Trade in Services Agreement - Press release
WikiLeaks Press Release [1/7/15]:
Today, 1500 CEST Wednesday, 1 July 2015, WikiLeaks releases a modern journalistic holy grail: the secret Core Text for the largest 'trade deal' in history, the TiSA (Trade In Services Agreement), whose 52 nations together comprise two-thirds of global GDP. The negotiating parties are the United States, the 28 members of the European Union and 23 other countries, including Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Taiwan and Israel.
Today's publication happens the week before the next TiSA negotiating round that begins on Monday, 6 July. WikiLeaks is also today publishing the full agenda for next week's negotiations, which shows that discussions will focus on Financial Services, Telecommunications and the Movement of Natural Persons.
WikiLeaks is also publishing a previously unpublished Annex text – the secret TiSA Annex on Government Procurement. The draft Annex aims to reduce procurement regulation to ensure that TiSA governments will not favour local services over services supplied by foreign multinationals.
WikiLeaks is also publishing the new negotiating texts for three highly controversial TiSA Annexes: the annexes on the Movement of Natural Persons, the Domestic Regulation Annex and the Transparency Annex.
All three texts include negotiating positions of each of the participant countries in the TiSA negotiations, and illustrate developments from previous versions of the TiSA annexes, also published by WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks has also released 36 pages of our own expert analysis.
While the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP) have become well known in recent months, the TiSA is the largest component of the United States' strategic neoliberal 'trade' treaty triumvirate. Together, the three treaties form not only a new legal order shaped for transnational corporations, but a new economic "grand enclosure", which excludes China and all other BRICS countries.
According to statements made in April by US Secretary of Defense Aston Carter, parts of the triumvirate are "as important" to the US engagement with Asia as "another aircraft carrier". All three treaties have been subject to stringent criticism for the lack of transparency and public consultation in their negotiation processes. TiSA drafts are classified for a period of five years after the completion of the treaty.
According to NSA interceptions of French treasurer Jean-Francois Boittin published by WikiLeaks on Tuesday "Washington is negotiating with every nation that borders China... so as to 'confront Beijing'".
The TiSA core text shows how this negotiation aims at going beyond the GATS agreement, substantially further restricting what governments can do in services. There is a far more extensive criteria for commercial firms, including foreign ones, to force governments to protect their corporate interests. Changes to scheduling bring more services than GATS under two main rules regarding commercial businesses working in foreign jurisdictions: non-discrimination in favour of local companies and market access abilities to not limit the size and shape of foreign companies in the market.
The text also shows TiSA expanding the GATS agreement to include new "disciplines" such as those on domestic regulation, transparency and eCommerce. TiSA is also of great worry to developing countries, a number of whom will be bound by this agreement, as it does not give any of the GATS provisions for them, but instead gives greater protections for foreign growth into the countries, with protections for national services far lesser than GATS.
Today's publication of the the TiSA Core Text adds to WikiLeaks' prior publications of numerous secret TiSA Annexes. The text reveals the ideological and legal underpinnings of the TiSA, and provides the overarching context for each of the TiSA annexes.
According to World Bank figures, "services" comprise 75% of the EU economy and 80% of the US economy. For a typical developing country like Pakistan, services comprise 53% of its economy. The TiSA covers the majority of the global economy.
Greece is crisis and fear: Media, politicians and the notorious Greek whiners [Keep Talking Greece - 1/7/15]
Two years after she cancelled her state visit to Washington in outrage over revelations that the U.S. had spied on her, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is back in Washington, taking a decidedly more friendly approach to President Barack Obama.
News articles in July 2013 based on documents provided by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden showed the NSA had been spying on Rousseff’s phone calls and emails and hacking into the state oil corporation, Petrobas, where she serves on the board. She responded by delivering a fuming speech before the United Nations general assembly, and cancelling her visit.
But now, it’s apparently all water under the bridge. Many observers attribute the change to her newfound political weakness at home and Brazil’s economic downturn. She says it’s due to a conversation she had with Obama at the Summit of the Americas meeting in Panama City in April. ... [The Intercept - 29/6/15]
Surveillance court rules that NSA can resume bulk data collection [New York Times - 30/6/15]
Megaupload Files Appeal to the Fourth Circuit Arguing Fugitive Disentitlement Violates Due Process [Rothken Law Firm - 1/7/15]
Police continue to
appeal for witnesses in relation to the Ravenshoe crash
QPS Media [1/7/15]:
Police continue to appeal for witnesses in relation to a single vehicle traffic crash in Ravenshoe that resulted in an explosion at a local café on June 9.
Whilst numerous people have since come forward, investigators believe that there are still a number of witnesses that they have not yet spoken to.
Police have released CCTV still images of two vehicles that drove into Ravenshoe past the café just prior to the explosion. Police would like to speak to the drivers of the vehicles pictured.
The first vehicle is described as a silver 2-wheel drive drop-side utility with a metal rack at the rear of the tray. The second vehicle is described as a red 4-wheel drive four door utility with a white fibreglass canopy.
Officers would also like to speak with anyone who may have seen the vehicle involved in the incident, described as a white 2004 model Toyota Landcruiser utility fitted with a dog cage, immediately prior to the crash.
Anyone who has any information about the incident is urged to contact police if they have not already done so.
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, Cairns
QPS Media [1/7/15]:
Police investigating a serious traffic crash involving a bus and train at Portsmith last month have today issued a man with a Notice to Appear in court over the incident.
Around 4pm on June 15 a bus collided with a train at a level crossing on Draper Street.
Multiple occupants of the bus were transported to Cairns Base Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
An investigation was undertaken by the Forensic Crash Unit following the incident.
A 51-year-old Mooroobool man, the driver of the bus, has been issued with a Notice to Appear in Cairns Magistrates Court on July 30 for dangerous operation of a vehicle.
