Bombs continue raining down upon Syria and Iraq
US Department of Defense [19/3/16]:
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
Fighter aircraft conducted one strike in Syria:
-- Near Ayn Isa, a strike destroyed an ISIL rocket position and an ISIL mortar position.
Strikes in Iraq
Rocket artillery, ground attack, bomber and fighter aircraft conducted 25 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Al Baghdadi, four strikes struck two ISIL bed-down locations and two ISIL staging areas.
-- Near Al Huwayja, a strike destroyed an ISIL anti-air artillery piece.
-- Near Fallujah, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units.
-- Near Hit, seven strikes struck an ISIL training camp, two ISIL car bomb factories, an ISIL bomb factory, two ISIL tactical units, destroyed an ISIL tunnel, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL supply cache, and an ISIL car bomb.
-- Near Kisik, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL bunker and two ISIL assembly areas.
-- Near Mosul, six strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL assembly area, an ISIL supply cache, and three ISIL vehicles, and damaged an ISIL-used bridge section and suppressed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Qayyarah, a strike destroyed an ISIL mortar position and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and suppressed an ISIL fighting position.
@IraqiSMCEn -Iraqi Spring Media Center [20/3/16]:
Anbar: The air force targeted the old ice factory in Heet district west of Anbar last night ,casualties resulted unknown.............
Ta'meem: Sectarian violations: Circulating photos show rockets of the government army on which written vengeful and sectarian phrases revealing revenge policy towards people.... The photos show a group of rockets on which written phrases such as "The gift presented by Haji Qasim Suleimani to Taza and Basheer people", "The gift presented by the Mujahideen Houthis to Taza and Basheer people". It is noteworthy that Taza and Basheer are located near south of Kirkuk which have been targeted by the government army.
Refugee boats arrive in Greece despite EU deal [Al Jazeera - 20/3/16]
Lady Diamantina Bowen, Old Government House gardens in Brisbane. ... Her husband's career took the family all over the world, as governor postings were typically for five years. We do not know how Diamantina felt about this frequent upheaval, but she cried copiously as the family departed from Brisbane, suggesting that she had had many close personal connections while there. ...
Nine migrants trying to reach Europe have drowned off Libya and hundreds more been rescued, the Red Crescent said Sunday amid fears of an increase in crossing attempts as the route from Turkey closes.
The nine who died were among several hundred migrants who were discovered aboard dilapidated boats off the port of Zawiya, west of Tripoli, on Saturday, Libyan Red Crescent spokesman Malek Mersit told AFP.
A total of 586 migrants were rescued, said Colonel Ayoub Qassem, spokesman for the navy of a Tripoli administration that has disputed power with Libya's internationally recognized government since 2014.
They included 11 children and 60 women, and were mainly Bangladeshis and Sudanese, he told AFP.
The drownings came just days after four migrants were killed in a boat fire off Libya and another 187 rescued. ... [Daily Star - 20/3/16]
@wikileaks [18/3/16]: Hillary rejected Saif Qaddafi plan to democratise #Libya; instead bombed it into chaos ...
Standing in front of the tall, steel fence that divides the United States and Mexico, presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Saturday vowed to keep immigrant families together during a visit to Arizona, which holds its primary next week.
Sanders was accompanied by Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada and U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva.
He started the day walking along a small street next to the Nogales-Morley Gate Port of Entry, where he spoke with two young immigrants about their struggles to obtain legal status in the United States.
A small group of people who identified themselves as deported U.S. military veterans stood on the Mexican side of the border fence cheering for Sanders. ... [US News - 20/3/16]
Cruise ship rescues 18 Cuban migrants who say nine others died [Reuters - 18/3/16]
#LetThemStay #CloseTheCamps #BringThemHere #Justice4Refugees #Peace Rally
Dr John-Paul Sanggaran speaks at the Brisbane rally.
Shame on Billy Shorten too!
Shame Shame Labor Shame!
