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Fanciful Terrors: Bomb Plots and Australian Airport Security

By Binoy Kampmark | Dissident Voice | July 31, 2017

In the classroom of international security, Australia remains an infant wanting attention before the older hands.  During the Paris Peace talks, Prime Minister William Morris (“Billy”) Hughes screamed and hollered Australia’s wishes to gain greater concessions after its losses during the Great War, urging, among other things, a more punitive settlement for Germany.

In the post-September 2001 age, recognition comes in different forms, notably in the field of terrorism.  Australian authorities want recognition from their international partners; Australian security services demand attention from their peers. The premise of this call is simple if masochistic: Australia is worth torching, bombing and assailing, its values, however obscure, vulnerable before a massive, inchoate threat shrouded in obscurantism.

Over the weekend, the security services again displayed why adding fuel to the fire of recognition remains a burning lust for the Australian security complex. The inner-city suburb of Surry Hills in Sydney, and the south-western suburbs of Lakemba, Wiley and Punchbowl, witnessed raids and seizures of material that could be used to make an improvised explosive device.

What was notable here was the domesticity behind the alleged plot. Focus was specific to Surry Hills in what was supposedly an attempt to create an IED involving a domestic grinder and box containing a multi-mincer.  At stages, those with a culinary inclination might have been confused: were Australia’s best and brightest in the front line of security getting excited about the ill-use kitchen appliances might be put to?

The arrest provided yet another occasion Australian audiences are becoming familiar with: individuals arrested and detained, usually with no prior convictions let alone brush with the law, while the celebratory stuffing is sought to file charges under anti-terrorism laws.

But this was not a time for ironic reflection.  Australians needed to be frightened and reassured, a necessary dialectic that governments in trouble tend to encourage. First, comes the fear of death, launched by a sinister fundamentalist force; then comes the paternal reassurance of the patria: those in blue, green and grey will protect you.

Without even questioning the likelihood of success in any of these ventures (would this supposed device have ever gotten onto a plane?), such networks as Channel Nine news would insist that this could be the “13th significant conspiracy to be foiled by Australian authorities since the country’s terror threat level was raised to ‘probable’ in 2014.”

The Herald Sun was already dubbing this a Jihadi “meat mincer bomb plot”, happy to ignore the obvious point that details were horrendously sketchy. The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, deemed the conspiracy “elaborate”. (The foe must always be elevated to make the effort both worthwhile and free of folly.) The AFP Commissioner, Andrew Colvin, was convinced that this was “Islamic-inspired terrorism.  Exactly what is behind this is something we will need to investigate fully.”

Depending on what you scoured, reports suggested that this was a “non-traditional” device which was set to be used for an “Islamist inspired” cause.  The usual cadre of experts were consulted to simply affirm trends they could neither prove nor verify, with the “lone wolf” theme galloping out in front.

John Coyne of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Border Security Program, for instance, plotted a kindergarten evolution for his audience: planes were used in September 2001; then came regionally focused incidents such as the Bali bombings, and now, in classic fatuity, “a new chapter arising or a return chapter almost”. “This is much more panned and deliberate, if the allegations are correct.”

Rita Panahi, whose writings prefer opinion to the inconvenience incurred by looking at evidence, cheered the weekend efforts and issued a reminder: “Remember the weekend’s terror raids next time you have to surrender a tube of sunscreen as you pass through airport security a second time, this time barefooted and beltless, and fearful you might miss your flight.”

For Panahi, this was a case that was done and dusted. These were “wannabe jihadis” (dead cert); they had plotted to inflict “mayhem and destruction on Australian soil” (naturally) and Australians needed to understand that an ungainly super structure of intrusive security measures were indispensable to security. Thank the counter-terrorism forces, luck and distance.

Such occasions also provide chicken feed for pecking journalists, many of whom have ceased the task of even procuring their beaks for the next expose.  Indeed, some were crowing, including one on ABC 24, that the “disruption” of an “imminent” attack had taken place at speed; that this “cell” had little chance of ever bringing their device to an aircraft.  Evidence and scrutiny are ill-considered, and the political classes are permitted to behave accordingly.

The Border Protection Minister, Peter Dutton, never happy to part with anything valuable on the subject of security, refused to confirm whether there had been an international dimension, a tip-off from intelligence agencies, or assistance.

“There will be lots of speculation around what the intent was,” claimed Dutton, “but obviously all of us have been working hard over recent days and we rely upon the expertise of the Federal Police and ASIO and other agencies.” He observed that there was “a lot of speculation around” which he did not wish to add to.

He need not have bothered, given that the opinion makers have formed a coalition of denial and embellishment so vast and enthusiastic so as to make Australia matter in the supposed global jihadi effort. It would come as a crushing disappointment to the infant in that room of international relations to realise otherwise.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached at: bkampmark@gmail.com.

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

Roll of Shame

By Craig Murray | June 24, 2017

These are the 15 countries which shamefully voted against a UN General Assembly Resolution on Thursday which proposed to seek an opinion from the International Court of Justice on Britain’s continued colonial possession of the Chagos Islands. In the most absolute example of ethnic cleansing in modern history, less than 50 years ago the UK deported by force the entire population of the Chagos Islands to make way for the US military base on Diego Garcia, and to this day refuses to allow them to return.

The Dirty 15

USA
UK
Israel
Australia
New Zealand

The above are of course arguably the five countries in the world most profoundly implicated in the usurpation and destruction of native populations

Afghanistan
Albania
Bulgaria
Croatia
Hungary
Japan
Lithuania
Maldives
Montenegro
South Korea

This second small group is dominated by countries with a particularly close security relationship with the United States on which they place particular reliance in relation to a perceived threat.

