Citizenship for Rohingya [30/5/15]: Silent Protest 2015: The Struggle Continues... From Dataran Merdeka to Sogo Shopping Mall. [Kuala Lumpur]
Ambiga demands international commission on Perlis mass graves [The Malay Mail Online – 30/5/15]:
A commission comprising members of international bodies must be set up to investigate the mass graves discovered in Perlis last week as the situation has turned into a global problem, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said today.
The National Human Rights Society (Hakam) president also criticised the police for declaring that only two of 12 police officers arrested over the find were linked to the human trafficking camps, arguing that operations of that size would have involved many more people.
“We think the only announcement about the mass graves that is acceptable in a civilised society, if that’s we are, is that there will be an immediate commission set up consisting of members of international bodies.
Nothing less will be acceptable in a country like ours,” Ambiga said in a forum on police accountability here, co-organised by Hakam and the Malaysian Bar Council.
On Monday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar had announced the discovery of 139 graves in 28 camps of human trafficking syndicates between Kampung Wai in Kuala Perlis to Tangga 100 at Felda Lubuk Sireh, stretching over 11 kilometres.
The remains of four victims have been recovered so far from the site of the human trafficking camp.
Three more Rohingya refugee boats spotted at sea [Free Malaysia Today - 30/5/15]:
Three more boats believed to be loaded with fleeing migrants have been spotted near Pulau Jarak, Perak, on Friday by a helicopter during border patrols.
Shahidan Kassim, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said the Navy and Maritime Enforcement had been alerted.
“We know more will come and we urge and hope those countries which have expressed concern will accept the illegal immigrants or refugees,” he said.
Up to about 8,000 Bangladeshi migrant workers or Rohingya refugees were believed to be at sea in boats attempting to reach South-East Asian countries.
On May 10, more than 1,100 Bangladeshi and Rohingya boat people were reported to have landed in Langkawi.
Shahidan, who chairs the National Security Council, said that Rohingya refugees who had been sent to Immigration detention depots would be allowed to stay in the country for at least a year before being sent elsewhere.
On Wednesday, deputy home minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said 1,369 people detained at the depot in Belantik near here would be moved to four other centres to accommodate new arrivals.
Wan Junaidi said there were 12 Immigration Detention Depots in the peninsula. All would be used if necessary to house the Rohingya refugees.
Adventuring on the agenda [Navy Daily - 30/5/15]
"Peace and reconciliation" for who Forest Whitaker? [Myanmar International TV Channel - 28/5/15]
... Director, Center for Diversity and National Harmony, Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing: We had a request from UNESCO to meet him up with stakeholders of civil society organizations. So we invited our colleagues who are in collaboration with the center for interfaith dialogues, diversity and tolerance issues to discuss about the current issues in the country. Because he wants to know more deeply about the peace process and how the coordination team solved the communal clashes in Rakhine State. ...
Australian Embassy in Myanmar: Oscar-winning actor and peace activist Forest Whitaker and Australian Ambassador HE Nicholas Coppel share a moment at the Centre for Diversity and National Harmony in Yangon on 27 May 2015.
Supernerds surveillance night [VIDEO - 28/5/15]
President of Russia website [28/5/15]:
Late last night Vladimir Putin gave journalists his comments on the situation at the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
... Meanwhile, according to our media, the United States Attorney General has already stated that these officers of the FIFA executive committee have committed a crime, as though he as a prosecutor is unaware of the presumption of innocence. Only a court can find a person guilty or not guilty, and only after that can anyone say anything, even if we assume that the United States have a reason to extradite those people, though the actions occurred on third party territory.
… We are aware of the position of the United States regarding the former special services employee Mr Snowden, who was a National Security Agency employee and who made public the illegal practice of the United States practically all over the world, including tapping the phones of foreign leaders. Everybody is discussing this, including in Europe, but nobody wants to grant him asylum, guarantee his security, nobody wants to quarrel with their partners, with their senior partners.
This may be understandable, as Mr Snowden is a former security service employee and a citizen of the United States. What about Mr Assange, who has been forced to hide at a foreign embassy for several years? This is almost like being imprisoned. What is he persecuted for? For sexual crimes? Nobody believes that, you do not believe that either. He is being persecuted for spreading the information he received from US military regarding the actions of the USA in the Middle East, including Iraq.
Why did I bring this up now? Unfortunately, our American partners use these methods for their own ulterior purposes. They are illegally persecuting people.
I do not rule out the possibility that the same goes for this situation with FIFA. Although I do not know what this will result in, but the fact that this is happening on the eve of elections of the FIFA president leads one to think so.
An Authentic Australian War Cry
Queensland man dies from crash injuries
A man has died from injuries sustained in a crash on a highway in far north Queensland.
Police said the man was driving alone on the Mulligan Highway, at Mount Molloy, last Sunday when his vehicle left the road and rolled.
