WikiLeaks releases more than half a million US diplomatic cables from 1978
Today WikiLeaks has released more than half a million US State Department cables from 1978. The cables cover US interactions with, and observations of, every country.
1978 was an unusually important year in geopolitics. The year saw the start of a great many political conflicts and alliances which continue to define the present world order, as well as the rise of still-important personalities and political dynasties.
The cables document the start of the Iranian Revolution, leading to the stand-off between Iran and the West (1979 – present); the Second Oil Crisis; the Afghan conflict (1978 – present); the Lebanon–Israel conflict (1978 – present); the Camp David Accords; the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua and the subsequent conflict with US proxies (1978 – 1990); the 1978 Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia; the Ethopian invasion of Eritrea; Carter's critical decision on the neutron bomb; the break-up of the USSR's nuclear-powered satellite over Canada, which changed space policy; the US "playing the China card" against Russia; Brzezinski's visit to China, which led to the subsequent normalisation of relations and a proxy war in Cambodia; with the US, UK, China and Cambodia on one side and Vietnam and the USSR on the other.
Through 1978, Zbigniew "Zbig" Brzezinski was US National Security Advisor. He would become the architect of the destabilisation of Soviet backed Afghanistan through the use of Islamic militants, elements of which would later become known as al-Qaeda.
Brzezinski continues to affect US policy as an advisor to Obama.
He has been especially visible in the recent conflict between Russia and the Ukraine.
WikiLeaks' Carter Cables II comprise 500,577 US diplomatic cables and other diplomatic communications from and to US embassies and missions in nearly every country. It follows on from the Carter Cables (368,174 documents from 1977), which WikiLeaks published in April 2014.
The Carter Cables II bring WikiLeaks total published US diplomatic cable collection to 2.7 million documents.
What follows are some example areas.
There are 3,168 new documents on Australia (see here). The cables document, for example, Australia's difficult relationship with Indonesia and the fall-out over Indonesia's 1975 occupation of East Timor.
Chris Hayes MP ignores the fact there are currently 1,000s of refugees in South East Asia
House of Representatives Hansard [27/5/15]:
Mr [Chris] HAYES (Fowler—Chief Opposition Whip) (09:30): This year, 30 April marked the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War was one of the longest conflicts in which Australian troops were involved, with almost 60,000 Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen being deployed in the conflict. Thousands of allied soldiers, including 521 Australians, made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom and liberty for the people of South Vietnam. Their bravery and courage in upholding these noble principles is not only humbling but deeply inspiring.
For many who bore witness to these tragic times, the fall of Saigon was a very sad moment, especially for those who were passionate in their beliefs about freedom and liberty. As a consequence, thousands of Vietnamese people made the extremely dangerous journey through treacherous jungles and by sea to find freedom and rebuild their lives. Australia initially accepted more than 50,000 Vietnamese refugees, who were feeling the weight of persecution, and who made the journey in the hope of a better life for themselves and their children. Today, Australia is proud to be home to more than 200,000 Vietnamese people. Apart from sharing their vibrant culture and traditions with the broader Australian society, Vietnamese Australians have contributed much in all areas of community life. Their achievements should be the source of great pride, particularly given the struggle and hardships that they have had to endure.
As the federal member for Fowler, I am very privileged to have the opportunity to represent the largest Vietnamese community in Australia. I have witnessed, firsthand, their hardworking and generous nature. They have shown themselves to be one of the finest examples of the true Australian spirit, and are immigrants who can be truly very proud.
However, despite their successful settlement in
Australia, the Vietnamese people have not forgotten people still living under
oppressive rule in their homeland, and they remain passionate about human
rights. I joined over 500 Australian Vietnamese at the Australian Vietnam Forces
National Memorial in Canberra last month to pay our respects to those who fought
and who gave so much in the quest for peace and freedom in Vietnam. Although the
Vietnam War is over, the legacy left behind by these patriotic heroes is not
forgotten, and we will continue to advocate for freedom and the respect of human
rights for the people of Vietnam and, indeed, for all people around the world.
Bangladesh plans to move thousands of Rohingya to island [Naharnet – 27/5/15]
Gary Foley honoured
with prestigious Red Ochre Award
Gary Foley - prominent artist, activist, intellectual and educator - has been recognised for decades of work at the forefront of Indigenous arts with Australia’s most esteemed peer-assessed award for an Indigenous artist.
The prestigious Red Ochre Award will be presented to Dr Foley on Wednesday night at the Australia Council’s National Indigenous Arts Awards at the Sydney Opera House.
Lee-Ann Buckskin, Australia Council Board Director, said in a statement, that Dr Foley was chosen as this year’s Red Ochre recipient for his pioneering work in Indigenous theatre, television, film, arts, culture and academia.
"He has left a lasting legacy across Australia’s cultural and political landscape and is in the unique position of not only being part of history but also shaping it.
"Gary has led an extraordinary life, which began in northern NSW, where he was expelled from school at 15, to receiving the University of Melbourne’s prestigious Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in 2014 for his PhD in History."
Dr Foley was instrumental in taking Indigenous art to an international audience. In 1978 he was part of a group that introduced films on black Australia to the Cannes Film Festival and then to Germany and other European countries. He returned to England and Europe a year later to set up the first Aboriginal Information Centre in London.
As a member of the Black Power movement in the late 1960s, Gary Foley saw the arts as a powerful vehicle for political change. This led to the creation of the National Black Theatre in Redfern, which sought to produce theatre devised, performed and created by and for Aboriginal people. Black Theatre also sought to educate white people using political satire as a means for self-reflection and to see Australia from a black point of view.
