What happens before war:  Powerful new animation speaks volumes about the present day [Japan Today - 19/2/16]





Black struggle is not a sound bite: Why I refused to meet with President Obama [Truthout - 18/2/16]







In a rare move, Maryland's highest court agreed Thursday to halt trial proceedings against the Baltimore police officers charged in the Freddie Gray case, taking up competing appeals on whether Officer William G. Porter can be compelled to testify against his five fellow defendants. ... [Baltimore Sun - 18/2/16]




Three women dead after Sydney police chase [Sydney Morning Herald - 20/2/16]




Man arrested after police discover woman's body in Hallam [The Age - 20/2/16]




2 LAPD Officers charged with sexually assaulting women while on duty [Democracy Now - 18/2/16]




Kentucky rep. introduces bill restricting access to erectile dysfunction treatment, in response to abortion restrictions [Democracy Now - 18/2/16]




Former soldier charged with murder of ex-bikie who walked into Monash Medical Centre [The Age – 19/2/16]




Bombs continue raining down upon Iraq and Syria



US Department of Defense [19/2/16]:


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, ground-attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted nine strikes in Syria:

-- Near Abu Kamal, one strike destroyed an ISIL workover rig.

-- Near Hasakah, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed five ISIL vehicles and two ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Hawl, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Raqqah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Manbij, two strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

Strikes in Iraq

Rocket artillery and fighter, attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 13 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Baghdadi, one strike destroyed eight ISIL rocket rails.

-- Near Albu Hayat, one strike destroyed 13 ISIL rocket rails.

-- Near Hit, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Mosul, four strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL weapons storage facility and destroyed 12 ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL excavator, and an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Ramadi, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL staging areas.

-- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and suppressed an ISIL rocket position.






‏@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [20/2/16]: 




Baghdad: A roadside bomb has exploded near Rasheed grocery market in Doura south of Baghdad resulted in two deaths and 7 injuries...



Baghdad: A roadside bomb attached to a car transporting a captain in Passports Directorate has exploded in Amiriya west of Baghdad resulted in killing him....................





... Conditions in Fallujah are dire, with Anbar Governor Sohaib al-Rawi saying that the situation "has reached a state of famine". ...  Iraq tribesmen clash with jihadists inside IS-held Fallujah [Yahoo - 19/2/16]





Turkey conducts fresh shelling on YPG positions in Syria [Anadolu Agency - 20/2/16]





@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [19/2/16]:  Dohouk: News agencies: Turkish Warplanes have shelled locations of PKK in Jumana and Neil in Dohouk province north of Iraq .....





Two Serbian embassy staffers held hostage since November died in Friday's U.S. airstrikes on an Islamic State camp in western Libya that killed dozens, Serbian officials said Saturday.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said there was no doubt that Sladjana Stankovic, a communications officer, and Jovica Stepic, a driver, were killed in the American bombing.

They were snatched in November after their diplomatic convoy, including the ambassador, came under fire near the coastal Libyan city of Sabratha. ... [ABC News - 20/2/16]





French authorities order expulsion of hundreds of Calais migrants from 'Jungle' [France - 20/2/16]:


... Eight associations working in the camp, including Doctors of the World, sent a protest letter on Thursday to the French interior minister contending that alternatives proposed by the state are "very far from answering the needs of the problems encountered" and predicted migrants who refuse them could scatter along the coast. ...



How many refugee and asylum seeker boats did the Australian "Fuck your mothers ... fuck your family ..." Navy push back and/or abandon today? ---->  @ItalianNavy [20/2/16]:   #UltimOra #SAR Nave Cigala Fulgosi #MarinaMilitare ha soccorso gommone con 122 migranti nel canale di Sicilia





Two children drown every day on average trying to reach safety in Europe [UNHCR - 19/2/16]:


... One of those statistics was seven-year-old Houda from Afghanistan who went missing in a shipwreck off the Greek island of Kos at the end of January.