The 37-year-old man was rushed to the Cairns Base Hospital where he died on Saturday morning.
Dangerous driving and burglary charges, Brisbane
QPS Media [30/5/15]:
Two men are to face court today charged with burglary and other offences after police intercepted an alleged stolen vehicle early this morning.
Police will allege that around 12.45am officers attempted to intercept a stolen vehicle at Salisbury however it failed to stop.
A tyre deflation device was later successfully deployed on Beaudesert Road at Rocklea.
It will be further alleged at this time the vehicle drove directly towards a police officer standing beside a police vehicle forcing him to take evasive action to avoid being struck.
The vehicle has continued on before stopping at Colbourne Street, Acacia Ridge. Two men were arrested by police nearby.
An 18-year-old Inala man has been charged with four counts of burglary and commit an indictable offence, two counts of enter premises and commit indictable offence and two counts of unlawful use of motor vehicle.
A 19-year-old Inala man has been charged with three counts of burglary and commit indictable offence, and one count each of unlawful use of motor vehicle, dangerous operation of vehicle, fail to stop motor vehicle and unlicensed driving.
Both are expected to appear at the Richlands Magistrates Court today (May 30).
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.
Update – Fatal traffic crash, Laidley
QPS Media [29/5/15]:
The Forensic Crash unit are investigating a fatal two-vehicle traffic crash on Gatton-Laidley Road in Laidley not Gatton as initially reported.
Preliminary information indicates just before 2pm today the vehicles collided head-on.
A 24-year-old man and a woman believed to be in her 20’s were pronounced deceased at the scene.
Police are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact Crime Stoppers or their local police.
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.
Charges, man armed with a knife, Townsville
QPS Media [30/5/15]:
Townsville police have charged a 21-year-old local man with going armed so as to cause fear after the man was located outside the police station allegedly armed with a knife yesterday afternoon.
Police will allege the man was spotted by an off duty police officer around 3pm when she exited the station.
The man who appeared agitated and was pacing up and down whilst holding the knife in his hand was arrested without incident after the off duty officer alerted colleagues.
The man appeared in the Townsville Magistrates Court this morning and has been remanded in custody.
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.
Five WA police officers stood aside
West Australian [30/5/15]:
Five WA police officers have been stood aside from their duties following a review of the bungled Joshua Warneke murder investigation.
A further four officers involved in the inquiry are being considered for 'managerial action'.
Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan took action against the officers on Friday, almost a year after ordering an internal review into the conduct of officers involved in the Warneke case.
Mr Warneke, 21, was killed in an unprovoked attack while walking home from a night out in Broome with friends in February 2010.
His attacker, Gene Gibson, was arrested two years later and charged with murder.
He was eventually sentenced to just 7 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter when the murder charge was downgraded following a string of police bungles.
A Supreme Court judge found police had repeatedly breached the law during interviews with Gibson.
Just weeks before Gibson was due to face trial, Justice Stephen Hall threw out interviews in which Gibson allegedly admitted running over Mr Warneke and hitting him with a rock.
Justice Hall found the officers involved had seriously breached the Criminal Investigation Act, casting doubt on the reliability of evidence.
The court criticism led the Commissioner to order an internal review of the conduct of the officers involved in the investigation.
The inquiry, ordered in July last year, was overseen by the Corruption and Crime Commission.
A spokeswoman for Mr O'Callaghan today confirmed that five officers had been stood aside from their current roles, although they would remain on duty.
"It remains a matter for the Police Commissioner to consider what further action will follow," the spokeswoman said.
She said WA Police would not name the officers involved at this stage
of the internal process.
EU commission 'planning to sue Germany over road toll': report
Deutsche Welle [30/5/15]:
A German newspaper has reported that the European Commission will take legal action against Germany over its planned road toll. The report says the toll is considered to discriminate against foreigners.
In the report in its Saturday edition,, the "Welt" newspaper quoted sources from the Commission as saying that it would "initiate infringement proceedings against Germany because of the road toll, as it discriminates against foreign drivers and thus against EU law."
The sources said the proceedings at the European Court of Justice could begin before the summer break at the start of August, according to the report.
Germany's road toll, which was approved by the upper house of parliament, or Bundesrat, early this month, is scheduled to go into force next year.
The toll, known in German as the "Maut," would apply to German drivers on both highways ("Autobahnen") and major roads, and to foreign motorists only on the Autobahn.
However, German drivers would effectively pay nothing, as their regular motor vehicle tax would be reduced to compensate the toll.
This aspect has drawn criticism from Brussels, which says that the toll could contravene laws regarding the equal treatment of citizens of all EU countries.
German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt from the Christian Social Union party, the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, has been the main driving force behind the planned toll, which he claims could raise as much as 500 million euros ($545.4 million) in added annual revenue for the government.
This figure has, however, been questioned by many experts.
