Secret History of Silicon Valley [2008]

 

 

 

 

The ABC board is set to appoint the first female managing director in the broadcaster's history, with Google executive Michelle Guthrie expected to succeed Mark Scott in 2016.

Appointing Ms Guthrie would signal an even deeper push into digital innovation by the ABC, which has expanded its online operations dramatically over recent years.

Based in Singapore, Ms Guthrie manages Google's relationships with marketing and advertising agencies across Asia. 

Ms Guthrie, who was born in Sydney and studied arts/law at the University of Sydney, began her career as a lawyer specialising in media and technology.

She went on to senior roles at Foxtel and News International in Britain before running News Corporation's Asian television empire. ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 15/12/15]

 

 

 

 

Singapore to launch 6 satellites in India on Wednesday [Channel News Asia – 15/12/15]

 

 

 

 

Smog in Chinese metropolis Shanghai has hit its highest level since January, prompting schools to ban outdoor activities and authorities to limit work at construction sites and factories as polluted air spreads around the country.

Last week, hazardous pollution levels in Beijing triggered the capital's first "red alert", meaning vehicles were ordered off the roads, classes were cancelled and heavy vehicles banned.

Shanghai's heavy smog arrived just a day before the city hosts the closely-watched World Internet Conference, which will include a speech by President Xi Jinping.

Attendees are expected to include global tech industry titans and the leaders of countries such as Russia and Pakistan.   ... [Yahoo - 15/12/15]

 

 

 

 

Cambodia: Destitute and abandoned Montagnard asylum seekers return to Vietnam amid cuts to UNHCR food rations [Phnom Penh Post - 15/12/15]

 

 

 

 

At least six people were killed after eight districts in Aceh were hit by a massive floods that began on Saturday, the Disaster Mitigation Agency Said on Monday.

Days of torrential rains across the province triggered floods that inundated thousands of homes, some of which were submerged in waters more than one meters deep.

The district of West Aceh suffered the worst flooding, forcing authorities to evacuate 67,000 residents from their homes. ... [Jakarta Globe - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

 

Typhoon Melor has forced nearly 800,000 people to evacuate in the Philippines [Quartz - 14/12/15]

 


 

 

 

 

... Army troops killed 13 rebels in the gun battle that erupted at 5 p.m. (4 a.m. EDT) in the jungles near the town of al Barka on Basilan island, army spokesman Filemon Tan said.

 Two soldiers were also killed and 10 were wounded, he added.

 Although soldiers had been in the area since Sunday, Tan said, "It was only today when the fighting got bigger."

Sporadic skirmishes were continuing, he said.

The troopers found a major rebel base on the island, Tan said, adding that the military had launched an offensive against the rebels since Nov. 18, when President Benigno Arroyo ordered them to hunt down Abu Sayyaf over the execution.

There was no immediate statement from the rebel group.

Soldiers in nearby Jolo found a body believed to be that of the beheaded Malaysian businessman in a shallow grave on Monday night and took it to a police laboratory for DNA tests, Brigadier-General Alan Arrojado told reporters.

The military spokesman in Manila, Colonel Restituto Padilla, said an informant had led troops to the site, and added, "The head was sent to the police for DNA testing and now the body for DNA matching."

A clear identification would be necessary prior to notifying Malaysian authorities and the victim's family, he said. ... Philippine troops militants, 15 dead [Reuters - 15/12/15]

 

 

 



Fiji Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence to investigate allegations of torture [Fiji Times – 15/12/15]

 

 

 

 

A group of mothers in Colombia whose sons were murdered by the military in 2008 are suing former President Alvaro Uribe for slander after he posted on his Twitter feed that the sons were criminals, according to news reports Monday.

Uribe was commander in chief of the military when it carried out operations which came to be known as the “false positives” scandal – when the military executed thousands of Colombians, dressed them in guerrilla garb and reported them as guerrillas killed in combat.

They did this in order to receive financial benefits and to inflate the military’s success in the battle against the insurgents. ... [teleSUR - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

 

Pakistan tests nuclear-capable missile with range of 900km [Hindustan Times - 15/12/15]

 

 

 

Security forces claimed to have killed at least 12 suspected militants during a search operation in Balochistan’s Awaran district on Monday.

“12 militants belonging to an outlawed organisation were killed after exchange of fire with security forces, a huge cache of weapons was recovered from their custody,” a security official who requested anonymity said.

The incident occurred as security forces were busy during a search operation in Barnat and other parts of the Awaran district.

