Greens have plenty of time to correct establishment media but remain silent on Australia's involvement in Nauru's Facebook ban?
Scumbags -----> Sydney Morning Herald misinformed and incorrect on Senate voting reform [Greens Media Release – 7/5/15]
An Australian human rights advocate says the Nauruan government's Facebook ban is extremely concerning particularly for asylum seekers who are now further isolated from the world as they continue to be held in Australian run detention centres.
DW [Daniel Webb - Human Rights Law Centre]: Well I think asylum seekers who are sent to Nauru by Australia, they're incredibly isolated and that's by design from the Australian government. There's a lot of places in the world Australia could send asylum seekers to. It's sending them to the world's smallest Republic, a very remote, isolated island in the middle of the Pacific. So I think these people are very isolated. Social media and Facebook in particular is their lifeline. To family back home, to friends, and support networks elsewhere in the world. And it's very harmful for them and further isolating for them, to have those networks severed. Now I don't know who masterminded this plan to sort of blackout social media, I don't know whether it was the Nauruan government or the Australian government, but what I do know is that its the latest step in a regressive trend and that it will significantly, adversely affect both Nauruan people and asylum seekers that Australia is sending there. ... [RNZI - 6/5/15]
A United Nations inspection group has called for the creation of an independent monitor to oversee the Nauru detention centre after a three-day visit to the island nation.
The UN subcommittee on the prevention of torture visited Nauru from 4 to 6 May. Its representatives were granted broad access to the detention centre that houses asylum seekers, were allowed to take photographs and could interview asylum seekers away from the presence of guards.
In March the UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, found that Australia had violated the International Convention Against Torture by failing to provide adequate conditions, failing to prevent violence and keeping children in detention. ...
In a mind boggling display of projection, the Australian Mission to the UN lectures the world about human rights, domestic violence and freedom at the 22nd Session of the Universal Periodic Review [Geneva, 4 to 15 May 2015]
Australia recommends that the Maldives upholds freedoms essential for a stable democracy
Australia recommends that Panama continue to work to reduce the levels of poverty in indigenous communities
Australia recommends draft domestic violence legislation in Mongolia criminalise domestic violence and better protect victims
Australia recommends that Malawi establish a formal moratorium on the death penalty
Australia recommends Liberia repeal all laws and policies that discriminate against human rights defenders
"tweets" from @AustraliaUN_GVA - Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General - Geneva, Switzerland [4-6 May 2015]
Universal Periodic Review of Belarus [Australian Statement]:
Australia welcomes the Belarusian delegation and appreciates its engagement in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Australia remains deeply concerned by continuing violations of human rights in Belarus.
In 2010, Belarus accepted the recommendation to guarantee freedom of association and expression: this freedom continues to be unjustly restricted.
There are credible reports that security services harass and detain human rights defenders, opposition politicians and journalists.
An over-regulated registration system impedes NGOs and the media.
Australia recommends Belarus implement its commitment to guarantee freedom of association and expression.
Australia is concerned that, despite a 2014 workshop, Belarus is yet to establish a National Human Rights Institute.
Australia recommends Belarus establish an effective and independent National Human Rights Institute in 2015.
Australia has made numerous representations to Belarus on the release of political prisoners and on the death penalty.
It is deeply disappointing to have seen little movement over a number of years on these fundamental issues.
Further, political activists have been subject to “preventative detention” and other controls.
Australia recommends Belarus end the detention of political activists, and release all political prisoners without delay.
Australia recommends Belarus establish a formal moratorium on the death penalty with a view to ratifying the ICCPR Second Optional Protocol.
Rosie Batty leads hundreds at a candlelight vigil for domestic violence victims
Woman's Day [7/5/15]:
Rosie Batty was among hundreds who gathered in Melbourne’s Federation Square for a candlelight vigil to honour the victims killed through domestic violence.
The Australian of the Year addressed the crowd, saying it was not acceptable that two women a week were murdered as a result of domestic violence.
Last year on February 12th, Rosie’s ex-husband Greg Anderson committed his final unforgivable act and murdered their son, 11-year-old Luke at cricket training in Melbourne.
The mother-of-one, who was a victim domestic violence for years, spoke passionately to the crowd gathered in Melbourne.
"This is for Luke, he was one of those names," Rosie began.
"I can speak and I have spoken many times over the last 12 months, but I am very very moved tonight, because we're here, because I'm one of those names, my son died because his father killed him as his final act of power and control.
"We should be outraged with these statistics, we should be furious. For God's sake, it's time we got together and said enough is enough."
A minute's silence was held for all the victims of abuse.
Melbourne was joined by Canberra and Brisbane, where friends and loved ones of those killed in attacks gathered together and shared their stories.
