NY judge backs Occupy Wall Street eviction

A New York judge backed the authorities’ decision to ban tents in a Manhattan park where a two-month old protest camp was cleared out earlier, after a pre-dawn raid on the Occupy Wall Street camp.


Protesters faced off with police after being kicked out of their tent camp in Zuccotti Park, as they sought to re-establish a base to continue their anti-capitalist protests.

The ruling by Judge Michael Stallman rejected an earlier court motion that put a temporary stay on the city’s decision to ban Occupy Wall Street protesters from returning to Zuccotti Park with tents and other camping gear.

The “petitioner’s application for a temporary restraining order is denied,” the judge wrote.

The ruling came the same day as riot police ejected hundreds of protesters from the square where they had maintained an elaborate campground since September 17.

City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that protesters would be free to return to the private park at any time of day, but would not be allowed to sleep there, as stipulated in rules set by the owners.

Addressing a key issue, Stallman ruled that the owners of the park and the authorities were not denying protesters their constitutional right to freedom of speech by banning them from camping there.

“The movants have not demonstrated that they have a First Amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators, and other installations to the exclusion of the owner’s reasonable rights and duties to maintain Zuccotti Park, or to the rights to public access of others who might wish to use the space safely,” Stallman wrote.

At a morning news conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the evacuation was conducted in the middle of the night “to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park, and to minimise disruption to the surrounding neighbourhood”.


Hundreds of police officers surrounded the park in riot gear, holding plastic shields and batons which in some cases were used on protesters.

Police flooded the park with klieg lights and used bull horns to announce that everyone had to leave.

About 200 people were arrested, including some who chained themselves together. Others chanted or shouted angrily at police and vowed to march in protest.

Protesters in New York fought back the threat of a similar sweep weeks ago, but momentum against the camps appears to be growing as authorities across the US grow impatient with the self-proclaimed leaderless movement and its lack of a focused demand.

Bloomberg said the city knew about the court order on Tuesday but had not seen it and would go to court to fight it.

“From the beginning, I have said that the city had two principal goals: guaranteeing public health and safety, and guaranteeing the protesters’ First Amendment rights” to free speech, he said in a statement. “But when those two goals clash, the health and safety of the public and our first responders must be the priority.”

By mid morning, the park was power-washed clean by sanitation workers. Police in riot gear ringed the public space, waiting for orders to reopen it.

The city told protesters they could come back after the cleaning, but under new tougher rules, including no tents, sleeping bags or tarps, which would effectively put an end to the encampment if enforced.

Concerns about health and safety issues at Occupy Wall Street camps around the US have intensified, and protesters have been ordered to take down their shelters, adhere to curfews and relocate so that parks can be cleaned.

Police have made similar sweeps and arrests in recent days in Oakland, California and Portland, Oregon.

And London authorities announced on Tuesday they would resume legal action to clear a protest camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

Costa Concordia salvage work to begin

Salvage work is expected to begin on the Costa Concordia as the owner looks at pumping oil from the stricken ship off the Italian coast to avert an environmental disaster.


The chief executive of Carnival Corporation has expressed sadness over the death of five additional passengers.

“We are deeply saddened by the reports of additional deaths following the grounding of the Costa Concordia,” chief executive Micky Arison said in a statement on Tuesday.

“On behalf of the entire Carnival Corporation & PLC team, I offer our heartfelt condolences to all of those families affected by this tragedy.”

The Costa Concordia ran aground late on Friday off the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, with the death toll now at 11 and 24 people missing.


A Dutch shipwreck salvage firm said it would take its engineers and divers two to four weeks to extract the 1.8 million litres of fuel aboard the ship.

The safe removal of the fuel has become a priority second only to finding the missing, as the wreckage site lies in a maritime sanctuary for dolphins, porpoises and whales.

Preliminary phases of the fuel extraction could begin as early as Wednesday if approved by Italian officials, the company said.

Mediterranean waters in the area were relatively calm on Tuesday with waves just 30-centimetres high, but they were expected to reach nearly 1.8 metres on Wednesday, according to meteorological forecasts.


Smit, based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, said no fuel had leaked and the ship’s tanks appeared intact. While there is a risk the ship could shift in larger waves, it has so far been relatively stable perched on top of rocks near Giglio’s port.

