A government that is getting away with exiling refugees to island concentration camps will not stop there
... "They're protesting long term detention without processing, as well as the general situation on Nauru. So far the protests have been peaceful, occupying the gate. They're chanting about freedom and justice. They usually go for a few hours a day. ... Refugee protests continue on Nauru [Green Left Weekly - 2/4/16]
Victims of Greek purges seek island prison memorial [LA Times – 6/6/1999]:
… Still, a decade after Makronisos was declared a historical monument, little has been done to preserve the place where an estimated 50,000 people were imprisoned between 1947 and 1953.
Those suspected of communist sympathies were confined in six to eight camps on the island, about 30 miles southeast of Athens. Women were segregated in one camp, and teenage prisoners had their own. There also was a traditional prison where some soldiers were kept.
About eight miles long and a mile wide, Makronisos is a short boat ride from the mainland. But strong currents made it dangerous for prisoners to attempt escape.
Hundreds reportedly died as a result of brutality and illness. Former inmates speak of severe beatings, being dunked in the sea until nearly drowned, and intense pressure to denounce communism.
"They made cages of barbed wire like this," said former inmate Dimitris Mouratidis, pointing to a large, tangled bale of rusting wire.
"You couldn't stand up in them. Like cages for animals."
About 250 reserve army officers who persistently refused to sign anti-communist declarations were taken to a sunbaked gully, where they lived in tents surrounded by barbed wire, survivors say. Stavros Avdoulos, now 81, spent more than two years in the gully, which was known as "the wire."
"Life here was unbearable, and yet it became our home," Avdoulos said.
The civil war was characterized by atrocities on both sides. But Makronisos is one of the few tangible reminders of the political persecution that continued long after the war. It was only in 1989 that the government finally destroyed files kept on Greeks considered "a threat to the state."
A Greek leftist holds two red flags as he walks toward a memorial erected at the site of a former prison camp on the Greek island of Makronisos on May 25, 2008, where over 100,000 suspected Communists were incarcerated from 1947-1957 in one of the darkest chapters of modern Greek modern history. The prison camp is in ruins, but hundreds of former inmates come to the island every year to pay homage to Communist comrades who were tortured and died there, many by execution. - AFP PHOTO / Aris Messinis / Getty Images
Some analysis of Australia's $70 million, bipartisan, anti-refugee propaganda machine [The Saturday Paper - 2/4/16]
Here's the $6 million anti-refugee telemovie the Australian government didn't want you to see [Pedestrian.tv - 27/3/16]
... In America, locking up immigrants is a low-risk, high-reward business. In a Georgia Jail with Wildin Acosta [Indy Week - 30/3/16]:
... Out in the eerily still parking lot, past the fences with the curling spiked wire on top, I spoke with Bryan Cox, a communications director for ICE.
Cox is no rumpled bureaucrat; he's slick, a mix between TV anchor (he used to run a Fox station in South Carolina) and FBI agent: aviators, crisp suit, confidence.
As an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, he explained, ICE follows civil enforcement priorities set by the DHS. Secretary Jeh Johnson revised these priorities in November 2014, in response to a surge of immigrants from Central America. Acosta met two of these new criteria, making him a more eligible target for deportation: he was apprehended at the border, and an immigration judge ordered him removed from the country after January 1, 2014—a date that roughly coincides with the beginning of the Central American refugee crisis.
But ICE doesn't apprehend everybody who meets these priorities. The agency has discretion. Cox described this as a "case-by-case examination of the totality of a person's circumstances."
So why Acosta?
Cox would only say that Acosta met the DHS's enforcement priorities. He kept repeating the phrase "totality of the situation." He went no further. I asked whether Acosta drew an unlucky number in the ICE lottery.
"We would push back against that characterization," Cox replied.
One way to interpret ICE's targeting of the NC6 (and the 336 other Central Americans apprehended since January) is that the government is sending a message to would-be border crossers. ICE doesn't have the resources to pursue each of the roughly ten thousand unaccompanied minors who've been ordered out of the country since July 2014. But neither can it give the impression that there are no consequences to illegally crossing the border.
After Acosta's arrest, teachers at Riverside reported that attendance dropped; students and families were afraid ICE would come for them, too. ...
