Everyone should have access to health care.

Even you Prime Minister Abbott.

"I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witness, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant...I will apply...(treatment) for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice."

Hippocratic oath

Revised GP co-payment still bad public policy: ACOSS [Media Release – 10/12/14]:

The Australian Council of Social Service today expressed concern at the ongoing risk to people on low incomes who may be discouraged from seeking timely health advice due to the Government's revised co-payment proposal.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said, "We are deeply concerned about people missing out on timely and appropriate medical advice before conditions become serious, due to the increased cost this measure will impose."

"While health care card holders are exempted, they do not cover the many people living with chronic health conditions, nor the growing number of working poor families and elderly people not covered by concessions, who are likely to be hit with a new $5 charge.

"We know that people with chronic health conditions, in particular, need routine health care from GPs and they will be greatly affected by this measure.

"We are also concerned about young people over 16 who are likely to be on low or no incomes and not necessarily on income support because of the tight conditions around independence. They too will be hit.

"While we applaud any move to reduce ineffective and poorly targeted spending within the health Budget, this must be done in line with the equally important priority of improving population health. Unfortunately, this measure has the potential to reduce health and wellbeing, particularly when the evidence shows that such price signaling does not distinguish between genuine health needs. It is unclear who the government sought advice from or consulted with in formulating this new plan.

"We are troubled that it will be patients who will bear the cost, as many doctors will have no option but to demand the $5 from them. It is effectively a co-payment by default," Dr Goldie said.

A Healthy Bottom Line: Profits or People? By Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez [Santa Clara University]

Thousands strike across Indonesia, demanding higher pay

Bangkok Post [10/12/14]:

Thousands of Indonesian workers protested in Jakarta Wednesday as part of a nationwide strike to seek higher wages after President Joko Widodo raised fuel prices.

Workers headed into the capital from industrial areas in the greater Jakarta region and blocked the central Hotel Indonesia roundabout, waving flags and listening to speeches from union leaders. Police expected 10,000 to gather, fewer than the 50,000 people that unions aimed for.

The strike is the biggest protest since Mr Widodo, known as Jokowi, took office on Oct 20, and a test of his pro-business credentials. Higher wages would erode the country's competitive advantage against China as manufacturers look for alternate production locations, and contribute to inflation after Jokowi boosted fuel prices last month.

"We want to stay at the HI roundabout until forcibly disbanded by police," said Dedi Hartono, a labor representative on the Jakarta Wage Council. "We want to stay overnight until tomorrow if we can. We want Jokowi to meet us to give some comment or give some commitment about worker welfare."

Jokowi, who heads to South Korea today for a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders, is seeking to reduce income inequality while boosting investment in Indonesia.

Wage negotiations are a matter for local administrations rather than the central government, Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said yesterday. The government wants to use the money saved from fuel subsidies for things like infrastructure and irrigation to improve agriculture, he said.

Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama last month approved a 2015 minimum wage of 2.7 million rupiah ($219) a month in the capital, with unions calling for at least 3 million rupiah, a level the country's main employer group has said would lead to job cuts.

The rise of about 30% last month in fuel prices has meant a 50% drop in workers' purchasing power, Hartono said. Unions also want compulsory pensions, health insurance improvements and an end to outsourcing, he said.

'We Won't Pay': Tens of Thousands Protest Water Privatisation in Ireland [Common Dreams – 10/12/14]

Former minister who set up Irish Water says forces at work to privatise company [The Journal – 10/12/14]

Sun reporter did not know he was paying a prison officer for story about a prisoner’s death court hears

Hacking Inquiry [10/12/14]:

Sun reporter John Troup did not know he was paying a prison officer for an exclusive story about a prisoner’s death at a Category A jail, a court heard yesterday.

Giving evidence at The Sun corruption trial, Mr Troup agreed with the Crown’s counsel that he had entered into an agreement to pay a tipster for information about the suicide of a hitman at HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire.

But Mr Troup, 49, maintained at Kingston Crown Court that he had no way of knowing whether the source – who he paid £300 in cash – was a prison officer.

He strongly denied “tailoring” his defence to fit the facts as they became known in his case.

The court has heard that as The Sun’s East Anglia reporter in 2007, Mr Troup emailed the paper’s managing editor, Graham Dudman, justifying a request for £300 cash for the source of the exclusive on David Croke, who hanged himself in solitary confinement.

Mr Troup wrote: “The tipster is a Prison Officer at Whitemoor and has requested we pay him in cash. For obvious reasons he doesn’t want any record of his name anywhere…”

Peter Wright QC, for the Crown, asked why it was “obvious” that the prison officer did not want any record of his name.

Mr Troup told the court that he could not remember the story or why he had used the phrases that he did in the email, which he had written while he was on holiday.

I can’t remember why I phrased an email I wrote seven years ago in that particular way,” Mr Troup told the court.

He agreed with the prosecutor: “I had obviously entered into an agreement to pay the source for a story on publication.”

Mr Wright told him: “This email is the truth.”

Yes,” replied the reporter, adding “although it would have been more accurate if I’d written that on holiday and said: ‘The tipster claims he is a prison officer.’ I don’t know to this day whether he was a prison officer or not.

Mr Troup went on: “To my mind, it didn’t matter what he did for a living: it was the information…”

The prosecutor said: “Isn’t that the problem – to your mind, it didn’t matter what he did [for a living]?”

Not in this case, Mr Troup explained, because the source “was passing on information about a death in a Category A prison.”

Croke’s death was not confidential, he said, since everyone at the prison would have quickly learnt about it and prisoners could make phone calls to the outside – meaning that everyone would know “within hours”.

He agreed with Mr Wright that he had not mentioned his failure to recall much about the story or the email (Mr Troup told the case today that he did not now think he had written the story) in his defence case statement filed in November 2013.

Mr Wright pressed the reporter: “It doesn’t appear to assert you’ve got no recollection of these events: why’s that?

I don’t know,” he replied.

Challenged whether he had “tailored” his defence to fit the facts as he knew them, Mr Troup said: “I haven’t tailored anything.”