Awareness Raising [New Matilda - 7/5/15]
Sex Party deregistered due to lack of members [Brisbane Times – 7/5/15]
Illegal prostitution arrests, Toowoomba [QPS Media – 7/5/15]
Laura Johnson Home; Water Industry, Dividends
Queensland Parliament Hansard [6/5/15]:
Mr KATTER (Mount Isa—KAP) (10.00 pm): I rise tonight to speak about water charges in Mount Isa and about the dividend that is no longer being returned to the people of Mount Isa. First I will talk about the Laura Johnson Home, which has just received an $18 million extension. It was interesting to hear the story of how that home was first built by the people of Mount Isa. In the 1970s, an initiative of the AWU at the time saw a portion of people’s wages being given to build an old people’s home in Mount Isa. It was fully paid for by the people of Mount Isa. That is the way things have worked out there: a lot of people have just dug into their own pockets to build their own infrastructure.
Lake Moondarra was 100 per cent built and paid for by Mount Isa Mines along with the townspeople. Approximately 50 per cent of our other water storage, Lake Julius, was also paid for by Mount Isa Mines. The Mount Isa Water Board was the custodian of that resource and operated from the back of a small arcade from 1973 to 1989. Everything was commercialised in 2000, and from 2000 to 2011-12 all dividends and taxes made from the Mount Isa Water Board were passed by the state government back to the Mount Isa City Council. In the last four years, to 2014, that ranged from a million dollars a year—it was always above a million dollars a year—up to $2,670,000 a year. That sum is very significant to the town of Mount Isa and the Mount Isa City Council. It is a vital amount of money that comes back to help them.
We have borne enormous costs associated with an outbreak of blue-green algae which, had it occurred in any large metropolitan area, would have been called a disaster and attracted funding immediately. The cell count in the water went from some 100,000 to five million. It led to an impost of $250,000 a month on the people of Mount Isa. Now we have an $9.2 million water filtration system—again, all paid for by the people of Mount Isa with no help from anyone.
Now the government has taken the dividend off us, as of last year. This coming year 100 per cent of the dividend will be taken off us. It is unfair for the people of Mount Isa. We are paying for our own things most of the time. The dam was built for and by Mount Isa Mines, and now the people of Mount Isa are putting a million dollars a year back into state coffers. This represents a tax on us and it is unfair. The situation needs to be changed. This measure was instituted by the last government but it needs to be changed now. I will not stop talking about this issue. My campaign will not end until something is changed. I believe that a similar problem exists for the member for Gladstone.
These things are not there to make a profit from. Since the venture has been commercialised it has made a profit of between $4 million and $5 million a year. A portion of that is a dividend that must be returned, post haste, to the people of Mount Isa.
The State Government has failed thousands of Aboriginal people by not delivering safe water to dozens of remote communities, WA's peak Aboriginal health body says.
An Auditor-General's report into power, water and wastewater services to 84 remote WA communities found drinking water at 68 failed to meet Australian standards.
At least one community failed a drinking water quality test every month in the two years to June 2014 because it had E. Coli bacteria or Naegleria microbes, which can both cause fatal illnesses.
Two communities had levels of nitrates deemed dangerous for adults and four exceeded safe levels of uranium in their water. ... [West Australian - 7/5/15]
A Blueprint for Greece’s Recovery [Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis – 6/5/15]
Pedestrian hit by 4WD, WA
West Australian [7/5/15]:
A 41-year-old Cooloongup man is in a critical condition after he was hit by four-wheel drive in Dardanup last night.
The man was walking along the Boyanup-Picton Road, near Venn Road, about 9.15pm when he was struck by a Nissan Patrol driven by a 26-year-old man.
Paramedics rushed the man to Bunbury Hospital before the Royal Flying Doctor Service flew him to Perth.
He arrived at Royal Perth Hospital about 4.15am where he remains in a critical condition.
Major Crash officers will be sent to the scene this morning to investigate.
Dardanup is about 13km south-east of Bunbury and 187 km south of Perth.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Two women killed in NT road accidents
West Australian [7/5/15]:
A woman and a teenage girl have been killed in separate road crashes in the Northern Territory on Wednesday.
The 14-year-old died after a car rolled near the central Australian community of Lajamanu about 2pm.
Police believe she was thrown from the car. She was taken to the Lajamanu Clinic but died soon afterwards.
On Wednesday night a 40-year-old woman was killed when hit by a passing car after she ran onto the Stuart Highway in Darwin about 7.30pm.
A 65-year-old male driver was arrested and charged with medium range drink-driving and driving a motor vehicle causing death.
Police are investigating whether the victim was involved in an altercation when she ran out onto the road.
They are preparing two files for the coroner.
The NT road toll now stands at 12, compared with 13 at the same time last year.
‘Health Hazards in our Suburbs’
Clean Air Queensland Media Release [7/5/15]:
Clean Air Queensland (CAQ) today released the results of an air quality monitoring study that show alarming rates of pollution in Brisbane associated with dust from coal trains travelling to the Port of Brisbane.
The study - ‘Health Hazard in our Suburbs’ – shows coal train pollution readings of 900 per cent above normal levels.
CAQ’s spokesperson, Michael Kane said the study showed coal trains were emitting “alarming amounts of pollution” as they passed close to homes, schools and workplaces.
“The report shows that coal trains are regularly emitting dangerous levels of air pollution in Brisbane suburbs and the government must now act to protect the community,” Mr Kane said.
