Bombs continue raining down upon Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [17/3/16]:
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 aircraft conducted two strikes in Syria near Hawl that struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed 10 ISIL fighting positions.
Strikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Baghdadi, a strike destroyed an ISIL weapons cache.
-- Near Rutbah, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Beiji, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Fallujah, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL staging area and an ISIL mortar position.
-- Near Hit, four strikes struck two ISIL weapon factories and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL bomb and an ISIL supply cache.
-- Near Kirkuk, a strike destroyed an ISIL machine gun position.
-- Near Kisik, two strikes destroyed three ISIL beddown locations and four ISIL assembly areas.
-- Near Mosul, nine strikes struck seven ISIL propaganda sites and two ISIL manufacturing factories.
Greek Coast Guard has rescued at least 576 refugees and migrants over the last 24 hours in 10 different incidents in the Aegean.
These incidents took place at the sea region of Lesvos, Samos and Megisti. [ANA-MPA - 18/3/16]
@moas_eu [18/3/16]: #refugee vessel brought safely ashore, our rescue swimmers in the water assisting disembarkation #refugeecrisis #SAR
@ItalianNavy [18/3/16]: #SAR Nave Aliseo #MarinaMilitare in #MareSicuro soccorre gommone trasbordando i migranti recuperati su CP 905 @guardiacostiera
@ItalianNavy [18/3/16]: #SAR Nave Sfinge #MarinaMilitare in #VigilanzaPesca interviene in soccorso a gommone con numerosi migranti a bordo
@ItalianNavy [18/3/16]: #MarinaMilitare I 121 migranti soccorsi ieri da Nave Aliseo e i 247 di Nave Sfinge sono stati trasbordati su nave Siem Pilot @Frontex
@ItalianNavy [18/3/16]: #MarinaMilitare Nave Sirio in operazione #MareSicuro ha completato il soccorso di 118 migranti da una imbarcazione in difficoltà #SAR
@guardiacostiera [18/3/16]: #NavePeluso CP905 #GuardiaCostiera recupera 243 #migranti e 1 corpo senza vita in 2 operazioni #SAR #CanalediSicilia
@guardiacostiera [18/3/16]: #Egeo #SAR soccorsi nella notte 2 gommoni dalla CP322 della #GuardiaCostiera. Salvati complessivamente 27 migranti
Imaginary Australian journalist asks Peter "protected and unaccountable" Dutton: How many refugee boats has the Australian Navy deliberately sunk like this? --> @alextomo [18/3/16]: Turkish coastguards then attempt to swamp/capsize the dinghy with full-throttle broadside wake.
... Mr Dutton said the ABF and ADF have recently significantly reinforced deterrence measures with the ADF vessel Ocean Protector joining the ABF’s Ocean Shield and an increased presence of other response vessels across the approaches to Australia while aerial surveillance had also been intensified. ... [Minister for Immigration - 18/3/16]
David Cameron: Send more patrol ships to turn refugee boats back to Libya [Guardian - 18/3/16]
Europe's "refugee crisis" is a rhetorical misnomer that has cast refugees who risk the Mediterranean and Aegean crossings as security threats instead of seeing them as individuals desperately seeking help, said migration expert Professor Klaus Bade.
In an exasperated commentary in "MiGAZIN," an online portal specializing in migration, Bade has accused Berlin of placating the public with security policy instead of working harder through "massive investments" to tackle the world's root causes of refugee flight, which have been evident for decades.
Quoting from a 2000 memorandum, Bade said Europe's repulsion of refugees and its failure to adequately tackle migratory causes in "Third World" countries had amounted to a "historical scandal," given the lessons from the "disgrace of Evian."
Bade was referring to the US-organized meeting at the French Lake Geneva resort in 1938, when envoys from 32 nations largely failed to agree on rescue measures for Jews trying to escape mounting repression in Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied Austria.
