Australia a leader in hacking mobile phones, Snowden document reveals
Canberra Times [22/5/15]:
Australia's electronic espionage agency has exploited weaknesses in a mobile browser used by hundreds of millions worldwide and planned to hack into smartphones through data links to the Google and Samsung app stores, a leaked top secret intelligence document has revealed.
The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and its "Five Eyes" signals intelligence partners in the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand have been engaged in close collaboration to target the UC Browser, an app used by more than 500 million people, mainly in China and India and across south-east Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Russia.
A 2012 United States National Security Agency (NSA) document, leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and published by The Intercept website and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, shows that the ASD has played a leading role in efforts to exploit the UC Browser after it was secretly discovered to be leaking details about its users through data connections to app marketplace servers operated by Samsung and Google.
The top secret project was pursued by a joint electronic eavesdropping unit called the Network Tradecraft Advancement Team, which includes signals intelligence experts from the ASD, NSA, Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Canada's Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).
The leaked document shows the ASD hosted a top secret workshop in November 2011 with GCHQ and CSE representatives in Canberra and virtual participation from NSA and GCSB via a secure chat room.
This was followed by a second workshop hosted by the CSE in Ottawa in February 2012, which included direct representation by all Five Eyes signals intelligence agencies and aimed to "build on the work started" at ASD.
The main purpose of the workshops was to find new ways to exploit smartphone technology for surveillance. The Five Eyes agencies used the internet spying system to identify smartphone traffic flowing across internet links and then to track down smartphone connections to app marketplace servers operated by Samsung and Google. The popular UC Browser, owned by the Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group, emerged as a particular point of weakness. It is the world's most popular mobile browser behind those pre-installed on smartphones.
Outcomes from the ASD hosted workshop included development of techniques "to identify [a] wide variety of potential converged data" including "specific components of raw HTTP data activity that alludes to the browsing, downloading and installation of mobile phone applications".
ASD employed an analytic program codenamed "Fretting Yeti" and the project was trialled under the codename "Crafty Shack".
As part of a further "tradecraft and analytics" trial code named "Irritant Horn", the Five Eyes agencies trialled mass surveillance techniques in anticipation of the possibility of "another Arab Spring" in the Middle East. Signals intelligence analysts also found an intelligence adversary was using the UC Browser app in covert communications relating to its operations in Western countries. They trumpeted this intelligence success as providing an "opportunity where potentially none may have existed before".
Significantly the newly published document shows the ASD and its partners wanted to "exploit" the Google and Samsung app stores for "harvesting" information about phone users and as launching pads to infect phones with spyware.
Previous disclosures from documents leaked by Snowden have shown Five Eyes agencies have designed spyware for iPhones and Android smartphones, enabling them to infect targeted phones and harvest emails, texts, web history, call records, videos, photos and other information stored on them. They have also been keen to find ways to send selective misinformation to targets' handsets as part of so-called "effects" operations that are used to spread propaganda or confuse adversaries. However, the methods used by the agencies to get the spyware on to phones have remained unclear.
Previous disclosures from documents obtained from Snowden have shown that the ASD has targeted Indonesia's largest mobile phone network as well as the telecommunications systems of other south-east Asian nations, China, and Australia's small Pacific Island neighbours.
Another 2012 NSA document published last year revealed that the ASD obtained nearly 1.8 million encrypted master keys, which are used to protect private communications, from the Telkomsel network, and developed a way to decrypt almost all of them.
The Australian government has repeatedly refused to comment on specific disclosures from the papers leaked by Snowden, and the ASD has declined to comment in relation to the latest revelations.
Last year Prime Minister Tony Abbott insisted that Australia would
not use intelligence "to the detriment of other countries".
Campaign to secure release of Al Jazeera journalists wins major PR
The Peninsular [22/5/15]:
The campaign to secure the release of Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Abdullah Elshamy has won a major PR award.
The SABRE Awards EMEA, organised by leading PR publication The Holmes Report, gave the #FreeAJStaff campaign a Gold Award for issues management at their annual ceremony in London.
There were 2,000 entries in this year’s competition, which recognises achievements in branding, reputation and engagement. The campaigns were evaluated by a jury of more than 40 industry leaders.
The win comes shortly after the PRWeek Global Awards gave Al Jazeera the ‘Highly Commended’ recognition in their Crisis & Issues category for the same campaign.
Both judging panels looked at how the situation went from being a story about journalists arrested in Egypt, to being the biggest press freedom campaign in the history of the news media. The campaign was also nominated by the Middle East PR Association earlier this year.
Mostefa Souag, acting director general of Al Jazeera Media Network, said, “This recognition from the PR industry is extremely humbling. We were faced with a grave situation and this campaign rose to the challenge. This campaign has had everything: the cultivation of a hashtag that went viral; scores of events in all the continents of the world; extremely nimble and effective crisis communications; the gathering together of the entire news industry; and support from world leaders. All of this was in the noble cause of supporting press freedom.”
Protesters descend on McDonald's HQ ahead of shareholders meeting
USA Today [21/5/15]:
Thousands of protesters calling for a $15 minimum wage and a union have descended near the McDonald's headquarters as newly-installed CEO Steve Easterbrook gets ready to address annual shareholders meeting on Thursday for the first time as the company's chief executive.
McDonald's shuttered a restaurant near its suburban Oak Brook headquarters Wednesday, as police estimated 2,000 protesters from around the country took part in a pre-meeting rally to draw attention to their push for raising the minimum wage. Last year, an estimated 1,500 protesters gathered on the company campus for the shareholders meeting, and more than 100 were arrested for intentionally crossing a police barricade.