Using industry-standard air quality monitoring equipment, CAQ members monitored particle pollution levels along the Brisbane train line at Wynnum, Fairfield and Morningside. Exposure to particulate pollution is known to cause asthma, lung cancer and respiratory illnesses. The World Health Organisation has classified it ‘a carcinogen’.
The study included loaded and unloaded coal, freight and passenger trains to ascertain how much pollution was emitted by the trains and to test coal industry claims that the coal trains were not emitting significant pollution.
Mr Kane said the study found coal train pollution readings of 900 per cent above background levels, while non-coal freight trains emitted less than 150 per cent above ambient levels. Pollution from passenger trains was very low.
Currently, nine million tonnes of uncovered coal is transported by trains through Toowoomba, Ipswich and 21 suburbs of Brisbane. That amount could more than double if proposed coal mines or expansions proceed at Acland, Ebenezer, Cameby Downs and elsewhere.
“The State Government must take this report and community health concerns seriously,” he said. “We need a commitment to cover the coal trains and stockpiles and to ensure no further projects or coal mine expansions are approved in south-east Queensland until full health impact assessments have been completed.”
This report shows that coal industry measures to control coal dust are failing.
Heimdal, North Dakota, Evacuated After Fiery Oil Train Crash
A tiny North Dakota town was evacuated Wednesday after a train carrying crude oil derailed and several cars burst into flames, local authorities said.
It is the latest in a string of explosive oil train derailments that have raised concerns about the large volume of crude moving across America's tracks.
No injuries have been reported from the derailment of a BNSF train near Heimdal, North Dakota.
The town, which in 2010 had a population of 27, has been evacuated, as have farms near the crash site.
"I was in the house at 7:15 a.m. when we thought we heard thunder," witness Jennifer Willis told NBC News.
She went out to the scene, about an eighth of a mile away, and found the area covered in black smoke.
"It was kinda awesome. It's kinda scary to hear it. It was like fireworks going off. You could hear little explosions going off. I sat there for 15 minutes and you could hear it going off," she said.
Fire crews from three nearby towns were called in, and BNSF said it was aware of the incident and cooperating with first responders.
The train had 107 cars loaded with crude oil and two buffer cars loaded with sand, officials said. Six derailed, and the others were pulled away from the scene to a safe distance.
The National Transportation Safety Board was sending a five-person team to the site, and the Federal Railroad Administration dispatched 10 investigators.
"Today's incident is yet another reminder of why we issued a significant, comprehensive rule aimed at improving the safe transport of high hazard flammable liquids," the FRA said in a statement.
"The FRA will continue to look at all options available to us to improve safety and mitigate risks."
Last week, federal regulators passed new safety rules governing crude by rail, which has become a booming business thanks to the growth in U.S. oil production.
Nearly 450,000 tankers of crude moved through North America last year, up from just 9,500 in 2009.
Kristen Boyles, an attorney for the group Earthjustice, said the rules are too weak and will take too long to take effect.
"We need to get these exploding death trains off the tracks now," Boyles said.
The Heimdal accident comes nearly two years after a tragic oil derailment killed 47 people and destroyed the center of a small Quebec town.
"There are trains pretty much all day going through," Willis said of Heimdal. "A lot of them carry grain and, of course, oil."
California approves new uniform rules for seawater desalination
California water regulators on Wednesday adopted a new uniform permitting process for seawater desalination projects expected to expand in number as the drought-stricken state increasingly turns to the ocean to supplement its drinking supplies.
Action on the desalination rule, which puts key decisions for such plants in the hands of statewide regulators rather than regional boards, came a day after the same state body enacted sweeping cutbacks in water use by California's cities and towns.
The latest measure amends California's Ocean Plan to make clear that regulators must evaluate the best available sites, designs, technologies and mitigation measures for minimizing harm to the environment from desalination plants.
It also sets a standard limit for the discharge of desalination's waste byproducts back into the ocean, and imposes monitoring and reporting requirements for the discharges.
The rule, approved by the State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento by voice vote, applies to all newly built or expanded treatment facilities designed to make seawater drinkable.
Desalination has emerged as a promising technology in the face of a record dry spell now gripping California for a fourth straight year, depleting its reservoirs and aquifers and raising the costs of importing water from elsewhere.
San Diego County, Santa Barbara and other local jurisdictions are now pushing ahead with seawater desalination plants.
But critics have cited ecological drawbacks, such as harm to marine life from intake pipes that suck water into the treatment systems and the concentrated brine that gets pumped out.
The Western Hemisphere's biggest desalination plant, a $1 billion project under construction since 2012 in the coastal city of Carlsbad, California, is due to open in November.
It will deliver up to 50 million gallons (190 million liters) of water a day to San Diego County, enough to supply roughly 112,000 households, or about 10 percent of San Diego County's drinking water needs, according to the company behind the project.
Approval is being sought for a final permit to begin construction of a second plant of similar size in Huntington Beach, south of Los Angeles, next year.
On Tuesday, the state water board enacted California's first rules for mandatory statewide cutbacks in water use. The emergency regulations, which require some communities to trim water use by as much as 36 percent, were approved unanimously just weeks after Democratic Governor Jerry Brown stood in a dry mountain meadow and ordered statewide rationing.
