Brown Thornbill Mimics Alarm Calls of Other Birds to Scare off Predators
A tiny Australian bird, the brown thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla), mimics the hawk warning calls of neighboring bird species to protect its nest from predators such as the pied currawong.
“It’s not superbly accurate mimicry, but it’s enough to fool the predator,” said Dr Branislav Igic of the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, lead author on the study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
“I was puzzled because I could hear the alarm calls of robins, honeyeaters and rosellas, but I couldn’t see any. I soon realized that the brown thornbill was mimicking the other species, and we later discovered that they sometimes lie about the type of predator present when defending their nests,” said senior author Prof Robert Magrath, also from the Australian National University.
Pied currawongs (Strepera graculina), which raid the nests and hunt the chicks of brown thornbills, are also prey to goshawks. Although currawongs normally benefit from listening in on hawk alarm calls of other species, thornbills exploit this and turn it against them.
As well as issuing their own hawk alarm call, brown thornbills mimic those of the local species to create the impression of an impending hawk attack, which in turn distracts the pied currawong – a predator 40 times larger than the thornbill – providing thornbill nestlings with an opportunity to escape.
“The enormous size difference between a tiny thornbill and a 0.5 kg goshawk might make it difficult for brown thornbills to mimic hawk vocalizations accurately, limiting them to mimicking the chorus of hawk alarm calls given by small local species instead,” said co-author Jessica McLachlan of the University of Cambridge.
While animals often mimic dangerous or toxic species to deter predators, the brown thornbill is a surprising example of a species mimicking another harmless species to trick a predator.
“As hawks are silent when hunting, the alarm calls of local species may be the only sound that warns of a hawk’s presence,” McLachlan said.
Dr Igic, McLachlan and their colleagues from the Australian National University studied thornbills and currawongs living in and around the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra.
The scientists devised a series of experiments in which they placed stuffed currawongs in front of thornbill nests to test when thornbills use such trickery, followed by experiments testing how currawongs respond to the calls of thornbills.
They found that the thornbills used their own and mimicked hawk alarm calls when their nests are under attack.
They also found that the currawongs delayed attacks for twice as long when mimetic and non-mimetic alarm calls were played together as opposed to non-mimetic calls played alone.
“Distracting a currawong attacking the nest could give older thornbill nestlings a chance to escape and hide in the surrounding vegetation. It’s perhaps the thornbills best nest defence in this circumstance because physical attacks on the much larger currawong are hopeless,” Dr Igic said.
This study is the first to show that birds use vocal mimicry to scare predators.
North Carolina's governor says he'll sign a bill that would make the state one of several with a 72-hour waiting period for abortions. ... [13NewsNow.com - 3/6/15]
A 67-year-old man convicted of killing four men more than three decades ago at a North Texas ranch has been executed. Lester Bower is the oldest prisoner put to death in Texas since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982. ... [USA Today - 4/6/15]
Texas biker sues Waco, officers after deadly shootout [CNN - 4/6/15]:
… Clendennen was able to bond out Tuesday, but almost all the other bikers remain behind bars in what he calls a gross overreaction by police.
"I committed no crime. I did nothing wrong," the 30-year-old told CNN's Ed Lavandera. "I just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time."
So he's taking officials to court.
In a civil lawsuit, filed last week by F. Clinton Broden of the Dallas-based firm Broden, Mickelsen, Helms and Snipes, Clendennen names the city of Waco, McLennan County and individual officers involved. Broden later amended the lawsuit to include District Attorney Abelino Reyna, who he accused of violating his client's Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.
"Reyna needs to be held responsible for his efforts to destroy the United States Constitution in Waco, Texas, and for his reckless comments in the news media made to promote his office at the expense of innocent persons," Broden said in a statement.
Reyna's office declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing the ongoing investigation in the criminal case.
Clendennen's suit claims he was at the Twin Peaks restaurant on May 17, but "did not engage in any criminal activity while at Twin Peaks on that day nor did he travel to Twin Peaks on that day with the intent to engage in any criminal activity nor did he anticipate that any criminal activity would take place."
Detainee alleges CIA sexual abuse, torture beyond Senate findings [Reuters - 2/6/15]:
... In the interviews with his lawyers, Khan described a carnival-like atmosphere of abuse when he arrived at the CIA detention facility.
"I wished they had killed me," Khan told his lawyers. He said that he experienced excruciating pain when hung naked from poles and that guards repeatedly held his head under ice water.
" 'Son, we are going to take care of you,' " Khan said his interrogators told him. " 'We are going to send you to a place you cannot imagine.' "
Current and former CIA officials declined to comment on Khan's account.
Khan's description of his experience matches some of the most disturbing findings of the U.S. Senate report, the product of a five-year review by Democratic staffers of 6.3 million internal CIA documents. CIA officials and many Republicans dismissed the report's findings as exaggerated.
Years before the report was released, Khan complained to his lawyers that he had been subjected to forced rectal feedings. Senate investigators found internal CIA documents confirming that Khan had received involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration.
In an incident widely reported in news media after the release of the Senate investigation, CIA cables showed that "Khan's 'lunch tray,' consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins, was 'pureed' and rectally infused."
The CIA maintains that rectal feedings were necessary after Khan went on a hunger strike and pulled out a feeding tube that had been inserted through his nose. Senate investigators said Khan was cooperative and did not remove the feeding tube.
