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Friday, 31 October 2014

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 31 OCT - INSANE, ANTISOCIAL LONERS A NEW TYPE OF TERRORIST (COMMENT)

The dispiriting news feels like it's coming in a torrent. Canada suffers two terrorist attacks in a week. Another attack in New York, this one with an axe, wounds two police officers before the attacker is shot dead. Immediately you recall the Melbourne case of Abdul Numan Haider, whose weapon of choice was a knife, but whose story had the same ending. Meanwhile, a Sydney teenager plays a starring role in two ISIL propaganda videos in a fortnight, while the man who apparently groomed and recruited him, Mohammad Ali Baryalei, is now very likely dead. This, you might feel, is encouraging until you consider that his symbolic pull is likely only to increase as a result of his "martyrdom". But pause for a moment and you notice something about this picture. We're a long way from all the talk of dirty bombs and nuclear weapons of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld era. We're nowhere near planes smashing into skyscrapers. We're not even in the neighbourhood of bombs being detonated on buses and underground trains, or in nightclubs. This stuff is galling and tragic. It occasions the same public grieving and ceremony, but we're talking about something qualitatively different, here. For the moment at least, mass-casualty terrorism is off the agenda. "Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run over him with your car," urged ISIL last month as it called upon Muslims to kill random Westerners. There's a kind of desperate crudeness, here: one that seems to have lowered its horizons. Today it's about low-casualty, mass-impact terrorism. But that impact is far more psychological than it is material. The point is not to dismiss this as trivial. It's serious, not least because it's clear that a few people have acted on ISIL's instructions. It's serious because, while mass-casualty attacks are clearly more devastating, they're also much harder to pull off. Rather, the point is to note that something has changed. Terrorism is evolving. And so are the terrorists. You see, they're dickheads now. David Leyonhjelm's description is a disarming one because it recasts these people as self-aggrandising amateurs. There's more than an element of truth to this. Zale Thompson's axe-wielding attack in New York lasted a mere seven seconds before he was shot. He was, by all accounts, an unemployed loner with a record of multiple arrests. In Canada, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was living in a homeless shelter before he decided to open fire on the Parliament Building. This was a man with a crack cocaine habit, a suite of drug possession and theft episodes, and a history of mental illness. In this respect his story isn't so far from Baryalei's, which has more to do with cocaine, gambling and Kings Cross strip clubs than it does with advanced explosives training and a piercing political manifesto. He, too, has a history of mental illness, much like Khaled Sharrouf, who so infamously tweeted a picture of his son holding a severed head, and who was also diagnosed with schizophrenia. This isn't the way terrorism has tended to work. For all our knee-jerk descriptions of terrorists as mad, psychopathic or otherwise psychologically disturbed, decades of research has now demonstrated the opposite: that despite their clearly abnormal behaviour, terrorists are overwhelmingly sane and psychologically normal. Nor have they tended to be antisocial loners. Terrorism has almost always been a group activity, carried out in cells that have strong bonds of solidarity between members. Certainly there have been "lone wolves" in history – some of them, such as the Unabomber, suffering from mental illness – but these have been exceptions to a well established rule. But ISIL is playing by different rules. Its reach amongst Westerners is clearly skewed towards converts and born-again Muslims, often with troubled pasts. It tends not to appeal as much to those with long-held, well established religious commitments. That's because ISIL isn't merely offering an ideology. Like all fundamentalisms, it's offering an identity: a chance for people to reimagine themselves and restart their lives by turning their back in the most radical fashion on everything they've left behind. What better way to prove you're free from the yoke of sin and drugs and sleaze than quite literally to take up arms against them? It's not just the violence. It's the illusion of purity and self-sacrifice that goes with it that is attractive. This is particularly potent in an online era. It is precisely the fact that ISIL is so devastatingly effective online that means it doesn't have to rely on the kind of group solidarity that has typically held terrorism together. This opens terrorism to people who previously would have been a liability. Someone who is mentally unstable or struggles to work with others is wholly unsuited to the kind of careful, secret planning that is so fundamental to professional terrorism. But no such concern applies when you're trying to unleash the kind of rudimentary, randomised mayhem ISIL is. Suddenly the lone wolf, which was once an odd curiosity, is an emerging trend that sits near the top of the list of every Western security agency's worries. Those agencies will respond with what they know: increased hard power. It's why we're so attracted to more counterterrorism laws and military intervention. We have this intuitive understanding that these things work. And sometimes, in the short term, they do. But at some point we'll have to recognise that even as we chalk up successes like killing senior terrorist figures, the problem only seems to grow. Who'd have thought 10 years ago that we'd be raising the terror threat level to its highest point in our history after Osama bin Laden had been killed? That happens because we're dealing with something that is deeply, irrevocably social. Eradicating it therefore becomes as complex as eradicating any social disease. Truth is we've never figured out how to solve those. We can't stop drug use. We can't stop disaffection. We can't stop alienation. Not entirely, anyway. And perhaps we can't eradicate radicalisation, either, at least until the whole ghastly experiment of militant Islamism collapses under the weight of its nihilistic contradictions. But in the meantime, it won't be crushed by our sledgehammers. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/insane-antisocial-loners-a-new-type-of-terrorist-20141030-11dzxq.html#ixzz3HfyxVliA