"The verdict in the future will be a terrible one: No one will be able to again say that he did not know it all. Whoever knew about it and raised no objections has made himself complicit," said Bade. ... [Deutsche Welle - 17/3/16]
Police arrest retired aviation officer for smuggling Iraqis to Italy [Keep Talking Greece - 17/3/16]
UNSW Law Society says #LetThemStay [18/3/16]
There doesn't appear to be any "deal" involving West Papuan refugees, but there is an awful lot of BULLSHIT being circulated. [ABC - 17/3/16]:
Papua New Guinea is resettling hundreds of asylum seekers from neighbouring West Papua as part of its deal with Australia to host the Manus Island detention centre.
As part of that arrangement, the PNG Government was required to resolve the plight of West Papuan asylum seekers — people who fled the lengthy conflict over the Indonesian border.
Now those people — who have waited up to 30 years for recognition — have said they are getting a raw deal compared to asylum seekers from the Middle East.
Refugees are refugees and Australia is a regional tyrant [The Conversation - 19/7/13]:
... The announcement that Australia will transfer not only the detention but the final settlement of refugees to PNG follows an unfortunate pattern of making use of its former colony in pursuit of purely Australian objectives.
While PNG faces a refugee problem of its own from neighbouring Indonesian-controlled West Papua, today’s agreement only covers those asylum seekers transferred from Australia. ...
Which exceptionalist, isolationist South East Asian nation (not mentioned by Gareth "Responsibility to Protect" Evans) has signalled to the region - by pushing back refugee boats and incarcerating and torturing asylum seekers - that genocide of Rohingya is acceptable? (*hint* Australia) ---> Public Seminar on Post-2015 Myanmar and Minority Protection under the NLD: Challenges and Opportunities, Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, University of Queensland, Brisbane, 16 March 2016:
... Tens of thousands have fled to neighbouring countries, with the peak of forced migration occurring in 2015 with an upsurge of Rohingya fleeing by boat.
Myanmar’s ASEAN neighbours did not cover themselves with distinction in responding to the crisis, as thousands of Rohingya were denied landing and the death toll mounted, and ASEAN itself refused to become engaged.
@cpcatrambone [16/3/16]: Final mission prep @moas_asia #Phuket #Phoenix- pic of @HALcruises #Amsterdam showing #solidarity #SAR @IMRF_
American Immigration Lawyers Association [17/3/16]:
Imagine coming to the United States to seek asylum and having to wait four years just for an interview to decide whether you get to move forward with your claim.
In most jurisdictions, asylum applicants are having to do just that: wait years for an interview, when before 2013, asylum applicants were able to obtain a decision on their petitions typically within four months.
Judiciary Committee Passes Smith Refugee "Reform" Bill [Texas Insider - 17/3/16]:
... Congressman Smith: “Our refugee system is broken. Terrorists have succeeded in exploiting our refugee programs to come to the U.S. and aid ISIS. The refugee program has even been abused by this administration to admit thousands of Central American immigrants coming illegally over the Southern border. The Obama administration has repeatedly refused to respond to congressional inquiries on the immigration status of terrorists charged in plots in the United States, despite reports that at least 14 were admitted to the country as refugees. Finally, taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars are often misused since questionable refugees automatically receive government benefits.” ...
... The xenophobic rhetoric in response to the current refugee crisis is ironic given the GOP’s history.
Ronald Reagan, viewed as an icon by most Republicans, famously granted asylum to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing conflicts in Southeast Asia and Central America, and even invoked America’s generous refugee policy in his 1989 presidential farewell speech.
Even George W. Bush, who ignited some of the conflicts that people are today fleeing, chose to restart the Refugee Resettlement Program after 9/11. ... New Bill would turn GOP’s xenophobic rhetoric about refugees into law [The Intercept - 18/3/16]
@Sydney_Uni colleagues from School of Languages and Cultures say #letthemstay #closethecamps ...
Image: @Dave_Brophy [17/3/16]
Australian media continue pretending we still accept refugees [SBS - 17/3/16]
At UN Universal Periodic Review, Australia called on to fulfil its international obligations to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers
Human Rights Council adopts outcomes of Universal Periodic Review of Australia, Georgia and Saint Lucia [17/3/16]:
... Sierra Leone commended Australia for having established a national plan to reduce violence against women and children. However, it expressed hope that Australia would reconsider its border protection policies and offshore asylum seeking procedures.