Mother of five struck by car dies after austerity cuts force council to turn off street lights [Independent – 30/5/15]:
A mother of five was killed after being knocked down by a car on a road where austerity cuts had forced the local council to turn off the street lights.
Cheryl Richards, 31, was walking home along Wiltshire’s A361 at approximately 2am on 27 September last year when she was struck by an Audi A3 driven by 23-year-old Lee Sullivan, an inquest heard.
Ms Richards, of Melksham, Wiltshire, died after suffering severe head injuries when she was struck by the car.
The court heard that the mother was not wearing any reflective clothing and that Mr Sullivan had been drinking when the accident occurred.
Despite this, coroner Ian Singleton ruled that it would have been “impossible” for a motorist to avoid Ms Richards – who was walking in the centre of the road – due to the “lack of street lighting”.
In 2011 the local authority elected to turn off the lights along the road – which does not have a pavement – between midnight and 5.30am in order to save the council £300,000 annually.
North West Star [28/5/15]:
A million dollars is how much Mount Isa ratepayers pay for street lighting each year.
That could be cut by more than half if Ergon Energy included Mount Isa in its trial of Light Emitting Diodes (LED) in regional Queensland.
The more effective technology has been installed in Townsville, Brisbane and Ipswich.
Deputy mayor Brett Peterson suggested in Wednesday’s full council meeting that the council should encourage trials in Mount Isa that could replace about 2500 lights suburb by suburb.
... I don't have the answers. All I know is that if the cost of generosity is high, the price of our refusal will be much higher still. ...
The Rohingya and the port of last resort, Patricia Evangelista [Rappler.com - 29/5/15]
Rohingya refugee boat seized off Myanmar still at sea - 2,000 also still adrift [The Star - 30/5/15]:
A boat packed with more than 700 "boat people" seized of Myanmar's coast was still being towed at sea on Saturday, as officials gave mixed signals about its final destination.
The discovery of the boat on Friday came as Myanmar told a 17-nation meeting in Thailand that it was not to blame for the crisis that has seen more than 4,000 desperate Muslim Rohingya from Myanmar and Bangladeshi migrants take to the seas across Southeast Asia in the last month.
An additional 2,000 people are believed still adrift after being abandoned by traffickers following a crackdown in Thailand.
Myanmar's navy discovered the boat with 727 migrants off the country's southern coast. Officials have said they believe most on board to be from Bangladesh.
Authorities initially said the overcrowded boat would be taken for processing to a navy base on Hainggyi Island, in the south, but were now considering other options, Commander Soe Min, an assistant to Myanmar's navy chief, told Reuters.
"The ship may not stop at Hainggyi Island. The navy may take them somewhere further north, such as Sittwe in Rakhine State. We're not even sure yet," Soe Min said.
Hainngyi Island township administrator Myo Win told Reuters the boat would temporarily stop at another nearby island on Saturday afternoon. He did not say where it would be taken next.
The boat was found in the Andaman Sea on Friday with 608 women, 74 women and 45 children on board, according to Myanmar's Ministry of Information.
Those on board told officials they had been at sea in three boats since March, during which at least 50 migrants died, the ministry said on its website. The passengers were later abandoned in one boat by traffickers, it said.
Regional leaders appear to resile from the priority of rescuing Rohingya. [Channel News Asia - 30/5/15]:
... According to General Prawit, Thailand has never wanted to push back the migrants or leave them stranded at sea. However, Thai authorities have the responsibility to carry out actions against illegal migrants as bound by the country's rule of law prohibiting any illegal entry into kingdom.
"Anyone who tries to enter Thailand illegally will be detained," said the Thai Defence Minister before adding his country has long been providing stranded Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants with basic assistance for years. ...
US continues stomping around the region shaking its sabre. [Channel News Asia - 30/5/15]:
.. Carter [US Defense Secretary Ash Carter], speaking to top defence officials from across the Asia-Pacific, acknowledged that several countries had created outposts in the region's disputed islands, but said the scope of China's activity created uncertainty about its future plans.
"China has reclaimed over 2,000 acres, more than all other claimants combined and China did so in only the last 18 months," Carter told the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in remarks prepared for delivery. "It is unclear how much farther China will go."
Carter, who flew over the busy Strait of Malacca near Singapore in a V-22 Osprey on Friday, said activities like those in the South China Sea eroded confidence in the region's unique security structure, which had enabled decades of stability and rising prosperity in Asia.
Pivot Insanity: Why is Obama Goading China?, Mike Whitney [ICH/Counterpunch – 29/5/15]:
… US powerbrokers know that bullying China involves significant risks for themselves and the world. Even so, they have decided to pursue this new policy and force a confrontation. Why? Why would they embark on a strategy so fraught with danger?
The answer is: They don’t see any way around it. They’ve tried containment and it hasn’t worked. China’s growing like crazy and its regional influence threatens to leave the US on the outside looking in.