White poppies for peace.
Interesting pamphlet from Marxist-Leninist Group:
... We would suggest that the refugee rights movement's tasks are threefold. Firstly, it needs to seek to combat the influence of liberal capitalist elements (the ALP, Greens, Union officials, GetUp! etc) and not cede leadership to such elements when they barge their way into the movements to bolster an election campaign or to back yet another US led war. This means seeking to politically combat left parties which act as proxies on the ground for more conservative political forces. The aim should be the mobilisation of all working class forces and their supporters independently, not only for the major parties, but all political groups working for them, be they paid or unpaid. ...
As ex-detainees and detainees, firstly we should remember we are one of the most vulnerable people in Australia who have experienced physical and psychological trauma as well as ongoing discrimination and deaths in mandatory detention in Australia. We also need to be really careful of those who are exploiting us, trying to promote their causes by using our stories.
In recent times I have witnessed there are so many non- refugees collecting and publishing our stories to “humanise” our struggles. There are some underlying issues about many story telling platforms created by non-refugees and mostly white people. One should question and thoroughly examine these issues and question those who control and transmit our stories. ... [Rise Refugee - 19/3/16]
10 things you need to consider if you are an artist – not of the refugee and asylum seeker community- looking to work with our community. [Rise Refugee - 5/10/15]:
... 7. Do not expect us to be grateful
We are not your next interesting arts project. Our community are not sitting waiting for our struggle to be acknowledged by your individual consciousness nor highlighted through your art practice.
8. Do not reduce us to an issue
We are whole humans with various experiences, knowledge and skills. We can speak on many things; do not reduce us to one narrative.
Anti-racist crowd gathering outside citadel of institutional racism which is Australia House
Image: @BanjoNick4 [19/3/16]
"AUSTRALIA. Stop the WAR on REFUGEES." @BanjoNick4 [19/3/16]: Australia House just now
Thousands protest in European capitals to support migrants, refugees and asylum seekers [Yahoo - 19/3/16]:
... In London, approximately 4,000 people joined a protest carrying placards with slogans like "Refugees welcome here" and "Stand up to racism".
Callum Nash, a web designer, said he had come "to show support and solidarity for migrants, for refugees, coming from Syria".
Emiliano Mellino, a financial journalist from Argentina, added: "The situation right now in Syria, in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Turkey... the number of refugees they have, and the pressure those countries have, is incredible and Europe is not letting in enough people."
In Athens, police said 1,500 people took to the streets while media put the figure at 3,000.
The protestors, who included many Afghan refugees, particularly women and children, chanted "Open the borders" and "We are human beings, we have rights".
"We're calling on the Greek government to stop aligning itself with the EU's anti-refugee policies," said pro-migrant activist Thanassis Kourkoulas.
... campaigners have taken to the streets of Glasgow to condemn racism and voice their support for refugees.
Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convener of the Scottish Greens, was among those supporting the event.
He said: "Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War, and some of the responses have been shocking. There are those who seem happy to allow desperate people to drown in the Mediterranean and we see fences and walls being put up to deny fellow human beings safety.
"By contrast, here in Scotland, we have seen an outpouring of compassion from people saying refugees are welcome. On this international day against racism, Scottish Greens stand with others who believe in the principle of free movement of people, and who believe there is no place for discrimination in our society."
Another MSP backing the campaign was SNP local government minister Marco Biagi, who tweeted: "No to racism; Scotland welcomes refugees."
Protesters marched in the city centre before gathering for a rally and speeches at George Square.
They held placards bearing slogans such as: No To Racism; No Detention, No Destitution, No Deportation; and Refugees Are Welcome Here.
Lawyer and human rights campaigners Aamer Anwar said thousands attended the event.