New Zealand: Mannequin passenger ploy fails
A young man is $150 poorer after police foiled his attempt to pass off a mannequin as a passenger so he could take advantage of a T2 lane.
Senior Sergeant Brett Henshaw said Waitemata police were monitoring cars using the T2 lanes - for vehicles carrying at least two people - at the Constellation Drive onramp in Mairangi Bay when an officer spotted an unusual-looking passenger in the front seat of a car in the lane.
They pulled over the 24-year-old driver and found his companion was a sunglass-wearing mannequin with a bandaged head.
"The driver was rather sheepish, apologised and said it was the first time he'd done it," Mr Henshaw said.
Police were not amused and fined the man $150.
"Police receive numerous complaints from motorists about unauthorised use of the lanes and regularly conduct patrols of the lanes," he said.
"No one enjoys sitting in traffic and we've all experienced the frustration of waiting your turn, only to see someone who is the sole occupant of their car sailing past in the T2 lane."
"Drivers who use lanes like this without having a bona-fide reason should be aware that we're regularly conducting patrols of them."
The lanes were there to reduce congestion on motorways, and only those who were entitled to use them should, Mr Henshaw said.
"Global diplomats, UN resolutions, peace talks and ceasefire agreements have lost the battle against ruthless armed men who are driven by political or religious interests rather than human imperatives," Jan Egeland, secretary general at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said in a statement.
“This report should be a tremendous wake-up call. We must break this trend where millions of men, women and children are becoming trapped in conflict zones around the world.”
Record 38mn people internally displaced worldwide in 2014 - report [RT - 6/5/15]:
Conflicts and violence made 30,000 people flee their homes each day in 2014, pushing the overall number of the internally displaced to a high of 38 million, a newly-released report says.
The number of the displaced thus equals “the total populations of London, New York and Beijing combined,” specifies report by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.
The overview covering 60 countries, says 11 million people were forced to move within their own countries in 2014 alone. As a result of ongoing conflicts, the number of internally displaced people worldwide now stands at 38 million, the highest in a generation.
There are now more than twice the number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) than there are refugees, according to the report.
"Global diplomats, UN resolutions, peace talks and ceasefire agreements have lost the battle against ruthless armed men who are driven by political or religious interests rather than human imperatives," Jan Egeland, secretary general at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said in a statement.
“This report should be a tremendous wake-up call. We must break this trend where millions of men, women and children are becoming trapped in conflict zones around the world.”
The worst countries for internal displacement were Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nigeria, which accounted for 60 percent of all new displacements worldwide.
Iraq saw the highest number of IDPs, with 2.2 million people fleeing areas that fell under ISIS control.
In Syria the civil war that has been raging for three years has seen 7.1 million people displaced; 35 percent of the country’s population and 1.1 million of them were forced out of their homes in 2014.
In South Sudan, the newest country in the world, 1.1 million people were forced to flee and in the DRC a low intensity but brutal conflict forced at least a million people from their homes.
Meanwhile, in Europe the conflict in Ukraine has resulted in almost 650,000 people leaving their homes, the highest figure in Europe for more than a decade.
Other areas of high internal displacement were Somalia, Colombia and Pakistan.
“The longer a conflict lasts, the more insecure [IDPs] feel and when hopelessness sets in, many will cross borders and become refugees,” said Volker Türk, assistant high commissioner for protection at the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“As we have seen in the recent past, for example in the Mediterranean, despair drives people to take their chances and even risk dangerous boat journeys,” he added.
The authors of the report warned that they encountered serious limitations when they were collecting data and in the majority of cases comprehensive data does not exist.
They also found that there are an ever increasing number of protracted internally displaced people; this is IDPs who have been living away from their homes for more than 10 years.
The reasons for this were many but include people being unable to meet their survival needs or access assistance where they were so they were forced to move again. In other cases governments’ failure to understand the problem and natural disasters also played a role.
Meanwhile, the UN said last year that the number of people living as
refugees, including IDPs, had now exceeded 50 million, the highest since World
Discovery of bodies in smuggler’s camp in Thailand prompts UN call for joint action against people trafficking [Media Release - 6/5/15]:
The United Nations refugee agency today expressed its deep concern over the discovery of dozens of bodies in smugglers’ camps in Thailand, appealing for a regional effort to end human trafficking and protect those who escape difficult conditions from “the hands of ruthless smugglers.”
“It’s distressing to hear that people who escaped difficult conditions back home have had to put their lives in the hands of ruthless smugglers, only to be killed before they could reach safety,” said James Lynch, Regional Representative and Regional Coordinator for South-East Asia for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The agency says it has been helping the Thai authorities to care for people of concern who are caught in these situations.
According to UNHCR, its staff assists people rescued in law enforcement raids from the smugglers’ camps by providing immediate relief such as clothes, blankets and hygiene kits, and also conduct interviews, help reunite families who were split during the journey, provide counseling support and identify possibilities of resettlement to third countries for the most vulnerable people.
Thai authorities announced this week that they found the remains of some 30 people believed to originate in Myanmar and Bangladesh, according to a UNHCR press release issued in Bangkok, Thailand.
