Monday, September 17, 2007

Working in Iraq

Working in Iraq
Originally uploaded by Sydney Weasel
Polish Pvt. Piotr Oparski, Polish Engineer Platoon, works on the final touches of a culvert in Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan, as a scoop loader hauls the rest of the dirt. U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Kenya Virginia Saenz.
Also in the news,
* Aussies injured, one killed in Phuket crash
* Child killer pleads guilty to murder, after sexual penetration charge dropped.
* Multiple killer Burrel found guilty
* 'Pumpkin' abandoned by father, may have Australian family.
* Desalination plant will cost $1 million a week .. how much goes to Mr Carr?


Anonymous said...

International armed forces engineers work together in Afghanistan

23 Aug 07
By Army 1st Lt. Kenya Virginia Saenz
Task Force Pacemaker Public Affairs Office

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan- Afghans and Multi-national forces are currently working hand-in-hand on a variety of expansion construction projects here.

Soldiers from the 864th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy); 1st Construction Company, 100th Republic of Korea Engineering Group; and Polish 1st Engineer Brigade, are working together to construct metal building systems (K-Spans), roads, ditches, culverts and sewage lagoons here.

TF Pacemaker Headquarters Support Company Soldiers, led by Army Capt. Eric Parthemore, from West Liberty, Ohio, are not only engaged in supporting the battalion, but also manage the missions of the multi-national forces.

The Polish engineers provide both additional capacity and leadership to multiple horizontal construction projects. Polish soldiers, led by Polish Army 1st Lt. Radoslaw Teleżyński, are working to improve the roads here by ensuring that proper drainage and sewage structures are constructed before the rainy season begins. The Polish army has been deployed in places such as Lebanon, Syria, and Africa to support many humanitarian missions since the war on terror began in 2001.

“I didn’t know what to expect or what missions we would have, but working with American Soldiers has been a great experience. They have been very helpful,” said Teleżyński. I have been able to learn different training techniques from the American Soldiers and compare them to our techniques. I changed our technique to what works best to accomplish the mission successfully.”

Polish Pfc. Rafaz Soboń added, “This is my first time deployed and it has been a new and interesting experience. We learned about different cultures in class, but it is better to learn from first-hand experience.”

The 1st Construction Company from the Republic of Korea focuses on K-Span construction. According to Parthemore, the Korean engineers are especially meticulous and bring a vertical construction capability to the HSC that it does not have. The company is commanded by Korean Capt. Bo Geol Choi from Seoul, Korea. Once completed, the K-Spans will enhance maintenance operations and provide more space for supply support activity here. Even though K-Spans are not common in Korea, the soldiers were previously trained by civil engineers in their country, said to Choi.

“We are very proud to be part of this mission. Our main goal is to bring the proper engineering assets for future Coalition forces,” says Choi. “There have been a few challenges over the language gap as well as different working systems, but over all, the construction progress and the relationship with American Forces are going well.”

Korean soldiers, Sgt. Chi-Keun Lee and Cpl. Min-Gi Kim agreed, “It is fun learning about different cultures, even though sometimes we have to use hand signals to communicate with each other.”

“The addition of Polish and Korean engineers along with Afghan contractors, gives our task force a tremendous capability that we do not normally have,” said Parthemore. Simply working on a single jobsite with engineers of four nationalities working together toward a common goal is very satisfactory. Also, our common understanding and respect for safe operations keeps us accident free despite the communication difficulties,”

Anonymous said...

Aussie confirmed dead in Phuket crash
September 17, 2007 - 9:46AM
Source: ABC

At least one Australian is confirmed to have died after a budget airliner ploughed into the runway as it tried to land in heavy rain on the Thai island resort of Phuket yesterday.

Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Greg Hunt confirmed the casualty this morning and said authorities held grave concerns for at least one other Australian.

At least 87 people died when One-Two-Go airliner broke up and caught fire after trying to land at around 4:00 pm local time yesterday.