As an actor, arts administrator, activist, cultural thinker and currently Associate Professor in History at Victoria University, Dr Foley has been integral to Australia's political, cultural and Indigenous landscape since he was a teenager living in Redfern, Sydney. Across many roles, through more than four decades, Dr Foley has successfully agitated for positive social change for Aboriginal people and their communities.
He helped establish Redfern’s Aboriginal Legal Service, the Aboriginal Medical Service in Melbourne and in 1983 was the first Aboriginal Director of the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia Council.He was Senior Curator for Indigenous Cultures at Museum Victoria, and in 2004, entered academia as a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne and Victoria University.This year, he was promoted to Associate Professor in History at Victoria University and continues to teach and conduct a major research program.
Previous recipients of the Red Ochre award – which acknowledges an artists’ outstanding contribution to and lifetime achievement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts at a national and international level and includes a $50,000 prize – have included Hector Burton, David Gulpilil AM, Archie Roach and Doris Pilkington Garimara.
Australia Council Chair Rupert Myer AM said it was a pleasure to once again be part of the awards, which are the highest acknowledgement an Australian Indigenous artist can achieve for their artistic achievements.
"The awards draw attention to the significant contribution Indigenous artists make to the artistic vibrancy and cultural life of Australia"
"The awards draw attention to the significant contribution Indigenous artists make to the artistic vibrancy and cultural life of Australia," Mr Myer said.
"They encourage us to experience, participate in and cherish the dynamic work that is created across Australia."
The National Indigenous Arts Awards were established by the Australia Council’s former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board, consisting of leading Indigenous artists, curators and arts managers, to recognise the outstanding work and achievements of their fellow artists. The awards are decided by a national panel of Indigenous arts peers from each state and territory, including the Torres Strait.
Commonwealth launches court bid to recover costs from Shen Neng One
The Commonwealth Government has launched a court bid to recover damages from a ship which ran aground and leaked oil on the Great Barrier Reef.
Chinese ship Shen Neng One ran aground on Douglas Shoal off the central Queensland coast on April 3, 2010, after veering more than 10 kilometres outside the shipping lane.
The grounding damaged one of the ship's fuel tanks, resulting in a four-kilometre-long slick of heavy fuel oil and toxic antifouling paint embedded in the sea floor.
The ship also carved a three-kilometre-long, 400,000-square-metre scar in and around Douglas Shoal, about 120 kilometres east of Rockhanmpton, which was the largest known damage to the Great Barrier Reef caused by a ship.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority told a Senate estimates hearing earlier this week that it cannot afford to repair the damage.
In a statement released today, the authority said it was disappointed long negotiations with the ship's owners had so far failed to recover compensation.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority chairman Russell Reichelt said the Commonwealth would seek damages from the ship's owner for the cost of remediation of the shoal or orders requiring remediation of the shoal by the ship's owner.
The trial is set down in the Federal Court for 15 days in April next year, in Brisbane.
Oil spill concern in American Samoa
There's concern up to 4,000 litres of fuel and tonnes of dead fish could be spilled into the ocean in American Samoa where a fishing vessel ran aground.
The Taiwanese-flagged longlier hit the reef off Coconut Point on Friday, leaving its crew with minor cuts and scratches.
Efforts to salvage the longliner have so far been unsuccessful because of bad weather.
Our correspondent Monica Miller says there's an increasing threat oil will leak from a three foot hole in the vessel's hull.
She says there's also concern people will try to eat the fish that had been caught by the longliner and have now spilled into the lagoon.
"Some of the catch of 75 tonnes that is on board, that people will think that the fish that they are seeing in the ocean is okay to eat. But the coastguard says that the fish is largely contaminated."
Police Constable not guilty to assault on 73-year-old man at Sydney Woolworths
Canberra Times [26/5/15]:
A Sydney policeman who pushed a "frail" 73-year-old man to the ground in a supermarket told a witness "you would do the same thing", a court has heard.
The man died six days later from a heart attack the prosecution says was not related to the alleged assault.
Constable Antonio Saffioti, 51, pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
His alleged victim, Leonard Bartholomuesz, 73, suffered a broken ball joint at the top of his leg and a dislocated shoulder after the fall. Six days later he died in hospital.
The case before the Downing Centre District Court on Tuesday centred on what happened during two or three seconds on 30 April 2013 on the lower ground floor of the Woolworths supermarket near Town Hall railway station.
The court heard Mr Saffioti was buying food on his lunch break when he and another two police officers crossed paths with Mr Bartholomuesz, a regular customer, in an aisle.
Crown prosecutor Paul Lynch said Mr Bartholomuesz bumped into Mr Saffioti, who then pushed him to the ground.
The Crown's case relies on the trial's only eyewitness, fellow customer Penelope Randall, who allegedly confronted Mr Saffioti after witnessing the push.
Mr Lynch said Ms Randall asked Mr Saffioti: "Why did you do it?"
Mr Lynch also said the policeman allegedly replied with words to the effect: "If you were shoved at and touched all day like we are, you would do the same."
The only CCTV footage to capture the event was "poor" according to the Crown and Mr Saffioti's defence barrister, Ray Hood, agreed it had limitations. At one point the court's TV screen showing the footage was wheeled close up to the jury box.
But Mr Hood said the jury would not find the Crown's witness credible after viewing discrepancies between her testimony and the footage.
Mr Hood said his client was not using excessive force when he pushed Mr Bartholomuesz.
The trial continues before Judge Christopher Robison.