He and his five co-defendants, including Mr Dudman, deny conspiring to commit misconduct in a public officer. The case continues.

NSW coal seam gas regulations falls short of international best practice: EDO NSW Report

Plenty of security guards, police too ..and they did more than stare! #ProtectGloucester #CSG

[AGL Day of Action]

Image: ‏@mrl58 [11/12/14]

Lock The Gate [11/12/14]:

A new report outlining what a ‘world class’ regulatory regime for coal seam gas would look like for NSW was released by the EDO NSW this week.

The NSW Government has committed to ‘world class’ laws to protect water, natural assets, farmland and community health from the impacts of coal seam gas activity.

The Review of NSW Coal Seam Gas and International Best Practice report, produced by environmental law experts, EDO NSW, provides direction on what is happening with the regulation of unconventional gas mining in other countries around the world.

Some examples of specific best practices from other countries include:

• A ban on hydraulic fracturing in France and partial ban in Germany (banned at depths <3,000m).

• The designation of 'no-go' zones for gas drilling in Alberta and Germany.

• A ban on flaring from hydraulically fractured gas wells in the US (commences January 2015).

• The increasing adoption of Health Impact Assessments in a number of countries.

• Placing the onus of proof on the gas driller to show they did not cause harm in Germany.

• Full disclosure of the chemical composition of both fracking fluids and flow-back fluids in the UK.

Lock the Gate spokesperson Phil Laird said it was clear from the report that the NSW Gas Plan proposed by the NSW Government fell short of measures put in place to manage risk in many other countries.

“Major improvements are needed to deliver a genuinely ‘world class’ system of coal seam gas regulation in NSW,” Mr Laird said.

“The majority of the regulatory system has been introduced in an ad hoc manner, leading to a complex and inconsistent system that undermines the confidence of communities and fails to protect them in many areas.

“This briefing paper provides a good overview of some the urgent policy reforms needed to deliver adequate protection from the threats of coal seam gas activities.” .

The full report from EDO NSW can be downloaded here.

The #Marles7 will refuse a good behaviour bond, as they cannot honestly keep it while these #asylumseeker policies exist.

"tweeted" by @lovemakesaway [11/12/14]

Love Makes A Way [11/12/14]:

7 church leaders who were arrested at MP Richard Marles' office in October gather this morning, with a wonderful group of supporters before facing court in Geelong today. Please join them and support them in prayer. They believe #LoveMakesAWay for asylum seekers.

UPDATE: Police Strip-search Priest Protesting Deportation of Babies to Nauru

‘I was outraged to be stripped naked to be searched for drugs and firearms, but I’m even more outraged at the way our government is treating helpless babies.’

Anglican Priest The Reverend Lorna Green.

Love Makes A Way [11/12/14]:

WA Police have used intimidation tactics, including strip-searches, against a group of 8 church leaders who staged a peaceful sit-in at the Electorate Office of Julie Bishop MP.

The church leaders said that they would stay until Ms Bishop committed to publicly support a reversal of the decision by the Immigration Minister to send 25 Australian-born babies to the Nauru detention centre.

The Church leaders entered the office at 9.30am on Wednesday 10 December.

They stayed for eight hours and at no time disrupted the work of the office. They were invited to a formal conversation with Electorate Officer Tom Adolf who listened politely to their concerns.

Tweeting from Peru, Ms Bishop did not respond to the specific issue raised by the church leaders, instead attempting to score political points against the ALP.

Australian Federal Police and WA Police attended the scene.

WA Police repeatedly threatened the church leaders with strip-searches and attempted to provide the group with inaccurate information about other sit-ins around the country.

More than 7 hours elapsed between the arrival of police and arrests being made.

At the Perth Watch House each of the church leaders was refused the opportunity to seek legal advice, stripped naked and searched.

The church leaders repeatedly expressed that they did not consent to the search, and repeatedly advised police that they were not in possession of firearms or drugs.

The Immigration Minister attempted to send 25 babies and their families to Nauru on Friday 5 December, but later relented and delayed their departure until 30 January. Across Australia on Wednesday more than 50 church leaders staged sit-ins in the offices of government politicians to dramatise the danger to these babies and to seek a change in the decision.

Participants in the Perth sit-in included an Anglican Priest, a Uniting Church Minister, Pentecostal and Churches of Christ Pastors, and lay leaders.

Teresa Lee of WestCity Church of Christ said, ‘Even if you strip-search us, even if you make us squat and cough, even if you threaten us, we will not stop fighting for freedom for these precious babies’.

‘I was outraged to be stripped naked to be searched for drugs and firearms, but I’m even more outraged at the way our government is treating helpless babies,’ said Anglican Priest The Reverend Lorna Green.

Spokesperson, Father Chris Bedding said, ‘Nauru’s detention centre is not a safe place for children. There are countless reports of child abuse, rape and denial of medical care. No one should be accommodated there, least of all babies’.

Serco has signed a 1 billion pound contract to continue running Australia's onshore refugee concentration camps. [West Australian - 10/12/14]

@MalcolmFraser12 pushing for a new political party to bring real change. Says ALP and Libs are beyond reform. ... @LindaEmmerton -  ASRC Information Evening [VIDEO - 30/10/14]

Chicago City Council proposes chokehold ban in wake of US protests

Reuters [10/12/14]:

Chicago city council members have proposed a ban on the use of chokeholds by police officers working within city limits in an expansive proposal coming in the wake of the chokehold death of an unarmed black man being arrested in New York.

The proposal, which includes all security personnel such as deputy sheriffs, U.S. Marshals and private security guards, is the first among U.S. municipalities attempting to regulate arrest techniques after a grand jury last week declined to indict a New York City police officer in a chokehold death.

Council members in favor of the ban, which was introduced this week to the city's finance committee, say they want Chicago in front of the issue of excessive police force that has resulted in street protests across the nation.

"Chicago would lead the way for other cities across America to expeditiously act to institute similar protections," said City Councilman Will Burns in a statement.

