Image of Asia: Standing watch on Malaysian navy ship at sea [Yahoo - 28/5/15]
It is NOT a conference about people smuggling ---> Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean [Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Kingdom of Thailand]:
... The key topics of discussion will include:
1. Finding urgent solutions for the 7,000 irregular migrants estimated to be remaining in the Indian Ocean;
2. Finding long-term solutions to the problem of irregular migration in the Indian Ocean, particularly those related to human trafficking;
3. Addressing the challenges in countries of origin.
Key objectives of the meeting are:
1. Promote international cooperation in solving the problem, and engage key affected countries of origin, transit, and destination, considering that Thailand is a country of transit;
2. Emphasize the principle of international burden sharing;
3. Engage constructively with countries of origin and in the region. ...
So Australia has sent its "Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues".
NEW DEPUTY PERMREP TO AUSTRALIAN MISSION TO UN: ANDREW GOLEDZINOWSKI:
1. (U) Andrew Goledzinowski (go-LED-zin-OV-ski), who was most recently Assistant Secretary of the International Organisations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will take up his new post as Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York beginning June 28. A brief biographic sketch follows.
Joint NGO Statement ahead of the Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean, Bangkok, 29 May 2015
Relief Web [27/5/15]:
Please find herein the Joint NGO Statement ahead of the intergovernmental Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean being held on 29 May 2015 hosted by the Royal Thai Government in Bangkok.
The signatories below represent more than 600 non-governmental and civil society organisations operating across Asia and the Pacific regions.
We the undersigned welcome the decision of the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand to provide temporary shelter and protection to refugees and migrants rescued at sea as a step in the right direction.
We acknowledge that Thailand has called for a Special Meeting on Irregular Migration, on the 29th of May 2015 with 17 states invited to attend. We are hopeful that the meeting will pave the way for longer term, sustainable and durable solutions to address the irregular movements by sea from those seeking to escape poverty and/or persecution.
We are encouraged by announcements of the Indonesian, Malaysian, and Myanmar governments that search and rescue operations will be conducted to locate and rescue people in boats still at sea.
We urge other governments to follow suit in conducting their own search and rescue operations.
We reiterate that all people who are in need have the right to request and receive humanitarian assistance and international protection with special attention paid to vulnerable women and children. All rescue at sea and interception operations should ensure access to disembarkation and access to full and fair asylum procedures for those who express a need for international protection.
Furthermore, we believe that no refugee should be penalized as a result of the way that she or he entered a country. The reception arrangements for those rescued at sea should be in line with international standards.
All authorities involved in border and immigration management should treat all persons with dignity and respect and in accordance with their obligations under human rights law.
Practical protection safeguards are required to be put in place and the differentiated protection requirements of people in this mixed population movement must be taken into consideration.
We are committed to support the efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the population.
We strongly urge the States involved to:
1. Provide people rescued immediate access to humanitarian assistance, especially vulnerable women and children, with adequate food, water, health care, shelter and sanitation.
2. Allow and facilitate access by humanitarian agencies and international organizations with protection mandates.
3. Ensure that people rescued at sea are not penalized for the way they have entered the country.
4. Those in need of international protection should be given access to asylum procedures.
5. Explore and pursue durable solutions with processes that draw input from affected persons.
6. Ensure procedural transparency and accountability to affected persons such that they are accorded due process of law and are fully informed of their rights and responsibilities and the limitations and time frames of any proposed solution.
7. Urgently develop regional and national solutions that address the root causes of refugee and migrant outflows.
Australia has been accused of being xenophobic, parochial and nationalistic in its response to asylum seekers, on the eve of a regional people smuggling summit [Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean].
Australia's former Ambassador to Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, John McCarthy, and Thailand's former foreign minister, Kasit Piromya, have both expressed their dismay at the Federal Government's policies.
It comes as Thailand begins the first concerted search and humanitarian effort to locate thousands of Rohingya missing at sea.
Seven navy ships, four small patrol vessels and aircraft have been dispatched to search an area in the Andaman sea where scores of boats are currently believed to be adrift with up to 10,000 people onboard.
Hundreds of the ethnic minority, mainly Muslim refugees, have made it ashore in the past couple of weeks, despite initially being forced back to sea as countries in the region — including Australia — ruled out taking them in.
Now warnings are being sounded about the slow response to this crisis.
Mr McCarthy told Lateline Australia's response placed it on shaky moral ground going into tomorrow's talks in Bangkok.
"We need to show that we are a decent country," he said.
"Right now we are not showing that we are. And I think it is very much open to question that we are behaving as a decent country. I don't think we are."
Mr McCarthy said a regional solution to the problem was needed and Australia should be looking to increase its refugee intake.
"Merely because at some stage somebody got on a boat and somebody may have paid somebody should not preclude them from being regarded as worthy of being given sanctuary," he said.
"People like Angus Houston and the committee that was established two years ago argued that we should increase our intake to 20,000 and then to 27,000."
Mr Piromya said Australia and Thailand had a history of working together to resolve regional refugee crises and that is what tomorrow's talks should be seeking to achieve.
He pointed to the post-Vietnam War response.
"The international community was able to solve the Vietnamese boat people [crisis] successfully, so that experience should transfer, be translated into action with the Rohingya," he said.
Mr Piromya said when almost 1 million Vietnamese refugees fled their country by sea in the 70s and 80s, Thailand committed to following Australia's lead.
"When we were receiving the Vietnamese boat people the Australian government at that time was telling the Thai government to follow the principle of non-refoulement, the French word for not to push back," Mr Piromya said.
"So today I think Australia must also work hand in hand with the countries in Asia and the Pacific region to find a common solution to the Rohingya's problems."
Tomorrow's meeting in Bangkok will bring together 17 countries from the Association of South-East Asian Nations, as well as international organisations.
Murdoch's Post-Courier reports a Manus refugee was refused entry to Lorengau Court to protest his ongoing detention
A refugee on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island has been barred from entering a court in Lorengau to protest his detention.
Mohsen Sakravie, who remains detained at Australia's detention centre on the island despite his refugee application having been successfully processed, wanted to see Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia on Wednesday.
His lawyer, Ben Lomai, says his client wanted to tell the Chief Justice that he and others had been kept too long while they wait for the government's resettlement policy framework to be put in place.
The Post Courier Mr Lomai says his client was exercising his constitutional right to make a complaint to the court, but that was denied.
He says some asylum seekers who have been processed and deemed refugees have been waiting for almost 18 months in detention and there seems to be no end in sight.
Refugee Rights Action Network WA [28/5/15]:
Suicide attempts on Manus, Nauru, East Lorengau and in onshore detention centres are all too regular. Every one I hear about is distressing but today it was one of my friends, a young man I have been communicating with for some time now. This young man received back injuries when arrested and jailed during the hunger strikes on Manus earlier this year. He was moved to a different compound away from his friends for several months. Today he made a very determined attempt to end his life. Thankfully he was caught when he jumped. Nearly everyone I talk with is physically and mentally exhausted. Today another friend said he wanted to sleep and sleep and sleep until he died. Australia this is what you are doing to the people who have asked for our help.
If you need help please contact @LifelineAust: 13 11 14 or @beyondblue: 1300 22 4636.
A group of Iranian asylum seekers whose claims for protection have been rejected are appealing against the decision in the Federal Court, in what constitutional experts say could test Australia's protection of religious freedom. ... [ABC - 28/5/15]
Queensland coroner announces joint inquest into deaths of five men shot by police
An inquest is to be held into the deaths of five people shot by Queensland Police officers.