'No compromise' for Khaled Sharrouf's wife if she returns to Australia [Guardian – 27/5/15]
Adrian Bayley's minimum jail term to increase over further rapes [Guardian – 27/5/15]
A man has admitted to sexually abusing his twin step-daughters over a 25-year-period.
He pleaded guilty in the District Court in Mackay to three counts of indecent treatment to a child under 12 and to a child under 16 and four counts of sexual assault.
The offending occurred between 1989 and 2014 at three locations within the Mackay District.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for 18 months, which was wholly suspended for two years. [Daily Mercury - 27/5/15]
$100,000 bounty to catch a killer 37 years later, but Stephen Jelfs' family say they've known all along [Sydney Morning Herald – 27/5/15]
... Music changes but the dance steps don't
When the good die young
The Divinyls 
Accountant stole $1.6m from client
West Australian [27/5/15]:
An accountant found guilty of stealing more than $1.6 million from the estate of an elderly client as she descended into dementia has been jailed for more than seven years.
Robert Charles Atherley had more than 30 years professional experience, and was the accountant, held power of attorney and was eventually made the legal guardian of 88 year-old Mary Taylor Eva before she died in 2006.
Atherley was so close to the elderly woman that when she became increasingly frail, he arranged live-in carers which allowed her to stay at her long-time home in Pingelly.
But prosecutors said for eight years before and after her death, Atherley was also engaged in a “deliberate, concerted and persistent series of stealing” from the woman, transferring money from her accounts into his own, and his wife.
Those thefts continued even after Ms Taylor’s death in 2006, when another $318,000 was taken by Atherley as executor of her will – while the genuine beneficiaries of her estate were kept in the dark for seven months.
After family members realised something was seriously amiss, they launched Supreme Court action in 2008.
And it was then Atherley attempted to hide what District Court judge Simon Stone described as his “systematic plundering” of the old woman’s money.
The court was told using accounting software at his accounting business, Atherley concocted work he said he had done for Ms Taylor which matched some of the monies he had taken.
He produced these invoices during Supreme Court hearings in 2009 and 2010.
“The State contends that Mr Atherley was desperately looking for some professional services he could point to which he could use to justify the hundreds of thousands of dollars he had stolen from Ms Eva’s accounts after her death,” the judge wrote.
After a judge alone trial, Judge Stone convicted Atherley of the thefts before and after Ms Eva died – and also found him guilty of committing perjury during the earlier Supreme Court hearings.
And today he jailed him for seven and a half years on two counts of stalling and one of perjury, saying Atherley had shown no remorse over his repeated thefts from a particularly vulnerable victim.
Until the ALP and LNP duopoly are dislodged from our houses of parliament, neoliberal health policy will continue and unaccountable, publicly funded private hospitals will remain unregulated
The family of a man killed by legionnaire's disease in a Queensland hospital has demanded improvements in the way the deadly bacteria is managed.
John Pearson, 60, died after contracting the disease from a shower at Brisbane's Wesley Hospital in 2013.
Queensland Health said hospitals had ramped up water checks since his death.
But his daughter, Rachel Pearson, has argued a recent scare at the Hervey Bay Hospital in the Wide Bay region was a warning sign more should be done.
"There shouldn't be another case," she said.
"From 2013 they should know it's a risk - it should be manageable.
"Hospitals should know there are risks and doing what they can to prevent it."
Business as usual in Queensland ---> Walton Constructions collapse: Subbies kept out of the loop [Sunshine Coast Daily – 27/5/15]
Burglary with violence, Wynnum West
QPS Media [27/5/15]:
A second man has been charged following investigations into an incident at a residence in Wynnum West on May 13.
A 28-year-old Woodridge man has been charged with enter dwelling with intent in company, robbery in company and deprivation of liberty. He is expected to appear at the Wynnum Magistrates Court tomorrow (May 28).
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.
Dangerous operation of a vehicle charge, Caboolture
QPS Media [27/5/15]:
A man has been charged with a number of driving offences following the alleged dangerous operation of a vehicle which commenced in Springwood and ended in Caboolture.
It will be alleged that just after 11pm last night police received reports of a vehicle being driven in a dangerous manner on the Pacific Motorway around Springwood. The vehicle was alleged to be travelling at high speed and without its lights on and at times to be travelling north in the southbound lanes of the motorway.
Police will allege the vehicle was observed to then travel on the Gateway Arterial Road in a dangerous manner again at high speed and travelling north in southbound lanes.
It will be further alleged the vehicle has continued to be driven in a dangerous manner on Gympie Road and that police have then successfully deployed stingers on the Bruce Highway leading to two tyres of the vehicle being deflated.
The vehicle has then come to a stop a short time later and the man was arrested by police.
A 28-year-old man from Saint Helens was charged with two counts of dangerous operation of a vehicle, two counts of failing to stop and one count each of driving under the influence of liquor, unlawful possession of suspected stolen property and driving without a licence.
He is due to appear in the Caboolture Magistrates Court today.
Investigations into the incident are continuing.
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.
Two injured after car hits cows near Jandowae [Chronicle - 27/5/15]
A history of public nuisance behaviour and verbal abuse of police has put a 21-year-old Toowoomba man on probation to address his issues. ... [Chronicle - 27/5/15]
Police investigate vandalism at Jubilee Primary School
QPS Media [26/5/15]:
Nerang Police are investigating damage caused to the Jubilee Primary School in Pacific Pines.
Senior Sergeant Peter Gordon said that between midday Sunday and 6.30am Monday morning unknown person/s have entered the school grounds and caused damage to a number of windows, damaged a water fountain and also removed a steel bench seat that has not yet been recovered.
He said that it would appear that those responsible may have been within the school grounds for a period of time and most certainly would have created quite a bit of noise during their activities.