The Chicago ordinance defines a chokehold as "any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air."

A group of New York City council members are proposing a similar ordinance, which has not yet gone to the council for a vote. It does not include security personnel outside the police department, however.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio opposes criminalizing chokeholds, saying he prefers it to be a matter of department policy.

Most police departments prohibit chokeholds but they are not illegal. In a statement to Reuters Monday, the Chicago Police Department said officers are trained to "position anyone in a manner that allows free breathing." It has not taken a position on the ban.

Criminalizing chokeholds may pose a legal challenge for cities because of the difficulty of recognizing the maneuver, especially if it lasts seconds, and of determining whether or not the officer intended to use it, said Arthur Lurigio, a criminal justice professor at Loyola University in Chicago.

"In a struggle in real time, things are going to transpire that may give the appearance of being a chokehold," he said. "This is going to be challenging for them then to elevate that to a crime. It may be a bit beyond what is considered reasonable in terms of regulating police practices."

Pat Camden, a spokesperson for the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago, said it was unclear what liability issues may arise for officers if the proposal becomes law. He said exceptional situations may require officers to choose a chokehold to avoid risk.

"It's easy to put a law on the books, but you have to put yourself in that situation," he said.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has yet to take a stance on the proposal, but its supporters, especially co-sponsor Ed Burke, are strong allies. The mayor's office did not respond to requests for comment.

The proposal is expected to go before a full city council vote in January.

United States continue bombing Iraq and Syria

... This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it. That we really are just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anyone else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

Hunter S. Thompson

US Department of Defense [10/12/14]

U.S. military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria over the last three days, while U.S. and partner-nation military forces have conducted 13 airstrikes in Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported.

Airstrikes in Syria In Syria, seven fighter and bomber airstrikes near Kobani destroyed five ISIL fighting positions and struck three other ISIL fighting positions and a large ISIL unit. Airstrikes in Iraq.

The Iraq airstrikes used fighter, attack and remotely piloted aircraft, officials said, providing the following details:

-- Four airstrikes near Sinjar destroyed four ISIL-occupied buildings, three ISIL storage containers and two ISIL fighting positions and also struck an ISIL guard tower.

-- Near Qaim, three airstrikes destroyed an ISIL storage container and an ISIL armored vehicle and also struck two ISIL bunkers, two ISIL armored vehicles and two ISIL armored personnel carriers.

-- Near Ramadi, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle and a heavy weapon and also struck a tactical ISIL unit.

-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes destroyed two ISIL-occupied buildings and an ISIL bunker and struck a tactical ISIL unit.

-- Near Samarra, an airstrike destroyed two ISIL vehicles and struck a tactical ISIL unit.

-- Near Kirkuk, an airstrike struck a tactical ISIL unit.

All aircraft returned to base safely, officials said, noting that airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.

@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [VIDEO - 10/12/14]: Anbar: The war planes have targeted civilians in Fallujah...... .

Democracies always led by people that push for more war [VIDEO - RT - 8/12/14]:

 Afshin Rattansi goes underground on the war against ISIS. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh says there is a fatal flaw in democracies that leaves them pushing for war, and says the US and its allies have for years funded the extremist groups which became ISIS, and fed us a narrative that is very hard to change. ...

... They're scared, they really are scared, so freak them out. .... : Seymour Hersh Speaking with Laura Flanders OPENING KEYNOTE The Logan Symposium 5th Dec 2014  [VIDEO]

Anti-Russia Sanctions, Counter-Measures Hurting EU Members Economies: UN

Sputnik News [11/12/14]:

Sanctions, imposed on Russia by the West and Moscow's counter-measures have had a negative impact on the economies of a number of European countries, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) said in a report.

"Weaker Russian import demand has already affected a number of EU economies, as the Russian market absorbs almost 5 per cent of the euro area's exports," DESA's World Economic Situation and Prospects 2015 report, published Wednesday, read.

According to DESA, the "slowdown in the German economy in the second quarter is partially explained by lower exports of automotive components to the Russian Federation. Moreover, the restriction on supplying deep-water drilling equipment to sanctioned Russian companies affected Germany's producers."

Countries such as the Baltic States and Finland will lose transit revenue due to the sanctions regime, the report read, while globally, "the tourism industry will suffer from the depreciation of the Russian currency."

The latest changes will provide relief to the subsidiaries of Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Vnesheconombank (VEB) and Rosselkhozbank, according to the legal text published in the EU Official Journal.

Addressing Russia's one-year food import restrictions, DESA noted that for "some East European countries (especially the Baltic States and Poland) and also for Finland and Norway, the Russian Federation absorbs a significant share of their food exports."

Total EU food exports to the Russian market amount to approximately $11 billion annually, the report read, and "the forgone food exports would impact the entire logistics sector."

The need to compensate farmers" losses will put pressure on national budgets, DESA stated, and while the EU member states could file a compensation claim with the union, "full coverage of losses is not likely."

The European Union, alongside the United States, has introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, a claim Moscow has repeatedly denied. In August, Russia responded with a one-year ban on the import of certain food products from the countries that had imposed sanctions against it.

As Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dissolves the country's parliament, we look at the role that far-right groups have played in his government – and whose role could increase after October's elections. ... [TELESurTV - 25/8/14]

UKRAINE: OUR UKRAINE INSIDER POROSHENKO ON RADA MAJORITY COALITION TALKS, TYMOSHENKO [WikiLeaks – 28/4/06]

Shirtfront: What Abbot threatened to do to Putin becomes word of year in Australia [RT – 10/12/14]

Kailash Satyarthi, Malala Yousafzai to Receive the Nobel Peace Prize Today

NDTV [10/12/14]:

India's Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai, who won this year's Nobel Peace Prize for their fight against the oppression of children and their right to education, will today receive the award at a ceremony in Oslo.

"Even if one single child is in danger then the entire world is in danger," Mr Satyarthi, 60, said on Tuesday at a joint press conference with 17-year-old Malala, with whom he will share the $ 1.1 million prize.