Most medical experts say rectal feeding is of no therapeutic value. His lawyers call it rape.
Khan told his lawyers that some of the worst torture occurred in a May 2003 interrogation session, when guards stripped him naked, hung him from a wooden beam for three days and provided him with water but no food. The only time he was removed from the beam was on the afternoon of the first day, when interrogators shackled him, placed a hood over his head and lowered him into a tub of ice water.
An interrogator then forced Khan's head underwater until he feared he would drown. The questioner pulled Khan's head out of the water, demanded answers to questions and again dunked his head underwater, the detainee said. Guards also poured water and ice from a bucket onto Khan's mouth and nose.
Khan was again hung on the pole hooded and naked. Every two to three hours, interrogators hurled ice water on his body and set up a fan to blow air on him, depriving him of sleep, he said. Once, after hanging on the pole for two days, Khan began hallucinating, thinking he was seeing a cow and a giant lizard.
"I lived in anxiety every moment of every single day about the fear and anticipation of the unknown," Khan said, describing his panic attacks and nightmares at the black site. "Sometimes, I was struggling and drowning under water, or driving a car and I could not stop."
In a July 2003 session, Khan said, CIA guards hooded and hung him from a metal pole for several days and repeatedly poured ice water on his mouth, nose and genitals. At one point, he said, they forced him to sit naked on a wooden box during a 15-minute videotaped interrogation. After that, Khan said, he was shackled to a wall, which prevented him from sleeping.
When a doctor arrived to check his condition, Khan begged for help, he said. Instead, Khan said, the doctor instructed the guards to again hang him from the metal bar. After hanging from the pole for 24 hours, Khan was forced to write a "confession" while being videotaped naked. ...
Today I have listed Neil Prakash, an Australian citizen formerly of Melbourne and currently believed to be in Syria, for targeted financial sanctions under Part 4 of the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945. ...[Foreign Minister Media Release - 4/6/15]
Whistleblower reveals guards planned to kick the shit out of refugees at Australia's concentration camp on Nauru [ABC - 4/6/15]:
... In July 2013 security guards were faced with a full-scale riot in the centre in which several buildings were burned to the ground causing $60 million in damage. Four people were hospitalised.
According to the whistleblower, guards were called to respond to a disturbance are heard saying "we go to Charlie 2 and take c***s down".
The whistleblower, who alleges to have seen a video of the incident, says it was obvious the guards were planning to use "unreasonable force" on asylum seekers.
During the riot Nauruan police were called into the centre to take charge.
When briefed on the chain of command, the Wilson guards are heard saying: "I don't understand Nauruan so I'm just gonna say he told me to do everything ... I'm fairly confident he gave me that direction."
Wilson Security said it was concerned by the allegation but was not aware of the video footage.
General manager John Rodgers told the Senate committee video cameras are worn by emergency response guards at times of "heightened risk".
Wilson security contract manager Brett McDonald explained that when the cameras are activated, a Wilson investigator views the footage to determine if there is relevant information.
If so, it is passed onto the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. If not, the footage is deleted.
"Operation Nauru Babylift":
@pamelacurr - Refugee Rights Detention Rights Advocate [4/6/15]: Fear erupted at MITA after 4.30 am raid and removal. Now confusion suicide attempts- people told stay in rooms- ambulance at gate
@pamelacurr: One little baby was taken to Nauru today- the others are waiting for Abbotts goon squad to take them out too
Lismore's iconic lanterns to feature in Brisbane "Luminous" parade for refugees
Northern Star [3/6/15]:
One of Lismore's biggest cultural exports - the LightnUp Inc lanterns - will emit a welcoming glow to Brisbane's Luminous Lantern Parade and concert for refugees on Friday.
An initiative of Multicultural Queensland, the parade winds its way through South Bank parklands in a dazzling display of light before entering The Piazza for a free concert filled with world music and dancing.
As with previous years, the Brisbane parade wouldn't dazzle without the help of Lismore's lantern artistry.
This year the artists at the LightnUp shed have been busy putting finishing touches to new lanterns which symbolise hope and freedom.
Over several weeks artist Brett Haydon has been working on the bi-plane lantern, commissioned by the Brisbane Airport Corporation.
Newly-created hot air balloons and flying machines will also join dozens of Lismore's whimsical lantern creatures to fill a semi-trailer bound for Brisbane.
"The plane is about freedom and making dreams come true," LightnUp director Jyllie Jackson said.
The bi-plane was inspired by the model in classic tale The Little Prince and, like the book, will be lit up in blue.
"It was built by Brett who does all of our fine work. It is so precise in measurements that given half a chance it could fly," Ms Jackson said.
"But then we would have to land it. The plane might not fare so well."
After all, the plane needs to make it safely home to the Lismore Lantern Parade in three weeks.
Indonesia to build shelters for Rohingya.
1,000s are still at sea.
US and Australia say let them die.
Obama lectures participants of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiatives (YSEALI) at the White House [Jakarta Post - 4/6/15]
Channel News Asia [4/6/15]:
Indonesia is taking steps to provide better shelter and legal protection for the more than 1,800 migrants currently stranded in Aceh and North Sumatra.
In the months to come, thousands of migrants will be moving to a new temporary shelter that Indonesia plans to build in North and East Aceh.