Preliminary advice indicates that no entry to any of the buildings was obtained.
Police Forensic Officers have attended the school and conducted examinations and the results of these should be known to investigating police in the near future.
Senior Sergeant Gordon encourages anyone who may have seen people
within the school grounds around these times, heard any of the damage being
caused or saw anyone carrying a steel bench type seat from the school to contact
local police or Crime Stoppers on 1300 333 000
Riot charges dropped against 10 men in mass hearing over Broadbeach tapas bar table tipover incident
Ten men have had a riot charge dismissed in relation to their alleged role in the infamous 2013 Broadbeach bikie brawl, but four pleaded guilty to public nuisance.
A mass trial of 11 men underway at Southport Magistrates Court on the Gold Coast prompted a heavy police presence outside the courthouse.
Riot charges were dismissed against Christopher Barrett, Matthew Cross, Mario Fortunato, Stephen Cox and Cameron Russell, with the prosecution offering no evidence.
The riot charges against Brett Pechey, Lionel Patea, Luke Dyer and Daniel Ross were also dismissed, but all four men pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of public nuisance.
The court initially heard Brendan Leon would fight a riot charge but that charge has since been dropped.
Tevita Bula will fight the riot charge but is yet to enter a plea, with his case due to return to court on Monday.
The prosecution has been arguing about 60 Bandidos bikies went to the Broadbeach CBD in September 2013 looking for Finks associate Jason Trouchet.
The fight started in a busy restaurant and spilled into the street, where a large group of Bandidos members were allegedly massed in a show of force, and the violence later spread to the Southport watch house.
The bikie brawl led to Queensland's tough Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) laws.
On Monday, former Bandidos Motorcycle Club member Peter Mauric was found not guilty of riot over his role in the brawl.
Magistrate Michael Quinn described Mr Mauric as a generally dishonest and unreliable witness.
But he said the prosecution had not proved every element of the riot charge beyond a reasonable doubt.
On May 4, several other men pleaded guilty to similar charges over their involvement in the brawl, including accused instigator Jacques Teamo, 45.
Five other men are due to stand trial individually from early next month.
Australia must stand up for those facing death at sea [Amnesty Australia Petition]:
In 2015, more than 25,000 people have been pushed into crossing the dangerous, 2,000 kilometre-wide Bay of Bengal, off the coast of south-east Asia.
Among them are thousands of Rohingya refugees -- an ethnic minority fleeing persecution in Burma and Bangladesh, where they are denied citizenship rights and subject to violent, systemic persecution.
Recently, the Thai government began cracking down on people smugglers, following the discovery of smugglers’ camps and mass graves of Rohingya in the south of the country.
As a result, thousands of men, women and children are stranded off the coasts of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, with little food or water, in need of medical care.
Last week, we saw some good progress on this issue as Malaysia and Indonesia announced they would take in 7,000 people stranded at sea.
Unfortunately, this is falling short of what’s needed, as there are likely many more people stuck on boats, and most won't make it ashore without help.
In an emergency summit in Bangkok this Friday 29 May, countries of the region, including Australia, will meet to tackle the crisis.
Urge the Australian government to call for, and assist with, immediate search and rescue operations and champion new, humane solutions for refugees in our region.
Digging of mass graves of refugees in Malaysia begins [teleSUR - 26/5/15]
Members of the Rohingya community and their supporters protest in Brisbane [22 May] in solidarity with thousands of migrants [refugees] stranded at sea having fled persecution in Burma. One speaker, Sujauddin Karimuddin, says refugees who settled in Australia feel helpless and frustrated at their plight, having suffered the same kind of trauma. Mojib Ullah recounts his own desperate journey to Australia by boat, an option the Australian government prevents alongside its refusal to accept stranded refugees. [VIDEO - Guardian - 27/5/15]
Yes Australia. Some of your politicians ARE human beings.
It's just that their handlers/advisers (and the media) would prefer it were a secret!
Senator Hanson-Young and Andrew Wilkie MP hold a joint press conference about the region's unfolding humanitarian crisis.
Image: @OzRefugeeCounc - Refugee Council of Australia [25/5/15]
Apparently no joint statement was issued and there is no recording or transcript available - only a series of tweets from ---> @OzRefugeeCounc [26/5/15]: #Rohingya are amongst the most persecuted and Australia needs to do it's fair share says @WilkieMP ...
Hey Australian media! Why not also ignore this so the protected, unaccountable Foreign Minister and useless opposition can keep banging on about people smugglers ----> Understanding and responding to the region's current humanitarian crisis [Refugee Council of Australia – 26/5/15]:
In considering how to respond, Australia and the international community must look simultaneously at immediate steps to protection those at risk at sea, how to improve human rights and living conditions within Burma and how countries in the region and around the world can work together in to share responsibility. RCOA has prepared a briefing paper, including recommendations drawn from recent authoritative statements and reports on the current crisis.
In the light of the above, the Refugee Council of Australia recommends that Australia:
1. Offer logistical and financial assistance to nations rescuing boat arrivals: Actively offer support to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, to UNHCR, IOM and relevant NGOs with logistics or financial resources to support search and rescue, humane reception arrangements, alternatives to detention and fair screening processes.
2. Negotiate resettlement places for refugees: In dialogue with UNHCR, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, make a specific pledge, above and beyond the current Refugee and Humanitarian Program, of refugee resettlement places and encourage the United States, Canada, New Zealand and EU states to do the same.