It must however be heartening that the US and UK could round up so very few supporters for their utterly immoral stance. It is particularly worth noting that none of the major players within the EU backed the UK.

The US and UK are also remarkably silent on the blockade of Qatar by their ally Saudi Arabia. The release of Saudi demands including the closing down of Al Jazeera TV and other media outlets including the excellent Middleeasteye.net show the Saudis’ true motives. Frankly I am shocked by the failure of the mainstream media in the West seriously to question the ludicrous Saudi claim that this attack on Qatar is over support for terrorism.

Mohammed Bin Salman was appointed by his father the King as Crown Prince in Saudi Arabia on 21 June. Bin Salman has been directing the major affairs of the state for the last three years. The ferocity of the prosecution of the war in Yemen is very much his baby. Bin Salman’s master plan, which he has driven through with much skill, is for a far more aggressive Saudi Arabia leading the conservative forces in the Middle East, above all in fierce opposition to Iran and Shia interests. To this end he has forged a conservative alliance incorporating Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and the United States.

US and UK involvement in the war in Yemen goes beyond the enthusiastic supply of the bombs and aircraft which have killed thousands of children. Both have had special forces on the ground, and the CIA has yet again been deeply implicated in the detention, extreme torture and murder of opponents.

The Bin Salman plan is dressed up as “pro-Western” and media hacks paint him as a “reformer” because he wishes to expand a network of McDonalds in the Kingdom. But as Iran slowly does reform, and sticks meticulously to the terms of the internationally guaranteed nuclear agreement, Saudi paranoia towards its regional “rival” becomes ever more dangerous. The Iranians deserve respect for the moderation with which they reacted to the Saudi sponsored terror attack on their parliament itself. But such provocations will increase.

Saudi support for ISIL, Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and the numerous other jihadist groups will only increase as Saudi Arabia seeks to deploy them in its sectarian war against the Shia and their allies. For that reason there is no prospect of terrorist violence in Syria declining. Indeed the United States shooting down of a Syrian jet in “self-defence” was almost certainly an indication that the Syrians were at the time targeting jihadist forces reinforced by US special forces. Israeli bombing and missile sorties against Syrian regime targets in support of jihadist rebels are finally being regularly reported in mainstream media.

I do not hold up Qatar or its ruling aristocracy as a paragon of virtue. But it seeks a more pacific relationship with Iran, and has more developed economic relationships including on shared offshore fields. Qatar has also consistently shown greater interest in the plight of the Palestinians, and more scepticism towards Israel, than Bin Salman is happy with. Qatar also has problems with the brutal military dictatorship of Egypt.

Most worryingly to Saudi Arabia, these slightly more liberal attitudes are closer to the views of the “arab street”, where there is disquiet at Saudi Arabia’s obvious but officially denied relationship with Israel. Qatar also has a media which can reflect these views to a wider Arab audience. Even though, following previous Saudi threats, al Jazeera’s content has been toned down, the Saudis see the station as an intolerable direct threat.

There is public fatigue in the West with regard to the affairs of the Middle East. This is a mistake as the situation is more dangerous than ever. The UK and USA both look likely to support the Saudis and Israel in their determination for conflict with Iran. The EU and Russia – and anybody not harbouring a death wish – will be working to keep the Iranian nuclear deal together. Bin Salman has chosen his time well, with slightly crazed right wing regimes in Washington, London and Tel Aviv willing to back his adventurism. The blockade of Qatar is but a symptom of something much more dangerous.

June 25, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Australia finds no funds diverted in World Vision probe, further debunking Israeli claims against al-Halabi

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – March 22, 2017

In yet another blow to the propaganda-driven case against Palestinian aid worker Mohammed al-Halabi, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reported on Tuesday, 21 March that “an internal review into World Vision funding in Gaza has uncovered nothing to suggest any diversion of government aid funding to Hamas.”

Al-Halabi was seized by Israeli occupation forces at the Beit Hanoun/Erez crossing and in August 2016, Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, went on a propaganda offensive, claiming that Halabi had redirected World Vision funds to the Palestinian resistance organization, Hamas. Israeli occupation officials declared that he had diverted $43 million in charitable funds to the Palestinian resistance, including a video from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accusing Palestinians of not caring about their people.  The amounts cited dwarfed the actual budget to which al-Halabi had access, by all accounts.  These seemingly impossible claims were made after nearly a month of interrogation, during which Halabi was subjected to torture and inhumane treatment.

The claims against Halabi were accompanied by similarly touted claims against civil engineer Waheed Bursh, a contractor with the UN Development Program, also accused of redirecting resources to the Palestinian resistance – in his case, rubble from the Israeli bombing of Gaza. However, despite the large-scale publicity surrounding Borsh’s arrest, he was released seven months later, indicating that no serious charges were ever made. He was cited as a “witness” againat al-Halabi, and later confirmed that he completely denied any allegations against the aid worker.

“The news DFAT found no evidence of the misuse of World Vison funds comes as Mr Halabi’s trial continues in Israel. He has rejected a plea deal offered by Israeli authorities and has pleaded not guilty, claiming he is innocent of all charges,” reported the Australian Brodcasting Corporation. The plea agreement he rejected would have seen him imprisoned for three years, a short sentence which again indicates a lack of serious charges or evidence in the case.