Her mother, father, two sisters and one of her brothers had left Kabul for Istanbul earlier that month after her father, a middle-ranking police officer, received death threats.


"These tragic deaths in the Mediterranean are unbearable and must stop," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

"Clearly, more efforts are needed to combat smuggling and trafficking. Also, as many of the children and adults who have died were trying to join relatives in Europe, organising ways for people to travel legally and safely, through resettlement and family reunion programmes for example, should be an absolute priority if we want to reduce the death toll," he added. ...





Two migrants drown off Sicily, Italy coastguard says [Reuters - 19/2/16]





... I kept thinking this was my grandmother I was looking at. Can you imagine your grandmother crossing the rough seas? ... [MOAS - 19/2/16]





EU Summit: “Migrants in Europe have become fair game” [Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights - 18/2/16]:



... What we now see is European governments focused on feeding their electorate with the fear of migrants for clear electoral purposes.

Governments pandering to nationalist populist movements have promised to keep migrants out but have been unable to do so simply because the emphasis on securitisation doesn’t work.

European countries must offer safe and regular channels for mobility. It is the only way that European countries will regain full control of their borders.

The operationalisation of the NATO military operation recently announced by European leaders raises many questions. What will NATO do that Frontex didn’t do? When intercepting a migrant boat, what will the procedure be?

Will they embark migrants on their navy ships as the Italians did in Mare Nostrum? If they do, where will they disembark them? To what authority will they transfer them?

How will simple pushbacks be prevented? How will they treat the migrants on board? How will they identify protection needs?

And how will we know what NATO forces are doing? What civilian oversight mechanisms will be in place to ensure the protection of the rights of the migrants during the operation?

‘Fighting the smugglers’ is a red herring: as long as persons in need of mobility are not provided with official mobility solutions, unofficial channels will be provided by opportunistic smuggling rings.

I have repeatedly said that overreliance on securitisation of borders will not work.

People will continue to come because they need to survive. And smugglers will continue to adapt, prosper and exploit the migrants as long as their business model is not effectively destroyed.

The only way to actually eliminate smuggling is to take over their market by offering regular, safe and cheap mobility solutions, with all the identity and security checks that efficient visa procedures can provide.






What does Justice Scalia’s death mean for United States v. Texas, the DAPA/DACA case? [American Immigration Council - 19/2/16]





And in Madison, Wisconsin, 14,000 people gathered at the Wisconsin State Capitol for a "Day Without Latinos and Immigrants."

The demonstration was in protest of two bills in the Wisconsin Legislature. One bill would ban local governments from issuing photo ID cards.

The second bill would allow the police to hold people for up to two days after an arrest in order to investigate their immigration status. ... [Democracy Now - 19/2/16]





‏@ARTilleryBNE [20/2/16]:  Take a bow #Brisbane. You were amazing today. And we aren't going anyway. #LadyCilento #LetThemStay #CloseTheCamps





But we still don't know under what authority Serco guards are present in a Queensland public hospital, intimidating patients and staff ----> ‏@qldhealthnews [20/2/16]:   We understand baby Asha will remain in LCCH overnight at least. We ask those outside the hospital to respect other patients & staff.





Crowd chanting #LetThemStay during Shorten's speech in Sydney today [VIDEO - Georgia Tkachuk - 20/2/16]





‏@dfertl [20/2/16]:   #refugeeswelcome #lettthemstay #SydneyDerby #SYDVWSW #refugees #SydneyIsRedandBlack







@ele_kaz [20/2/16]:   Sydney Cove making a statement at #SydneyDerby not to send kids back to Nauru #SydneyIsSkyBlue #LetThemStay





Reject lesser evilism.



Support the greater good.



... Lay your money down

Lose an arm a leg a pile

Nobody cares what will become of you

Throw your weight around your little patch of ground

Until you climb down from that point of view




'Tell Me How It Ends', Bernard Fanning [ 2013]





At hospital ready to block deportation of baby Asha with these guys & 300 more #LetThemStay #Auspol @TheVeronicas



Image:  ‏@shkatspeare [20/2/16]





Lady Cilento Hospital staff stand strong as horror of Australia's anti refugee policies on full display to the world [Brisbane Times - 20/2/16]:


Concerns have flared for an asylum seeker baby being kept in hospital over deportation fears.

