Serco provide “security” in Australia so let’s all relax
21 Sep 2010

Behold! The local media (in today’s Australian) briefly mention the role of British multinational Serco but watch how quickly it’ll be buried again. Nothing to see here, all hail privatised cruelty:

The government has ruled out using the military as a crisis response force in the event of trouble at a new immigration detention centre at Cape York Peninsula, giving police that role.
An Immigration Department spokesman confirmed that officials and private security contractor Serco had undertaken contingency planning to deal with potential security issues at the planned detention centre at the Scherger airforce base near Weipa, 2500km north of Brisbane.
“This is standard operating procedure for all of (the department’s) immigration detention centres and facilities,” the spokesman told The Australian yesterday.
“We are not going to discuss details of our contingency planning other than to say that the use of defence forces is not a part of contingency plans.”
In two to three weeks, Scherger will be opened to house up to 300 single adult male asylum-seekers currently held on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.
Serco, the British-based private security contractor in charge of the centre, already holds the contract for security at every Australian immigration detention facility. It has refused to be interviewed.
As well as using Scherger, additional immigration detention accommodation is being added at the Curtin Immigration Detention Centre in remote Western Australia, and at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation, for families and children.
This sparked criticism from West Australian Premier Colin Barnett, who said WA police had raised concerns about their capacity to deal with riots and escapees from the base at Derby, in the Kimberley region of WA.
Weipa is more than 800km from Cairns and is more than one hour by plane from the far north Queensland city.
A spokesman for the Queensland Police Service said the QPS would work with “relevant state and federal authorities to provide an appropriate policing response” when required at Scherger.
There are 12 police officers permanently based at the Weipa police station. The next closest police station to the Scherger base is at Aurukun, an indigenous community about 100km south of Weipa, at which 10 police officers are stationed.
Earlier this month, nearly 100 asylum-seekers broke out of the detention centre in Darwin and staged a peaceful protest outside the fence before being rounded up by Northern Territory police.


FBI fears the radical Quakers
21 Sep 2010

Never trust the government or intelligence authorities to not exceed their mandate, to poke where they should not and investigate what is not their business:

The FBI in recent years opened investigations into some U.S. activists with little basis, unjustifiably extended the duration of the probes, improperly retained information about activist groups in its files, and classified its investigations of “nonviolent civil disobedience” as investigations into “acts of terrorism,” according to a report released today [1] (PDF) by the Justice Department’s Inspector General.
The FBI activities reviewed by the Justice Department took place from 2001 to 2006, and involved groups including the Thomas Merton Center (a Pittsburgh social justice center), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Greenpeace, The Catholic Worker (communities of religious pacifists) and a Quaker peace activist.
The report by the Justice Department watchdog didn’t find that the FBI  targeted these groups on the basis of their free speech activities — which would be a serious violation [2] of FBI guidelines — but did fault the agency for other reasons, most notably a “factually weak” basis for opening investigations.

Treat Arabs like dogs, lawless Israel says
21 Sep 2010

So what is Israeli apartheid offering today?

Security officers in settlements are confiscating Palestinian workers’ identity cards and holding them while they are in the Jewish communities, under IDF orders, even though there is no legal basis for their action. The Israel Defense Forces Spokesman told Haaretz that the matter is being investigated.

How the Arab music world can see our noble soldiers in war
21 Sep 2010

Waad Argoub – Shadha Hassoun
Uploaded by dawebni. – Watch more music videos, in HD!
This fascinating video, by Iraqi singer Shadha Hassoun, has caused a sensation in the Middle East:

The raging questions about America’s role in Iraq came to a boil earlier this year with “Arqoub’s Promise,” a controversial music video which captured public debate. Invoking Arqoub, a legendary character infamous for his unfulfilled promises, the Iraqi singer Shadha Hassoun bemoans both her affair with a U.S. soldier and the U.S. invasion of her war-torn country. Double-entendre lyrics about love and betrayal combine with images of the singer crossing wind and sand-swept streets to end up in a poignant post-lovemaking confrontation with her lover in the back of a U.S. military truck, with a large screen playing images of military hardware, explosions and torn bodies. As the U.S. soldier walks away, the video concludes in black and white, with a street strewn with dozens of shoes — in homage to Bush shoe thrower Muntazher al-Zhaidi — and a haunting close-up of a fright-stricken baby face encircled with barbed wire. The release of the video in mid-January, 2010 set the Iraqi and Arab press ablaze: “Shadha Hassoun glorifies the occupation of Iraq!” accused one columnist; “A political or romantic message?” wondered another; “Shadha Hassoun expels occupier,” wrote a third, reflecting multiple and contrary readings of the video.

Such work simply shows that the Arab world is often forced to be far more political than the West, as war and occupation are daily on their door-steps, courtesy of the “liberating” US and her charming allies.