Indeed, rather than presenting any evidence to back up the widely-publicized public claims against World Vision and Halabi, Israeli occupation officials have instead submitted additional, lesser charges against Halabi that have no relation to diverting funds or his work with World Vision; two such charges are those of  “passing information to the enemy” and of “aiding and abetting the enemy in a time of war,” with the enemy in question being Palestinians in Gaza. Al-Halabi is, himself, of course, a Palestinian living under occupation and siege in Gaza.

He is also charged with giving small donations of his own money, rather than redirecting World Vision funds, to charities and mosques in Gaza.  ABC notes that “One incident detailed accuses El Halabi of allegedly giving ‘300 Israeli shekels on a monthly base to a charity managed by Hamas’…Another says the defendant transferred ‘hundreds of shekels during 2015-2016 to a mosque managed by Hamas’… No details are given of the ‘millions’ of dollars Israeli intelligence officials initially accused El Halabi of diverting.” 100 NIS is approximately $26 USD.

“So far, our own ongoing forensic audit has not uncovered any money subverted and to hear DFAT say their investigation hasn’t either is consistent and is very good news,” said Tim Costello of World Vision.

Despite the severe lack of evidence or credibility for Israeli claims in this case, World Vision’s work in Gaza – and government funding from the Australian and German governments – have been shut down. Over 100 Palestinian workers for World Vision have lost their jobs in Gaza in an area already suffering from massive unemployment and poverty.

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Netanyahu calls for international forces in Gaza

Palestine Information Center – February 26, 2017

NAZARETH – Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu has suggested deploying international forces in the Gaza Strip as a security solution to deal with the Gaza Strip.

According to Israel’s Channel 2, Netanyahu made his remarks during his meeting on Sunday morning in Sydney with Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop.

The two sides discussed several regional issues and Israel’s concerns over taking legal action against its officials at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Netanyahu told the Australian minister that he did not oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state with the presence of Israeli security control over the entire West Bank and limited Palestinian sovereignty.

He also expressed his rejection of any presence of peacekeeping forces in the West Bank because of Israel’s bad experience with such forces, and called for dispatching them to Gaza.

He urged the minister to make efforts to prevent the ICC from putting pressure on Israel and dissuade it from seeking to try Israeli officials accused of committing war crimes against Palestinians.

He said that Australia could influence other countries to act against the ICC and force it to reduce its investigations and fact-finding missions on claims related to war crimes.

The two officials also talked about Iran, its nuclear program and its intervention in regional problems and agreed on promoting relations and cooperation between the two sides in the areas of security, intelligence, economy and technology.

February 26, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 3 Comments

Ukraine, Crimea and the Push for War

By James ONeill – New Eastern Outlook – 19.02.2017

There are currently three major flash points in the world, where a false step could rapidly lead to escalation and a major war from which human civilization would be the main loser. Those flashpoints are the Middle East, the South China Sea and Ukraine/Crimea. In each of them Australia has made major missteps, invariably at the request of the Americans, and where Australia’s national interest is either non-existent or the opposite of the actions that have been taken.

The recent upsurge in fighting in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine, collectively referred to as Donbass, where Ukrainian forces have vastly increased the artillery barrage of civilian areas has sharpened the likelihood of a more serious war breaking out. In these circumstances the responsibility of the media to accurately report what is happening and why is high. Yet, as is so often the case, we are treated to a non-stop barrage of misinformation and outright propaganda.

The reincorporation of Crimea into the Russian Federation in March 2014 is invariably portrayed as the result of an “invasion” and “annexation” and that peace can only be restored with Crimea’s return to Ukraine.

This is not only a rewriting of history; it also ignores the crucial historical background of that region of the world and how that is relevant to the present day. A brief history is in order, if only because it is not something that the mainstream media will ever state, as wedded as they are to a narrative whose sole purpose is the demonization of Russia and of President Putin.

Ukraine itself has only had its modern borders since 1945. Prior to that time part had come under the sway of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and another part had been incorporated into Tsarist Russia in 1667. Following the peasant revolt of 1768/69 there was a partitioning between the Austrian empire and the Russian empire. It has therefore to a greater or lesser extent been a part of the Russian empire for more than 300 years. To give that some perspective, it is a longer period than either the United States or Australia has been a nation state.

Following the Ukrainian War of Independence from 1917-1921 it was absorbed into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics where it remained until the break up of the USSR in 1991.

Crimea has had a similarly chequered history. Prior to the Crimean War 1853-56 when Australian troops fought with the British and the Turks against Russia, Crimea had been part of the Russian Empire. Catherine the Great defeated the Ottomans in 1783 and thereafter Crimea was part of Russia. That war was fought on Crimean soil. Prior to the Ottomans, Crimea had for the previous 2000 years been variously parts of the Greek, Roman, Mongol and other empires. Then as now it occupied a strategic position on the Black Sea. The Crimean War had as a primary target the Russian naval base at Sevastopol. Which is further evidence that nothing really changes.

After the Russian Revolution Crimea became an autonomous Republic within the USSR and stayed there until 1954. In that year, following a resolution of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR it was transferred to Ukraine.

There are various theories as to why the transfer was made, one popular version being that it was a symbolic gesture marking the 300th anniversary of Ukraine becoming part of the Tsardom of Russia. The actual reasons do not matter so much as two other factors that were operative.

The first was that as an integral part of the USSR it did not make a great deal of political difference as to which State Crimea was nominally attached. The second factor was that neither the Russian people nor the Crimeans were consulted about the decision.