Sri Lanka encouraged Australia to continue respecting the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in accordance with its international obligations, particularly its efforts to enhance policies and procedures to protect children in migration pathways and to promote their welfare.
Albania recognized Australia’s long commitment to supporting and promoting human rights and its positive engagement with the Universal Periodic Review. It strongly encouraged Australia to continue its work on indigenous rights and to undertake relevant safe measures on migrants trying to reach its borders.
China welcomed Australia’s acceptance of recommendations made by China in relation to combatting slavery, but regretted that Australia had rejected some recommendations relating to indigenous’ rights.
China called upon Australia to protect migrants and to provide assistance to third countries for their realization of the right to development.
Fiji urged Australia to address shortcomings and to fully meet its international obligations relating to migrants. It called on Australia to take a fair share of responsibility in climate mitigation efforts to give future generations a chance to enjoy a right to clean and sustainable development.
Edmund Rice International Limited, in a joint statement with, Franciscans International, voiced concern over Australia’s announcement that it had no intention to end mandatory immigration detention.
It urged Australia to stop refoulement of asylum seekers and refugees, and to cease financing the offshore processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, in a joint statement with, Franciscans International, voiced concern over the devastating human rights impacts that its members and partners in Australia had experienced due to coal seam gas mining in Chinchilla.
Those impacts included damage to potable water resulting from the Government’s conduct that contravened its human rights obligations.
Franciscans International, in a joint statement with, Centre Europe - Tiers Monde - Europe-Third World Centre, supported Ecuador’s recommendation to strengthen the normative framework for the protection of human rights, including the monitoring, investigation and reparation for human rights violations committed by Australian companies in their territories and abroad.
Filibuster continues and all the ALP have is mudslinging and personal attacks, because after 37 hours there is no substance to their objection to Senate reform.
They won't allow a Jeremy Corbyn or Bernie Sanders.
Their party is dying.
You empty-headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Senator Cameron
Don’t give me orders, you big Belgian waffle! Senator Sterle
We are now six hours into debating #SenateReform. So far, Labor has called @leerhiannon a Stalinist & talked extensively about @GQAustralia @Greens [17/3/16]
On Senate electoral reform and blocking majorities, Antony Green [14/3/16]:
... Since the disappearance of the Australian Democrats, the lack of a centrist party that both major parties felt comfortable preferencing has made the distribution of major party preferences more complex.
That became evident at the 2004 Senate election. The growth of the Greens to the left of Labor resulted in Labor's third candidates in NSW, Victoria and South Australia competing with the lead Green candidate for the final seat. The Labor Party chose to engage in exotic preference deals with numerous minor parties to improve the chances of its third candidates defeating the Greens.
In NSW and South Australia the deals worked for Labor, both states splitting three Labor - three Liberal. In Victoria, Labor's vote was lower than expected, and the side deals between small parties were more exotic than Labor had expected.
Labor's vote was not high enough for its third candidate to benefit from deals, and Labor's third candidate was excluded and Labor's preferences elected Family First's Steven Fielding in place of the higher polling Green candidate.
#SenateSleepover 9:30am Senator Ludlam Press Conference [AUDIO - Greens - 18/3/16]
In 2012, the sneaky, cynical and racist Australian government rammed the "Stronger Futures" legislation through after a day's lengthy offshore processing debate.
Every question raised by Greens and opposition senators was snidely dismissed with weasel words and a lack of evidence.
Every amendment the Greens put up to address genuine welfare concerns was rejected.
The Senate chamber was empty until parliamentarians rolled in to vote at around 4 am. [West Australian - 29/6/12]:
Aboriginal leaders have declared a day of mourning after federal parliament passed legislation to continue the Northern Territory intervention for another decade.
Labor and the opposition teamed up to pass the controversial laws in the Senate in the early hours of Friday morning after a marathon debate, which started early Thursday evening.