"We are not here just to accept our award and get this medal and go back home, no, we are here to tell the children especially that you need to stand up, you need to speak up for your rights," said the teen, the youngest ever Nobel laureate, who survived a near-fatal attack by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls' right to education.

Describing Malala as a "wonderful girl", Mr Satyarthi said she is the bravest child one could think of. "She's like my daughter, I adore and respect her a lot," he said.

Their pairing has the extra symbolism of linking neighbouring countries that have been in conflict for decades. After being named for the award, Malala had said she hoped the prime ministers of both nations would attend the prize-giving ceremony in Oslo.

The Pakistani teen has dominated Noble coverage in the media but Mr Satyarthi said he did not mind.

"I never in my life tried to be in the limelight because I work with children who are most invisible," the activist said, adding "My cause had remained invisible for years and so did I".

Mr Satyarthi, who gave up a career as an electrical engineer in 1980 to campaign against child labour, has headed various forms of peaceful protest. His non-government organization, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) has been credited with freeing more than 80,000 child labourers in India over 30 years. He estimates that about 60 million children are still at work.

"We have to work towards peace for children and children for peace.  We have to create such a world," he said.

Three Syrian journalists killed by missile in Deraa province

Al Akhbar [10/12/14]:

Three journalists from the Syrian television channel Orient News were killed in the southwest of the country when a missile hit their vehicle, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said late on Tuesday.

The US-based media advocacy group said the journalists from the pro-opposition channel had been killed on Monday near Sheikh Meskin, a town at the center of a battle between Syrian government forces and insurgents in Deraa province.

Quoting the channel, the CPJ said those killed were correspondents Rami Asmi and Yousef al-Dous and cameraman Salem Khalil and alleged that the Syrian military had targeted the men.

The CPJ said it was unable to independently verify that a missile had directly targeted the car. Syrian government officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

More than 70 journalists have been killed while covering the Syrian conflict, which is now in its fourth year, the CPJ says.

While beheadings of foreign reporters by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have drawn most international attention, the CPJ says the vast majority of journalists killed in Syria have been local.

No agreement with US until settlement of Syria no-fly zone issue: President Erdoğan [Hurriyet Daily News – 9/12/14]

More than 700 Iraqi Kurd fighters killed since June ISIL offensive [Hurriyet Daily News – 10/12/14]

Palestinian minister dies after being struck by Israeli troops

Daily Star [10/12/14]:

A Palestinian minister died shortly after being hit and shoved by Israeli soldiers during a protest Wednesday in the occupied West Bank, a Reuters photographer who witnessed the incident and a medic said.

Ziad Abu Ein, a minister without portfolio, was rushed by ambulance from the scene, in the village of Turmusiya, but died en route to the nearby Palestinian city of Ramallah.

Hebron school forced to close as Israeli forces fire tear gas [Maan – 10/12/14]

Palestine seeks UN resolution on Israeli withdrawal [Maan – 10/12/14]

Afghanistan: 7 killed as gunmen attack civilian vehicle

Pajhwok [10/12/14]:

At least seven people were killed in an attack on a civilian vehicle in the Janikhel district of southern Paktia province, an official said.

The vehicle carrying a woman to a health centre for a post-natal check-up came under attack from unidentified gunmen in Bal Khail area.

The woman, her newborn baby and five others were killed, Sabari district police chief Lt. Qudrat Matonwal told Pajhwok Afghan News.

He said the car first came under rocket attack followed by gunfire. The fatalities included three women and a baby. He believed the assault was the result of personal enmity.

Paktia police spokesman Azim also confirmed the incident but said five people were killed in the attack. But another official, who wished not to be named, said seven people were killed in the incident.

Hundreds of relatives of people who disappeared during a violent crackdown on the opposition ahead of this year's elections in Bangladesh protested on Wednesday to demand justice. ...  [Naharnet - 10/12/14]

Habib, Hicks seeking justice in light of CIA torture report

SBS [10/12/14]:

The US Senate report on controversial CIA interrogation techniques comes as no surprise to two Australians.

More than three years' detention and torture continues to haunt Mamdouh Habib.

"I'm suffering for what I know. I'm suffering when I see every day America accusing people of terrorism and they are the terrorists themselves," he told SBS.

David Hicks was detained for twice as long -- from 2001 to 2007 -- before accepting a plea bargain to secure his release.

His father, Terry Hicks, said the only surprising thing about the CIA report was its honesty.

"Everything's in there on the tortures, when they happened, how they did it, and our argument was that the Australian government knew what was happening and did nothing about it," Mr Hicks said.

Both men are seeking redress for the years of systemic brutality now confirmed in the US Senate report.

Mr Habib said he plans to pursue monetary compensation.

"I want fair justice from America. I want these people to be punished, I want to be paid for every hour I spent in Guantanamo Bay, and Egypt and Afghanistan , Kanadahar and Baghram," Mr Habib told SBS.

"And I'm not going to shut up about it."

Terry Hicks said his son will pursue a legal appeal to clear his name.

"Take the convictions off him," he said.

"We haven't even thought about suing anybody over this. Our main thing at the moment is let's get David cleared of this to start with."

David Hicks' former US military lawyer, Dan Mori said it's unlikely those responsible for torture will face court.

"They provided immunity to these actors through a law in the United States in 2006, so I would doubt that we would ever see any internal prosecutions within the US," he said.

Now a human rights consultant in Australia, Mr Mori said the CIA's past practices have led to worse today.

"The legacy of removing these protections of trying to treat people very harshly is then targeted killing lists that are being used by the Obama administration, to the fact that the USA now has kill lists and they've been widely accepted is one of the legacies"

Dan Mori says the big test for US coalition partners like Australia is whether they will challenge use of kill lists as a violation of international law.

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks has heckled Federal Attorney-General George Brandis at an awards ceremony in Sydney.  ... [ABC - 10/12/14]

Hush money: CIA paid Poland to host its secret prisons and detainees [RT – 10/12/14]

An arrangement for the transfer of prisoners of war, civilian internees and civilian detainees between the forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Australia. [March 2003] via @WikiLeaks

Obama tells Latinos immigration policy shift won't hurt them later

Reuters [9/12/14]:

President Barack Obama sought to reassure Latinos on Tuesday that signing up for deportation relief under his new immigration policy was safe and would not put them in jeopardy if his White House successor tried to overturn the action.