There things remained until February 2014 when a coup was mounted against the lawful government of Ukraine. The Australian media refuse to acknowledge that it was a coup, and that the coup was organized and paid for ($5 billion dollars) by the Americans, as the chief organizer, then Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland freely acknowledged to a congressional committee.

The Crimeans, as indeed also the residents of the Donbass region, were extremely unhappy with the takeover in Kiev of a frankly fascist government. The people of eastern Ukraine, including Crimea, are overwhelmingly ethnic Russian, speak the Russian language as their first language, intermarry with Russians across the border, and culturally identify with Russia.

A referendum was hastily organized and held on 16 March 2014. The result was that there was an 83% turnout, and 96.77% of those who voted were in favour of being readmitted to the Russian Federation. That result was condemned by the US and Australia, among other nations. The main objections stated were that the vote was held after Russian troops had “invaded” Crimea, and that the Crimeans had no right to hold such a referendum.

In one form or another those objections have been repeated by the western media ever since. An added claim is that the “annexation” of Crimea is further evidence of “Russian aggression” in general and that of Mr Putin in particular.

The facts are rather different. First, let us look at the “invasion” claim. There were already 25,000 Russian troops in Crimea. They were there pursuant to a treaty with the Ukrainian government, mainly associated with the very important Russian naval base at Sevastopol. It will be recalled that that naval base was a major target of the British and allied forces in the Crimean War more than 150 years earlier.

There was absolutely no evidence that the presence of Russian troops prevented the free exercise of the vote by Crimeans in the referendum, except indirectly in that their presence certainly deterred Ukraine from military intervention.

Independent polls conducted after the referendum, for example by the German Gfk polling organisation showed that 82% of those polled supported the referendum result and only 4% opposed it. Other, including American, polling organisations, obtained similar results.

The second major claim is that the referendum was “unlawful” and as such not recognised by the western powers. This is a classic example of western hypocrisy. Western governments are perfectly willing to accept independence referenda when it suits their geopolitical purposes to do so. There are a number of recent examples.

In April 1993 Eritrea held a referendum to establish its independence from Ethiopia. Only Eritreans were able to vote. It passed overwhelmingly. There was no objection from the US or Australia.

On 17 February 2008 Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. There was no referendum. Not only did the US not object, they bombed Serbia to encourage the government to accept the result. Australia protested neither the declaration of independence nor the illegal bombing.

The International Court of Justice gave an advisory opinion on Kosovo’s declaration of independence on 23 July 2010. The Court noted that previous declarations of independence being declared invalid had to be seen in their specific context. Importantly, the Court noted as a general principle that there was an absence of a general prohibition against unilateral declarations of independence under international law.

The important factual difference in Crimea’s case is the long history of the peninsula as a part of Russia; its ethnic and linguistic ties to Russia; and that there was a referendum with the overwhelming majority of citizens voting to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

In September 2014 the people of Scotland voted in a referendum of whether or not they would remain a part of the United Kingdom or become a separate sovereign nation. In that case the referendum was narrowly lost although a mooted second referendum following the Brexit vote in the UK may well have a different result.

Again, neither the US nor Australia claimed that the Scots were not entitled to have a referendum, nor that they would refuse to recognise the result.

The final point to be made in this context is that in 1970 the United Nations General Assembly passed by acclamation (i.e. without dissent from either Australia or the United States) a Declaration on Principles of International Law .

In the section of the Resolution regarding “the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples” was the following passage:

By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, all peoples have the right to freely determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and every State has the duty to respect this right in accordance with the provisions of the Charter.

What the Crimeans have done is no more nor less than they are entitled to in accordance with this Declaration. It is Australia, the United States and others that condemn Crimea and the Russians who are in breach of their legal and moral obligations.

A further illustration of western hypocrisy over Crimea and the Donbass is the total silence over the ongoing military assault against the civilian population of Donbass. The Minsk 2 Accords, initiated by France and Germany, and agreed to by Russia and Ukraine, contained a number of provisions designed to recognise the legitimate aspirations of the people of Donbass.

The Minsk 2 Accord provided, inter alia, for a ceasefire; a pullback of Ukrainian troops; for the Ukrainian Rada to pass specific laws relating to the governance of Donbass; and to amend the Ukrainian constitution to incorporate decentralization as a key component.

All of these provisions have been ignored and violated. Instead of condemning the Ukrainian violations and failure to carry out its obligations, the US and its allies have continued to blame Russia. Immediately after the US election, Senators McCain and Graham travelled to Kiev and urged Ukraine to keep fighting, promising American support.

There is no evidence that they did so with the support of then President –elect Trump and their authority to do so is unclear. The immediate result of the US Senator’s visit was an upsurge in the bombardment of villages and towns in the Donbass region.

There is an equally stunning silence from the Australian authorities. They seem incapable of understanding history, incapable of recognizing the efforts made by the Russians to create an economic arrangement that would benefit Ukraine through open association with both the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union; and of recognizing the grave potential for war posed by the reckless expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders.

Instead of recognizing the historical and geopolitical realities, including that Ukraine is now a failed state ruled by neo-fascists, they continue to parrot the tired cliché that the Russians are to blame.

Upon such fatal ignorance are wars often started.

James O’Neill, an Australian-based Barrister at Law.

February 19, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

1000s demand change of national day in Australia

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People participate in an “Invasion Day” march in Sydney, Australia, January 26, 2016.
Press TV – January 26, 2017

Tens of thousands of protesters have staged rallies in major Australian cities to demand a shift of the date of the country’s national day because, according to them, the current date marks the start of an era of injustices suffered by Australia’s disadvantaged Aborigines.