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.
Serious traffic crash, Eagle Farm
QPS Media [30/6/15]:
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating a serious single vehicle traffic crash which occurred at the intersection of Schneider Road and Trade Coast Drive in Eagle Farm this afternoon.
Initial investigations suggest at around 3:40pm the vehicle was turning right at the intersection when it tipped over, injuring the driver and sole occupant, a 41-year-old Strathpine man.
The driver was transported to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital with head injuries where he remains in a critical condition.
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.
Year added to yacht rapist's sentence
Serial rapist John Collins' youngest victim says she felt powerless and humiliated when he forced himself on her during a job interview on his yacht in 1986.
Almost 30 years later, the tables were turned in a Brisbane court on Wednesday as 76-year-old Collins tearfully begged for mercy during his sentencing.
A Brisbane District Court jury found him guilty on Tuesday of raping the 17-year-old on his vessel at Kawana, after she answered an advertisement for motel work.
He was sentenced to 12 months' jail on Wednesday, to be served on top of an existing sentence of 11 years seven months for raping five other women in the 1980s and 90s.
He's also been convicted of indecently assaulting another woman in similar circumstances.
Collins maintains he is the victim of a blackmail plot and broke down in court as he pleaded with Judge Sarah Bradley for leniency.
"I'm not guilty of any rape," he said from the bar table, where he represented himself.
"I've never, ever raped anybody in my life."
The court heard the once-successful businessman advertised nanny jobs in the newspaper to lure his young victims aboard his yacht at various locations along the Queensland coast.
In some cases he spiked their drinks before he forced himself on them and some were assaulted multiple times.
Two fell pregnant to Collins and were forced to have terminations.
The victim concerned in Wednesday's sentence is now in her 40s and wasn't in court.
However, a statement from her was handed to Judge Bradley who noted the "devastating" life-long impact Collins' actions had had on her.
The women have endured lengthy legal delays, which appeared to be resolved in 2013 when Collins was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment.
However, the convictions were quashed on appeal and separate retrials ordered, with Wednesday's proceedings concluding the last of four retrials.
Gold Coast Suns currently in the clear with Crime and Corruption Commission despite Karmichael Hunt's alleged tell-all
The ongoing investigation into a cocaine trafficking syndicate in Queensland's south-east is unlikely to snare any further professional sporting identities at this stage.
Queensland's Crime and Corruption Commission (QCCC) has released a statement in the wake of media reports claiming code-hopping footballer Karmichael Hunt had named several of his former Gold Coast AFL teammates as cocaine users.
Hunt is believed to have named the Gold Coast Suns players as part of a statement given to police following his conviction for cocaine possession in March.
The QCCC says despite the reports, it does not have enough evidence to warrant any further charges against players from the AFL, NRL or rugby union.
"However, consistent with any law enforcement investigation, if new information comes to hand relevant to the CCC's ongoing investigation, further charges may be considered," the statement read.
Hunt was fined $2500 after pleading guilty to four charges of cocaine possession at Southport Magistrates Court earlier this year.
The former rugby league international was also fined $30,000 and suspended for six weeks by Super Rugby franchise the Queensland Reds following the decision.
Several current and former members of the Gold Coast Titans NRL club have also been caught up in the saga.
The players, including State of Origin stars Greg Bird and Dave Taylor, have all pleaded not guilty to possession and supply charges.
Their matters have been adjourned until July 6.
Alleged kingpin John Touma and former NRL players Jason Smith and Matt Seers are also fighting charges in the courts.
In light of last weekend's reports, the Suns launched an internal investigation to determine if any other of their players had been using cocaine.
The QCCC says as part of that investigation the Suns had contacted them and requested any information which would help them.
"The CCC appreciates that the Gold Coast Suns are progressing their own internal processes but given that there are related matters before the courts, the CCC has advised the Suns today that it is unable to assist with any request for operational information," the statement read.
Members of Taskforce Maxima of State Crime Command have arrested a former member of the Mongols OMCG in relation to drug trafficking.
The 27-year-old man from New South Wales was arrested yesterday afternoon. ... [QPS Media - 1/7/15]
Police are appealing for public assistance after a man was assaulted in East Mackay on June 25. ... [QPS Media - 30/6/15]
Attempted robbery, Kangaroo Point
QPS Media [1/7/15]:
Police are investigating after a man attempted to rob a 31-year-old woman at Kangaroo Point early this morning.
The woman was approached by the man on Main Street after walking across the Storey Bridge from Fortitude Valley about 1:30am this morning.
The man allegedly asked her for the time and when she took out her mobile phone, he attempted to steal the phone. The phone was dropped and the man fled the scene.
The woman suffered minor injuries during the incident.
The alleged offender has been described as being approximately 170cm tall, average build, tanned complexion, wearing a grey hooded jumper, long pants and white Adidas runners with three green stripes.
Robbery with violence, Logan and Woodridge [QPS Media - 1/7/15]
Armed robbery, Springwood [QPS Media - 1/7/15]
Update: Firearm related incidents and attempted armed robbery, Maroochydore [QPS Media - 1/7/15]
$200,000 in cash and drugs seized, Far North District [QPS Media – 1/7/15]
Drug charges, Forest Glen [QPS Media - 1/7/15]
Wimbledon: Stosur, Tomic both through to third round with straight sets wins
Samantha Stosur's grasscourt revival has continued with a cruisy second-round win at Wimbledon.
It was not always pretty, but Stosur's 6-3, 6-4 victory over lowly-ranked Pole Urszula Radwanska followed her straight-sets first-round success.
Suddenly, after being without a win on the surface in 12 months, the Australian number one is into the third round at the All England Club for only the third time in 13 attempts.
The former US Open champion next faces either big-hitting American Coco Vandeweghe or 11th-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova on Friday with hopes of making the second week of her least productive major for the first time.