3. Encourage dialogue and commit financial resources to addressing causes of migrant and refugee flows: Acknowledging the leadership of ASEAN states and Bangladesh, indicate Australia’s willingness to participate in regional and international dialogue about the causes of the refugee and migrant movements and its willingness to contribute funding towards agreed strategies to improve human rights conditions in Burma, economic and social development in Bangladesh and constructive action to tackle human trafficking.
4. Increase diplomatic pressure on Burma to address persecution of Rohingya: Acknowledging the need for leadership from ASEAN states, work with other nations to increase pressure on the Government and all political parties in Burma to take action to restore citizenship to Burma’s Rohingya people, address pressing human rights concerns and counter communal violence and hate speech, insisting on international action if such pleas are ignored.
5. Advocate for the establishment of UN human rights presence in Burma: Through UN forums, advocate for the establishment of an office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Burma to provide independent monitoring.
Imaginary Ticky Fullerton to Woodside's CEO: Has the unfolding genocide in Rakhine had a positive or negative impact on your operations?
ABC, Lateline [17/8/11]:
... TICKY FULLERTON: What about Browse in the Kimberley? We've got the politics ramping up. Are you worried about this environmental assault by Geoff Cousins? He was pretty successful against Gunns. He's now talking about industrialisation of the Kimberley.
PETER COLEMAN: Well, you know, the environmentalist assessment, and more importantly the consultation process in the Kimberley, has now been going on for a number of years. And there is a process in place for that. And it's a well-marked-out process and is full of consultation.
Woodside and government, along with the Native Title claimants in the Kimberley, have been very active participants in that process. They - we've gone through a process of conciliation and a process of working together to really understand what we need to do.
And that culminated in a vote from the Native Title owners about whether they want to go forward with James Price Point as a hub or not. And they said yes. And we need to remember the reason that we're coming into a hub and why we support a hub is because we are trying to ensure that we have well-designed proper development in the Kimberley and I think it's important for everybody to understand that.
Stop doing journalism we are all pro US invasion of Iraq now: Australian Defence Association to New Zealand media [AUDIO - RNZI - 27/5/15]
Sitting ducks in an illegal imperial war. [NZ Herald - 24/5/15]:
... It was important New Zealand supported its longstanding allies but the deployment was "almost in the nature of gesture politics," Dr Smith said.
"We've got special forces which are reasonably well-maintained, trained and equipped. Beyond that, we've got no defence forces. We've got no air force."
This was paradoxical, given the aerial focus of coalition attacks on ISIS so far. ...
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 25, and 8 a.m., May 26, local time.
In Syria, coalition military forces conducted seven airstrikes using attack, bomber and fighter aircraft.
Separately in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted 12 airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
“Coalition airstrikes struck multiple targets near Mosul, Iraq,” said Col. Wayne Marotto, CJTF-OIR chief of public affairs.
“The Coalition continues to shape this region for future offensive operations.”
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
Near Al Hasakah, seven airstrikes struck four ISIL tactical units, an ISIL natural gas production plant and an ISIL headquarters, destroying four ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL mortar position.
Near Bayji, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL excavator.
Near Fallujah, four airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying four ISIL homemade explosives resupply vehicles and an ISIL armored vehicle.
Near Hit, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL resupply vehicle.
Near Mosul, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and an ISIL rocket firing position, destroying two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL building and an ISIL vehicle.
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 tactical unit and an ISIL heavy machine gun, destroying two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL mortar position.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
War leaves 16 million Yemenis without clean water: Oxfam [albawaba - 26/5/15]
Israeli air force launches multiple attacks on Gaza Strip [Press TV - 27/5/15]
@Mogaza - Mohammed Omer [27/5/15]: Screaming children and women upstairs... 3:56 am #GazaUnderAttack airstrikes #happeningnow
Egyptian navy shoots, injures Gaza fisherman [Maan - 26/5/15]
A UN body has issued a grave warning about the deteriorating political and security situation across the occupied Palestinian territories, pointing to a "lack of political horizon," in a report released Monday. ... [Maan - 26/5/15]
Militants launch coordinated attack in Kabul city [Khaama - 27/5/15]
Four civilians have sustained injuries in a bomb explosion in front of the grand mosque of Khost province. ... [Khaama - 26/5/15]
Five coalminers died of gas suffocation inside a coalmine in the Dara-i-Suf Bala district of northern Samangan province on Tuesday, the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said in a statement. ... [Pajhwok - 26/5/15]
Libya PM escapes assassination attempt: Spokesman [Ahram - 26/5/15]
Police have identified the gunman in Tuesday's deadly Walmart shooting in Grand Forks, ND as an active duty airman with the U.S. Air Force.
At an afternoon news conference Grand Forks Police Chief Mark Nelson said 21-year-old Marcell Willis entered the store shortly after 1 a.m. and immediately shot two employees with a handgun.
One of them was killed, the other wounded.
Willis reportedly fired at a third employee before walking to another part of the store and killing himself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. ... [KARE 11 - 26/5/15]
EU border agency expands refugee rescue operation
The EU's border agency said Tuesday it will expand its search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean to help cope with an upsurge in migrants trying to reach Europe, after UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on Europe to do more.
The Warsaw-based Frontex border agency said in a statement it will now deploy three aircraft, six offshore patrol vessels, 12 patrol boats, two helicopters and 15 teams of experts to the Triton operation off southern Italy during the peak summer season and also expand its operational area.
The move constitutes a doubling or tripling of resources deployed up till now and comes a month after EU leaders agreed to increase the operation's monthly funding from 3 million euros ($3.3 million) to 9 million euros.
The expansion would "support the Italian authorities in controlling its sea borders and in saving lives, too many of which have already been tragically lost this year," Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri said in the statement.