Thursday, 30 October 2014

RWR SOUTH AFRICA, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND - BLOGS

I HAVE STARTED CHECKING OUT OTHER INTERNATIONAL RWR CHAPTERS. Found three blogs: RWR SWEDEN http://rwrsweden.blogspot.co.nz Last post: 17 July 2013; RWR SOUTH AFRICA http://rwrsa.blogspot.co.nz Last post: 14 March 2013; RWR SWITZERLAND http://rwrswitzerland.weebly.com Last post: 12 December 2012. I'll keep searching online and update you.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Creativity Movement Toronto: Interview with Max Hynes of The Southern Ontario Skinheads

Creativity Movement Toronto: Interview with Max Hynes of The Southern Ontario S...: 1. When was the Southern Ontario Skinheads organization founded? And why was S.O.S founded? SOS was first formed in the early 2000s a...

NZ WHITE PRIDE EVENT MARCH 2015

THE NATIONAL FRONT is now working on plans to celebrate WHITE PRIDE DAY in 2015. http://www.nationalfront.org.nz/

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 29 OCT - Australian Islamic State kingpin Mohammad Ali Baryalei dead: reports

Authorities are seeking to confirm reports that Australian terrorist and Islamic State kingpin Mohammad Ali Baryalei has been killed in Syria. The former Kings Cross bouncer and part-time actor has been working for IS on the Turkey-Syria border, receiving new fighters from Australia and facilitating their passage into Syria to join terrorist groups. It is believed he had risen to become a senior leader in Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) and had facilitated the movement of up to half of the 60 Australians believed to be fighting with the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/australian-islamic-state-kingpin-mohammad-ali-baryalei-dead-reports-20141029-11ditn.html#ixzz3HUwil3RX

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

White Nationalist Front: Canada Under Attack From Within!

White Nationalist Front: Canada Under Attack From Within!: Turns out that whilst I was typing online yesterday at this time an Islamist terrorist was attacking our nation's capitol of Ottawa...

Thursday, 23 October 2014

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES AUSTRALIA 23 OCT - CANADA PARLIAMENT HILL UNDER ATTACK, MULTIPLE GUNMEN SHOT DEAD

The Canadian parliament was locked down after a gunman shot and injured a soldier on Wednesday. According to unconfirmed reports, there was at least one more gunman inside the parliament building. At least 30 shots were fired as police shot the suspected gunman dead inside the building. A government minister had confirmed the shoot-out. It was, however, remained unknown if the gunman was alone. On the other hand, Ottawa police were reportedly looking for one or more suspects. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was inside the building when the incident took place. Harper was moved to a safer location as the parliament building was locked down. Blocks were either evacuated or locked down in each direction. The gunmen apparently came to the parliament in a grey-coloured Toyota Corolla at around 9:52 am. The Toronto Sun reported that there were multiple gunmen who opened fire on Parliament Hill. The injured soldier was taken to the Civic Hospital. Gunfire was reportedly being exchanged in the Rideau Centre even by noon. According to the officers, there was at least one gunman still moving free. According to reports, two gunmen were shot dead. At least one of the gunmen fired dozens of shots in the Hall of Honour. He was eventually shot dead outside the Parliamentary library. Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino confirmed the death of at least one gunman. "All the details are not in, but the sergeant-at-arms, a former Mountie, is the one that engaged the gunman, or one of them at least, and stopped this," he said, "He did a great job and, from what I know, shot the gunman and he is now deceased." One more gunman was reportedly shot dead as well. However, police officers did not confirm the reports. According to MPs and other witnesses, several shots were fired inside the building. CBC News reported that all major leaders, Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau along with the prime minister were moved to a safe location. Police officers asked the people to evacuate the area. It was told that the suspect had not been in custody. People were told that they were "in danger." LINK: http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/570445/20141023/canada-parliament-hill-under-attack-multiple-gunmen.htm#.VEhVj86Imq0

Sunday, 19 October 2014

18 OCTOBER 2014 NATIONAL FRONT FLAG DAY IN WELLINGTON

'On the 18th of October around 30 members of the National Front held a 'Flag Day' rally and march in Wellington, New Zealand. 'Flag Day' is the gathering of National Front members in central Wellington to mark "National Flag Day" though also claiming to defend the current national flag. After the rally the National Front marched through the streets of Wellington.' Short report and video on YOUTUBE at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6cEtOJL45o