The state coroner announced a joint inquest will be held into the deaths of five men shot between August 2013 and November last year.
The inquest will examine circumstances surrounding the deaths of Anthony Young, Shaun Kumeroa, Laval Zimmer, Edward Logan and Troy Foster.
The hearing is expected to begin later this year.
Young, 42, was shot by police at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast in August 2013 after he threatened them with a machete.
It was later discovered he had murdered a man and woman in their 40s, whose bodies were discovered in a house where Young had been living.
Their 12-year-old daughter escaped when she ran to a neighbour's house.
Kumeroa, 42, had been holed up in his car for several hours armed with a gun at Inala in Brisbane's south-west on September 29 last year.
Officers had arrived at his unit to conduct an enquiry on an unrelated matter.
Police negotiators had been speaking with the man throughout the afternoon on a telephone they had given him.
Aerial footage of the scene showed Kumeroa leaping suddenly from the car and point a gun at special emergency response team police, who fired several shots at him.
Gold Coast woman Rhonda Ryan saw her son Troy Foster shot dead but said police failed to explore non-lethal options.
Police and paramedics performed CPR on the man, but he died of his injuries.
In November last year, three more men were shot dead in the space of a week.
Zimmer, 33, was killed at Kippa-Ring, north of Brisbane, on November 18, shot twice by officers following up reports of hoax triple-0 calls.
On November 23, Edward Logan, 51 was shot several times in the chest at Tewantin on the Sunshine Coast by an officer responding to a call about a man becoming violent at a family birthday party.
The next day, Civil Liberties Council vice-president Terry O'Gorman expressed concern about the number of police shootings and called on the Crime and Corruption Commission or the coroner to conduct a review.
That same night, Troy Foster, 32, was shot dead on the driveway of his mother's home in the Gold Coast suburb of Southport.
Foster had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar and also obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Police said he was armed with a knife and lunged at officers, who shot him in self-defence.
Queensland's police minister won't say if she's concerned about the increasing number of police suspensions.
A growing number of officers have been stood down this year as the Ethical Standards Command investigates criminal allegations against them.
But Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller on Thursday said the police service was 100 per cent effective.
Business as usual in Queensland ----> Jo-Ann Miller won't rule out reopening Borallan Correctional Centre [Brisbane Times - 28/5/15]:
… At 6pm on October 26, 2011 Mr Vetters was locked in his cell for the night at Borallan Correctional Centre near Ipswich.
At some point in the following three hours, after a life plagued by mental illness, he took his bed sheet, strung it from the ceiling and hanged himself.
He hung it from what Queensland Coroner Terry Ryan termed a hanging point, which there has been a concerted, but expensive, effort to remove from prison cells across the state in a bid to prevent custodial deaths just like that of Mr Vetters.
Borallan was shut down soon after Mr Vetters' death in a long-planned decommissioning of the site and prisoners migrated to the new Southern Queensland Correctional Centre near Gatton.
But when the tough-on-crime approach favoured by the former LNP government's Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie caused prisoner population numbers in Queensland to swell by nearly 1000 between June 2013 and June 2014, it was announced Borallan would reopen as a high security prison.
With no plans, according to Mr Ryan, to invest the millions of dollars required to eliminate the hanging points in nearly half of its 492 cells.
A CCTV camera was turned away from the front of an Indigenous inmate's cell before he was viciously bashed behind bars in April, a court has heard. ... [Canberra Times - 28/5/15]
Coronial inquest to examine Sage Sagittarius fatalities [Daily Star - 28/5/15]
Cyclist dies after hit by truck in Sydney
Nine MSN [28/5/15]:
A male cyclist has been killed in accident with a garbage truck during peak hour in Sydney's east.
The accident occurred on New South Head Road in Rose Bay about 7.45am on Thursday, police say.
The cyclist is believed to be aged in his 50s.
Witnesses reportedly tried to perform CPR, but he couldn't be saved and died at the scene.
The truck driver was taken to hospital for mandatory blood and urine tests, police said.
The cyclist and the truck were both believed to have been travelling towards the city when the crash occurred near the intersection of Kent Road.
It follows the death of an 82-year-old woman in a three-car collision in Sydney's west on Wednesday.
Police say the woman was a passenger in a Holden Commodore that crashed into another car before both collided with a third vehicle at an intersection in St Marys at about 5.20pm.
8-year-old boy hospitalised after being hit by car, Mulambin [Morning Bulletin - 28/5/15]
Emergency services responding to crash south of Marlborough [Morning Bulletin – 28/5/15]:
Emergency Services are travelling to the scene of a crash 20km south of Marlborough on the Bruce Hwy.
The highway was blocked after a vehicle hit a cow.
Crews from Rockhampton and Marlborough are heading to the scene.
Jury in murder trial sees Comrie Cullen's diary: 'He was very aggressive'
Sydney Morning Herald [27/5/15]:
"He was very aggressive."
That is how Victoria Comrie Cullen described her husband's manner during a phone call two days before he killed her, a NSW Supreme Court jury has been told.
Extracts of diary entries in Ms Cullen's handwriting, found by police in her Sutherland apartment, were given to the jury of eight men and four women to consider in the final days of Christopher Cullen's murder trial.
An entry dated January 20, 2014 says, in part: "He was very aggressive. Told me to stop going on."
The body of Ms Cullen, a 39-year-old Irish beauty therapist known as Comrie, was found in the car park of the St George and Sutherland Shire Angler's Club on January 22. She was slumped over, with her throat slit and her face beaten.
Mr Cullen, a 51-year-old Englishman and former carpenter, has pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter on the basis of self-defence and provocation.
The couple separated in October 2013, when Mr Cullen accused her of having an affair and allegedly threatened to kill her if she didn't leave their Sylvania house, the court has heard.
After police found Ms Cullen's body, Mr Cullen emerged from mangroves and said his estranged wife had taunted him about her sex life, he "lost it", and they stabbed each other, before he stabbed himself.
In her closing address on Wednesday, Crown prosecutor Siobhan Herbert said a text message Mr Cullen sent to his sister Tina that afternoon was a significant piece of evidence.
The message said: "Sorry can't cope with lies no more. Thank [sic] for every thing".
"His own words to his sister are about lies. There's nothing about taunting, nothing about being attacked. That's because, in my submission, those things had not happened."
She said evidence that Mr Cullen bought knives, which were marked "guaranteed sharp", and a change of clothes on the way to the fishing club proved the killing was planned.
"You'd be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Christopher Cullen is guilty of the murder of Victoria Comrie Cullen."
Defence barrister Winston Terracini SC said the killing of Ms Cullen was a "shocking tragedy", but it was not a planned act.
"You do it in broad daylight, in an open area, where there's no way you can conceal what you're doing: that's some plan, and some pre-meditation."
"You would reject that it was planned, you would reject that it was pre-meditated. Whatever happened, happened quite rapidly."
Mr Terracini pointed out that Ms Cullen did in fact have an two-month affair, with a young Danish man named Nick Baastrup, whom she met at the Sting nightclub in Cronulla in 2013.
He said, under the law, someone could be provoked by certain behaviour over time.
"You don't have to be provoked instantly, or react immediately."
The trial continues before Justice Ian Harrison.
Police investigation finds no online contact between Lindt Cafe siege gunman and Islamic State, inquest hears [Sydney Morning Herald – 28/5/15]
Two children injured after falling from windows in Queensland
Brisbane Times [28/5/15]:
Two children have been hospitalised on Thursday after falling from windows in separate incidents.