Police said no arrests were made during Wednesday's demonstration.
Organizers predicted an even bigger turnout for a protest outside this year's shareholders meeting, which comes just two days after the city of Los Angeles voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for large businesses.
The wage increase in the nation's second largest city will be gradually phased in over the next five years, and is the union's biggest win in the push to hike the minimum wage to $15 that started nearly three years ago.
Earlier this year, McDonald's announced it would raise its starting pay for workers to $1 above the local minimum wage.
But organizers say the raise doesn't go far enough toward give workers a wage needed to live above the poverty line. The $1 hike also only applies to company-owned stores, which account for only about 10% of McDonald's
"We're here to tell McDonald's and its shareholders to invest in the company and its workers instead of wealthy hedge fund managers and executives," said Kwanza Brooks, a member of the Fight for 15, a national group that organized the two-day rally.
It's a delicate moment for McDonald's, which has seen sales slump as it's struggled to adapt to Americans' rising expectations from fast food outlets and stiffening competition from smaller rivals.
The company said sales at stores open at least a year fell 0.6% in April. That still beat analyst expectations though and was better than the 1.7% fall it experienced in February, the last time it reported monthly figures. Sales in the U.S. fell 2.3% while Asia/Pacific, the Middle East and Africa fared the worst, with sales down 3.8%. Sales in Europe increased 1%.
Key to Easterbrook's turnaround plan is boosting the hamburger chain's stock price is a stock buyback plan that will return up to $9 billion to shareholders in 2015 after expending $3.2 billion on buybacks in 2014, or roughly 132% of its net income.
Both union groups and a coalition of state and big city financial officer have questioned whether buybacks further exacerbates the gap between investors and workers.
In a joint state on Wednesday, New York City comptroller Scott Stringer, New York State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Chicago treasurer Kurt Summers and California controller Betty Yee pointed to McDonald's buyback tactic to raise concern that "many companies have lost their balance."
"Companies must pursue a balanced approach to capital allocation, both reinvesting in their long-term health and distributing profit to shareowners," the coalition wrote. "Productivity growth in companies used to be aligned with commensurate wage growth – a rising tide that drove decades of economic prosperity."
McDonald's did not immediately respond to request for comment about the joint statement from city and state financial officers.
But a McDonald's statement dismissed the new round of protests as the latest in a multi-million dollar effort by the Service Employee International Union to unionize workers.
"As has been the case in earlier protests, very few McDonald's or independent franchisee employees are participating," McDonald's said in a statement. "The union has spent its members' dues money in the past two years attacking the McDonald's brand, and the independent business men and women who own 90 percent of McDonald's restaurants, in an unsuccessful attempt to unionize workers.
How McDonald's dodged half a billion dollars in Australian tax [Canberra Times – 19/5/15]
Brought to you by McDonald's: For the past few months, 101.1 FM Logan have been broadcasting an offensive radio play series "For The Term Of Her Natural Life".
Al-Shabab storms Kenyan village near Garissa [Al Jazeera - 22/5/15]
Suicide bomber strikes at Saudi Shi'ite mosque, several casualties: residents [Reuters – 22/5/15]
Huge explosions rocked the outskirts of the Yemeni capital Friday after Saudi-led air strikes against positions held by Huthi Shiite rebels and their allies, residents said. ... [Naharnet - 22/5/15]
Islamist rebels on Friday overran a hospital in northwest Syria where at least 150 regime forces and dozens of civilians were trapped for nearly a month, a monitor said.
Al-Nusra Front, which is Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, and other factions "have taken complete control of Jisr al-Shughur hospital," said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The monitoring group's head said "dozens" of people had managed to flee but others were killed, wounded or taken hostage, without giving exact figures. ... [Ahram - 22/5/15]
EU to propose relocating 40,000 refugees from Italy, Greece [Daily Star – 22/5/15]
A senior US diplomat on Friday urged Myanmar to extend "citizenship" to the oppressed Rohingya minority to address the ongoing migrant crisis. ... [Bangkok Post - 22/5/15]
Protests continue outside Myanmar Embassy in KL [Channel News Asia - 22/5/15]
BREAKING: #UNHCR welcomes landing of 200 people stranded at sea off the coast of Rakhine in #Myanmar. 3500 still stranded in SEAsian waters
"tweeted" by @RefugeesMedia - UNHCR News [22/5/15]
Myanmar'da ilk göçmen kurtarma operasyonu [Al Jazeera – 22/5/15]
… I wanna be with the living kind …
Ups and Downs 
Brisbane protest against the Australian government's refusal to help rescue and resettle Rohingya refugees.
About 200 attended the rally in King George Square.
Police refused permission for the rally to march.
... For the chance to live again ... Stand With Us (Remix), Scattered People (2005)
... Mr Karimuddin returned from Burma a week ago where he heard firsthand shocking stories of the refugees' journeys.
Some are paralysed from sitting for long periods of time, while others are malnourished, he said.
"I met a mother who lost two of her children - a five-year-old and a seven-year-old boy," Mr Karimuddin said.
"Imagine this mother. Two of her children are dying before her eyes and she cannot do anything."
He urged the crowd to put themselves in the shoes of those stranded at sea.
"Every second, every moment they are living in a sea of rejection from the world." ... [Nine MSN - 22/5/15]
Imaginary Australian journalist to Dutton or Abbott: You can't pick and choose refugees. Why not just withdraw Australia from the UN Refugee Convention?