He wrote on Twitter: "5,000 march through our city of Glasgow against racism, fascism, anti-semitism, in support of refugees." ... [Herald Scotland - 19/3/16]
Protesters in Cardiff joined thousands across Europe for a Stand Up to Racism march [Wales Online - 19/3/16]
Bernie Sanders will not attend AIPAC conference [CNN - 18/3/16]:
... A petition started by Max Blumenthal, the son of former Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal and a pro-Palestinian writer, had garnered more then 5,000 signatures urging Sanders not to speak at AIPAC.
One of the signers is Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters, who has endorsed Sanders.
On the other hand, foreign policy writer Robert Naiman wrote an open letter to Sanders encouraging him to speak at AIPAC -- urging him to be a "truth-teller" to the group.
Naiman is critical of the group's hard-line pro-Israel stance. ...
Young Palestinian killed in Hebron after alleged stab attack [Maan - 19/3/16]
Gunmen shot and killed a Palestinian woman in the northern occupied West Bank on Friday night, locals and medical sources told official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa. ... [Maan - 19/3/16]
Israeli forces shoot, injure 2 Palestinians with live fire [Maan - 19/3/16]
At least three Palestinian football players have been arrested since the beginning of this month, the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has stated.
The arrests provide the latest examples of how Israel is harassing Palestinians involved in sports.
On 3 March, Fadi Nimr al-Sharif, 28, a player with the al-Hilal Football Club of Gaza City was arrested at the Erez crossing separating Gaza from present-day Israel. ... [Electronic Intifada - 18/3/16]
At least 13 Egyptian policemen have been killed in the Sinai Peninsula after an armed group fired a mortar at a security checkpoint in the city of Arish, security and medical sources said.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack on several websites, with later confirmation from Egyptian state media.
Ambulances were subjected to heavy gunfire as they attempted to reach the wounded, the security and medical sources said. ... [Al Jazeera - 19/3/16]
A suicide bomber killed four people on Saturday in a busy shopping district in the heart of Istanbul, pushing the death toll from four separate suicide attacks in Turkey this year to more than 80. ... [Reuters - 19/3/16]
Lufthansa reports near miss with drone over Los Angeles [Reuters - 19/3/16]
In wake of another deadly attack in Yemen, UN human rights chief decries Coalition airstrikes [Media Release - 18/3/16]
UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived Saturday in Yemen capital to try to restart peace talks between the Houthi Ansarullah movement and members of the former Yemeni regime. ... [Al-Manar - 19/3/16]
Since February 27 when the ceasefire took effect in Syria, 67 civilians have been killed and 65 injured in Aleppo, head of the Russian reconciliation center Sergey Kuralenko told reporters on Saturday.
"Since February 27, at least 67 civilians have died and 65 have been wounded in shelling opened by militants in Aleppo.
Women and children are among them," he said.
Russia has not received a reply from the United States yet, with regard to the proposals on organization of control over the ceasefire violations in Syria.
Moscow believes it was inadmissible to delay with the document, Sergey Kuralenko went on to say. ... [TASS - 19/3/166]
Bombs continue raining down upon Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [18/3/1]:
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
Ground-attack, attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted nine strikes in Syria:
-- Near Hawl, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, damaged an ISIL fighting position and suppressed a second fighting position.
-- Near Ayn Isa, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb.
-- Near Mara, five strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed eight ISIL fighting positions and damaged an ISIL fighting position.
Strikes in Iraq
Rocket artillery and fighter aircraft conducted 11 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Albu Hayat, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Habbaniyah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Hit, two strikes struck an ISIL headquarters and a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL tunnel and an ISIL rocket position.
-- Near Kisik, three strikes destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL supply cache, and an ISIL command and control node.
-- Near Qayyarah, two strikes destroyed an ISIL rocket rail, an ISIL used bridge section, and three ISIL vehicles.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL heavy machine gun positions.
-- Near Fallujah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
@wikileaks [18/3/16]: Hillary Emails: Overthrow #Syrian government to help Israel ...
@guardiacostiera [19/3/16]: #SAR #CanalediSicilia Nave Diciotti #GuardiaCostiera salva 132 #migranti su un gommone.Recuperato anche un cadavere.
