Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fact: Post Coup 2006 'Fiji Human Rights' took a downward spiral & its a shame'!!

Is the Fiji Human Rights Commission trying to deny what the world saw' post coup 2006'.
All the bashings in & off the Military Camp. How much of the 'bag of gold' is this Shameem taking to blatanly deny what the many Fiji witnesses saw. Has she forgotten virtual archives has pictures of those bashed well coded & tagged.
The horror stories that came through from those that were bashed up both local people & visiting offshore Fiji people is still rife in people's minds. Children will remember the loss of their dads, uncles, brothers etc for many generations to come. The stories will be repeated over & over again....! Perhaps we may say, that it will be a horrible bedtime stories for kids in rural Fijian villages. These same stories will penetrate future history books for children in Fiji. In fact we intend to invite interests from anyone that may wish to send in their stories for inclusion in a book to be put out as stories forFiji Children.

'Pulling wool' over ones' eyes will not work & neither does 'white washing' as these methods does not work anymore esp. when new high tech method of virtual communications are now in play.
The damage has been done & sadly no matter what Shameem tries to say on behalf of the current regime, nothing will alter the damage i.e deaths of soldiers & civilians alike as well as bodily injuries sustained by many as a result of the regimes' brutality.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fiji Times online has this to say........

US human rights report 'unfair'
Saturday, February 28, 2009

Inmates make their way to their dorms at the Suva Korovou Prison
The 2008 Human Rights report released by the United States Department of State is not fair and balanced, says the Fiji Human Rights Commission Chairperson, Shaista Shameem.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fiji Legal System needs more of the' Graham Leung' calibre to put Fiji back on the map of the world!!

Congratulations & way to go Graham, one of the well known Sons of Fiji who has been transparent in his views & dealings with how Governance in Fiji should be.
Fiji people needs more of your type Graham. Well done & we applaud you.
We may be far or near, we support Graham to help bring Fiji back to Normalcy. Its high time that the local people start pulling their resources together & resist the current regime's hold on power in Fiji. Bhaini & his team need to go and be replced by an elected government that has been chosen by the people for the people.
Lets not go down the same road as Zimbabwe!!!
May God Bless Fiji & the Ordinary People.
Heres what Fiji Times Online has to say.................
---------------------------------------------------------------
Lawyers' involvement could send wrong signal: Leung
Friday, February 27, 2009
Update: 4:51PM REPUTABLE lawyers would tend to refuse to take up judicial appointments in Fiji because it could send the wrong signals, Suva lawyer Graham Leung said yesterday.

"While overseas lawyers who take up judicial appointments in Fiji may be well intentioned, it could also end up sending a signal to the military-backed junta that judges from respectable countries have no difficulty in serving in a coup-infested country," said Mr Leung, a former president of the Fiji Law Society.

"This could end up emboldening the regime and its apologists."
Mr Leung was reacting to statements by current Law Society president Dor Sami Naidu, who had said that travel bans by Australia and New Zealand made it difficult to attract the calibre of people needed to ensure the independence of the judiciary was maintained.

Mr Leung said the travel bans were meant to pressure the coup makers into doing the right thing and returning the country to democracy.
"Once you start making exceptions to the rule, it is difficult for the policy to stand."
Mr Leung said very few people would dispute the idea that any judiciary should get the best quality legal minds.

"The million dollar question is how do you achieve that in a transparent way in a country which is being governed by a group of unelected people," he said.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"A minute of Silence" to remember 'Sakiusa Rabaka' who died because of Voreqe B & his Regime's Brutality!!


We are deeply saddened to witness how the late Sakiusa Rabaka's Mother, an Indigenous Fijian lady, standing in her once beloved homeland, to tell her late son's story of how he suffered & died.

What has become of the Fiji we so truly loved. Has it been taken over by vultures???

We stand with Sakiusa's Mother in her darkest hour & walk with her through the sorrows she has experienced & is going through now for having to relive those tragic moments.
Message to Sakiusa 's mother in the Native Fijian or First language of Fiji:
" Na neimami masu ni na vukei kemuni na Turaga o Jisu Karisito ka solia vei kemuni na vaka cegu ena gauna dredre ko ni sotava tiko oqo."
'Psalm 23'
Our Prayers are with you that you will find somewhere in your heart a sense of peace that your son died for his Country Fiji at the hands of Fiji Soldiers!!!
-------------------------------------
Fiji Times Online....
Mum tells of Sakiusa Rabaka's painful last days in murder trial
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Update: 6:03PM THE first State witness in the murder trial of a policeman and eight soldiers took the stand at the Lautoka High Court today.
Alanieta Rabaka described in detail the pain her son, Sakiusa, endured during his final days



Monday, February 23, 2009

Is this Greed?....Ooooppss Voreqe B: Fiji Children will remember these stories for years to come!!

Ugly tales of greed at its highest is surfacing & no matter how much of it is swept under the carpet, it will somehow be revealed.

Does the current IG in Fiji really need to have its neighbors & close allies, as this case reveals all and make others aware of the underhand dealings going on?

Time to come clean so the future generations can be assured of Fiji being restored to it former glory i.e the days when soldiers & guns were kept behind Army barracks & UN Peacekeeping duties not claiming Political Leadership of the day through Power of Guns..
..............................................................................................
1:18 PM (3 hours ago)
Samoan PM berates Voreqe - Fiji Times Online
by By TUPUOLA TERRY TAVITA, Editor of Samoan newspaper, Savali
It has been reported by Islands Business magazine (February 2009 issue) that in the few months Mr Bainimarama appointed himself as Fiji ‘s Finance Minister, he quietly claimed for himself a "backpay" of FJ$200000. ...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Princess Anne joins the Aussies as 'Sweet Resounding Bells filled Australia @ 11am today to remember the Victims of the recent Fire Tragedy'


While watching the Ceremony Live, one cannot help but feel the depth of unity & togetherness that came through it all. It was such a moving ceremony that echoed a 'Strong Spirit' of 'Love, Bond, Rebuilding, One Voice, Unity, Value for First people, the Land as well as the environment and the list goes on.

The speeches delivered by key people reaffirmed all of the above. & would have touched everyone's heart.

Lessons must be learned by smaller neighboring Nations within the Pacific rim more so for troubled Fiji. Here we noted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd while reflecting on the tragedy, made reference to , quote, 'In some countries tradegy exposes the fault line in a Nation..." unquote.

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4:23 PM (20 minutes ago)
Princess Anne in bushfire tribute
(BBC News)

Princess Anne pays tribute to to all those affected by Australia's bushfires at a remembrance ceremony in Melbourne.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Walking the Talk for the Lesser Fortunate Kids in Fiji.esp the Flood Victims.



Luvei Viti group as part of its ongoing commitment to NZ Diversity Forum & the wider Community will be hosting a Family evening @ Keith Spry Pool in J'ville, Wellington on 21 March 09. This is to mark Race Relations Day & this year's theme is 'Neighborhood'.

For the Fiji Community in Wellington & those visiting, this will be a time to get together, mingle, swim & just have fun with everyone which includes Friends of Fiji & the wider community.

All those attending will be asked to bring some sort of school stationery be it a box of pencil, pencil cases, excercise books, coloured pens, rules etc to donate towards children who are suffering back in Fiji and/or are lesser fortunate.

Money raised will be donated to Save the Children NZ towards their projects in Fiji with a focus to Flood victims.

We ask that you pass the word around. More details will be posted in a flyer before the month ends. So do watch this space......!!.

Highlights: Fijian Meke, Music/Songs, Lovo food, authentic Fiji dishes will be sold & there will be lots of spot prizes.

If you are in Wellington on 21 March 2009, 6pm - 9pm : this will be the place to be at. There will be spot prizes & guest appearances. Prepare for more surprises.

The Core Team
Luvei Viti (Children of Fiji)
-----------------------------------------------------

Fiji Times Online
More students need assistance
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Update: 4:26PM SAVE the Children Fiji says the $525,000 budget available to assist children affected by recent floods is not enough. http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=114770

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fiji v China: Stats on Social Health Problems in Fiji will be interesting to look at in due course in view of what BBC News says about China.