Over 150 groups demand Obama administration stop immigration raids [American Immigration Council - 1/4/16]
The U.S. Navy plans to conduct another passage near disputed islands in the South China Sea in early April, a source familiar with the plan said on Friday, the third in series of challenges that have drawn sharps rebukes from China. ... [Reuters - 1/4/16]
... "I hope this film in Australia is a warning to be careful what you wish for when it comes to emulating the United States. Hang on to the great ideas you've got – they've made you a better country; they've made you a better people. Yes, there's all these things that are wrong, all these flaws in the system, but the solution is not the kind of capitalism that America is practising." ...
Only Hillary can stop Bernie Sanders from being US President, says Michael Moore [Sydney Morning Herald - 1/4/16]
Inequality in New Zealand will get worse if the government follows United States policies, film maker Michael Moore says.
In his latest documentary 'Where to Invade Next', Moore compares social welfare and justice policies in Europe with the United States.
He told Saturday Morning that New Zealand should learn from mistakes in the US.
"Your government over the past decade or two has often tried to emulate the American way with neo-liberal policies that are not in the best interests of the people of New Zealand and you need to take a look at what those policies have done in the US.
"I would not try to emulate us in this way because you will have more income inequality - you already do, but it can be worse and you want to stop that.
"You want to preserve the good things you've had over the years, the belief system that you have, the values what you have and not allow conservative politicians to manipulate people into believing it we would be so much better if we did things the way the Americans did it." ... [RNZI - 2/4/16]
René Pérez, ex miembro de Calle 13, apoya la candidatura de Bernie Sanders y da poderoso discurso sobre Puerto Rico [VIDEO - Variety - 1/4/16]
Clinton to climate activist: 'I'm so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me' [CNN - 1/4/16]:
... Clinton's exchange with the activist came after a fiery event at the State University of New York at Purchase, where Clinton called out Sanders a number of times and confronted Sanders protesters who shouted her event.
Shortly into Clinton's speech, a small group of protesters stood up and yelled, "If she wins, we lose."
Clinton looked at them and said, "Oh, I know. Bernie people came to say that."
State Department halts review of Clinton emails at FBI request
[Reuters – 1/4/16]
An imprisoned Colombian hacker has told Bloomberg Businessweek that he was paid to rig elections throughout Latin America on behalf of right-wing candidates—including the controversial 2012 election of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Andrés Sepúlveda says he was paid to $600,000 to deploy an array of online techniques to bolster Peña Nieto’s campaign and to sabotage his opponents, including tapping the phones and computers of other candidates and managing tens of thousands of fake social media profiles and Twitter bots to drum up support for Peña Nieto.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Sepúlveda said, "My job was to do actions of dirty war and psychological operations, black propaganda, rumors—the whole dark side of politics that nobody knows exists but everyone can see."
Peña Nieto’s office has rejected the claims.
Sepúlveda said he was also paid to rig the re-election of Colombian President Álvaro Uribe and the election of right-wing Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa, who was elected in 2009 following the U.S.-backed coup.
Sepúlveda is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for hacking crimes related to Colombia’s 2014 presidential election. [Democracy Now - 1/4/16]
Five European countries block Ukraine’s path to EU membership [TASS - 1/1/16]
Julie "protected and unaccountable" Bishop just signed a "nuclear co-operation agreement" with Ukraine
Santa Claus is drinking beer
And trying not to worry
Hearing things he don't want to hear
'Cause he's in a hurry, to say goodbye
To say goodbye ...
'Apocalypso (Wiping the Smile off Santa's Face)', Mental As Anything 
Minister for Foreign Affairs Media Release [1/4/16]:
On behalf of the Australian Government, I have signed a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister, Mr Volodymyr Demchyshyn.
This Agreement enables Australia to export uranium to Ukraine - one of the world’s top ten generators of nuclear power.
All exports of Australian uranium will be subject to internationally agreed security standards and will be strictly controlled to ensure Australian nuclear material is only used for peaceful purposes.
Under the Agreement, the use of Australian nuclear material for the development of weapons or explosive devices is strictly prohibited.
This Agreement provides Ukraine with the opportunity to diversify its energy supply and will enhance bilateral cooperation between Australia and Ukraine on nuclear-related activities, including nuclear safeguards, security, safety and science.
Australia currently has 24 Nuclear Cooperation Agreements allowing export of uranium to 42 countries plus Taiwan.
I will visit Washington DC from 30 March to 2 April to attend the fourth global Nuclear Security Summit, chaired by President Barack Obama. … [Minister for Foreign Affairs Media Release – 30/3/16]
Inside the radioactive wasteland of Chernobyl, 30 years after the meltdown [Tech Insider - 1/4/16]
North Korea will pursue its nuclear and ballistic missile program in defiance of the United States and its allies, a top Pyongyang envoy said on Friday, adding that a state of "semi-war" now existed on the divided Korean peninsula.