A two-year-old girl was taken to the Lady Cilento Children's hospital after a fall at an Ipswich property at Moores Pocket about 11.30am. The girl was transported in a serious condition and the hospital later said she was stable.
Three hours earlier a four year-old boy suffered serious facial injuries when he fell from a window on the second floor of a house in the Townsville suburb of West End.
A police spokesman said neither incident was under investigation.
... Gerald Ridsdale molested an 11-year-old girl in the home he once shared with other priests, including now Cardinal George Pell, an inquiry into child sexual abuse has been told. ... [ABC - 28/5/15]
A woman has told a court about the time she made a comment about a radio news bulletin that then led to her granddaughter revealing her father had been raping her.
The woman told the court she was so shocked at the revelations she was forced to pull over the car.
A Mackay man, 41, who cannot be named in order to protect his daughter's identity, pleaded not guilty this week in the Brisbane District Court to rape and maintaining a relationship with a child. ... [Daily Mercury -28/5/15]
Grievous bodily harm charge, Manoora
QPS Media [28/5/15]:
Cairns detectives have charged a 36-year-old Gordonvale man with grievous bodily harm following police investigations into an incident which left a Manoora man with a critical head injury.
It will be alleged that an altercation occurred between two men on Pease Street, Manoora around 2am on Wednesday morning, May 27 during which time a 52-year-old man sustained a stab wound to the head.
The man was transported to Cairns Base Hospital before being transferred to Townsville Hospital.
The 36-year-old man is due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court today.
Both men were known to each other.
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.
Teenagers charged with armed robbery, Mount Lofty
QPS Media [28/5/15]:
Police have charged three teenagers following investigations into the alleged armed robbery of a taxi driver on Tuesday night.
It will be alleged the driver was threatened with a knife after dropping three teens off in Stuart Street around 8pm.
The driver was not physically harmed during the incident.
The three teenagers, a 13-year-old boy, a 15-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl, have each been charged with armed robbery in company and enter premises with intent to commit indictable offence. All three will be dealt with under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act.
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.
Armed robbery, Forest Lake
QPS Media [27/5/15]:
Police are investigating after a licensed premises was robbed by two men at Forest Lake this evening.
Around 7.10pm two men armed with a rifle entered the premises on Forest Lake Boulevard, threatening staff and demanding money. Patrons were also threatened.
Staff complied with demands and opened two registers, handing over money.
The two men then ran from the premises with the cash. They got into a dark coloured sedan and were last seen driving west along Forest Lake Boulevard.
The first man is described as being 180cm tall and of solid build. He was wearing a grey jumper, gloves and a balaclava.
The second man is also described as being 180cm tall and of solid build. He was wearing a black jumper, gloves and a balaclava.
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.
Armed robbery, Rochedale South
QPS Media [27/5/15]:
Police are investigating after a man robbed a Rochedale South bottle shop this evening.
Around 7.10pm a man entered the Underwood Road licenced premises armed with a knife. He demanded money from the male attendant.
After obtaining cash the man fled on foot towards Rochedale Road.
The attendant, a 44-year-old man, was not physically harmed during the incident.
Police have released the image of a man who may assist with investigations. The man is described as Pacific Islander appearance, 180cm tall and of solid build. He was wearing a black jumper, black trousers, gloves and had his face obscured by cloth.
Drugs charges, Gold Coast
QPS Media [28/5/15]:
Detectives from the Gold Coast’s Major and Organised Crime Squad have executed a search warrant at a Bundall address resulting in the seizure of approximately $35,000 in steroids as well as other drugs.
Investigators executed the warrant at a Coogeen Street premises at 12pm yesterday after receiving information from the public.
Officers allegedly located three men in possession of a small quantity of cannabis, and 175 vials of steroids.
Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the performance enhancing drugs and if the drugs were being sold or otherwise distributed to the public.
A 24-year-old Bundall man was charged with one count of possession of a dangerous drug.
A 23-year-old Bundall man was charged with one count of possession of a dangerous drug, unlawful possession of restricted drugs, and failing to dispose of a needle and syringe appropriately.
The pair is scheduled to appear in Southport Magistrates Court on June 22.
A 25-year-old man was drug diverted for possession of a dangerous drug, possession of drug utensils and possession of things used in the commission of a drug offence.
Glencore cuts production and 80 jobs at Collinsville coal mine
Mining firm Glencore is cutting 80 jobs from the workforce of its Collinsville coal mine in north Queensland.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) said the mine now faced an uncertain future.
The job cuts come as Glencore moves to reduce production at the site by 2 million tonnes in response to low coal prices.
The company released a statement saying it was beginning consultation with its Collinsville workforce today over operational changes.
"We expect Collinsville will continue to operate at reduced capacity for the remainder of 2015 as we investigate alternate marketing opportunities for the operation and revise mining plans," the statement said.
Steve Smyth from the CFMEU said it was a blow for a community that is yet to recover from the mine's previous closure in 2013.
"They really haven't given much back to the community, the company, because as I said they've only employed 12 to 15 permanent, and the rest all casual," he said.
"Long term that's an easier and better option for them, to have employees in that sort of employment.
"But it's unknown at this point unfortunately."
He said the job cuts would have an effect on Collinsville businesses.
"Whether they live the community or not, they're there when they are on their rosters, they're there when they're at the mine.
"Obviously it'll have a flow-on effect onto services, but some of the details are scant, we're not actually sure who they are.
"But as I said, because 98 per cent of the workforce is casual, I'd say the 80 workers would come out of those."
Glencore said it had support services in place for employees and their families who are affected by the decision and they would look at options to redeploy people to other Glencore operations.
"The situation at Collinsville reflects the challenges being faced by all Australian coal mines in one of the most difficult markets in the industry's recent history," the company statement said.
Katter: Gulf's alcohol bans racist
North West Star [28/5/15]:
Kennedy’s Federal Member Bob Katter believes they [The Gulf's alcohol bans] are [racist], as indicated by his speech at the Palm Island Indigenous Leaders’ Forum on Wednesday.
He believed the country’s future identity was at jeopardy if double-standards between Aborigines and non-indigenous Australians remained.
“Every person in this room whether they’re black or white or pink in colour, should never accept the proposition that one group of people have a separate set of laws put upon them on racial grounds,” Mr Katter said.
In one town it was legal to have a beer but then in another it was not.
“There’s no explanation for that except one is a black fella community and one is a white fella community,” Mr Katter said.
The Queensland Government lists 15 indigenous communities with alcohol restrictions of various limitations, including two in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
In Doomadgee a person can have 60 cans of light or mid-strength beer but are not allowed wine or spirits.
The 23 islands in the Mornington Shire have tougher restrictions and are officially labelled a “dry community.”
Alcohol is permitted but only in licensed premises Birri Fishing Lodge and Sweers Island Resort, which can only sell alcohol to their residents and their guests.
Everything you ever wanted to know about why we torture asylum seekers, but were too afraid to ask, Dr Lissa Johnson [New Matilda – 28/5/15]:
... When outgroup members are wrongly depicted as criminal, with the brand “illegal”, the violence is even easier to unleash.
Participants in collective violence, however, rarely see themselves as such. In order to inflict torture and abuse on other human beings, self-deception is an important tool.
Professor of Philosophy, Adam Morton says that to view atrocity in terms of “the evil doer as a diabolical force utterly different from the rest of us… is itself to enter into a kind of self-deception. It is to blind ourselves to the amount of horror in the world that results from the actions of normal, well intentioned, kindly people, struggling to evaluate the actions they are agents or accomplices in.”