“Investigations are still ongoing, with initial police accounts citing illness and abuse as likely causes of death,” according to UNHCR.
In Myanmar’s Rakhine state – where many of the smuggling victims originate – UNHCR has long advocated for and stands ready to support concerted efforts to stabilize the situation through the realization of rights for all, reconciliation, socio-economic equality and addressing issues related to citizenship.
But the refugee agency said: “This is the first time that graves of a large number of people believed to be of concern to UNHCR have been identified.”
UNHCR says it has learned from hundreds of Rohingya survivors about horrific abuse and deprivation by smugglers on boats in the Bay of Bengal and in camps along the Thai-Malaysian border, including some who reported they saw people dying from beatings and lack of food.
“These findings have been shared with governments to advocate for urgent action,” the agency said.
In Malaysia, UNHCR also conducts protection monitoring in Rohingya communities and intervenes for the release of new maritime arrivals known to be in detention.
Mr. Lynch said human smuggling is a regional problem that requires a joint effort.
“Smuggling is a regional problem that requires coordinated efforts by countries in the region, including countries of origin, transit and destination,” he said.
“Law enforcement measures must be accompanied by efforts to reduce the need for migrants and refugees to turn to smugglers in the first place, including by addressing the root causes driving people to undertake these dangerous journeys.”
Massive deployment for Widodo's Papua visit
At least 6,000 soldiers and police officers will be deployed to maintain security during the visit of Indonesia's President Joko Widodo to the country's eastern region of Papua starting Friday.
The Jakarta Post reports that out of the total personnel, just over half would be soldiers.
The deployment of the security officers would be backed up by the Indonesian Military headquarters with helicopters, Hercules airplanes and two warships.
Speaking from Jayapura, the head of the Cendrawasih regional command Major General Fransen Siahaan said he hoped no group intended to hinder the President's second visit to Papua.
President Jokowi, as he is known, made a previous visit as president in December last year.
General Fransen warned that security officers would not hesitate to take any stern measures against anyone who wants to block the visit.
This month the foreign ministers of Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) member countries will meet to discuss and make recommendations to the leaders of the MSG on West Papua's application to become a full member.
This important decision-making process, if successful for West Papua, will allow them to become a member of a formal Melanesian community.
Even more, it will provide an important forum for them to raise the issue of the continuing human rights violations and possible genocide they are experiencing, with their Melanesian brothers and sisters, in the hope they will advocate for them on the regional and global level. ... [Fiji Times - 6/5/15]
Canada passes law expanding spy agency powers, reach
Channel News Asia [7/5/15]:
Lawmakers passed a new anti-terror law on Wednesday (May 6) dramatically expanding the powers and reach of Canada's spy agency, allowing it to operate overseas for the first time.
The act was written in response to attacks on Canadian soil last October, when a gunman killed a ceremonial guard and stormed parliament, and a soldier was run over in rural Quebec.
A large number of critics have decried bill C-51 as an unprecedented attack on civil rights, saying it lacks oversight and is overly broad.
It criminalizes the promotion of terrorism, makes it easier for police to arrest and detain individuals without charge and expands the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's (CSIS) mandate from intelligence-collection to actively thwarting terror plots and spying outside Canada.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Tory majority in the House of Commons assured its passage, in a 183 to 96 vote, after several failed opposition attempts to water it down.
However, widespread anger over the changes may linger to harm the Conservatives' re-election hopes in the fall.
Egypt TV host Ahmed Moussa sentenced to 3 months for insulting top auditor
A Cairo misdemeanor court sentenced TV host Ahmed Moussa to three months in jail and a fine of LE 500 for insulting Hisham Geneina, the head of Egypt's Central Auditing Organisation (CAO).
Geneina filed two lawsuits against Mossua, accusing the famous TV host of insulting him in his daily night talk show on Sada El-Balad channel.
Geneina presented to the court two episodes of the daily show from last November where Ahmed Moussa claimed Hisham Geneina was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood – officially designated as a terrorist organisation in Egypt.
This is not the first time Moussa has been sentenced to jail for attacking public figures in the past six months.
In December 2014 Ahmed Moussa was sentenced to six months in jail and a fine of LE10,000 for insulting Tarek El-Awady – a lawyer for Zamalek's Ultras White Knights fan club – and airing false news.
In March 2015 he was also sentenced to two years in jail and a fine of LE 20,000 for insulting former chief of the Democratic Front Party and writer Osama El-Ghazali Harb
In April 2015 the court upheld a sentence to fine Ahmed Moussa LE 15,000 for insulting political activist Esraa Abdel Fattah.
Moussa is known to be a staunch opponent of the January 25 revolution that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak after three decades of rule. He has repeatedly launched verbal attacks on activists associated with the 2011 uprising, but had never been summoned to court over such accusations.
He is a strong supporter of the government and the administration of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
2 children injured by Israeli ordnance explosion in Gaza [Maan - 6/5/15]:
Two Palestinian children were injured as an unexploded Israeli ordnance blew up in eastern Gaza City on Wednesday.
