intersection in the north Nigerian city
of Kaduna earlier last evening wounded
two people but caused no deaths, police
The city lies along Nigeria’s “Middle
Belt,” where its largely Christian south
and Muslim north meet, and it has been
targeted by Boko Haram in the past.
Nigeria’s military said in a statement
that the businessman it had arrested had
helped the Islamist militant group plan
several attacks, including the killing of a
traditional ruler, the Emir of Gwoza.
Two women were also arrested, one
of whom was accused of co-ordinating
payments to other “operatives”.
A year-old military offensive against
Boko Haram has so far failed to crush
the rebels, despite recent assistance in
training, intelligence and sur veillance
from the United States and other
western allies of Jonathan’s government.
Boko Haram says it wants to establish
an Islamist state in Africa’s top oil
producer, and the insurgency has killed
thousands since 2009, destabilising
much of the north-east.
The April abduction of 276 school
girls from Chibok in Borno State —
219 of whom remain in captivity — has
become a symbol of the government ’s
powerlessness to protect civilians.
Defence spokesman Major-General
Chris Olukolade said in the statement
the arrested man used his membership
of a pro-government vigilante group
“as a cover, while remaining an active
“His main role in the group is to
spy and gather information for the
terrorists,” he added.
Olukolade said the man had co-
ordinated several deadly attacks in
Maiduguri since 2011, including on
customs and military locations as well as
planting improvised bombs.
Violence has been relentless in north-
east Nigeria in particular, with hundreds
killed in the past two months, but its
economic impact has been limited
because most of the unrest is in Nigeria’s
poorest, least productive region.
Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-
Iweala said Boko Haram would knock
half a percentage point off the country’s
economic growth like last year, but
investors had not been put off. — Reuters
Eighteen backpackers illegally
squatting at a Sydney industrial
complex have been rescued from a
fast-moving and intensive blaze.
About 70 firefighters headed to
Burrows Road in Alexandria about
1.40am today, where they were
shocked to find people, thought to
be from South-east Asia, living in
shipping containers and caravans.
“I had a look at the accommodation.
It was squalor,” Fire and Rescue New
South Wales commissioner Greg
Mullins told ABC radio.
He said it was certainly not a
registered or legal operation.
“ Firefighters had no reason to think
anyone would be in an industrial
complex at this time of night. It was a
severe threat to life.”
Initially, 14 backpackers were
evacuated from the complex and then
another four had to be rescued by
“As firefighters commenced to fight
the fire, about 14 people ran through
the smoke and ran to the front of the
building,” Inspector Ron James said
at the scene.
“One of them said there were four
more people inside.”
Two crews went to the rear of the
building and get the four out.
“The fire was that intense that
the firies had to put their bodies
between the fire and the people
they were rescuing to get them out,”
“ It was very intense. It was that
intense vehicles were melting on the
other side of the car park.”
The fire started at a bus parking
facility before spreading next door to
a NSW Public Works building.
Firefighters believe everyone has
been rescued, but they are still putting
out spot fires.
“There’s a bit of a problem with
structural collapse,” James said.
All the backpackers have been taken
to temporary accommodation.
The owner of the building, who
arrived at the scene in the early
hours, knew the backpackers were
lodging there and confirmed the
headcount of 18 people for the
Investigators were still at the scene.
Squatters saved from Sydney fire
A Florida jury has swiftly
convicted a violent pimp who
preyed on beautiful Australian,
New Zealand and American
women and turned them into
The jury of seven women and
five men in the United States
District Court in Miami took just
six hours after a two-week trial
to find Jamaican-born Damion
St Patrick Baston guilty of all 21
charges, including sex trafficking
and money laundering.
nightclub dancer, music producer
and self-described entrepreneur
faces life in prison at his
sentencing on September 5, with
a minimum mandatory sentence
of 15 years.
“It did not turn out the way Mr
Baston wanted,” Baston’s lawyer,
David Rowe, said.
“He took it in a manly way.”
US prosecutors flew in two
Australian women and one New
Zealander to testify alongside
three Americans who were
turned into sex slaves by Baston.
Baston beat, threatened and
raped his victims, bragged about
being a member of violent LA
street gang the Bloods, and then
kept for himself the hundreds of
thousands of dollars the women
Baston’s pimping began on
Queensland’s Gold Coast, but
led to the Middle East and the
In 2011 Baston, posing as a
music producer looking for talent
in Australia, met an Australian
woman, known as KL, in a Gold
relationship and the woman
believed they would open a
restaurant together, but he began
using violence and the threats
of violence to coerce her into
Baston drove KL to prostitution
dates, posted her photographs
and contact information on
local escorting websites and
newspapers and collected all of
She had to refer to him as
KL would return home with
“thousands of dollars”, Baston
would keep it and flaunt it,
including posting Instagram
photos of his $250,000 bank
balance and $75,000 diamond-
In 2011 Baston took KL to
Dubai where she made large
sums of cash as a prostitute and
then they travelled to Miami,
Florida, where he continued to
The other Australian victim,
TJM, met Baston at a party in
Queensland in 2009 when she
was 18 and they married in an
Islamic ceremony in 2010.