Elsewhere, Frontier Corps arrested two suspected militants with their link to another outlawed militant group in the province’s Barkhan district.

The FC spokesman said that the forces also recovered weapons from the possession of the arrested suspects. [Pakistan Today - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

 

Afghanistan:  Interior Minister issues orders to arrest killers of family [Khaama - 15/12/15]:

 

 

 Minister of Interior has issued orders to arrest a group of gunmen who killed an entire family in eastern Nangarhar province.

Noor-ul-Haq Olomi has ordered the police HQs of Nangarhar and Paktia provinces as well the General Directorate of Counter-Terrorism of the Ministry of Interior to strictly investigate the case and detain those responsible.

Olomi has also urged residents of Behsood District as well as the local government organizations to assist security forces in investigation.

The tragedy took place in Mirza Qala area of Behsood District 2-4 nights before.

Some reports suggest that the family was killed about four nights before but the dead bodies were still bleeding when residents and policemen saw them on Sunday night.

Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province says three guests had visited Yousuf’s house.

According to Khogyani, after the eight-member family fall asleep, guests opened fire at them and killed everybody including a two-month child.

Killers then locked the door from outside and fled the area, Khogyani said, adding that “when neighbors got to know about the incident they informed police about it.”

 Other people killed in the incident were Yousuf’s mother, wife, son and four daughters.

Yousuf who was originally from Paktia province had been living in Nangarhar from the past four years.

There is no claim of responsibility for the massacre but Yousuf had worked at Nangarhar Airport which is the main military base of foreign forces in eastern part of the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unidentified gunmen have killed the brother of Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India Shaida Mohammad Abdali in southern Kandahar province.

Abdali’s brother Haji Sardar Mohammad was offering prayers in mosque, located in the third sector of Kandahar city, when unidentified gunmen opened fire on him on Monday. ... [Khaama - 15/12/15]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The UN-sponsored demining agency on Monday said Afghanistan needed international assistance to clear its 20 percent of land still containing landmines.

United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan (UNMACA) director Mohammad Sediq Rashid said millions of landmines and unexploded ordnance had been detected and defused during the past 26 years in Afghanistan, but still 20 percent of the country’s land remained littered with the deadly weapons.

He said the munitions -- leftover from the previous wars and from the decade-old conflict -- continued to threaten the lives of Afghans. ... [Pajhwok - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

 

 

Palestinian shot dead, 11 injured in Jerusalem car ramming attack [Maan - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

 

 

@benabyad [14/12/15]:  4,192 Palestinians were shot by Israeli occupation forces, Oct. 1-Nov. 30. Avg. of 69 a day, every day, for 2 months   [OCHA]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palestinian worker falls, dies in Israeli construction site [Maan - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar on Monday said -- through her lawyer -- that her imprisonment by Israel is a political move by the Israeli judicial system, which seeks to silence anyone who exposes Israeli crimes.

During a meeting with Hanan al-Khatib, Jarrar's lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoners and Former Prisoners' Affairs Committee, Jarrar said that her defense had presented an immunity appeal to the court in accordance with international law's immunity allowance for elected officials, but the appeal was refused. ... [Maan - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

Denmark’s largest commercial pension fund has blacklisted HeidelbergCement, over the German company’s links to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

PFA Pension announced the exclusion on its website, stating that “PFA does not wish to contribute to any illegal activities in relation to the occupation of the West Bank.”

According to the statement, “HeidelbergCement is involved in the extraction of natural resources in a way that is incompatible with PFA’s policy for responsible investments.” HeidelbergCement operates a quarry in the West Bank through its Israeli subsidiary.

The company’s entry on the exclusion list, which features more than 30 companies including Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems, reads: “Violation of basic human rights, which conflicts with UN Global Compact principles 1 and 2.” ... [Middle East Monitor - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

 

@Mogaza [11/12/15]:  Palestinian photographer wearing cooking ban and plastic bag. Tweet at all groups claiming to defend journos

 

 

 

 

Ethiopia's government said Tuesday five people had died in weeks of protests sparked by land grab fears in the country's Oromia region, dismissing opposition reports of dozens dead and scores arrested. ... [Ahram - 15/12/15]

 

 

 

 

Saudi air strikes kill 15 civilians in Yemen, hours before truce: Residents [Ahram - 15/12/15]

 

 

 

 

A teacher at a French preschool who said he had been stabbed by a man shouting "Islamic State" has admitted he made the story up, prosecutors say.