Of course normal, well-intentioned, kindly agents or accomplices in horror must construct psychological barriers between themselves and the horror that they inflict.
A common method of achieving this is to place the horror in question outside the boundaries of one’s usual morality, a process known as moral disengagement. Where atrocity is concerned, dehumanisation is a particularly powerful means to morally disengage.
Dehumanisation is the (often unconscious) denial of distinctively human qualities to others. If others are less human, they are less deserving of human rights.
The recent sacking of Scott McIntyre provided a lesson in how swiftly the system-justifying self-glorifying narrative will be protected in Australia, especially when the Minister for Communications takes offence.
In 2011 Hilary Clinton declared a war on information. It seems that Australia has joined that war.
The refusal of major media outlets to publish New Matilda’s leaked Moss transcripts in March offers another illustration of a system-justifying press. Concealing the dubious internal workings of a government department accused of torture reflects an unwillingness to dismantle the façade of legitimacy around our collectively violent acts.
In other words, shining a light in dark places not only holds governments to account, but it pierces the self-deceiving narrative that enables torture and other atrocities to thrive.
Like group-based angst, dehumanisation tends to be directed towards members of other social and cultural groups, and is related to support for intergroup violence and aggression of all kinds.
The Immigration Department has been forced to pay at least $10,000 compensation to lawyers who were denied access to a compound at the Christmas Island detention centre, after the Victorian Supreme Court found staff at the centre had behaved in a "high-handed" manner, with an "unacceptable disregard" for the rule of law. ... [Canberra Times - 28/5/15]
Australia offers a cohort of asylum seekers the opportunity to apply for fast tracked TPVs to take the focus off our complicity in genocide
The federal government has lifted a stay on processing asylum seeker claims in Australia and has begun using a controversial fast-track processing system that is likely to see the first temporary protection visas granted.
On Tuesday, asylum seekers in Australia on bridging visas, who arrived by boat after August 2012, began receiving letters offering them the opportunity to apply for temporary protection visas.
This group of asylum seekers had effectively had their claims frozen until after the passage of new laws that were passed in December, which reintroduced three-year temporary protection visas and five-year safe haven enterprise visas.
A letter obtained by Guardian Australia that was sent to one asylum seeker said: “As you entered Australia as an unauthorised maritime arrival ... you were prevented ... from lodging a valid application for any visa while in Australia.”
“The minister has now exercised the power ... to allow you to lodge a valid application for a temporary protection (subclass 785) visa.”
It continues: “It is important that you explain clearly why you are seeking protection in Australia and give details of your protection claim(s) ... if you are unable to provide evidence, you should provide an explanation.”
Rescued Rohingya refugees face uncertainly in Indonesian camps. Australia says "not our problem". [New York Times - 27/5/15]:
... Indonesia’s minister of social affairs, Khofifah Indar Parawansa, whose ministry oversees the camps, said the migrants would remain where they are.
“In my opinion, the existing camps now are good enough,” she said in an interview, adding that the shelters provided for Indonesians who were displaced by a volcano eruption in 2014 were similarly spartan. “Of course, this is Indonesian standard.”
In addition to the paper factory in the village of Bayeun, just outside the town of Langsa in Aceh Province, the migrants are living in similar conditions in three other camps in Aceh, including warehouses in a small state-owned port that is also near Langsa, and an abandoned beachfront government compound near the town of Lhoksukon, a two-hour drive to the north, where they sleep on concrete floors.
Aid groups are concerned that the conditions are unsanitary, could potentially spread disease and were never intended for long-term habitation.
Malaysia relocates 1000 Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees from Belantik "immigration depot". Refers to them as "illegals", worries about how it all looks. [The Malay Mail Online - 28/5/15]:
The Immigration Department is shifting the 1,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshis at the Belantik Immigration depot in Kedah to other states, including Penang, Perak and Kuala Lumpur.
Its director-general, Datuk Mustafa Ibrahim, said this was aimed at clearing space for new arrivals at the depot.
He said people should not compare immigration depots to refugee camps, and assured the public those being housed in immigration depots would have to undergo documentation.
“The department has in place rules and everyone has to adhere to them. There will be no compromise,” he said in a statement.
Mustafa said police were assisting the department by providing security at the depot.
“The cooperation of other agencies has been good and we are working closely to provide assistance to the migrants,” he said.
Mustafa said the Health Ministry had deployed medical personnel to the depot to carry out health screening as the illegals had been living in poor conditions for a long time.
He said the department was checking the backgrounds of those wanting to assist with the illegal migrants.
“We have to be careful with certain quarters who may try to manipulate the issue with unnecessary repercussions on the government, the Home Ministry and the Immigration Department,” he said.
“Since this issue has become more complicated locally and internationally, the department has to be extra careful to protect our dignity and image.”
He said directives issued to his officers by Home Ministry top officials including the minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, were “loud and clear” to ensure compliance.
Major General Andrew Bottrell visits Cambodia to finalise Australia's exile and disappearing of Nauru refugees charade
Phnom Penh Post [28/5/15]:
The senior Australian military official in charge of coordinating the refugee resettlement deal with Cambodia visited Phnom Penh late last week to finalise arrangements for the transfer of four refugees to the Kingdom, he told a Senate committee this week.
Major General Andrew Bottrell, commander of the Joint Agency Task Force for Operation Sovereign Borders and the “tactical and operational liaison with the government of Cambodia”, told Australia’s legal and constitutional affairs committee on Monday that a final date for their arrival had not yet been set.
“I cannot give you a final date, because we have not finalised that with the government of Cambodia,” he said, according to an official record of the proceedings.
“I returned from Cambodia at the end of last week. We continue to work very closely with the government of Cambodia to finalise the arrangements for the final movement of those four.”
Four refugees – an ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar and three Iranians – were secretly flown from the Pacific island of Nauru to Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory in early May and have been housed in an immigration facility near the airport ever since, awaiting approval for a flight to Cambodia.
Since the resettlement scheme, signed in September, was first raised in a closed-door meeting between Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Prime Minister Hun Sen in February last year, it has been shrouded in secrecy. “Consistent with the established protocols for information relating to international engagements, the detail of official bilateral dialogue or communication between operational agencies relating to Operation Sovereign Borders will not be disclosed,” Bottrell said.
Australia agreed to provide an additional A$40 million (about US$31 million) in aid to Cambodia as part of the arrangement, and earlier this week announced it would spend an estimated A$15.5 million more to fund resettlement services.
Bottrell told the committee that the country’s militarised offshore refugee policy had allowed him to focus various agencies’ resources on the deal.
Mike Pezzulo, secretary of Australia’s Immigration and Border Affairs Department, told the same committee on Tuesday that the secrecy was because Canberra does “not want [the refugees] to become zoo exhibits”.
“They are being managed sensitively and empathetically. People have been with them caring for them and engaging with them whilst they have been in transit, and we look forward to helping them to get on their way and settle in Cambodia in the not too distant future.”
“It is just a matter of working through some final logistical details,” he added.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), which is providing initial accommodation for the refugees and some services, yesterday suggested that media access to the refugees would not be forthcoming.
“Media exposure could potentially jeopardise protection needs of refugees and carries high level of risk to their families at home,” an IOM spokesman said. “While IOM can speak in general terms about what services will be available to refugees, IOM will not disclose any specific details about a refugee’s particular assistance.”