Carter [US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter] even admitted as much in a recent speech he gave at the McCain Institute at Arizona State University. He said: “We already see countries in the region trying to carve up these markets…forging many separate trade agreements in recent years, some based on pressure and special arrangements…. Agreements that…..leave us on the sidelines. That risks America’s access to these growing markets. We must all decide if we are going to let that happen. If we’re going to help boost our exports and our economy…and cement our influence and leadership in the fastest-growing region in the world; or if, instead, we’re going to take ourselves out of the game.”
See? It’s all about markets. It’s all about money. Here’s more from Carter’s speech: (The) ” Asia-Pacific…is the defining region for our nation’s future”… “Half of humanity will live there by 2050″ and that “more than half of the global middle class and its accompanying consumption will come from that region.”….”There are already more than 525 million middle class consumers in Asia, and we expect there to be 3.2 billion in the region by 2030…President Obama and I want to ensure that… businesses can successfully compete for all these potential customers. ….Over the next century, no region will matter more… for American prosperity.”
This is why the Obama administration is making a general nuisance of itself in the South China Sea. It’s so the big US mega-corporations will have new customers for their IPADs and toaster ovens.
For that, they are willing to risk a nuclear war.
Three civilians wounded in Ghazni landmine explosion
A landmine explosion has left three civilians wounded in capital city of Ghazni province.
Shafiq Nang, spokesman for the provincial governor says that the landmine was planted on a roadside in the jurisdiction of Police District 4 that exploded this morning.
He said the target of the explosion was a police vehicle but it let three civilians wounded.
Security forces rushed to the site following the explosion and cordoned off the area. Though, no arrests were being made the by time this report was filed.
There is no word of responsibility for the explosion either but Taliban militants have increased their attacks on security forces.
Nine soldiers, 93 militants killed in military operations across the country [Khaama - 30/5/15]
Rocket attack in Libya's Benghazi leaves eight dead, eight wounded
The Star [30/5/15]:
Eight people were killed and eight wounded when a rocket hit a residential district in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Friday, officials said.
An army commander blamed Islamist fighters for the rocket strike. Fighting for control of the country's second-largest city has been going on for a year, part of a conflict between former rebel groups who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but now back two rival governments.
"The army has made much progress and they suffered big losses," said army commander Fadhal al-Hassi, referring to the Majlis al-Shura, an umbrella group of mostly Islamist factions.
"We had been worried they would take revenge for that and indeed now they fired rockets."
Army forces backing the official government, based in the east since losing Tripoli to a rival faction, have expelled the Islamists from several districts but do not control the entire city.
To the east of Benghazi, Islamic State militants attacked a security checkpoint near Derna, an Islamist hotspot, a security official said. Two soldiers were killed and five wounded, he said.
Islamic State has exploited the security vacuum as the two governments fight each other, with neither side dominating the other. The militants have killed dozens of foreign Christians and attacked oil fields and a luxury hotel in Tripoli.
In Sirte, a central city seized by Islamic State, the militants expanded their presence by taking over an air base to the south of the city after forces loyal to the Tripoli government pulled out.
"Forces of the 166th brigade ... relocated so that so-called Daesh fighters captured Qurdabiya air base," said Mohamed El-Shami, a military spokesman in Tripoli, using a derogatory term for Islamic State.
He said the brigade had previously requested reinforcements from a Tripoli-based rival parliament which had not arrived.
Crowds gather for anti-Islam demonstration outside Phoenix mosque
More than 200 protesters, some armed, berated Islam and its Prophet Mohammed outside an Arizona mosque on Friday in a provocative protest that was denounced by counterprotesters shouting "Go home, Nazis," weeks after an anti-Muslim event in Texas came under attack by two gunmen.
The anti-Muslim event outside the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix was organized by an Iraq war veteran who posted photos of himself online wearing a T-shirt with a crude slogan denigrating Islam and waving the U.S. flag.
As the event got under way, demonstrators on both sides screamed obscenities at each other as police in riot gear swiftly separated the two groups, each with about 250 people, using police tape and barricades.
"This is in response to the recent attack in Texas," organizer Jon Ritzheimer wrote on his Facebook page announcing the event at a mosque targeted in part because the two Texas gunmen had worshipped there.
More than 900 people responded on the event's Facebook page that they would attend, and police expanded their presence in the evening in anticipation of growing crowds. Officers with riot helmets and gas masks formed a cordon for several blocks.
Among the anti-Islam protesters, some of whom called Islam a "religion of murderers," more than a dozen men in military clothing carried semi-automatic weapons. Others waved copies of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad drawn at the Texas event.
By late Friday night, virtually all the protesters and police had left the area with no reports of violent flare-ups or arrests.
Depictions of Mohammad, which many Muslims view as blasphemous, have been a flashpoint for violence in Europe and the United States in recent months where those displaying or creating such images have been targeted by militants.