The teacher said he had been attacked while alone in a classroom in Aubervilliers, a suburb of Paris.

But prosecutors said he had wounded himself with a box cutter and was now being questioned as to why he lied. ... [BBC - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

 

Australia conducting 'freedom of navigation' flights in South China Sea [BBC - 15/12/15]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 #MuslimsForPeace (@MkaAus) paying respect to victims of #SydneySiege at #MartinPlace ...

 

 

Image: ‏@mkaaus - Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Australia [15/12/15]

 

 

 

United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria

 

 

 

US Department of Defense [14/12/15]:

 

U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Strikes in Syria

Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted three strikes in Syria:

-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike struck an ISIL gas and oil separation plant.

-- Near Manbij, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Mar’a, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and damaged an ISIL staging area.

Strikes in Iraq

Bomber and fighter aircraft conducted 13 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

-- Near Huwayjah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL mortar position.

-- Near Kisik, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three vehicle bombs, two ISIL improvised bombs, five ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL heavy machine gun, and an ISIL light machine gun.

-- Near Mosul, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL mortar tube.

-- Near Ramadi, three strikes struck three ISIL staging areas, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed an ISIL bed down location, two ISIL staging areas, and an ISIL command and control node.

-- Near Sinjar, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL fighting positions and two light machine guns.

-- Near Tikrit, a strike destroyed two ISIL oil tanks.

...

 

 

 

 

... "Because of you, the America that we know and love and cherish is leading the world in this fight," he said.

"Because of you, I am confident that we are going to prevail."   Obama gives Pentagon reporters a brainless pep talk as bombing of Iraq and Syria continues [US Department of Defense - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

As the leader of the international coalition against Islamic State, the US failed to ensure the implementation by its Turkish allies of the Syria air safety agreement, which was signed between Moscow and Washington, the Russian Foreign Ministry says.

 "Despite the fact, that the defense ministries of the two countries (the US and Russia) signed a memorandum on ensuring the safety of military aviation flights in Syrian airspace, Washington - which took the responsibility for the actions of the entire coalition it leads - hasn’t ensured compliance with the relevant provisions of the document by its ally Turkey,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday. ... [RT - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

 

Putin to hold meeting with Kerry after his talks with Lavrov in Moscow [TASS - 15/12/15]

 

 

 

Saudi Arabia forms Islamic anti-terror coalition of 34 countries - reports [Sputnik News - 15/12/15]:

 

... Besides Saudi Arabia, the alliance includes Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Turkey, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Djibouti, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Gabon, Somalia, Guinea, the Palestinian National Authority, the Union of the Comoros, Cote d 'Ivoire, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Maldives, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Yemen. ...

 

 

 

Rostov-on-Don submarine back to Black Sea from Mediterranean after making strikes on Raqqa [SANA - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) denounced on Monday terrorists’ use of one of  its ambulance plates to carry out a terrorist car bomb attack in al-Zahraa neighborhood in Homs  city , asserting that such practice aims to abuse the humanitarian work of the organization in  Syria. ... [SANA - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

Lavrov: Attempts to satisfy geopolitical ambitions inappropriate in the fight against terrorism [SANA - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

Turkey has transferred some of its military forces from a camp in Bashiqa further north in Iraq amid a diplomatic row with Baghdad. The dispute has much to do with internal Iraqi politics.

A Turkish military convoy of roughly a dozen vehicles, including tanks, has been moved to northern Iraq as part of a "reorganization" of forces, Turkish state media Anadolu Agency reported on Monday, citing unnamed military officials. ... [Deutsche Welle - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

 

@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [14/12/15]:

 

 

Baghdad: News agencies :A roadside bomb attached to a civil car exploded in Habibiya area today afternoon killing a person and wounding 3..

 

 

Baghdad: News agencies :A roadside bomb has exploded in a traditional restaurant in Husseiniya area north of Baghdad resulted in two deaths and 7 injuries.......

 

Baghdad: News agencies:A roadside bomb exploded in Latifiya south of Baghdad today afternoon resulted in 3 deaths.........................

 

Baghdad: A roadside bomb exploded at Mustashfa Street in Mada'in district south of Baghdad today morning killing a person and wounding 6 ..........

 

 

 

@MSF_Sea [14/12/15]:  ... The border at #Idomeni is still only open to Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis.