The group said last week that it had “villa-style” accommodation in Phnom Penh readied for the arrival of the four.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Major General Bottrell would have met directly with senior Interior Ministry officials during his visit, as the Foreign Ministry had not been informed. Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached.
Pezzulo said Australia hoped that Cambodia would take, on a voluntary basis, “as many [refugees] as possible – as many as the Cambodians are willing to take, as many who seek to settle there and as many as can be processed accordingly”.
David Manne, executive director of the Australia-based Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, said secrecy had plagued the agreement since day one.
“This secrecy is also deeply troubling given that under this cynical, short-term political fix, Australia is aiding, abetting and funding the diversion of refugees in its care to a country – Cambodia – which is a deeply impoverished country engulfed in a human rights crisis … a completely untenable place to resettle refugees.”
... They sought to portray the deportations as a "resettlement" ...
[Deportations to Killing Centres - US Holocaust Memorial Museum]
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
… Theresienstadt served an important propaganda function for the Germans. The publicly stated purpose for the deportation of the Jews from Germany was their "resettlement to the east," where they would be compelled to perform forced labor.
Since it seemed implausible that elderly Jews could be used for forced labor, the Nazis used the Theresienstadt ghetto to hide the nature of the deportations.
In Nazi propaganda, Theresienstadt was cynically described as a "spa town" where elderly German Jews could "retire" in safety. The deportations to Theresienstadt were, however, part of the Nazi strategy of deception. The ghetto was in reality a collection center for deportations to ghettos and killing centers in Nazi-occupied eastern Europe.
Succumbing to pressure following the deportation of Danish Jews to Theresienstadt, the Germans permitted the International Red Cross to visit in June 1944.
It was all an elaborate hoax.
The Germans intensified deportations from the ghetto shortly before the visit, and the ghetto itself was "beautified." Gardens were planted, houses painted, and barracks renovated. The Nazis staged social and cultural events for the visiting dignitaries.
Once the visit was over, the Germans resumed deportations from Theresienstadt, which did not end until October 1944.
28th day of Nauru Facebook Blackout
Letter to the government of Nauru on internet blocking and free expression [Access Now – 26/5/15]:
We, the undersigned, are members of free expression and human rights organizations based in the Pacific region and around the globe. We are writing in response to the government of Nauru’s decision to block certain services on the internet and to amend the criminal code to impose new penalties on expression.
On May 13, President Baron Waqa explained that the government had imposed a permanent block on sites that distribute "explicit, obscene and pornographic contents", and issued a temporary block on "other sites", including Facebook, in order to protect against abuse by malicious users.
The government ordered Digicel and other internet service providers on April 30 to impose the block. However, the government did not state when the temporary block would end, and the government did not claim to be responding to any immediate threats to public safety or public order.
Internet blocking and filtering is a form of censorship. Indeed, earlier this month, UN and global human rights experts reiterated that shutting down entire parts of communications systems, including the filtering of content on the internet to silence certain perspectives or voices, can never be justified under international human rights law.
Such restrictions affect the ability of all users on Nauru to seek, receive, and impart information.
We are also deeply troubled by the amendment of the Nauru criminal code under section 244A to include a new offense for anyone who makes a statement that “coerces, intimidates, harasses, or causes emotional distress to a person” if the statement is “likely to threaten national defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health.”
In penalizing such a wide variety of expression, the statute confers overbroad authority to impose jail sentences for speech without notice, chilling reporting by journalists or the media and public protest. This point was underscored by UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye in his statement on Nauru on 22 May 2015.
Due to this blocking, Nauru is in danger of losing valuable opportunities for economic development. The internet fosters innovation and access to knowledge, facilitates the transfer of funds, goods, and services, and provides robust social, economic, and cultural opportunities. In censoring content and obstructing the free flow of information, the government will deprive its citizens of the benefits that the internet offers.
The government of Nauru’s operation of a major immigration detention center brings an additional responsibility to uphold human rights — especially given that some of the detained asylum seekers are children.
Asylum seekers are a vulnerable group that receive protections under international law. Because asylum seekers are physically detained, the internet may serve as their primary means of communication. Internet services, including Facebook and other social media, help them communicate with family in other locations, a critical issue for resettlement and for providing evidence to receive refugee status. Restrictions on access may prevent detained asylum seekers from communicating with advocates and legal representatives who are trying to help them. Asylum seekers also must have the ability to speak about the conditions of their asylum, which could be penalized under section 244A.
We therefore urge the government of Nauru to:
•Repeal the new offense related to speech under section 244A of the Criminal Code
•Restore full access to the open, global internet
•Provide an adequate remedy for the blocking of internet services, in a form of compensation to be determined in consultation with those affected
•Acknowledge the benefits of access to the open internet and explore alternative ways to promote community values
We appreciate your urgent attention to this matter and we would like to arrange a meeting at your convenience.
Electronic Frontiers Australia
Human Rights Watch
International Service For Human Rights
Pacific Freedom Forum
Refugee Council of Australia
Restore internet services in Nauru! [Petition]
Who is provoking the brutal attacks on women in PNG?
Fear of witchcraft 'spreading like wildfire' in PNG: police [RNZI – 28/5/15]
American missionary launches Tok Pisin Bible [The National – 27/5/15]:
The King James Version of the Bible has been translated into Tok Pisin by an American missionary and launched last Friday at Pangia station, Southern Highlands.
Hundreds of Christians flocked to the station to thank missionary Chad Wells from the Baptist Church and to view the Bible.
It is the first time the King James Version Bible had been translated into Tok Pisin. The small Bible is being sold for K35 and the bigger one costs K52.50.
Deputy Secretary for the Department of Community Development, Religion and Youth Leo Tulumbu gave K5000 to the church as an appreciation for the work done.
He said semi-educated or illiterate people would benefit from the Tok Pisin Bible to easily understand the word of God.
“The Government and churches are working in partnership and Christians must pray hard so that the word of the Lord will change this nation and people’s lives,” he said.
Michael Wilson, deputy chairman of the Body of Christ, said every parliamentarian must have a copy of the Tok Pisin Bible by September this year.
Woman accused of sorcery in Papua New Guinea axed to death, missionary says [ABC – 23/5/15]:
... The victim, identified only as Misila, was one three women saved by missionaries and police in January after being accused of practising sorcery. ...
Baki signals review on AFP [PNG Loop – 26/5/15]:
Papua New Guinea’s new police commissioner Garry Baki says he will review a policing arrangement that has 73 Australian Federal Police officers deployed in the country.
The unarmed AFP officers work with local police in the capital Port Moresby and Lae to provide training as part of the deal with PNG to host the Manus Island detention centre.
Mr Baki said the current group of AFP officers appeared not to have reporting responsibilities to his office, which he said raised concerns the partnership was not in line with PNG police modernisation objectives.
“The question to be asked is – is the partnership in its current form ideal to our current situation, or does it need improvement?,” Mr Baki said.
“That is the sole reason why I will be revisiting it.”
Mr Baki said he would meet the Australian High Commissioner Deborah Stokes on Wednesday to discuss the memorandum of understanding between the two forces.
Mr Baki took over the role of commissioner this month after his predecessor, Geoffrey Vaki, was sacked by the government.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill earlier this year warned local police against the use of excessive force, after an outcry from residents in Hanuabada village in Port Moresby, where police were accused of shooting dead two men.