Medical sources said that two children were injured when ordnance left from the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip went off in the Shujaiyyeh neighborhood in eastern Gaza City.
In September, three people were killed and two injured by unexploded ordnance in the neighborhood.
Over 7,000 unexploded ordnance were left throughout the Gaza Strip following last summer's war between Israel and Palestinian militant groups, according to officials of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories (OCHA).
Although Gaza police explosives teams have been working across the territory to destroy the ordnance and prevent safety threats to locals, lack of proper equipment due to the seven-year Israeli siege as well as lack of resources more generally have hindered such efforts.
Even before the most frequent Israeli assault, unexploded ordnance from the 2008-9 and 2012 offensives was a major threat to Gazans.
A 2012 report published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that 111 civilians, 64 of whom were children, were casualties to unexploded ordnance between 2009 and 2012, reaching an average of four every month in 2012.
Israeli forces raze lands in Hebron area [Maan – 6/5/15]
Israeli army opens fire at Gaza fishing boats [Maan – 6/5/15]
UN deplores deadly attack on ‘blue helmets’ in DR Congo [Media Release – 6/5/15]
Suspected cattle rustlers kill 45 in northwest Kenya – administrator [Reuters – 5/5/15]:
Suspected cattle rustlers ambushed and killed at least 45 people in a village in northwest Kenya, then drove away hundreds of livestock, a regional administrator said.
Military officers and police were pursuing the gunmen who raided the village of Nadome on the border of Turkana and Pokot counties, on Monday, Rift Valley regional commissioner Osman Warfa said.
Cattle rustling and clashes over grazing and farming land are common in arid areas of east Africa and have been fuelled by an influx of weapons from Somalia in recent years.
At least 14 people also died in a fight between two pastoralist communities on Monday, on the borders of Kenya's northern Samburu and Marsabit counties, the regional manager for the Kenya Red Cross, Mugambi Gitonga, said.
"We have collected 14 bodies from the two scenes. Nine people with serious injuries have been airlifted to hospital in Nairobi," he added.
Samburu shares borders with Turkana county, which in turn borders South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia.
In 2013, more than 100 people were killed when two rival communities
fought each other for weeks over land and water resources in the Tana River
area. Police said the clashes were incited by a local politician.
President Barack Obama is expected to make a renewed U.S. push next week to help Gulf allies create a region-wide defense system to guard against Iranian missiles as he seeks to allay their anxieties over any nuclear deal with Tehran, according to U.S. sources.
The offer could be accompanied by enhanced security commitments, new arms sales and more joint military exercises, U.S. officials say, as Obama tries to reassure Gulf Arab countries that Washington is not abandoning them.
Several arms sales are likely, including resupplying bombs and missiles depleted in the Saudi-led air assault in Yemen and in strikes against Islamic State militants in the U.S.-led air campaign in Syria, the sources close to the matter said.
But Washington is widely expected to stand firm on its decision for now to withhold sales of Lockheed's new top-flight F-35 fighter jet, which has been promised to Israel to help maintain a long-standing U.S. commitment to its regional military superiority. [Ahram - 6/5/15]
Iran leader says US backing 'immense crimes' in Yemen [Ahram – 6/5/15]
Bipartisan Senate bill urges arms, support for Kurds [The Hill – 6/5/15]:
... The move came in response to a Sunday statement by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that "reasserted his stand regarding Iraq's rejection to the bill of the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services referring that any external support to Iraq should be through the central government to keep Iraq's sovereignty; as such bills undermine the efforts of fighting Da'esh and leads to polarization in the region." ...
Syria safe zone would require 'combat mission': US [Daily Star – 6/5/15]:
Creating a humanitarian safe zone in Syria would entail a "major combat mission" requiring U.S. troops to fight Islamist jihadis and the Damascus government, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told lawmakers on Wednesday.
Turkey has long called for a safe area to be set up along the Syrian-Turkish border to protect civilians but President Barack Obama's administration has yet to endorse the idea.
Carter emphasized the challenges involved in establishing a buffer zone, and warned that other regional governments might not be ready to contribute to the effort.
"We would need to fight to create such a space and then fight to keep such a space and that's why it's a difficult thing to contemplate," Carter told members of the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee.
Carter was asked about the option by Senator Dick Durbin, one of four senators to send a recent letter to Obama calling for setting up a safe area in Syria.
"Though this may not be a genocide by classic legal definition, it is the humanitarian crisis of our time ... with no end in sight," Durbin said.
Carter said such a safe zone would be "contested" by ISIS and other extremists on the one hand and the Syrian army on the other.
The "practicalities" would be "significant," he said.
The U.S. military's top-ranking officer, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said American commanders have drawn up contingency plans for a safe zone in consultation with their Turkish counterparts.
"We've been planning for such a contingency for some time," Dempsey told the same hearing.
He said American forces were capable of carving out a buffer zone in Syria but it was a major political decision and would mean troops stationed elsewhere would not be available for other missions.
"It's practical militarily but it would be a significant policy decision to do so," Dempsey said.
He also said that for "this to be practical and effective, it would have to involve regional partners."