 

 

 

 

Wondering why migrants and refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh are travelling to FRYOM (only to be detained in Greece)? [Ekathimerini - 14/12/15]:

 

 

... After police dismantled a makeshift migrants’ camp near the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia last week, following a decision by FYROM to filter migrants by nationality, more than 2,000 migrants were bused to the Greek capital.

Of those, around 1,000 have been staying at the Tae Kwon Do Stadium, a former Olympic venue, in Palaio Faliro for the past few days.

Scuffles between groups of migrants have broken out on several occasions, prompting the intervention of riot police.

A group of more than 100 Moroccan immigrants were transferred to a detention center in Corinth on Monday as speculation mounted that authorities would be obliged to reopen a highly criticized detention facility at Amygdaleza, north of Athens.

Greek authorities are said to be concerned by the fact that an increasing number of migrants arriving in Greece are not from war zones but are economic migrants from countries such as Morocco and Myanmar [and Bangladesh].

Mouzalas on Monday did not conceal his concern about the migration crisis.

He drew an analogy between the relentless influx of migrants who are unable to leave the country and a bottleneck when the pressure becomes too much to bear, saying the bottle was bound to break.

The migration problem is to be discussed at an EU leaders’ summit on Thursday and Friday. Ahead of the meeting, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is due to visit migrant reception centers that have been set up on the Aegean islands of Leros and Chios tomorrow to check on their operation.  ...

 

 

 

Documentary reveals Acehnese kindness toward Rohingya refugees [Jakarta Post - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

As Australia makes it impossible for refugees to reach the South East, it is only logical that we are pushing them back to the North West

 

 

Image:  ‏@BBCWorld

 

 

 

‏@AudraLMitchell [12/11/15]:   Map showing 1 man's 4 part journey from #Afghanistan to #Australia from Mountz's island detention project #CIGIlive  [Island Detention Project]

 

 

 

 

@guardiacostiera [14/12/15]:  #CanalediSicilia Nave Corsi CP906 della #GuardiaCostiera salva 114 persone a bordo di un gommone in difficoltà.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Malcolm?  Why does Australia push refugee boats away in flagrant violation of our international obligations?  Why???   @guardiacostiera [14/12/15]: Centrale Operativa #GuardiaCostiera coordina 3 operazioni #SAR. Salvate 345 persone da unità @EUNAVFORMED_OHQ e nave Bourbon Argos @MSF_Sea

 

 

 

 Rescatados en el Egeo esta mañana. Gracias a todos vosotros siguen con vida. @PROACTIVA_SERV @bouckap @amyrao

 

 

Image:  @campsoscar - Director, Proactive Open Arms NGO [14/12/15]

 

 

 

Time for a Royal Commission into Operation Sovereign Borders.

 

Why aren't the Greens and Human Rights groups screaming from the rooftops?

 

Why?

 

 

 

Australian government must be held accountable [Amnesty - 11/11/15]:

 

... Our elected officials should not be able to brush off evidence of abuse.

We call on the Prime Minister to do the right thing, and end the secrecy.

The time has come for a Royal Commission into Operation Sovereign Borders.

Only a Royal Commission, with the power to assess all the evidence, will uncover all the facts.

 

This public statement has been signed by the following media personalities, advocates and sector organisations:

 

Rosie Batty, Founder and Director - Luke Batty Foundation, Australian of the Year 2015

...

 

 

 

 

"Please retweet"?

 

 

THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT IS TORTURING REFUGEES - INCLUDING JOURNALISTS.

 

PLEASE SAY SOMETHING.

 

 

Peter Greste wins 2015 Human Rights Medal [Australian Human Rights Commission Media Release - 10/12/15]

 

 

 

Peter Greste says Julie Bishop’s death stare helped get him out of prison [Buzzfeed - 26/3/15]

 

 

 

 

Consider what we are doing to these people, who are innocent of any offence, and ask yourself whether this can be justified ... [Solitary confinement in Manus detention  - Julian Burnside - 12/12/15]

 

 

 

Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist and an honorary member of PEN International, writes from Manus Island, where he has been interned for 29 months [AIM - 10/12/15]:

 

... During the big non-violent hunger strike in January 2015, ERT guards rushed and attacked the camps without reason taking dozens of hungry refugees to the island’s CIS prison. They forced refugees onto the ground, turning hands and manacles tightly. Many of us carry the physical pain and effects of those hand cuffs. Many of us still speak of the violence enacted upon us en route from the camp to prison.

Many still talk about an Iranian man who was slapped in the face by ERT guards in the bus.