Page last updated at 03:35 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Aids is China's deadliest disease

By Jill McGivering BBC News

Rapid social change and unsafe sex are blamed for rising infection levels
Chinese officials have said that HIV/Aids was the leading cause of death last year, compared with other infectious diseases.

It is thought to be the first time this has happened.
A report by the country's state media said HIV/Aids had led to the deaths of almost 7,000 people in the first nine months of 2008.

The number of deaths caused by tuberculosis and rabies fell back into second and third place.
The numbers are increasing dramatically - China's Ministry of Health say that until three years ago, fewer than 8,000 people altogether had died from HIV/Aids.

By last year, the total had risen to five times that many.
Data on HIV in China are still unreliable. Official reporting of cases does seem to have improved.
The central authorities seem more willing to recognise HIV as a public health crisis and address it with education campaigns.

But there are still concerns that officials at local and provincial level are under-reporting, either by mistake or because they think it's not in their interest to show rises.

This latest news comes as the spread of HIV in China has entered a dangerous new phase.
Initially it was concentrated in high-risk populations, injecting drug users in particular.
Infection from contaminated blood transfusions was also common.
More sex

But now the main cause of transmission is thought to be unsafe sex.
China is still a deeply conservative society - but it is also going through a period of rapid social change.

Greater freedom of movement means millions of migrant workers have left small communities to enjoy the anonymity of cities.

Male workers, away from their families, have more sexual opportunity.
Prostitution has increased. Premarital sex is also becoming more acceptable.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organisation warned of a steep rise in HIV amongst Asian men who have sex with men, unless prevention programmes targeting them were greatly improved.

Survey by experts indicates 'Children are out-smarting the grown-ups in high tech gadgets!!

Children today face a kind of 'technological tipping point' forcing them to develop financial awareness at an earlier age says Pfeg chief ex Pfeg chief executive Wendy van den Hende as reported in BBC News.

Read more ................

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Children 'more savvy' financially

girl using laptop
Children appear to be increasingly sophisticated about money

British children are more financially aware than their parents were at their age, a study suggests.

The Populus poll of 1,400 people for personal finance charity pfeg found 10-year-olds were shopping online using their parents' debit or credit cards.

Children as young as seven now offer to do chores in exchange for cash, whereas their parents were at least 10 before they worked for money.

Eight is given as the average age for a child to own their first mobile phone.

The survey found the average weekly pocket money is now £6.32, compared with £3.77 a week for their parents and the £2.38 a week their grandparents received, in equivalent money.

Computer games

The poll found that two in five of those aged seven to 15 (40%) had bought ringtones and games for their mobile phone and a quarter had voted in TV competitions.

Children are most likely to use the internet to buy computer games (32%), music (21%) or books (18%).

Almost a third (32%) felt under pressure to make financial decisions despite being so young, the charity said.

The online survey, carried out by Populus in January, involved 1,435 people, including 546 children aged seven to 15, 676 parents and 759 grandparents in England, Wales and Scotland.

Independent spirit

Pfeg chief executive Wendy van den Hende said: "Children today face a kind of 'technological tipping point' forcing them to develop financial awareness at an earlier age.

"It is therefore vital that they are equipped with the skills and judgement to make sound decisions about money management from an early age," she said.

"Many of the children involved in this study told us that making financial decisions helps them to feel more in control of their lives and it is precisely this positive, independent spirit that will support them in becoming effective money managers and responsible spenders as they grow up.

"It's up to us to nurture this spirit by teaching them the skills to handle money with confidence."

Youth organisations say: Tough is not enough from NZAAD

Youth Updates from Maddy's desk
-----------------------------------------------
17 February 2009
Joint Media Release

Youth organisations say: Tough is not enough

People who work with youth say the Youth Crime Bill introduced to parliament
yesterday is based on a misconception that the current law isn’t working.
New Zealand Aotearoa Adolescent Health and Development (NZAAHD) execu-
tive officer Sarah Helm said that she empathised with the new government’s de-
sire to address public concern about youth crime, and to prevent young people
from spiralling into lives of crime.

“All information tells us that a boot camp approach alone is a waste of taxpayer
money - the old corrective training sentence had a massive recidivism rate of
over 90%.” she said.
“The government have announced a bigger Fresh Start package which puts in
some other supports for young offenders such as education.
“There definitely needs to be focused and sustained investment into other types
of support services that focus on a educational, health, drug and alcohol and
welfare needs.”

“Young people engaged in crime usually have a range of problems contributing
to their poor behaviour – a lifetime in state care or family abuse, learning disabili-
ties, poverty, mental health problems, and a lack of adult support,” she said.
YouthLaw Senior Solicitor John Hancock said the current law already provided
for young people who commit serious crime to be tried in the adult court.
“We are also concerned that the Bill proposes reducing the age of criminal
prosecution to include 12 and 13 year olds.”

“Such an amendment would be difficult to reconcile within the current youth jus-
tice framework under the Act and would be contrary to New Zealand’s interna-
tional obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
Child (UNCROC) and associated juvenile justice”

In addition, the Family Court currently possesses a wide range of powers in re-
spect of child offenders, including reparation, services and custody orders.”
YMCA New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Ric Odom notes that while there is a
widely held perception that we are in the midst of a youth crime wave, overall
youth crime has remained fairly constant over recent years.
New Zealand Aotearoa Adolescent Health and Development (NZAAHD)
04 382 9944

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

'Luvei Viti Grp' will be a part of Children Day 2009: A key focus in Aotearoa!




Thanks Maddy for the invite....Children of Fiji reps will be delighted to attend this forum.

The Core Team for
Luvei Viti
(Children of Fiji). Community Grp. Aotearoa
17/02/2009

-------------------------------------------------------

Come and be entertained and challenged
................... in the Beehive Theatrette.

Listening and talking on Children’s Day 2009

Grant Robertson MP invites you to a special, and early, Children’s Day event organised by Every Child Counts in partnership with Youth Organised and United.

A team of youth debaters will challenge three newly elected MPs to debate the moot:
“Listening and talking to children and youth... it’s what MPs do best!”

Negating team - Youth debaters
Luke Craven (Youth Organised and United, Bethlehem College, Tauranga)
Frances Ratner (Victoria University, Wellington)
Elenoa Cook (Mercury Energy First Foundation Scholarship)

Affirming team - MP debaters
Grant Robertson MP (Labour, Wellington Central)
Catherine Delahunty MP (Greens, List)
Simon Bridges MP (National, Tauranga)

To be chaired by Parliament’s Speaker Dr Hon Lockwood Smith MP.

Fiji Children as Priority for Fiji's IG & 'So it Should Be!!'

News update from Fiji Broadcasting...read on

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Children top priority

Monday, February 16, 2009

Taken from / By: FBCL

Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama says he is more concerned about children who have been victims of the recent floods.

Bainimarama told FBCL News he is more concerned with helping out affected children than developments as a whole

He says he has been giving money to Save The Children's Fund because it totally looks after the welfare of the children in Fiji and this is where his priority lies.

The Interim Prime Minister has also confirmed receiving a million dollars from the Papua New Guinea government for flood relief assistance.

Government spokesperson Major Neumi Leweni says the Prime Ministers flood appeal account has raised around 1.6 million dollars.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Well Done Save the Children for alerting the hierachies in Fiji on the plight of Fiji Children!


Fiji Times online has this story on Fiji Children. It is imminent Poverty & Child Labour will sky rocket after the recent floods, an important issue that Voreqe B & his team will have to address after all, these Children will become Future leaders of Fiji!!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Read on....


Suffer the child


Margaret Wise
Saturday, February 14, 2009


CHILDREN could become victims of child labour after the impact of the floods which ravaged crops, farms and people's labour around the country over the past two months.


And Save the Children Fiji is calling all parents, guardians and members of the community to be vigilant about the care and protection of their children.


"It is a serious issue which the people and the State must tackle," said child rights manager Iris Low-Mckenzie.


"These challenges are unquestionably creating uncertainty for us. Poverty is increasing and people are sometimes overwhelmed by the changes that are often incomprehensible to them.