Australians do not treat people with respect [Letter to the Editor, The National – 27/5/15]
Indian court grants Greenpeace access to bank accounts
A court in New Delhi on Wednesday ordered authorities to unfreeze Greenpeace India's local bank accounts in a partial victory for the environmental campaigner in its ongoing battle against the government.
In an interim ruling, the High Court said Greenpeace could also receive local donations into those two accounts, handing the group a lifeline which would allow its operations to continue in India for now.
"Our domestic accounts have been unblocked. This gives us the minimum resources to function and continue to protect India's environment," the group said on Twitter after the court ruling.
Greenpeace said, however, that the ruling was only temporary, with further court hearings into its petition against the government's crackdown expected later this year.
Greenpeace has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government of waging a "malicious campaign" against the group after its foreign funding licence was withdrawn last month.
The home affairs ministry cited violations of rules governing international financial transactions as reasons for the decision.
Following the ban, Greenpeace said many donors in India were unable to deposit money into the group's local accounts, leading it to warn that it could go under within weeks.
The campaign group receives 70 percent of its funding from Indian donors living in India.
Greenpeace has been at loggerheads with the government over claims of environmental damage caused by India's heavy reliance on coal and the impact of deforestation and nuclear projects.
According to Indian media, a secret report by the main intelligence agency recently warned that delays to keynote developmental projects being sought by Greenpeace and other such organisations could knock up to three percentage points off the annual growth rate.
Greenpeace campaigner Priya Pillai was prevented by immigration officials from leaving Delhi in January after the government placed her on a suspicious persons list.
The funding freeze on Greenpeace came shortly before the U.S. Ford Foundation was hit with similar restrictions, prompting the American ambassador to New Delhi to warn of a "chilling effect" on democracy.
... Power and the money, money and the power
Minute after minute, hour after hour
Everybody's runnin', but half of them ain't lookin'
It's goin' on in the kitchen, but I don't know what's cookin' ...
'Gangsta's Paradise', Coolio 
Experts from Greece and creditors drafting loan deal: AFP [Ahram – 27/5/15]
Austerity Is the Only Deal-Breaker [Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis -25/5/15]:
… The problem is simple: Greece’s creditors insist on even greater austerity for this year and beyond – an approach that would impede recovery, obstruct growth, worsen the debt-deflationary cycle, and, in the end, erode Greeks’ willingness and ability to see through the reform agenda that the country so desperately needs.
Our government cannot – and will not – accept a cure that has proven itself over five long years to be worse than the disease.
SATURDAY 10am at Left Forum in New York City - “Entertainment Superpower: Media Technology and American Empire”:
Despite some of the asymmetric opportunities for the public in the network age (e.g. the relative inexpensiveness of publishing and distributing information on the Internet), nation states still enjoy an advantage when it comes to amassing wealth, sustaining violence, and exploiting information structures that we rent from corporations.
This panel discussion will explore Hollywood and media technology as an organ of U.S. cultural, political, economic, and military dominance.
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 26 and 8 a.m. May 27, local time.
In Syria, coalition military forces conducted seven airstrikes using attack and fighter aircraft.
Separately in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted 10 airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense using attack, fighter and bomber aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
“Peshmerga forces, enabled by the coalition, continue to repel Daesh harassing attack near Sinjar,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, CJTF-OIR chief of staff. “Daesh forces executing these attacks are repeatedly attritted in detail.”
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
• Near Al Hasakah, four airstrikes struck four ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL vehicle.
• Near Ar Raqqah, two airstrikes struck an ISIL training camp and an ISIL staging area.
• Near Dayr Az Zawr, one airstrike destroyed two ISIL armored personnel carriers.
• Near Baghdadi, one airstrike struck land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage.
• Near Bayji, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying four ISIL vehicles.
• Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL building, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL vehicle.
• Near Ramadi, two airstrikes struck land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage, destroying an ISIL armored personnel carrier.
• Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit, an ISIL headquarters and an ISIL mortar position, destroying five ISIL heavy machine guns, three ISIL buildings, an ISIL armored personnel carrier, an ISIL anti-aircraft artillery piece and an ISIL vehicle.
• Near Tal Afar, one airstrike struck an ISIL mortar position and an ISIL sniper position.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [27/5/15]:
Anbar: The aircrafts have targeted the civilian homes in Julan neighbourhood in Fallujah........
Anbar: The war planes shelled many areas in Garma after suffering losses among the government's forces and Hashid militias today............................
Anbar: The government's army has forced more than 250 families to leave their homes in Ankoor area in Habaniya after receiving orders from Hashid militias ,then the displaced families arrived Amiriyat Al-Fallujah nahiya last night......
Baghdad: Agencies: 11 persons have been either killed or wounded as a roadside bomb has exploded in Hamamiyat area in Taji district in north of Baghdad........................
Baghdad: Agencies: A roadside bomb has exploded targeting a patrol for the government's forces in Radhwaniya area in southern west of Baghdad , further details unknown.....................
IS executes 20 men in ruins of Syria's Palmyra [Naharnet - 27/5/15]
Saudi-led airstrikes killed at least 80 people near Yemen’s border with Saudi Arabia and in the capital Sanaa Wednesday, residents said, the deadliest day of bombing in over two months of war in Yemen. ... [Daily Star - 28/5/15]
Innocent Yemeni people are paying the "highest price" for the Saudi deadly aggression against the country, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) says.
“It is innocent civilians that pay the highest price,” the director
general of the WHO, Margaret Chan, said in a Wednesday statement, stressing that
more that 2,000 people have been killed and over 8,000 others have been injured
due to the ongoing conflict in the country. ... [Press
TV - 28/5/15]
Court rejects Yemenis' case against Germany over US drones [Yahoo - 27/5/15]
A surge in executions by Saudi Arabia is "very disturbing" and bucks the global trend, a UN special rapporteur told AFP on Wednesday.
He spoke as the number of beheadings in the kingdom this year hit 89, compared with 87 during all of 2014. ... [Ahram - 28/5/15]
The U.S. state of Nebraska abolished the death penalty Wednesday, overriding with a narrow vote Republican Governor Pete Rickett's veto against the bill to put a stop to capital punishment. ... [teleSUR - 27/5/15]
The armed forces of Libya's recognised government warned Wednesday they would react to any aggression against the state, a day after the prime minister escaped an assassination attempt.
"The forces of the national army and the security services affirm their support for the legal government and commit to protecting it against any obstacles or aggression hampering its work," a statement on the government's news agency said.
It came after Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani escaped unscathed when
would-be assassins opened fire on his car on Tuesday after a session of
parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk. ... [Ahram
Afghan air raid kills 35 in Kandahar
At least 35 Taliban insurgents were killed and 40 others were injured following an airstrike in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan.
The provincial government media office confirmed that the militants were killed in Shorabak district in Badi Ghondi area – in an operation led by Gen. Abdul Raziq.
In the meantime, the provincial police spokesman, Zia Durani, said an airstrike targeted a gathering of the Taliban insurgents in the area.
Durani further added that the militants were looking to launch a coordinated attack but were targeted before they manage to execute their plan.
He said the operation was conducted under the leadership of provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Razaq.
According to Durani at least four vehicles belonging to the Taliban militants were also totally damaged in the raid.
The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.
Kandahar is among the relatively volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are actively operating in its various districts and often carry out insurgency activities.
3 injured in Lashkargah motorcycle bomb blast [Pajhwok – 27/5/15]:
Three people were injured on Wednesday when a bomb-rigged motorcycle went off in the capital of southern Helmand province, an official said.