We could see no reason as to why he should be hit, especially as his hands were fastened by handcuffs. We could see, however, that he was hit in an attempt to humiliate him in front of others as the ERT believed that he had directed the hunger strike.

After 10 days of being held in the small CIS prison we were transferred to the bigger Charlie prison, part of Australia’s Regional Processing Centre on Manus Island.

It was with exultation and pride that these guards punished us there.

One of the duties of the ERT is to enter the camps all of a sudden with cameras attached to their bellies and push their way into our rooms to search our belongings. They search everywhere, inspect everything closely. If someone objects he is cruelly carried to Chauka. Sometimes they search our bodies in addition to our baggage.

One day they tried to strip one of the Iranian refugees of his clothes but when facing the other refugee’s objections they turned back.

Once they forced ‘A’, an Iranian man, onto the ground in front of our eyes and then took him behind a wall to hit him. The ERT despised ‘A’. Although he complained to company managers about this violence he received no response or reply. When our human rights are broken by this force on this island where there is no legal counsel, attorney or lawyer, the only option is to complain to the company managers. We know there will be no reply, investigation or resolution.

Between Foxtrot and Mike compounds in Manus Camp there is a place called the Green zone. It is a remote place familiar to the ERT.

Green Zone has two rooms surrounded by fences. It is a place where refugees who have objected to their bad situations are forcibly imprisoned by ERT. Prior to the Green Zone there was Chauka. Chauka was 300 metres outside of the original camp in a  ruined place. Chauka was as terrible as the Green Zone now is.   Many men have been humiliated and beaten there far from the world’s eyes.

Chauka was closed as a result of pressure by human rights’ organisations but Green zone is still active.

When I was in the Foxtrot camp, groans and cries of miserable, homeless human beings broke the dark silence of the island.

Once I climbed up a big tree to attempt to see why the people were crying. Looking down I saw a very distressing scene. A thin boy who suffers from psychological problems had fallen into the ooze and slime near the fence. I could not tell if he was conscious. His beaten face was clear under the weak lamp light. He lay like a foetus in the uterus. His clothes were ragged and scruffy.

Four ERT guards were sitting on chairs just beyond where he lay watching his bloody body. One of them caressed the prisoner’s body with a thin piece of wood in his hands.

...

 

 

 

Pleas from #ManusProtest ...

 

Image: @rranwa [16/1/15]

 

 

 

Guardian [VIDEO - 23/1/15]:

 

... Video footage obtained by Guardian Australia shows dozens of asylum seekers and refugees held in a single, windowless prison cell.

There is no furniture in the cell. Almost all the men lie close together and motionless in tight lines on the floor.

A man speaking on the video – whose voice has been altered to avoid identification – alleged the men were beaten by security guards employed by Wilson and by police while in custody.

“They have beaten everyone in this camp. We are totalling 58 people, they beat the shit out of all of us,” he said.

The video shows marks on some of the men’s bodies.

It ends abruptly when a noise is heard, apparently outside the cell.

...

 

 

 

... Procurement spending by the Australian Public Service soared by $10 billion in the past financial year with Commonwealth agencies splashing nearly $60 billion of taxpayers' cash in 2014-2015.

New figures from the Finance Department show nearly $10 billion of the total went to pay external "management and business professionals" and on "administrative services" in the wake of the loss of thousands of full-time public service jobs. ...

 

 

[Sydney Morning Herald - 14/12/15]

 

 

Women's Weekly [July 2015]

 

 

 

War, death, torture, enslavement and exile.  It's all they do.  All day long.  ---->  The Obama administration is expected as soon as this week to authorize the sale of two guided missile frigates to Taiwan, U.S. congressional sources said on Monday, in spite of China's opposition to the deal.

"We're expecting an announcement as early as this week," a Republican congressional aide said. Another congressional aide said the notification from the administration was expected "any time now."

The sale would mark the first time in four years that the United States has shipped arms to Taiwan, the longest gap in such arm sales in nearly four decades.

It comes a year after Congress passed the Naval Transfer Act authorizing the sale of up to four Perry-class frigates to Taiwan in December 2014. ... [Reuters - 14/12/15]

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Blair and George Bush should be given immunity from prosecution in order for the world to learn the truth about claims the US and British were complicit in torture at Guantanamo Bay, Shaker Aamer has told ITV News.

Shaker Aamer has given his first TV interview to ITV News after being released from the controversial prison camp in October, following 14 years in detention without charge.