"Natural disasters can act as a push factor toward child labour," said Ms Low-Mckenzie. Children are therefore increasingly vulnerable to poverty which can lead to an increase in the number of street children, children not attending school as we experienced in Fiji and children could resort to selling bean or cleaning the streets at night, sexual abuse, violence and forced labour.


"Therefore, there is a risk that the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Fiji will be on the increase."


Ms Low-Mckenzie said additionally, children who were sent to live with extended families on the idea that they would be better off, could be enslaved in a daily life of domestic labour, receiving little to no education at all. They become vulnerable to be abused physically, mentally and sexually. On the other hand, children are prone to move to the city areas who were not affected by the flood for a better life. However, once they realise the hardships there is in the city, they are vulnerable to forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation."


Meanwhile, the International Labour Organisation will conduct a workshop next week to support the implementation of a baseline survey and research to access the magnitude of child labour in the country.


Through its TACKLE program, funded by the European Union, the workshop aims to identify issues and target areas for programming.


The workshop also aims to clarify the distinction between "children in employment" and "child labour".

Saturday, February 14, 2009

TIMELINE FOR FIJI: How did the Fiji Taxi Drivers living in Aoteroa come to have so much say on Fiji Post-Coup issues??

It is fair to say that Fiji people living in Fiji & abroad seems to be engaging in a 'Virtual Staking of Claims' on who is really from Fiji & who is not. It does throw an element of confusion to those who may be following the Fiji saga.

'The Johnnies-come-lately' media who says they are

from Fiji, living abroad are adding fuel to the fire claiming they are the experts to Fiji saga & are just fuelling further what some taxi drivers who claims to be from Fiji living abroad esp in Aotearoa are saying to their passengers in taxis.

Fiji no doubt has suffered the onslaught of these Coup-Mania's whatever their intentions were. The bottom line there should never have been coup-de-tats.

Unfortunately, Fiji children born after 1987, eve of 1st coup & another Civilian Coup 2000 because the Gun-Man propped up a Civilian man & this same Gun-Man seized power in 2006 from an elected government thus making their little Fiji World into a 5th or 6th World Country far behind even a 3rd World one for that matter.



Below is a timeline on Fiji which may help those to understand the transition of power in the hey days till now. Added further in this blog are some interesting postings to a blog titled 'A legal perspectiveon Fiji' as posted in Stephen Franks' blog (Stephen Frank is a well known ex Politician in Aotearoa & is also a lawyer).



-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
As written by BBC News



http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/country_profiles/1300499.stm



Timeline: Fiji




A chronology of key events




1643 - Dutch explorer Abel Tasman is the first European to visit the islands.

Tourism is a key earner of foreign exchange




1830s - Western Christian missionaries begin to arrive.



1840s-50s - Christian convert chief Cakobau gains control of most of western Fiji, while another Christian convert, Ma'afu from Tonga, controls the east.



1868 - Cakobau sells Suva - the current capital of Fiji - to an Australian company.
1871 - European settlers at Levuka island organize a national government and name Cakobau king of Fiji following local disorder.



British rule
1874 - Fiji becomes a British crown colony at the request of Cakobau and other chiefs.
1875-76 - Measles epidemic wipes out one-third of the Fijian population; British forces and Fijian chiefs suppress rebellion.



RATU SIR KAMISESE MARA
Former PM was dominant Pacific island statesman
Born in 1920




First post-independence prime minister
Forced to resign in 2000 coup
2004: Fiji's founding father dies
2004: In pictures - Farewell to 'Fiji's father'



1879-1916 - More than 60,000 indentured labourers brought in from the Indian subcontinent to work on sugar plantations.
1904 - Legislative Council, consisting of elected Europeans and nominated Fijians, set up to advise the British governor.



1916 - British colonial government in India stops the recruitment of indentured labourers.



1920 - All labour indenture agreements in Fiji end.
Fijians get the vote



1963 - Women and Fijians enfranchised; predominantly Fijian Alliance Party (AP) set up.



1970 - Fiji becomes independent with Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara of the AP as prime minister.



1985 - Timoci Bavadra sets up the Fiji Labour Party with trade union support.
Supremacist coups



1987 April - Indian-dominated coalition led by Bavadra wins general election, ending 17 years of rule by the AP and Prime Minister Mara.



1987 May - Lieutenant-Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka seizes power in bloodless coup with the aim of making indigenous Fijians politically dominant.

Sitiveni Rabuka toppled Indian-dominated government
Prime minister from 1992
Lost 1999 elections to Mahendra Chaudhry
1999: Fijian prime minister ousted
1987 October - Rabuka stages a second coup, proclaims Fiji a republic and appoints Governor-General Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau president; Ganilau in turn appoints Ratu Mara prime minister; Fiji expelled from Commonwealth; Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand suspend aid.
1989 - Thousands of ethnic Indians flee Fiji.
1990 - New constitution enshrining political dominance for indigenous Fijians introduced.
1992 - Rabuka, of the Fijian Political Party (FPP), becomes prime minister following general election.
1994 - Great Council of Chiefs appoints Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara president in January following the death of Ganilau in the previous month; Rabuka and the FPP win general election.
1997 - Fiji re-admitted to the Commonwealth after it introduces a non-discriminatory constitution.
1999 - Mahendra Chaudhry, an ethnic Indian, becomes prime minister after the Fiji Labour Party emerges from the general election with enough seats to rule on its own.
Prime minister held hostage



2000 May - Bankrupt businessman George Speight and retired major Ilisoni Ligairi storm parliament, aiming to make indigenous Fijians the dominant political force. They take Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and his cabinet hostage. Speight proclaims himself acting premier. President Mara sacks the Chaudhry government on the orders of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs.



2000 June - Commonwealth suspends Fiji.
2000 July - Chaudhry and other hostages released; Great Council of Chiefs appoints Ratu Josefa Iloilo - a former father-in-law of Speight's brother - president



2000 July - Speight and 369 of his supporters arrested.
2000 November - Eight soldiers are killed in a failed army mutiny.
2001 August - Elections to restore democracy; George Speight becomes MP in a new government.

2000 uprising: Soldiers struggle with rebel leader's supporters
2002: Fiji uncertainty after uprising
2000: In pictures - Fiji hostage drama
2001 September - Indigenous Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase sworn in, but doesn't offer cabinet posts to opposition Labour Party, in defiance of constitution.
2001 December - George Speight expelled from parliament for failing to attend sessions.
2001 December - Fiji readmitted to the Commonwealth.
2002 February - George Speight sentenced to death for treason. President Iloilo commutes his sentence to life imprisonment.
2002 November - Government announces radical privatisation plan designed to stave off collapse of vital sugar industry threatened by withdrawal of EU subsidies.
2003 July - Supreme Court rules that Laisenia Qarase must include ethnic-Indian members of the opposition Labour Party in his cabinet.
2004 April - Former leader Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, considered to be independent Fiji's founding father, dies aged 83.
2004 August - Vice President Ratu Jope Seniloli found guilty of treason over his involvement in May 2000 coup attempt. He serves a few months of a four-year sentence.
2004 November - Labour Party declines cabinet seats in favour of opposition role.

Mahendra Chaudhry: His elected government was ousted in 2000
Fijian soldiers leave for peacekeeping duties in Iraq.
2005 July - Military chief warns that he will remove government if proposed amnesty for those involved in 2000 coup goes ahead.
2006 March - Great Council of Chiefs elects incumbent President Iloilo to a second, five-year term.
2006 May - Former PM Sitiveni Rabuka is charged with orchestrating a failed army mutiny in November 2000.
Ruling party leader and incumbent PM Laesenia Qarase narrowly wins elections and is sworn in for a second term.
Military coup



2006 October - November - Tensions rise between PM Laesenia Qarase and military chief Frank Bainimarama, who threatens to oust the government after it tries, and fails, to replace him. Qarase goes into hiding as the crisis escalates.
2006 December - Frank Bainimarama says in a televised address he has taken executive powers and dismissed PM Laisenia Qarase. Commonwealth suspends Fiji because of the coup.
2007 January - Bainimarama restores executive powers to President Iloilo and takes on the role of interim prime minister.
2007 February - Bainimarama announces plans to hold elections in 2010.
2007 April - Bainimarama sacks the Great Council of Chiefs and suspends all future meetings, after the chiefs refuse to endorse his government and his nomination for vice president.
2007 June - State of emergency lifted but reimposed in September. Lifted again in October.
2007 November - Bainimarama says police have foiled a plot to assassinate him.
2008 February - Bainimarama appoints himself as chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC), a body he suspended after it failed to back his December 2006 coup.
2008 July - Bainimarama postpones elections promised for early 2009, on the grounds that electoral reforms could not be completed in time.
2008 August - South Pacific leaders warn Fiji that it faces suspension from their regional grouping if it fails to show progress towards holding elections.
2008 December - New Zealand and Fiji expel each other's top diplomats in row over Fiji's slow return to democracy.
The United Nations says it will work with the Commonwealth to seek an agreement on the timing of parliamentary elections in Fiji.
2009 January - Severe flooding caused by storms leaves at least 10 people dead and thousands in temporary shelters.