Supported strongly by immigration activists and staunchly opposed by many Republicans, Obama's controversial executive action removed the threat of deportation for up to 4.7 million undocumented immigrants. But it sparked fears that coming out of the shadows now could leave immigrants vulnerable later if another administration rescinded the policy.

Under the policy enacted last month, eligible undocumented immigrants must submit to background checks and start paying taxes.

During a town hall style question and answer session in Tennessee, Obama acknowledged a new president could try to reverse his orders.

"It's true that, theoretically, a future administration could do something that I think would be very damaging," he said. "It's not likely politically that they reverse everything that we've done, but it could be ... that some people then end up being in a disadvantageous position."

Nonetheless, he predicted that a future president would not reverse his policy because good-hearted Americans wanted immigrants who were registered and paying taxes to stay.

"Any future administration that tried to punish people for doing the right thing, I think would not have the support of the American people," Obama added.

Democrats largely support Obama's action and a successor from his party would be unlikely to change course, but a Republican president could shake up the system when Obama leaves office in early 2017.

Hispanics are an important political constituency for both parties, but tilt toward Democrats.

Obama noted it would take a lot of work from community organizations, churches and local agencies to register people.

Only 55 percent of the estimated 1.2 million young people eligible under Obama's 2012 executive action - known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - have applied, according to a report in August by the Migration Policy Institute.

The latest program was modeled after DACA, which stopped deportation and granted work permits to immigrants brought illegally into the country as young children.

The White House said Obama came to Nashville because the city has one of the fastest growing immigrant populations in the country.

 

... Australia’s asylum practices are a source of grave concern.

 Offshore processing of asylum claims traps people in appalling humanitarian conditions and seriously delays the resolution of their claims.

This is not only inconsistent with international refugee law, but also inhumane.

Australia is urged to uphold international laws and standards and ensure respect for non-refoulement.

Asylum seekers must be allowed access to due process and humane living conditions on Australia’s mainland.

Finally, the “Australia-Cambodia” asylum deal raises concerns over responsibility sharing and the human rights outcomes of refugees diverted to Cambodia.

We urge the Australian government to reconsider this arrangement and pursue protection-sensitive alternatives that might be elaborated in this Dialogue. ...

UN High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection at Sea [10-11 December, 2014]:

Key NGO Messages

This document has been drafted in consultation with a wide range of NGOs and attempts to reflect the diversity of views within the NGO community.

Synopsis of key messages:

1) Protection at sea should centre on saving lives and providing equal access to international protection.

2) Search and rescue (SAR) operations need increased regional support, and must prioritize life, rights and needs.

3) States are urged during disembarkation and reception to provide emergency care, psychosocial support, and undertake screening for vulnerabilities.

4) Systematic immigration detention should be avoided and treated as an exceptional measure of last resort.

5) People arriving by sea should have systematized access to legal protections through fair, transparent asylum systems.

6) People arriving by sea with international protection claims should have an available path to legal status, education, work opportunities and freedom of movement.

7) Alternative means of lawful migration are necessary to reduce incentives to board overcrowded, dangerous boats.

...

The Australian government should cease forced returns of Sri Lankan asylum seekers until they are provided fair, thorough, and transparent processing of their protection claims, Amnesty International, the Human Rights Law Centre, and Human Rights Watch said today. On November 29, 2014, Australian authorities turned over to Sri Lankan authorities a boat carrying 37 asylum seekers. ... [Human Rights Watch Media Release - 10/12/14]

Burmese refugee refuses to climb down from Broadmeadows detention centre roof

The Age [10/12/14]:

Police hold fears for the safety of a Burmese refugee who has climbed onto the roof of an immigration detention centre in Melbourne's north.

The 37-year old has spent more than four years locked in detention and is not being told why security agency ASIO has deemed him a threat to Australia.

He climbed onto the roof at the Broadmeadows detention centre at approximately 4.30pm on Wednesday and has so far refused to come down.

The man - who The Age has chosen not to name - is one of more than 30 refugees held with negative ASIO assessments.

The refugees have been found to have well-founded fears of persecution and cannot be returned home, but have been refused visas to live in Australia.

They are not allowed to appeal the ASIO assessments and no other country has been willing to offer them settlement.

Most of the group are Tamils who fled the civil war in Sri Lanka, but there are also a handful of Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim minority in Burma.

A Victoria police spokeswoman said police negotiators and search and rescue were at the site, trying to talk the man down.

Several of the refugees with negative assessments took part in a hunger strike at the centre in April 2013 and there have several suicide attempts among the group.

The spokeswoman said the man was not protesting but police held concerns over threats of self-harm.

 

Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be "governed" without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct.

...

Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes - crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure - reach the light of day?

...

Therefore every individual, conscious of his responsibility as a member of Christian and Western civilization, must defend himself against the scourges of mankind, against fascism and any similar system of totalitarianism. Offer passive resistance - resistance - wherever you may be, forestall the spread of this atheistic war machine before it is too late ...

The White Rose

 

Melbourne #LoveMakesAWay actions in O'Dwyer & Frydenberg's offices have been forcibly removed with no arrests

Image: @lovemakesaway [10/12/14]

 @WA_Police said they will strip search all Christian leaders in #LoveMakesAWay #Perth @JulieBishopMP action

Image: @lovemakesaway [10/12/14]

#‎LoveMakesAWay‬ vigil occupying Senator George Brandis' electoral office in Brisbane!!!  [10/12/14]

Church leaders prayed and sang in support of children detained in detention centres during a sit-in protest at Liberal MP Jamie Briggs' office in Mount Barker, South Australia ... [VIDEO - Newzulu - 10/12/14]

Australia worst performer on climate change among industrial nations, report says

South China Morning Post [9/12/14]:

Australia has been named the worst-performing industrial country in the world on climate change in a report released at international negotiations in Peru.