Demonstrators took to the streets of Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth on Thursday, demanding that the date of Australia Day, January 26, be changed as it celebrates the arrival of white settlers and the beginning of indigenous suffering and massacre.

The day marks the anniversary of the arrival of first British colonists and the so-called First Fleet of British ships in the country more than two centuries ago, in the year 1788.

Referring to the day as “Invasion Day,” many of the participants in the demonstrations were wearing black, yellow, and red, the colors of the aboriginal flag.

“I’m here to commemorate all the aboriginal people who were murdered during the first stage of settlement,” a protester said.

Hundreds of others also staged a sit-in protest outside the Parliament House in the Australian capital of Canberra.

New South Wales State police said that a 20-year-old man had been arrested and a police officer and protester had sustained injuries during the Thursday rallies in Sydney although the demonstrations were mostly peaceful.

Delivering a speech in Melbourne, Ian Macfarlane, a former minister who retired from politics last year, suggested that Australia commemorate March 1, 1901 as its national day. The date was when a newly-created Australian federal government took over many of the functions of the six British colonies that preceded it.

“It’s about healing a wound, drawing a line, getting on with the really important issues facing our indigenous communities,” he said.

Aboriginal Australians have long been subjected to genocide, forced permanent removal, dispossession, racial discrimination, and the destruction of their land.

Australia PM rules out date change

Reacting to the protests, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he did not support a change of the date of Australia Day.

“Everyone is entitled to a point of view, but I think most Australians accept January 26 as Australia Day,” he said.

“It is a day where we celebrate the rich diversity of all of our cultures — from our First Australians… to the new citizens, migrants who come from such diverse range of countries,” Turnbull said.

Aborigines comprise three percent of Australia’s population. Australia’s nearly 700,000 indigenous citizens rank near the bottom of almost every economic and social indicator for the country’s 23 million people.

January 26, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Australian arrested after he was ‘killed’ in Iraq

MEMO | November 25, 2016

An Australian citizen believed to be a top recruiter for Daesh is under arrest, the New York Times reported today, citing an unnamed US military official, months after Australia said he had been killed in a US airstrike in Iraq.

Australia said in May that Neil Prakash, who was linked to several Australia-based terrorist attack plans, was killed in an airstrike in Mosul, Iraq on 29 April.

The New York Times said Prakash was wounded in the attack and arrested by a Middle East government “in the last few weeks.” The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, citing Turkish and Australian officials, said he was arrested in Turkey.

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis, who announced Prakash’s death in May, declined to comment on “matters of intelligence or law enforcement operations.”

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said in an email response to Reuters that the government’s “capacity to confirm reports of deaths in either Syria or Iraq is limited.”

Melbourne-born Prakash had appeared in Daesh videos and magazines and had actively recruited Australian men, women and children and encouraged acts of terrorism.

Australia last year announced financial sanctions against Prakash, including threatening anyone giving financial assistance with punishment of up to 10 years in jail.

November 25, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Western Nations Under Pressure to Probe Clinton Foundation Spending – Analyst

Sputnik – 01.12.2016

Western European nations are facing growing pressure to end their financial contributions to the Clinton Foundation and investigate its spending, investment analyst Charles Ortel told Sputnik.

“The penny has dropped: The governments have decided not to fund Clinton Foundation activities anymore,” Ortel said Tuesday. “Canada, Sweden and Ireland are countries that may undertake investigations or end their practice of contributing large sums to the Clinton Foundation.”

He was commenting after Norway and Australia announced last weekend that they were ending their annual contributions to the charity, founded in 1997 by then-US President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton.

According to the New York Post, the incoming presidential administration of Donald Trump will ask foreign governments investigate how the foundation spent hundreds of millions of donor dollars that it said went to provide low-cost medicine to treat AIDS patients in Africa, among other programs.

Ortel explained that government leaders around the world who had approved big yearly donations to the foundation presumed Hillary Clinton would be elected president on November 8. Her unexpected loss to Trump, however, has led to popular pressure in those countries for governments to disclose the fate of their donations.

“Governments now realize to their shock and horror there are numerous questions that regulators should have asked,” Ortel asserted. “Why didn’t regulators in different countries ask these questions about the enormous unmonitored donations to the Clinton Foundation before?” Germany’s Environment Ministry is being investigated about a donation to the Clinton charity of 4.5 million euros.

In an interview with Sputnik in Germany that was published Tuesday, left-wing member of parliament Niema Movassat questioned why information about his government’s connection to the foundation scandal is coming out only now.

In Ortel’s view, the German investigation illustrates the importance of a provision in New York state law requiring charities to specify in detail how they spend donors’ money.

“The Clinton Foundation has not complied with that requirement,” according to Ortel, a former executive at financial firms Chart Group and Dillon, Tead & Co. He predicted that questions about the foundation will fuel a “media frenzy” worldwide, as public demands for investigations into individual governments’ donations grow. “The German people and the American people deserve answers,” Ortel said. “We need an accounting: How many governments around the world have sent money to the Clinton Foundation? For what projects? In what amounts?”

In 2007, the UK government – led by Prime Minister Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown, both close political allies and personal friends of the Clintons – approved a grant of 1 billion pounds over 20 years to the charity, Ortel pointed out.