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A legal perspective on Fiji

...http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2009/02/a_legal_perspective_on_fiji.html

Stephen Franks blogs on a column by Richard Fowler, the President of the Wellington District Law Society, regarding Fiji. Fowler has just returned from there and quotes Fowler:
Yet I am afraid that nothing about the present Fijian situation as outlined to me was that simple - particularly for Rule of Law type issues. I am no apologist for the 2006 coup but there are certainly some very odd aspects to the situation that do not sit easily with the abovementioned ’simple’ analysis. There is even a ‘back to front’ quality to much of it. The best I can do is pose for you the questions that started worrying me:

If Commodore Bainimarama was the counter-coup hero who removed George Speight in 2000, installed Quarase as interim Prime Minister, and then went back to his barracks rather like a latter day Garibaldi, what caused him to re-emerge and, for that matter so different from the previous coups, at glacial speed?

Why does the Labour party representing over 40% of the population and supported by most of the Fijian Indians, the people most obviously and adversely disenfranchised in the previous coups of 1987 and 2000, give some support to the interim government and even for a period participated in its cabinet?

I have to say that every Fijian Indian taxi driver I have had in the last couple of months has been 100% supportive of the coup, and saying how the NZ Government does not understand the situation.

Fowler goes on:

Contrary to what was suggested concerning a pervasive military presence in the New Zealand newspapers recently, in the whole of the week I was in Suva I never caught sight of one soldier and further the interim government during that week lost a very public Court challenge to the legitimacy of some of its actions and did not reach for extra-legal remedy.
Indeed, the Fijian Government has lost a considerable number of cases.

Who could blame the Fiji Law Society for cutting the interim government some slack in the light of the latter’s avowed intent to achieve a fairer electoral system that is not racially slanted in lieu of holding an election now which would just have the effect of perpetuating the old one? At what point does the Fiji Law Society cease to do so - because sooner or later the Commodore has to demonstrate meaningful progress? And where would that leave the participation of the Fiji Law Society up to that point?

I held my peace and boarded the plane thankful that no law society in New Zealand has ever had to face the issues the Fiji Law Society is facing.

I am one that supports Fiji not having a race based constitution, that marginalises one particular race. But that doesn’t mean the ends justify the means, and the Commodore should have stood for election on the grounds of changing it, not done a coup.

However the coup is now a reality, and the end game is going back to democracy. And as I said, I have no problems with holding a referendum on a new constitution first, and then elections.
But the problem is the Commodore is unable or unwilling to give any sort of timetable, to which he will be accountable. The longer it goes on, the more you suspect he will never give up power.
The challlenge for the Commodore is to turn rhetoric into reality and actually take steps towards elections. If he does so, then he will no doubt find sanctions start to get lifted. But if he doesn’t produce a timetable, then people will assume it is all about retaining power, not about changing the constitution.

PhilBest Says: February 5th, 2009 at 10:45 am
DPF:
“…..I am one that supports Fiji not having a race based constitution, that marginalises one particular race. But that doesn’t mean the ends justify the means, and the Commodore should have stood for election on the grounds of changing it, not done a coup…..”
Eh? Someone who wants to change an unjustly stacked election process should stand for election under that process, on a platform of changing it……?

DPF, that is the sort of comment we expect from “The Standard”, not from you.
[DPF: The Commodore is Fijian, not Indian. And the existing constitution while race based, is not hugely stacked to favour native Fijians. Also the new constitution has been a bit of an excuse by the Commodore - it wasn't mentioned much as a reason for the coup when it happened. It was more the pardoning of people who the Commodore didn't like. The Commodore also alleged great corrupton, but has been unable to prove much of it in court]

JC Says: February 5th, 2009 at 10:56 am
Finally some sense from NZ. You can’t have regular coups followed by a return to democracy going on forever, and you can’t change the coup mentality by repeating the process. Frank will have to create internal stability and change the institutions to get rid of race and privilege.. and that will take time.
Democracy it’s not, but it’s the next best thing, as the taxi drivers will tell you.
JC
David Farrar Says: February 5th, 2009 at 1:14 pm
A census does not have to be done. The Commodore has alleged it is necessary. Even if you accept it is necessary, then he should have scheduled a date for it, a date for the referendum on a new constitution and a date for the election. Without a timetable to measure progress against, words are cheap.
Stuart Mackey Says: February 5th, 2009 at 7:14 pm

#quoting davidp from his ealier blog...
Why is there the NZ interest in Fijian affairs? They’re not a significant trading partner, there aren’t a hell of a lot of NZers living in Fiji, and we have no defence or other foreign policy interests in the country. No matter how unstable Fiji becomes, it does not threaten NZ. The only thing we share with Fiji is geography. So why the need to target Fiji, while ignoring similar or worse misdeeds in other countries around the world? Why did Helen Clark spend so much time and effort lecturing the Fijians and punishing them with sanctions while being happy to sign trade agreements with China, despite China’s much worse human rights record and complete lack of democracy.”


It has everything to do with geography and defence, one need only look at the fact that we had a pair of brigades stationed there in WW2 ( a not inconsiderable burden given the small size of our army and our Middle east efforts). We target Fiji for if we do not, someone else will and that may not be to our interest. As to other, less desirable and powerfull nations, those nations are not close to either Australia (one of our major trading and defence partners) and NZ’s shipping lanes. As to China, we have a trade deal with them to make money, pure and simple and given the size and nature of our economy we cannot afford not to.

quote from previous blogger....davidp
”To me, it looks like NZ is targeting Fiji because NZ confuses “geographical proximity” with “national interest”. And because they’re one of the few countries smaller than NZ, and so we think we can push them around.”

Geographic proximity and national interest are intimately linked, just ask Poland, France Britain, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and Norway with reference to Germany. A favourable regime in Fiji is necessary to keep nations like China from expanding their influence and potentially containing that nations ability to project military force in our region. China ever basing submarines and strike aircraft in Fiji is not something we could long tolerate, as we are an island nation that is dependent on secure sea lanes and secure skies above them. Allowing other, potentially hostile nations, nations the influence we must have there would be like putting a gun to our own heads, such is the location of Fiji.

Friday, February 13, 2009

14 Feb is Valentines Day: Ever wonder what "Valentines Day" really means?


This is especially written for the Generation Ys & Xs & Zzzzz that may or have been warped with modern day thinking and/or practice of Valentines Day....do read on .....


The story is taken from the website. below:
http://www.geocities.com/alexstevenson.geo/valentine/

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

God's Valentine
St. Valentine


A Christian perspective on Valentines Day!

"Be My Valentine." This is a phrase that conjures up a lot of different images associated with the celebration of Valentine's Day. Cards with hearts and little poems on them. Candy and flowers given to someone you love. And images of cupids flying around shooting their arrows of love into unsuspecting youths. Young and old alike expressing their affection for their sweethearts. February 14th for many means cards, candy, flowers, and cupids.

Our Mothers and Fathers in the Christian Faith would be surprised at what has become of Valentine's Day. What we call Valentine's Day was at one time the Feast of St. Valentine. It was a religious holiday. They would be especially shocked at the use of cupid since he was a character from pagan mythology. For Christians in the past this holiday was a day to remember and celebrate the life and death of a Christian martyr.