The climate change performance index ranked Denmark as the best-performing country in the world, followed by Sweden and Britain.

Among the world's top 10 emitters, Germany was ranked the highest at 22. Australia was second from bottom overall, above Saudi Arabia - which was not classified as industrial.

The report states: "The new conservative Australian government has apparently made good on last year's announcement and reversed the climate policies previously in effect. As a result, the country lost a further 21 positions in the policy evaluation compared to last year, thus replacing Canada as the worst-performing industrial country."

China, the world's biggest emitter, was in 45th spot - one below the US, which is the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

But in an indication of the challenge facing governments, the report said if every country in the world performed as well as the highest-ranking countries then global temperatures would still likely rise more than two degrees Celsius - a level considered to be dangerous.

The index report, produced by the think tank Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe, covers the top 58 emitters of greenhouse gases in the world and about 90 per cent of all energy-related emissions.

Jan Burck, report author at Germanwatch, said: "It is interesting that the bottom six countries in the ranking - Russia, Iran, Canada, Kazakhstan, Australia and Saudi Arabia - all have a lot of fossil fuel resources. It is a curse.

"The fossil fuel lobbies in the countries are strong. In Australia they stopped what were some very good carbon laws."

The report was released within the confines of the UN climate talks in Lima at the start of the second week of negotiations. The talks are aiming to establish the draft text of a new international climate change agreement.

The index covers the performance of countries across five areas - the level of emissions, the trends in emissions, energy efficiency, renewable energy policies and the approach to climate change at national and international levels.

Denmark was becoming a model country, Burck said, with the report praising its "ambitious renewable energy and emissions reduction policies".

The report said Denmark "sets an example in how industrialised countries can not only promise, but also implement effective climate policies".

Ban urges Lima conference to agree draft text as basis for 2015 climate deal [UN Media Release – 9/12/14]

"They Have Destroyed Our Livelihood": Activists Protest Shell and Chevron at UN Climate Talks [Democracy Now – 9/12/14]

Climate Justice Activists from Around the World Show Solidarity with Philippines [Democracy Now - 9/12/14]

Japan: New state secret law goes into effect amid protests

Students Against Secret Protection Law protest in Tokyo tonight and tomorrow night ...

Image: @deepkyoto [9/12/14]

Japan Today [10/12/14]:

Waving banners and beating drums, hundreds of Japanese took to the streets of Tokyo to protest a strict new state-secrets law taking effect on Wednesday that critics charge will help conceal government misdeeds and limit press freedom.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the law, which was passed a year ago amid protests, is essential to convince allies led by the United States to share intelligence with Japan.

Critics counter that whistleblowing on government misdeeds will be chilled.

Reporters Without Borders has called the law “an unprecedented threat to freedom of information”.

“This law will restrict the peoples’ right to know,” said Tomoki Hiyama, one of about 800 people braving frigid winds to gather in the shadow of the Diet on Tuesday. “It’s full of ambiguity and will take us back to the ‘public peace and order’ controls of World War Two.”

The law mandates prison terms of up to 10 years for public servants or others leaking state secrets, while journalists and others who encourage such leaks could be imprisoned for five years. Kyodo news agency said that some 460,000 documents would be affected immediately.

“The law says that the act of leaking itself is bad no matter what the circumstances,” said Yukiko Miki at Clearinghouse Japan, a non-profit organization that promotes information disclosure.

Two watchdog groups are to oversee implementation of the law, one directed by the prime minister. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government would implement the law while assuring “the public’s right to know isn’t infringed”.

Critics say Abe’s government failed to keep a pledge to win public understanding of the law by not fully explaining how it will be implemented. The Cabinet Office solicited public comment for a month from late July until late August - during prime summer vacation time.

The Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association sent a letter of concern to Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa on Monday, saying: “It cannot be said that all our concerns have been alleviated.”

The uncertainty about what the government will deem a secret was already having a repressive effect, Miki said. Her office has received calls from bloggers worried about whether they should delete posts to avoid prosecution.

“This is really too much,” said Hisako Ueno, 60, a retired teacher at a Saturday protest. “It seems to allow Abe to do virtually anything by saying ‘it’s for the good of the country’ without anybody knowing what they are actually doing.”

UN Human Rights office concerned about Papua shooting

RNZI [10/12/14]:

The United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed alarm at the reported killing of five Papuan teenagers by a joint-force of Indonesian police and military.

A spokesperson for the office, Rupert Colville, says that while the exact circumstances are unclear, it appears police opened fire on a group protesting outside the police station in Paniai against the beating of a local boy.

The statement says the office is concerned about regular reports of violence in Papua and is urging authorities to facilitate an independent and thorough investigation into the incident.

It says the office will continue to engage with Indonesia's new government on the Papua issue.

#LoveMakesAWay National Day of Action now happening!

Love Makes A Way [10/12/14]:

More than 50 Christian leaders across Australia are currently holding sit-ins inside the electoral offices of 7 Government politicians in 6 cities.

The Christian leaders are committed to remaining in the MPs’ offices until the Government publicly promises that no children will be detained offshore, and that ALL asylum-seeker children will be released into the Australian community with their families.

On International Human Rights Day, join us in a national day of prayer to show your support.

Ways YOU can support the #LoveMakesAWay National Day of Action today: - Share the news on social media - Call local talk-back radio to express support for what #LoveMakesAWay is doing - Come down to support your local action (join supporters outside the office).

Sit-ins are being held at the offices of: · Adelaide: Jamie Briggs, Shop 1, 72 Gawler Street, Mount Barker · Brisbane: George Brandis, 349 Sandgate Road, Albion · Canberra: Zed Seselja, Shop B12, Canberra Centre, Bunda Street, Canberra · Melbourne: Josh Frydenberg, 695 Burke Road, Camberwell · Melbourne: Kelly O'Dwyer, Suite 1, 1343 Malvern Road, Malvern · Perth: Julie Bishop, 414 Rokeby Road, Subiaco · Sydney: Scott Morrison, Suite 102, Level 1, 30 The Kingsway, Cronulla

For ALP politicians to any way feign support for the #LoveMakesAWay protest action is utter hypocrisy and self promotion. Mandatory (and offshore) detention of refugees remains their policy.

The ALP use activists for PR.

UNICEF Australia reiterates call to free children from detention on Human Rights Day

UNICEF Australia Media Release [10/12/14]: .

With the clock ticking on the Federal Government’s promise to remove children from detention on Christmas Island, before Christmas, UNICEF Australia is using Human Rights Day, today, to draw attention to the children the Abbott Government is willing to leave behind.

UNICEF Australia Chief Executive Officer Norman Gillespie said the Federal Government had committed to releasing children from Christmas Island but had not solved the situation for very vulnerable children it had sent to Nauru.

“We would very much like to see all children that have been placed in immigration detention by the policies of the Australian Government, including those 165 children on Nauru, released immediately.

Based on the body of evidence that has emerged, including from Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) public hearings, Dr Gillespie said it was known that detention caused profound harm to children and families, and reiterated that all children under Australia’s care should be immediately released.

“The Australian community is very uncomfortable with the manner in which these children have suffered and would like to see them released,” Dr Gillespie said.

“Many Australians who have contacted us would very much like to hear the recommendations from the Commission’s inquiry, which the government has had now for weeks.

“Decision-makers should not leave children to languish and we would encourage the government to release the Commission’s report and restore Australia’s reputation as a country that is a champion of children’s rights.

Dr Gillespie said many of these children, including 44 babies born in Australia, had been held at the discretion of the Minister for up to 15 months and had suffered breaches of their rights to accessing education, health care and safety and protection.

UNICEF Australia has repeatedly called on the Federal Government to meet Australia’s commitment under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and remove all children, and their families, from immigration detention, most recently in a joint statement with an alliance of leading children’s, international development, human rights and refugee organisations.

Figures reveal increased number of refugee boats headed to Australia [Christian Today - 10/12/14]

UN refugee agency posts largest-ever budget as funding pledges drop by a quarter [Media Release - 9/12/14]

28 Countries Vow to Resettle Over 100,000 Syrian Refugees [Naharnet – 9/12/14]:

Countries have more than doubled the number of Syrian refugees they are willing to resettle to over 100,000, the head of the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday.

"Today, 28 countries expressed their solidarity with the Syrian refugees but also with the five neighboring countries which are hosting them offering what we estimate will be more than 100,000 opportunities for resettlement and humanitarian admission," Antonio Guterres told reporters after a high-level pledging conference in Geneva.

There was no clear overview over which countries had pledged what, but Guterres stressed the leading role played by Germany and Sweden in the resettlement program.

...

 

... Not only were they able to cover up for each other systematically, refusing to apply to their own industry the kind of brutal treatment they dish out on their front pages and comment pages when things go wrong in, say, social work, the NHS or our schools. No, in the little club of the Sun, the Mail, the Express, the Mirror and so on, fearless scrutiny was something you never had to experience yourself. Until Leveson.

But of course their power didn’t stop there. As the Inquiry showed us, these are not organisations dedicated to holding power to account through journalism.

That’s just the myth they propagate, the smokescreen they hide behind. They themselves, in my view, have become the power in this country.

Look at the relationship between Rupert Murdoch’s company and the police if you want to see it. As Leveson showed us, this was so close that it was impossible to tell who was working for whom.

All you could say was who they were working against: and that was the general public. You and me. ...

Tom Watson MP’s speech for the 2nd Leveson Anniversary lecture [Hacking Inquiry – 4/12/14]

 

Sun reporter guilty of handling stolen goods, but cleared of aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office [Hacking Inquiry - 9/12/14]

A senior reporter for the Sun newspaper, Nick Parker, was found guilty today of handling stolen goods after he accessed messages from a Labour MP’s mobile phone.

The phone, the court heard, was taken from the car of Siobhain McDonagh MP in October 2010, during the Labour leadership contest. Michael Ankers, who was convicted for the theft, then called the Sun news-desk and met with Parker who agreed to pay £10,000 for the contents of the phone if it led to a story.

The reporter then went to a hotel and transcribed the text messages on the phone and sent them to senior colleagues.

In the event no story was ever run and no payments were made, however emails given by News International to the police led to an investigation and the reporters arrest and charge in June 2013.

Parker was also charged with aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office but was found not guilty on those charges.

In his defence the journalist had argued that he was “just doing his job” and was merely a “messenger” for other more senior staff at the Sun. In one heated exchange with prosecutors he argued that: “I was following the instruction of most senior lawyer at News International. He made the decisions but is not in court today,” continuing: “It’s run by the lawyers, it’s run by the senior management, it’s nothing to do with me.”

The conviction marks the first successful prosecution of a Sun journalist under Operations Elveden and Tuleta, the police investigations into corrupt practices and computer misuse in the newspaper industry.

A trial at Kingston Crown court is also currently hearing evidence against six other reporters from the newspaper and further proceedings are due to commence early next year.

Sun reporter never wrote story for which he asked for £300 cash to pay a prison officer, court hears [Hacking Inquiry – 9/12/14]

Abbott Government dumps GP Co-payment for a GP Woe-payment. What a NASTY government!

"tweeted" by @SenatorLazarus [9/12/14]

Palmer United Party Media Release [10/12/14]:

The federal leader of the Palmer United Party and Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer, says the Abbott government has succumbed to pressure from the Palmer United Party by dropping plans for the GP co-payment.

Mr Palmer said the Palmer United Party and its senators Glenn Lazarus and Dio Wang opposed the $7 co-payment because of the damage it would cause for the nation.

“The co-payment is dead and this is a victory for the Palmer United Party,” Mr Palmer said.

“Low income earners, single parent families, pensioners, nursing home patients and those who are socially or financially disadvantaged were to be hardest hit by this disastrous policy.

“It was a ruthless attack on Australians when savings can be made elsewhere in the budget.

“But Prime Minister Tony Abbott has succumbed to our rationale and dropped the co-payment.

‘This is one of the major issues our senators have fought for since they entered federal parliament this year.

“The Palmer United Party is the last sentry at the gate for Australians deserving a fair go.”

What do Howard, Rudd, Gillard and Abbott know about Australia's complicity in CIA torture?

Australia is listed in the Senate Report as a facilitator.

Guardian [10/12/14]:

... The torture report contains new information on the CIA’s use of rectal feeding and rehydration. At least five detainees were subjected to the process, the report states. The report details how accused USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was placed “in a forward facing position (Trendelenburg) with head lower than torso”, whilst undergoing rectal feeding.

Another detainee, Majid Khan, a legal resident of the United States and accused confident of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was also subjected to rectal feeding. According to a CIA cable released in the report, his “‘lunch tray’ consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins was ‘pureed and rectally infused’”.

Mohammed was also subjected to rectal rehydration “without a determination of medical need”. Mohammed’s chief interrogator described use of the process as emblematic of their “total control over the detainee”.

...

The CIA’s post-9/11 embrace of torture was brutal and ineffective – and the agency repeatedly lied and misled the White House, Congress and the public about its usefulness, a milestone report by the Senate intelligence committee released on Tuesday concludes. ... [Guardian - 10/12/14]

The 10 Most Important Excerpts From the CIA Torture Report [Bloomberg – 10/12/14]:

... Some of those involved in torture had “workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault,” according to the report. “In nearly all cases” the CIA knew about the negative aspects of the officials record before they were assigned. ...

Civil Rights Groups Call for Prosecution of Torture Architects [Intercept – 10/12/14]:

... “Even though we previously knew many details about the torture program, the brutality this landmark report documents is breathtaking,” the ACLU’s Hina Shamsi told The Intercept. “The release of this report is a call to action for the Justice Department, Congress, and the White House. We cannot make a clean break from this nation’s history of state-sanctioned torture without accountability for the terrible human rights violations committed in our name.”  ...

Instead of prosecuting torturers, Obama prosecuted the guy who revealed the program [VOX – 9/12/14]

CIA leaked classified information to the media for propaganda purposes [Intercept - 9/12/14]:

For all the claims in Washington about how leaking classified information is destructive and criminal, the CIA – consistent with what the Obama administration frequently does – routinely leaked classified information to the media to propagandize about their torture program. Will there be any criminal investigations the way there are when whistleblowers leak information that embarrasses (rather than serves) the government? Yes, that’s a rhetorical question ...

Media role in torture [Intercept – 9/12/14]:

The U.S. media – beyond what I explained above (most would not even call it “torture”) - played a central role in first obscuring, then justifying, the Bush torture regime to the public. One of the most extreme examples was this Joe Klein column in The Guardian viciously mocking those who claimed the U.S. was torturing detainees (“total rubbish, of course”), and he even wrote this about detainees:

They wear orange jump suits, which are probably an improvement over their Afghan cave-wear (I would actually prefer they be dressed in pink tutus, to give them an appreciation of the freedoms accorded western ballerinas).

Liberal journalist Jonathan Alter wrote a Newsweek column expressly demanding that the U.S. Government use torture, headlined “Time to Think About Torture.” It began: “In this autumn of anger, even a liberal can find his thoughts turning to torture.”

Now we have new examples. Today’s Senate Committee report describes how Douglas Jehl, then a New York Times reporter, now The Washington Post's Foreign Editor, promised the CIA positive coverage of its torture program (a common practice among some DC national security reporters) ...

Where are Professor Mirko Bagaric and Dr Carl Ungerer?

Will the Australian media wheel them out today to justify torture again?

Psychologists played key role in torture program, then profited greatly [Intercept - 9/12/14]:

This is not only a profound and disgraceful violation of all professional ethics, but also a perfect illustration of what the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer calls “the torture-industrial complex”, as those torture psychologists received contracts totaling $81 million as part of their outsourced work ...

 

Obama official: White House won’t take sides between CIA, which says interrogations worked, and Senate, which says they didn’t.

"tweeted" by @peterbakernyt - New York Times [9/12/14]

 

"Verschärfte Vernehmung"

The Atlantic [29/5/07]:

The phrase "Verschärfte Vernehmung" is German for "enhanced interrogation". Other translations include "intensified interrogation" or "sharpened interrogation". It's a phrase that appears to have been concocted in 1937, to describe a form of torture that would leave no marks, and hence save the embarrassment pre-war Nazi officials were experiencing as their wounded torture victims ended up in court. The methods, as you can see above, are indistinguishable from those described as "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the president. As you can see from the Gestapo memo, moreover, the Nazis were adamant that their "enhanced interrogation techniques" would be carefully restricted and controlled, monitored by an elite professional staff, of the kind recommended by Charles Krauthammer, and strictly reserved for certain categories of prisoner. At least, that was the original plan. ...

Torture, interrogation and intelligence [WikiLeaks - 19/12/07]:

Lecture on torture techniques by Dr. Larry Forness of the American Military University (Dec 2005). The document explains the rationale behind torturing prisoners, torture methods, and a justification for ignoring international law. Forness advocates the injection of truth serums, threatening to inject Muslim prisoners with pigs' blood, and torturing detainees' friends and family.

"Dr. Larry Forness is a professor at American Military University. He has earned nine degrees, including three doctorates and two law degrees, with over half the degrees obtained via distance education. He completed his undergraduate training at Notre Dame and his advanced degree and training from prestigious universities such as Duke University and UCLA. He also earned two Law degrees (JD and LL.M.). A former Marine, Dr. Forness provides classified consulting to U.S. Military Special Operations units. Specialties include unconventional warfare and intelligence." (AMU biography)

Although the document was likely intended for Forness' students, it was subsequently circulated within the US military, where it came to the attention of the Wikileaks whistleblower Peryton, who also disclosed Guantanamo Bay's main manual Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedure (2004), which was authenticated publicly by Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

 

 

10 December 2014

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