In 2011 he was prostituting
TJM and KL together out of
several rental properties on the
Rowe told the jury KL
was not the victim, but the
“ business genius” behind a Gold
Coast escort agency known as
Bachelors Club and Baston “was
basically the security guard to
make sure that the girls did not
Baston was arrested in New
York in December after KL flew
from the US to Australia to renew
her visa and her relatives alerted
the US State Department.
Lithuanian woman, known as
GP, told New South Wales police
Baston had hung her by her feet
over a fire escape, forced her to
remain in a scalding shower
for several hours and beat her
“According to the sexual battery
detective who inter viewed GP
that night, GP was the most
terrified victim she had ever
encountered in her 25 years at the
police department,” prosecutors
said. — AAP
Pimp preyed on
Aust, NZ women
Ukrainian tanks and fighter bombers
have resumed their assault on pro-
Russian insurgents after Kiev ’s
western-backed leader brushed off a
last-gasp European effort to save a
tenuous 10-day truce.
The return of all-out fighting in
Europe’s worst security crisis in
nearly two decades drew the instant
wrath of Russian President Vladimir
Putin and set off a new international
scramble to regain some control over
events in the strategic ex-Soviet
Ukranian President Petro
Poroshenko told the crisis-hit nation
in a dramatic midnight address that
the ceasefire had been used by the
militias to regroup and stock up on
heavy arms from Russia.
“Peace has been and will remain my
main goal. Only the means to achieve
it have changed,” the 48-year-old
Ukrainian defence ministry
spokesman Oleksiy Dmytrashkivsky
said a “massive artillery and air
offensive” had been unleashed in the
eastern rustbelt — home to seven
million mostly Russian speakers
who view the new Kiev leaders with
Russia immediately expressed its
“deep regret ” while France’s foreign
minister vowed there would be no let-
up in western efforts to find a lasting
solution to nearly three months of
c lashes that have claimed more than
Putin said Poroshenko was assuming
responsibility for future casualties
and gathered his top security aides
to discuss the “swiftly deteriorating”
situation in his western neighbour.
Both separatist fighters and pro-Kiev
leaders reported heavy exchanges of
artillery fire and air bombardments
across the rebel stronghold Russian
border regions of Lugansk and
The regional administration of
Donetsk said four civilians were
killed and five wounded when their
bus came under fire near the town of
Poroshenko’s decision to resume
the conflict came just hours after the
leaders of France and Germany joined
him on a conference call to Putin.
French President Francois Hollande
and German Chancellor Angela
Merkel were in rare agreement with
Putin that Poroshenko should extend
the truce to give indirect talks between
separatist commanders and Kiev a
But the dialogue failed to end clashes
that have displaced tens of thousands
and shuttered dozens of coal mines
and steel mills whose operation is vital
to Ukraine’s teetering economy.
Poroshenko told the three leaders
that insurgents had attacked Ukrainian
positions more than 100 times during
The separatists likewise accuse
government forces of having continued
to shell the dozen cities and towns
under their control during the official
halt of hostilities.
Both Kiev and its western allies
have accused Putin of helping to arm
and fund the separatists in reprisal
for the February ouster of a Kremlin-
backed leader who had rejected closer
The Kremlin denies all charges but
still faces the threat of devastating
sanctions against Russia’s financial
and energy sectors should Putin fail to
demonstrate a clear desire to resolve
the conflict. — AFP
Ukraine resumes attack on rebels
A man looks out of a window of an apartment damaged by shelling in Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine.
Japan took a historic step away from its
post-war pacifism overnight by ending
a ban that has kept the military from
fighting abroad since 1945, a victory for
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe but a move
that has riled China and worries many
The change, the most dramatic policy
shift since Japan set up its post-war
armed forces 60 years ago, will widen
Japan’s military options by ending
the ban on exercising “collective self-
defence”, or aiding a friendly country
Abe’s cabinet adopted a resolution
outlining the shift, which also relaxes
limits on activities in United Nations-
led peace-keeping operations and “grey
zone” incidents short of full-scale war,
Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera told
Long constrained by the post-war
constitution, Japan’s armed forces will
become more aligned with the militaries
of other advanced nations in terms of
its options. However, Tokyo will be
wary of putting boots on the ground in
multilateral operations such as the 2003
United States-led invasion of Iraq.