Anti-Muslim groups have been active in the United States, buying ads and staging demonstrations characterizing Islam as violent, often citing the murderous brutality of Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
Ritzheimer, the main organizer of the demonstration, said the point was "to expose the true colors of Islam."
"True Islam is terrorism. Yes, the ones that are out committing these atrocities and stuff, they are following the book as it's written," Ritzheimer told CNN.
Ritzheimer was a staff sergeant in the Marine Reserve and was deployed to Iraq twice, in 2005 and 2008, the Marine Corps said.
Anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller, who organized the Texas event, said she was not involved in the Phoenix demonstration.
The mosque is a former church near the city's international airport that can hold some 600 worshippers. The Phoenix area is home to tens of thousands of Muslims.
Friday's event is part of "an epidemic of anti-Islamic sentiment" that goes beyond protesting against extremism, said Imraan Siddiqi of the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"Don't mistake that, they're not saying they want to rid America of radical Islam, they are saying they want to rid America of Islam," Siddiqi said.
Man dead after shooting by police at New Jersey library [New York Times - 29/5/15]
Rare antelopes mysteriously dying en masse in Kazakhstan
Japan Times [30/5/15]:
The sudden deaths of tens of thousands of endangered antelopes in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan over the past two weeks have left scientists scrambling for answers and conservationists worried about the animal’s future.
Over 120,000 rare saiga antelopes — more than a third of the total global population — have been wiped out in a devastating blow that the United Nations Environment Programme has called “catastrophic.”
U.N. experts have said the mass deaths are due to “a combination of biological and environmental factors.”
Scientists have struggled to put their finger on the exact nature of the disease that has felled entire herds, but say findings point toward an infectious disease caused by various bacteria.
Any infections have likely been exacerbated by recent rains that have made the antelopes — 90 percent of which live on the steppes of Central Asian Kazakhstan — less able to cope with diseases.
Poultry products ban will stay: Tomscoll
PNG Loop [30/5/15]:
The ban on uncooked poultry products from Australia will be indefinite, says Agriculture Minister Tommy Tomscoll.
He said the ban was imposed for the same reasons Australia did when they put a ban on poultry products from PNG.
Tomscoll said the ban is to help the economic growth of the country and also provide extra funds for farmers in the country.
“The imposition of this ban will only create further employment and businesses for our farmers who are mainly rural-based.”
Tomscoll added that by protecting the buyer, security of the country’s poultry industry, economy and health is far more important than entertaining farmers from other countries.
He said the Government has commissioned a review of the buyer security Act and the poultry industry Act and the outcome will be made known in the near future.
“The ban on uncooked poultry products from Australia coming into PNG was done largely to protect the local industry from diseases.”
Tomscoll said biosecurity is a top agenda and the ban was imposed after lessons learnt from other major agricultural commodities which have not recovered from disease attacks in recent years.
The ban was imposed following reports of Campylobacter food poisoning outbreaks in Australia.
Campylobacter is a bacterial organism of intestinal tract of birds which can cause human illness when chicken products are not prepared properly before eaten.
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 28, and 8 a.m., May 29, local time.
In Syria, coalition military forces conducted four airstrikes using bomber, 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.
“The Coalition strikes Daesh with extreme precision,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, CJTF-OIR chief of staff.
“The efficient application of weapons, the weapon-to-target-to-effect match and a proven Coalition strike process has combined to produce devastating effects on Daesh while at the same time gaining and maintain the trust of our partners on the ground.”
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
Near Al Hasakah, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL supply cache, an ISIL weapons cache and an ISIL vehicle.
Near Kobani, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
Near Baghdadi, three airstrikes struck an ISIL fighting position and land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage.
Near Bayji, five airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage, destroying five ISIL vehicles, two ISIL excavators, an ISIL armored personnel carrier and an ISIL armored vehicle.
Near Fallujah, three airstrikes struck land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage, destroying an ISIL boat, an ISIL river crossing point and an ISIL vehicle.
Near Makhmur, three airstrikes struck an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL staging area, destroying an ISIL excavator.
Near Ramadi, one airstrike destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit and land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage, destroying five ISIL buildings and two ISIL heavy machine guns.
Near Tal Afar, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL mortar position, destroying an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL IED, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL mortar system.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Syrian army in retreat as rebels tighten grip on Idlib [Daily Star – 30/5/15]
UNHCR concerned at obstacles facing thousands fleeing Ramadi [Media Release – 29/5/15]
ISIS fighter was trained by State Department [CNN – 30/5/15]:
An ISIS fighter who calls for jihad in a new online video was trained in counterterrorism tactics on American soil, in a program run by the United States, officials tell CNN.
The video features a former police commander from Tajikistan named Col. Gulmurod Khalimov.
He appears in black ISIS garb with a sniper rifle and a bandolier of ammunition.
He says in the video that he participated in programs on U.S. soil three times, at least one of which was in Louisiana.
