... We need targets, on the war we wage ...
'Part of the Process', Morcheeba 
The dirty fossil fuel secret behind Burma's democratic fairytale, Nafeez Ahmed [Guardian - 26/4/13]:
... Attempting to consolidate their privileged position in a highly unequal but resource-rich economy, Burma's business families are making renewed efforts to capitalise on the resource rush, highlighting their philanthropic activities, and forging new ties with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Foreign investment is currently dominated by Chinese, Thai and Indian firms, who operated relatively unfazed by western sanctions, but American, British and French multinationals such as Chevron, BP, Shell, and Total are jockeying to make up for lost time.
Yet the scramble to open up Burma for business has played a direct role in inflaming community tensions. One of the most prominent culprits is the Shwe Gas Project led by South Korean and Indian companies, to export natural gas via pipeline from Arakan state to China's Yunnan province. The 2,800km overland pipeline is slated to become operational this year.
The project plans to produce 500 million cubic feet (mcfd) of gas per day for 30 years, supplying 400 mcfd to China, and the remaining 100 mcfd to factories owned by the Burmese government, military and associated business elites.
The losers from this venture are the Burmese people and environment. An extensive report by the Shwe Gas Movement (SGM), a Burmese community-based human rights network, documented the destruction of local fishing and farming industries, including confiscation of thousands of acres of land to "clear areas for the pipeline and associated infrastructure", from 2010 to 2011. Tens of thousands have been left jobless, with little or no compensation or employment opportunities.
The pipeline also cuts through the Arakan Yoma forest ecosystems of the Western Mountain Range, part of the Eastern Hindu Kush-Himalayan region, contributing to soil erosion and endangering species. One third of coral reefs north of Kyauk Phyu town have already been seriously damaged, undermining fish and marine life, and local fishing. Freshwater rivers and waterways have been dredged for sand and gravel for construction purposes, and are set to become dumping grounds for toxic materials.
In December 2011, the pipeline project sparked widespread anger across Arakan's cities and rural areas, as local people demanded provision of 24 hour electricity. Ranked the second most impoverished state of Burma by the UN Development Programme, approximately 3 million people living in Arakan have no access to public electricity, with just a few major cities able to access only five to six hours of electricity per day, provided by private companies at extortionate prices of 400-600 Kyat per unit (compared to 25 Kyat per unit in Rangoon). Overall, Burma is by far the poorest country in Southeast Asia, with a third of the population living in poverty.
The eruption of ethnic violence across Arakan against ethnic Rohingyas six months later in 2012 was therefore most likely triggered by the simmering tensions wrought by escalating economic marginalisation. On the one hand, Arakan's deepening economic crisis, fuelled by the state-backed pipeline project, laid the groundwork for an increase in xenophobia and racism toward the Rohingya. On the other, Burmese state agencies appear to have deliberately fostered the ethnic cleansing campaign to divert populist anger away from the devastating impact of the pipeline project, and instead toward the most easy and vulnerable target to hand.
Myanmar releases census data, excludes Rohingya [Yahoo - 29/5/15]
Australia gives Myanmar an additional $5 million to help with their ongoing genocide in Rakhine State [Protected and unaccountable Immigration and Foreign Minister joint media release - 29/5/15]
Australia also continues helping cover up the genocide [Nine MSN - 29/5/15]:
Australia is calling on Southeast Asia to achieve a sustainable solution to the region's asylum seeker crisis, especially in Myanmar where thousands of Muslim Rohingya have fled poverty and persecution.
Immigration and Border Protection Portfolio chief executive Roman Quaedvlieg says Canberra is ready to put its money where its mouth is to support the effort.
Attending a meeting of senior representatives from 17 countries in Bangkok on Friday, Mr Quaedvlieg said additional financial support from Australia would come on top of substantial existing assistance.
"What needs to happen here is a coalition of like-minded nations within the region who recognise this is a global problem and deal with a global solution," he said.
"If we all go away from here recognising that this is a regional problem, that a regional multi-element solution should apply, then thats a good thing."
A hobby that got out of control: 372 weapons, fully automatic rifles, semi automatic rifles, handguns and over four tonnes of ammunition
News Mail [29/5/15]:
When an innocent hobby got out of control, Dr Anthony Francis Dique found himself at the centre of one of the largest illegal firearm raids in Queensland history.
The 45-year-old respected rural practitioner pleaded guilty in Rockhampton District Court yesterday to nine weapons related charges including unlawful possession, modifying, manufacture, unsafe storage and improper discharge.
On November 25, 2013, police uncovered one of the largest holdings of illegal firearms, military style weapons, and ammunition in Queensland following an extensive search of Dique's property in Monto.
The court heard detectives from the Drug and Serious Crime Group's Firearms Investigation Team along with detectives from the Central Region raided the property in Moonford, via Monto, and located 372 weapons in the residence, including fully automatic rifles, semi automatic rifles and handguns as well as over four tonnes of ammunition.