Abe repeated that stance overnight,
while stressing Japan had to respond
to an increasingly tough security
“There is no change in the general
principle that we cannot send troops
overseas,” Abe told a televised news
conference, flanked by a poster showing
Japanese mothers and infants fleeing a
theoretical combat zone on a US vessel
The US, which defeated Japan in
World War Two then became its close
ally with a security co-operation treaty,
welcomed the Japanese move and said it
would make the US-Japan alliance more
Washington has long urged Tokyo to
become a more equal alliance partner
and Japan’s move will also be welcomed
by South-east Asian nations that like
Tokyo have territorial rows with an
increasingly assertive China.
Tokyo’s new policy has angered
China, whose ties with Japan have
frayed due to a maritime row, mistrust
and the legacy of past Japanese military
“China opposes the Japanese
fabricating the China threat to promote
its domestic political agenda,” Chinese
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei
told a news conference in Beijing.
“ We demand that Japan respect the
reasonable security concerns of its
Asian neighbors and prudently handle
the relevant matter.”
South Korea, like Japan allied with the
United States, but still aggrieved about
Tokyo’s 20th century colonisation of
the Korean peninsula, said it would not
accept any change in policy affecting its
security unless it gave its agreement.
Abe’s advisers have said Tokyo should
take no action involving a friendly
country without that country’s consent.
Conser vatives say the constitution’s
war-renouncing Article 9 has limited
Japan’s ability to defend itself and that
a changing regional power balance,
including a rising China, means policies
must be more flexible.
Abe, who took office in 2012 promising
to revive Japan’s economy and bolster
its security posture, has pushed for the
change — which revises a longstanding
government interpretation of the charter
despite wariness among ordinary
Some voters worry about entanglement
in foreign wars and others are angry at
what they see as a gutting of Article 9 by
ignoring formal amendment procedures.
The charter has never been revised since
it was adopted after Japan’s 1945 defeat.
Japanese policy shift widens military options
Some childhood vaccines are
linked to serious side-effects, but
they are quite rare and do not
include autism, food allergies
or cancer, a review of scientific
A host of vaccines commonly
given to children under age six were
the focus of the systematic review
of rigorously conducted studies,
published in the peer-reviewed
United States journal Pediatrics.
The report seeks to address a
rising trend of vaccine hesitancy
among parents which has led
to a resurgence of measles and
whooping cough in some parts of
“ We found that serious adverse
events that are linked to vaccines are
really rare, and that when they do
occur they are often not necessarily
severe,” study co-author Courtney
Gidengil, a paediatrician at Boston
Children’s Hospital and professor
at Har vard Medical School, said.
“ We think this adds to the body
of evidence that the benefits really
do seem to clearly outweigh the
low risk of serious side effects from
vaccines,” she said.
The study expands on a 2011
report by the Institute of Medicine
that also pointed to some side
effects linked to vaccines but found
“few health problems are caused by
or clearly associated with vaccines.”
The Pediatrics report includes
several vaccines that were not
studied by the IOM, including those
against hepatitis A, Haemophilus
influenzae type b (Hib), polio,
rotavirus and the pneumococcal
Side-effects of the measles,
mumps and rubella (MMR) and
pneumococcal vaccines included
the potential for fever and seizures.
The MMR and hepatitis A
vaccines were also linked to a side
effect called purpura, when small
blood vessels leak under the skin.
There was some evidence that
immune-deficient children given
the varicella vaccine against chicken
pox could develop infections or
have an allergic reaction.
The rotavirus vaccines, Rota Teq
and Rotarix, were associated with a
risk of intussusception, a condition
in which one part of the intestine
slides into another part.
However, the risk of this condition
was rare, amounting to between one
and five in 100,000, the researchers
children regularly may have
encountered these adverse events in
their practices, particularly seizures
associated with fever,” said an
accompanying editorial by Carrie
Byington, vice chair for research in
the paediatrics department at the
University of Utah.
“Fortunately, the adverse events
identified by the authors were
rare and in most cases would be
expected to resolve completely after
the acute event. ”
No fatalities were found in the
research, which spanned from
2010 to 2013 and included a total
of 67 studies, whittled down from
more than 20,000 research papers.
Ebola toll up San Francisco
Microsoft says it is scrambling
Outlook e-mail messages in
transit to thwart spying by
governments or others.