Keeping the Israel lobby close to the PM’s heart
 21 Sep 2010

What will this leading Australian Zionist lobbyist do? The poor dear. He’ll still be helping the Labor Party back every Israeli policy in such a noble act of benevolence. One day, and soon, such figures will be seen as the worst friends of Israel imaginable:

Tim Mathieson, the partner of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, has quit his job with ALP benefactor and prominent Melbourne property developer Albert Dadon.
A senior Jewish business figure last night told The Age his resignation had been ”inevitable” and that moving away from any such employment was ”the right thing to do”.
Last month, The Age reported that if Labor won the election, Mr Mathieson would resign, with senior figures in Labor and the Jewish community concerned about his position with Mr Dadon’s Ubertas property business.
The ALP increasingly regards Mr Dadon as a conduit to donations, including from the Jewish business community. On the last Sunday before polling day he hosted a large breakfast function at his home, where Ms Gillard met members of the Jewish community.
The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman said Mr Mathieson had decided to resign from his job only because he wanted to pursue more advocacy and charity work, in line with his responsibilities ”as the partner of a Prime Minister”.
During the election, Mr Dadon said the function at his home was not a fund-raising event and told ABC Radio that media coverage of his links with the ALP and Tim Mathieson were because of his [Mr Dadon’s] Jewish heritage. ”I feel that this whole thing is simply because I’m a Jew. And that’s what I resent.”
Business sources have told The Age that donations were not collected at the campaign function, but some attendees would later be asked for contributions.
The Prime Minister’s office says Mr Mathieson will spend his time working with groups such as beyondblue and in other roles related to indigenous health.
Since 2008, Mr Mathieson has been national charity ambassador with Kidney Health Australia. The charity’s chief executive, Anne Wilson, said she was contacted on August 31, more than a week after the election, about a possible significant donation from Mr Dadon. His company Ubertas has donated a mid-level apartment from a soon-to-be-developed city site, which the charity will auction or raffle to raise funds.
Mr Mathieson worked selling apartments for Ubertas, responding to inquires from potential buyers and dealing with existing customers.


Talking on ABC TV News24 about refugees, Afghanistan and some common sense
21 Sep 2010

Last night I again appeared on ABC TV’s News24 The Drum panel alongside the Australian Financial Review’s David Crowe and The Daily Grind’s Joe Stella (vision here for two weeks, look for 21 September and here’s info about my August appearance).
The main topic up for discussion was the asylum seeker crisis at Sydney’s Villawood detention centre and the length of time refugees are locked up while claims are being processed. Mental anguish is almost guaranteed. I urged an examination of the role of private company Serco, the far-too-mysterious corporate running all the country’s centres. Nobody on the panel seemed to believe accountability with the current system was really possible. Who truly knows what Serco does and why? The Labor government is far too keen to give the firm the dirty work and blame them for incompetence. Finally, I urged Australia to release detainees into the community once checks are undertaken. In a country such as New Zealand, there’s far less hysteria over asylum seekers and there aren’t countless missing refugees running wild. Oh, is it too much to ask that a person, like fellow panellist Stella, not continually refer to refugees as “illegal”? They’re not, and have a perfect international right to seek safety and asylum here.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young was interviewed and called for an end to mandatory detention and a warning that the nation was descending back into a period of harming citizens in our care. She seemed open to the possibility, based on my question to her, to push for a robust debate in the Australian parliament on the gross human rights abuses in Sri Lanka and the threats faced by Tamils there, meaning we shouldn’t be sending them back from detention.
Finally, the war in Afghanistan was on the agenda following a leaked email detailing the lack of appropriate support for Australian troops in the country. I argued that a majority of Australians oppose the conflict, the West is backing a warlord infected and corrupt regime and simply staying there to “finish the job” – aka fellating Washington – was plainly offensive to our intelligence. We should withdraw immediately while providing reparations for the massive damage we’ve caused since 2001.


The lack of imagination by the Israeli left
21 Sep 2010

American, Jewish journalist and activist Joseph Dana, writing from Israel:

Israelis have the unique position (read privilege) to support the popular non-violent struggle of Palestinians in the West Bank against the occupation, settlements and separation wall. Palestinians have extended an open hand to Israelis to join their struggle which takes place only one hour from Tel Aviv. Many Israelis have answered this call but it has only been a drop in the sea compared with the number of people that harbour ‘left’ opinions about the occupation and prospects for co-existence through grassroots work. Shiekh Jarrah had the opportunity to energize these people with ‘left’ opinions and lead them in the direction of genuine solidarity with Palestinians struggling against the crippling occupation. Yet, the movement has made the decision to focus energy on exhibiting ‘solidarity’ in places where Palestinians by and large can’t enter. It comes down to one’s definition of solidarity.


Off-shore processing for refugees is about as logical as Blair’s parenting skills
 20 Sep 2010

More here.


Hello media, what are Serco doing to asylum seekers in Australia?
20 Sep 2010

The Australian media is filled with coverage of the refugee protest at Sydney’s Villawood detention centre and yet virtually no journalists seem to be reporting about the role of Serco, the company running the place.
It’s always simply assumed that privatisation of detention centres is a jolly good idea for all concerned. For a lack of accountability, it’s wonderful.

Jewish occupation via the iPhone
20 Sep 2010

Following Zionist apartheid from the comfort of your portable device:

Want to know what’s happening in the West Bank settlements in real time? In addition to ‘Sudoku’ and ‘Street Fighter,’ iPhone owners will now be able to install the “Facts on the Ground” application, which monitors the expansion of settlements in Judea and Samaria, created by Americans for Peace Now.
“This new app shows the unfiltered realities that settlements create on the ground of the West Bank. While people are entitled to their opinions on this divisive issue, there is only one set of facts, and our app makes these facts available in unprecedented clarity and detail,” said Debra DeLee, APN’s President and CEO.
Settlements are symbolized by little blue houses on the map. Clicking once on the icon gives its land area. A second click brings up a window with more details: the year it was established, population, ideology (or lack of), character (secular or religious), amount of ‘private Palestinian land’ it occupies, and a graph that tracks its population growth.

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