Of the 372 weapons found, Dique owned 19 illegal weapons consisting of 14 suppressors, a 303 receiver and AK47 assault rifle parts as well as three functioning weapons namely a pump action shotgun, a glock and a P226 handgun.
At the time of the raid, Dique was not present but other residents of the property, who are yet to appear in court, were in attendance.
On November 28, Dique met with police and provided them with a suitcase containing four weapons including a glock hand gun and a ruger mini rifle with related books as well as up to 10 suppressors (silencers) he had manufactured.
Dique's defence lawyer told the court the incident occurred while Dique was employed by Queensland Health as a Medical Superintendent at Monto in 2013.
"He was introduced to weapons by a work colleague who was a member of the local gun club. Dr Dique went along to the gun club and liked it so he went through the correct processes and joined and soon became the treasurer of the gun club," the defence lawyer said.
"He became good friends with the work colleague and his family and subsequently became somewhat part of their family. When they lost their property, Dr Dique purchased a property and then moved onto it as caretakers with him.
"It was a hobby that got out of control. The suppressors interested him not in a sinister way but in a mechanical way.
"As a result of the incident, Dr Dique was suspended by Queensland Health and now works in a private practice at Biloela. His wage was reduced from $600,000 per annum as the medical superintendent to $300,000 PA.
"He is unable to attend any Queensland Health facilities until court proceedings are dealt with. Dr Dique is a low risk of violence and a low risk of re-offending. Through his actions he is remorseful and horrified that he has broken the law. He has only done so in the past through two speeding fines."
Judge Michael Burnett sentenced Dique to nine months imprisonment wholly suspended with an operational period of three years, fined him a total of $2000 and disqualified him from holding a gun licence for five years.
Sydney siege inquest: Lawyer says Man Haron Monis was a dickhead [ABC – 29/5/15]:
... Another lawyer, Manny Conditsis, was first contacted by Monis after a February 2013 High Court ruling sent his abusive letters case back to the NSW District Court for a trial.
He said he thought Monis was intelligent but could be difficult.
The gunman told him the soldiers' families he sent the letters to were not really offended but ASIO was putting them up to it.
"He believed the Australian Government would do whatever the American government told it to do," he said.
"I found him to be courteous, respectful and very passionate about his cause."
He said Monis was lobbying against Australia "fighting in unjust wars".
But the gunman gave him conflicting instructions about entering a guilty plea before the trial started.
Monis told the lawyer that after pleading guilty he would apologise to the families he sent the letters to outside court. But after seeing the media pack gathered outside he instead started "raving".
Mr Conditsis said he dealt with Monis for a period of around 11 months and they had a rapport but conversations with him were "draining and exhausting".
He said on one occasion he visited Monis in jail in 2013 after the gunman was charged with being an accessory to the murder of his wife.
Mr Conditsis said the gunman broke down and cried "like a baby" because of how he was being treated in prison.
"Whatever he was, Monis was a very proud man," he said.
Anti rights case against Agnes Waters men to be heard in Bundaberg [Gladstone Observer - 29/5/15]:
Police cases against two Agnes Water men alleged to have links to the Odin's Warriors criminal motorcycle gang have been moved to the Magistrates Court in Bundaberg.
In a phone link-up with Gladstone Magistrates Court, the men's lawyers agreed for their matters to be adjourned to that legal jurisdiction.
Leslie Douglas Dennison and Gregory Terrence Toby are both charged with being a participant in a criminal organisation and knowingly in public places with two or more people who are involved in a criminal organisation.
Dennison is also charged with drug possession.
The men did not appear.
Their cases will be mentioned at court in Bundaberg on June 15 along with Rodney John Keating from Mt Morgan, who is also charged with being a participant in a criminal organisation and consorting.
The case against Deane Jerome Sanderson, who is not charged with the consorting offence but faces serious drug related charges including trafficking and producing dangerous drugs, will go before Gladstone Magistrates Court on July 27.
The men were charged in March following a police operation targeting the supply and production of dangerous drugs.
Australian police deal with a domestic violence matter every two minutes [ABC – 29/5/15]
Two dead after head-on crash near Toowoomba
Brisbane Times [29/5/15]:
Two drivers have died after a head-on collision near Toowoomba.
Police said it appeared the two cars collided just before 2pm on Gatton-Laidley Road West.
A Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman told AAP a 26-year-old woman and 35-year-old man died at the scene.
Man killed in car crash, Ransome
A man has died after his car left the road and crashed into a tree in Brisbane's east.
Emergency services were called to the crash on Chelsea Road, Ransome, at 8.39am on Friday.
The man, aged in his 40s, died at the scene, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman said.