He reveals allegations of regular physical violence and psychological abuse - and tells how he broke down in tears when he saw his four children for the first time after his release - and one of them for the first time ever. ... [ITV - 15/12/15]

 

 



We tortured some folks too: event report [London Guantánamo Campaign – 10/12/15]:

 

 

On 8 December, the London Guantánamo Campaign held a public meeting in cooperation with the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, to mark the anniversary of the publication of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report (Torture Report) into the CIA’s use of torture under the extraordinary rendition programme.

A heavily redacted 500-page summary of the full 6700 page report was published on 9 December 2014. The report took 5 years to compile, details 119 cases from 2002 to 2009 and cost $40 million to produce.

Although since then no more of the report has been made public and there have been no prosecutions in the USA, the report has provided confirmation and shed further light of some of the worst forms of physical, sexual and psychological torture carried out by the CIA this century.

...

Dr Juliet Cohen, Head of Doctors at Freedom From Torture which is celebrating 30 years of rehabilitating torture survivors this year, spoke first about the devastating impact torture has on the individual affected.

She defined torture as per the UN Convention against Torture, which both the UK and US are signatories to: “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”

...

Ben Griffin, coordinator of Veterans for Peace UK, spoke of his experiences in the British army. Following 9/11, there was a change in attitude within the military.

Using the analogy of the Nazi concentration camps during World War II, he explained the process of how it is a person comes to be tortured during war.

There is a process of people being arrest, transported, starved, humiliated, until they are eventually tortured – looking far more haggled and different to the person who was arrested – and sometimes killed.

The torturer doesn’t see the person taken from their home: he or she sees the dehumanised shell: the person who has been starved, had their hair shaved, deprived of sleep, etc.

Furthermore, the process is broken down; it is compartmentalised, so that those involved are only involved in one part of the process, such as that he was involved in, in Iraq, of arresting alleged insurgents.

Creating a suspect profile also helps to dehumanise those who are suspected of fitting it.

Prisoners in Iraq, where Griffin served until he left the army in 2005, were often held by the British military in completely degrading situations.

For example, at Camp Nama, prisoners were held in dog kennels under the heat of the sun. This compartmentalisation of the brutal treatment meted out to prisoners makes it easier to evade responsibility for it.

...


 

 

And Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay --->  ... She [Clinton] also promised to shut down privately-run immigrant detention centers, focus deportations solely on violent criminals, expand asylum for refugees and introduce new English language-learning centers, increase outreach to the undocumented and grant more fee waivers to facilitate application for citizenship. ... [Observer - 14/12/15]





Immigrants in US detention centres still suffer human rights abuses [Guardian - 15/12/15]:

 

Detained immigrants should not have to starve themselves to draw attention to the human rights violations they are facing, and that the checks and balances supposedly in place to protect them are failing to uncover.

There is a crisis at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia – the second largest immigration detention facility in the country, and a for-profit facility run by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA): hunger strikers protesting their detention were met by a brutal militaristic response that alerted immigrant rights advocates across Georgia and the country to a growing problem.

On Labor Day weekend, migrant workers and asylees at Stewart were put on a multi-day lockdown. Relatives who had driven over 13 hours to visit their loved ones were told to turn around and go back home without any explanation of what was happening inside.

Details began to emerge days later that these actions were in response to nonviolent protests by those detained, including a hunger strike and non-participation in the center’s so-called “voluntary work program”.

Stewart employees forcefully retaliated against these peaceful protests with a militarized Special Operations Response Team (Sort). Severe restrictions were imposed on all those detained, regardless of their involvement – or lack thereof – in the uprising, with some individuals reportedly placed in solitary confinement.

...


 

 

"Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites" still have not explained why an ALP politician was a key speaker at their Perth Human Rights Day event:

 

 I, Melissa Parke call you to account for a policy of calculated cruelty towards around 1500 children, women and men imprisoned in conditions of extreme hardship and damage to their physical and mental health in offshore prisons on Manus Island and Nauru.

 

 

 

 

The Saturday Paper [27/9/14]:

 

... [Melissa] Parke plays a different role, as Labor navigates an awkward environment in which its options for criticising the government are circumscribed by its desire to be part of Team Australia.

She provides an alibi for Labor to avoid a loss of votes to the Greens as it joins the government in backing tougher terror laws and military action in the Middle East and continues to offer bipartisan support for offshore processing of asylum seekers.

Some Coalition MPs argue Bernardi plays a similar role in placating those Liberal supporters who were disappointed that Abbott abandoned the 18C changes.

As Labor leader Bill Shorten stresses that he is “working very well together” with Abbott on national security, it doesn’t hurt to have at least one opposition MP putting an alternative view. It’s a fine line, though, as left-wing Labor senator Sue Lines discovered late last month when Shorten rebuked her for accusing the government of using the threat of terrorism to deflect attention from the budget.

Back in May when Parke and Burke first raised their intention to pursue a caucus motion on ending offshore detention, there was frustration among Labor MPs at the timing, distracting as it did from the backlash to the budget. The motion was destined to fail.

Some also feared that, by reopening the debate, Parke was risking exposing Labor to attack over whether it was strong enough to manage the electorally sensitive issue.

But Parke is not a loose cannon and her recent statements have been carefully worded. Even dissent in modern Labor is often tightly scripted.

Although Dastyari’s remarks on refugee policy earlier this year were reported as pitting him against Shorten, his speech had in fact been vetted by the party’s leadership.

...

 

 

 

In August, a Senate motion to expedite the ratification of OPCAT [Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment] didn't even get to a vote because Queensland ALP Senator Claire Moore objected

 

 

Senate Hansard [11/8/15]:

Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (15:54): I ask that general business notice of motion No. 782 standing in my name for today, relating to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, be taken as a formal motion.

The PRESIDENT: Is there any objection to this motion being taken as formal?

Senator Moore: Yes.

The PRESIDENT: There is an objection.

Senator WRIGHT: I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator WRIGHT: I am greatly concerned that the government has chosen to deny me a chance to put this important motion to expedite the ratification of OPCAT, the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. This OPCAT was voluntarily signed up to by an Australian government in 2009, and since then both Labor and coalition governments have inexplicably dragged their feet in its ratification. OPCAT would ensure independent monitoring and reporting on places of detention in Australia, all those places where some of the most overlooked marginalised and powerless people are kept detained: prisoners in jails and police lockups, patients in psychiatric facilities, young people in juvenile detention, and asylum seekers. With very recent examples of deaths in custody and cruel and inhumane treatment of people detained, it is very disappointing that I have been prevented from putting this motion today. It is crucial to fully ratify the protocol and set clear time frames to implement. Australia's own good standing is at stake.

Senator FIFIELD (Victoria—Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Social Services) (15:55): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator FIFIELD: Just for the sake of accuracy, while the government does not support Senator Wright's motion, it was the opposition that denied formality on this occasion.

Senator MOORE (Queensland) (15:56): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator MOORE: Yes, Senator Wright, we did deny formality to this important motion, because it is our longstanding practice. Where we have an issue such as this which is complex and creates a number of complex situations and also determines significant discussions across all states and territories, we believe it is not appropriate to use the notice of motion process for that, and that is our standard practice.

 

 

 



Nauru court throws out Opposition MP's passport case [RNZI – 15/12/15]

 

 

 

 

... He considers himself an Australian and said he should be Australia's problem, but signed a form revoking his Australian visa anyway to return for a fresh start.

In October, a group called People At Risk Solutions (PARS) was given $100,000 by Corrections to help people just like Andre.

It can meet former detainees at the airport, put them up in a motel, help them set up a bank account and IRD number, and most importantly, help them find work.

Soon after arriving home, Andre picked up the phone.

"I've actually called them three or four times and they said they couldn't help as they're in Dunedin and I'm in Invercargill," he said.

"All they did was call Salvation Army and set up that food pack for me."

RNZ asked the chief executive of PARS, Tui Ah Loo, why it could not help Andre.

She said the group was only mandated to support deported detainees, not those who chose to leave Australia. ... [RNZI - 15/12/15]

 

 

 

 

3 Mosques vandalized, burned in California [Democracy Now - 14/12/15]:

 

 

In Southern California, police and the FBI have launched a hate crimes probe after two mosques were vandalized. Worshipers at the Islamic Center of Hawthorne arrived Sunday to find the words "Jesus is the way" spray-painted on the mosque. At another mosque in the same town, the word "Jesus" was spray-painted on the outside, and a plastic hand grenade replica was left in the driveway. The incidents came after police arrested 23-year-old Carl Dial Jr. Friday on hate crime and arson charges over a fire at a third Southern California mosque, the Islamic Society of Coachella Valley.  Alisa Shabazz, a member of the mosque, reacted to the arson.

Alisa Shabazz: "When we came around the corner, we saw the ambulance—no, excuse me, no, the fire department. And we was like, ’What’s happening?’ And they said that somebody tried to blow up the mosque. Why? For what reason? You know, we’re peaceful people. We don’t terrorize people. We don’t bomb people. I’ve been a Muslim all my life, and I’ve never had to deal with this."

The mosque fires are part of an apparent spike in Islamophobic incidents in the aftermath of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks and amid calls by Republican candidate Donald Trump to ban Muslims from entering the United States. More than a dozen incidents have been reported over the past week alone. In Tampa, Florida, two Muslim women reported being attacked in separate incidents: One said she was shot at, while another said she was nearly run off the road by a man who threw stones at her. In Gwinnett County, Georgia, a 13-year-old Muslim girl was asked by a teacher if she had a bomb in her backpack. Multiple mosques from New Jersey to Arizona have been vandalized or received hate mail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

... The time to start worrying about the consequences of our editorial decisions was before we raised a generation of people who get all of their information from television, and who believe that the solution to every problem is simple enough that you can find it before the 21 minutes of the sitcom are over.

Or before we created a world in which the only inner-city black people you ever see are being chased by cops, and the only Muslims onscreen are either chopping off heads or throwing rocks at a barricades.

This is an amazing thing to say, because in Donald Trump's world everything is about him, but Trump's campaign isn't about Trump anymore.

With his increasingly preposterous run to the White House, the Donald is merely articulating something that runs through the entire culture. ... Matt Taibbi [Rolling Stone - 9/12/15]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Australian media don't care about slavery - they're getting us used to the idea.   The unions don't care about labour rights, their purpose is to promote US interests.  --->  ... The case of Ranya Paew is clearly a very disturbing one. And the report does note a number of other violations of the rights of workers, especially the most vulnerable migrant workers. But the shrimp industry in Thailand is huge – Thailand is the world’s largest shrimp exporter – and I do wonder if it is fair to describe a whole industry in terms of what appears to be a relatively small number of cases.

American labour unions are not completely disinterested when it comes to discrediting the hugely lucrative Thai shrimp export industry. The United States imports more shrimp from Thailand than from any other country and over the years American shrimp producers have waged various campaigns against shrimp imports. Thefishsite.com reported in December 2007 that Thailand had “obtained a [WTO] verdict which will probably substantially reduce the current [US] duty on Thai shrimp, or even abolish it.” ... [New Mandala - 28/4/08]

 

 

 

 

Great to chat to @BarackObama about importance of minimum wage &Abbott's refusal to engage with L20

 

Image: ‏@GedKACTU - President, Australian Council of Trade Unions [15/11/14]

 

 



Activist on trial for showing unapproved film slams Malaysia's human rights hypocrisy [The Malaysian Insider - 14/12/15]:

Malaysian activist Lena Hendry today said Putrajaya was continuing to persecute her and was being hypocritical about human rights with the charge against her for screening a film on the Sri Lankan civil war that was not approved by the Film Censorship Board.

She told Malaysiakini at the first day of her trial today that Putrajaya had pledged support at the United Nations for the freedom of expression, and had even voted "yes" on a resolution to protect human rights defenders.

Hendry, 30, a coordinator with civil society group Pusat Komas, said she felt her freedom of expression was being curtailed and she did not understand why the case against her was still being dragged on.

She said Malaysia had gone back on its promise at the United Nations by continuing to persecute her.

"This has to stop. Because they (the government) cannot put on a different mask as soon as they leave Malaysia. Then, when they come back to Malaysia, they continue to prosecute them (human rights defenders)," she told Malaysiakini outside the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate's Court today.

She is facing trial for screening the award-winning documentary, "No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka" at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall two years ago.

The court proceeding began after she failed to set aside the charge against her since September 2013.

Film-makers and artists around the world have also rallied support for Hendry via an open letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, urging for the charges against her under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002 to be dropped.

The letter was also addressed to Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, amid calls for a repeal of the act which they described as a "draconian law used to attack and prevent freedom of speech".

"(It) is disturbing, unacceptable and is in danger of bringing Malaysia into international disrepute," states the open letter.

If convicted, Lena faces a jail term of up to three years or a fine of up to RM30,000 or both, upon conviction.

 

 

 

 

Malaysian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and allow him to receive proper medical attention, FIDH and its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) said today on the 10-month anniversary of Anwar’s latest imprisonment. Anwar is currently incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison, Selangor State. ... [Media Release - 10/12/15]

 

 

 

 

15 December 2015

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