Stosur made a flying start on Wednesday, breaking Radwanska - the younger sister of former finalist and world number two Agnieszka - twice to race to a 5-1 lead in the opening set.
She faltered trying to close it out before clinching it at the second attempt with an unreturnable wide-angled serve.
Australia's 22nd seed fell behind 3-1 in the second set, but broke the world number 107 twice in a row to regain control before moving through to the last 32 after just 79 minutes.
Stosur's effort matches runs to the third round in 2009 and 2013, when she lost to eventual runner-up Sabine Lisicki in three sets.
Bernard Tomic has overcame London's extreme heat and humidity to set up a likely Wimbledon blockbuster with world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic.
Tomic complained of dizziness as temperatures nudged 30 degrees but showed true grit to grind out a 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) second-round win over talented young Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert on Wednesday.
Australia's 27th seed required medical assistance late in the third set but dug deep to prevail after one hour and 59 minutes.
His struggles in the sapping conditions aside, Tomic delivered a high-quality performance against a dangerous opponent who had beaten him last year in Kuala Lumpur.
He was particularly impressive on serve.
Landing 72 per cent of first deliveries, Tomic barely dropped a point on serve in the opening set and the only break points he faced in the entire match came in the game immediately after seeking treatment at 5-4 in the second set.
But he hung tough to hold from 15-40 and secure a two-sets-to-love lead.
The French qualifier needed 21 aces to stay in the fight in a match featuring just one service break.
But Tomic's class and experience shone through as the world number 27 recovered from 4-1 down in the third-set tiebreaker to live up to his seeding status.
Unless Jarkko Nieminen, the Finnish veteran who ousted Lleyton Hewitt in round one, can conjure one of the great boilovers later on Wednesday against Djokovic, Tomic will face the Serbian titleholder on Friday for a place in the last 16.
The pair squared off in the 2011 quarter-finals, with Djokovic edging Tomic in four sets before going on to lift the trophy for the first time.
Man charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle after harassing female soccer players, Pacific Pines
QPS Media [30/6/15]:
… On Sunday morning June 28, 2015 female players from the Pacific Pines Soccer Club were setting up for a match when its alleged a man rode his unregistered, uninsured bike onto the field without a helmet and then proceeded to do wheelies and ride around them.
The field is used not only for soccer but also cricket and children’s activities organised by the GCCC.
The divets caused by motorbikes on the field can be very dangerous and in the past soccer players have suffered twisted and broken ankles from the uneven surface.
The 27 year old rider was quickly identified and the next day Police from Pacific Pines attended his residence where his bike was seized and he was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.
He is due to appear in Southport Magistrates Court in July.
This is a great example of the community assisting Police by using a mobile phone to capture invaluable evidence.
Queensland Government inundated with more than 1,300 objections to Acland mine expansion
Lock The Gate [1/7/15]:
More than 1300 people have objected to the proposed expansion of New Hope’s Acland mine, earmarked for important farmland at the Darling Downs.
Submissions close today for the Environmental Assessment and the Mining Lease for the controversial project.
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson, Drew Hutton said the State Government was under pressure to honour its pre-election promise to reinstate landholders’ rights to object to the expansion’s environmental assessment.
“The LNP stole people’s rights to object in the middle of the night and the ALP said before the election that they would give those rights back,” Mr Hutton said.
“It’s now time to make good on that promise. The Acland expansion is this government’s first real test of accountability and transparency and the locals don’t want to have their hearts broken again by back-flips.”
He said the expansion would impact more than 1,000 hectares of potential Strategic Cropping Land and would destroy important farming land in one of the Australia’s richest agricultural areas.
“The project will also have irreversible impacts on groundwater resources, threaten the headwaters of the Murray Darling Basin and adversely affect biodiversity, including koalas,” he said.
Lock the Gate wrote last week to the Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk alerting her to legal advice that local community members would not be allowed their day in court, unless the ALP acted swiftly to remedy the situation.
“We are asking you to step in and resolve the problem ……as a matter of urgency,” the letter said. “We dearly hope that the long-suffering communities of Acland and Oakey that have already been so heavily impacted by the negative impacts of this mine are not left in limbo yet again.”
Copies of the Lock the Gate submissions are available on request.
Springvale mine expansion gets PAC review nod despite Sydney water concerns [Sydney Morning Herald – 29/6/15]
Don't co-exist or consider conserving their habitate. KILL. KILL. KILL. Kangaroos will be culled from a western Queensland primary school amid fears for children's health and safety. ... [ABC - 1/7/15]
Sunshine Coast council begins second bid to disperse Coolum flying fox colony [ABC - 1/7/15]
Joseph Stiglitz: how I would vote in the Greek referendum
The rising crescendo of bickering and acrimony within Europe might seem to outsiders to be the inevitable result of the bitter endgame playing out between Greece and its creditors. In fact, European leaders are finally beginning to reveal the true nature of the ongoing debt dispute, and the answer is not pleasant: it is about power and democracy much more than money and economics.
Of course, the economics behind the programme that the “troika” (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) foisted on Greece five years ago has been abysmal, resulting in a 25% decline in the country’s GDP. I can think of no depression, ever, that has been so deliberate and had such catastrophic consequences: Greece’s rate of youth unemployment, for example, now exceeds 60%.
It is startling that the troika has refused to accept responsibility for any of this or admit how bad its forecasts and models have been. But what is even more surprising is that Europe’s leaders have not even learned. The troika is still demanding that Greece achieve a primary budget surplus (excluding interest payments) of 3.5% of GDP by 2018.
Economists around the world have condemned that target as punitive, because aiming for it will inevitably result in a deeper downturn. Indeed, even if Greece’s debt is restructured beyond anything imaginable, the country will remain in depression if voters there commit to the troika’s target in the snap referendum to be held this weekend.