The plans were announced on Thursday (Jun 4) as the country continues its efforts to search for more migrants at sea and uncover syndicates linked to such illicit human trafficking.
Indonesia is also writing up a one-year work plan to divide the tasks of handling the migrants.
“We are formulating a one year work plan on what steps we will be taking and the distribution of work across state institutions,” said Andy Rachmianto, Director of International Security and Disarmament, Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Certainly, we will be collaborating with the Coordinating Ministry of Political Affairs, Justice and Human Rights as well as the Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Humanity,” he said.
At a recent meeting among members of the Organization of Islamic Countries, Qatar announced it will donate US$ 50 million to the cause.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and United Arab Emirates have also expressed their interest to help, but have not confirmed what kind of assistance they will offer.
The United States, the Philippines and Gambia have said they are ready to accept Rohingya migrants in their respective countries.
In order to provide a legal basis for the use of funds from donor countries, a final draft of a Presidential Decree on handling refugees and asylum seekers is being reviewed at the Justice and Human Rights Ministry.
Indonesia is also drafting a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding the commitment by the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration to help it and Malaysia in handling the migrants.
The MOU will include, among other things, the length of time these migrants will be able to stay in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Indonesia said it hopes countries who are parties to the 1951 Convention on Refugees can also come forward to help.
“Our approach, our diplomacy is not a preaching diplomacy. We won’t preach to them,” said spokesman for the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Arrmantha Nasir.
“I think they know their responsibility. They know what they have to do. I think the onus is on them to show their leadership and to show what they have committed to.
“Again I have given you an example on how countries who are not parties to the convention are showing real compassion and their efforts to assist on this humanitarian matter.”
St Vincent de Paul Society urges Australian government to help Rohingya [ICN - 3/6/15]:
… Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon, said: "Now is the time for the Australian Government to share some of the responsibility with our neighbours. The tragic, albeit unintended, consequences of Australia's policy to turn back boats, replicated by nearby countries, is now leaving people with literally nowhere to go.
"We need to remember that the Rohingya people are vulnerable individuals and families, whose escape from Burma on boats follows decades of persecution. Fortunately, some of these asylum seekers were recently brought ashore in Malaysia and Indonesia, but it is thought many more remain at sea and, tragically, untold numbers of people have perished.
"In addition to providing immediate emergency assistance to nations rescuing people on boats, we ask that the Australian Government work with ASEAN countries to find humane ways of receiving refugees and negotiate resettlement for the Rohingya asylum seekers.
The St Vincent de Paul Society echoes the recommendations of the Refugee Council of Australia on the need to increase diplomatic pressure on Burma. Dr Falzon noted that Australia recently provided humanitarian aid to Burma targeted at the Rakhine and Kachin States where many Rohingya and displaced persons people live, but urged Australia to advocate for the establishment of a continued UN human rights presence in Burma.
President of the St Vincent de Paul Society National Social Justice Committee, Frank Brassil said the priority must be on finding humane options to assist refugees that do not involve prolonged mandatory detention or suffering by people, the vast majority of whom will be found to be asylum seekers.
"The St Vincent de Paul Society has been a long-time critic of mandatory detention both on shore and off shore. We must move past the misconception that there is an orderly queue for refugees in our region and uphold our responsibilities under the UN Convention-- people have every right to seek refuge from conflict and persecution in their homelands," Mr Brassil said.
Rohingya not allowed to work in Malaysia, says Home Minister [The Malaysian Insider – 4/6/15]
US tells Okinawa governor new base 'fundamental' to security
Japan Today [4/6/15]:
U.S. officials told the governor of Okinawa on Wednesday that a U.S. troop presence on the Japanese island, which he opposes, is fundamental to the U.S. commitment to defend Japan.
Officials from the U.S. State and Defense Departments told Takeshi Onaga in a meeting in Washington that the United States and Japan shared “an unwavering commitment” to building a new base for U.S. Marines on the island, a State Department statement said.
“The United States’ troop presence in Okinawa is fundamental to our treaty commitment to the defense of Japan,” the statement said.
Onaga was elected governor last year largely because of his stand against U.S. bases. He and many Okinawans reject a proposal to move the U.S. Marines’ existing Futenma base to another location on the island and insist that it move off altogether.
The United States and Japan agreed in 1996 to close the Futenma base, which is in a populous area. But plans to move it stalled because of opposition from residents, many of whom associate U.S. bases with noise, pollution and crime.
Okinawa residents have long resented the fact that they not only suffered a devastating land battle during World War Two but now host tens of thousands of U.S. troops and U.S. military facilities taking up 18 percent of the island’s area.
Japan’s Kyodo news agency quoted Onaga as saying after his State Department meeting that he had warned the U.S. officials “that the construction of a (replacement) base will not be implemented smoothly if things keep going as they currently are.”
Kyodo said he was referring to the way the Japanese government has moved ahead with preparatory work to build the new base in spite of local opposition.
Onaga said in Tokyo last month that he would tell those he met in the United States that ignoring the wishes of the Okinawan people would harm the reputation of both countries - especially in Asia, where the U.S.-Japan alliance is seen as a counter to the growing influence of China.
Four soldiers shot dead in southern Thailand
Channel News Asia [4/6/15]:
Four plainclothes soldiers were shot dead on Wednesday in an ambush by unidentified gunmen in Thailand's southern province of Yala, police said.
Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, but parts of the south, particularly the three provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, are majority Muslim, and resistance to central government rule has existed there for decades.
"The four in a personal car were on their way back to their base when they were shot dead ... It is expected to be an act of insurgents," district police official Chanvut Rugsapram in Yala told Reuters by telephone.
Last month, 18 people were wounded in a string of bomb attacks in Yala. More than 6,500 people, most of them civilians, have died in separatist violence in southern Thailand since resistance to Buddhist rule flared up in 2004.
Thailand's military government says it has adopted new strategies, including DNA swabbing, to curb the insurgency, although lawyers and activists say the forced DNA sweeps are further alienating residents.
Australian Journalism 101: Discuss draconian legislation after its been passed
… 'Cause what you did, you know, was wrong
And all the nasty things you've done
So, baby, listen carefully
While I sing my come-back song
(You lied to me) 'Cause she said she'd never turn on me
(You lied to me) But you did, but you do
(You lied to me) All these pains you said I'd never feel
(You lied to me) But I do, but I do, do, do …
'Return of the Mack', Mark Morrison 
Doctors and teachers gagged under new immigration laws [Sydney Morning Herald – 4/6/15]
The media establishment were silent when the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 was in committee stage on 25 September.
The Press Gallery was empty and the number of "advisers" in the Senate almost outnumbered the Senators.
Senate Hansard [25/10/14]:
Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (19:44): Now we get to one of the most serious parts of this debate and one of the areas where I struggle to understand how a government—that 18 or so months ago, when there were proposals to reform some elements of the architecture of media regulation in this country, shouted to the rooftops about curtailment of press freedom—would seek to bring provisions as draconian as what we see before us tonight and that have been condemned from one end of the country to the other.
Effectively—and I will read a few quotes in shortly—it is proposed to criminalise the reporting of one of these special intelligence operations, the transmission about it, so this would relate not necessarily to journalists, because obviously they are not named in the bill, but people sharing Facebook information about one of these operations may well find themselves falling foul of the law.
By leave—I move Australian Green amendments (3) to (5) together:
(3) Schedule 3, item 3, page 69 (lines 19 to 23), omit subsection 35P(1).
(4) Schedule 3, item 3, page 70 (line 6), omit "Subsections (1) and (2) do", substitute "Subsection (2) does".
(5) Schedule 3, item 3, page 70 (line 20), omit "(1) or".
It effectively relates to the criminalisation of the reporting of national security issues. We will do this in two tranches and I will speak at more length on the first. There is a later batch of amendments that relate to similar matters, and I will reserve my comments on those now. These ones relate specifically to reporting of SIOs and even their mere existence.
Schedule 3 creates new offences relating to disclosing information on special intelligence operations or SIOs with a penalty of five years imprisonment. Schedule 6 creates new offence provisions and updates existing offences relating to the unauthorised disclosure of intelligence information, and we will come to those a little later in the debate.
Under the proposed subsection 35P(1):
a person will commit an offence if he or she:
* discloses information and
* the information relates to an SIO.
The maximum penalty for the offence will be imprisonment for five years.
These offences are by far the most controversial of the proposed scheme—and, I would argue, of the proposed legislation. Two major concerns have been raised: the offences do not contain exceptions for public interest disclosures, which I think Senator Xenophon will try and address in a forthcoming amendment; or whistleblowing by ASIO employees. They apply to any person and would thereby capture disclosures by, for example, journalists. Many submitters made that point to the PJCIS.
I go back to earlier stages of the debate yesterday where we were discussing the document that the Scrutiny of Bills Committee had prepares when evaluating this bill. They identified 19 areas over which they had grave concerns. One of them was this very issue, subsection 35P—the committee sought a fuller justification from the Attorney as to why a penalty of imprisonment for five years is considered appropriate, given the breadth of application of the offence provision.
What this means in practice, which was stated very bluntly by a number of the submitters—and the first contribution that I would like to read is submission no. 17 by combined media organisations and signed by the following: AAP, ABC, APN, Astra, Bauer Media, Commercial Radio Australia, Fairfax Media, FreeTV, the MEAA, News Corp Australia, SBS and the West Australian.
Under a section of their submission, which they have entitled ' Jailing journalists for doing their jobs,' they say:
The insertion of proposed section 35P could potentially see journalists jailed for undertaking and discharging their legitimate role in a modern democratic society—reporting in the public interest. Such an approach is untenable, and must not be included in the legislation.
I can say to our colleagues in the press gallery tonight that this is included in the legislation and that we may be about to legislate away your extremely important role in our democracy.
They go on to say:
This alone is more than adequate reason to abandon the proposal as the proposed provision significantly curtails freedom of speech and reporting in the public interest.
This is particularly so as the proposed section 35P prohibits any disclosure of information relating to an SIO, not just reporting in the public interest.
It is a blanket prohibition. The trick is: how would you know if you had done that, because the very existence of SIOs would be suppressed?