The blast took place near a power station on the airport road in Lashkargah at about 7:45pm, police spokesman Col. Farid Ahmad Obaid told Pajhwok Afghan News.
He said two children were injured in the blast.
He said the blast seemed to be premature and missed its target due to tightened security measures in Lashkargah today.
However, a doctor at the Emergency-run hospital in Lashkargah, wishing not be named, told Pajhwok Afghan News that they had been delivered three wounded people, including two children and a man.
There was no word of responsibility for the blast.
At least 30 insurgents have been killed and 11 others wounded during security officials attack on Taliban training centre in the Sangin district of southern Helmand province, an official said on Wednesday. … [Pajhwok – 27/5/15]
According to US military propaganda, Australia has about 400 troops in Afghanistan helping train Afghanis to murder their fellow citizens. One team is conducting "EOD training". [Centcom - 27/5/15]:
... With the change from combat operations to the train, advise and assist Resolute Support mission, NATO and coalition forces are focused on leaving Afghanistan able to support itself.
“We’re supporting this training to make sure that when the coalition leaves Afghanistan, the Afghans have a sustainable training capability for the future,” Maher said.
“The current mission has a schedule to have the training entirely led by Afghan instructors by the end of 2015.
“I believe they’re on track to meet that.”
Australia has about 400 troops in Afghanistan assigned to Resolute Support. Overall there are about 13,000 NATO troops from 41 nations contributing to the mission.
Israeli settlers take over 10 dunums of land in Nablus [Maan - 27/5/15]
Palestinians await FIFA decision on Israel suspension [Al Jazeera - 27/5/15]:
… For the past two years, the PFA [Palestine Football Association] has been filing complaints to FIFA over Israel's systematic violations. Last week, the PFA pushed for a vote to suspend the Israeli Football Association (IFA) membership in FIFA.
The Palestinian proposal is expected to be discussed in FIFA's upcoming congress in Zurich on May 29.
"It's not about suspending the Israel Football Association (IFA); it's about our rights. This is a fair deal," PFA president, Jibreel Rajoub, told Al Jazeera.
The PFA was established in 1928 during Palestine's British mandate, and only joined FIFA after the Palestinian Authority was established in 1998. The team played in World Cup qualifiers in 1934, but did not qualify until 1938. However, the game suffered setbacks amid the 1948 displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and two Intifadas.
Arar, who played football with Ahli al-Khalil team until 2000 before he started his career as a trainer and coach, said the worst years for football were those during the second Intifada.
"We lost so many talents. Movement restrictions were tight and pitches were turned into military zones."
Forming the team with Palestinians from both parts of the geographic divide - the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip - is a challenging task, Arar said.
"I am not allowed in Gaza; the Israelis won't give our players permits to cross from there to the West Bank," he said.
In addition, players are systematically harassed, delayed, and detained at checkpoints and crossings, Arar said, echoing complaints from the PFA.
Tony Blair to step down as Middle East envoy [Al Jazeera - 28/5/15]
Homelands residents travel to Canberra to save communities [NIRS - 28/5/15]:
Representatives from the Kimberley region of Western Australia are in Canberra to present a petition to the Australian Government against the closure of remote communities.
The online petition contains about 43,000 signatures calling on the Government to reinstate federal funding to communities.
Bunuba man and CEO of Marra Worra Worra Aboriginal Corporation, 'Dickie' Bedford, is among the mob that made the journey.
He says First Nations issues are of national concern.
EU judges in Kosovo sentenced 11 former Kosovo Albanian guerrillas to prison terms on Wednesday for war crimes committed during Kosovo’s 1998-99 uprising.
Judges from the EU police and justice mission said atrocities were committed against Kosovar civilians held in a camp run by the then-Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which fought against Serbian forces.
The charges in the two trials also related to the killing in 1998 of a Serbian police officer and a Kosovo Albanian civilian.
Two of those convicted were close to ex-Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, Reuters said. ... [RT - 27/5/15]
US military mistakenly ships live anthrax to labs in 9 states [Reuters - 27/5/15]:
The U.S. military mistakenly sent live anthrax bacteria to laboratories in nine U.S. states and a U.S. air base in South Korea, after apparently failing to properly inactivate the bacteria last year, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
The Pentagon said there was no known suspected infection or risk to the public. But four U.S. civilians have been started on preventive measures called post-exposure prophylaxis, which usually includes the anthrax vaccine, antibiotics or both.
The four face "minimal" risk, said Jason McDonald, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has begun an investigation of the incident. The four were "doing procedures that sent the agent into the air," he said.
When anthrax becomes airborne, it can cause a deadly illness called inhalation anthrax. That occurred in 2001, when anthrax sent through the U.S. mail to government and media targets killed five people.
The anthrax, which was initially sent from a Utah military lab, was meant to be shipped in an inactive state as part of efforts to develop a field-based test to identify biological threats, the Pentagon said.
"Out of an abundance of caution, (the Defense Department) has stopped the shipment of this material from its labs pending completion of the investigation," said Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren.
The CDC said it has launched an investigation of the mishap.
"All samples involved in the investigation will be securely transferred to the CDC "or affiliated labs "for further testing," spokeswoman Kathy Harden said, adding that CDC has sent officials to the labs "to conduct on-site investigations."
The mishap comes 11 months after the CDC, one of the government's top civilian labs, similarly mishandled anthrax.
Researchers at a lab designed to handle extremely dangerous pathogens sent what they believed were killed samples of anthrax to another CDC lab, one with fewer safeguards and therefore not authorized to work with live anthrax.
Scores of CDC employees were potentially exposed to the live anthrax, but none became ill.
That incident and a similar one last spring, in which CDC scientists shipped what they thought was a benign form of bird flu but which was actually a highly virulent strain, led U.S. lawmakers to fault a "dangerous pattern" of safety lapses at government labs.
South Carolina policeman indicted in shooting death of unarmed black man [Reuters – 27/5/15]
Members of an association of independent journalists in Sudan have called for a strike over a new government crackdown on newspapers and urged media workers nationwide to follow suit.
The Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN), which organises about 400 of the country's 1,200 registered journalists, staged a protest on Tuesday in front of the National Council for Press and Publication (NCPP) premises in Khartoum.
The rally came a day after Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) seized copies of 10 newspapers and suspended four of them indefinitely without giving reasons. … [Al Jazeera – 27/5/15]
Obama administration will not seek Supreme Court stay on immigration action block [Reuters – 27/5/15]
EU migration plans under fire
Times Of Malta [27/5/15]:
European Union plans to destroy the boats of smugglers bringing desperate migrants across the Mediterranean and share the refugee burden more evenly have come under fresh fire from within and outside the EU.
In an effort to help manage more than 80,000 people who have landed on European shores so far this year, mostly in Italy and Greece, the EU's executive Commission is proposing to relocate thousands of refugees to other member countries and wants to launch a security operation in the Mediterranean to eliminate the trafficking operations.
On a visit to EU's headquarters, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon expressed doubts about the boat destruction plan and said "the priority should be given to life-saving and strengthening search and rescue".
Mr Ban was also cool towards any EU security operation that would hunt down smugglers in Libyan territorial waters, describing the idea as "limited".
"We need to address all of this in a comprehensive way," he told reporters.
The EU is seeking legal backing for the security operation in the form of a UN Security Council resolution. It would also require the support of Libya.
Meanwhile, the Polish government voiced opposition to the Commission's proposal that it accommodate more than 2,600 refugees from Syria and Eritrea.