In terms of transforming a large primary deficit into a surplus, few countries have accomplished anything like what the Greeks have achieved in the last five years. And, though the cost in terms of human suffering has been extremely high, the Greek government’s recent proposals went a long way toward meeting its creditors’ demands.
We should be clear: almost none of the huge amount of money loaned to Greece has actually gone there. It has gone to pay out private-sector creditors – including German and French banks. Greece has gotten but a pittance, but it has paid a high price to preserve these countries’ banking systems. The IMF and the other “official” creditors do not need the money that is being demanded. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the money received would most likely just be lent out again to Greece.
But, again, it’s not about the money. It’s about using “deadlines” to force Greece to knuckle under, and to accept the unacceptable – not only austerity measures, but other regressive and punitive policies.
But why would Europe do this? Why are European Union leaders resisting the referendum and refusing even to extend by a few days the June 30 deadline for Greece’s next payment to the IMF? Isn’t Europe all about democracy?
In January, Greece’s citizens voted for a government committed to ending austerity. If the government were simply fulfilling its campaign promises, it would already have rejected the proposal. But it wanted to give Greeks a chance to weigh in on this issue, so critical for their country’s future wellbeing.
That concern for popular legitimacy is incompatible with the politics of the eurozone, which was never a very democratic project. Most of its members’ governments did not seek their people’s approval to turn over their monetary sovereignty to the ECB. When Sweden’s did, Swedes said no. They understood that unemployment would rise if the country’s monetary policy were set by a central bank that focused single-mindedly on inflation (and also that there would be insufficient attention to financial stability). The economy would suffer, because the economic model underlying the eurozone was predicated on power relationships that disadvantaged workers.
And, sure enough, what we are seeing now, 16 years after the eurozone institutionalised those relationships, is the antithesis of democracy: many European leaders want to see the end of prime minister Alexis Tsipras’ leftist government. After all, it is extremely inconvenient to have in Greece a government that is so opposed to the types of policies that have done so much to increase inequality in so many advanced countries, and that is so committed to curbing the unbridled power of wealth. They seem to believe that they can eventually bring down the Greek government by bullying it into accepting an agreement that contravenes its mandate.
It is hard to advise Greeks how to vote on 5 July. Neither alternative – approval or rejection of the troika’s terms – will be easy, and both carry huge risks. A yes vote would mean depression almost without end. Perhaps a depleted country – one that has sold off all of its assets, and whose bright young people have emigrated – might finally get debt forgiveness; perhaps, having shrivelled into a middle-income economy, Greece might finally be able to get assistance from the World Bank. All of this might happen in the next decade, or perhaps in the decade after that.
By contrast, a no vote would at least open the possibility that Greece, with its strong democratic tradition, might grasp its destiny in its own hands. Greeks might gain the opportunity to shape a future that, though perhaps not as prosperous as the past, is far more hopeful than the unconscionable torture of the present.
I know how I would
Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, is University Professor at Columbia University. His most recent book, co-authored with Bruce Greenwald, is Creating a Learning Society: A New Approach to Growth, Development, and Social Progress.
NSW health authorities fear 11,000 patients from two Sydney dental clinics could have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis because of poor cleaning and equipment sterilisation. ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 1/7/15]
Privatise the profits, socialise the losses: Doors to close on 'unprofitable' Kingaroy private hospital [ABC - 1/7/15]:
... Service provider Pulse Health said it could no longer run the council-owned facility in Kingaroy because of a lack of patients. ...
Health care changes begin in southern Queensland as Primary Health Network replaces Medicare Local [ABC - 1/7/15]:
A raft of health care changes come into effect across the southern Queensland region from today.
Medicare Local no longer exists and instead has been taken over by the Darling Downs and West Moreton Primary Health Network, as announced in last year's federal budget.
The sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement also comes into effect.
Christopher Owen, the south-west representative for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, said locals might notice a change to over-the-counter medication.
"Probably the major difference they'll find is the lack of over-the-counter medication being available on prescription as well," he said.
"So as it stands at the moment there are lots of medications that pensioners access at a discounted rate and from July 1, these medications will cease to be available on prescription, so patients will be paying the full price for those medications.
"Certain medications such as Panadol Osteo they will go from paying $6.10 to around $14 for those medications.
"There are a lot of people with osteoarthritis who do require those medications and they won't be available on the PBS [Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme] anymore because they are available over the counter.
"To me, I think this is where the Government may have slipped up and there may be a possibility that they may go back on, later on."
On 3 June 2015 the first NDIS case, Mulligan v National Disability Insurance Agency  FCA 544, came before the Federal Court. The case was an appeal of the earlier AAT decision Mulligan v National Disability Insurance Agency  AATA 374, and is concerned with eligibility to access the scheme. ... [Australian Lawyers Alliance Media Release - 19/6/15]
Queensland housing policy can cause homelessness: report [Yahoo - 30/6/15]:
Evicting Queensland public housing tenants with mental health and substance abuse issues puts pressure on health services and can cause homelessness, a report says.
The Queensland Mental Health Commission report, released on Tuesday, found vulnerable tenants struggle to understand the state government's three strikes policy.
The policy, introduced in July 2013, results in tenants being evicted if they're warned over anti-social behaviour three times in one year.
The report says while the number of people evicted under the policy has been low, the impact can be significant.
"In addition to the impact on the individuals' social and emotional wellbeing, the termination of a tenancy can lead to an increased demand on acute mental health services and result in homelessness and increased risk of involvement in the child protection and criminal justice system," the report said.
Mental Health Commissioner Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck urged the state to ensure vulnerable tenants understood the policy and support available to them to maintain their tenancies.
"Everyone understands it's important to be a good tenant. However tenants with complex needs may require additional support to be able to understand and meet tenancy obligations," she said.