The laws were amended to reduce the review period from seven to three years.
Attempts by the Greens to heavily amend the laws, including cutting the sunset clause from 10 to five years, were defeated.
The Greens accused the government of sneaking the laws through in the shadow of the media storm over asylum seekers on the final day before parliament's winter break.
Greens senator Lee Rhiannon said Labor was trashing its proud history in indigenous affairs, particularly the goodwill from former prime minister Kevin Rudd's apology and Paul Keating's Redfern speech.
Labor NT senator Trish Crossin, a former school teacher in remote communities, praised the controversial SEAM program that would work with families to get kids to attend school, with cutting welfare payments only as a last resort. [SEAM trial did not work: Qld Education Minister - 18/6/12]
But she was scathing of provisions that stop a court taking into account customary law or cultural practices.
"We are making a very big mistake ... this is a backwards step," she said, adding she was considering referring this issue to a Senate inquiry.
Liberal senator Marise Payne said Labor had dropped the ball on overcoming indigenous disadvantage since the original intervention.
"The government is more focused on process rather than outcomes," she said.
Indigenous leader Dr Djiniyini Gondarra from East Arnhem Land and Rosalie Kunoth Monks from Central Australia have jointly declared a day of mourning for Aboriginal people following the passing of the laws.
"For those of us living in the Northern Territory the anguish of the past five years of intervention has been almost unbearable," Dr Djiniyini told AAP.
The package also expands income management for people on welfare to five trial sites outside the Top End. These are in Bankstown in NSW, Playford, South Australia, Shepparton, Victoria, and Rockhampton and Logan in Queensland. The program begins on July 1.
The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Amnesty International and indigenous leaders have raised concerns the laws breach Australia's international obligations.
The measures have been widely opposed by NT Aboriginal communities, which say they are racist and that they weren't consulted properly.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin released a human rights assessment of the laws on Thursday.
"The policy objectives of the bills are compatible with human rights because they advance some rights and to the extent they may limit any rights those limitation are reasonable, necessary and proportionate," she said.
Former Family Court chief justice Alastair Nicholson said the government's use of special measures could fail a High Court challenge.
He said Ms Macklin's response was "entirely predictable" and maintained the consultation process had been a "travesty".
"They speak about these wonderful consultations, I guess if you say that often enough it sounds good, but in fact it isn't," he told AAP.
National Congress of Australia's First People spokeswoman Jody Broun was disappointed the government did not allow a parliamentary committee to subject the laws to a human rights test.
Australian Lawyers Alliance national president Greg Barns said the Stronger Futures laws were further disenfranchising indigenous communities.
A New Zealand Army soldier has died in the Middle East in a non-combat incident.
The soldier, a national liaison officer, died at the Coalition headquarters in Jordan.
There are no suspicious circumstances relating to this death, the New Zealand Defence Force said.
The soldier was one of a number of liaison officers who work at headquarters in the Middle East and around the world. ... [RNZI - 18/3/16]
West Papua shooting claims at least 3 road builders [RNZI – 17/3/16]
Solomon Islands diplomat, Barrett Salato, has raised the issue of human rights violations in West Papua at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
In addition to concerns over arbitrary arrests, summary executions and torture, Salato encouraged Indonesia to establish a dialogue with West Papuan representatives and allow a visit to the country by the UN. ... [UNPO - 17/3/16]
In Texas, an off-duty suburban Dallas police officer has been arrested on charges of murder after fatally shooting 16-year-old Jose Raul Cruz on Sunday night.
Authorities say officer Ken Johnson was off duty when he thought he saw a car being burglarized in the parking lot of his apartment complex.
This set off a car chase, which ended with Officer Johnson killing Cruz and shooting another teenager, Edgar Rodríguez, in the head. Rodríguez survived.