@guardiacostiera [19/3/16]: #SAR #CanalediSicilia, Nave Diciotti #GuardiaCostiera salva 246 migranti, tra i quali 50 donne e 1 minore.
@ItalianNavy [18/3/16]: 483 #migranti recuperati oggi da HMS Enterprise e navi Aliseo, Sirio e Sfinge #MarinaMilitare saranno sbarcati da quest'ultima ad #Augusta
"If you assume there is no hope, you guarantee there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, there are opportunities to change things." @MamenPg_ [19/3/16]: Aprendamos. Si supones que no existe esperanza... Pero la hay, siempre la hay. Padres y voluntarios #refugeeswelcome
@MSF_Sea [19/3/16]: ... Last night, our medics at #Idomeni treated 13 #people for trauma alegedly sustained in beatings by the #FYROM military/police.
Greek Interior Minister Panayotis Kouroumblis on Friday said conditions at the Idomeni refugee camp on the Greece-Macedonia border were like those in Nazi concentrations camps.
“This is a modern Dachau, the result of closed borders logic,” said Kouroublis during a visit to the camp. ... [Politico - 18/3/16]
@MSF_Sea [18/3/16]: Kassim is 91. His family made it to #Germany but he's stuck in Belgrade. All he wants is peace and them by his side.
Why the EU’s deal with Turkey is no solution [MSF - 18/3/16]
Indonesia to ask Australia to comply with its international obligations under the UN Refugee Convention [Jakarta Post - 18/3/16]:
Indonesia is planning to ask Australia to revise its strict policy on refugees at the upcoming Bali Process international forum through a multilateral mechanism that demonstrates Indonesia is not alone in wanting the neighboring country to let more refugees into its territory.
Initiated in 2002 to address people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crimes, the Bali Process is slated to take place on the island on March 22-23, cochaired by Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi and her Australian counterpart Julie Bishop.
The forum comes at a sensitive time, with Australia in the international spotlight for its policy to turn back boat people and strict quota on asylum seekers and with Indonesia seeing overcapacity and financial problems at detention centers housing refugees.
When asked if the forum’s declaration would include an attempt to appeal against Australia’s strict policy on refugees and use of a refugee quota, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said the matter would be discussed over the course of the conference.
“It is an issue that we hope to see discussed during the meeting. We will see to what extent it can be discussed,” he said.
Citing the emergence of a potential humanitarian crisis in the wake of an influx of Rohingya refugees into the region last year, the Foreign Ministry has previously said that the forum will yield a declaration expected to set guidelines for an emergency response mechanism regarding irregular migration.
The Law and Human Rights Ministry’s director general of immigration Ronny F. Sompie, said recently that his office was currently too short of funds and human resources to properly manage asylum seekers and refugees, and called for the forum to be used to persuade Australia to allow more room for refugees.
Indonesia’s 13 immigration detention centers, Ronny said, are already suffering from extreme overcrowding, with the number of illegal migrants soaring more than fivefold over the past seven years.
Arrmanatha said Indonesia was working with the UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) and International Organization on Migration (IOM) to handle refugees, adding that serious efforts were needed to improve facilities, which was among the goals the Bali Process would work toward. “Refugee issues need always to be discussed in the regional context, not the individual [country] context.
It’s pointless for just one or two countries — like Indonesia with Australia or Indonesia with New Zealand — to discuss the issue, as we need to find long-lasting solutions,” he said, emphasizing that origin, transit and destination countries should all be involved in the discussion.
As of January, there were 13,679 refugees and asylum seekers registered with the UNHCR in Indonesia, many of whom have been stuck in transit for years. An asylum seeker is someone who says he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated.
Australia resettled around 808 refugees from Indonesia in 2013, but that figure was halved by 2015. Indonesia is not a signatory to the UN refugee convention and refugees cannot legally work here while waiting for resettlement in a third country.