Mr Hunt told Southern Cross radio that Thai authorities had informed him that one Australian had died and another was still missing.

Among the 41 confirmed survivors was 48-year-old Robert Borland, a Perth man who lives in Thailand.

Mr Borland's mother Muriel Robertson says her son was on fire and covered in fuel when he was dragged from the wreckage.

He escaped with injuries and burns and is currently being treated in hospital.

Australia's honorary consul in Phuket, Larry Cunningham, says he has visited Mr Borland in hospital.

"He was sedated and he had burns to his legs and appeared to have a broken arm and other injuries," he said.

"He was a little bit sedated at that time [and] was unsure of how it had happened. All he remembers is being pulled out of the plane and being whisked back to the main airport hanger."

Anonymous said...

Desal plant to cost $1m a week
September 17, 2007 - 9:06AM
Source: ABC
Sydney Water has asked for an increase in the price of water after the New South Wales Government confirmed it would pay the operators of Sydney's desalination plant more than $1 million a week for 20 years.

The Government says those payments will go ahead even if the plant is not used to produce water.

The contract between Sydney Water and the operator of the plant has been made public, but some financial details have been blacked out for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

The Water Utilities Minister, Nathan Rees, has confirmed that the Government will pay $55 million dollars a year for 20 years to the plant's operator, Blue Water Consortium, from 2010.

Mr Rees says it is appropriate for the annual payments to be made because the desalination plant is an essential piece of infrastructure.

"I understand that there are proponents out there who are anti the desalination plant and they are entitled to their view, but the reality is that not doing anything on desal is a 'she'll be right' policy approach and we simply cannot take that risk ..." he said.

"The best analogy I can think of is all of us who pay home contents or home buildings insurance, we may not use it but we want that piece of mind."

Greens MP John Kaye says it is more like buying travel insurance 10 years before you leave home.

"It's an outrage for Sydney water consumers," Dr Kaye said.

"We run the risk in Sydney of running this plant when there's water pouring over the spillways in Warragamba, paying real dollars for water that we don't need, in fact for water that we simply don't want."

The Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, says the Government's obsession with desalination is coming at a heavy price.

"This is a city that doesn't have a water problem. It has a water catchment and management problem," he said.

"Again, the public are paying the cost of Labor's failure over 12 years to invest in recycling and stormwater harvesting to secure Sydney's water future."

The Liberal MP whose electorate takes in Kurnell, Malcolm Kerr, says he will be surprised if the costs do not rise further.

"This whole costing is unravelling," he said.

The $1.8 billion desalination plant is due to be built by 2009.

Price hike
Sydney Water has meanwhile asked the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for permission to increase prices by a third for most households to around $275 over four years, although heavy users will pay more.

About a third of that money will help fund the desalination plant.

The managing director of Sydney Water, Kerry Schott, says there will be short-term capital costs for the plant but it will produce water that costs about 60 cents a kilolitre.

Dr Schott says the extra costs may not be popular but they are neccesary.

"We're building a plant that's trying to cope with both our very variable water supply and what appears to be a dry period that we seem to be entering," she said.

She says Sydney's last dry period lasted for more than 50 years and this one looks even worse.

Dr Schott says on the basis of past pricing reviews, it is unlikely that IPART will accept all of her requests.

Mr Rees says the capital works are necessary to safeguard water supplies.

"We've had the first drought in 100 years and in dealing with that, it's brought to the surface all the frailties of our existing system," he said.

"We cannot afford to let that happen again and unlike rain, infrastructure doesn't fall from the sky. We need to pay for it and we need to plan now for the future."

Anonymous said...

Man pleads guilty to toilet murder
A PERTH man has pleaded guilty to murdering an eight-year-old girl in a suburban shopping centre toilet, after a charge of sexual penetration was dropped.

Dante Wyndham Arthurs, 22, was initially charged with the wilful murder, sexual penetration and unlawful detention of Sofia Rodriguez-Urrutia-Shu in June last year.