Twenty-six European countries are participating in the operation, Frontex said.
Earlier Tuesday, Ban told reporters that Europe "can provide more help" and called for search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean to be "further strengthened".
So far this year, some 1,770 migrants have perished on the hazardous journey to Europe, according to the International Organisation for Migration, representing a 30-fold increase over the same period in 2014.
EU ministers last week approved plans for a military operation to fight Mediterranean people smugglers, although proposals to destroy traffickers' boats in Libyan waters still need UN approval.
The European Commission has also unveiled plans to make the rest of the 28-nation EU share the burden of frontline states such as Italy, Greece and Malta, although some countries like Britain are opposed.
EU plan for military intervention against "refugee boats" in Libya and the Mediterranean [WikiLeaks – 25/5/15]:
... Human rights organisations have called on the EU not to put the lives of refugees and migrants at risk. The plan acknowledges that the EU risks negative publicity "should loss of life be attributed, correctly or incorrectly, to action or inaction by the EU force".
To manage this reputational risk, the documents recommend "an EU information strategy from the outset" in order to "facilitate expectation management".
They also acknowledge the "need to calibrate military activity" particularly within Libyan waters or ashore "in order to avoid destabilising the political process by causing collateral damage, disrupting legitimate economic activity or creating a perception of having chosen sides". ...
US appeals court rules with states challenging Obama's immigration action [Reuters – 26/5/15]
Peru: man shot dead by police during mining protest, says union [EURO News - 26/5/15]
Three civilians, including a child, have reportedly been killed in eastern Ukraine after a shell fired by the Ukrainian military hit a residential area.
Three people, including an 11-year old girl, her father and one more civilian have died in the town of Gorlovka, the Donetsk news agency reported, citing senior rebel commander Eduard Basurin.
Four more people have been injured, including one serviceman, Basurin said. The shelling on Tuesday confirms Kiev has betrayed the Minsk agreements, by not removing heavy artillery from the region, Basurin said.
"If the artillery were removed 50 kilometers as agreed, it could not have reached the town," the rebel commander told the Rossiya24 channel. ... [RT - 26/5/15]
UN human rights chief dismayed at Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers
Human Rights Law Centre Media Release [27/5/15]:
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has condemned Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers in a statement delivered to the UN Human Rights Council overnight.
While speaking on the refugee crises unfolding in both Europe and South East Asia, the High Commissioner said he was “dismayed” at Australia’s interception, return and offshore detention of people seeking its protection.
Human Rights Law Centre Director of Legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb, said that the statement reflected growing international concern at the example Australia was setting.
“An urgent humanitarian crisis is unfolding both in Europe and on our own doorstep. A wealthy, developed and fundamentally decent nation like Australia should be part of the solution. Instead, we’re being called out on the world stage as part of the problem”, said Mr Webb.
The statement emphasised that people boarding asylum seeker vessels “are some of the most vulnerable people in the world” and called for a “more humane, less mean-spirited” response.
Specific to the Rohingya fleeing Burma, the High Commissioner reported that they often had only two options – “stay and die or leave by boat”.
“It is a tragedy that many of the world’s most vulnerable people are having to risk their lives on boats in order to reach safety. It’s cruel and counterproductive to punish them for doing so. These people need safe pathways to protection, not harsher deterrence measures,” said Mr Webb.
The High Commissioner emphasised that “there is a better way”, urging states to respond in a way that is “grounded in our values and commitments – not in prejudice and fear”. He called on states to expand safe and regular pathways to protection and criticised countries for militarising the issue and offering too few resettlement places.
“The UN is urging countries to respect international law and share responsibility, yet Australia is breaching international law in order to shift it. When it comes to asylum seekers, Australia does none of the things the UN urges and all of the things the UN condemns,” said Mr Webb.
“Australia should be working with the UN and our neighbours to develop a genuine regional solution which provides safe pathways to protection for people who need to seek it,” said Mr Webb.
The High Commissioner’s speech can be found here.
Amnesty International's Secretary General slams Australia's isolationism and treatment of first nations people, confirms Australian government banned them from visiting Nauru.
Facebook blackout enters 27th day. [ABC, Lateline - 26/5/15]:
... STEVE CANNANE: Well, let's talk more about your trip to Bourke in western New South Wales. In Bourke they're looking at justice reinvestment, which is the idea that you take money from the criminal justice system and you invest it into the communities where the majority of offenders come from. Do you see this as a kind of solution to reverse some of the shocking incarceration rates we were just mentioning before?
SALIL SHETTY: That's one good example. There's other examples from other states and other parts of Australia as well. But the fact is: as of now, Australia is in violation of many international standards including the Convention of the Rights of the Child. And as I said: this is one issue.
But I also want my - The purpose of my visit is also to focus on the other big issue, which is the refugee question. And again, unfortunately, Australia - which is a country which has been created through immigration - is in violation of international standards, trying to stop the boats from coming in (and we've seen what a disaster that's been in Europe) with offshore processing centres, which are inhumane.
We visited these centres. We've had a death in Manus under the watch of Australia and the PNG police. And we have kids - you know, asylum seeking children - in these detention centres, all of which has to stop.
STEVE CANNANE: All right. Let's talk more about issues around refugees. A migration summit is being held in Thailand on Friday. What solutions do you hope will come out of that summit to deal with the thousands of refugees who are currently adrift at sea?
SALIL SHETTY: Well, the solutions are there. I think what we need is the political will to make it happen. We know that people are fleeing from persecution. People are not just taking a joyride on these boats and risking their lives.