Richard Marles visits Myanmar to reassert that the ALP is no threat to the Coalition's refugee policy. Raf, Kieran and Pats do the PR on the Australian airwaves.
@RichardMarlesMP [19/5/15]: Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon early this morning. Breathtaking. ...
@RichardMarlesMP: The people you meet in Yangon - Kieran Gorman-Best of IOM who hails from my hometown of #Geelong.
... No nation in the Asia-Pacific region is better placed than Australia to assist with this resettlement. ...
Australia closes door on persecuted Rohingya [Refugee Council of Australia Media Release - 21/5/15]:
The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has expressed its deep dismay at the Australian Prime Minister’s dismissal of yesterday’s plea from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand for help in resettling Rohingya refugees.
RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power said Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s comments today would be a significant blow to efforts to ensure an effective regional response to the worsening humanitarian crisis on the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.
“Yesterday, in declaring that they would allow Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi migrants to land, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand specifically asked for international assistance to resettle those found to be in need of refugee protection,” Mr Power said.
“No nation in the Asia-Pacific region is better placed than Australia to assist with this resettlement. If the Australian Government wants to see more order and control in the movements of desperate people across borders, then surely it has a particular responsibility to help a multi-country effort such as this.
“Not only is the instant dismissal of the request from our neighbours devastating but the way in which the Prime Minister dismissed the request leaves serious questions about the Government’s commitment to protecting persecuted people.
“In his comments, Mr Abbott said that refugees should ‘come through the front door, not the back door’. Up to this point, his government has favoured resettlement from other countries as the way it wishes to assist refugees, promoting it as coming the ‘proper way’. Now Mr Abbott is even dismissing resettlement as valid approach for Australia to assist refugees.
“If going to a neighbouring country to seek protection when you are persecuted is no longer acceptable in Mr Abbott’s view, what is? How does a stateless and oppressed Rohingya person leave Burma and get to a place of safety when there is no legal means to leave the country and get to another?
“Does the Australian Government want to see desperate people protected or to see more deaths at sea and even more deaths within Burma? Where is the Government’s concern for human life
“Nobody is asking Australia to take the largest share of responsibility for responding to the current crisis – just to play its role in supporting Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand and to be one of a number of nations to assist with resettling refugees who have nowhere else to turn.”
Mr Power said RCOA welcomed the early announcement from the United States that it would consider the request for resettlement as part of a multi-country effort, noting that it had already resettled 1,000 Rohingya refugees since October last year. “Australia must reconsider its position and join the United States in promoting a constructive and cooperative response from resettlement nations,” he said.
Abbott keeps talking tough. Shorten keeps talking weasel words. Media keep missing the point. [Sydney Morning Herald - 22/5/15]:
Labor leader Bill Shorten has accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott of "insulting the intelligence" of Australians by refusing to offer any assistance to the thousands of asylum seekers fleeing danger and persecution.
Tony Abbott shouldn't dumb down the issue to saying either we take these people or we do nothing
Mr Abbott has taken a hardline stance against the plight of up to 7,000 people who have fled Myanmar and Bangladesh by boat, saying "nope, nope, nope" when asked on Thursday if Australia would respond to the crisis by resettling some refugees.
The group includes members of the Rohingya minority group in Myanmar, which the International Crisis Group recently described as "progressively marginalised from social and political life".
Mr Abbott expanded on his comments on Friday and said he would "say or do nothing" that would encourage people to get into boats.
Saving lives of migrants stranded in Southeast Asian waters should remain a priority – UN experts [Media Release - 21/5/15]:
... “Once rescued, asylum seekers and migrants should be received in open centres offering adequate accommodation facilities and, where necessary, have access to medical care,” they emphasized.
“All those rescued should be individually assessed to establish their protection needs and ensure that the principle of non-refoulement is upheld by the three countries concerned, and that no person is returned to a State, where she or he might be in danger of being subjected to torture,” the experts stressed. ...
Malaysia orders boatpeople search as Myanmar hosts envoy talks [Channel News Asia [22/5/15]:
Malaysia ordered search and rescue missions on Thursday (May 21) for thousands of boatpeople stranded at sea, as Myanmar hosted talks with US and Southeast Asian envoys on the migrant exodus from its shores.
The rescue order, which is the first proactive official move to save the thousands of persecuted Rohingya and Bangladeshi economic migrants believed currently to be adrift, comes a day after Malaysia and Indonesia said they would end a policy of turning away boats.
"We have to prevent loss of life," Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on his Facebook account, announcing the measure.
Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told AFP his country had not made a similar order but the issue was "something that will be discussed".
As the migrant crisis has unfolded in the past few days, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand have been heavily criticised for refusing to take in boats overloaded with exhausted passengers fleeing poverty or persecution. But on Wednesday, Malaysia and Indonesia relented, announcing their nations would accept boatpeople for one year, or until they can be resettled or repatriated with the help of international agencies.
Thailand has declined to take in boatpeople but vowed not to push them away, and on Thursday Thai junta chief Prayut Chan-ocha lashed out at critics of that stance by saying detractors could "migrate" to sea themselves, or take migrants into their own homes. The Thai leader said his country was already home to more than 900,000 refugees from decades of regional turmoil.
Malaysia and Indonesia's policy about-turn was welcomed by the United States, which said it also stood ready to admit some of the migrants, as well as the Red Cross.