These entities make up by far the largest fraction of those working in the parliamentary press gallery—I am not sure where they all are tonight but, nonetheless, their submission speaks for itself. They go on to say:
In addition, SIOs by their very nature will be undisclosed. This uncertainty will expose journalists to an unacceptable level of risk and consequentially have a chilling effect on the reportage of all intelligence and national security material. A journalist or editor will simply have no way of knowing whether the matter they are reporting may or may not be related to an SIO. We express this as information that ‘may or may not be’ related to an SIO because:
* It may or may not be known if the information is related to intelligence operations, and whether or not that intelligence operation is an SIO;
* ‘relates to’ is not defined and therefore the breadth of relevance is unknowable;
* It is unclear whether SIO status can be conferred on an operation retrospectively—i.e. if information has been ‘disclosed,’ whether any operation that it may be associated with or related to can be retrospectively allocated SIO status; and
* It is likely that clarity about any of these aspects would only come to light after information is Disclosed—particularly in the case of reporting in the public interest.
This submission is damning. I cannot for the life of me understand why the opposition is lining up and supporting this uncritically. Perhaps Senator Collins can inform us, but I would like Senator Brandis to tell us how those in this press gallery and working journalists around the country will know in advance whether what they are deciding to report in tomorrow's paper may or may not be related to an SIO. How will they know without simply publishing and hoping for the best?
School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
A kitchen manager claims she was fired from a school in Colorado for giving free lunches to students who could not afford to pay for them.
Della Curry, 35, supervised food preparation at Dakota Valley Elementary School in Aurora, Colorado, but says she was let go because she gave food to students.
The married mother of two was interviewed by CBS Denver, where she said she would see students who were often not signed up for free lunch programmes "crying" because they didn't have enough money for food.
To qualify for a free lunch, a family of four in Colorado requires an income of around $31,000, while students can qualify for a reduced lunch if their family’s income is below $45,000.
Curry claimed the students she helped did not meet the requirements for either programme, and that she had paid for some of their meals out of her own pocket.
Under federal law, students who fail to qualify receive a single slice of cheese in a hamburger bun and a small carton of milk, but Curry said this was "not sufficient".
In a Facebook post made on 29 May, Curry wrote: "I was let go today from my position as a kitchen manager for Cherry Creek School District. I was fired for giving food to children that did not have money.
"While I know that what I did was legally wrong, I do not feel bad about it and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I will never understand how the 'best' country in the world considers a cheese sandwich to be adequate nutrition for a child."
Curry added that she would "never understand how one of the richest countries in the world cannot find provide lunch for its children".
In a statement released to local media, Cherry Creek School district said it had followed policy in firing Curry. It also said that it was not legally obligated to provide food to children who had “forgotten” their lunch money.
“According to our practice, we provide hot meals to students the first three times they forget their lunch money and charge their parents' accounts. The fourth time, we provide a cheese sandwich and milk,” the statement read.
Amnesty says Nigerian military responsible for deaths of 8,000 prisoners [Ahram - 3/6/15]
Saudis continue bombing Yemen [Reuters - 3/6/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [3/6/15]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted four airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, two airstrikes struck one large and one small ISIL tactical unit, destroying six ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL armored vehicle.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 18 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Baghdadi, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Huwayjah, one airstrike struck an ISIL vehicle-borne improvised explosive device facility.
-- Near Rutbah, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator.
-- Near Beiji, three airstrikes struck land features, denying ISIL a tactical advantage and destroying three ISIL vehicles.
-- Near Fallujah, one airstrike struck land features, denying ISIL a tactical advantage.
-- Near Kirkuk, one airstrike struck two ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and land features, denying ISIL a tactical advantage and destroying an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL building.
-- Near Ramadi, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying five ISIL structures, two ISIL IEDs and two ISIL vehicles.
-- Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL tunnel system, destroying an ISIL heavy machine gun.
-- Near Tal Afar, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units and land features, denying ISIL a tactical advantage and destroying three ISIL heavy machine guns, two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL building.
Dozens of people are reported to have been killed in air strikes targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Hawijah in Iraq, reports say.
Sources told Al Jazeera that civilians were among at least 70 people killed in the air strikes on a warehouse controlled by ISIL. ... [Al Jazeera - 3/6/15]
Wednesday 3 June: 28 killed [Iraq Body Count]
Israeli airstrikes hit Hamas training sites in Gaza early Thursday in response to earlier rocket fire toward Israel from the strip, the Israeli military said. ... [Yahoo - 4/6/15]
French firm Orange plans to sever ties with Israel’s Partner [Press TV - 4/6/15]
UN-backed project to provide hundreds of new housing units to Palestine refugees in Gaza [Media Release – 4/6/15]
Libya: UN envoy meets political actors and activists on reaching final agreement to end crisis [Media Release – 3/6/15]
Dramatic footage from Donetsk shot by the RT crew, who were among the first reporters at the scene, shows a destroyed city market, private houses on fire and emergencies services trying to cope with the aftermath of the shelling.
Kiev forces shelled the Ukrainian city on Wednesday, mostly the Petrovsky and Kirovsky districts in the southwest, killing at least 6 people and injuring 90 others. ... [RT - 3/6/15
"Perverse policy in the extreme": Nauru refugees arrive in Cambodia to be expensively exiled and disappeared
Al Jazeera [4/6/15]:
... A pack of reporters camped out at Phnom Penh's international airport on Thursday, waiting for the refugees to arrive.
A van carrying the refugees quickly left the airport with a police escort, shortly after their plane arrived at around 10:30am local time (03:30 GMT). ...