According to church tradition St. Valentine was a priest near Rome in about the year 270 A.D. At that time the Roman Emperor was imprisoning Christians for not worshipping the Roman gods. During this persecution Valentine was arrested. Some say he was arrested because he was performing Christian marriages, but others say it was for helping Christians escape prison.
During the trial they asked Valentine what he thought of the Roman gods Jupiter and Mercury. Of course Valentine said they were false gods and that the God that Jesus called Father was the only true God. So the Romans threw him in prison for insulting the gods.

While in prison Valentine continued to minister. He witnessed to the guards. One of the guards was a good man who had adopted a blind girl. He asked Valentine if his God could help his daughter. Valentine prayed and the girl was given her sight. The guard and his whole family, 46 people, believed in Jesus and were baptized. Because these people had come to know Jesus, Valentine praised God right there in his prison cell. When the emperor heard about this he was furious that Valentine was still making converts even in prison, so he had Valentine beheaded.
Valentine knew that he might get caught in his Christian activities. He knew that if he told the court the truth about the Roman gods that he would be thrown in prison. And he knew that if he continued to witness to Christ in the prison he would make his captors angry. But he continued, because he loved the Lord and his fellow humans. He was willing to risk his life to free the prisoners and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who needed to hear it.

The Bible Says: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."(John 15:13) God showed us this love by coming in Christ to die for our sins. And St. Valentine demonstrated this love when he died for his friends. This is the kind of love that Valentine's Day is really about.

A lesson from the Pope esp. for those in authority that inflict sufferings & pains


Associated Press in Google News says this of the Pope.........

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing during a general audience he held in the Pope Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
©2009 Google

Pope tells Jews Holocaust denial unacceptable
By NICOLE WINFIELD – 7 hours ago

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican said Thursday that Pope Benedict XVI will make his first visit to Israel in May and he told Jewish leaders that it was unacceptable for anyone, especially a priest, to deny the Holocaust.

The pope met with Jewish leaders in hopes of ending the rancor over a bishop who denied that 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis.

The Vatican also said that the pope's planned visit to Israel — the second official visit by a pope _would take place in May.

The Vatican scheduled the pope's audience with about 60 American Jewish leaders Thursday after Benedict lifted the excommunication of a traditionalist bishop who denied the Holocaust, sparking outrage among Jews and Catholics alike.

Issuing his strongest condemnation of Holocaust denial yet, Benedict affirmed the Catholic Church was "profoundly and irrevocably committed to reject all anti-Semitism."

"The hatred and contempt for men, women and children that was manifested in the Shoah was a crime against God and against humanity," Benedict said, using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust. "This should be clear to everyone, especially to those standing in the tradition of the Holy Scriptures."

"It is beyond question that any denial or minimization of this terrible crime is intolerable and altogether unacceptable," he said during the meeting in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.
Jewish leaders applauded his comments, saying the crisis with the church that had been sparked by Bishop Richard Williamson's comments was over.

In an interview with Swedish state TV broadcast Jan. 21, Williamson denied that any Jews were gassed during World War II. He said only about 200,000 to 300,000 Jews were killed, but none of them gassed.

The Vatican said Benedict did not know of Williamson's views when he agreed to lift the excommunication, and stressed that it did not in any way share Williamson's views. But confronted with mounting Jewish outrage, the Vatican demanded Williamson recant before he would be fully admitted as a bishop into the church.

Williamson has apologized for causing distress to the pope, but has not recanted. He said he would correct himself if he is satisfied by the evidence, but insisted in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel that examining it "will take time."

Benedict lifted the excommunication of Williamson and three other bishops consecrated by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre without papal consent in 1988. Lefebvre founded the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X in 1969, opposed to the liberalizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council, particularly its outreach to Jews.

Benedict's trip in May, which had been planned before the Williamson affair surfaced, would be the second official visit by a pope to Israel.

Pope John Paul II made the first official visit in 2000.

The only other visit by a pope, in 1964, reflected the strained nature of the relationship in those years. Pope Paul VI spent only part of one day in Israel, and never ventured into Jewish west Jerusalem. He never uttered the word "Israel" in public.

DO WE SEE 'HOPE FOR FIJI IN THE HORISON'!!

Mixed reaction to forum dialogue
By REJIELI KIKAU and MARY RAUTOThursday, February 12, 2009

SDL leader Laisenia Qarase
A POLITICAL party has expressed concerns about the non-progressive political forum.
At the same time, another party says meeting with the United Nations and Commonwealth Technical Team on Tuesday afternoon was useful.
Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party leader Laisenia Qarase said they expressed their doubts about the hosting of the political forum.
"We told the team there was supposed to be a meeting last December but it was cancelled.
"We hear there will be one at the end of the month but we have not received any invitation to the meeting," Mr Qarase said.
"This is the only forum that will enable the country to move forward and the process should be started as soon as possible."
He said the outcome of the political forum could mean the election being held this year.
Mr Qarase said the purpose of the UN and Commonwealth technical team's visit was to follow up on a meeting held in November.
He said the team confirmed they had been invited by the interim regime to provide a mediator at the next forum.
National Federation Party general secretary Pramod Rae said the meeting was a good one.
"The UN and Commonwealth team is taking a more active role in facilitating the political dialogue," he said.
"The team is on a fact-finding mission and at the end of the week should come up with a decision on how we can continue the dialogue process.
"They are trying to get a consensus on a mediator for the dialogue and have narrowed down the issues of discussion.
"The last time the discussions were general."
The United People's Party was expected to meet the UN Commonwealth team yesterday but there has been no details of their talks.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

WILL FIJI BE GOING DOWN THE SAME ROAD???

As published by TV3NZ.

....feast your eyes..

Mugabe swears in rival as Zimbabwe Prime Minister

Morgan Tsvangirai Morgan Tsvangirai
Wed, 11 Feb 2009 11:49p.m.
video

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has sworn in his long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister, ushering in a unity government in an extraordinary concession after nearly three decades of virtually unchallenged rule.

There had been pressure for Mugabe, who remains president in the coalition, to step down altogether and questions remain about whether the partnership can work.

While Mugabe recently declared "Zimbabwe is mine," he went further Wednesday than many would have expected. He stood to face Tsvangirai as an equal in a white tent on the grounds of the presidential palace.

Regional leaders watched from the tent and Zimbabweans across the country watched on state TV as Tsvangirai raised his right hand and declared: "I will well and truly serve Zimbabwe in the office of prime minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, so help me God."

Both Tsvangirai and Mugabe were relaxed and smiling during the brief ceremony, which also included the swearing-in of Tsvangirai's deputies, Arthur Mutambara of a breakaway opposition party and Thokozani Khupe of Tsvangirai's party.

Together, Tsvangirai and Mugabe will be under pressure to act quickly to alleviate the suffering of impoverished Zimbabweans. The country's economic collapse - for which Tsvangirai holds Mugabe responsible - has led to the world's highest inflation rate, left millions dependent on international food aid, and caused a cholera outbreak that has killed some 3,400 people since August.

Neighbouring leaders who pushed for the coalition said that once they had joined in the unity government, the two men would overcome mutual mistrust and work together for the good of their country.

The two men have clashed repeatedly since the decade-old opposition Movement for Democratic Change emerged as the most serious threat to the ruling regime since independence.

Tsvangirai has been beaten and jailed by Mugabe's security forces. In 2007, police attacked him after he held an opposition meeting the government had banned. Images shown on news broadcasts around the world of his bruised and bloodied face came to symbolize the challenges his movement faced.

Mugabe, who turns 85 on Feb. 21 and has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980, had in the recent past treated the 56-year-old Tsvangirai as a junior partner at best, often not bothering to hide his contempt.

But Tsvangirai won the most votes in the first round of presidential election held almost a year ago, and withdrew from a June runoff only because of attacks on his supporters.

Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change, also broke ZANU-PF's lock on parliament in March 2008 elections for the first time since independence.