Malaysia and Indonesia's foreign ministers met Myanmar officials in Naypyidaw for talks late Thursday, where the fate of the Rohingya people remains an incendiary issue. Indonesia's foreign ministry said in a statement Myanmar had agreed to "strengthen measures to prevent the irregular movement of migrants" from its territory and would also send officials from their embassy in Jakarta to visit boatpeople who had recently landed in the Aceh region.
There was no comment from the Myanmar side on the outcome of talks.
New York Times [21/5/15]:
The U.S. military says it is preparing to help countries in the region address the humanitarian crisis of the Rohingya migrants stranded at sea.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool told The Associated Press Thursday that the Department of Defense "is responding to this crisis and taking this seriously. We are preparing to stand up maritime aviation patrols throughout the region and working with local partners to help with this issue."
It was the first indication that the U.S. military is ready to take direct role. Washington has been urging governments in the region to work together to conduct search and rescue and provide shelter to thousands of vulnerable migrants.
Jakarta Post [21/5/15]:
Union lawmakers are calling on Myanmar to end the persecution of Rohingya Muslims and for Thailand to launch investigations into reports of mass graves of the Muslim minority.
In a resolution Thursday, the lawmakers also called for the Thai government and officials to "end any complicity with the criminal gangs trafficking Rohingya people and other migrants in Thailand."
The UN says the Rohingya are one of the most persecuted groups in the world.
Neither Myanmar nor Bangladesh recognizes them as citizens and they have faced increasing discrimination.
Thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshis have fled by boat, and many are believed to be trapped aboard them with little food or water.
The lawmakers demanded that senior EU officials raise the issue with the Thai and Myanmar governments.
... For the next interview, 4ZZZ journalist Martin Brown will be speaking to Sujauddin Karimuddin, from the Queensland Rohingyan Community, for his comment, on behalf of the Rohingyan community. [AUDIO - 4ZzZ News - 19/5/15]
Canberra Rohingya protest action
Canberra Refugee Action Committee:
Canberrans are being urged to join a rally this Friday calling for the Australian Government to immediately help rescue thousands of stranded Rohingyan refugees.
The Canberra Refugee Action Committee is organising the rally at the intersection of Northbourne Avenue and Barry Drive at 5pm on Friday, 22 May, to call for the urgent rescue of 8,000 mostly Rohingyan refugees stranded in the Andaman Sea.
In recent days the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have turned back desperate asylum seeker boats carrying mostly Rohingyan refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.
There are reports an estimated 8000 people are currently stranded in the region, with a dire shortage of food and water creating a situation that the United Nations says could become a “massive humanitarian crisis”.
The UN says the Rohingyas are among the most persecuted minorities on the planet.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott praised the boat turn backs as “almost certainly absolutely necessary”. He was unapologetic about Australia’s pioneering role in implementing the boats turn back policy, one he claims the government has “taken to preserve safety at sea.”
RAC spokesperson Sophie Singh condemned the policy and demanded that the government urgently take steps to rescue the stranded refugees.
“The fact that these boat turn backs have put 8,000 refugees in imminent danger, with reports of up to 200 people already dying as a consequence, proves the government doesn’t care about deaths at sea,” Ms Singh said.
“It shows that Operation Sovereign Borders amounts to little more than a demand for refugees to go die elsewhere”.
Friday’s rally will demand that the government immediately send search and rescue boats to save the refugees, end its abhorrent policy of boat turn backs, and lead by example in granting safe haven to those in the region fleeing war and persecution.
“All fair-minded and decent citizens should send a loud and clear message to the government that we strongly denounce the ill-treatment and harassment of asylum seekers and refugees,” Ms Singh said.
Similar protests are being organised in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Australia has paid Nauru $29m in visa fees to incarcerate refugees. [Guardian - 22/5/15]
Facebook blackout enters 22nd day.
Asylum seekers no longer asked torture question during first encounter with Australian officials [Sydney Morning Herald - 21/5/15]
Protected, unaccountable Immigration Minister unchallenged by media on disappeared Nauru refugees exiled to Cambodia. [ABC - 22/5/15]:
Australia is in the process of transferring a small group of refugees to Cambodia under a resettlement deal between the two countries, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says.
It is believed the four who accepted the deal were an Iranian couple, a single Iranian man and an ethnic Rohingya man from Myanmar who were taken from Nauru to Darwin about two weeks ago. ...
An African boy found hidden in a suitcase that was smuggled across the border into Spain has been granted temporary permission to stay so he can be reunited with his mother, officials said Thursday.
Police found eight-year-old Adou Ouattara on May 7 curled up and covered by blankets inside a suitcase without air vents at a border checkpoint in Ceuta, one of two Spanish enclaves in North Africa.
The suitcase was being taken through a pedestrian border crossing by a 19-year-old woman, whose identity has not been released, when a border security scanner detected the boy inside.
A picture of the boy curled up in the suitcase served as a shocking reminder of the lengths migrants take to try to seek a better life in Europe.
Several hours after the youngster was detected, his father, Ali Ouattara, was arrested at the same border crossing on charges of human rights abuse, for trying to have the boy smuggled into the country.
The man, who is from the Ivory Coast, lives legally with the boy's mother and sister on Spain's Canary Islands, but his son lacked permission to join them there because the family's income was deemed too low.