November 1, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Keeps the F-35 Alive

By David Swanson | Let’s Try Democracy | October 31, 2016

Imagine if a local business in your town invented a brand new tool that was intended to have an almost magical effect thousands of miles away. However, where the tool was kept and used locally became an area unsafe for children. Children who got near this tool tended to have increased blood pressure and increased stress hormones, lower reading skills, poorer memories, impaired auditory and speech perception, and impaired academic performance.

Most of us would find this situation at least a little concerning, unless the new invention was designed to murder lots of people. Then it’d be just fine.

Now, imagine if this same new tool ruined neighborhoods because people couldn’t safely live near it. Imagine if the government had to not only compensate people but kick them out of living near the location of this tool. Again, I think, we might find that troubling if mass murder were not the mission.

Imagine also that this tool fairly frequently explodes, emitting highly toxic chemicals, particles, and fibers unsafe to breathe into the air for miles around. Normally, that’d be a problem. But if this tool is needed for killing lots of people, we’ll work with its flaws, won’t we?

Now, what if this new gadget was expected to cost at least $1,400,000,000,000 over 50 years? And what if that money had to be taken away from numerous other expenses more beneficial for the economy and the world? What if the $1.4 trillion was drained out of the economy causing a loss of jobs and a radical diminution of resources for education, healthcare, housing, environmental protection, or humanitarian aid? Wouldn’t that be a worry in some cases, I mean in those cases where the ability to kill tons of human beings wasn’t at stake?

What if this product, even when working perfectly, was a leading destroyer of the earth’s natural environment?

What if this high-tech toy wasn’t even designed to do what was expected of it and wasn’t even able to do what it was designed for?

Amazingly, even those shortcomings do not matter as long as the intention is massive murder and destruction. Then, all is forgiven.

The tool I’m describing is called the F-35. At RootsAction.org you can find a new petition launched by locally-minded people acting globally in places where the F-35 is intended to be based. Also at that link you’ll find explanations of how the tool I’ve been describing is the F-35.

The petition is directed to the United States Congress and the governments of Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan and South Korea from the world and from the people of Burlington, Vermont, and Fairbanks, Alaska, where the F-35 is to be based. This effort is being initiated by Vermont Stop the F35 Coalition, Save Our Skies Vermont, Western Maine Matters, Alaska Peace Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks Peace Club, North Star Chapter 146 Veterans For Peace, World Beyond War, RootsAction.org, Code Pink, and Ben Cohen.

The petition reads:

The F-35 is a weapon of offensive war, serving no defensive purpose. It is planned to cost the U.S. $1.4 trillion over 50 years. Because starvation on earth could be ended for $30 billion and the lack of clean drinking water for $11 billion per year, it is first and foremost through the wasting of resources that this airplane will kill. Military spending, contrary to popular misconception, also hurts the U.S. economy (see here) and other economies. The F-35 causes negative health impacts and cognitive impairment in children living near its bases. It renders housing near airports unsuitable for residential use. It has a high crash rate and horrible consequences to those living in the area of its crashes. Its emissions are a major environmental polluter.

Wars are endangering the United States and other participating nations rather than protecting them. Nonviolent tools of law, diplomacy, aid, crisis prevention, and verifiable nuclear disarmament should be substituted for continuing counterproductive wars. Therefore, we, the undersigned, call for the immediate cancellation of the F-35 program as a whole, and the immediate cancellation of plans to base any such dangerous and noisy jets near populated areas. We oppose replacing the F-35 with any other weapon or basing the F-35 in any other locations. We further demand redirection of the money for the F-35 back into taxpayers’ pockets, and into environmental and human needs in the U.S., other F-35 customer nations, and around the world, including to fight climate change, pay off student debt, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, and improve education, healthcare, and housing.

Add your name.

October 31, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Australia, Tagging Along into Other Nations’ Wars

By James O’Neill | Consortium News | October 19, 2016

For a country relatively remote from the world’s trouble spots, Australia throughout its short history since European settlement in the late Eighteenth Century has shown a remarkable capacity to involve itself in other people’s wars. With the possible exception of Japan in World War II none of these wars have posed a threat to Australia’s national security.

In the 1850s, Australia provided troops on behalf of the British in the Crimean War at a time when few Australians would have been able to locate Crimea on a map. Ironically, Tony Abbott as Prime Minister this decade was willing to commit troops to Ukraine, again over Crimea.

But Australian knowledge of historical and geopolitical realities in Crimea appeared no greater in 2014 than in the 1850s. The major difference was the infinitely greater threat to Australia’s national security if such a foolhardy plan had occurred in 2014 and Australian troops had found themselves confronting Russian forces.

Australian troops were also committed to the Boer War in South Africa, World Wars I and II, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, to name just the major conflicts. All of these involvements had two major characteristics in common: at no point (with the possible exception of Japan 1942-45) were Australia’s borders or national security threatened; and each involvement was at the behest of a foreign imperial power, often on entirely spurious grounds. The last four named conflicts above – Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – had the added dimension of being contrary to international law.

A common justification advanced in support of these foreign adventures is that they constitute a form of insurance policy, with the deaths of tens of thousands of Australian servicemen and women being the premium that has to be paid. If we do not pay these premiums, the argument runs, the “policy” expires and our “great and powerful friends” – the United Kingdom and more recently the United States – will not come to our aid if and when we are, in turn, attacked.

It has never been clear just who these aggressors might be, despite endless manufactured potential foes, nor why Australia feels the need to base its foreign policy thus when scores of countries do not feel similarly threatened nor feel the need to pay such a price for their “security.”