The report has made a number of recommendations for the government, including:
- Providing alternative housing and monitoring tenants with complex needs
- Communicating better with tenants to help them understand the anti-social behaviour policy
- Combining enforcement of the policy with prevention, early intervention and rehabilitation support
- Adopting a more systemic approach to supporting tenants with complex needs by integrating other support services.
PNG port workers on strike [The National – 1/7/15]
Change of Chile Education Minister could end university strike [teleSUR – 30/6/15]
Toyota Motor Corp said on Wednesday Julie Hamp, its first female managing officer, had resigned following her arrest last month on suspicion of illegally importing the painkiller oxycodone into Japan.
The American, who in April had become chief communications officer, notified Toyota of her intent to resign, the automaker said in a statement, adding that it had accepted after "considering the concerns and inconvenience that recent events have caused our stakeholders". ... [Reuters - 1/7/15]
Thousands joined a pro-democracy march on the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China Wednesday in what organisers said was a chance to work out the movement's next step as momentum wanes.
Crowds gathered in Victoria Park in the afternoon, many carrying yellow umbrellas, symbol of the democracy movement.
More protesters were expected to join en route with the march set to end in a rally at the government's offices. ... [Channel News Asia - 1/7/15]
Woman killed in Japan train fire suicide 'on peace pilgrimage' [Jakarta Post - 1/7/15]
President Joko Widodo has called for an evaluation of the country’s ageing air force fleet, as fears grew that the death toll from Tuesday’s military plane crash could exceed 141 people. ... [Jakarta Globe - 1/7/15]
Landslides kill at least 11 in India's Darjeeling [Naharnet – 1/7/15]
UN: Record 137,000 refugees crossed Mediterranean this year
A record 137,000 people made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe in the first half of 2015, most of them fleeing war, conflict and persecution, the United Nations said Wednesday.
"Europe is living through a maritime refugee crisis of historic proportions," the U.N. refugee agency warned in a report, adding that the number of people making the crossing swelled 83 percent in the first six months of 2015 compared to a year earlier.
U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres stressed most of those attempting the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean are not economic migrants.
"Most of the people arriving by sea in Europe are refugees, seeking protection from war and persecution," he said in a statement.
A third of those who have arrived by sea in Italy or Greece this year came from war-ravaged Syria, while people fleeing violence in Afghanistan and Eritrea's repressive regime each made up 12 percent of arrivals.
Other top countries of origin include conflict-wracked Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq and Sudan, the report said.
This year has also seen a sharp increase in the numbers of people dying as they try to cross the Mediterranean. So far 1,867 have been killed -- 1,308 of them in April alone.
The unprecedented number of deaths that month spurred European leaders to significantly broaden search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, cutting fatalities to 68 in May and 12 in June.
"With the right policy, backed by an effective operational response, it is possible to save more lives at sea," Guterres said.
Still, "for the thousands of refugees and migrants who continue to cross the Mediterranean every week, the risk remains very real," he added.
Many of those fleeing to Europe first seek safety in increasingly overburdened neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, where a quarter of inhabitants are now Syrian refugees, the report said.
The U.N. also noted a shift in migration patterns, with the number of people travelling the eastern Mediterranean route from Turkey to Greece now surpassing the route from north Africa to Italy.
Italy, which last year had 170,000 people land on its shores -- more than three quarters of all maritime arrivals in Europe -- saw that slump in the first half of 2015 to 67,500.
In Greece, however, arrivals have more than doubled to 68,000 so far this year compared to 43,500 in all of 2014, the report said.
Greece has fewer than 2,000 reception places, and many refugees and migrants push on, aiming often for northern and Western Europe, particularly Sweden and Germany, which are seen as offering better protection and support.
But getting there can meanwhile require long and dangerous journeys, often at the hands of smugglers through the Balkans and onwards through Hungary.
Urgent funds needed – help us close Manus Island
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [1/7/15]:
We urgently need to raise $20,000 to ramp up a major PNG legal challenge to offshore processing on Manus Island. Please donate – see below for details.
Last week, the Liberals and the ALP combined to change the law in an attempt to thwart a constitutional challenge to offshore processing in the High Court of Australia.
Fortunately, there is another major challenge underway in PNG, where the Supreme Court has been asked to declare that the Manus Island detention centre is unconstitutional. (You can read more about it from ABC news here)
If successful, the PNG Supreme Court will issue orders to release all asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island and for the Manus detention centre to be closed.
The signs are good: the PNG Chief Justice has just allowed another 277 asylum seekers locked up on Manus to become parties to the case. This means we urgently need funds to allow lawyers to go to Manus to prepare affidavits from each of the new applicants. The statements have to finalised and submitted to the court by 17 August. We expect the case proper to begin in the August sittings of the Supreme Court.
Even if the case doesn’t succeed, these affidavits will help us to build pressure against offshore processing. They will further break the secrecy of Manus and expose crucial details of detention there.
On their own, courts can’t deliver a political solution to Australia’s shocking treatment of refugees. But they can help: a win in this case would be a major blow to the government, and provoke a serious crisis for both major parties’ refugee policies.
You have the opportunity to help make this happen. We need to raise $20,000 urgently. This will be spent on the travel, accommodation, vehicle hire and interpreters that the team of lawyers need to get to Manus and obtain the statements.
$20,000 should be easily achievable. It means 20 people giving $1000, 40 people $500, 80 people $250…
We need to raise as
much as we can in the next week. The first part of the team will be leaving Port
Moresby for Manus on 7 July. Please contribute, and please share this message
via email and social media. Your concrete gesture of solidarity is vital to
Account name: Refugee Contingency Fund
BSB: 062212 (Commonwealth Bank account)
Account Number: 10373429
Cheques can be sent to Refugee Contingency Fund, PO Box 433, Newtown NSW 2042.