Immigration authorities have now granted the boy authorization to live in Spain for one year "for extraordinary reasons" allowed for under the law, a spokesman for the central government representative in Ceuta said. ... [GMA News - 22/5/15]
@ItalianNavy [21/5/15]: #SAR Nave Sfinge #MarinaMilitare sbarcherà oggi ad #Augusta i 286 #migranti soccorsi ieri e una salma
Italy says over 900 refugees rescued at sea, one dead [Reuters - 21/5/15]
... We are living today in a European context of stability with rights and freedoms. But we should not forget that others people in other parts of the world, not far away from the EU, are fleeing from war and conflicts. ... [Speech by EU Commissioner Avramopoulos at the Frontex Conference on the European Day for Border Guards, Warsaw Poland -21/5/15]
Suicide car bomber kills two near Libya's Misrata: state agency [Reuters - 21/5/15]
United States, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria
Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria and Iraq between 8 a.m., May 20, and 8 a.m., May 21, local time.
In Syria, coalition military forces conducted eight airstrikes using attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft.
Separately in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted 10 airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense using attack and fighter aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
"Despite the setback in Ramadi, the Coalition continues to apply pressure on Daesh across Iraq and Syria in line with the campaign plan to defeat Daesh,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, CJTF-OIR chief of staff.
“This campaign will take time, and we remain focused on fully supporting the government of Iraq in their operations throughout the country.”
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
Near Al Hasakah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL trench system, destroying two ISIL fighting positions.
Near Aleppo, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL VBIED.
Near Ar Raqqah, one airstrike struck an ISIL staging area.
Near Kobani, five airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL fighting positons, two ISIL mortar positions and an ISIL vehicle.
Near Bayji, two airstrikes struck one large and one small ISIL tactical unit, destroying three ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL structure.
Near Fallujah, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
Near Makhmur, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL building and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
Near Mosul, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and an ISIL tunnel system, destroying three ISIL buildings and three ISIL heavy machine guns.
Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL buildings and two ISIL heavy machine guns.
Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tunnel system, destroying an ISIL VBIED.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
US admits an air strike on Syria last year probably killed two children [BBC - 21/5/15]:
... US Central Command said the strike on 5-6 November, near Harim City, targeted the al-Qaeda-linked Khorasan Group.
There had been no indications prior to the strikes that children were present, officials said.
The admission followed an investigation into the incident by US military authorities, directed by Lt Gen Terry. ...
Indonesia: Pertamina`s Oil Spills into Nusakambangan Southern Waters
Oil spill has covered up the waters of southern Nusakambangan Island, Cilacap on Thursday. The spill occurred near Cimiring Beach, around Pertamina's Refinery Unit Single Point Mooring (SPM).
The oil spill has stymied the activities of fishermen in Cilacap, who are in the midst of their harvest. "Pertamina must clean it up immediately. We can't catch fish like this," said Suyanto, a fisherman, on Thursday.
Suyanto hoped Pertamina would take serious action to prevent the spill from spreading. "This kind of thing often happens and we always become the victims," said Suyanto.
Pertamina RU IV Cilacap spokesperson Musriyadi has confirmed there is oil spill around SPM in southern Nusakambangan Island from a leakage during oil exploration.
"It happened last night and was handled immediately," said Musriyadi.
He said the oil spill had been localized to keep it from reaching coastal areas. The state-run oil and gas firm is also keeping an eye on Cilacap's southern waters just in case the spill reaches the shore.
"There is also a team that monitors Cilacap southern coast to Serayu River and also from Serayu to Widarapayung. So far, the condition has been stable," he said.
Pertamina is still monitoring the area for fears that the oil spill might spread farther. "It seems to have been localized and handled," said Musriyadi.
Upon Westminster Bridge
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning: silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
William Wordsworth, Sept. 3, 1802
Dangerous Queensland police pursuit policy not changing: Miller
There is plenty of scope to argue police pursuits are unnecessary (except in the most of extreme of circumstances), but the media deliberately restrict discussion of this possibility.
This allows the police union to argue they should be even less accountable for starting police chases.
Nine MSN [21/5/15]:
The Queensland government says it won't be changing the state's police pursuits policy after two officers were stood down over a chase on the Gold Coast.
Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley and his partner Senior Constable Barry Wellington were stood down from the South Eastern Queensland region on Thursday.
The officers are subject to a disciplinary investigation to determine if they engaged in an unauthorised and dangerous pursuit, drove or caused a police motor vehicle to be driven in a manner likely to endanger other road users, and used an inappropriate amount of force.
The allegations partly stem from a weekend car chase on the Gold Coast in which Sen Sgt Hurley and Sen Const Wellington allegedly fired shots.
Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller is standing by the current policy governing police pursuits, which the police union has been campaigning against for some time.
But the minister has staunchly denied the union's labelling of the measure as a "no-pursuit policy".
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has previously said officers must be sure the risk they're taking in engaging in a pursuit outweighs any correlative risk to the community.
"I strongly support the current QPS pursuit policy and have absolutely no intention of changing it," she said in a statement.
"The current policy minimises the risk of innocent Queenslanders being injured or killed inadvertently while giving police the ability to commence a pursuit in urgent circumstances."
But Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers says it's a "disgrace" the two men have been suspended and has revived criticism of the police service's pursuit policy.
"It is a green light for criminals in Queensland to do as they want, when they want," he told ABC radio.
He said the duo had been unfairly targeted given one could've been "murdered" during the weekend's chase.
Snr Sgt Hurley has been in the headlines previously, having been found not guilty of the 2004 assault and manslaughter of Cameron Doomadgee at the Palm Island police watchhouse.
Mr Doomadgee died from significant internal injuries including broken ribs and a ruptured liver.
Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, the police officer linked to the death in custody of Palm Island man Cameron Doomadgee in 2004, took the head of the Qld Police Union on a tour of the Gold Coast schoolies precinct. ... [ABC - 26/11/10]
The Queensland media sat on this secret ALL WEEK before revealing it was Hurley.