The coalition agreement calls for the government to make its priority reviving an economy the opposition accuses Mugabe of destroying through corruption and mismanagement. The world's highest inflation rate has left millions of Zimbabweans dependent on international food aid to survive.

Even if the factions can put aside their differences, they cannot do much without foreign help. The world's main donor, the United States, has made clear the money won't flow if Mugabe tries to sideline Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai announced Tuesday that one of his most senior aides, Tendai Biti, would head the Finance Ministry. Days earlier a judge had shut down a treason trial for Biti, who had faced a possible death sentence.

Tsvangirai's party also holds the Health Ministry, another key post given the country's cholera epidemic. The rapid and unusually deadly spread of the disease has been blamed on the collapse of Zimbabwe's health and sanitation infrastructures because of lack of funds for maintenance.

The unity government's agenda includes preparing for new elections, expected in a year or two. Media restrictions will have to be lifted and other steps taken to ensure the elections are free and fair, after several ballots marred by violence, intimidation and manipulation blamed on Mugabe's party.

Tsvangirai on Tuesday called for political detainees to be released before he is sworn in as prime minister, but did not say what he would do if they were not. Human rights groups say tortured detainees are on the verge of dying in jail.

Some Tsvangirai allies say he never should have agreed to serve as prime minister in a government that left Mugabe president. Mugabe, meanwhile, has been under pressure from aides in the military and government who don't want to give up power and prestige to the opposition.

Problems emerged almost as soon as the factions agreed to their partnership in September. Mugabe unilaterally claimed all the most powerful Cabinet posts for ZANU-PF, including the ministry in charge of the police accused of attacking dissidents.

Regional leaders then decreed the police ministry would be alternated between ZANU-PF and MDC politicians, only one of several compromises that raise questions about how the unity government can practically work.

At first, Tsvangirai said he would not join the government until a more equitable Cabinet allotment was worked out, and until attacks on his supporters stopped. Regional leaders met five times to pressure Mugabe and Tsvangirai to move forward. Tsvangirai gave in on January 30, agreeing to join the government now and resolve outstanding issues later.
AP

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

TV3 (NZ) Breaking News: 'Haka" in Kiwiland: becomes part of the Waitangi deal!

Waitangi settlement includes All Black haka

Wed, 11 Feb 2009 9:31a.m.

The Ka Mate haka, used by the All Blacks, was included in $300 milion Treaty of Waitangi settlements signed today.

Kurahaupo Ki Te Waipounamu Trust, Tainui Taranaki ki te Tonga and Ngati Toa Rangatira, who together represent eight iwi, signed letters of agreement with the Crown this morning.

The three groups received over $170 million in redress and $128m in Crown forest rental, emission credits and other payments.

A special provision was made in the settlement with Ngati Toa for the Ka Mate haka - which was written by their famous chief Te Rauparaha.

The settlement letter said it would "record the authorship and significance of the haka" to Ngati Toa.

This will allows Ngati Toa to "address their concerns with the haka".

The Crown did not expect Ngati Toa to receive royalties or a veto on the performance of the haka.

"Ngati Toa's primary objective is to prevent the misappropriation and culturally inappropriate use of the Ka Mate haka."

The Crown also acknowledged the detention of Te Rauparaha without trial for 18 months.

Ngati Toa will receive $75.35m in redress and $45.6m in Crown forest rental and emission credits.

The Kurahaupo Ki Te Waipounamu Trust will receive $42.41m in redress and $37.2m in lieu of redress over licensed Crown forest land.

Tainui Taranaki ki te Tonga will receive $53.69m in redress and $45.6m in Crown forest rental and emission credits.

Prime Minister John Key, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson represented the Crown at the settlement signings.

The three groups, representing 12,000 members based around the Wellington region and top of the South Island, have said the agreements settle all their historical Treaty of Waitangi claims.

NZPA

FIJI ENTERING THE' RED DOOR'!

As posted by "STUCK IN THE MUD"...READ ON....

Fiji set for China loan

11/02/2009
Fiji’s interim Prime Minister has told visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping that Fiji is about ready to access the $US600 million dollar China Soft Loan Facility.

The interim Government plans to use the funds for priority projects proposed in its 2009 Budget such as upgrading of rural roads and maritime transportation, provision of low cost housing for squatters and fixing of water supply problems.

The loans would be at very low interest rates of around 2 per cent and terms of up to 20 years, with a grace period initially with possibilities that loans extended could later be turned into grants on application and on case by case basis.

The Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, during his visit to Fiji in April 2006 had announced that the People’s Republic of China has set aside $US600 million to be extended to Pacific Island Countries in the form of soft loans.

“Your Excellency, we are very close to concluding preparatory works for accessing the soft loan funding which was announced by your Premier Wen Jiabao when he visited Fiji in April 2006,” Commodore Bainimarama told Xi Jinping during their meeting in Nadi on Monday.

“We are in the final stages of accessing funding under the soft loan facility for the projects we have identified for such funding.”

Seizing the opportunity of the visit by the Chinese second-in-command, Commodore Bainimarama sought to better Fiji’s lot with the global powerhouse.

“China has great potential as a source of foreign direct investment for Fiji and in this regards, we are positively considering the Investment Protection Agreement which has been initiated by your authorities,” he said.

“We also would like to record our deep appreciation for China granting Fiji the approved destination status to enable a greater inflow of Chinese visitors to Fiji.

“On our part, we have reciprocated by relaxing the entry requirements for Chinese visitors into Fiji and accordingly, providing them the opportunities to travel to Fiji and be issued a visa on arrival here.

“We also are appreciative of the favourable consideration provided by your relevant authorities to enable Air Pacific gain landing rights into Hong Kong.

"Our national carrier has secured the necessary airport arrival and departure timings to permit direct Nadi-Hong Kong flights within the next three months, with excellent flight connections with UK, Europe, Middle East, India, Japan and North Asia plus Shanghai and Beijing.

“Your Excellency, there is a further consideration we would like to seek from the People’s Republic of China to enable our national carrier to fully exploit tourism opportunities available for Fiji in Asia and beyond.

"In particular, our Air Services Agreement (ASA) with People’s Republic of China requires a review and updating to a more modern and expansive document. Fiji would be greatly appreciative of your kind consideration to allow consultations to begin in this regards.”

Commodore Bainimarama said Chinese developmental assistance to Fiji has improved in recent years and expressed hope for further help “especially in respect of the reconstruction and rehabilitation works so necessary after the recent floods”.

“Our officials no doubt will be discussing this further following the conclusion of your visit,” he added.

The interim PM then highlighted the “huge potential” for further collaboration between the two countries.

“On our part, Fiji is committed to the one-China policy and is open for discussions on new possibilities for collaboration,” he said.

“Essentially, we are keen to explore possibilities through discussions that would take our current level of bilateral cooperation to new heights in the form of more intensive partnerships covering economic, trade, aid, education, social and cultural issues and other related areas.”

The Chinese VP and his delegation jetted into the country on Sunday night and returned about 24 hours later.

They were accorded a military guard of honour, both on arrival and departure, and a traditional welcome ceremony.

Fiji President Ratu Josefa Iloilo also met with Jinping at the Sheraton Resort where they were hosted by the interim Government.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We join the Australians as they Mourn the Loss of some of their Loved ones



Death toll in Australian wildfires rises past 170

By TANALEE SMITH – 6 hours ago

WHITTLESEA, Australia (AP) — Disaster officials found charred bodies on roadsides and in crashed cars — grim signs of the futile attempt to flee raging wildfires fed by 60 mph winds, record heat and drought that caught even fire-savvy Australians by surprise.

As the death toll rose Tuesday to 173 in Australia's worst wildfire disaster, suspicions that some of the 400 blazes were caused by arson led police to declare crime scenes in some of the incinerated towns, police Senior Constable Cendra Jackson said.

The fires near Melbourne in southeastern Australia destroyed more than 750 homes, left 5,000 people homeless, and burned 850 square miles of land, the Victoria Country Fire Service said.
Whole forests were reduced to leafless, charred trunks. Farmland was in ashes.

The scale of the disaster shocked a nation that endures deadly firestorms every few years. Officials said panic and the freight-train speed of the walls of flames probably accounted for the unusually high death toll.