Sofia's naked body was found in a disabled toilet at Livingston Market Shopping Centre in suburban Canning Vale just minutes after she died.

Arthurs was arrested and interviewed the next day.

Until today he had pleaded not guilty, but in the Western Australian Supreme Court today he pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of murder and unlawful detention.

The sexual penetration charge was dropped due to difficulties with the forensic evidence, the court heard.

Arthurs will be sentenced at a later date.

Anonymous said...

Victims' bodies 'may be together'
THE conviction of Bruce Burrell for the death of Sydney widow Dorothy Davis has been described as "bittersweet" by the husband of another woman he murdered.

The NSW Supreme Court today found Bruce Burrell guilty of murdering Mrs Davis 12 years ago.

Mrs Davis, 74, was last seen in May 1995, after leaving her Lurline Bay home, in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

A Supreme Court jury last year found him guilty of the kidnap and murder of Kerry Whelan, 39, who was last seen at a hotel car park in Sydney's west in May 1997.

The bodies of both women have never been found.

Mrs Whelan's husband Bernie welcomed today's verdict, but said it was a "bittersweet'' one for the Whelan family.

"The sad part about it is that if this matter had been thoroughly investigated at the time ... he would have been caught at that time, and Kerry would possibly still be alive,'' he said.

"That's the bittersweet verdict as far as we're concerned.''

But Mr Whelan said he was "very happy'' for the Davis family, who he said had "been to hell and back over the last 12 years''.

"It's great to see that they finally got justice for their mum,'' he said.

"It's been a long battle. I just hope that the Davis family can get some peace.

"We're certainly trying to get on with our lives, and I guess the last chapter is that we can somehow or other find their bodies, because we believe the bodies are together.

"Finding their bodies and lay them to rest with dignity - it's very high on the list for my kids and I.''

Mark Tedeschi, QC, who was crown prosecutor at both trials, alleged Burrell disposed of both his victims at his Hillydale property, at Bungonia, in the NSW southern highlands.

Anonymous said...

Pumpkin's 'dad fled to US'
By Matthew Schulz, Anthony Dowsley and Mary Bolling
A TODDLER abandoned at a Melbourne railway station was dumped by her father before he fled to the US, police believe.

The man who took the girl to Southern Cross station in the city and left her there on Saturday was her father. He then went to the airport and got on a plane to the US, Inspector Brad Shallies said today.

The girl, aged about three, is now in foster care.

"Our belief is that he has left Australia and may now be in the United States," Insp Shallies said.

"We believe the man is the girl's father but we're not 100 per cent sure. It is one of the most intriguing cases I have been involved in," he said.

Police would not release the name of the man until they had tracked him down.

Insp Shallies said he could face criminal charges.

He said the pair flew to Melbourne from New Zealand last Thursday morning.

The child, dubbed Pumpkin by authorities, understood English and was asking for her mother, he said

Police were not sure if she spoke any other language but she and her father had New Zealand passports.

Insp Shallies said police were working with New Zealand and US authorities.

One theory was that the girl had relatives in Australia and that the father hoped someone would come forward to claim her.

"There is a real potential that there is a relative or extended family in Australia," Insp Shallies said.

He told Channel 7 earlier that a number of calls from the public yesterday led police to form a "firm scenario" about what had happened.

The pair had spent two nights at a Melbourne hotel before going to Southern Cross railway station about 8am on Saturday.

"We know from there that the child was left at the bottom of an escalator," Insp Shallies said.

The station's authorities believed the girl was able to identify a man on the security camera as a relative.

Security footage shows the girl hand-in-hand with a man pulling a suitcase.

The man then disappears, leaving the girl wandering the station alone for up to 15 minutes before security staff spotted her.

Insp Shallies said Pumpkin had been "calm and composed" since being taken into care.

Department of Human Services director of child protection and family services Christina Asquini said Pumpkin had been well cared for.

"We would be asking that her mother, her father or any extended family to make their way forward so . . . they can help us work out what's best for her in the future," she said.

- with AAP