Now they're allowing Leavers free reign to rant about his perceptions of a dangerous, violent Gold Coast, when it is the police most people are scared of.
ABC, AM [22/5/15]:
... In the wake of the weekend chase, the Police Union's Ian Leavers says it's unfortunate Chris Hurley seems to be drawing more attention than the alleged criminals he was trying to catch.
He says while the Police Service is right to investigate the incident, it's over the top to stand the officers down.
IAN LEAVERS: The Gold Coast is a very violent place. You know, unfortunately it was the crime capital of Australia. It has lost that title but it is still a very violent place where police are dealing with very violent people. Chris is a very experienced police officer and it is very difficult for police when they're dealing with violent, drug-affected and alcohol-affected people day-in, day-out.
Police are required to use force to do their job and it's about protecting decent people in the community. Unfortunately, the spotlight is upon Chris Hurley because of his past.
And what we must remember, going back over 10 years ago in the incidents that occurred: he was cleared every step of the way by every court process throughout the entire time. And I think people need to remember that - and the Police Service as well.
Outsourced, U.S.-style militaristic bullying program to continue being rolled out - in certain parts of Queensland
Queensland Parliament Hansard [20/5/15]:
Mr WHITING: My question is to the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services. Will the minister outline the Palaszczuk government’s plans to expand the highly successful Project Booyah initiative to give at-risk youth a chance for a better start in life?
Mrs MILLER: I thank the member for his question, for his continuing commitment to working closely with the local police in his area and for supporting young people at risk. As the member rightly points out, Project Booyah is a program that is giving youth at risk a chance to improve themselves and have a better start in life. Whilst the program began on the Gold Coast to help curb youth crime through early intervention and education, its success has seen Project Booyah rolled out across many other areas in Queensland.
A few weeks ago I, along with my friend the Attorney-General, had the pleasure of visiting the Gold Coast TAFE campus’s Trades Training Centre at Ashmore. We met with representatives of the Queensland Police Service and TAFE Queensland, and they signed a memorandum of understanding to ensure continued delivery of the project across the state. I am pleased to say that Project Booyah will now be expanded to include 80 more training places for at-risk young people. Over the next two years Project Booyah will give around 300 young people who are aged between 14 and 16 the chance to develop some really important skills to ensure that they do not fall through the cracks.
So far this year 50 young people from the Gold Coast, Townsville, Cairns, Logan and Capalaba are already taking part in this program. From July, 80 new places will be filled by young people from Mount Isa, Toowoomba and Redcliffe. It is an intense 20-week program. Participants will experience wilderness adventure therapy, decision-making and problem-solving exercises and targeted community integration. They will enrol in TAFE programs in their region to complete a Certificate II in Hospitality.
Our Palaszczuk Labor government is committed to ensuring education is accessible to all young Queensland students so they can have the foundation skills they need to progress to further study to have an opportunity to more actively participate in their community. We know that early intervention is important. Unlike those opposite, unlike the member for Kawana, we will not demonise our kids on this side of the House. We will not do that. We will give them every opportunity to turn their lives around. We will do that because we believe in our young people.
Mr Bleijie: Jumping castles, Xboxes, bucking bulls—that is what you gave them.
Mrs MILLER: Let me say, member for Kawana, you had the opportunity to apologise to the member for Cairns and you won’t do it.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Minister, thank you.
Provoke or annoy (someone) so as to stimulate an action or reaction ...
QPS Media [22/5/15]:
A man has been charged following an incident where a laser beam was allegedly shone at the police helicopter at Mountain Creek last night.
It will be alleged around 7.30pm whilst the police helicopter was performing patrols it was struck by a green laser beam forcing the crew to change course on several occasions.
Police subsequently searched a residence at Ewinga Court and allegedly located a laser device.
A 53-year-old Mountain Creek man has been charged with threatening the safety of an aircraft and possessing restricted items.
He has been released on bail to appear at the Maroochydore Magistrates Court on June 18.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
... We see them everywhere. We cannot drive anywhere or walk anywhere without seeing police on the beat. We used to drive for weeks without seeing a cop car. ...
Michael Pucci MP, Logan
Queensland Parliament Hansard [11/2/14]:
Mr HOPPER (Condamine—KAP) (7.49 pm): As I speak to the Police Powers and Responsibilities and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 I point out that I understand the intent of this bill. I am really concerned about the innocent young people who may be captured within the intent of this bill, and I would like to address that by making a few points.
This bill introduces a range of amendments which pre-existing laws already address, which contradicts the government’s mantra of reducing red tape and blue tape.
In their submissions, the Queensland Law Society, the Caxton Legal Centre, the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties and the Youth Advocacy Centre also question the unnecessary duplication of pre-existing laws which already deal with out-of-control events and evading police.
It appears the introduction of this bill, like many before it, infringes on the charter of human rights of freedom of association and is part of a propaganda campaign run by this government. With the skilful and sustained use of propaganda, this government can make people see even heaven as hell or extremely wretched life as paradise.
Within this bill the LNP government has publicly chosen to depict all young people who reside in Queensland as having the potential to be irresponsible and to become out of control when socialising with each other.
That is the part of this bill that we are extremely concerned about. This bill has potentially placed our young people in the same category as criminal motorcycle gang members when associating in numbers greater than three. It appears that the amendment has been developed as a reaction to a very small proportion of out-of-control events which have occurred.