"It was very quick and ferocious and took everyone by surprise," said Jack Barber, who with his wife, a neighbor, six cats and a dog sought refuge with five other people on a cricket field surrounded by trees in Kinglake.

"All around us was 100-foot flames ringing the oval, and we ran where the wind wasn't. It was swirling all over the place," he said. "For three hours, we dodged the wind."

Firefighters battled more than a dozen blazes that burned out of control across Victoria state, although conditions were much cooler than Saturday. Forecasters said temperatures would rise later this week, posing a risk of flare-ups.

Blazes have been burning for weeks across several states in southern Australia, common for time of year. But the worst drought in a century in the south had left forests extra dry, and Saturday's temperature was 117 degrees, the relative humidity was 7 percent, and the wind was gusting to 50 mph.

"I cannot fathom in my mind anything more hellish, firewise," said Jim Andrews, senior meteorologist at accuweather.com. He added that Australia's vegetation, such as eucalyptus and gum trees, contain flammable aromatic oils.

He said a similar disaster was unlikely in Southern California, where wildfires raged through canyons last year, because such high temperatures there are unheard-of, and "Santa Ana winds are often cold or cool."

Flags across Australia flew at half-staff and Parliament suspended its normal sessions to hear emotional condolence speeches by legislators.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was visibly upset during a TV interview and reflected disgust that arsonists may be to blame.

"What do you say about anyone like that?" Rudd said. "There's no words to describe it, other than it's mass murder."

Attorney General Robert McClelland said anyone found to have deliberately set fires could face murder charges.

Victoria Police Commissioner Christine Nixon said investigators had strong suspicions that one of the deadly blazes — known as the Churchill fire after a ruined town — was arson, and it could not be ruled out for others.

Arson is not uncommon in Australian wildfires. Of the estimated 60,000 fires in forests and other vegetation each year, about half are deliberately lit or are suspicious, the government-funded Institute of Criminology said earlier this month.

In New South Wales State on Monday, a 31-year-old man appeared in court charged with arson in connection with a weekend wildfire north of Sydney. No loss of life was reported there, and he faces up to 10 years in prison.

At relief centers, survivors wept and embraced as they reunited with neighbors and looked for loved ones. An impromptu message board at Whittlesea Community Center displayed yellow sticky notes. "Lisa, call me. We are worried about you," one read. "Rob, Tash, Jorja and Leslie, Where are you? Call mom and dad," read another.

Many survivors said the speed of the fires caught them off guard and even those who had planned to evacuate found themselves forced to outrun flames sooner than expected.

At Kinglake, a body covered by a white sheet lay in a yard where every tree and blade of grass was blackened. The burned-out hulks of four cars were clustered together haphazardly after an apparent collision.

"What we've seen, I think, is that people didn't have enough time, in some cases" Nixon said. "We're finding (bodies) on the side of roads, in cars that crashed."

Police sealed off Maryville, a town destroyed by another fire, and told returning residents and reporters they could not enter because bodies were still in the streets.

Donna Bateman, whose home in Kinglake West burned to the ground with her pets inside, said firefighters barely had a chance.

"Everyone has a fire plan. People prepare for this for months," she said. "But the fire service told me that a fire that usually takes a day to travel had traveled three-quarters of a mile in an hour to my property. Now everything is gone."

Officials said both the tolls of human life and property would almost certainly rise as they reached deeper into the disaster zone.

Victoria state Premier John Brumby said a commission would examine all aspects of the fires, including warning and evacuation policies that allow people to stay to protect their homes. Some former police officials dismissed the idea of forced evacuations, noting the ferocity of the weekend fires seemed to preclude such an option.

There were extraordinary tales of survival.

Daryl Hogan of Wandong, 12 miles north of Whittlesea, said he jumped into his pool to escape the flames as they roared over his house, leaving it unburned but destroying his neighbor's home.
Mark Strubing said he and a companion were unable to outrace the flames, so they took refuge in a drainage pipe under the road as his property outside Kinglake was destroyed.

"Mate, I've looked at this pipe before, you'd never ever crawl under there. It's full of spiders and all sorts of uglies," he told Nine Network TV news.

He said they rolled around in the water in the pipe to wet their clothing as flames started licking inside the pipe.

"It was a terrible dark place to go, but it felt pretty good at the time because I'd be dead right now if I didn't," he said.

Scientists say it is impossible to blame man-made global warming causes for any single event, such as the weekend wildfires.

However, Australia's top climate scientists said in a major report two years ago that global warming will make the country more prone to these types of intensive fires, even pinpointing the southeast — the region now ablaze.

"Heat waves and fires are virtually certain to increase in intensity and frequency" in Australia and New Zealand, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded.

"An increase in fire danger in Australia is likely to be associated with a reduced interval between fires, increased fire intensity, a decrease in fire extinguishments and faster fire spread," the report said.

The conditions that lead to more fires are worsened by global warming, said Mike MacCracken, scientist at the Climate Institute in Washington.

"Both the rising carbon dioxide concentration and climate change cause conditions to be more favorable to wildfire," MacCracken said. "you get faster build of biomass (grasses and trees), you get more intense drying, longer periods without rain. So you create the conditions that can lead to wildfire."

Associated Press writers Rohan Sullivan in Sydney, Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Washington, and Carley Petesch in New York contributed to this report.

Death toll in Australian wildfires rises past 170

By TANALEE SMITH ...10/02/2009
WHITTLESEA, Australia (AP) — Disaster officials found charred bodies on roadsides and in crashed cars — grim signs of the futile attempt to flee raging wildfires fed by 60 mph winds, record heat and drought that caught even fire-savvy Australians by surprise.

As the death toll rose Tuesday to 173 in Australia's worst wildfire disaster, suspicions that some of the 400 blazes were caused by arson led police to declare crime scenes in some of the incinerated towns, police Senior Constable Cendra Jackson said.

The fires near Melbourne in southeastern Australia destroyed more than 750 homes, left 5,000 people homeless, and burned 850 square miles of land, the Victoria Country Fire Service said.
Whole forests were reduced to leafless, charred trunks. Farmland was in ashes.

The scale of the disaster shocked a nation that endures deadly firestorms every few years. Officials said panic and the freight-train speed of the walls of flames probably accounted for the unusually high death toll.

"It was very quick and ferocious and took everyone by surprise," said Jack Barber, who with his wife, a neighbor, six cats and a dog sought refuge with five other people on a cricket field surrounded by trees in Kinglake.

"All around us was 100-foot flames ringing the oval, and we ran where the wind wasn't. It was swirling all over the place," he said. "For three hours, we dodged the wind."
Firefighters battled more than a dozen blazes that burned out of control across Victoria state, although conditions were much cooler than Saturday. Forecasters said temperatures would rise later this week, posing a risk of flare-ups.

Blazes have been burning for weeks across several states in southern Australia, common for time of year. But the worst drought in a century in the south had left forests extra dry, and Saturday's temperature was 117 degrees, the relative humidity was 7 percent, and the wind was gusting to 50 mph.

"I cannot fathom in my mind anything more hellish, firewise," said Jim Andrews, senior meteorologist at accuweather.com. He added that Australia's vegetation, such as eucalyptus and gum trees, contain flammable aromatic oils.

He said a similar disaster was unlikely in Southern California, where wildfires raged through canyons last year, because such high temperatures there are unheard-of, and "Santa Ana winds are often cold or cool."

Flags across Australia flew at half-staff and Parliament suspended its normal sessions to hear emotional condolence speeches by legislators.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was visibly upset during a TV interview and reflected disgust that arsonists may be to blame.

"What do you say about anyone like that?" Rudd said. "There's no words to describe it, other than it's mass murder."

Attorney General Robert McClelland said anyone found to have deliberately set fires could face murder charges.

Victoria Police Commissioner Christine Nixon said investigators had strong suspicions that one of the deadly blazes — known as the Churchill fire after a ruined town — was arson, and it could not be ruled out for others.

Arson is not uncommon in Australian wildfires. Of the estimated 60,000 fires in forests and other vegetation each year, about half are deliberately lit or are suspicious, the government-funded Institute of Criminology said earlier this month.