Arrmanatha said that representatives from 44 countries had confirmed attendance at the Bali Process, including 13 ministers, eight deputy ministers and senior officials.
Representatives from five countries have requested or have indicated that they want to hold bilateral sessions with Retno in the sidelines of the event, he added, namely New Zealand, the Netherlands, Fiji, Japan and Afghanistan. Retno is also expected to meet with representatives from the IOM and UNHCR.
Australia no longer accepts refugees and is stopping people from seeking asylum by pushing boats back and torture [SBS - 10/7/15]
Secret federal government documents cast doubt over whether Australia told Indonesia and the United Nations about a retrospective ban on taking refugees from official channels.
In November last year Australia announced it would no longer accept refugees who applied for resettlement through the UN’S refugee agency in Indonesia.
The ban applied to anyone who registered with the UNHCR from 1 July 2014.
Australian government could save $2.9 billion by closing offshore refugee concentration camps
Closing down offshore immigration detention centres and moving asylum seekers to the mainland for processing in the community would save the federal government $2.9bn.
The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) has crunched the numbers on an Australian Greens election policy to shut down the centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.
Both centres have faced international criticism for squalid conditions, deaths and alleged human rights abuses.
The Greens propose a 30-day limit on asylum seekers being held in detention on the mainland before people are moved into community detention.
The PBO calculated that $2.9bn would be saved over four years from 2015-16 if offshore asylum seekers were sent to the mainland.
The Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the money saved could be channelled into education and health spending.
“The government is blowing that money on exposing men, women and children to abuse on Nauru and Manus Island,” she said.
“It’s time for us to close the offshore detention camps and start treating people the way we would want to be treated.”
"I fear that I will die here": Journalist tells how he found refugee who has been exiled and disappeared by Australia and the IOM from Nauru to Cambodia [Sydney Morning Herald - 19/3/16]:
... The refugees were taken to an airport office far-away from the lenses of media crews corralled at an airport entrance (one photographer, though, got an exclusive snap by hiding under bushes), before they were whisked in a van to a then secret luxury villa, where they were to start their new lives.
But there was a problem: a freelance photographer I had hired was following them through the city's crowded streets on his motor cycle.
One official in the van recognised him and rang his mobile telephone to advise that unless he ended the pursuit, he would have trouble getting future assignments in Phnom Penh.
He gave up the chase.
The four refugees disappeared into the obscurity of a city of millions, cared for by the International Organisation for Migration, an international agency which had entered into a multi-million dollar contract with Australia to do the job.
Cambodian-Australian filmmaker finds solace under ‘Tamarind Tree’ [Cambodia Daily - 19/3/16]:
... The filmmaker told the story of his yearslong effort to find the camp in the 2015 documentary “Camp 32,” which premiered at the Cambodia International Film Festival in December. Now, he is returning to the site for his latest project, “Under the Tamarind Tree.”
The short film depicts two childhood sweethearts whose relationship is cut short when the Khmer Rouge show up and force them to marry other partners during a group wedding.
Before the communist soldiers enter their village, the two characters regularly meet at the tamarind tree. But when the regime tightens its grip on every aspect of village life and the two are married off to other spouses, their sole means of communication is placing secret symbols of affection for one another within the tree’s deep crevices.
Mr. Chhorn, who served as producer on “Under the Tamarind Tree,” fled with his family to the Khao I Dang refugee camp on the Thai border as Vietnamese forces moved west in early 1979. He eventually immigrated with his mother and siblings to Australia.
He said the film was inspired by the experiences of his family during the Khmer Rouge period, when four of his sisters were forced to marry, with vastly different outcomes.
In search of a home: Rohingya refugees in New Delhi [The Citizen - 17/3/16]
New president in Myanmar, same persecution of Rohingya [The Hill – 18/3/16]:
The Burmese government has required official permission for Rohingya to marry and imposed a two-child policy solely on the Rohingya population in the country.