Ian Rintoul for Refugee Action Coalition
Doctors against the Border Force Act ---> @DASSAN12 [1/7/15]: Doctors in the Darwin public health system frequently care for asylum seekers facing specialist & emergency care
Nazis of the South Pacific [New Matilda - 1/7/15]:
... The ‘sitrep’ report also reveals that in the 24-hour period it covered, an asylum seeker held in the Manus Island detention centre had to be pulled down from a makeshift noose after fastening it to a support beam and jumping off the top of a building.
Transfield Safety and Security Advisors were unable to talk the man out of jumping, and were forced to support his weight and assist him to the ground, before removing the noose.
Following the incident Transfield staff used force on the man after he became “non-compliant”.
The report described the incident as “a Self-Harm Actual incident”.
A man transferred to the East Lorengau Transit Centre was in court today after he was allegedly bashed by security guards for missing curfew.
Justice David Cannings and his team will travel to the Lakiemata jail in West New Britain to see if prisoners are not denied their basic right to clean water. ... [PNG Loop - 1/7/15]
Small and Medium Enterprise Corporation Garment and Textile Training Centre 24th Graduation [Address by Her Excellency, Ms Deborah Stokes Australia's High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea -26/6/15]
PNG: Israelis to spend K40m for Sepik industrial park [PNG Loop – 1/7/15]
The mother of an alleged abuse victim says she found her daughter with her top off after she was left with the husband of Australia's former ambassador to Spain.
But lawyers for Vytas Kapociunas, 71, have accused the mother of lying about the incident because she knew it would look "very bad".
Kapociunas, husband to former ambassador Jane Hardy, is currently on trial in the ACT Supreme Court over allegations he molested a young girl three times in the same day.
He has denied abusing the girl, saying he only tickled the child and blew raspberries on her stomach. ... [Canberra Times - 1/7/15]
At least 10 Egyptian soldiers killed and wounded as militants attack Sinai checkpoints [Ahram - 1/7/15]
When researchers such as myself have reported that the United States is funding al-Qaeda, Nusra, ISIS and other related terror organizations in Syria, we were not kidding. Still, despite the fact that even the U.S. government itself has admitted that it was funding terrorists– directly and indirectly through Saudi Arabia, the suggestion was met with disbelief, ridicule, or either entirely ignored.
Now, however, the United States government has admitted that it funds terrorists on the ground in Syria yet again, this time placing an individual dollar amount on the assistance provided. ... [ICH/Activist Post - 30/6/15]
Afghanistan: US drone strike kills 14 in Nangarhar
At least 14 rebels have been killed in a drone strike in eastern Nangarhar province, provincial police spokesman said on Wednesday.
Col. Hazrat Hussain Mashraqiwal said armed rebels were on their way to Lalpoor district when they came under unmanned missile attack late Tuesday evening.
At least 14 insurgents were killed, he said but he had no information regarding identity of the slain militants.
Daesh has been active in Nangarhar in recent days and the militants have suffered scores of casualties in the area.
Former deputy of Nangarhar Provincial Council killed by unknown gunmen [Khaama - 1/7/15]
A suicide bomber on Tuesday targeted convoy of foreign forces in capital Kabul, leaving five persons dead and 20 more wounded, a security official said. ... [Pajhwok - 1/7/15]
10 soldiers martyred, 44 "militants" killed in military operations [Khaama - 1/7/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [30/6/15]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted nine airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, seven airstrikes struck five ISIL tactical units, destroying four ISIL vehicles, an ISIL armored personnel carrier and an ISIL tank.
-- Near Raqqah, an airstrike struck an ISIL excavator.
-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL vehicle.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted nine airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Baghdadi, three airstrikes struck land features, denying ISIL a tactical advantage and destroying two ISIL excavators.
-- Near Fallujah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL tunnel system.
-- Near Haditha, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL vehicles.
-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL mortar firing position, destroying an ISIL building.
-- Near Waleed, an airstrike destroyed three ISIL armored personnel carriers.
US complicit in Saudi crimes against Yemen: Human Rights Watch [Press TV - 1/7/15]
Israel deported Tunisian ex-president Moncef Marzouki and European parliament member Ana Miranda Tuesday after they took part in a flotilla seeking to defy its Gaza blockade, an official said.
“The [former] president of Tunisia and the Spanish lawmaker flew this morning. There are another 14 who have begun the expulsion process,” a spokeswoman for Israel’s immigration authority told AFP. ... [Daily Star - 1/7/15]
Israeli forces shoot Palestinian at Qalandiya checkpoint [Maan - 30/6/15]
The United Church of Christ, a large mainline Protestant denomination in the US, has overwhelmingly voted to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory and to boycott goods made in Israeli settlements, as support for increased action against the country's policies grew in momentum.
The Church's 30th General Synod, which took place in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday, required 67 percent of the vote to pass the divestment resolution, which targeted companies like Veolia, Caterpillar, Motorola and HP. ... [Al Jazeera - 1/7/15]
Iran, P5+1 world powers extend nuclear talks deadline by a week [RT - 30/6/15]
US not interested in dealing with Iran as a sovereign power: Analyst [Press TV – 28/6/15]
Yet another black church in the South went up in flames Tuesday night, this time historic Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal in Williamsburg County, South Carolina — 20 years after it was burned to the ground by Ku Klux Klan members. ... [NBC - 1/7/15]
Bree, Your New Black Superheroine Taking Down White Supremacy [teleSUR – 30/6/15]:
... In an exclusive statement released to Blue Nation Review, Newsome said she “removed the flag not only in defiance of those who enslaved my ancestors in the southern United States, but also in defiance of the oppression that continues against black people globally in 2015, including the ongoing ethnic cleansing in the Dominican Republic.”