Drug operations in Mackay and Whitsundays by Taskforce Maxima and local police [QPS Media – 29/5/15]
Man charge with 30 property offences, Gold Coast [QPS Media – 29/5/15]
Attempted armed robbery, Camira [QPS Media - 29/5/15]
Third person convicted of murdering Ipswich teenager
Murdered Queensland teenager Shaune Gibson's heartbroken family says he can finally rest in peace after the last of his killers was brought to justice.
Almost three years after the 19-year-old Ipswich man was ambushed, tied up and killed in a twisted revenge plot, a 47-year-old woman became the third person convicted over his violent death.
A Brisbane Supreme Court jury on Friday took little more than two hours to find Valerie Jeanette Chambers guilty of murder after a four-day trial.
She had already pleaded guilty to twice interfering with his corpse.
Outside court, Mr Gibson's relieved mother said justice had been served.
"Hopefully now he'll get his peace," Roselyn Scott said.
"It's like you've got a hole in your heart that's never going to be filled again."
Chambers, who showed no emotion when the verdict was handed down, is due to be sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment next week alongside 29-year-old Warrick David Lindenberg.
Lindenberg pleaded guilty to Mr Gibson's murder and two counts of interfering with his body earlier this month.
A 19-year-old woman who was a juvenile at the time has pleaded guilty to Mr Gibson's manslaughter and is due to learn her fate next month.
Chambers' trial heard the trio lured Mr Gibson to an Ipswich house in August 2012 in an apparent bid to teach him a lesson for harassing the then-16-year-old girl.
Chambers told police and her former partner that she beat the hog-tied teen with a pool cue, and that Lindenberg strangled him with a piece of wire.
She said they wrapped Mr Gibson's body in a tarpaulin and Lindenberg stabbed him twice in the back before they buried him in a shallow grave by a deserted bush track at Churchable, west of Brisbane.
His decomposed body was found about six weeks later, following a police investigation that was triggered by Chambers' incriminating drunken ramblings to friends.
Gold Coast man conspired with prostitute to rob businessman, court hears [Brisbane Times – 29/5/15]
Tweed Council uses stock standard Murdoch "aggressive, dirty old man watching porn" lie to censor library internet
Tweed Daily News [29/5/15]:
Filters to block R-rated material will be installed on council library computers across the region after a Tweed councillor expressed concerns about people viewing online pornography.
Cr Carolyn Byrne's move to filter the computers was prompted by a man being caught twice at Murwillumbah Library accessing explicit porn in view of other library users including children in February.
When the man was asked to leave, he became aggressive and staff called police before the man voluntarily left the library.
But he is not the only person caught using council libraries for such purposes.
Cr Byrne said if such explicit material was available on the library shelves there would be a public outcry, so it was appropriate that R-rated and unclassified material was blocked on the computers.
She said the council's administration staff already had filters installed on their computers as did many major companies.
The matter was originally scheduled to come before Thursday night's Tweed Council meeting.
But it was dropped from the schedule after Cr Byrne took the matter before a Richmond-Tweed Regional Library committee meeting instead last Friday.
There the majority of council representatives supported filters being installed across all computers in four Northern Rivers council libraries.
Lismore City Council Mayor Jenny Dowell voted against the move.
But the filter will be administered by that council.
It will collectively cost $1500 and the filter will be installed as soon as possible.
"It's a small cost to protect the innocence of our users," Cr Byrne said. "I don't see it as censorship, I see it as being responsible."
She has asked for a report to come back to the next library meeting to determine whether the filter was "too much or not enough".
Foster carer charged with child sex offences also volunteered at school [ABC - 29/5/15]
HMAS Toowoomba crew prepare for bogus war mongering PR stunt [Chronicle – 29/5/15]
IAEA blames TEPCO's poor preparations for Fukushima disaster [The Asahi Shimbun - 29/5/15]
Hundreds of people stage a rally outside the Diet in Tokyo on Thursday night, opposing a set of controversial security-related bills intended to expand Japan’s defense role at home and internationally. Banners, center, read: “Human rights and peace! We will not tolerate poverty and discrimination.” [Japan Today - 29/5/15]
Malaysia calls for another summit, US says urgent rescue necessary
Jakarta Globe [29/5/15]:
Malaysia has invited the leaders of Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar for an emergency summit on the “boat people” crisis in Southeast Asia, a Malaysian foreign ministry said on Friday.
“Malaysia is prepared to host,” said the official, who did not want to be identified. Asked when the summit was likely to be held, the official said: “It will take time to put together, and we don’t know yet.”
The official was attending a one-day inter-governmental meeting in Bangkok on the migrant crisis.
More than 3,000 migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar have landed in Indonesia and Malaysia since Thailand launched a crackdown on human trafficking gangs this month. About 2,600 are believed to be still adrift in boats, relief agencies have said.
Thailand will allow the United States to fly surveillance planes from its territory to identify boats carrying migrants adrift in Southeast Asian seas, the country’s deputy prime minister said on Friday.
“Yes, we are permitting it, it is starting today,” Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Tanasak Patimapragorn told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting.