Smit’s operations manager, Kees van Essen, said the company was confident the fuel could safely be extracted using pumps and valves to vacuum the oil out to waiting tanks.

“But there are always environmental risks in these types of operations,” he told reporters.

The company said any discussion about the fate of the ship – whether it is removed in one piece or broken up – would be decided by Costa Crociere and its insurance companies.


Shares of the company, which is the parent of cruise operator Costa, fell 14 per cent to $US29.60 in New York on Tuesday, the first day of trading since the ship ran aground off the coast of Italy over the weekend. Markets had been closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr holiday.

Meanwhile, environment group WWF has called for new rules aimed at avoiding a repeat of the tragedy, which has taken place in a sanctuary for whales and dolphins.

Italian Environment Minister Corrado Clini said no fuel had been seen flowing into the sea from the wreck, but added that it was a danger to the environment and that fuel must be quickly pumped off.

Fury over Tamimi tear gas death

Mustafa Abdelrazek al-Tamimi’s body was taken from the city of Ramallah in a funeral procession to the central Manara Square before being driven by ambulance to his home village of Nabi Saleh.


Tamimi was critically wounded in the village on Friday by an Israeli tear gas canister that hit him in the head after being fired at close range. He was evacuated to an Israeli hospital but died the next day of his wounds.

In Nabi Saleh, around 2,000 people gathered to receive the 28-year-old’s body, which was draped with the Palestinian flag, his head covered with the black-and-white checkered keffiyeh scarf.

The crowd waved Palestinian flags and the yellow flag of the Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, many weeping and others chanting angrily.

“Our response will come tonight,” some mourners shouted, warning that “no one will stop us.”

Palestinian lawmaker Walid Assaf, head of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s committee against Jewish settlements, told mourners that peaceful protests should continue despite the incident.

“They want to turn our unarmed struggle into an armed struggle,” he said. “But this will not change our policy of peaceful struggle against settlements and against the occupation.”

Tamimi’s body was taken into his mother’s house, where weeping relatives surrounded him for a final goodbye before his burial at the village cemetery.

After his burial, clashes broke out as a hundreds of mourners marched towards Israeli soldiers standing by near the funeral, some of them throwing stones at the troops, who responded with clouds of tear gas.

Tamimi was hit by a canister during a weekly Friday protest against the nearby settlement of Halamish, which activists say sits on stolen village land and has blocked their access to the village spring.

A photograph distributed by activists purportedly showing Tamimi seconds before he was hit shows a tear gas canister flying towards him, apparently having been shot from the back of a military vehicle just metres (yards) away.

Tamimi was flown by helicopter to an Israeli hospital near Tel Aviv after the incident.

“He was shot from close range, around 20 metres (yards), with a tear gas projectile that hit him in the eye,” said Jonathan Pollak, a veteran Israeli activist who was at the demonstration.

Pollak said three other people sustained head injuries during the same demonstration.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli military told AFP on Friday that around 100 Palestinians had taken part in an “illegal demonstration, during which they hurled rocks at security forces, who responded with riot dispersal means.”

She said the army provided initial medical care to Tamimi and evacuated him to hospital, but could not provide further details on the incident, which she said was being investigated.

The Israeli rights group B’tselem says Tamimi was the 20th person to be killed at similar West Bank demonstrations over the past eight years. He was the first person to be killed in Nabi Saleh demonstrations in two years.

B’tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli said the group was calling for a full military probe into who shot the fatal round, who ordered the shooting and the practice of firing tear gas canisters directly at protesters.

“The most serious issue is that the military is regularly firing tear gas canisters directly at Palestinian demonstrators risking their death, contrary to their orders,” she told AFP.

Shawan Jabarin, head of Palestinian rights group Al-Haq, condemned Tamimi’s death as the result of Israeli practices “that violently deny the freedom of expression and assembly by any means necessary.”

Pakistan’s president suffers ‘minor heart attack’

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari suffered a minor heart attack and has undergone an operation in Dubai, but is expected to return to Islamabad shortly, a minister told AFP.


Zardari’s admittance to hospital abroad came with the unpopular 56-year-old battling a major scandal at home over alleged attempts by a close aide to seek American help to limit the power of Pakistan’s military.