“I did it in solidarity with the South African students who toppled a statue of the white supremacist, colonialist Cecil Rhodes,” she continued “I did it for all the fierce black women on the front lines of the movement and for all the little black girls who are watching us. I did it because I am free.” ...
Search and rescue charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) has received two generous donations that will improve its already robust humanitarian operation to save lives in the Mediterranean Sea. ... [Media Release - 30/6/15]
@moas_eu [30/6/15]: A welcome visit by huge #MOAS inspiration Rupert Neudeck, who set up #CapAnamur in 1979 to aid Vietnamese refugees.
UNHCR's new biometrics system helps "verify" 110,000 Myanmar refugees in Thailand [Media Release - 30/6/15]
Rohingya refugees: Mediterranean rescuers prepared to assist once resources expanded [Undercover Info - 24/5/15]:
After being approached to see if it could offer a search and rescue for the Rohingya people in the seas off Myanmar, Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) has released a statement explaining that while its current resources are limited to the Mediterranean Sea it hopes to provide rescue missions in other parts of the world once those resources are expanded.
Presumably such missions, by MOAS – or in collaboration with other organisations (Medecins Sans Frontieres, Sea Shepherd, Fortify Rights, etc?) – could include the Andaman Sea and the seas off the coast of Australia.
Already there has been a warning that the Rohingya people are facing genocide.
Last week the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO) called for immediate help for the abandoned Rohingya people floating off the coasts of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Concerns are growing over the fate of the starving Rohingya migrants, trapped on boats off Myanmar for almost two months.
The United Nations says at least two-thousand Rohingya refugees, stranded on at least five boats near the Myanmar-Bangladesh coasts, are at risk of violence and food shortages.
Others estimate than there are 8000 stranded at sea.
The Australian Government has refused to help. However, the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia have now, after international pressure,agreed to give temporary shelter to the Rohingya migrants. Gambia has offered to resettle all Rohingya refugees. But will these ‘temporary’ offers be enough? And what of the continued plight of those Rohingya not at sea but suffering persecution?
Australia's zones of lawlessness and constant abuse, meticulously documented by corporations - just like the Nazis [Medium.com - 30/6/15]
And who can say which group will be next, persecuted for their race, religion or nationality – only that the bloody record of human history tells some people will always seek refuge.
Daniel Flitton [Sydney Morning Herald - 30/6/15]:
The mere fact Australia is a country that will offer new home to refugees ensures asylum seekers will always want to come – whether by boat, plane or lining up in the mythical queue in conflict zones.
Australia's angry political debates have been dominated by the method of asylum seekers' arrival, but not the principle that this country has an obligation to accept refugees.
This can be forgotten amid all the shouting about excised zones, offshore processing, people smugglers or "nope, nope, nope" type of rhetoric from both sides of the political fence.
So when Rohingya asylum seekers from Burma begin to move in great numbers, as has unexpectedly occurred this year, there will be pressure on Australia to lend a hand.
Just as when Tamils fled in the aftermath of Sri Lanka's civil war.
Or Hazaras from Afghanistan.
And who can say which group will be next, persecuted for their race, religion or nationality – only that the bloody record of human history tells some people will always seek refuge.
The point is that for as long as Australia accepts that as a prosperous and safe country, there is a responsibility to provide what assistance as we can to those in need, these ugly debates over the mechanics of accepting asylum seekers will continue.
And that should not be taken as a reason to abandon responsibility to humanity, but to better understand the modern pressures on a refugee program.
To recognise smugglers that can exploit the vulnerable for profit by offering escape, and this can be both unfair and extremely dangerous.
It also means recognising that not every person who makes a claim for asylum will necessarily qualify as a refugee.
Which should mean, too, Australia is a country that can afford to be generous with those who do.
Slow Genocide of The Rohingya People of Myanmar [Sri Lanka Guardian - 29/6/15]
The Rohingya: the face of ethnic cleansing in Asia? [Philstar.com – 29/6/15]:
... Here in Southeast Asia, the story is somewhat different. Thailand, an officially Buddhist country, has Muslim problems of its own. Indonesia is hanging on to an uneasy peace in Aceh, one of the very places most convenient to Rohingya refugee boats; recovery efforts from the insurrection and tsunami ongoing there, the Indonesian government feels stretched pretty thin. Malaysia likewise, has its own political, ethnic and religious burdens to bear—with none of these areas firmly balanced.
That left the Philippines to stand up and speak. And speak we did. But aside from the natural gushing about our noble record in the refugee arena—and I’m certainly subject to Pinoy Pride—what actually happened and what is likely to go on happening, for the Filipino part, is primarily that: talking. But it’s very important talking.
For the moment, what we’re offering is technical assistance—in the form of sharing “best practices” learned in our dealings with Vietnamese, Russian and Jewish refugees, for instance—which, considering our experience, is no small thing. We have also seen numerous incidents of internal displacement, from NPA, Moro, and AFP/PNP operations—we’re home to some of the oldest armed insurgencies in Asia. We have our annual round of displaced people from natural disasters. And, thanks to Yolanda, we’ve developed relief transparency beyond that of any other country in the region.
Speaking of Yolanda, our own social safety-nets are stretched pretty thin too, as we face the coming rainy season, with its floods and typhoons, on top of our ongoing Yolanda recovery programs. But the key phrase comes from DFA: “for the moment.” Desperate refugees, predatory human traffickers—a subject which deserves a column of its own—a mixture of countries with their respective political, religious and ethnic problems, and the two primary countries—Bangladesh and Myanmar—whose sincerity remains to be seen…all these things combined could make “for the moment” a very short time indeed. What then?