The United States said on Friday that thousands of vulnerable migrants adrift in Southeast Asian seas needed urgent rescue, as countries gathered in Bangkok to discuss the regional crisis.
“We have to save lives urgently,” US Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard told reporters on her way into the meeting at a Bangkok hotel.
The gathering brings together 17 countries from across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and elsewhere in Asia, along with the United States, Switzerland and international organizations such as UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.
“More than ever, we need a concerted effort by all countries concerned,” Thailand’s Foreign Minister General Tanasak Patimapragorn told the meeting, in an opening address. “It needs both Thai and international cooperation to solve the problem comprehensively.”
New Zealand may receive Rohingya refugees under UNHCR, says PM [New Straits Times - 28/5/15]:
New Zealand may receive some of the migrants stranded on boats in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, said Prime Minister John Key today ahead of a regional meeting tomorrow on the human-trafficking [humanitarian] crisis.
Mr Key was speaking at a gathering of ASEAN media in Auckland, as part of events marking the 40th anniversary of ties between the region and New Zealand.
New Zealand accepts a total of 750 refugees a year under a programme by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said Mr Key.
"It's quite possible that we can accommodate some of those refugees within that programme," added Mr Key, referring to Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and migrants from Bangladesh who have tried to land in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia since a Thai crackdown on people smugglers in early May led to trafficker crews abandoning them at sea.
Defence chiefs gather for Shangri-La Dialogue [New Straits Times - 29/5/15]
US threatening 'chaos' in Asia-Pacific: China [Yahoo - 28/5/15]
US hopes releasing video of Chinese island-building will provoke Asian response [Reuters – 28/5/15]:
By releasing video of Beijing’s island reclamation work and considering more assertive maritime actions, the United States is signaling a tougher stance over the South China Sea and trying to spur Asian partners to more action.
The release last week of the surveillance plane footage - showing dredgers and other ships busily turning remote outcrops into islands with runways and harbors - helps ensure the issue will dominate an Asian security forum starting on Friday attended by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter as well as senior Chinese military officials.
As it pushes ahead with a military “pivot” to Asia partly aimed at countering China, Washington wants Southeast Asian nations to take a more united stance against China's rapid acceleration this year of construction on disputed reefs.
The meeting, the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, will be overshadowed by the tensions in the South China Sea, where Beijing has added 1,500 acres to five outposts in the resource-rich Spratly islands since the start of this year.
"These countries need to own it (the issue)," one U.S. defense official said on condition of anonymity, adding that it was counterproductive for the United States to take the lead in challenging China over the issue.
More unified action by the partners, including the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), needed to happen soon because "if you wait four years, it's done," the official said.
While some ASEAN members, including U.S. ally the Philippines and fellow claimant Vietnam, have been vocal critics of Chinese maritime actions, the group as a whole has been divided on the issue and reluctant to intervene.
But in a sign of growing alarm, the group's leaders last month jointly expressed concern that reclamation activity had eroded trust and could undermine peace in the region.
Experts dismiss the idea of ASEAN-level joint action any time soon in the South China Sea. "It's absolute fantasy," said Ian Storey of Singapore’s Institute on South East Asian Studies.
But stepped-up coordination between some states is possible. Japan's military is considering joining the United States in maritime air patrols over the sea. Japan and the Philippines are expected to start talks next week on a framework for the transfer of defense equipment and technology and to discuss a possible pact on the status of Japanese military personnel visiting the Philippines.
Carter, speaking in Honolulu en route to Singapore, repeated Washington's demand that the island-building stop, saying China was violating the principles of the region's "security architecture" and the consensus for "non-coercive approaches."
China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas, with overlapping claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Facebook not part of the internet: Nauru
Shutdown enters 29th day.
The Nauru government claims it is not blocking internet access but it confirms it has temporarily banned Facebook to ensure there is no promotion of child pornography.
The Justice Minister says it is not true the government is censoring the internet, but opposition MPs, refugee groups and human rights organisations say that is what it intends.
David Adeang claims an overwhelming majority of Nauruans supports the government's actions, with many mothers of young children expressing their thanks.
He says the temporary Facebook ban does not limit the access of refugees to other communication platforms such as the phone, internet and email.
He says the government is in discussion with Facebook which he says recognises that pornography used to harass families, women and children is socially destabilising.
The Nauru government has previously denied it had banned Facebook.
It later said the ban was temporary but it has now been in place for a month.
Former Army sergeant loses Canberra rape appeal [Canberra Times – 29/5/15]
Adani coal mine: Indigenous groups commence new legal challenge
@BrianDavidLowe [29/5/15]: Indigenous activists against the Carmichael coal mine protest outside Adani HQ in Brisbane ...
Canberra Times [29/5/15]:
Indigenous landholders will mount a fresh Federal Court challenge to the development in Queensland's Galilee Basin of Australia's largest coal mine.