The State Department has confirmed this claim.
"From 2003-2014 Colonel Khalimov participated in five counterterrorism training courses in the United States and in Tajikistan, through the Department of State's Diplomatic Security/Anti-Terrorism Assistance program," said spokeswoman Pooja Jhunjhunwala.
The program is intended to train candidates from participating countries in the latest counterterrorism tactics, so they can fight the very kind of militants that Khalimov has now joined.
A State Department official said Khalimov was trained in crisis response, tactical management of special events, tactical leadership training and related issues.
In the video, Khalimov says that what he saw during his training sessions turned him against his sponsors.
"Listen, you American pigs: I've been to America three times. I saw how you train soldiers to kill Muslims," he says in Russian. "You taught your soldiers how to surround and attack, in order to exterminate Islam and Muslims."
Then, in the most chilling part of the 10-minute video, he looks directly into the camera and says, "God willing, we will find your towns, we will come to your homes, and we will kill you."
He then demonstrates his dexterity with a sniper rifle by blowing apart a tomato from a distance of perhaps 25 yards. The scene is played in slow motion.
The American program in which Khalimov participated is designed to teach tactics used by police and military units against terrorists by countries that cooperate with the United States on security matters. But now experts are concerned that this defector has brought ISIS not only a propaganda victory, but also an insider's knowledge of the playbook the United States is using in the fight against ISIS.
19 killed, dozens injured in Saudi airstrikes against Yemen [Press TV – 29/5/15]
UN envoy in Yemen capital for peace talks [Naharnet – 29/5/15]
Amnesty wants Ottawa to reveal details of $15-billion Saudi arms deal [The Globe And Mail – 29/5/15]
@narrabyee [29/5/15: Coffee tree in my house garden defies Saudi state terror, 2day is 4th harvest since Saudi aggression started
Around 20 armed men hijacked two buses in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, killed 19 passengers and battled with security forces on Friday, a Pakistani official said.
Baluchistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti said the gunmen let around 50 passengers go and took at least 25 into the mountains.
Security forces surrounded and battled the gunmen, and were able to recover six passengers, one of whom was wounded.
Elsewhere in Pakistan, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a stadium in Lahore where a cricket match was underway between Pakistan and Zimbabwe, Information Minister Pervez Rashid said on Geo TV. ... [Al Arabiya - 30/5/15]
Four people have been killed in Dammam, a city in eastern Saudi Arabia, after a suicide bomber's explosives blew up in the parking lot of a Shia mosque, according to the kingdom's official news agency. ... [Al Jazeera - 29/5/15]
Israeli forces suppress Bilin weekly march [Maan – 29/5/15]
Palestine unexpectedly dropped its motion to suspend Israel from international football on Friday amid highly-charged scenes at the FIFA Congress.
Instead, soccer's governing body agreed to send observers to monitor the freedom of players and officials to travel to and from the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories -- one of the main complaints raised by Palestinian authorities. ... [Yahoo - 29/5/15]
Renewed fighting in northern Mali forces 57,000 to flee their homes [UNHCR Media Release – 29/5/15]
Live anthrax found in US military shipment to Australia [Reuters – 29/5/15]:
… Little is known about the sample sent to Australia, including the type of laboratory that received it.
The U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the sample was tested after the latest disclosure as part of the ongoing investigation into the handling of anthrax samples.
The Pentagon declined comment, saying it was trying to gather facts. ...
Leaders of Russia, France, Germany agree on next Ukraine meeting [RT - 29/5/15]:
Russia's President Vladimir Putin, his French counterpart Francois Hollande and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel have spoken by telephone about the crisis in Ukraine.
They agreed that a new Normandy format (Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany) meeting will take place on June 10 in Paris, the Elysee Palace reports.
They have also called for better adherence to the Minsk peace roadmap agreed in February.
The three leaders expressed hope the OSCE human rights body will play a big role in preparing and holding elections in eastern Ukraine, where anti-government militias seek more autonomy from Kiev.
All Russian banks working with Visa, transfer local transactions to NSPC [TASS - 28/5/15]:
All Russian banks working with Visa, have transferred local transactions to the National System of Payment Cards (NSPC) processing, Central Bank Deputy Chairperson Olga Skorobogatova said Thursday.
"Yesterday we transferred all Russian banks working with Visa to NSPC processing," she said.
77 Russian banks work with Visa.
As was reported earlier all international payment systems should have transferred local Russian transaction processing to the National System of Payment Cards by March 31 pursuant to the law on creation of a national payment system in Russia. For local payment system the deadline is December 31.
MasterCard was the only international payment system to meet the deadline implied by the law. The company said in March that not only did it fully implement the requirements of the Russian legislation but "also continued introducing innovations in the electronic payment sphere in Russia.".
As GOP candidates question climate change, Texas and Oklahoma hit by devastating floods killing 23 [Democracy Now - 29/5/15]:
… NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Forrest Wilder, you’re in Wimberley. Could you describe what happened there, where the flash flood was compared to a tsunami?
FORREST WILDER [Associate Editor, The Texas Observer] : Right. The Blanco River, on a normal day, it’s a pretty small river. It’s shallow. It’s a very beautiful, calm, serene kind of place. It is prone to flash flooding. We’ve seen that, you know, many, many times. But this was just orders of magnitude more extreme than anything that is on the historical record or that anybody alive has ever witnessed. Basically, we had supersaturated soil conditions from all the rainfall that we’re getting. And then, on top of that, we had, in the watershed, you know, 10 inches in some places. And what that did is it just generated just a massive amount of water flowing into the river in a very short time span, and it just rolled downriver and took out hundreds of homes. And, of course, there was a loss of life. There’s still people that are missing. There are folks trapped in their homes, trapped on top of their homes, people in the water. This was unlike really anything that anyone has seen, and it happened so fast that it was very difficult to see it coming or to be prepared for it, frankly.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what are Texas lawmakers doing to address climate change, given the severity of what’s occurring?
FORREST WILDER: Well, I think, in a word, basically nothing. We’re just completing our legislative session, in which there were a handful of climate-related bills that were filed, some that are pretty benign, you know, things like requiring state agencies to add to their preparedness plans taking a look at extreme weather, taking a look at climate change. That bill was unable to get passed. In fact, it was voted down overwhelmingly by the Republican majority. Basically, we have a situation—continue to have a situation in Texas where our political leadership doesn’t believe in climate change, or at least not human-caused climate change. And so, there’s just a situation of inaction at the political level. I think it’s a little bit different if you’re talking about ordinary people, who are starting to make some connections between these extreme weather events and climate change. But there’s a disconnect between people’s understanding and experience and what’s happening in our Capitol.
Over 1,000 people in Guam are still living in government-provided tents after this month's Typhoon Dolphin wrecked their homes. ... [RNZI - 29/5/15]
30th day of Facebook blackout on Nauru.
Rape and abuse of refugees goes uninvestigated.
The president of Nauru, Baron Waqa, has told a United Nations agency that Facebook had been used to create tension within families and this is a key reason it was banned.
Mr Waqa told the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific conference in Thailand that foreign media reports on the matter have been biased and unsubstantiated.
Media organisations have reported opposition views that the Nauru government banned Facebook to quell anger over its controversial actions and to stop asylum seekers and refugees at the Australian detention camps from communicating freely with the outside world.
But Mr Waqa told ESCAP it is about Facebook being used for pornographic purposes and for harassment.
"The use of Facebook on Nauru to circulate nude pictures of young girls and the unregulated use of language to intimidate and to create tensions among friends and family is something that our small and vulnerable society cannot, and will not, accept."
Facebook says restricting access to a free and open internet deprives people of important economic and social opportunities and it will remain concerned as long as the ban stays in place.
Civilised nations rescue refugees: Irish naval vessel LÉ Eithne rescues 450 off Libyan coast
The LÉ Eithne has carried out another rescue of migrants off the coast of Libya today.
Some 300 migrants – men, women and children - were on board a barge trying to cross the Mediterranean in the early hours of this morning.
The Irish Navy vessel was sent to the rescue at 12.10am (local time) by the Italian Rescue Co-Ordination Centre and located the barge around 45km north of Libya.
All those on board were transferred to the LÉ Eithne by 4am and were given food, water and medical attention. Sea conditions at the time were calm.
The Navy said 217 men, 35 women and 48 children were rescued.
At around 9am the LÉ Eithne came across more than 100 migrants on board a rubber dinghy and a rescue operation got under way.
These operations follow the successful rescue of 201 migrants who were found in five makeshift boats yesterday.
The LÉ Eithne left Cork on 16 May to assist Italian authorities in the humanitarian search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.
The European Union announced last month that is was to triple the funding for its mission in the Mediterranean to try to cope with the upsurge in migrants trying to reach Europe.
Kachins chat about the challenges of displacement over the air waves [UNHCR Media Release - 29/5/15]
Victorian town gets $41m benefit from resettling Burmese Karen refugees [Guardian – 23/4/15]
UN agency welcomes Southeast Asia region’s proposals to address plight of refugees and migrants at sea [Media Release - 29/5/15]:
... "Saving lives must be the number one priority," Volker Türk, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said today in Bangkok during a special meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean organized by Thailand.
The meeting concluded with a 10-point action plan which focuses, among others, on search and rescue, safe disembarkation, anti-trafficking, arrival reception and root causes, while stressing the need of collective efforts among related countries.
“Yet, there is an urgent need to reach a common understanding about more effective and predictable disembarkation options and proper reception arrangements in the region,” said Mr. Türk. ...
Australia had a chance to be a regional leader, instead we gave money to Myanmar to help them continue their genocide. [Greens Media Release - 29/5/15]:
At today's Rohingya crisis meeting in Bangkok Australia has an opportunity to provide leadership and initiate practical steps to assist in humanitarian efforts to save lives.
"As one of the wealthiest countries in the region Australia needs to play a leading role at the Rohingya crisis talks and not rely solely on our neighbours to help and resettle refugees stranded in the South East Asian waters", Greens spokesperson for Immigration Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
"Australia's initial lack of an immediate and proactive response to the crisis continues to damage our international reputation and the crisis talks provide an opportunity to remedy this .
"The Australian Greens support the call from the Refugee Council of Australia for the government to initiate the following five initiatives at the talks:
1: Offer logistical and financial assistance to nations rescuing boat arrivals.
2: Negotiate resettlement places for refugees:
3: Encourage dialogue and commit financial resources to addressing causes of migrant and refugee flows.
4: Increase diplomatic pressure on Burma to address persecution of Rohingya people.
5: Advocate for the establishment of UN human rights presence in Burma.
Qatar pledges £33m to Indonesian government for rescuing Rohingya refugees [IB Times – 29/5/15]
Myanmar says they will "repatriate" 727 refugees found on boat [Channel News Asia - 29/5/15]:
Myanmar's navy seized a boat packed with 727 people off the country's southern coast on Friday, the government said, about a week after it found a similar vessel it said carried around 200 Bangladeshi migrants.
Most of those on board this boat were also from Bangladesh, a senior official from the president's office, Zaw Htay, told Reuters.
More than 4,000 migrants have landed in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh since Thailand launched a crackdown on human trafficking gangs this month. About 2,000 are believed to be still adrift.
Pictures posted on the Myanmar Ministry of Information’s Facebook page showed scores of men huddling shoulder-to-shoulder under the sun on the front deck, while uniformed officials – one of them carrying a rifle – stood above. Women could be seen crammed together in the boat’s cabins.
The navy found the boat 30 nautical miles off Myanmar's southern coast in the Andaman Sea. The government said there were 608 men, 74 women and 45 children on board.
The ministry later said that authorities found after questioning those on board that they had been at sea since March and at least 50 of them had died in that time.
They set off on three boats and had waited in Thai territorial waters since April to be picked up by traffickers who would take them to Malaysia, but when no one turned up, they came back.
The 11 crew members, identifed as Thai nationals, then crammed the migrants on one boat and left on the other two vessels, the ministry said in a statement on its website.
"Arrangements will be made to repatriate the people found on the boat to their country after necessary investigation," it added.
Jakarta Globe [29/5/15]:
Wang Kelian, Malaysia. Hassan Ismail wasn’t surprised when authorities found abandoned jungle camps near his village in northern Malaysia last week where 139 suspected human trafficking victims could be buried.
For the past three years, he said, small groups of sickly, rake-thin men regularly turned up to beg for food at his mosque in Wang Kelian, a village that is about 3 kilometers from the nearest camp.
The men told villagers they were Rohingya, a mostly stateless Muslim people fleeing persecution and poverty in western Myanmar for jobs in Malaysia.
“They were very hungry,” said Ismail, 66, the mosque’s imam or prayer leader.
“The villagers gave them food and then called the police.”
Afterwards, he said, the drill was the same: police took the Rohingya away, and the villagers never found out what happened to them.
Wang Bukit Burma is also part of Perlis State Park, a magical but unforgiving landscape of limestone towers and misty forests. Park rangers forbid locals from entering to stop them cutting down trees or poaching animals, said Ismail.
Desperate Rohingya migrants were regular visitors to Wang Kelian, said Adi Zunaidi, the village chief.
At the end of December, said Zunaidi, “hundreds” of Rohingya men, women and children appeared in the village. They were thin with sunken eyes, and wore dirty, tattered clothes. Many were barefoot.
“I asked them how long they had been in the jungle,” said Zunaidi, who said he spoke to the migrants in broken English. “They said one or two months. They were hungry. We gave them food and clothes.”
Afterwards, the police again took the Rohingya away, Zunaidi said.
Reuters has asked police and the home ministry in the capital Kuala Lumpur about what happened to the people taken away, but has not got a reply.
Neither Ismail nor Zunaidi knew of the camps. Zunaidi said he learned of the camps after a steady build-up of police personnel in the area from early April, and conversations with locals at coffee-shops frequented by the officers.
Ismail said he had assumed the hungry migrants hailed from nearby rubber plantations. “We never thought there were camps or graves in the hills,” he said.
Another villager, Mohamad Ardi, 29, a construction worker, said he often saw small groups of barefoot migrants walk past his house at night.
“They were thin and wore old clothes,” he said.
Beyond The Middle East: The Rohingya Genocide, Ramzy Baroud [Countercurrents.org - 29/5/15]
30 May 2015