If that need arises, one would hope the government—the President and the DFA in particular—could expend some of our country’s hard-earned international political capital on convincing regional and international partners and organizations to contribute in cash or in kind to whatever space we might eventually make for the temporary refuge of the Rohingya. My feeling is that the government is ready to respond as needed. Just as Hataman offered space in ARMM, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima mentioned sending rescue ships for the boat people and suggested that we might shelter as many as 3,000 Rohingyans. Hopefully, “for the moment” will last long enough for other international solutions to be found. But clearly, the Filipino is ready to respond.
One of the great opportunities that Myanmar’s steady political and social change is affording is the chance for many outsiders to experience and take in the country first-hand.
Now this exciting in-country experience is being given to 11 students from the Australian National University
This weekend they will jet set from Canberra to Myanmar for a study tour that, among other activities, will see them take in the ancient capital of Bagan and mix it up with powerful politicians in Naypyidaw.
The students will spend two-weeks in the Southeast Asian nation as part of the in-country course ‘The Political Economy of Myanmar’.
Hosted by the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, it is the first time that ANU has sent students to Myanmar. ... [New Mandala - 26/6/15]
… And she said,
"Do you come from a land down under?
Where women glow and men plunder?
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover" ...
'Down Under', Men at Work 
... What all of these measures have in common is an attempt to avoid the fundamental obligation at the heart of the Refugee Convention - to protect people fleeing persecution - which necessarily involves fairly and properly assessing people's refugee claims. ... Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre [The Age - 1/7/15]
Injuries, self-harm in detention centres not investigated by Comcare [Australian Lawyers Alliance Media Release – 1/7/15]:
... “The high statistics of people collapsing, being found unresponsive, experiencing seizures and self-harming, indicates the toxic environment in which people are being imprisoned, and the deleterious effects on psychological health,” Mr [Greg] Barns said.
Mr Barns said that the findings of the recent Moss Review contradicted government claims that it has no responsibility for the care or welfare of asylum seekers once it shipped them from Australian territory to overseas detention centres.
“The Work Health and Safety Act has been acknowledged by the Department and Comcare to apply in every detention centre, no matter if it is on Christmas Island, Manus or Nauru,” Mr Barns said.
“It is clear that detention centres are psychologically damaging. Doctors have said it, and these incident reports from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection clearly indicate it. What is Comcare going to do about it?”
Why we spoke out: former refugee concentration camp health workers explain [Guardian – 1/7/15]
Open letter on the Border Force Act: 'We challenge the department to prosecute'
Solidarity and indefinite detention forever: Australian union fights for the right to maintain "Use of Force" and "escorting deportees" allowances, while undertaking "dirty and/or dangerous" work [CPSU Media Release - 30/6/15]
Time to speak out on Nauru situation, says New Zealand Law Society
Press Release: New Zealand Law Society
The rule of law is seriously under threat in Nauru and the Nauruan government’s recent actions need to be highlighted, the New Zealand Law Society said today.
“The Law Society considers it is time to speak out because democracy is quickly vanishing in one of New Zealand’s Pacific neighbours,” Law Society Rule of Law Convenor Austin Forbes QC says.
“Nauru has expelled five of seven opposition MPs from its parliament. The government has unashamedly admitted this action was for speaking to foreign media. Three of the MPs are now facing criminal charges for their involvement in a protest. One, Roland Kun, was taken off a flight bound for New Zealand and his passport has been cancelled.
“Over the last two years Nauru has sacked and deported a Magistrate. He had issued injunctions restraining the government from deporting two residents without giving any reasons. The Government also refused to allow its Chief Justice to return to the country from vacation.
“More recently the Nauruan government shut off access to Facebook by citizens of Nauru and amended the criminal code to create an imprisonable offence of threatening public order and other restrictions on freedom of expression and the press in Nauru.”
Mr Forbes said the situation in Nauru was fast becoming intolerable.
“Interference with the independence of the judiciary, the arrest of elected members of parliament, expulsion of citizens who protest and other curbs on freedom of expression and the right to access information. This cannot continue. Nauru has to restore human rights,” he said.
“There has been widespread criticism of the situation in Nauru from other quarters, including the New Zealand Government, the United Nations and the European Union.”
New Zealand, Australia and the UN host tokenistic, disaster capitalism promoting "World Humanitarian Summit" [UNDP Media Release - 1/7/15]
Category One cyclone forms off Solomon Islands [RNZI – 1/7/15]
Queensland forecasters have named Raquel as their first ever recorded July cyclone, which has formed this morning north of the Solomon Islands.
Senior forecaster Michael Knepp said the category one system was about 2,000 kilometres north-east of Cairns early this morning and it posed no threat to Queensland. ... [ABC - 1/7/15]
PNG: Women crew flies high
The National [30/6/15]:
Link PNG’s flight PX 900/901 last month featured an all-female aircrew.
It was the first time the airline’s commercial flight over Papua New Guinea skies had an all-female crew.
Link PNG is a subsidiary of Air Niugini.
A crew of five led by Captain Beverly Pakii had First Officer Nicole Koleala and cabin crew Julie Tamdodo, Ulato Avei and Veapi Ranu on a return flight to Tabubil from Port Moresby’s Jackson Airport.
Air Niugini had an all-female crew on board four years ago under the command of Captain Bona Yasi.
Link PNG chief executive officer Daniel Wanma said it was a milestone for women of the country.
“Working in a male-dominated profession, it is certainly exciting to find an all-female crew serving our customers,” Wanma said.
“Given the successful programme, many more girls will be joining their ranks in the future.”
Pakii, 29, became the first Papua New Guinean female pilot to achieve command of a Dash 8 aircraft under Air Niugini’s pilot cadet programme.
Pakii’s and Koleala’s fathers are former Air Niugini pilots Captain Ted Pakii and Captain Nat Koleala who flew Air Niugini’s Fokker 27 and F28 in the 1990s.
1 July 2015