Though Kyaw will act as president of Myanmar, the real political power will reside with Aung San Suu Kyi. In fact, the only reason Kyaw was elected rather than Suu Kyi is because of a discriminatory law that bars anyone from holding the presidency who has a child with foreign citizenship, specifically targeting Suu Kyi.
Despite her stated commitment to human rights, Suu Kyi has repeatedly refused to condemn the persecution of the Rohingya minority.
As TIME magazine reported, in response to questions on the plight of the Rohingya, Suu Kyi stated:
I think it is very important that we should not exaggerate the problems in this country. There's a Burmese saying: You have to make big problems small and small problems disappear. It's not a question of exaggerating small problems into big ones and big ones to the extent that they are totally unmanageable. I'm not saying this is a small problem. I would promise everyone who is living in this country proper protection in accordance with the law.
Suu Kyi's strategy could rest in the pragmatism of realpolitik, as most of her constituents are conservative and religious. In this view, Suu Kyi has not condemned the oppression of the Muslim Rohingya because to do so would risk alienating the Buddhist majority that elected her party.
On the other hand, her silence on the issue could be an indication that she truly believes that the Rohingya people should not be protected under Burmese law. The latter interpretation of her actions would constitute a direct contradiction of the tenets of democracy for which she has been so glorified for upholding.
Responding to a question about whether the Rohingya should be granted citizenship, Suu Kyi answered, "The government is now verifying the citizenship status under the 1982 citizenship law. I think they should go about it very quickly and very transparently and then decide what the next steps in the process should be."
Such prevarication runs contrary to all that Suu Kyi claims to have stood for over the course of her political career. It certainly does not signal a dramatic departure from the suffering of the status quo nor does it indicate that the NLD and Kyaw will be any better to the Rohingya minority.
For Myanmar to be considered a legitimate democracy, the Rohingya people must be recognized as citizens, included in the political processes and have the same access to healthcare, education and basic services as any other Burmese citizen. A true democracy is majority rule with protection of minority rights.
Northern Province Chief Minister questions ongoing military presence during Australian High Commissioner's visit to Jaffna [Tamil Guardian - 17/3/16]:
The Chief Minister of the Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran, said to the Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka that the people in the province are against the continued presence of the military.
High Commissioner Bryce Hutcheson visited Jaffna with a delegation on Wednesday and met with the chief minister during his time in the North-East.
After the meeting, the Chief Minister, said to reporters,
"I can see the Central government and the Australian government are jointly involved in some activities. The role of the provincial government in these activities is less. I conveyed that it is proper to discuss with us, when it comes to helping our people."
Mr Wigneswaran said the high commissioner replied that it is being done jointly by both governments.
The US and the Philippines announced Friday five locations where American forces will have access under a new defense pact, including one facing disputed islands in the South China Sea.
The announcement came at strategic talks in Washington, where the allies reiterated their opposition to the militarization of outposts in those waters, where six Asian governments have competing claims.
China has built artificial islands with airstrips and military facilities as it asserts its claim to virtually all the South China Sea, including land features claimed by the Philippines.
Another of the five Philippine military bases where the US will have access is on southern Mindanao island, where the US is concerned about the presence of Muslim extremist groups.
The 10-year defense pact was signed by US and Philippine officials in 2014, but it only got the green light this January after the Philippine Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional.
It is a key part of the Obama administration effort to reassert its presence in Asia. ... [Inquirer - 19/3/16]
Japan to send weapons grade plutonium to US this weekend, Greenpeace says [Japan Today - 19/3/16]
An estimated 150,000 students rallied on Thursday against the government's proposed labor changes, which some young people say would negatively impact workers' rights.
The Socialist government of Francois Hollande wants the changes made in the hopes of boosting hiring.
The proposed reforms would loosen the country's cemented 35-hour workweek so that companies could negotiate with individual employees to work outside of regularly scheduled hours.
Sensing dissatisfaction with the new legislation, the government withdrew some of the proposals, but the backlash hasn't subsided.
More than 100 high schools were closed after student organizations called the protests. ... [Deutsche Welle - 17/3/16]
UC Davis students stage sit-in to demand Chancellor resign [Democracy Now - 17/3/16]:
Meanwhile, at the University of California, Davis, a student sit-in outside the chancellor’s office is entering its sixth day.
The students are demanding Chancellor Linda Katehi resign over her involvement with private corporate boards, including the for-profit college DeVry University, the expensive textbook maker Wiley & Sons and the controversial Saudi school King Abdulaziz University, which has been accused of paying for affiliations with top professors in efforts to boost its global rankings.
Protesting graduate student Brandon Buchanan spoke from the sit-in.
Brandon Buchanan: "We, the occupiers of Mrak Hall, call for the resignation and/or firing of Linda B. Katehi, our chancellor. This chancellor has proven time and time again, from DeVry University to King Abdulaziz University to Wiley & Sons textbook co., that she doesn’t make decisions based on student interests. This isn’t new for her. This is old hat. She has a long history, dating back to 2011 with the pepper-spray incident, of putting her own interests over the interests of students."
Puerto Rico students shut down university over austerity cuts [teleSUR - 17/3/16]
On Palm Sunday I will be protesting Turnbull AND Shorten's cruel anti-refugee policy.
Australia no longer accepts refugees and the LNP and ALP torture and imprison people for seeking asylum. Queensland's ALP Health Minister can take this lying press release and shove it up his arse [18/3/16]:
A practical guide for healthcare professionals has been launched to improve the health and wellbeing of refugees in Queensland as the state gears up for more refugees arriving.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said many refugees experience traumatic events such as psychological trauma or torture, deprivation and prolonged poverty, and poor access to healthcare prior to arrival in Australia. ...
Mohammad Ali Bakiri: They're on our doorstep and we need to help them. [VIDEO - ABC - 19/3/16]:
Australia has appeared before the United Nations Human Rights Council to discuss the country's response to the recommendations made as part of last year's Universal Periodic Review.
Australia's asylum seeker policies were heavily criticised by the UN in November as part of that review.
But in its response, the Australian government says it has "no plans to cease its policies of mandatory immigration detention."
Yesterday, former child detainee Mohammad Ali Baqiri appeared before the council, speaking on behalf of three organisations against the mandatory detention of asylum seekers [and refoulement].
Outbreak of Shigellosis at family detention preceded by four months of unanswered complaints [#NOT1MORE - 18/3/16]:
After her first months in the Berks Detention Center that is currently operating without a license, Gladdis Carrasco’s daughter began exhibiting concerning symptoms of illness.
With complaints unanswered for three weeks, she filed a distraught grievance on December 7th of 2015 explaining that for three weeks her four year old daughter had been sick and that the medical staff and site had done nothing to help her.
She goes on to explain that she would like to be released so she could care for her daughter and that she had already been detained four months.
The response she received from ICE was: “Thank you! You may dissolve your case at any time and return to your country.”
Obama administration openly and unapologetically stepping up efforts to find and deport unaccompanied children and families [AP - 18/3/16]:
... Now Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is touting government efforts to find and deport families as well as those unaccompanied children who are now adults and have been ordered home.
One of those unaccompanied children-turned-adults targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement is 19-year-old Wildin David Guillen Acosta.
He said he came to the United States from Honduras by bus, car and on foot after a gang member threatened his life.
"He'd say, 'I'm going to kill you, I'm going to kill you,'" Acosta said in Spanish.
"I told my mother, and she told me to come to the United States."
Speaking in an immigration jail in rural Georgia, Acosta said he was afraid to go home.
"There's a lot of violence, a lot of death," Acosta said.
"They'll kill you for a telephone."
Slain activist Berta Cáceres' daughter: US military aid has fueled repression and violence in Honduras [Democracy Now - 18/3/16]
Who will fix Gold Coast Light Rail noise pollution - and other problems?