Outlook and Microsoft One
Drive on-line cloud data storage
ser vice came less than a month
after the technology titan got
low marks in a Google ranking
of such defences against on-line
“We are in the midst of a
effort to strengthen encryption
across our networks and ser vices,”
trustworthy computing security
Matt Thomlinson said in a blog
“This effort also helps us
reinforce that governments use
appropriate legal processes, not
technical brute force, if they want
access to that data. ”
United States internet firms
are eager to fend off privacy
concerns provoked by US on-line
spying tactics exposed by former
intelligence agency contractor
Edward Snowden, who has taken
refuge in Russia.
Microsoft also announced the
opening of a transparency centre
at its Washington headquarters
where governments can check
the integrity of its software.
Google last month stepped up
its effort to make it tougher for
spies or anyone else to snoop
on e-mail, unveiling Chrome
browser software for scrambling
digital messages. — AFP
Microsoft ramps up
The number of people believed to
have died from Ebola in west Africa has
risen sharply to 467, the World Health
Organisation (WHO) says.
Giving the latest update on the disease
which has hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra
Leone, the WHO said there have now
been 759 confirmed or suspected cases of
Ebola in the region.
These figures represent a 38% spike
in the number of deaths and a 27% rise
in the number of overall cases since the
WHO’s last update on June 24.
The data was issued on the eve of a
meeting in Ghana by 11 west African
health ministers trying to find a way to
combat the deadliest outbreak of the
virus in history. — AFP
Israel has paid an emotional farewell to
three teenagers killed in the West Bank,
while vowing to hunt down the Hamas
militants it holds responsible for their
kidnap and murder.
The disappearance of Gilad Shaer and
Naftali Frenkel, both 16, and 19-year-
old Eyal Ifrach, from a roadside in the
southern West Bank on June 12 and the
hunt for their kidnappers has gripped the
Israeli public, triggering an outpouring
of public grief and anger.
But the drama drew to a bitter end on
Monday when troops uncovered three
bodies in a field in the West Bank.
All three had been shot in a triple
murder blamed on militants from the
Islamist Hamas movement.
Twenty-four hours later, tens of
thousands of mourners from across the
country packed into the cemetery in
Modiin in central Israel to pay their
last respects at a ceremony attended by
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and President Shimon Peres.
“I know the pain of mourning. There
is nothing worse than that,” Netanyahu
said standing by the three coffins, each
draped with a blue and white Israeli flag.
Israel has vowed to hunt down the
killers, and the security cabinet was to
meet for a second night to discuss how
to deal with Hamas, officials said.
A string of hardline MPs and ministers
have demanded Israel deal a crushing
blow to Hamas, whose stronghold is in
the Gaza Strip. But ministers are sharply
at odds over the right course of action,
army radio reported.
An Israeli official said that Yaalon
had suggested a “measured” military
response, and Netanyahu was inclined to
accept his position.
Commentators said Netanyahu was
unlikely to seek a major escalation.
“The prime minister is expected to
refrain from an excessively fierce reaction
because of (the Muslim holy month of )
Ramadan and the fear of the reactions
that a large-scale military operation
might elicit,” Yediot said.
Although Israeli warplanes pounded
Gaza hitting 34 targets overnight,
nobody was killed and only four people
Hamas has warned any Israeli attack
would “open the gates of hell”.
Two Hamas men named by Israel as the
prime suspects — Mar wan Qawasmeh
and Amer Abu Eishe — remain at large.
teens laid to rest
The United Nations children’s agency
and Human Rights Watch have appealed
for the release of more than 100 Kurdish
schoolboy and girls kidnapped by
jihadists in Syria at the end of May.
The militants from the Islamic State
(IS), formerly known as the Islamic State
of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), abducted
some 153 schoolchildren on May 29.
The children were on their way back
from taking year-end school exams in
the northern city of Aleppo.
They were heading to the town of
Ain al-Arab on buses when they were
stopped in the IS-controlled town of
Since their capture, IS has released
around 15 children, including all 10 girls,
according to the Syrian Obser vatory for
Human Rights monitoring group.
Another five boys escaped, according
to both groups.
UNICEF called for the “ immediate
and safe return” of those held.
“These children have nothing to do
with the war raging in Syria. They just
wanted to finish their exams and go
back to their families,” Maria Calivis,
regional director for the Middle East
and Northern Africa, said.
“Those who commit such crimes must
be held accountable,” she said.
Human Rights Watch said two of
the boys who escaped told the media
that ISIL was forcing them to undergo
lessons in sharia and jihadist ideology,
and that those who misbehaved were
The group said several of the boys’
fathers had received regular phone calls
from their sons, though others said they
had not had any contact.
There have been fears that IS could
train the boys to fight.
IS is fighting Kurdish factions in parts
of Syria, and has regularly taken Kurdish
civilians hostage, occasionally freeing
them in exchange for the release of their
fighters held by Kurdish groups. — AFP
Extremists urged to free
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