The capacity to have an intelligent debate about whether or not there are other, and better, options, is severely hampered by a number of factors. One of the major factors is the concentration of ownership of the mainstream print media. The Murdoch empire controls 70 percent of the nation’s newspapers and is run by someone who is now an American citizen and no longer resides in Australia. The bulk of the balance is controlled by the Fairfax family who at least reside in Australia.

This concentration of ownership results in a degree of uniformity of opinion that Stalin would have recognized and appreciated. There is a greater diversity of media ownership and opinion in modern Russia than there is in Australia, yet the relentless message in the Australian media is that Russia is an authoritarian state where dissent from an all powerful Vladimir Putin is discouraged or worse. Such a view would be laughable if it were not so dangerous.

The Pervasive ‘Group Think’

Academia is little better. The universities and the so-called “think tanks” rely heavily on subsidies from their American equivalents, or from Australian government departments committed to the government’s policies. There is an obvious reluctance to criticize, for example, American foreign policy when such criticism endangers funding sources, promotions, and comfortable sabbaticals in the U.S.

A recent example of the intellectual drivel that this can lead to was found in the recent publication of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute entitled “Why Russia is a Threat to the International Order,” authored by Paul Dibb, a former spymaster. It was an ill-informed discussion all too typical of what passes for foreign policy analysis. Not only did it demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of Russian strategic policy, it wholly accepted and American-centered view of the world.

In Dibb’s world, the Americans only act from the best of intentions and for the benefit of the people unfortunate enough to to be the object of their attentions. Any analysis of the way U.S. foreign policy is actually practiced is air brushed from the reader’s attention. The treatment of Ukraine is instructive in this regard.

Dibb completely ignores the February 2014 American-organized and financed coup that removed the legitimate Yanukovich government from power. Dibb ignores the military agreement that provided for the stationing of Russian troops in Crimea; that Crimea had for centuries been part of Russia until Khrushchev “gifted” Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 (without consulting the Crimeans); the overwhelming support in two referenda to secede from Ukraine and apply to rejoin the Russian Federation; the discriminatory treatment of the largely Russian-speaking population of the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine; and the Kiev regime’s systematic violation of the Minsk Accords designed to find a peaceable solution to the Ukrainian conflict.

Instead, he writes that Russia’s “invasion” and “annexation” of Crimea and its attempt through military means to detach the Donbass region in the eastern part of Ukraine have to be seen as a fundamental challenge to the post-war sanctity of Europe’s borders. Such historical revisionism and detachment from reality is unfortunately not confined to Dibb. It is all too common in the Australian media in all its forms.

A selective view of the world, of which Dibb is but one example, extends to a sanitizing of the U.S.’s role in post-war history. The U.S. has bombed, invaded, undermined, overthrown the governments of, and destroyed more countries and killed more people in the process over the past 70 years than all other countries in the world combined. Its disregard for international law, all the while proclaiming the importance of a “rules based system,” is well documented.

A particularly egregious but far from unique example is the war in Syria in which Australia is also involved, even to the comical extent of admitting culpability in the “mistaken” bombing of Syrian government troops at Door Ez Zair.

That the bombing was not a mistake but rather, as several commentators have pointed out (although never in the Australian media), was much more likely to have been a deliberate sabotaging by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s Pentagon element of the American war machine of the Kerry-Lavrov negotiated partial ceasefire.

Syrian intelligence has reported intercepts of communications between the U.S. military and the jihadist terrorists immediately before the bombing in which their respective actions were coordinated. The bombing was followed by immediate terrorist attacks on Syrian army positions in the area and is highly unlikely to have been a coincidence.

Cozy with Terrorists

This is, of course, consistent with American policy in Syria from the outset. The U.S. government has sought to maintain a ludicrous distinction between “moderate” terrorists and the rest.

Before the Russian intervention at the end of September 2015, the U.S. managed to avoid actually stopping the Islamic State advance through large swathes of Syrian territory, and together with Washington’s Saudi and Qatari allies have trained, financed and armed the terrorists from the outset. All of which is part of a pattern of U.S. support for terrorists, as long as they support U.S. strategic goals.

No such analysis appears in the Australian mainstream media which maintains an unswerving allegiance to only one form of analysis. This dangerous group think and intolerance of dissent is exemplified in a recent article by Peter Hartcher, the senior political correspondent of the Fairfax media.

Hartcher described what he called “rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows” by which he meant opponents in Australia of a war with China. The “rats” were politicians “compromised by China’s embrace”; the “flies” are the “unwitting mouthpieces for the interests of the Chinese regime”; the mosquitoes were Australian business people “so captivated by their financial interests that they demand Australia assume a kowtow position”; the “sparrows” were Chinese students and Australia-Chinese associations that exist “specifically to spread China’s influence.”

In Hartcher’s view all four groups were “pests” that needed to be eradicated. To call this reversion to the worst elements of 1950s McCarthyism is probably to do the late junior Senator from Wisconsin a disservice.

Were it simply a case of ignorance it might be simply consigned to the scrap heap where it richly belongs. But it is representative of the same mindset that has led Australia into so many disastrous foreign policy misadventures that it cannot be ignored. Another reason it cannot be ignored is that it represents and affects a widely held view among Australian politicians.

The demonization of Russia in general and Vladimir Putin in particular is clearly evident in the reporting of the situation in Ukraine and Syria. The ignoring of history and the inversion of reality is the default position. Everything that Russia does is a manifestation of its “aggression.” Putin is commonly described as a “dictator” and the appalling Hillary Clinton even compared him with Hitler.