Natasha Blucher, the advocate for the baby known as "Asha" and her family, said she was worried the one-year-old's removal could be imminent.

The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network advocacy coordinator said Serco guards had blocked all calls to their room at Brisbane's Lady Cilento Hospital and immigration officers had warned the baby would be moved on Saturday.

However, a Children's Health Queensland spokesman said there had been no change to baby Asha's position.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has been contacted for comment.

Fairfax Media understands doctors inside the hospital have discussed moving Asha to avoid Serco staff.

An estimated crowd of more than 300 protesters was warned to remain calm if baby Asha emerged.

The crowd split into three groups to guard all exits from the hospital.

Horns were honking in support almost non-stop as cars passed through the busy intersection outside the hospital.

Ms Blucher said a hospital doctor had assured the family she wouldn't be going anywhere but the combination of factors was "concerning".

"I deal with a lot of transfers between detention centres and offshore, it's always the practice to remove the person from the compound normally and then hold them incommunicado," she said.

"So they're not allowed to call their lawyers, their lawyers aren't allowed to call them.

"They're not allowed to call their support people or tell any friends where they are, and then they get transferred after that.

"My concern is because they're holding her incommunicado, it could be part of that transfer process but it could also be just to deny her the right to speak to people who are providing support to her."

Supporter numbers at a nine-day vigil outside the hospital swelled quickly as rumours spread about Asha's impending removal on Saturday afternoon.






 Guardian [20/2/16]:


... When asked by Asha’s mother where they were to be taken, the officers replied: “Not Nauru, not BITA [the immigration holding centre at Pinkenba, Brisbane], not community detention but we can’t tell you.”

They told her that she could not tell her husband where they were going but “maybe he could visit them tomorrow [Sunday]”, Blucher said.

It is understood Asha’s father is still being held at BITA.

An hour later, said Blucher, a doctor told Asha’s mother “not to worry, that she was not being discharged, and she could stay there in the hospital until the minister made a decision about a safe place where she could go”. ... <--- The only "safe" place is NOT in ANY detention centre.





I support the vigil and Lady Cilento doctors, nurses and staff - NOT pro detention unions and the ALP.









 The honks are getting louder&stronger at #LadyCilento !! Feeling the love&support from #Brisbane ...



Image:  @ARTilleryBNE [20/2/16]





 Day 9, 4AM Scotia lays out her artwork of little boats made of sea charts #LadyCilento ...



Image:  ‏@DonSinnamon [20/2/16]




... It's hard to understand why a country like Australia, which enjoys one of the best standards of living in the world, is not at the forefront of the humanitarian efforts.

Why is it that a country that has not had a whiff of austerity or experienced the global financial crisis as acutely as many others did can remain so mean-spirited? ...  Greece shows compassion to refugees while Australia stops the boats [The Age - 27/7/15]






Protected and unaccountable Bishop thinks she can keep lying about stopping people from seeking asylum, because there is no opposition to treating refugees like human trash [ABC - 19/2/16]:



Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has downplayed fresh negotiations to resettle asylum seekers living in Manus Island and Nauru.

According to Fairfax Media, officials have recommenced discussions with Malaysia, Indonesia and The Philippines.

It follows a number of failed attempts under previous Labor and Coalition governments.

Ms Bishop has indicated more time will be needed to strike a deal.

In a statement, she said it was "early days" for most of the discussions, and that the countries involved might also have to consider internal factors before coming to an agreement.

"Some of them have domestic issues, like elections," Ms Bishop said, without confirming the countries Australia is in discussions with.

Federal Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has also downplayed the reports, but stressed the Government remained committed to its border protection policies.

"It's a very speculative story, but I guess it leads me to say that at least we are in a position now where we have strong, secure borders," Mr Pyne told Sky.

"Labor is essentially supporting that policy, and we've got the number of children in detention down to less than 80, it was 2,000 when you [Labor] were in government."

Philippines President Benigno Aquino last year warned his country did not have the "capacity" to offer permanent residency.

Malaysia, meanwhile, struck a deal with the former Gillard government before it was blocked by the High Court in 2011.

The reports on negotiations followed comments by the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, downplaying the chances of sending any asylum seekers to New Zealand, under an agreement struck by the former Gillard government.

The New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said it was "potentially possible" to take in a group of asylum seekers who were due to be sent to Nauru, but Mr Turnbull said it would be unlikely to happen.

The Federal Opposition has urged the Government to speed up talks to resettle asylum seekers.

Labor's immigration spokesman Richard Marles told Sky the Government's approach to border protection has left it isolated in the global community.

"The Government needs to swallow its pride, go to Geneva, make peace, stop cutting funding to the UNHCR and actually engage with the global community," he said.

"If it does that, the Government might actually find that there are some countries willing to help and we can get some resettlement going."







"Opposition" Minister for Concentration Camps visits Myanmar in the midst of the Rohingya boat crisis to reassert that the ALP will maintain Australia's current anti refugee policy  --->  @RichardMarlesMP [19/5/15]:  The people you meet in Yangon - Kieran Gorman-Best of IOM who hails from my hometown of #Geelong.







... We also told the Australian delegation that since the conference did not formally discuss the Rohingyas - originally slated to be the key point of the conference - that the AHG [Ad Hoc Group] mechanism should be pursued quickly to address this pressing issue.

Bringing Burma to the table was a major accomplishment, we acknowledged; however, we cannot wait for Burma to change its policy before discussing the Rohingya crisis. This can be discussed without Burma.

Foreign Minister Steven Smith later approached us privately to assure us that Australia would press for the AHG mechanism to "be invoked soon to deal with the Rohingyas."

Australia announced at the conference its contribution of AD300,000 to care for the Rohingyas in Aceh. IOM said the Dutch are promising a similar donation, perhaps conditional upon a U.S. donation. ...










Doctors to propose boycott [Guardian - 19/2/16]:



Doctors are preparing to discuss a boycott of Australia’s immigration detention system and flouting the legal restrictions on speaking out about conditions.

At an Australian Medical Association forum in Sydney on Sunday to debate healthcare of asylum seekers, several doctors will propose the radical step of refusing to participate in the system, Guardian Australia understands.


The group, which calls itself the Asylum Seeker Health Advocacy Group (Ashag), on Friday wrote to the prime minister and leader of the opposition, and the ministers and shadow ministers for health and immigration.

Ashag also demanded asylum seeker health services be managed through health departments with regular professional and ethical standards.

It accused the government of “acting to a political agenda, rather than the best interests of the patient under care”.





Who has the ultimate authority to allow Serco guards in Queensland public hospitals? [Guardian - 18/2/16]  Presumably Serco guards are present under arbitrary powers legislated by the LNP and ALP?






Unions representing border control workers [xBorder - 22/7/15]:



... United Voice has been organising detention centre workers, including guards, since 2009.

As the numbers of members working in detention centres has grown, sources from inside the union have noted a diminishment in the union’s public opposition to detention policies, including an effective silence over laws that give stronger protections to guards to use deadly force against detainees.

United Voice has also taken positions against the closure of onshore detention centres in Tasmania and Darwin.

The recent amalgamation of Customs and Immigration into the Australian Border Force drew the CPSU into dispute with the government over the termination of the Customs enterprise bargaining agreement.

This campaign, however, should not be mistaken as resistance to the running of Border Force operations as such.

As has been the case with United Voice, industrial action of this kind helps the union to both retain and increase its membership base in this industry. ...




New immigration powers would let guards beat asylum seekers to death [Guardian – 16/4/15]





At work inside our detention centres: A Serco guard's story [The Global Mail - February 2014]





20 February 2016