Authorities have not said whether either of the teenagers were armed. [Democracy Now - 17/3/16]
Another member of Berta Caceres’ group assassinated in Honduras [teleSUR - 16/3/16]
Australia-Israel Labor Dialogue
House of Representatives Hansard [17/3/16]:
Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (11:36): One of the rights of parliamentarians is parliamentary privilege. Its purpose is to allow elected parliamentarians to speak freely on matters of importance to the Australian public, without which they might not know the full picture of politics or some of the developments in this country. It is my duty, therefore, to today use privilege to explain the background to yesterday's front-page attack on a small group of New South Wales Labor activists by the associate editor of The Australian, John Lyons, and his confederate, Bob Carr.
Firstly, the Australia-Israel Labor Dialogue has a pure purpose, which is to enhance the longstanding ties between Australian and Israeli Labor. They are certainly not Netanyahu supporters. My friend Hilik Barr, the deputy leader of Israel Labor, visited Australia a couple of years ago on a program that successfully renewed those ties. One person helpful with the tiny New South Wales AILD is Mary Easson, who also has a professional life as a consultant. One of her contracts is with Elbit, an Israeli defence manufacturer. Mr Lyons, the associate editor of The Australian, has a longstanding animus in the Israel-Palestinian conflict and he conflated Ms Easson's professional capacity with her role as an individual active within the Australian Labor Party. As a matter of fact, both AILD and Elbit have confirmed that no defence contractor has contributed a dollar to the visits of Australian Labor activists to Israel or to the AILD.
As I follow Australian defence procurements, like my friend the member for Hunter, I am aware that Elbit's main business in Australia is providing integrated communications for various arms of the Australian military forces—hardly the exaggerated image drawn by that bitter partisan Mr Lyons in The Australian. He implies that Labor officials who went over the last few years to visit Israel on programs largely devoted to innovation were somehow funded by Ms Easson's company. I repeat: Elbit does not donate to AILD—something buried in the middle of The Australian article in a statement by its Australian chairman, Mr Dan Webster. AILD, as most people familiar with it know, is a Victoria and New South Wales based organisation with no full-time staff, run by volunteers. It is a tiny organisation whose funding comes from Australian Jewish organisations and individuals and is designated to pay for those overseas visits. It is an organisation so small that I did not even know that it had an executive. It is true that Mary is a supporter of Israel and the New South Wales AILD and an activist in the Australian Labor Party, but no credible link can be drawn between her support for these organisations and her professional endeavours.
In its sensationalist front page yesterday, The Australian juxtaposed pictures of New South Wales recipients of AILD grants with Israeli weapons systems produced by Elbit but not sold in Australia. Given the fact that no link can be drawn between Elbit and this tiny AILD organisation, this front page seems designed purely to smear those Labor activists who have been on these innovation visits to Israel. This exaggerated coverage is in sharp contrast with Mr Lyons's soft sell of Bob Carr's activities at the University of Technology in Sydney. Earlier than 7 March, Mr Lyons was supplied with a long research paper from the Parliamentary Library which details the multimillion-dollar funding—all documented from open sources—by an organisation directed by the international department of the Chinese Communist Party.
As China is the most important issue of Australia's foreign policy, documenting donations of millions of dollars to organisations and institutions in Australia which are considered by Beijing to enhance Australian foreign policy is of course of great interest to all Australians. Yet all references to this paper provided to Mr Lyons were totally censored in his report of Mr Carr and the profile that he wrote in the Australian. The different treatment—with the aggressive speculation about a tiny organisation of volunteers—by Lyons contrasts with his decision to cover up the millions earmarked for his mate Bob Carr. This is particularly outrageous given his cover-up of this organisation documented in this paper which I seek leave to table. We had permission from the opposition to do that.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is leave granted to table the document by the member for Melbourne Ports?
Mr DANBY: Lyons, as a Jerusalem based correspondent, produced a documentary about Palestinian teenagers who were arrested for throwing rocks through the windshields of Israeli vehicles transiting the West Bank. After the events in Parramatta and Endeavour Hills, there would be less sympathy these days for those activities because the activities of very young people are quite well known. Lyons's report in yesterday's Australian is a beat-up designed to embarrass pro-Israel activists in New South Wales. It is a stark contrast with the Weekend Australian several weekends ago. (Time expired)
18 March 2016