That there is not a shred of evidence to support the many wild allegations against President Putin does not prevent their regular repetition in the Western media.

Ignoring International Law

Similar blindness is evident with regard to the reporting on Syria. Australia is manifestly in breach of the United Nations Charter in its participation in the attacks upon the Syrian government and its forces. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s laughable defense of the presence of the Australian military in Syria, the central plank of which was specifically denied by the Iraqi government, was nonetheless accepted without question by the Australian mainstream media.

There is more preposterous posturing over the South China Sea. The much vaunted “freedom of navigation” demanded for shipping in the South China Sea (although no one can point to a single instance of civilian maritime traffic being hindered in any way) is a concept selectively applied. Just ask a Cuban, Palestinian or Yemeni if freedom of navigation is their recent or current experience of American policy.

Australia partakes annually in a U.S.-led naval exercise, Operation Talisman Sabre that rehearses the blockading of the Malacca Straits, a vital seaway for China that along with dozens of military bases (including in Australia), missile systems surrounding China, free trade agreements that pointedly exclude the world’s largest trading nation, and many other aspects designed to “contain” China, are not the activities of a peacefully oriented nation.

Australia not only participates in clearly provocative actions, but the 2015 Defense White Paper is clearly predicated on planning a war with China. Public statements by senior defense personnel, both civilian and military, reflect a militaristic mindset vis-a-vis China that can only be described as magical thinking given the military capacity of the Peoples Republic of China to obliterate Australia within 30 minutes of hostilities actually breaking out is only part of the problem.

That such thinking takes place in a context where China, the perceived enemy, is also the country’s largest trading partner by a significant margin and the source of much of Australia’s prosperity over the past 40 years reveals a strategic conundrum that the politicians have singularly failed to come to grips with. Worse, it is not even considered a matter worthy of sustained serious discussion.

By its conduct both in Syria and the South China Sea, Australia runs the risk of becoming involved in a full-scale shooting war with both Russia and China. Viewed objectively, there is little doubt that in any such conflagration Russia and China enjoy significant military advantages. Even that superiority is not to be entertained. Instead, Australia pursues the purchase of hugely expensive submarines and F-35 fighter planes the strategic and military value of which is at best dubious and more probably, useless.

What then is the benefit to Australia of constantly putting itself in a position where the best it could hope for would be collateral damage? No rational human being would advance on a course of action where the detriments so significantly outweigh the benefits, so why should a nation be any different?

With its crumbling infrastructure, endless wars that it regularly loses, a corrupt money-dominated political culture, technologically inferior weaponry and enormous burgeoning debt, the U.S. is hardly a model protector. To believe otherwise is simply delusional.

As the U.S.-based Russian blogger Dimitry Orlov  has recently pointed out, Russia’s international conduct is governed by three basic principles: using military force as a reactive security measure; scrupulous adherence to international law; and seeing military action as being in the service of diplomacy. That clearly does not accord with the relentless misinformation Australians are constantly fed but to confuse propaganda with reality is a dangerous basis upon which to formulate foreign policy.

China is also choosing a radically different path in its international relations. The One Belt, One Road, or New Silk Road initiatives, associated as they are with a range of other developments, the significance of which most Australians barely grasp, has the capacity to transform the world’s financial, economic and geopolitical structures in a remarkably short time.

The choice for Australia is stark.  Does it persist in aligning itself with what the late Malcolm Fraser accurately called a “dangerous ally”?  Or does it recognize that the world upon which its comfortable and dangerous illusions are based is rapidly changing and adjust its alliances accordingly.

At the moment Australia has the luxury of choice, but it is an opportunity that will vanish very quickly. Unfortunately, the lesson of history is that Australia will again make the wrong choice.


James O’Neill is a former academic and has practiced as a barrister since 1984. He writes on geopolitical issues, with a special emphasis on international law and human rights. He may be contacted at joneill@qldbar.asn.au.

October 19, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Argentina Not Only Wants To Bring In E-Voting, It Will Make It Illegal To Check The System For Electoral Fraud

By Glyn Moody | TechDirt | October 7, 2016

Earlier this year, we wrote about Australia’s refusal to allow researchers to check e-voting software being used in that country. The situation in Argentina seems to be even worse. Access Now provides the background (original in Spanish):

The ruling party in Argentina is driving the adoption of an electronic voting system for national elections. Despite stern warnings from computer security experts about the dangers of the system, the ruling party is persisting with the project and plans to put it to a vote in Congress in the coming weeks.

Techdirt readers hardly need to be reminded about the deeply-flawed nature of e-voting systems, but there’s a useful article on Medium (in Spanish) with plenty of links to hispanophone experts from widely-different backgrounds warning against the move.Imposing an e-voting system may be foolish, but Argentina’s plans manage to magnify that folly many times over. A blog post in Spanish by Javier Smaldone explains why:

The proposal provides for imprisonment (1 to 6 years) for conducting activities that are essential in any audit or independent review of the system.

Thus, it is intended to impose the use of computer system in the casting and counting of votes, and as if it were not already extremely difficult for any citizen to be sure how it works (and it is safe), anyone who tries to find out is punished with imprisonment.

It’s one thing to bring in an e-voting system that most experts say is a bad idea in theory. But making it effectively illegal to point out flaws that exist in practice is really asking for trouble. Unless this proposed law is changed to allow independent scrutiny of the systems, Argentina will probably find this out the hard way.

October 7, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment