A Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs committee met with officials from the International Criminal Court on Sunday in Jordan to discuss “illegal Israeli policies and practices,” the Palestinian foreign minister said. ... [Maan - 21/3/16]
@petersc2u [21/3/16]: Packed auditorium at USYD for @AliAbunimah #FreePalestine #ICC4Israel
Jews brought to Israel in secret mission [BBC – 21/3/16]
At least 55 people, including 14 civilians, have been killed in two days of fighting between pro-government forces and Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen, officials said Sunday.
The clashes came as UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was in the rebel-held capital Sanaa for meetings with the Huthis aimed at restarting peace talks with the internationally recognised government.
The World Health Organisation says fighting in Yemen has killed more than 6,200 people over the past year and the United Nations has warned of an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe. [Yahoo - 20/3/16]
Saudi offers $1.5 bn to fund Egypt's Sinai projects [Middle East Eye - 20/3/16]
Bombs continue raining down upon Iraq
US Department of Defense [20/3/16]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in 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 Iraq
Rocket artillery, attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 16 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Al Baghdadi, two strikes destroyed an ISIL vehicle and suppressed two ISIL tactical units.
-- Near Habbaniyah, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units, and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL bunker.
-- Near Hit, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL tactical vehicles, an ISIL car bomb, two ISIL rocket rails and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Kisik, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL supply cache, and three ISIL rocket rails and suppressed an ISIL sniper position.
-- Near Mosul, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and an ISIL headquarters and destroyed two ISIL assembly areas and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.
-- Near Qayyarah, a strike destroyed two ISIL supply caches and an ISIL headquarters.
-- Near Sinjar, a strike destroyed an ISIL supply cache and suppressed an ISIL rocket position.
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [20/3/16]:
Baghdad: News agencies : A roadside bomb attached to a bus exploded in Bayya' area today evening killing the driver and wounding 5 passengers ......................
Baghdad: News agencies : A roadside bomb exploded near a traditional restaurant in Ubeidi area east of Baghdad today evening killing a person and wounding 5......................
Baghdad: News agencies : A roadside bomb exploded near a traditional market in Ureifat neighbourhood in Jisr Diyala area today evening killing two persons and wounding 7......................
Ta'meem: News agencies: A roadside bomb exploded in Dibis district northwest of Kirkuk today afternoon killing 4 persons and wounding 4...........................
Anbar: Press sources: A blast has targeted the local council in Haqlaniya near Hadeetha west of Anbar resulted in 8 deaths and number of injuries of the government forces elements.........
A detachment of U.S. Marines is on the ground in Iraq to support U.S. and coalition efforts against Islamic State, the U.S. military said on Sunday.
A group of Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU, will add to the U.S. forces already in Iraq battling Islamic State, it said.
The 26th MEU is currently deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, which covers the Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean. [Reuters - 20/3/16]
Russian military to stay in Syria to protect Hmeimim, Tartus bases — Kremlin [TASS - 21/3/16]
First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council upper house Defense and Security Committee Franz Klintsevich has said he hopes Russia and the United States will take joint action to terminate armed provocations in Syria. ... [TASS - 21/3/16]
@MSF_Sea [21/3/16]: Yep, the 12,000 #refugees at #Idomeni are still here and they're still sleeping in muddy tents between train tracks.
@PROACTIVA_SERV [19/3/16]: Niños que solo han visto guerra y persecución y ahora les tratan como mercancía. Somos testigos.#ShameEurope
Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) has rescued and assisted 1,633 people since launching operations in the eastern Aegean in late December, the Malta-based non-government organization has said. ... [Ekathimerini - 21/3/16]
... The newly acquired focus of the EU policy on targeting smuggling networks has been heavily criticized on the basis of the scapegoating effect it produces, since it fails to address the root causes of migration.
Moreover, according to the teachings of criminology, increasing the severity of punishment is an ineffective deterrent to crime.
Restrictive legislation, however, as well as enhanced surveillance and law enforcement have a strong deterrent effect on citizen participation. ... Registering humanity: The EU’s plan to halt citizen-led response to the migration crisis [Border Criminologies - 17/3/16]
Australia is the only nation with an "Ambassador for People Smuggling". We are an international joke.
Maritime Executive reports on logical inconsistency of Australia's Harmony Day and our anti-refugee policies [21/3/16]
Australian political, media and human rights establishment continue invisibilising migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in South East Asia [SBS - 21/3/16]
China urges Indonesia to release crew after sea confrontation [Yahoo - 21/3/16]:
A Chinese envoy called on Indonesia Monday to release eight crew members of a Chinese fishing boat detained during a maritime confrontation, after he was summoned by furious Indonesian ministers.
Jakarta says Indonesian vessels were on Saturday trying to detain a Chinese fishing boat operating illegally near Indonesia's Natuna Islands in the South China Sea, when they were prevented from doing so by Chinese coastguard vessels.
However Sun Weide, China's acting charge d'affaires in Jakarta, insisted that the incident occurred in "traditional Chinese fishing grounds".
Two British ships arrived in Ibaraki Prefecture on Monday to transport a shipment of plutonium - enough to make dozens of atomic bombs - to the U.S. for storage under a bilateral agreement.
The ships arrived at the coastal village of Tokai, northeast of Tokyo, home to the country’s main nuclear research facility, the Japan Atomic and Energy Agency, according to the Kyodo News agency and citizens’ groups.
It will take several hours to load the plutonium-filled casks onto the ships, both fitted with naval guns and other protection. ... [Japan Today - 21/3/16]
... Anyone will tell you it's a prisoner island, hidden in the summer for a million years ...
'Great Southern Land', Icehouse 
Corrective Services, Australia, December Quarter 2015 [Australian Bureau of Statistics]:
... Number of persons in custody continues to rise
In the December quarter 2015, the average daily number of full-time prisoners in Australia was 37,109. This was an increase of:
987 prisoners (3%) from the September quarter 2015;
and 2,462 prisoners (7%) from the December quarter 2014.
Man, 21, charged with 27 offences after dangerous, resource wasting class and race based police pursuit, Gold Coast [MYGC - 20/3/16]:
A 21-year-old man has been arrested and charged with more than two dozen serious driving and property offences following a wild night and subsequent police chase on the Gold Coast.
Police say detectives patrolling the Elanora and Palm Beach areas first spotted the young man acting suspiciously in a vehicle fitted with stolen number plates in Melaleuca Street at around 11.45pm on Saturday.
When officers pulled up behind the vehicle, it allegedly sped off into a nearby street where police tried a second time to intercept the car, but to no avail.
Officers successfully deployed a tyre deflation device in Nineteenth Avenue a short time later and the vehicle came to a stop in nearby Angelica Street.
The 21-year-old driver allegedly jumped out of the car and inadvertently ran directly at a police vehicle. Officers gave chase and the man was arrested a short distance away.
He was taken to Robina Hospital for treatment to minor abrasions to his face and body before being transported to the Southport Watchhouse.
He has since been charged with 27 offences including eleven counts of stealing, three counts of failing to stop a motor vehicle, and two counts of entering a premises and committing an indictable offence.
Other charges include one count each of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, unlawful possession of property suspected of being stolen, possession of tainted property, attempted fraud and obstruct police.
He is expected to front Southport Magistrates Court on Monday.
Former police minister Jack Dempsey has been elected Bundaberg's new mayor ... [Brisbane Times - 21/3/16]
Queensland Parliament Hansard [29/10/13]:
Mr CRANDON: My question without notice is to the Minister for Police and Community Safety. Can the minister outline to the House how this government is cracking down on criminal motorcycle gangs and their associates?
Mr DEMPSEY: Following on from what the Premier said and in answer to the question from the member for Coomera, the people of Queensland wanted this government to get tough on crime. I am so glad that we have a can-do attitude to make sure that we achieve that and listen to the people of Queensland—unlike those opposite, who were in government for the last 20 years and sat on their hands.
The people of Queensland know that criminal motorcycle gangs are parasites who prey on the most vulnerable people in our society. This government has made it absolutely clear that their criminal activities and networks will no longer be tolerated.
We have vowed to smash them, and that is exactly what we are doing. If they congregate together, we will hunt them down.
If they gather in their clubhouses, we will be waiting for them.
We will use the full power of our new laws to ensure that they are removed from our society and inside prison they will be subjected to the country’s toughest prison regime, reflecting society’s outrage at their activities.
Criminal gangs can run, but they cannot hide. If they continue their criminal activities, we will crush every last one of them. ...
Surfers Paradise [7/11/13]
Brisbane Times [8/11/13]:
A man who was taken to the West End police station by five heavily-armed officers for writing in chalk, "I heart bikies", on the footpath of the suburb's main street has labelled the reaction "ridiculous" and "overkill".
Police say only three officers spoke to him, including one plainclothes civilian who worked at the station.
The man, who was not charged but forced to clean up the writing, is still worried by the Melbourne Cup Day incident and refuses to use his name in this story.
The West End photographer, who did not want to be named, was walking to work with his girlfriend along Boundary Street at West End on Tuesday when he saw some chalk.
He wrote in chalk I [heart] bikies outside the Archive Bar, 20 metres from West End Police Station.
"I just sketched it and we kept walking down the street and less than a minute I was surrounded by police," he said.
"I could see them coming; one from one direction and from behind me a guy pulled me over and said 'Pull over to the side mate, I'm undercover police'.
"He said 'What do you think you're doing?' and before I knew it, there was three other police with bullet-proof jackets and another undercover police officer."
Why were a NYC Mayoral adviser and a 74-year-old activist jailed overnight for filming an arrest? [Democracy Now - 21/3/16]:
... JOSEPH "JAZZ" HAYDEN: Yeah, yeah, I’m calming him, you know, and trying to achieve the same goals that this police unit is trying to achieve. Right? And then, all of a sudden, flashing lights come from the left, and this group of policemen jump out their car. And it’s a sharp dichotomy of the policing that we were observing and the policing that they brought. You know, they brought this aggressive policing.
... ‘I had an epiphany. I realised I was ready to be arrested. We were met by a wall of black Border Force uniforms who told me they wanted to send the young man to Villawood detention centre. I said to them, “I’m a menopausal, middle aged taxpayer and you’re not taking this boy today.”’ ...
Lennox Head rallies for refugee rights on Palm Sunday [Tweed Shire Echo - 21/3/16]:
... Ms [Jane] Healy said she was not ‘special’ and described her path to becoming a refugee advocate.
‘The reality is we allow our government to do this. I’m by no stretch any different from any of you. I’m just a citizen who stumbled upon something that was happening in my country and was so horrified it’s galvanised me into being a full time advocate for refugees.’
She told a story of helping a young man with his visa application. One day he was phoned by the Compliance Unit and asked to appear for an interview.
She knew the Compliance Unit takes people from the community and puts them back in detention.
‘These days you are sent to Christmas Island because Christmas Island has been a successful avenue to make people go home because they cannot stand the hellish conditions. I knew the young man would end up on Christmas Island,’ Ms Healy said.
‘I had an epiphany. I realised I was ready to be arrested. We were met by a wall of black Border Force uniforms who told me they wanted to send the young man to Villawood detention centre. I said to them, “I’m a menopausal, middle aged taxpayer and you’re not taking this boy today.”’
‘He’s here today. He’s here among you and is about to get married and he’s free,’ Ms Healy said, to cheers from the crowd.
‘I tell you this story, not because I’m braver than you. I tell you this story because if I say no, imagine if all of you say no, you won’t allow our government to continue to this treatment that it’s perpetrated against these people.
‘All it took was a menopausal, middle aged women to stand in front of a whole pack of Border Force employees and say “it’s in my capacity to have a barrister here and sue you all”. They backed down very quickly. I encourage all of you to find ways that you can to say no.’
After the rally ended I spoke with the young man that Jane Healy had rescued in her epiphany. Let’s call him Sri.
Sri is a 31-year-old Tamil from Sri Lanka. He came in a boat in 2012 from Indonesia, landing at Cocos Island after an 18-day voyage, the last three without food and having to drink seawater.
After eight months in various detention centres he was released on a bridging visa and now lives in Sydney. His fiancée is from New Zealand.
He spoke about his life in Sri Lanka, in Batticaloa, a small town on the east coast.
He remembered the frequent army raids where young men were picked up for interrogation, which also happened to him.
Batticaloa was the stage for some of the worst human rights violations in a violent civil and international war that pitted the Sri Lankan Army, assorted Tamil rebel groups and the Indian Peace Keeping Force in a free-for-all.
Sri said he was not involved in any politics but still feared for his life.
He has a mother and brother in Batticaloa whom he misses but he worries about returning to Sri Lanka.
He said: ‘Nothing, just suicide [to go back]’. Smiling at me, he said: ‘Better here.’
Bishop and Australian media continue pretending Australia's anti-refugee policy has no flow on human rights impact in South East Asia [SBS -21/3/16]:
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has brushed aside Indonesia's criticism that Australia is not doing enough to help refugees in the region, saying it's a matter for all countries to resolve.
Her visit comes amid continuing criticism of Australia's turnback strategy, with Indonesia saying it only shifts the burden to other countries and has created a bottleneck in its country.
"I expect that Retno Marsudi will ask all the countries who are involved in the Bali process to assist in finding regional solutions," Ms Bishop told reporters on Monday.
"Australia already takes a significant number of people under the refugee humanitarian visa. We have also committed to taking thousands of Syrian refugees.
"We have taken people from Indonesia prior to the 2014 freeze.
"This is a matter for all countries to resolve."
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.
The lengths to which the Australian immigration department has gone to facilitate the repatriation of traumatised Syrian asylum seekers detained in offshore detention centres has been extensively revealed in departmental emails obtained under freedom of information laws. ... [Guardian - 19/8/14]
Important lecture about seeking asylum - and how Australia is trashing the UN Refugee Convention ----> Professor Alison Mountz, of Harvard University, Wilfrid Laurier University and the Balsillie School of International Affairs, responds to and challenges the crisis narratives unfolding in the media as she discusses political struggles over the erosion of asylum taking place globally.
This talk explores shifting geographies of migration and border enforcement in major transit sites where migrants and asylum seekers seek entry and protection.
The talk dwells in islands and enforcement archipelagos, offshore sites where struggles over entry and exclusion transpire and where the infrastructure of border enforcement and detention are growing. ... [VIDEO - Centre for International Governance Innovation - 12/11/15]
... The Holocaust did not start with the gas chambers and the Rwandan genocide did not start with the slayings.
It started with the dehumanization of a specific group of persons. ...
UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng [Media Release - 9/12/14]
Great to share #Nowruz, Iranian New Year, with my good friend Ali Heydari in #Geelong.
Image: @RichardMarlesMP - "Opposition" [20/3/16]
Refugees imprisoned by the Australian government on Nauru protest denial of permission to mark Nowruz [Guardian - 21/3/16]:
... An asylum seeker advocate, Jeanie Marie Walker, said there were suggestions the protest had been provoked by a refusal by detention centre management to allow detainees to celebrate Nowruz, or the Persian new year, at a location outside the centre.
“They’re all really distraught because this is another new year for them on Nauru,” she said.
“This is their most culturally significant day in Iran and Afghanistan and they’re being denied the opportunity to celebrate, they have no access to the special food they use to celebrate.
“They’re taking a lot of risk but that’s why they’re emotional and upset. They’re planning on continuing to [protest] every day at the same time.”
One day Peter "protected and unaccountable" Dutton will face justice for crimes against humanity. In the meantime he's free to keep pretending Australia is not a regional pariah [Media Release - 21/3/16]:
Harmony Day has been marked in Canberra today with a special Australian citizenship ceremony welcoming 135 people from 24 countries as Australia’s newest citizens.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton congratulated the new citizens as they pledged their loyalty and commitment to Australia.
“The ceremony provided an opportunity for new citizens to gather and stand united in our democratic beliefs and values and acknowledge the importance of what it means to become an Australian citizen,” Mr Dutton said.
“Today, Australia continues to weave a strong culture of acceptance and diversity into the fabric of the country by welcoming our new citizens.”
“Our diversity is our strength and what more fitting and symbolic way to celebrate the pride and joy that comes with being Aussie than on a day that fosters cross-cultural relationships and respect like Harmony Day.” Mr Dutton said.
What are crimes against humanity?
“Crimes against humanity” include any of the following acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:
deportation or forcible transfer of population;
rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
persecution against an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or gender grounds;
enforced disappearance of persons;
the crime of apartheid;
other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious bodily or mental injury.
Myanmar: The US State Department issuing an "atrocity prevention report" is NOT a positive development. It's damage control. The dirty fossil fuel secret behind Burma's democratic fairytale [Guardian - 26/4/13]:
... Attempting to consolidate their privileged position in a highly unequal but resource-rich economy, Burma's business families are making renewed efforts to capitalise on the resource rush, highlighting their philanthropic activities, and forging new ties with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Foreign investment is currently dominated by Chinese, Thai and Indian firms, who operated relatively unfazed by western sanctions, but American, British and French multinationals such as Chevron, BP, Shell, and Total are jockeying to make up for lost time.
Yet the scramble to open up Burma for business has played a direct role in inflaming community tensions. One of the most prominent culprits is the Shwe Gas Project led by South Korean and Indian companies, to export natural gas via pipeline from Arakan state to China's Yunnan province. The 2,800km overland pipeline is slated to become operational this year.
The project plans to produce 500 million cubic feet (mcfd) of gas per day for 30 years, supplying 400 mcfd to China, and the remaining 100 mcfd to factories owned by the Burmese government, military and associated business elites.
The losers from this venture are the Burmese people and environment. An extensive report by the Shwe Gas Movement (SGM), a Burmese community-based human rights network, documented the destruction of local fishing and farming industries, including confiscation of thousands of acres of land to "clear areas for the pipeline and associated infrastructure", from 2010 to 2011. Tens of thousands have been left jobless, with little or no compensation or employment opportunities.
The pipeline also cuts through the Arakan Yoma forest ecosystems of the Western Mountain Range, part of the Eastern Hindu Kush-Himalayan region, contributing to soil erosion and endangering species. One third of coral reefs north of Kyauk Phyu town have already been seriously damaged, undermining fish and marine life, and local fishing. Freshwater rivers and waterways have been dredged for sand and gravel for construction purposes, and are set to become dumping grounds for toxic materials.
In December 2011, the pipeline project sparked widespread anger across Arakan's cities and rural areas, as local people demanded provision of 24 hour electricity. Ranked the second most impoverished state of Burma by the UN Development Programme, approximately 3 million people living in Arakan have no access to public electricity, with just a few major cities able to access only five to six hours of electricity per day, provided by private companies at extortionate prices of 400-600 Kyat per unit (compared to 25 Kyat per unit in Rangoon). Overall, Burma is by far the poorest country in Southeast Asia, with a third of the population living in poverty.
The eruption of ethnic violence across Arakan against ethnic Rohingyas six months later in 2012 was therefore most likely triggered by the simmering tensions wrought by escalating economic marginalisation. On the one hand, Arakan's deepening economic crisis, fuelled by the state-backed pipeline project, laid the groundwork for an increase in xenophobia and racism toward the Rohingya. On the other, Burmese state agencies appear to have deliberately fostered the ethnic cleansing campaign to divert populist anger away from the devastating impact of the pipeline project, and instead toward the most easy and vulnerable target to hand.
For four days in September, Israel literally rolled out the red carpet for a delegation of senior officers from Myanmar’s ground, air and naval forces.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar military, met with Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon, army chief Gadi Eizenkot and President Reuven Rivlin.
Hlaing also toured Israel’s leading weapons companies. According to Hlaing’s official Facebook page, his delegation was personally greeted by Bezalel Machlis, the CEO of Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military technology firm.
They received a similar welcome during a tour of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) from the company’s president and CEO Joseph Weiss. ... [Electronic Intifada - 11/1/16]
Harmony Day 2016: The exceptionalist, isolationist Australian media and Julie "protected and unaccountable" Bishop are facilitating genocide and ethnic cleansing of refugees and stateless people in South East Asia with their censorship and ongoing "people smuggling" lies
... In Bali, I will co-chair with Foreign Minister Marsudi the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the ‘Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime’.
This is an important opportunity for Australia to work with our regional partners on an ambitious agenda to combat irregular migration, people smuggling and human trafficking. <---- As with previous Foreign Ministers, Bishop is framing the goal of the conference as a war on refugees - who need to be eradicated from the region.
Indonesia to ask Australia to comply with its international obligations under the UN Refugee Convention [Jakarta Post - 18/3/16]
IRREGULAR MIGRANT FLOWS SURGING THROUGH INDONESIA [10/6/09]:
... According to Jim O'Callaghan, Regional Director for Southeast Asia Immigration at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, the numbers of irregular migrants residing in Indonesia are an estimated 2000, the highest since around the year 2000 when Afghans and Iraqis streamed through Indonesia en route to Australia.
With the calm sea sailing season of July to November imminent, he expects an even larger inflow later this year. There also has been an increase in Pakistanis, O'Callaghan told DepPol/C.
The migrants are generally treated well in Indonesia. [UNHCR's Francis] Teoh, in fact, asserted that that Indonesians are "almost too nice," not deporting irregular migrants who have no claim to protection status. A few return voluntarily but most will not.
Part of this is cultural, not wanting to force the migrants to return home and being very concerned about their human rights, but this is mostly because Indonesian Immigration has a zero budget to deport immigrants. Australia is funding all voluntary repatriations but will not fund deportations from Indonesia.
IOM Indonesia is taking care of many failed asylum seekers already rejected by UNHCR three times, a few for as long as seven years. Because of the surge in numbers and concern that this could be a pull factor, Indonesia recently began keeping migrants in immigration detention centers rather than letting them move about freely in community settings, IOM explained. Detentions centers are now overflowing, IOM said.
The GOI, meanwhile, has an icy relationship with UNHCR. Desra Percaya, Director for International Disarmament and Security at the Foreign Affairs Department, told DepPol/C that UNHCR does "nothing" to resettle refugees elsewhere, which is the cause of the problem.
That is why the GOI is now keeping migrants under detention, to force UNHCR to resettle refugees.
However, UNHCR explained that it is processing the refugees and resettling them as quickly as possible, limited by how quickly third countries are willing to take refugees.
BALI PROCESS REINVIGORATED, SEEKS ANSWERS TO ROHINGYA CRISIS [17/4/09]:
... 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. ...
#WeRememberYou people who came for safety but died from our cruel deterrence policies #CloseTheCamps #LetThemStay
Image: @PplJustLikeUs [20/3/16]
Portraits Painting for #WeRememberYou Walk [VIDEO - People Just Like Us]
Sunshine Coast Daily publishes seriously disturbed and egomaniacal account of "unconditional love and loss" purportedly written by a Manus refugee death camp guard [Sunshine Coast Daily - 28/11/15]:
... I laid down again and could feel Bear trying to get comfortable.
He made his way up to my chest where he laid still as I stroked his tummy.
I remember thinking how much I loved that little guy and how he had helped me on my healing journey.
I dozed off but was woken by screams of terror.
We turned on the light and I shook him, asking "Bear, you right mate?".
"He's dead, he's dead, he's dead," I screamed.
I picked up his lifeless body up and shook it, pleading with God to give him back to me.
Even now, I can't believe that he's gone and look for him everywhere I go.
On those bad days when I arrive home, I just cry. ...
... Soy una raya en el mar
Fantasma en la ciudad
Mi vida va prohibida
Dice la autoridad ...
'Clandestino', Manu Chao 
Autonomous Action Radio [20/3/16]:
As Iranians celebrate New Year protests have occurred on Nauru the island nation on which Australia has been keeping refugees in appalling conditions.
The protests started 30mins after the Eid celebrations had begun in Iran.
The so called asylum seekers (really refugees) chanted freedom and asked the Australian people and politicians to close the offshore detention centers.
They held signs saying 995 days which is the time they have been kept on the Island in moldy tents with hostile guards/locals and little chance of a future on the 22km square Island.
4 Babies, 45 children, 53 women and 46 men still waiting for their refugee determination joined in the protest.
The other 839 refugees living in the impoverished community would have been jailed had they joined in.
According to Free the Children an hour ago Wilson Security guards and Nauru police were at the scene and may have broken up the protest.
Some Wilson guards and Nauruan police are known for their brutal treatment of detainees so we will wait for reports on what eventuates.
Pro refugee politician has a good chance of winnning a seat in the Brisbane City Council election ----> 2016 Brisbane City Council - Councillor Election - The Gabba - Ward Summary [Electoral Commission Queensland]
... We are ashamed of our government, and we will keep fighting. ... : Solidarity with Lady Cilento staff rally - Poem by Jonathan Sri [VIDEO - 13/2/16]
"I try to bring humanitarian ideas into the debate about politics.": Chris Hedges, ‘Mr. Fish’ examine the power of political cartoons [VIDEO - teleSUR/Truthdig - 17/3/16]
Brazil is engulfed by ruling class corruption — and a dangerous subversion of democracy [The Intercept - 19/3/16]:
... Though the nation’s oligarchical class has successfully used the center-right PSDB as a counterweight, it has been largely impotent in defeating PT in four consecutive presidential elections.
Voting is compulsory, and the nation’s poor citizens have ensured PT’s victories.
To provide some perspective for how central the large corporate media has been in inciting these protests: Recall the key role Fox News played in promoting and encouraging attendance at the early Tea Party protests.
Now imagine what those protests would have been if it had not been just Fox, but also ABC, NBC, CBS, Time magazine, the New York Times, and the Huffington Post also supporting and inciting the Tea Party rallies.
That is what has been happening in Brazil: The largest outlets are owned and controlled by a tiny number of plutocratic families, virtually all of whom are vehement, class-based opponents of PT and whose media outlets have unified to fuel these protests. ...
In advance of President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba on March 20, there is speculation about whether he can pressure Cuba to improve its human rights.
But a comparison of Cuba’s human rights record with that of the United States shows that the US should be taking lessons from Cuba. ... [ICH - 20/3/16]
Colombia: Over 250,000 children impacted by conflict despite peace talks, UN agency reports [Media Release - 19/3/16]
A former Colombian congressman with the Conservative party, Luis Almario, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his connection with paramilitaries, or death squads, and for using them to get elected to office. ... [teleSUR - 20/3/16]
Thanks to unicameral government, bipartisan fascism and Murdoch controlled media, the Great Barrier Reef is doomed
"Let's not romanticise the upper house."
Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey
Queensland referendum closes in on a 'yes' for four-year fixed parliamentary terms [ABC -20/3/16]:
... The Queensland Council of Civil Liberties said Queensland's parliamentary committee system was not enough to guarantee the fairness of legislation and the accountability of the Government.
"We have elections because we don't trust politicians, so people don't trust politicians but they don't want to have elections," said president Michael Cope.
"So far the committee system in Queensland hasn't functioned, in our view, as an effective replacement of an upper house."
Highly managed trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership favour big corporates by screwing down workers' wages, says an academic.
Harley Shaiken is the chair of the University of California, Berkeley's Centre for Latin America Studies and is in New Zealand as a guest of Massey University.
He said a study of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) found while productivity soared, real wages for Mexican workers declined by 20 percent between 1994 and 2011, while Americans' pay fell by 14 percent.
Professor Shaiken said the TPP followed a similar model protecting big corporations and freezing out the rights of workers, consumers and environmentalists.
"Inclusive trade where the rules of the game ensure that consumers, working families, communities share in the gains is very positive for everyone, where the trade is defined so corporations share in the gains in the expectations that gains will trickle down, there we have considerably more problems."
Professor Shaiken said there was a lot of anger in the United States about trade and the TPP, which politicians were tapping into and he expected that the deal will fail in its current form. [RNZI - 21/3/16]
Will Murdoch favourite Gary Baildon fix the Gold Coast Light Rail noise pollution along Surfers Paradise Boulevard?
Every night when I get home
I settle down to prime time limbo
When all the boys are gathered around
Shouting Ita’a on TV
And though the roaches are thick on the ground
Somebody goes to close my window
Keep the noise of the city down
Get a dose of integrity
Every week, in every home
She got wholesome news for the family
I believe, I believe, in what she says
Yes I do ...
'Ita', Cold Chisel 
Bridge to nowhere: The plan to give away Moore Park [ABC, Background Briefing - 20/3/16]:
... Mark Davis: I meet with Greig Pickhaver, better known as sporting commentator HG Nelson, by Kippax Lake just where the curving arc of the Tibby Cotter walkway finally touches ground.
Greig Pickhaver: We are looking at the water, a few ducks trying to cool off in the shade of this Moreton Bay fig. But this is a very interesting part of the city in the current climate. It's become very…I think the term is contested, because even where we are sitting now, this land could be buried under yet another football stadium. It may not be if the state government had any sense.
Mark Davis: It's really ground zero here for all of the pressures that are going on, light rail, tree clearances, car parks and now a stadium. We are right in the middle of it, aren't we.
Greig Pickhaver: We are. I mean, the city would be mad to lose this.
Mark Davis: Pickhaver has become involved in a campaign to save Anzac Parade. Like many Sydneysiders he is distraught at the prospect of the enormous fig trees coming down, but there is something else of national significance that he thinks most people have forgotten; Anzac Parade is not just a name, it is a memorial, and the centre of that memorial lies just in front of Kippax Lake.
Greig Pickhaver: If this isn't valuable, which part of the Anzac legacy or legend is? When you drive from Sydney to Canberra, the toilet stops are given over to the legacy of VCs, and I think that's an unbelievably Australian thing to do. You know, piss on a digger. Remember the greats. They're not the duds, they're the greats. Here, people who died in Gallipoli could have actually touched these trees. Here it seems to me to take something so vitally connected with the Anzac legend.