Nobody. We live in a plutocracy.
Gold Coast Light Rail Stage Two project is on track with CPB Contractors (formerly Leighton Contractors Pty Ltd) announced as the preferred contractor to design and build the 7.3 kilometre extension in time for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. ... [Queensland Government Media Release - 18/3/16]
A dramatic arrest has taken place on the Gold Coast this morning following a three car pile-up.
Just after 9.00am three cars collided on Monaco Street in Broadbeach Waters.
Police say a woman, who is believed to have been affected by drugs, tried to flee the scene of the crash by jumping into a canal.
She was arrested shortly after and is now in custody with two other men who were with her at the scene. ... [MYGC - 18/3/16]
Woman's body found after falling off dragon boat in Gold Coast's Currumbin Creek [ABC - 18/3/16]
Man and woman rushed to hospital from Southport high rise [MYGC - 18/3/16]
Man’s death ends siege in Lismore [Tweed Shire Echo - 18/3/16]
Peabody bankruptcy threat must trigger coal industry closure plan [Lock The Gate - 18/3/16]:
... Lock the Gate mine rehabilitation spokesperson, Drew Hutton, said the Queensland Government must tell the public whether it has sufficient money held in bonds to cover the cost of best-practice rehabilitation of Peabody’s six open cut sites in Queensland.
advertising campaign has just begun warning of Palaszczuk government plans to
hand coal mining companies the right to take unlimited associated groundwater,
without obtaining a water license. ...
The Gate - 17/3/16]
Large-scale fish kill on Kimberley beaches a mystery, fisheries department says [ABC - 17/3/16]
This week Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder testified for the first time before Congress about lead poisoning in the water supply of Flint, Michigan, which began after he appointed an unelected emergency manager who switched the source of the city’s drinking water to the corrosive Flint River.
Snyder testified along with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Flint’s former emergency manager, Darnell Earley, who refused to appear at last month’s hearing despite a subpoena from the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
We play highlights from the hearing and speak with two Flint residents who attended. ... [Democracy Now - 18/3/16]
In 2009, the South African government announced a major energy plan to construct two new coal-fired power stations.
The project, which aimed at building the world’s largest coal plants, came under intense criticism by various governments and climate activists, who saw it as a disastrous blow to the fight against climate change.
Yet newly released emails from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during her time as Secretary of State, reveal that she acted in support of a World Bank loan for the construction of one of the plants. ... [Desmog Blog - 7/3/16]
Australia: Senate attendant searches journalist's phone on suspicion of speaking truth to power. Journalist meekly complies. [Guardian - 18/3/16]
@AliAbunimah [18/3/16]: Questions for @Sydney_Uni: Who “alerted” you to my visa delay? Why didn’t you defend my right to come speak instead of canceling sneakily? ----> ‘The Palestine exception to free speech’: University Of Sydney cancels journalist’s public talk [New Matilda - 18/3/16]:
... “If this was at a university in China or Turkey, or any number of other countries, people would say how outrageous it is that administrators can decide who can and can’t speak.
“No-one would take seriously a university in a so-called third world country, or a so-called authoritarian county, that carried on this way.
“But apparently the University of Sydney can cancel an event featuring someone coming from halfway around the world at the last minute, without providing any explanation.
“When are people going to wake up to the fact there is a free speech emergency when it comes to the issue of Israel and Palestine. People are being bullied and intimidated from speaking out.” ...
Archie Law, Executive Director at ActionAid Australia, recently met with Julian Assange in London on the back of the UN's ruling that the former WikiLieaks chief has been arbitrarily detained. ... [ActionAid - 17/3/16]
Redaction fail: US government admits it went after Lavabit looking for Snowden [Boing Boing - 17/3/16]
The US government is still fighting to bury the Senate Torture Report [The Intercept – 18/3/16]
19 March 2016