"Poland wants to accept (refugees), but we don't want to agree to specific numbers," government spokeswoman Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska said.
The refugee relocation plan involves sharing 40,000 refugees in total who land in Italy and Greece. Under a weighted index based on economic strength, unemployment rates and past investment on migration, Germany, France and Spain would take in the biggest numbers.
Polish interior ministry spokeswoman Malgorzata Wozniak said that "member countries should independently decide how many refugees they are able to accept".
EU nations can still veto the plan. Interior ministers are due to discuss it at their next meeting in Luxembourg on June 15-16.
10 Fun Facts About US Pacific Command
US Department of Defense [26/5/15]:
The U.S. Pacific Command is one of nine U.S. Department of Defense unified combatant commands.
It’s responsible for overall stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
While there is so much to know about PACOM, the oldest and largest combatant command, here are some cool facts that stand out:
- The PACOM area of responsibility encompasses about half of the Earth’s surface, stretching from the waters off the West Coast of the U.S. to the western border of India, as well as from Antarctica to the North Pole.
- There are 36 nations in that area, including Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Peru, Chile, Mexico and Canada. The PACOM area is home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population, which is very culturally, socially, economically and geo-politically diverse.
- More than 3,000 different languages are spoken in the PACOM area.
- PACOM has seven of the world’s 10 largest standing militaries, five of the world’s declared nuclear nations, the busiest international sea lanes and nine of the 10 largest ports.
- U.S. Marine Rotational Forces were implemented in Darwin, Australia, in April 2012 to help build a presence that would exercise with the Australian Defense Force and train regional militaries. Darwin, located in Australia’s Northern Territory, is in close proximity to Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean. The Marine presence there reflects the enduring bond and common security interests between our countries.
- The PACOM area of responsibility includes the most populated nation in the world (China), the largest democracy (India) and the largest Muslim-majority nation (Indonesia).
- More than one third of Asia-Pacific nations are small island nations that include the smallest republic in the world (Nauru in Micronesia) and the smallest nation in Asia (Maldives in the Indian Ocean).
- Two of the three largest economies are located in the Asia-Pacific, along with 10 of the 14 smallest economies.
- About 360,000 U.S. military and civilian personnel are assigned to the PACOM area, as are about 200 ships and nearly 1,540 aircraft.
- Alaska might be remote, but it’s the perfect training grounds for RED FLAG-Alaska, an opportunity for U.S. and allied pilots, aircrews and operational support to train and improve their combat skills. The exercises are conducted in interior Alaska in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, the largest training range in America at more than 65,000 square miles.
More than 2,500 still stranded at sea: UNHCR
Channel News Asia [27/5/15]:
An estimate of 2,621 migrants are still stranded at sea, the United Nations' refugee agency UNHCR disclosed in a press conference on South East Asia's migrant crisis, jointly hosted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Wednesday (May 27).
“What is needed as of today is additional search and rescue resources to support what is already done,” said UNHCR Philippine representative Bernard Kerblat during a press conference on the Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean (Gulf of Bengal and Andaman Sea) in Manila.
His message was echoed by IOM's chief de mission Marco Boasso, who said the issue of irregular migration in South East Asia is "a protracted crisis".
According to IOM, the smuggling of Rohingyas was first recorded in 2004, which later prompted the organisation to appeal for US$26 million to assist those involved in the crisis.
Following the Thai government's recent crackdown on human trafficking, thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants have been stranded at sea on their smugglers' boats.
On Friday, Thailand will host a regional meeting to address the migrant crisis, which is expected to see representatives from 19 states as well as various international organisations.
Citing its commitment to uphold asylum seekers, Mr Kerblat said the Philippines is a beacon of hope in South East Asia, explaining that the country has helped dozens of Rohingya at risk of being trafficked in the past.
According to Mr Kerblat, the Friday meeting will explore possible solutions to the ongoing crisis and resettlement will not be one of them.
“Massive resettling will only encourage slave merchants to entice more people onto boats and endanger them to make more money. Resettlement will be available to a small number of people, but that is not the solution," he said.
Both the UNHCR and IOM agreed the migrant crisis is no longer an ASEAN problem, as it involves many more players such as Bangladesh and Australia.
“The order of the day is not about finger pointing. We have to maintain a dialogue keeping in mind the interest of the human beings who need to be saved,” said Kerblat.
Navy Daily [27/5/15]:
HMAS Success is homeward bound after a six month deployment in the Middle East undertaking duties as part of Operation MANITOU.
During a respite and refuelling stop in the Seychelles, Success hosted luncheon on behalf of their former Commander on MANITOU, Commander Joint Task Force 633, Rear Admiral Trevor Jones.
Invitees included Australian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Ms Susan Coles, Lieutenant Gilbert from the Seychelles Coast Guard, Mr Wayne Bastin from the Seychelles Ministry of Home Affairs and members of the Australian expatriate community.
Commanding Officer Success Captain Justin Jones hosted the luncheon and said it was important to reinforce the strong links between Australia and the Seychelles.
Tim Tam challenge for improved safety [Navy Daily – 26/5/15]:
... A replenishment is initiated by the passing of gun line attached to a projectile fired from a rifle. Often projectiles become entangled in Sirius' gantry rigs causing significant delays and risking damage.
In an effort to alleviate this problem the ship's boatswains mates have created a target and their Commanding Officer has set a challenge to the rest of the fleet.
In true Australian style, Commander Grogan has promised a packet of Tim Tam biscuits to any ship that manages to get their gun line through the centre of the target. ...
Woodside Petroleum Pulls Out of Tanzania [ASX – 27/5/15]
Adopting resolution, UN Security Council condemns violence against journalists, urges end to impunity [Media Release - 27/5/15]:
... In an impassioned address, Mariane Pearl, the widow of Daniel Pearl, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal who was kidnapped and killed in Pakistan in 2002, said this is “a troubled time” for journalism, noting the extent of killings of journalists, with 25 killed around the world in just the first five months of 2015.
“In 2014, impunity in journalism murder cases reached a staggering 96 per cent and the remaining four per cent obtained only partial justice,” she said. “Mass surveillance by some Security Council member States puts journalists and their sources at risk, undermining the trust and confidentiality vital to quality journalism. And an increasing number of countries are now using anti-terrorism laws to muzzle the press even further.”
Ms. Pearl welcomed what she called “rhetorical commitments” by States to tackle the safety of journalists and impunity, including the UN Plan of Action.
“But we need to see more concerted efforts on the ground to actually implement them,” she said. ...
Democracy Now [27/5/15]:
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to a Democracy Now! exclusive with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent nearly three years inside Ecuador’s Embassy in London, where he has political asylum. Assange faces investigations in both Sweden and the United States. Here in the U.S., a secret grand jury is investigating WikiLeaks for its role in publishing a trove of leaked documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as State Department cables. In Sweden, he’s wanted for questioning on allegations of sexual misconduct, though no charges have been filed. Earlier this month, Sweden’s Supreme Court rejected his appeal to lift his arrest warrant. Swedish prosecutors are reportedly preparing to travel to London to interview Assange after refusing to do so for years.
While Assange has been holed up inside the Ecuadorean Embassy, WikiLeaks has continued to publish documents, from leaked drafts of the TPP—that’s the Trans-Pacific Partnership—to the recent disclosures of the British nuclear submarine whistleblower William McNeilly, to secret details of a European Union plan to use military force to curb the influx of migrants from Libya. I spoke to Julian Assange about these issues and more when I sat down with him inside the embassy on Monday.
28 May 2015