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq
Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Iraq between 8 a.m., May 5, and 8 a.m., May 6, local time.
In Iraq, coalition military forces conducted 11 airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
“The coalition continues to demonstrate its ability to strike Daesh unimpeded,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, CJTF-OIR chief of staff. “The coalition takes every possible measure during the targeting process to mitigate possible risk to civilians, while maximizing the effects on Daesh.”
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
CJTF-OIR conducted no airstrikes in Syria between 8 a.m., May 5, and 8 a.m., May 6, local time.
Near Al Huwayjah, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and two ISIL staging areas, destroying an ISIL vehicle.
Near Bayji, four airstrikes struck one large and two small ISIL tactical units, destroying five ISIL fighting positions, eight ISIL structures, six ISIL fuel tanks, three ISIL VBIEDS and an ISIL vehicle.
Near Mosul, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL buildings and an ISIL fighting position.
Near Ramadi, two airstrikes struck one large and one small ISIL tactical units, destroying four ISIL structures and an ISIL mortar system.
Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying three ISIL fighting positions and three ISIL buildings.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
The Islamic State jihadist group launched an offensive Wednesday in Deir Ezzor city in eastern Syria in a bid to seize a major regime airport nearby, a monitor and activist said. ... [Naharnet - 6/5/15]
Iraq's largest oil refinery is under growing threat from Islamic State jihadists, who have advanced inside the perimeter of the facility, the U.S. military said Wednesday.
U.S. warplanes have been carrying out air strikes against the IS group around the Baiji refinery but it was unclear if Iraqi security forces would manage to hold on to the facility north of Baghdad, a Pentagon spokesman said.
Warren said the air strikes would continue against IS forces even
if their fighters were now inside the refinery complex. The United States and
its allies have carried out 3,713 air strikes in Iraq and Syria since August,
officials said. ... [Naharnet
The U.S. Navy has halted a mission to accompany American-flagged vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz, the Pentagon said Wednesday, in a sign of reduced tensions in the strategic waterway. ... [Naharnet - 6/5/15]
Protected and unaccountable Scott "Fluffy" Morrison brings the austerity. [The Saturday Paper - 28/2/15]:
... Initially, Morrison claimed Barati had been killed after escaping the detention centre, although this proved to be false. It took Morrison three days to correct the record.
The morning after Barati was beaten to death, Morrison was still defiant: “On this occasion the centre has not been destroyed, the centre will be able to resume operations as it has this morning. Breakfast has been served.” ...
Australia's protected and unaccountable Minister for Immigration says Nauru refugees to be exiled "shortly" [Reuters - 6/5/16]:
... Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in February that Abbott's government had agreed not to criticize Colombo's alleged human rights abuses in order to secure cooperation in stopping asylum-seeker boats headed to Australia under the previous Rajapaksa government.
Dutton declined to comment on Wickremesinghe's remark but stressed that he was "warmly" welcomed by the Sri Lankan premier on Wednesday.
... The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton, Commander of the Joint Agency Task Force Major General Andrew Bottrell CSC and Bar, DSM, and Deputy Chief Executive Officer Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Michael Outram met the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Minister of Public Order and Christian Affairs Hon. John Amaratunga, State Minister of Defence Hon. Ruwan Wijewardene, Minister of Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Affairs, Hon. DM Swaminathan and other key figures during the visit. ... [Media Release - 7/5/15]
... It is this frame of mind that the US Secretary of State John Kerry told an audience at the Lakshman Kadiragamam Institute in Colombo during his two-day visit to Sri Lanka that "It is sometimes necessary to go to war, despite the pain it brings. For all of my country’s disagreements with the previous government in Sri Lanka over how it fought the LTTE, we clearly understood the necessity of ridding this country of a murderous terrorist group and the fear that it sowed." ... [Asian Tribune - 6/5/15]
Tamil Guardian [6/5/15]:
Sri Lanka's government will take all measures deemed necessary to strengthen national security, said Sri Lanka’s president, whilst commending his security forces' “success” in wiping out “terrorism” from the island.
Speaking at the opening of the opening of an extension to the Kotelawala Defence University in the southern district of Hambanthota, Sirisena, on Wednesday, said,
“Everyone is expected to act with an understanding and responsibility in protecting national security.”
Sirisena added that foreign leaders whom had visited the country had expressed their willingness to provide modern research-based high tech military training programmes for Sri Lanka’s security personnel.
... I have seen photos, not published in the press, of the injuries Naseri sustained from the Taliban’s vicious beating. Only by a stroke of good luck, namely the outbreak of fighting in the immediate vicinity that distracted the Taliban’s attention, was he able to escape. ...
Professor William Maley [The Conversation - 15/10/14]
Julie “Death Stare Diplomacy” Bishop announces $19 Million disaster capitalism package for Pakistan [NDTV – 6/5/15]:
Visiting Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop today announced a $19 million aid package for Pakistan that includes help for border areas hit by conflict and natural disasters.
Bishop made the pledge during a two-day visit to Islamabad, where she is holding talks with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz on efforts to counter militancy, the future of Afghanistan and the reported rise of the Islamic State group in the region.