Representatives for the Wangan and Jagalingou people have lodged an appeal against a Native Title Tribunal decision last month to allow the Queensland government to issue mining leases to Indian mining giant Adani.
Adani plans to develop the Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland and will ship coal to India from coal terminals at Abbot Point.
The latest development in the legal saga comes as UNESCO's world heritage committee prepares to receive recommendations on whether the Great Barrier Reef should be given a formal in-danger listing.
Traditional owners will also travel to the US and Europe to urge international banks not to finance the Adani project, which they say will "permanently destroy" their ancestral homelands.
Adani has repeatedly challenged the group's spokesman, Adrian Burragubba, claiming he is not authorised to speak on behalf of the Wangan and Jagalingou people.
On Thursday, a spokesman said Adani was confident the tribunal's judgement would be upheld.
The spokesman said the tribunal had taken the view that "authorised representatives of the [Wangan and Jagalingou (people] are working with the company, the submissions of groups purporting to represent the whole group were not relevant" and that there were sound cultural and environmental management plans proposed.
But Mr Burragubba disagreed with this assessment.
He said he represented nine out of 12 family groups that had a native title claim over the area where the Carmichael mine would be built.
"Nine of the family groups sit on the family council," he said.
"They've never consented to having the mine. They've rejected the land use agreement. It is the family council that I take my instructions from."
Mr Burragubba and Indigenous rights campaigner Murrawah Johnson will leave Australia in coming days for talks with international lenders including the Export Import Bank of the United States, Britain's Standard Chartered bank and HSBC.
A letter from Mr Burragubba to Fred Hochberg, the chairman of the US Export Import Bank, states: "We have not given our consent to the Adani Group or to the state of Queensland for the development of the Carmichael coal mine on our ancestral lands, due to its permanent and devastating impacts on our land, water, culture and heritage. Nor will we ever give our consent."
A declaration that will be given to lenders claims the mine "will tear the heart out of our country".
At least 71 arrested in Jayapura
A total of 46 people were arrested yesterday in Jayapura in Indonesia's Papua region during rallies in support of Papuan membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
Victor Yeimo of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, or KNPB, says five of them suffered serious injuries after being hit by police when they were giving speeches outside the University of Cendrawasih.
He told the Catholic news service, ucanews.com, that one of them was hit in the head with a rubber bullet.
Mr Yeimo says another 25 people were arrested in Wamena.
They were showing their support for the application by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua to join the sub-regional political body, the MSG, which is made up of the five independent Melanesian countries and the Kanaks of New Caledonia.
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 27, and 8 a.m., May 28, local time.
In Syria, coalition military forces conducted six airstrikes using attack, and fighter aircraft.
Separately in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted 20 airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense using attack, fighter, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
“Coalition airstrikes struck across Iraq,” said Col. Wayne Marotto, CJTF-OIR chief of public affairs. “When Daesh terrorists expose themselves and their equipment, we will strike them.”
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
Near Al Hasakah, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and an ISIL trench system, destroying four ISIL fighting positions.
Near Dayr Az Zawr, three airstrike struck three ISIL crude oil collection points.
Near Baghdadi, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL homemade explosives cache.
Near Al Huwayjah, one airstrike struck an ISIL fighting position.
Near Bayji, three airstrikes destroyed five ISIL vehicles, an ISIL building and an ISIL fighting position.
Near Fallujah, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying two ISIL heavy machine guns, two ISIL armored vehicles and an ISIL VBIED.
Near Kirkuk, one airstrike struck an ISIL vehicle.
Near Makhmur, one airstrike struck an ISIL mortar position.
Near Mosul, five airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, an ISIL checkpoint and an ISIL staging area, destroying two ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL armored vehicle and an ISIL trench system.
Near Ramadi, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL VBIED.
Near Sinjar, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units, destroying three ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL mortar position and an ISIL sniper position.
Near Tal Afar, one airstrike struck land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
At least ten killed in car bombs at two Baghdad hotels [Al Jazeera - 28/5/15]:
... Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad, said the hotels were frequented by members of NGOs and journalists. ...
Iraq exhumed 470 bodies from Tikrit mass graves: Minister [Hurriyet Daily News – 28/5/15]
UN General Assembly calls for an immediate halt to ‘wanton’ destruction of Iraq’s cultural heritage [Media Release – 28/5/15]
UN relief chief urges Security Council to save Syria from ‘hopelessness and further despair’ [Media Release – 28/5/15]
Jerusalem Post [28/5/15]:
The US military has started training Syrian opposition fighters in Turkey to combat Islamic State, expanding a program that first launched in Jordan weeks ago, a US official told Reuters on Thursday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not offer details on the size of the first group of recruits undergoing training in Turkey or the specific start date.
The Pentagon declined comment.