So Se Pyong, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, denounced the huge joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises taking place which he said were aimed at "decapitation of the supreme leadership of the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)" and conquering Pyongyang. ... [Reuters - 1/4/16]
... The process of breaking taboos and redefining moral boundaries begins with experimentation. When such an experiment is successful, it becomes a precedent that serves to shatter a taboo. Furthermore, if experiments and the resulting precedents they set are not met with sufficient resistance, the extreme boundaries of the moral fabric stretch, shifting the society as a whole in a particular direction that can be either regressive or progressive. ... The ultimate trial of Israeli society, Yoav Litvin [Counterpunch - 1/4/16]
World War One through Arab eyes [Documentary - Al Jazeera - November 2014]
Palestinians following Friday prayers staged a sit-in on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City.
Demonstrators demanded promises from Palestinian leadership that recent reconciliation meetings held in Qatar would mark the beginning of the end of factional division.
Participants, including Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein and influential businessman Munib al-Masri, held signs reading “national unity” and waved Palestinian flags. ... [Maan - 1/4/16]
More than 100 Gaza athletes barred from running in Palestinian marathon [Haaretz - 1/4/16]
UC Riverside vandalism targets women of color, symbols of Palestine [Electronic Intifada - 1/4/16]:
... Rahul Saksena of the civil liberties group Palestine Legal told The Electronic Intifada that the vandalism at UC Riverside should be seen in a broader context.
“Across the country, we’ve seen a campaign to suppress Palestine advocacy, in large part by falsely conflating criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Semitism,” Saksena said.
“In many ways, the UC has been at the epicenter of this campaign.”
Saksena referred to the ongoing effort by the UC Regents, the University of California’s top governing body, “attempting to falsely conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.”
B'Tselem asks Israel to protect Palestinian who filmed Hebron killing [Maan - 1/4/16]
An Israeli soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian as he lay on the ground was released to "open detention" at a military base on Friday while judges decide whether to charge him with manslaughter. ... [Al Jazeera - 1/4/16]
Chicago Police Union hires police officer who killed Laquan McDonald as janitor [Democracy Now - 1/4/16]
Pentagon: US military launches drone strike on “al-Shabab leader” in Somalia [Washington Post – 1/4/16]
In Nevada, eight people were arrested blockading two gates to the Creech Air Force Base.
The base is one of several homes for the U.S. military’s lethal drone program in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and other countries.
Six of the eight protesters arrested Thursday are veterans.
The action is the first in a two-week mobilization at the base demanding it be shut down. [Democracy Now - 1/4/16]
The United Nations special envoy to Yemen on Friday welcomed a recent prisoner swap between the parties to the Yemen conflict and urged them to "engage constructively" in a new round of peace talks set to begin on April 18.
Earlier this week, a Saudi-led military coalition said it had completed a prisoner swap in Yemen, exchanging nine Saudi prisoners for 109 Yemeni nationals ahead of a planned truce and peace talks aimed at ending the year-long war with Iran-allied Houthi rebels. ... [Reuters - 1/4/16]
The US is quietly helping Saudi Arabia wage a devastating aerial campaign in Yemen [LA Times - 30/3/16]:
... What remains unknown is the exact nature of the U.S. and British military role in the Saudi campaign.
The U.S. Defense Department has vaguely stated that it is providing “targeting assistance,” which as a matter of law means it is liable for unlawful strikes in which it takes part.
So what, exactly, does this targeting assistance looks like?
Did it assist with the strike on the market? Did it help target the Doctors Without Borders medical clinic that the coalition struck repeatedly last October? What about the cluster bomb attack on Sana University in January? ...
Turkey has pledged continued military support to Afghanistan in the format of NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission, the country’s Chief of Army Staff Hulusi Akar said.
Akar arrived to Afghanistan and met with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani this afternoon to discuss bilateral relations between Kabul and Ankura and cooperation between the two nations. ... [Khaama - 1/4/16]
Two policemen were killed after their vehicle stuck a roadside mine in Zabul province, officials said Friday. ... [TOLO News - 1/4/16]
Kunduz killers go free [Media Lens - 31/3/16]
Civilians remain at risk in South Sudan, despite peace agreements, Security Council told [UN Media Release – 31/3/16]
The United Nations tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today acquitted Vojislav Šešelj of war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with actions committed by the Serbian forces between August 1991 and September 1993.
Mr. Šešelj was accused of having “directly committed, incited, aided and abetted those crimes and to have been part of their commission through his participation in a joint criminal enterprise,” according to the trial judgement.
He had faced three counts of crimes against humanity, including persecution, deportation and inhumane act of forcible transfer, and six counts of war crimes, which comprise of murder, torture and cruel treatment, and destruction, among others.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) cleared Mr. Šešelj of all the charges but the decision was not unanimous. ... [UN Media Release - 31/3/16]
The Syrian government forces discovered a mass burial site on the northeastern outskirt of the recently liberated ancient city of Palmyra, Arab media reported Friday.
At least 25 bodies have been uncovered, most of them women and children killed by Islamic State (ISIL or Daesh) jihadist group fighters, according to the Al Mayadeen broadcaster. ... [Sputnik News - 1/4/16]
Bombs continue raining down upon Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [1/4/16]:
U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq yesterday, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of yesterday’s strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Strikes in Syria
Attack and ground-attack aircraft conducted five strikes in Syria:
-- Near Ayn Isa, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb.
-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike destroyed two ISIL bulldozers.
-- Near Mara, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
Strikes in Iraq
-- Rocket artillery and fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 12 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Habbaniyah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Hit, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL vehicle-borne bomb, two ISIL bomb factories, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL anti-air artillery staging area and nine ISIL tunnel entrances and denying ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Kirkuk, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL assembly areas.
-- Near Mosul, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL assembly areas and five ISIL vehicles.
-- Near Qayyarah, two strikes destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle and an ISIL mortar firing position and suppressed two separate ISIL mortar firing positions.
-- Near Ramadi, a strike destroyed two ISIL vehicle-borne bombs.
-- Near Sinjar, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL assembly area.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike destroyed three ISIL tunnel systems and three ISIL assembly areas.
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [1/4/16]:
Anbar: Press sources: An unmanned Bomber plane has been shot down in Zaghareed area in Saqlawiya nahiya north of Fallujah......
Anbar: The coalition planes have shelled Qalqa neighborhood in Heet district for the second time .........................
Anbar: The coalition air force has shelled Qalqa neighborhood in Heet district west of Anbar resulted in killing of a child named Bakir Hassan Nadir..........
Anbar: The air force has targeted Teachers Syndicate and Heet secondary School in Mo'alimeen neighborhood and the end of Hamam Street in the middle of Heet ,casualties resulted unknown....................
Ta'meem : The government army air force has shelled Ta'meem province by 6 barrel bombs ; 4 have targeted Haweeja district and 2 targeted Arisha Village in Zab nahiya , casualties resulted unknown........
Tens of thousands of trapped Iraqi civilians have stalled an offensive to recapture a strategic town from ISIL with the military dropping pamphlets urging people to flee so a full assault can begin.
Sabah al-Numan, a spokesman for Iraq's elite counter-terrorism forces, said an operation was launched for the town of Heet - 140km west of Baghdad - on Thursday with heavy air strikes helping ground troops advance within 3km before being forced to stop. ... [Al Jazeera - 1/4/16]
White House to Syrians: Don’t dare vote for Assad! [Antiwar.com - 1/4/16]:
... The latest example of Washington’s anti-democratic “democracy promotion” came today, after Assad signaled his flexibility in forming a transitional government that might include the opposition, independents, and loyalists.
Obama’s spokesman flatly rejected any such proposal, saying, “I don’t know whether (Assad) envisioned himself being a part of that national unity government. Obviously that would be a non-starter for us.”
So Syrians, your “democracy” is being given to you by a United States deeply opposed to the idea of allowing any vote that is not pre-approved by Washington’s regime-changers.
Shorter Washington to Syrian people: “OK, you can vote, but we will hand you the approved candidate list.”
The U.S. administration is considering a plan to greatly increase the number of American special operations forces deployed to Syria as it looks to accelerate recent gains against Islamic State, U.S. officials told Reuters.
The officials, with direct knowledge of the proposal's details, declined to disclose the exact increase under consideration. But one of them said it would leave the U.S. special operations contingent many times larger than the around 50 troops currently in Syria, where they operate largely as advisors away from the front lines.
The proposal is among the military options being prepared for President Barack Obama, who is also weighing an increase in the number of American troops in Iraq.
A White House spokeswoman declined comment. ... [Reuters - 1/4/16]
Turkey is key supplier of weapons, military hardware to ISIS - Russian envoy to UN [RT - 1/4/16]
2 April 2016