Phnom Penh Post [4/6/15]:
... As the Cambodian government revealed that the refugees would be arriving, the Australian Embassy yesterday released a statement announcing that a Royal Australian Navy Ship will be visiting Cambodia later in the week, reinforcing the “close links” between the two countries.
To rid itself of the refugees, Australia has agreed to provide an additional A$40 million (about US$31 million) in aid to Cambodia, and later announced it would spend an estimated A$15.5 million more to fund resettlement services. ...
Refugee Council of Australia [3/6/15]:
The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has criticised the spending of $55.5 million to send just four refugees to Cambodia to prevent them seeking asylum in Australia as “morally repugnant”.
“The Australian Government’s decision to spend $55 million to send just four confirmed refugees to one of the world’s least developed countries, is in breach of Australia’s international obligations, financially unsustainable for the Australian taxpayer and sets a morally repugnant precedent,” RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power said.
“It’s being called a deal but it’s perverse policy in the extreme. The four refugees now being sent to Cambodia, were faced with an impossible choice: live on Nauru with no prospects of work and threats to their safety and psychological wellbeing or go to Cambodia, where there safety or wellbeing cannot be assured.”
“There are more than 17 million refugees in the world today and another 35 million displaced people. The precedent Australia is setting here is completely unsustainable and a clear indication of how perverse the refugee policy has become in Australia,” Mr Power said.
There is only the people vs the anti-rights death cult. We have to reclaim our parliament from these traitors ---> Bill Shorten gives qualified backing to arbitrary stripping of citizenship [ABC - 4/6/15]
... The president of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Ghaith Krayem, told an anti-racism forum in Melbourne that the federal government’s plans to allow the immigration minister to revoke the citizenship of dual nationals found to join or support terrorist groups “would make criminals of people based on suspicion and suspicion alone”.
He said it was clearly aimed at Muslims, as two people fighting with Kurds against Islamic State had returned to Australia without charge.
“But the moment a Muslim says ‘I want to come home’, what does our prime minister do? If you come home, you’ll be arrested, and the full force of the law will be applied.
“Let’s be honest. Let’s not be ostriches. Those laws are designed and they are going to apply to our community our community alone.” ... [Guardian - 31/5/15]
800 years of Magna Carta: A timeline of the legacy of the Great Charter 1215 – 2015 [Australian Parliament]
... According to latest estimates, over 2,500 people are still stranded at sea.
On 29 May the Bangladesh Government announced plans to relocate registered Rohingya refugees to Hatiya Island, 150 km north-west of where the registered camps are located.
Bangladesh currently has 32,000 registered Rohingya refugees in two camps in the south-east district of Cox's Bazar. ...
Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (26 May - 2 June 2015) [Reliefweb]
Who's the enemy?: Australian Army soldiers and US Marines take part in huge live fire training exercise in Northern Territory [ABC - 4/6/15]
Two Indian Navy Ships (INS) Satpura and Kamorta have been conducting training and security patrols while transiting the Indian Ocean and will arrive in Fremantle today on a goodwill visit.
The arrival of the two Indian Navy Ships coincides with a visit by the Indian Navy’s Eastern Naval Commander Vice Admiral Satish Soni, PVSM, AVSM, NM, ADC, who is in Perth to hold discussions and make preparations ahead of the Royal Australian Navy’s first bilateral maritime exercise with India. ... [Australian Department of Defence - 4/6/15]
IBS Maritime 360 [4/6/15]:
Commercial shipping may have a role in helping solve the plight of Rohingya fleeing Myanmar, a leading NGO source has said.
"There's a conversation that needs to be made," Humanitarian Policy Group research associate Lilianne Fan told IHS Maritime after the issue was discussed at a meeting in Bangkok.
"It has been talked about in the Mediterranean. It is starting to happen," Fan added.
Rohingya, a Muslim minority in northern Myanmar, are fleeing their homeland in thousands as political repression worsens.
Many try to get to Malaysia or Indonesia on converted fishing boats operated by ruthless but highly profitable smuggling syndicates, the meeting heard.
The situation flared last month when mass graves were found in southern Thailand, a transit point for many of the cartels.
Currently many boats are still at sea, but are prevented from landing by the Indonesian, Malaysian, and Thai navies who give limited humanitarian assistance, but have sometimes towed boats back into international waters.
The one bright spot, according to Fan, is fishing communities in Aceh, who help boats, some of which are carrying up to 500 people, to land safely.
"That's actually the only effective search and rescue operation we have" Fan said at the meeting.
Calling the current situation an "absolute failure", Fan was critical of the region's government reluctance to put resources towards solving the problem despite agreements on laws of the sea and co-operation on disasters.
She also reported some regional governments, especially Malaysia, were angry with Myanmar and that they feel non-intervention limits possible solutions to the problem.
Press briefing notes on Myanmar - Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani [3/6/15]:
We are appalled at the two-year prison sentence handed down to U Htin Lin Oo on charges of insulting religion.
U Htin Lin Oo courageously spoke out against the use of Buddhism as a tool for extremism. His treatment and conviction are in stark contrast to the treatment of those in Myanmar who are clearly inciting violence against minority communities, particularly the Rohingya.
Rather than prosecuting individuals, who brazenly call for the Rohingya to be killed, for hate speech and incitement to violence, the authorities have jailed a peaceful advocate who dared to question the misuse and manipulation of religion for extremist ends.