... After the airstrikes had commenced, reports began to surface that no identifiable Syrian activists within the country had ever heard of such an organization. Days after the U.S. initiated military operations within Syria, it became increasingly unclear whether the “Khorasan Group” itself actually existed. ... [The Intercept - 28/5/15]
U.S. intelligence documents released to a government watchdog confirms the suspicions that the United States and some of its so-called coalition partners had actually facilitated the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as an effective adversary against the government of the Syrian dictator President Bashar al-Assad.
In addition, ISIS members were initially trained by members and contractors of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at facilities in Jordan in 2012.
The original goal was to weaken the Syrian government which had engaged in war crimes against their own people, according to a number of reports on Sunday. ... [Examiner - 26/5/15]
Saudi-led air strikes on Yemeni police headquarters leave 45 dead [The Kashmir Monitor - 29/5/15]
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has deplored the shooting incident that took place in Bamako, Mali, on Monday, 25 May, during which a peacekeeper with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was killed and another injured. ... [UN Media Release - 28/5/15]
FARC: Rebel peace envoy killed in Colombian government strike [Deutsche Welle – 27/5/15]
Turkish journalist testifies over ‘terrorist propaganda’ for his critical tweet
Hurriyet Daily News [28/5/15]:
An investigation has been launched May 28 into social media posts made by Turkey’s intellectual figures during the March 31 hostage crisis in Istanbul’s Çağlayan courthouse, Al Jazeera Türk reported.
The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office has summoned journalist and anchorman Mirgün Cabas to testify on charges of “creating terrorist organization propaganda” over his comments on the hostage crisis.
In addition to Cabas, academician Koray Çalışkan and journalists Pelin Batu and Banu Güven have also been involved in the investigation for their tweets on the incident, accused of the same charge as Cabas.
“No matter how this [hostage crisis] ends, there is only one lesson to take: Do not shoot the children and do not boo the mothers,” tweeted Cabas, referring to then-prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s encouragement of his supporters to boo the family of Gezi victim Berkin Elvan, while he was in a coma.
However, Cabas later apologized for his tweet, as it drew rebuff from some segments of the society.
“I sincerely apologize to the relatives of the martyr prosecutor Selim Kiraz for yesterday’s tweet. I have defended all my life that no cause can legitimize terror. I am also angry at myself for letting a lynch mob target both me and the group I work for,” Cabas said.
Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz was killed on March 31 after an eight-hour standoff that began after two members of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), took Kiraz hostage, demanding that the police who killed 15-year-old Elvan during the 2013 Gezi protests publicly reveal themselves.
Heat Wave sees crowded Delhi hospitals, many patients delirious
Hospitals are struggling to cope with an influx of victims of the blistering heat wave that has claimed nearly 1,500 lives in just over a week.
Nearly 1,300 people have been killed in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
In Delhi, the top temperature has soared to 45 degrees Celsius. "Hospitals are overflowing with heatstroke victims," said Ajay Lekhi, president of the Delhi Medical Association.
"Patients are complaining of severe headache and dizziness. They are also showing symptoms of delirium," he added, describing a common symptom of severe dehydration.
The surge in demand for electricity from air conditioners has led to power cuts in parts of Delhi, exacerbating the misery for residents of the capital.
Large queues formed outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the premier government-run hospital, where women clutched plastic water bottles as they tried to console crying babies, their heads wrapped in handkerchiefs against the blistering sun.
"Last night there was no electricity for nearly five hours," said 31-year-old housewife Seema Sharma as she waited in line for her four-year-old son to be seen.
"You can imagine what we must have gone through. He just couldn't sleep and kept on crying. Now he has fever as well," she said.
State authorities have ordered that air coolers be installed in shelters for homeless people. Tens of thousands of people sleep in the streets with no protection from the sun.
"We think that these heat wave conditions will take another four to five days to subside," said B P Yadav, director of the Indian Meteorological Department.
The monsoon is forecast to hit the southern state of Kerala towards the end of this month before sweeping across the country, but it will be weeks before the rains reach the arid plains.
Blatter says he won't resign [teleSUR – 28/5/15]
Football Federation Australia will seek a fresh start for football's governing body FIFA and vote for Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein as its next president, FFA Chairman Frank Lowy said Thursday. … [Bangkok Post - 28/5/15]
Electronic Intifada [28/5/15]:
The international football federation, FIFA, is set to vote tomorrow on a proposal to suspend Israel.
If the proposal receives a two-thirds majority, Israel will be dropped from FIFA and unable to participate in international matches, including the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
The vote has been requested by the Palestinian Football Association. It follows a major campaign highlighting Israel’s movement restrictions on Palestinian footballers, including a ban on their travel between the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“All we are requesting are basic rights for our athletes,” Jibril Rajoub, a politician who played a leading role in the campaign, recently told Al Jazeera America. “The Israeli occupation’s overt oppression and racist policies, including movement restrictions for athletes, prevent us from participating in the game to our full potential.”
… Additional to their U.S. ordered raid the Swiss also feel compelled to open criminal proceedings around the 2018 and 2022 World Cup FIFA votes. The U.S. lost out against Russia and Qatar in its bid for those games and U.S. hawks still want to change that. It is not that paying bribes to be chosen for world games is unfamiliar to the U.S., but being rejected necessitates regime change at the top of the responsible organization.
In the United States it is legal to bribe politicians, via campaign financing, in practically unlimited amounts. Not one U.S. banker has been indicted for the massive Wall Street fraud that brought the world economy to a halt. The world is aware of this and it does not like the U.S. to lecture it about moral outrages. FIFA, while certainly corrupt, is also the soul of world football and the organizer of the most beloved championship in the world. If the U.S. believes that using something similar to terrorism charges against FIFA will have a positive echo in the world it is very mistaken. … [Ahead of Israel expulsion vote US orders raid on FIFA - ICH – 28/5/15]
A Frank Lowy Institute Poll (taken seriously by an activist group and the media) finds Australians support aid cuts [SBS - 29/5/15]:
More Australians than not back the Abbott government's decision to slash foreign aid.
A Lowy Institute poll of 1210 people found 53 per cent were in favour of the $1 billion reduction.
Only 35 per cent were against the move and people aged under 30 were more likely to fall into that category.
Campaign for Australian Aid spokesman Adam Valvasori says the poll results are disappointing.
He said it reflected a general public misunderstanding about the important life-saving work Australia does in developing countries.
"It's one of the best things Australia does on the world stage," he told AAP.
Sydney Morning Herald [9/5/15]:
The announcement last week that the Newspoll organisation would shut down and the poll itself would continue in name only is the second major shift in Australian political polling in the last twelve months.
A year ago Nielsen announced that it had decided to cease polling in Australia after 40 years. Newspoll in its current form has been around for 30 years.
The Newspoll name will continue only as the 'brand' of a new poll to be run by Galaxy Research, pollster for the News Limited tabloids.
The current poll, which will continue until the Newspoll organisation closes in June, is a fortnightly poll of around 1150 people with landline telephones, conducted by live interviewers reading out questions and entering responses.
The new Galaxy-run 'Newspoll' will adopt a mixed methodology and a larger sample size.
The Greens spokesperson for Trade, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, enthusiastically welcomes the ACTU passing a motion at their National Congress today calling on the Australian Government to release the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) text or to withdraw Australia from negotiations. Senator Whish-Wilson addressed ACTU members at a TPP breakfast yesterday. ...
[Greens Media Release - 28/5/15]
Great to chat to @BarackObama about importance of minimum wage &Abbott's refusal to engage with L20
Image: @GedKACTU - President, Australian Council of Trade Unions [15/11/14]
The Australian Workers Union (AWU) approved a deal that saw cleaners paid well below award wages while working at prestigious events, in exchange for $25,000 a year in "membership fees", an inquiry has heard.
A Sydney hearing of the Royal Commission into trade union governance was told Clean Event, that services venues including the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Royal Easter Show, the Melbourne Cup and the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, paid workers $18 dollars an hour under a WorkChoices agreement negotiated in 2006.
At the time, the award was up to $45 an hour on public holidays. ... [ABC - 29/5/15]
New Zealand Greens call for Saudi sheep deal investigation [RNZI – 28/5/15]
A Lebanese Army unit Thursday raided a Syrian refugee camp on the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal in search for Islamist suspects. ... [Daily Star - 28/5/15]
The aid agency MSF says it has evacuated 42 of its staff from the Dadaab refugee camp for Somalis in northeastern Kenya, citing "deteriorating security conditions". ... [Al Jazeera - 28/5/15]
Deutsche Welle [27/5/15]:
... Having escaped war and extreme poverty, the men sleep on narrow steel cots in white emergency tents in the middle of a sports track in Linz, in Upper Austria. In all, 310 refugees are now being held in tents in Linz, Thalham and Salzburg, a move criticized Tuesday by Volker Tuerk, UN Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees, during his visit to Vienna.
"Isolating refugees is pure ostrich-in-the-sand policy. It doesn't work."
It's a surreal scene in Linz. While young Austrian teens jog confidently around clay lanes apparently oblivious to the sporadic drizzle, more than 100 refugees huddle under dark blue blankets in the tents, listening to the drone of generators fueling space heaters. A group of men who first arrived in Linz's tent city a week ago have been moved to a gym to make room for the latest arrivals.
Nearly a year after embarking on a multi-million dollar quest to solve one of aviation's greatest unsolved mysteries, authorities and search teams are being criticised over their approach to finding Flight MH370 in the remote southern Indian Ocean.
The Australian-led search, already the most expensive in aviation history, has found no trace of the Malaysia Airlines jet or its 239 passengers and crew, prompting calls for a rethink into the way the mission is conducted.
Experts involved in past deep water searches say the search to find MH370 could easily miss the plane as Dutch company Fugro NV, the firm at the forefront of the mission, is using inappropriate technology for some terrain and inexperienced personnel for the highly specialized task of hunting man-made objects.