The aid package includes $8 million to help restore infrastructure damaged by floods and conflict in the restive northwest and southwest, and around $8 million to support a trade initiative in partnership with the World Bank.
It has not yet been announced where the remaining assistance will be spent.
Bishop added the two countries "have common interests in countering transnational crimes including drug- and human-smuggling".
Thousands of ethnic Hazara Shiites have in recent years fled the southwestern province of Baluchistan bound for Australia, which in 2013 introduced a military-led operation to turn back boats carrying asylum-seekers before they reach the continent.
Bishop said she would also encourage Australian tourism to Pakistan, which has been battling a homegrown Islamist insurgency for over a decade.
"People-to-people links are important and of course we want to see Pakistan as a safe and secure environment so that you can engage international visitors," she said.
Regarding the Islamic State organisation, which has seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, Bishop said: "We believe that there are around 100 foreign terrorists from Australia currently in Iraq and Syria supporting this barbaric and terrorist organisation."
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said an April suicide attack that killed 34 people was committed by the group, but NATO officials later expressed doubts over the claims.
Pakistan puts hand up for Aussie uranium [ABC - 17/11/11]
Military’s top brass accused the Indian intelligence agency RAW on Tuesday 5 May 2015 of supporting terrorism in Pakistan.
An ISPR statement on a meeting of the Corps Commanders held at the General Headquarters said: “The Conference also took serious notice of RAW’s involvement in whipping up terrorism in Pakistan.”
RAW has quite often been blamed by law-enforcement agencies for being involved in subversive activities in Pakistan, but it’s unusual for a corps commanders’ conference to directly point fingers at the hostile intelligence outfit.
It’s the second time in three weeks that the military leadership has raised the issue of activities of foreign governments and intelligence agencies in Pakistan. Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif had during a visit to Quetta on April 15 warned “foreign governments and intelligence agencies” against their involvement in the insurgency in Balochistan, but on that occasion he did not explicitly name RAW. ... [Pak Tribune - 6/5/15]
Afghanistan: Child killed, another wounded by landmine in Maidan Wardak
One child has been killed and another wounded in a bomb explosion in Maidan Wardak province.
Officials say two children found an anti-vehicle landmine and were playing with it which exploded leaving one child killed on the spot and another wounded in Takana area of Jalriz District last night.
The one killed is identified as Dar Mohammad, 11, and the one wounded is seven years old Mujtaba.
Also, security forces have thwarted a terrorist attack in another part of Maidan Wardak province.
During a raid security forces found a bomb placed inside a mosque in Laram area of Sayed Abad District last night.
A remote control was also found at the site. Four suspects including Qari Mohammad Ismail who is Mullah of the mosque were arrested into this connection.
The other suspects arrested are Mohammad Hasan, Hamdullah S/O Akbar and another Hamdullah S/O Akhtar.
All of the arrested suspects are under investigation with security forces.
Four people sentenced to death in “Farkhunda Case” [Khaama – 6/5/15]
The Central African Republic will take legal action against the French soldiers accused of raping children in exchange for food at a refugee camp, the country's justice minister said Wednesday. ... [Naharnet - 6/5/16]
Italy rescues 600 refugees from Mediterranean [Al Jazeera – 6/5/15]
Italy reception centres under strain as thousands rescued at sea [UNHCR Media Release – 6/5/15]
Refugees and people smuggling: What the media refuse to challenge, Marilyn Shepherd [Independent Australia - 26/10/14]:
... Since I wrote this article, which proves comprehensively that seeking asylum is not people smuggling as our media and politicians claim, it is simply exercising a legal right, not one journalist has challenged Scott Morrison, Chris Bowen, Tony Burke – or anyone else – about the twin lies we tell to justify our shocking abuses towards refugees.
Not a single journalist has even mentioned the smuggling protocol, which excludes refugees and forbids all forms of punishment merely for being "smuggled". ...
How two lies became accepted folklore [Online Opinion - 21/10/11]:
... Australia has never jailed a single person for people smuggling. We jail Indonesian crewmembers not for people smuggling, we jail them because we must assess the refugee claims of those who arrive here.
A recent Senate investigation showed that Article 232 of the Migration Act, used to detain innocent people was in breach of Article 32 of the Refugee Convention and the People Smuggling Protocol.
As has been observed in relation to other cases of this kind, the prisoners were not involved in a people smuggling exercise.
There was nothing covert about either operation. They were transporting the non-citizens to Australia for presentation to Australian authorities. There was no attempt to hide from the authorities or to disguise what they had done."
It is only now that the courts are realising that it is a lie to call it people smuggling and the real insult is in the language of the protocol itself:
Imagine if our leaders today simply told the plain truth that under Australian and International Refugee Law anyone is allowed to claim asylum in this country and there is no crime in coming by sea. Without "smugglers" no genuine refugee could ever escape their persecutors. Imagine if our leaders simply told that truth?
Would so many still blame the refugees if the truth was told openly by the 'leaders" we have today or are they all so tainted we would not believe them? Or is it simply that the two ignorant lies have taken hold and no amount of truth will ever dispel them? ...
7 May 2015