In New South Wales State on Monday, a 31-year-old man appeared in court charged with arson in connection with a weekend wildfire north of Sydney. No loss of life was reported there, and he faces up to 10 years in prison.

At relief centers, survivors wept and embraced as they reunited with neighbors and looked for loved ones. An impromptu message board at Whittlesea Community Center displayed yellow sticky notes. "Lisa, call me. We are worried about you," one read. "Rob, Tash, Jorja and Leslie, Where are you? Call mom and dad," read another.

Many survivors said the speed of the fires caught them off guard and even those who had planned to evacuate found themselves forced to outrun flames sooner than expected.

At Kinglake, a body covered by a white sheet lay in a yard where every tree and blade of grass was blackened. The burned-out hulks of four cars were clustered together haphazardly after an apparent collision.

"What we've seen, I think, is that people didn't have enough time, in some cases" Nixon said. "We're finding (bodies) on the side of roads, in cars that crashed."

Police sealed off Maryville, a town destroyed by another fire, and told returning residents and reporters they could not enter because bodies were still in the streets.

Donna Bateman, whose home in Kinglake West burned to the ground with her pets inside, said firefighters barely had a chance.

"Everyone has a fire plan. People prepare for this for months," she said. "But the fire service told me that a fire that usually takes a day to travel had traveled three-quarters of a mile in an hour to my property. Now everything is gone."

Officials said both the tolls of human life and property would almost certainly rise as they reached deeper into the disaster zone.

Victoria state Premier John Brumby said a commission would examine all aspects of the fires, including warning and evacuation policies that allow people to stay to protect their homes. Some former police officials dismissed the idea of forced evacuations, noting the ferocity of the weekend fires seemed to preclude such an option.

There were extraordinary tales of survival.
Daryl Hogan of Wandong, 12 miles north of Whittlesea, said he jumped into his pool to escape the flames as they roared over his house, leaving it unburned but destroying his neighbor's home.
Mark Strubing said he and a companion were unable to outrace the flames, so they took refuge in a drainage pipe under the road as his property outside Kinglake was destroyed.

"Mate, I've looked at this pipe before, you'd never ever crawl under there. It's full of spiders and all sorts of uglies," he told Nine Network TV news.

He said they rolled around in the water in the pipe to wet their clothing as flames started licking inside the pipe.

"It was a terrible dark place to go, but it felt pretty good at the time because I'd be dead right now if I didn't," he said.

Scientists say it is impossible to blame man-made global warming causes for any single event, such as the weekend wildfires.

However, Australia's top climate scientists said in a major report two years ago that global warming will make the country more prone to these types of intensive fires, even pinpointing the southeast — the region now ablaze.

"Heat waves and fires are virtually certain to increase in intensity and frequency" in Australia and New Zealand, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded.

"An increase in fire danger in Australia is likely to be associated with a reduced interval between fires, increased fire intensity, a decrease in fire extinguishments and faster fire spread," the report said.

The conditions that lead to more fires are worsened by global warming, said Mike MacCracken, scientist at the Climate Institute in Washington.

"Both the rising carbon dioxide concentration and climate change cause conditions to be more favorable to wildfire," MacCracken said. "you get faster build of biomass (grasses and trees), you get more intense drying, longer periods without rain. So you create the conditions that can lead to wildfire."

Associated Press writers Rohan Sullivan in Sydney, Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Washington, and Carley Petesch in New York contributed to this report.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Minute of Silence for the Aussies esp those who lost their Loved Ones & those that are without their Homes & possessions due recent Fire.

Lets join Queen Elizabeth the 2nd of England & give a Minute of Silence to the Aussie Families that are suffering from the most recent tragedy.

Read further as reported by Radio New Zealand.
-----------------------------------------------------------
Queen saddened by bushfire disaster
Updated at 9:00am on 9 February 2009



The Queen continues to maintain her role as a symbol of national unity during an age in which Britain's place in the world, British society and the role of the monarchy itself, have fundamentally changed.


The Queen has offered her condolences to the families of those who killed in the bushfires in Victoria. The death toll is now 108.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the Queen said:


Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Queen of the United Kingdom

"I was shocked and saddened to learn of the terrible toll being exacted by the fires this weekend.

"I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of all those who have died and my deep sympathy to the many that have lost their homes in this disaster.

"On so dreadful an occasion as this for Australia, the firefighters and other emergency services have been making extraordinary efforts to contain the situation and tend to those who have been injured.

"Please also convey to them my renewed admiration for all that they are doing."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

IS FIJI A FAILED STATE? A video clip: "Fiji Children Asking Questions"

YouTube








Fiji has lost its democracy, its human rights, its economy and its traditional freedoms. The children of Fiji ask when things will return to the way they were and when their parents will be happy again.










© 2009 YouTube, LLC


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LOOKING BACK AROUND THIS TIME LAST YEAR 2008.........

Editorial: Appalling conduct by Fiji junta
5:00AM Friday Feb 29, 2008
Fiji coups
Ultimatum unlikely to force Fiji election
Trouble in the 'hood
On his return to this country last June, expelled high commissioner Michael Green delivered a bleak verdict on Fiji's prospects. A return to democracy was not looking promising even in the medium term, he said, pointing to an enormous disparity between what Commodore Frank Bainimarama's regime said it stood for in terms of good governance, transparency and accountability, and the reality. The prognosis appeared slightly pessimistic. The self-proclaimed interim Prime Minister had, after all, just agreed to lift emergency regulations and to hold elections by March 2009. Sadly, subsequent events are confirming that Mr Green was right on the mark.

These culminated this week in the removal from Suva of Russell Hunter, the publisher of the Fiji Sun. Mr Hunter, an Australian, was said to have conducted himself in a manner that was "prejudicial to the peace, defence, public safety, public order, security and stability of the sovereign state of the Fiji Islands". His expulsion was undertaken without regard to fundamental rights or consideration for his family's plight, and contrary to a Fijian High Court order preventing his departure. This shameful behaviour came as no surprise. Similar appalling treatment was meted out to New Zealand businessman Ballu Khan late last year, while Mr Green seems to have been expelled for nothing more than carrying out normal diplomatic duties.
It is possible, however, to be more specific about the reasons for Mr Hunter's eviction. The Fiji Sun had run a series of articles accusing Fiji's Finance Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, of tax evasion. The junta's response was a blatant act of intimidation against a newspaper trying to do its job. It made a mockery of Commodore Bainimarama's assurances that his Administration would uphold media freedom. Shortly after his seizure of power, troops occupied the offices of some media companies and demanded, unsuccessfully, the right to scrutinise reports before they were aired. Now the regime has upped the ante on the basis that some reporting had been "inciteful and destabilising". Its tactic is obvious; to halt criticism of the junta by cowing the media into self-censorship

The attempt to tighten control does not stop there. This month, Commodore Bainimarama appointed himself head of the Great Council of Chiefs. This powerful group has sometimes been the voice of reason as Fiji stumbled through a succession of military coups. It can serve that role no longer. In addition, Police Commissioner Esala Teleni has warned Fijians not to speak out against the Administration. All this points to a determination to stifle debate, rather than a broadening of the regime's tolerance to a wide range of viewpoints, the necessary precursor if a return to democracy is seriously contemplated.

Increasingly, it appears that any concessions Commodore Bainimarama makes are merely a response to aid-related ultimatums, especially from the European Union. There is nothing to suggest that he is genuinely intent on creating a united Fiji or that he is benignly shepherding it back to democracy. Perhaps the only silver lining is that some Fijians are finally waking up to this and are no longer willing to act as apologists for the junta or tolerate its double-standards. Both Mick Beddoes, the Leader of the Opposition at the time of the 2006 coup, and Suliana Siwatibau, the chairwoman of the Pacific Centre for Public Integrity, have quit as members of the showcase National Council for Building a Better Fiji. They say they doubt the regime's sincerity. Commodore Bainimarama's actions leave room for no other conclusion.


Bula, No'oia, Kia Ora, Warm Greetings, Namaste

Children of Fiji & Friends of Fiji

Children of Fiji & Friends of Fiji
Down memory lane

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