So there are international standards. You need to process asylum seekers' requests case by case. You can't send them off to Nauru and Manus. We're not even allowed to visit Nauru because when we visited Manus we found that the conditions of overcrowding, of ill health, of violence against the asylum seekers, the people in the detention centres, are so shocking that the Government's not even allowing us to visit Nauru any more.
And sending people off to Cambodia: I mean, we know Cambodia's not equipped to handle it. We know that it's not the safest place for people to go to.
So yes, we need a regional solution to the problem. But Australia is one of the richest countries in that part of the world. The Australian people themselves understand these issues. You know, that's the history of Australia. So I think it's high time a solution is found with Australia playing a leadership role.
STEVE CANNANE: OK. Well, let's talk more about that idea of a regional solution, because we heard a lot about that in this country a few years ago: about the need for a regional solution to solve the problem of the people smuggling trade. There's been less talk of that of late. Is this a real opportunity now to set up a process where a regional framework can deal with this issue?
SALIL SHETTY: It is. I mean, the problem, of course, is stunning. Right now, the issues: the Rohingya issue. So we need to find - Myanmar needs to do the right thing with the Rohingya people.
But I must say, Steve, that, you know, I wouldn't want the discussion of regional solutions to somehow allow Australia to get away from its own responsibility: its responsibility as a regional actor, a global player, as a country which stands up for human rights on the world stage.
And what we're seeing Australia doing with the people arriving on boats, with, you know, pushing them back into the water, with pushing them into offshore processing centres: this is not in line with international standards and it's, you know: this needs to be corrected by Australia itself. You don't need a regional solution to deal with the people who are coming to your shores.
There's of course a question of: how do you make sure they don't come in the first instance? But these are people who are running away from persecution.
And maybe some of them are economic migrants. But is that a problem in itself? I mean, they were economic migrants who came to Australia in the first place as well. And Australia, you know, welcomed refugees historically. Ninety thousand or so from Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
But today, what is Australia doing with the refugee situation? Millions of Syrians are being pushed out of Syria and Australia's agreeing to take only 1,500 per year for the next three years, when they can easily take up to 10,000. You know, the humanitarian resettlement of refugees: the numbers that Australia's talking about by year end is only 13,750. It should be at least 20,000 by the end of this year.
So Australia can do better. It's not a regional problem. It's equally Australia's. We have an Australian solution to this problem as well.
STEVE CANNANE: You say Australia can do better, but we constantly hear from Australian Government ministers that per capita we have one of the most generous refugee humanitarian programs in the world. Is that true?
SALIL SHETTY: I mean, the most generous humanitarian program in the world, if you take Syria, for example, are run by Lebanon, Jordan: the neighbouring countries from Syria who are amongst the poorest countries themselves. That's where you find the real generosity.
All the rich countries put together, unfortunately, are dealing with just a trickle. But OK: I mean, if Australia's done... I mean, let's be proud of what you've done. There's no issue with that. But the fact is: Australia can take a lot more without causing any internal issues.
STEVE CANNANE: You mentioned earlier that Amnesty International had been denied access to the detention centre in Nauru. Who has denied you access there?
SALIL SHETTY: Well, it's the Government. You know, we can't obviously enter without permission from the Australian Government and its collaborative partners.
STEVE CANNANE: But is it the Nauru government or the Australian Government?
SALIL SHETTY: Well, I mean, for us there's no difference between the two because the two have to give permission together. So we don't separate. And, you know, we don't end up with this ping pong. There are factors. You know, independent monitors should be allowed to go to these places. The reports which come from these places are terrible. And if there is nothing to hide, why are we not allowed in?
STEVE CANNANE: Salil Shetty, we'll have to leave it there. Thanks very much for joining us.
SALIL SHETTY: Thanks
Indonesia willing to lead Rohingya relief efforts with the help of international community.
Australia says "not our problem".
Human rights establishment MUTE.
"Terrorist Dual-Citizens" and Equal Marriage today's big issues.
What a crock.
Jakarta Globe [26/5/15]:
The government revealed it has disbursed a total of Rp 2.3 billion ($174,000) for Bangladeshi and Rohingya refugees stranded in Aceh, but is asking the international community to help with funding if they want Indonesia to do more.
“We’ve funneled Rp 2.3 billion for blankets, children’s clothing, mattresses and tents for four refugee camps in North Aceh, East Aceh and Langsa,” Social Services Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa told reporters in Jakarta on Monday, after meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla to report on the issue.
Several Islamic boarding schools in West and East Java have expressed interest in taking in orphans, she said, adding that as many as 230 Rohingya children have lost their parents.
“These schools have spoken to me directly. They say they are willing to shelter the orphaned children as students, as they are all Muslims ,” she said.
Meanwhile, trauma centers operated by the Ministry of Social Services have signaled they are also ready to accommodate these children.
Authorities have discussed the possibility of repatriating the orphans, but the process would be long and require the collective efforts of multiple organizations, Khofifa explained.
Kalla last week met with Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah and representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to discuss the building refugee crisis.
Kalla has ordered the Aceh government to provide assistance to the asylum seekers and said Indonesia was willing to shelter them for up to a year, but asked the UNHCR to help address funding issues.
Indonesia is not a party to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees and is, therefore, not obligated to offer boat people aid in any shape or form.
Nearly 2,000 refugees from Bangladesh and Myanmar were stranded on the archipelago’s westernmost province after the Thai government’s recent crackdown on human trafficking and Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s initial refusal to offer help, lead to them drifting onboard rickety boats.
The human traffickers that took them on the perilous journey had reportedly abandoned ship.
Aceh’s fishermen were the first to take action, bringing them to shore and providing temporary shelters.