Heightening concerns, Australian authorities said on Wednesday that another search vessel, the Go Phoenix, which is using the world's best deep sea search equipment and crew provided by U.S. firm Phoenix International Holdings Inc, would pull out within weeks. No reason was given for withdrawing the vessel from the quest.
MH370: Missing Malaysia Airlines Plane Is In The Bay Of Bengal Says Aerospace Volunteer Andre Milne [Huffington Post – 27/5/15]
More than 700 refugees rescued in Mediterranean
A total of 741 migrants who set sail from Libya in the hopes of reaching Europe were rescued in the Mediterranean on Thursday, the Italian coastguard said.
The rescue operation was coordinated by the coastguard, a spokesman told AFP, and carried out with the help of German, Irish and British naval vessels under the auspices of the EU's Frontex border control agency.
The migrants were trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea on six boats -- five of them inflatable vessels -- before they were helped to safety in the Strait of Sicily, the coastguard said.
Irish naval vessel LÉ Eithne has rescued 201 migrants off the coast of Libya this afternoon. ... [RTE News - 29/5/15]
The Royal Navy's HMS Bulwark rescues 369 migrants crammed into an overcrowded wooden-hulled boat which was in the waters just north of Libya. The ship sent five of its landing craft to rescue the migrants – 50 of whom were small children – from their unstable 'double-decker' craft. [VIDEO – Guardian – 29/5/15]
"Bangkok talks won't achieve anything" is a talking point that protects Australia's politicians and human rights establishment from scrutiny.
If the media were doing its job (and not covering up a genocide) it would be pressing politicians - and the human rights establishment - on Australia's regional responsibilities, and the crucial role it should be playing in helping rescue the thousands of refugees still at sea.
Australian Embassy in Myanmar: A Save the Children representative briefs Australian Embassy Staff on the Australian funded Child Friendly Space for internally displaced people in Rakhine State on 14 May 2015.
... More than 3,000 migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar have landed in Indonesia and Malaysia since Thailand launched a crackdown on human trafficking gangs this month.
About 2,600 are believed to be still adrift on boats, relief agencies have said.
Many who made it to shore are members of Myanmar's 1.1 million Rohingya Muslim minority who live in apartheid-like conditions in the country's Rakhine state.
A source at one international organization, who declined to be named, said the level of representation of the countries at the head of the crisis was of concern.
"They're the main players," he said.
"What can they achieve with that level of representation?"
Volker Turk, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, told Reuters the complex crisis could not be resolved in a day but called the meeting "a good beginning".
Myanmar does not consider the Rohingya citizens, rendering them effectively stateless, while denying it discriminates against them or that they are fleeing persecution.
Almost 140,000 were displaced in deadly clashes with majority Buddhists in Rakhine in 2012. About 100,000 have fled overseas since, according to the Arakan Project, a Rohingya advocacy group.
Turk said resolving the issue of statelessness in Myanmar was vital.
"If that's not currently possible because of the law, making sure they are given an equivalent status, a legal status, is incredibly important to resolving the crisis," he said.
Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said the meeting was aimed at "commitment to international cooperation to resolve this humanitarian crisis."
"We hope that this meeting will yield similar short- and long-term solutions to the problem. This meeting is aimed at alleviating the suffering of those still at sea," he said.
UN Security Council holds first-ever briefing on Myanmar human rights [Channel News Asia - 29/5/15]:
... [UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein] "Zeid gave a powerful briefing on the dire situation and 'institutional discrimination' faced by the Rohingya in Myanmar," a council diplomat present at the meeting told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
"They are often violently abused by smugglers, hundreds recently dying at sea," the diplomat said, summarising Zeid's remarks about the country formerly called Burma.
"This demands a comprehensive response. Must look at root causes."
Another diplomat confirmed the readout, adding that no immediate council action was expected. Council members responded to Zeid by calling for the problem to be tackled at its root causes and welcoming a crisis meeting in Bangkok aimed at addressing Southeast Asia's migrant crisis.
A delegate from Russia said the Security Council was not the appropriate forum for discussing human rights, suggesting it should be handled by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, a diplomat said.
China, Myanmar's traditional ally, said it was an internal matter for the country's authorities but expressed concern about the situation.
More than 3,000 migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh have landed in Indonesia and Malaysia in recent weeks since Thailand launched a crackdown on human trafficking gangs earlier this month. About 2,600 are believed to be still adrift on abandoned boats, relief agencies have said.
Many of those who have made it to shore are members of Myanmar's 1.1 million-member Rohingya Muslim minority who live in apartheid-like conditions in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
Recently Zeid said the Rohingyas' situation was "one of the principal motivators of these desperate maritime movements."
The Myanmar government regards most Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They enjoy few rights and have suffered violence at the hands of members of the Buddhist majority over the past few years.
29 May 2015