Mustafa Khokhar, minister in charge of human rights, said that contrary to media reports there was “no question of any resignation” by Zardari, who has already defied the expectations of many in remaining head of state since 2008.

“He had a minor heart attack on Tuesday. He flew to Dubai where he had an angioplasty. He’s in good health now. He will come back tomorrow. There’s no question of any resignation,” Khokhar told AFP on Wednesday.

State media said Zardari left for Dubai on Tuesday, accompanied by his physicians and personal staff, for routine tests linked to a “previously diagnosed cardiovascular condition”.

Zardari took office after his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) won general elections in February 2008, three months after his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.

Although he has survived numerous crises and calls for his resignation, he has come under growing pressure over a memo allegedly written by close aide Husain Haqqani asking for American assistance in curbing the powerful military.

Haqqani was forced to resign as ambassador to Washington last month and Zardari said Sunday that he would soon address a joint session of parliament.

It was not clear if the health scare would delay that plan.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told AFP that Zardari was in hospital for tests and a planned medical check up, but dismissed media reports that he may be forced to step down as “speculative, imaginary and untrue”.

The website of the US magazine Foreign Policy reported that Zardari had been considering his resignation over health fears and the “Memogate scandal”.

The article quoted an unnamed former US government official as saying Zardari was “incoherent” when he spoke to President Barack Obama by telephone over the weekend following NATO air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The row centres on a memo sent in May to the US’ then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, seeking help over fears of a military coup following the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-American businessman, accused Haqqani of crafting the memo with Zardari’s support. Haqqani has denied involvement and investigators have yet to prove to what extent Zardari may have been involved.

The night raid by US Navy SEALS in a Pakistani garrison town on May 2 provoked outrage in Islamabad and humiliated the military, which was not informed of the operation beforehand.

Relations between the military and Zardari are understood to be tense. Haqqani’s departure was seen as forced by the army and the political pressure on Zardari is mounting ahead of elections expected as early as next autumn.

Epidural tragedy mum speaks out

Grace Wang, who was injected with a skin-cleanser instead of an epidural, has spoken out on TV for the first time about the anaesthetist’s mistake that changed her life forever.


Grace and her husband, Jason Zheng, were looking forward to becoming new parents, but the biggest moment of their lives turned to tragedy when a routine epidural procedure went horribly wrong.

An anaesthetist mistakenly injected chlorhexidine, a skin-cleansing fluid in place of a pain killing agent into Grace’s spine.

The 33-year-old mother suffered massive nerve damage, endured two brain surgeries and ended up paralysed from the waist down.

The joys of new motherhood turned into despair, as Grace discovered she couldn’t even hold her newborn, Alex. She still can’t physically embrace him.

“When all those nurses hold Alex, when they kiss and hug him, I feel really sad because I really hope I can also hold him just like the others do because our Alex is so cute,” she says.

Around one-third of all birthing women in Australia have an epidural but for Grace Wang, this routine practise turned into her worst nightmare.

Mandarin News Australia contacted the St George Hospital for an interview to discuss Grace Wang’s unique case but instead they responded with the following media statement.

“This is an extremely distressing case and the Hospital has … admitted fault.”

“The Department [of Health] has issued a Safety Notice to all Health Services advising of the need to review…practices, related to the handling and preparation of epidural medicine doses in both Obstetrics and in Operating Theatres.”

“The Hospital and the Local Health District are deeply sorry for what has happened to Grace and will continue to care for her and her family.”

Grace and her family are in ongoing legal negotiations with the hospital. A case has commenced for damages caused to Grace.

Her lawyer says that as far as they know, it’s the only case of its kind recorded anywhere i the world.

“They’re effectively in a medical limbo because the prognosis everyone wants a good prognosis everyone wants to know that things will resolve, but for Grace it’s the unknown,” the lawyer says.

Alex celebrated his first birthday on Sunday 26th June.

The family are trying to make a fresh start by moving into a larger residence provided by the hospital.

For Grace Wang’s full story, watch the repeat of Mandarin News Australia on SBS ONE at 6.35AM this Sunday.

A Facebook page has been set up to provide updates on Grace and her family.

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