Aceh’s Zaini said in Jakarta on Tuesday that his province was willing to help the boat people while the UNHCR was in the process of screening those worthy of refugee status and those who are not, but asked the central government to stay true to its promise to assist with funding.
“The funds must be disbursed soon, otherwise [Aceh] will not be able to handle this situation alone,” Zaini said.
It was not immediately clear whether the financial assistance he meant included the money distributed by the Ministry of Social Services.
Local lawmakers and observers have urged the government to seriously address the dire issue, as Southeast Asia faces what the UNHCR called a “massive humanitarian crisis” following the Thai crackdown.
Golkar Party lawmaker Tantowi Yahya said the government must be pro-active in encouraging Burmese authorities to deal with their domestic problems — the root cause of thousands of Rohingyas fleeing through unsafe waters to find new homes, mostly aiming for Australia.
“Indonesia should lead other Asean countries in addressing the settlement issue for Rohingya Muslims,” Tantowi said in Jakarta on Tuesday. “We have political leverage over Myanmar,” Tantowi added, referring to the archipelago’s senior role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, of which Myanmar is also a member.
“We must use this as ammunition to push the Burmese government to solve this problem wisely and immediately.”
International relations expert Dinna Wisnu of Paramadina University pointed out that Myanmar has gradually begun to open up about the country’s situation which has lead to the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims.
“But the solution still lies with Myanmar. The best we can do, as its neighbor right now, is to refrain from playing the blaming game. We must instead encourage the Burmese government to solve this matter,” Dinna said on Tuesday.
“[Indonesia’s] approach must be constructive and cautious, because this is a sensitive matter to them,” she added.
Last week, top officials from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand held a meeting which resulted in four points that were later agreed on by the Burmese government.
Defense and foreign policy expert Bantarto Bandoro of the Indonesian Defense University echoed Dinna’s remarks.
“Although we can’t intervene with the Burmese government’s handling of its domestic issues, we can play an important role here,” Bantarto said.
“The Indonesian government and other ASEAN countries including Myanmar must sit together to find the best solution to end this exodus.”
“This is mainly a humanitarian problem. But the Burmese government should understand that Indonesia has its own limits, be it in terms of finances or facilities,” he added.
University of Indonesia international law professor Hikmahanto Juwana earlier this month suggested that Indonesia set up a refugee camp on one of its 18,307 islands, as it did for Vietnamese war refugees on Galang Island in Riau in the 1990s.
He also asserted, however, that Indonesia would not be able to run the center itself and would need financial assistance from other countries.
“Financially, we cannot run such an island alone. We would need help from other parties,” Hikmahanto said.
“We need to discuss this option with the UNHCR,” he added.
Bit too newsy for Australia's political and media class ----> Ban praises Ireland’s compassionate leadership on migration and refugees [Media Release - 26/5/15]:
... He said he had seen on his visit some of the support that Ireland provides in resettling people who have fled some of the world’s conflict areas, including Syria and Afghanistan.
The Secretary-General said he urged European leaders to address migration in a more comprehensive and collective way and he stressed the importance of compassion in handling the situation. The main priority was to save lives of those without the means to protect themselves through further strengthened search-and-rescue operations, life-saving humanitarian assistance and addressing the root causes of the migration.
“I know that the Irish Government has dispatched a naval vessel and that I really appreciate,” he said, calling for the responsibility to be borne by more than just one or two countries that are affected and saying that he would try to engage with the European Union leadership and Commissioners on the issue.
Possibility of dismantling the status quo, shattering two party fascism also "a bit too newsy" for the Australian media [France 24 - 26/5/15]:
... Podemos’ anti-austerity message has been steadily connecting with voters struggling with sky-high unemployment, painful spending cuts and declining living standards.
“It looks like the platform now backed by the anti-austerity Podemos will take Madrid,” said FRANCE 24’s correspondent Sarah Morris.
“Podemos is promising all sorts of new changes, notably to look after some of those poor citizens in Madrid that really got left behind in the economic crisis.”
Ordinary Spaniards struggling to pay their bills have been facing a record number of evictions and foreclosures on homes, and Podemos has found natural allies in anti-eviction organisations across the country. They blame the government for protecting banks while turning their backs on destitute families.
Meanwhile, painful austerity policies demanded by Spain’s lenders have led Rajoy’s government to implement spending cuts worth €150bn between 2012 and 2014, sapping education, public health and social benefits.
Spain is enjoying a modest economic recovery today, but most citizens are yet to reap the benefits.
A nearly eight-year economic crisis has left the country with a 24 percent unemployment rate. Even under the government's forecasts, the overall jobless rate will still be 17.7 percent in 2017. ...
... We want the European Union, ASEAN, and the International Community to recognize the suffering of the Rohingya people, and the fact that they're experiencing crimes against humanity at the hands of their own government. We want the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people to end. This is an important basis for any real peace talks and engagement with the Myanmar government. ... [Maired Maguire speech to Oslo Conference - 26/5/15]
... The government of Myanmar has sought to absolve itself of responsibility for the conflict between the Rakhine and the Rohingya, projecting it as sectarian or communal violence. I would be more inclined to heed the warnings of eminent scholars and researchers including Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate in economics, who say this is a deliberately false narrative to camouflage the slow genocide being committed against the Rohingya people. There's evidence they say that anti-Rohingya sentiment has been carefully cultivated by the government itself. ... [Archbishop Desmond Tutu speech to Oslo Conference - 26/5/15]
The Speech of Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta at The Oslo Conference to End Myanmar’s Systematic Persecution of Rohingyas [26/5/15]
27 May 2015