Mark Davis: Because it was where they would return themselves, the actual Gallipoli guys would come here.
Greig Pickhaver: That's right, having come back to Australia they looked for a place to celebrate and it was Anzac Parade, this area which they would march past on the way to the boats that they came to celebrate in, open space, near the city, they could walk here quite easily. April 25, in they'd come.
[Music: Eric Bogle]
Mark Davis: Eric Bogle's haunting Gallipoli song narrates the journey of the first infantry brigade as they marched down Anzac Parade past the cheering crowds on the way to the boats bound for Gallipoli.
In 1914, thousands of men from around NSW camped on army barracks beside the Randwick Racecourse and trained in the surrounding parklands. On the final call-up they marched down the parade to Circular Quay. For many it would have been their last steps on Australian soil.
Mark Davis: In 1917 the road was renamed Anzac Parade in their honour and redesigned as a grand boulevard with more trees.
Mark Davis: When the survivors returned, a decade before any large shrines were built, they would gather each year just to the north of Kippax Lake, around a large sandstone pillar, the Anzac obelisk at the entrance to Anzac Parade.
Greig Pickhaver: The returned service people gathered in this area near what is known as Kippax Lake now to celebrate Anzac Day, and this began almost immediately after the war stopped in 1918. This is from the Sydney Morning Herald of the day, and it's under the banner headline, 'Anzac Parade, Impressive Ceremony'. 'As with all outdoor ceremonies, the observances of the day of significance at the memorial obelisk Anzac Parade was somewhat marred by rain. There was however a representative gathering of relatives and soldiers, many of the latter maimed.' So these men who were obviously men who marched down Anzac Parade, went to Gallipoli…
Mark Davis: Five years before, come back legless or…
Greig Pickhaver: Exactly, come back, and are now retracing their steps or hobbling or on crutches…
Mark Davis: At the Anzac Memorial here.
Greig Pickhaver: At the Anzac Memorial. Now, 'the obelisk forming the main feature of the monument was decorated with wreaths and flowers and presented a beautiful and inspiring spectacle. On account of its central position, the obelisk was the goal of many a pilgrimage from the city and neighbouring suburbs throughout the day, and late in the afternoon it was a mass of foliage in which the white predominated. The monument resembled a white cross.'
Mark Davis: Pretty evocative stuff.
Greig Pickhaver: It is, it is.
Mark Davis: Rod White, state president of the RSL:
I can't think of a more significant Anzac site on Australian soil than this one because they marched there and they returned there. Do you have that same sentiment?
Rod White: Well, I do. Up until the last of the Anzacs there used to still be gatherings out at the Anzac obelisk, and much of it was in the middle of the road. They would have little gatherings on the side of the road. So we see it as a memorial grove of trees with the Anzac Parade as a pavement and a memorial called the Anzac obelisk.
Mark Davis: In 2014 while Australia was starting to spend hundreds of millions commemorating the Gallipoli centenary, the soldiers' own memorial, the obelisk in Anzac Parade, was being pulled down, and almost no one noticed. It was in the pathway of the Tibby Cotter Bridge. It's now in storage with the Roads Department awaiting a decision on its next destination.
The obelisk is down and now the other part of the soldiers memorial, the living part, the trees, are being felled too. Dozens of huge Moreton Bay figs have been cut down in recent weeks on Anzac Parade and Alison Road.
BBC Panorama Documentary: The Train that Divides Jerusalem [July, 2015]
In January 2015, a CIA drone strike killed two aid workers held hostage in an al Qaeda compound in Pakistan.
Then, in April, President Barack Obama made an unprecedented announcement from the White House. He named the two men — an American, Warren Weinstein, and an Italian, Giovanni Lo Porto — and took “full responsibility” for their deaths.
Despite hours of surveillance, the president said, no one had detected the presence of the hostages. The White House promised a “full review” of the strike, possible changes to policies around drone strikes, and compensation for the Weinstein and Lo Porto families.
Nearly a year later, little has emerged about the investigation. And while Weinstein’s family is reportedly still negotiating a settlement with the CIA, Lo Porto’s relations have had no contact with the U.S. government, directly or through the Italian authorities. ... [The Intercept -16/3/16]
21 March 2016