High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has previously raised U Htin Lin Oo’s case, warning Myanmar against creating a new generation of political prisoners by jailing people who seek to enjoy the democratic freedoms they were promised in the reforms the country has undergone in the past two years.
We urge the authorities to release U Htin Lin Oo unconditionally and to take all necessary measures to ensure that those who conduct peaceful advocacy, legitimately exercising their rights to freedom of expression and opinion, do not face reprisals.
We also call on the Government of Myanmar to send a clear message against hate speech and incitement to violence.
While the increased space for freedom of expression in Myanmar has been welcome, international standards require that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence should be prohibited by law.
Jakarta Post [3/6/15]:
The Australian Navy prevented around 65 Rohingya boat people from entering its territory on Tuesday, pushing them back to Rote waters in eastern Indonesia.
Rote Ndao Police chief Adj. Comr. Hidayat said on Wednesday that the police held the asylum seekers after they were stranded at Landunit Beach.
They were then evacuated to Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara.
"They were saved by local fishermen before being handled by the police," Hidayat said as quoted by tempo.co on Wednesday.
... Currently there are 13 immigration detention centres scattered throughout Indonesia. The central detention centre is located in Tanjung Pinang in the Riau Archipelago province. The rest of the centres are spread throughout Medan, Pekanbaru, Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, Denpasar, Kupang, Balikpapan, Pontianak, Makassar, Manado and Jayapura. Some centres hold only men, others also house women, families and unaccompanied minors. ... [Inside Indonesia - July 2013]
SNP party urge UK government to do more to help refugees in Mediterreanean.
Australia needs a political party of, and for, human beings too.
The SNP urged David Cameron to do more to tackle the Mediterranean refugee crisis contrasting its “appalling record” with the shelter offered by Britain to victims of the Nazis.
At the first Prime Minister’s Questions of the new term the Westminster SNP leader Angus Robertson looked beyond Scotland.
With the SNP returning 56 MPs, the SNP is now entitled to ask Mr Cameron two questions at the weekly joust with the Prime Minister.
Mr Robertson opened by saying it was a “stain on the conscience of Europe that thousands and thousands of refugees have been dying in the Mediterranean when many lives could have been saved.”
The SNP Westminster leader said that the Royal Navy, Italian Coastguard and other European navies were making a “profound difference” to the crisis, but added that more needed to be done to offer refuge and asylum to those who require it.
Mr Cameron replied saying he wanted to see a Libyan government that he could work with to return people to Africa and stop the criminal trade.
“In the meantime everything Britain can do as a moral and upstanding nation to save lives we will do. We should be proud that we are doing,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr Robertson responded by contrasting today’s approach with that adopted 80 years ago when Britain was a haven for Jewish children threatened by the Nazis.
The SNP Westminster leader said the UK “offered refuge and asylum to those who were being pursued by the Nazis”
He added: “We all know about the Kindertransport and the children that were accepted and given refuge by the UK. Now in contrast the UK has an appalling record on resettlement of Syrian refugees and is not prepared to co-operate with other European nations on accepting refugees that have been rescued in the Mediterranean.
“Why does the Prime Minister think it is fair for Sweden and for Germany and other countries to accept refugees while the UK turns its back on them.”
Mr Cameron said he “took issue” with Mr Robertson’s comments. The Prime Minister said: “We have record of giving asylum in this country that we should be proud of. When people are fleeing torture and persecution they can find a home in Britain.
“Let’s be clear, the vast majority of people who are setting off into the Mediterranean are not asylum seekers. They are people seeking a better life. They have been tricked and fooled by criminal gangs and our role should be going after those criminal gangs, sorting out the situation in Libya. Turning back those boats where we can and making sure with our generous aid budget that this Government achieved – that we use that money to mend the countries from which these people are coming that is our moral responsibility.”
The hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will not be expanded beyond its current area without specific new leads, Australian officials said on Wednesday (Jun 3), dousing relatives' hopes the search could last beyond early next year. ... [Channel News Asia - 3/6/15]
The US and Australia's refusal to help rescue and resettle refugees (and condemn Myanmar) is responsible for this
New York Times [3/6/15]:
Dozens of corpses have washed to shore in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine in the last month, an advocacy group and villagers said Wednesday.
Some were believed to be Rohingya Muslims trying to escape trafficking ships, while others were Bangladeshi.
Ye Htut, the presidential spokesman, and other officials were in meetings and could not immediately be reached for comment.
Rakhine State Minister Maung Maung Ohn had no word on the bodies but his office was checking into the report.
At least 47 bodies washed up on beaches and the mouths of rivers May 12-24, many so badly decomposed they were unrecognizable, said Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, which has been monitoring activities in the isolated, northern tip of Rakhine for more than a decade.
Lewa — who provided a village-by-village breakdown and the dates each corpse was found — believes they drowned while trying to swim to shore.
Religious leader Ashu Dular and other residents in two villages contacted by The Associated Press by phone gave similar accounts, together tallying at least 18 corpses in a much less complete survey.
The Facebook site of a government family shelter housing Rohingya and Bangladeshis has disappeared mysteriously amid apparent conflict over whether Thailand's treatment of boatpeople should be transparent or only open to scrutiny when authorities permit.
The Phang Nga province family shelter, in the tourist centre of Khao Lak, north of Phuket, works closely with the UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration - more closely than some other shelters and detention centres around Thailand.
Staff from the shelter, which normally deals with domestic violence, have been involved in the grassroots movement to expose human trafficking along Thailand's Andaman coast and to cease automatically classifying all arrivals by sea as ''illegal migrants.'' ... [Phuketwan - 3/6/15]
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hit out at the United Nations’ failure to fulfill its basic principles of upholding human rights and protecting people from genocide in Myanmar.
“On behalf of myself and my party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, I wish to state that we have found the silence and complete inaction by the UN on the continuing plight and persecution of the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar a shameful testament to the failure of the UN to fulfill its basic principles of upholding human rights and protecting a people from genocide,” Imran wrote to Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday.
The PTI chief added, “I call on you, as the Secretary General to move the UNSC to end the persecution and genocide of Rohingyas within Myanmar and to bring to an end their inhumane plight on the high seas, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.”
Imran said the principle of humanitarian intervention was specifically added to the UN mandate in the face of the Rwandan genocide but the UN has once again failed to protect people from persecution and genocide — this time the Rohingyas of Myanmar.
The letter urged the UN Secretary General “to move the UNSC to end the persecution and genocide of Rohingyas within Myanmar and to bring to an end their inhumane plight on the high seas, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.”
Explaining the plight of the persecuted community, the letter said that in the past three years, more than 120,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled abroad under desperate circumstances and conditions.
“The ASEAN meeting, held on 29 May 2015, to discuss the Rohingyas plight, did little to resolve the issue and, even in terms of aid and assistance, the final statement effectively reflected proposals and recommendations with no mechanism for ensuring implementation,” it added.
The PTI chief further said, “It has been heartbreaking to witness the silence of the UN and the international community on the persecution of the Rohingyas in Myanmar since the 1970s.”
“The hypocrisy prevalent within the international community on human rights and humanitarian interventions has been acutely evident as the Rohingya crisis has unfolded.”
Further, the letter upheld the Rohingya crisis is as clear a threat to international peace and security as any, in the expanded notion of security now adopted internationally – which goes beyond mere conventional wars.
“Global security is indivisible and the international community cannot be secure while in one part of the world persecution and genocide of a people in going on with impunity,” the letter argued.
“It is time for the UN to act decisively or forever lose its relevancy as a global body reflecting the will of the people with which the preamble of the UN Charter begins. It is time to live up to that commitment on which the UNO was founded – in the aftermath of a global appeasement to the genocide of another people in Europe,” the letter added.
How many Rohingya refugees will have perished before the Australian Human Rights Commission's "Inspiring Change in Human Rights" event?:
... Annabel Crabb will be leading the discussion which will be broadcast live on ABC News 24. Please send in your questions for the panel to email@example.com. Annabel will ask some of the best questions on the night. ...
... Why then do millions of people who think of themselves as progressives or left wing end up giving money, time and votes to people and organizations who continually flunk the litmus test? ... [Who is on the left?, Margaret Kimberley - ICH - 3/6/15]
Arbitrary care determined by bigots and human rights abusers: Australia see the future of your health system here ---> 11yo Iranian refugee on Nauru won't be sent to India for medical treatment on broken arm, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says [ABC – 4/6/15]:
... "Erfan could have been brought to Australia yesterday ... He should have been brought two weeks ago when it became evident that the bones were not properly set, were misaligned.
"But because he is a refugee and not an asylum seeker, the Government refused to take responsibility." ...
Manus refugees still being assaulted, while hundreds join PNG Supreme Court human rights case via @StefArmbruster
Pato confirms investigation into refugee beating [4/6/15] via @StefArmbruster
PNG Supreme Court challenge to Manus Island detention [Solidarity.net – 20/3/15]
Trade in Services Agreement - Press release
WikiLeaks releases today 17 secret documents from the ongoing TISA (Trade In Services Agreement) negotiations which cover the United States, the European Union and 23 other countries including Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Taiwan & Israel -- which together comprise two-thirds of global GDP.
"Services" now account for nearly 80 per cent of the US and EU economies and even in developing countries like Pakistan account for 53 per cent of the economy.
While the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has become well known in recent months in the United States, the TISA is the larger component of the strategic TPP-TISA-TTIP 'T-treaty trinity'.
All parts of the trinity notably exclude the 'BRICS' countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The release coincides with TISA meetings at the ministerial level at the OECD in Paris today (3–5 June). The 'T-treaty trinity' of TPP-TISA-TTIP is also under consideration for collective 'Fast-Track' authority in Congress this month.
The TISA release today follows the WikiLeaks publication of the secret draft financial services annex of the TISA negotiations on 19 June 2014 showing the aim to further deregulate the financial sector, despite widespread consensus that lack of oversight and regulation was the main cause of the last global financial crisis of 2008.
Today's release confirms the ongoing determination to deregulate.
Furthermore, standstill clauses will tie the hands of future governments to implement changes in response to changing environment.
Today's release is the largest on secret TISA documents and covers numerous previously undisclosed areas. It contains drafts and annexes on issues such as air traffic, maritime, professional services, e-commerce, delivery services, transparency, domestic regulation, as well as several document on the positions of negotiating parties.
WikiLeaks has also published detailed expert analysis of the topics covered in today's release.
4 June 2015