In 2013 there were about 18 events across the state, which encompasses a community of 4.6 million people.
The unique aspect of those particular events is that they were outside the norm and required an ‘outside the norm’ policing response, not an ‘outside the norm’ policy response. The out-of-control event amendment is very broad and places criminal responsibility on people within the vicinity of an out-of-control event instead of placing direct, sole responsibility on the individual who commits the criminal act.
That is the point I am very concerned about. It is difficult to comprehend the logic behind this reasoning.
There is a very grey area in this legislation. However, I do understand the intent of the minister putting this legislation forward, and I want to make that point clear.
I genuinely have grave concerns. I have a son who is 22 years old. He was here today in parliament having a look at the proceedings of the House. He has a lot of good friends and they are good kids. They are law-abiding citizens. In relation to the out-of-control amendment and young people’s welfare, every time my son and his friends go to a party I will be very worried about his safety and his reputation being tarnished because of the possibility that he and his mates will be arrested and charged by police just because they are deemed to be at the scene or in the vicinity of an out-of-control individual, which quite often happens at a party. If a young person becomes intoxicated or something happens, quite often one or two may become out of control and that individual or individuals could be at risk of being arrested when they have played no part in that situation. That is the grey area of this bill that I am extremely concerned about. This is a concern I believe should be shared by every parent in Queensland.
Another section of the bill really concerns me and I believe it should also concern all Queenslanders, and that is the blue-tape reduction amendment. That amendment introduces the police power to issue a notice requiring a financial institution to provide information in relation to whether a person holds an account or the account name or number. Innocent people could be captured by this amendment. I believe this is a total breach of privacy. The power to issue the notice does not circumvent the need for a police officer to obtain a search warrant or to obtain financial or transaction details. Rather, it enables police to gather the necessary information for a police officer to obtain a search warrant.
I encourage members of the House to take the time to read and understand the annals of history. These amendments have a benchmark that has been set in history. We see countries overseas winding back legislation that has breached people’s privacy and given police officers these powers. I ask the minister to carefully consider what we are putting to the House tonight.
Once again I say that I understand the minister’s intent in putting forward this legislation. If members are extremely concerned about the breach of privacy for innocent people, they should ask themselves: do we really want to head down this path?
Matt Taibbi on Baltimore, Freddie Gray and how legal system covers up police violence [Democracy Now - 21/5/15]
… AMY GOODMAN: Baltimore is the focus of Matt Taibbi’s latest article in Rolling Stone. It’s headlined "Why Baltimore Blew Up: It Wasn’t Just the Killing of Freddie Gray—Inside the Complex Legal Infrastructure That Encourages and Covers Up Police Violence."
So, take us inside that, Matt. In fact, you’re writing a book on this subject right now.
MATT TAIBBI: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I first came onto the subject because of the other subject we were just talking about. I was—I had been writing a lot about why people from Wall Street don’t go to jail, and I was interested in who does go to jail in this country, and I wanted to make that comparison. And in doing so, I had to learn a lot about community policing, stop and frisk, you know, what they call zero-tolerance policing tactics.
And a lot of that, I think, is behind the anger that we’re seeing spill out in places like Ferguson and Baltimore, because these new modern policing strategies that we’ve instituted in the last couple of decades, most famously beginning here in New York with Rudy Giuliani and Bill Bratton, you know, the "broken windows" theory—what happens with these policing strategies is that it forces police to go out into neighborhoods and do what one police officer described to me as self-initiated contacts. In other words, you have a different neighborhood, you have the affluent white neighborhood, where police only showed up—show up when they’re called. You know, if somebody falls out of a window, somebody shoots a gun in a building, they’re going to show up. But in Bed-Stuy or in the South Bronx, police are getting out of their squad cars, they’re stopping people on the street, they’re questioning them, they’re patting them down, and it creates this endless stream of hostile interactions that over time become more—that creates more and more animosity and more and more room for corruption of the process. And I think that is definitely the background for what we see in places like Baltimore.
Australia is a genocidal death cult
Man found in Darwin cell 'non-responsive' three hours after arrest [ABC - 22/5/15]:
A man has died in custody at a police station in central Darwin overnight, police say.
The 59-year-old man was taken into custody for alcohol offences at 6:00pm last night and brought to the Darwin city watch house.
Officers did a routine cell check three hours later at 9:00pm and found the man "non-responsive", police said in a statement.
The watch house nurse as well as St John Ambulance paramedics then confirmed the man was dead.
The coroner is investigating the death.
The last death in custody in Darwin was in February, when a 53-year-old man passed away at Royal Darwin Hospital 10 days after he was transported there by police.
Several days prior he had been taken into protective custody for being drunk.
One of the most notorious deaths in custody in the Northern Territory took place in 2012, when an Aboriginal man died of asphyxiation and acute intoxication in the Alice Springs watch house.
Kwementyaye Briscoe, 27, had a blood-alcohol reading of more than 0.3 as well as a head wound when police dragged him into a cell.
Almost two house passed before officers checked on the man. When they did, he was dead.
It was the second death in custody at the Alice Springs watch house, after the death of Cedric Trigger in 2009.
Mr Trigger was dragged face down and handcuffed into a holding cell. He later died face down in the cell.
More PNG police off to Australia for training [PNG Loop - 19/5/15]
Family of Akai Gurley, fatally shot by officer in Brooklyn, sues New York City [New York Times – 21/5/15]
A Baltimore grand jury has charged all six police officers accused in the death of Freddie Gray.
State Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby announced the revised charges on Thursday, but the most serious charges - including second-degree murder - remained. ... [BBC - 21/5/15]
This is already happening in Queensland thanks to the ALP and LNP
See the Mines Legislation (Streamlining) Amendment Bill and recently constructed recycled water treatment plants at Bundamba, Eagleby and Pimpama.
Sydney Morning Herald [21/5/15]:
Santos' plans to treat and dispose of coal seam gas wastewater from its $2 billion project in northern NSW would pose a "significant environment risk" and face rejection, government agencies said.
The company has been told by the Division of Resources and Energy (DRE) to resubmit plans for the Leewood Produced Water and Beneficial Reuse Project "with the required information" by June 5 or the application "will be refused".
Among the litany of demands, the NSW Environment Protection Authority wants to know what Santos plans to do with the expected 500,000 litres of brine produced daily from the Narrabri Gas Project, which had the potential to exhaust storage capacity after three years of the five-year venture.
"In the absence of a detailed commitment for the lawful disposal of brine, the EPA has concluded that this issue presents a significant environmental risk and is unable to support this proposal in its current form," the agency said.
The Department of Primary Industries also raised concerns about the "high risk of having significant adverse impacts and potential loss" of agricultural capacity from the use of treated CSG water for irrigation.
The agencies also raised issues about apparent inaccuracies in the design of an irrigation scheme, the absence of contingency plans if the reverse-osmosis plant was not operating, and the absence of information about BTEX chemicals and heavy metals
Monitoring bores were even located upstream of the proposed irrigation areas.
"Such a broad cross-section of departments is raising pretty deep and fundamental concerns about this project," Lyndon Schneiders, national campaign director of The Wilderness Society, said. "There are some issues being raised here that look unmanageable."
Peter Mitchley, general manager for the Santos NSW gas operations, said many of the questions raised in the project's review of environmental factors were "irrelevant" to the project being put forward, including assumptions that it would be always operating at full capacity.
"We are going to produce high-quality water whose chemistry we understand exactly, and use it on soil whose structure we understand well," Mr Mitchley said, adding the company would meet next month's deadline for resubmission.
"If they want more data, no problem," he said. "If they want to condition [the project], no problem."
Stuart Khan, an associate professor at the University of NSW's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said the DRE had done "an excellent and thorough job".
He said it was "shocking" the government had to request basic water information revealing all the assumptions of where and how water would enter and exit the site.
"The question of what happens to all of this highly saline-concentrated brine in the long run appears not to have been seriously addressed," Professor Khan said.
"I think it's almost inevitable that the proposal to build this plant and irrigation scheme will be rejected," he said. "The lack of a viable solution for managing produced water would render the entire Pilliga CSG project unviable."
Hundreds of tonnes of farmed salmon worth millions of dollars have been killed by storm surges on Tasmania's west coast.
It is believed to be the state's biggest single fish kill and has raised questions about the industry's plans for expansion in Macquarie Harbour.
The Greens are calling for greater scrutiny of the aquaculture industry after confirmation that 270 tonnes of salmon perished at Petuna's operation. ... [ABC - 21/5/15]
Murderous spooks drive journalism project to WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks Media Release [21/5/15]:
"I promise that I will kill everyone involved in your website. There is nowhere on this earth that you will be able to hide from me."
Just two weeks after its launch, Transparency Toolkit’s ICWatch project, which documents more than 100,000 job profiles associated with the US "intelligence community" has been rehoused at WikiLeaks due to death threats and DDoS attacks on its infrastructure.
The death threat quoted above, sent from a US intelligence analyst in Washington DC to the project on May 13, perhaps perfectly encapsulates why the US intelligence community (IC) needs to be kept under close observation.
The ICWatch project has been expanded to 139,361 job profiles for today’s relaunch. These records reveal key details for hundreds of US spying, assassination, drone and detainee programs - providing important leads for journalists and prosecutors.
By hosting ICWatch WikiLeaks can shield the project from censorship and intimidation. ICwatch’s profiles have also been merged into the main WikiLeaks investigative search engine, boosting WikiLeaks’ analytical scope to 8.62 million records.
ICWatch launched at Berlin’s Re:publica conference to rave reviews on 6 May 2015. The project collects and cross references resumes posted on LinkedIn by people working in or associated with the intelligence and security sector. The dataset is intended as a tool for journalists, researchers and members of the public to better understand the secretive surveillance industry. The developers have simply made information that is already in the public domain easy to research.
M.C McGrath, the founder of Transparency Toolkit, who developed the
project and presented it in Berlin, remarked that "open source intelligence is
one of our biggest assets in understanding secret surveillance programs".
The future of the U.S. government's power to spy on Americans' phone calls was up in the air on Thursday as Congress fought over proposed reforms, with no clear outcome in sight. ... [Reuters - 21/5/15]
French court hears nuclear test veterans compensation cases
A French court has heard the cases of nine nuclear tests veterans, who claim compensation for radiation exposure in Algeria and French Polynesia between 1962 and 1988.
The court in Bordeaux was told by a magistrate assessing the claims that five of the nine claims should be thrown out because the men concerned ran an only negligible risk to suffer poor health.
The veterans organisation says this is intolerable because victims should be automatically recognised without having to go through the courts.
A lawyer for the organisation says the defence ministry has failed to provide proof that the contamination risk was negligible.
She also says the assessing magistrate has based his position on measurements that were out of date.
The court will make its ruling at a date yet to be determined.
So far, 17 out of 931 compensation cases put to the French government have been accepted.
22 May 2015