NEW ZEALAND HERALD 12 OCT - BERNARD HICKEY: LIVING WAGE IS GOOD FOR EVERYONE

Money in workers’ pockets gives them cash to spend and boosts the economy. The Warehouse believes paying a living wage will make workers happier and be good for the bottom line. I had an unusual experience at The Warehouse last weekend that told me something had changed for the better. A surprisingly chirpy shop assistant asked me if I was having a good day. I was initially baffled. I try to avoid shopping at the best of times and see a trip to The Warehouse as a chore. I am used to messy aisles, fruitless searches and cheap tat. So I didn't expect a pleasant shopping experience. Yet that's what I got. The assistant seemed to be enjoying her job and was particularly efficient and helpful. I actually found what I wanted. I won't dread a trip to The Warehouse so much in future. The Warehouse is one of a growing number of companies paying a "Living Wage". From August 1, it started paying 4100 of its workers a "Career Retailer Wage" of at least $18.50 an hour. To qualify, they must have full training and 5000 hours' experience. It represents a pay increase of 10-20 per cent. Warehouse CEO Mark Powell estimated it would cost almost $6million in extra wages, but it was an investment worth making. "The front-line in retail starts on the shop floor with enthusiastic team members and the competitive reality is that if customers aren't served well, a business will ultimately fail," Powell said. This week, union researchers Eileen Blair, Annabel Newman and Sophia Blair delivered a paper to the Population Health Congress in Auckland on the experience of employers and workers who have adopted the Living Wage, currently $18.80 an hour - 32 per cent above the $14.25 minimum wage. They interviewed four employers and found a variety of reasons for adopting the Living Wage, including that it was the right thing to do. But there were more practical reasons, including wanting employees paid enough to buy their products, reducing staff turnover and having staff motivated to produce a great product or service. "We're offering a really nice product and if my employees can't afford to eat it then that's not good," one employer said. This is an age-old argument for an apparently arbitrary increase in wages. Henry Ford doubled the wages of his factory workers in 1914, arguing he wanted them paid enough to buy the cars he made. This kind of thinking helped drive wages substantially higher relative to profits in the developed world over the following 60 years, creating a prosperous middle class and stronger economic growth. This week the IMF downgraded its forecast for global economic growth this year, citing weak demand from indebted households and low investment by companies. Employers also reported paying a living wage changed their own behaviour, forcing them to focus on training and management to get more from workers, who in turn worked harder and produced more. One employer described the thinking: "You'd only need them to be another 30 per cent productive to be cost neutral, and 30 per cent is not a big jump, in terms of people wasting 30 per cent of their time on Facebook and texting." The Living Wage movement is one response to the growing realisation that slowing economic growth is partly because of a falling share of income going to wages, which depresses demand and investment. Circuit breakers are needed to boost productivity and wages, and this is one of them. The Warehouse is hoping it will be a circuit breaker for their sales, profits and share price. For now, the Red Sheds have become the place where everyone gets enough of a Living Wage to buy those bargains. LINK: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11341049

Thursday, 16 October 2014

LABOUR WONDERLAND: GRANT ROBERTSON TRIMS DOWN FOR THE LEADERSHIP RACE (HERALD 16 OCT)

Labour leader candidate Grant Robertson has been accused of being too beltway so he has trimmed the size of his belt, losing 20kg over the past 10 months. The dramatic weight loss was a potentially risky manouevre. He is, after all, in Labour, where even shaving off a beard was seen as a sign of a leadership challenge by David Cunliffe. Mr Robertson began his diet and exercise regime a few months after Mr Cunliffe beat him in the last leadership run-off last September. It was a New Year's resolution and ambition is clearly a steel rod for willpower: he claims it is the first resolution he has managed to keep. However, he is at pains to insist it was nothing to do with ambitions for the leadership or to make himself more camera-friendly. "Absolutely not. It was nothing to do with that at all. I decided for the sake of my own health and longevity on the planet I should do something about it." He said he also wanted to be fit for the election campaign. "You need to be fit." He said he initially timed it to hit his target weight later in the year - but had to bring it forward after Prime Minister John Key called an early election. He said he had done it through "a radical plan of eating less and exercising more" and is now a regular at the Parliamentary gym. He now weighs about 96kg and to celebrate has had a couple of new suits made - just in time for Labour's leadership husting meetings. Asked where his suits are from, he says "Auckland", but when pushed he admits, slightly abashed given Labour's working class roots, that they are made by Crane Brothers. He swears he has bought suits from Hallensteins sometimes in the past. LINK: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11343024

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 16 OCT - AUSTRALIA: ABBOTT GOVERNMENT'S CONTROVERSIAL COUNTERTERRORISM LAWS

Photographs of millions of Australians will be stored by the Immigration Department, and this "biometric data" gathering could extend to fingerprinting and iris scanning under the Abbott government's controversial counterterrorism laws. The "foreign fighters" bill means there will be a major expansion of facial recognition imaging of Australians passing through international airports in a crackdown on passport fraud that could eventually apply to a wide range of biometric data – which could be shared with other government agencies. Critics say the danger of such information being hacked is profound, given many personal electronic devices are now secured by fingerprints and iris scans. The sheer scale of the personal information that would stream into the government's databanks is set to open one of the first fissures in the largely bipartisan approach to national security, with Labor warning that the legislation poses a danger to privacy. "It's clear that this provision would be a significant expansion of biometric data collection by the government," shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said. "Australians deserve a clear explanation from the government about what protections will be put in place to protect the privacy and security of their information." The legislation specifically clears the way for all Australians as well as foreigners to be photographed when they leave Australia and when they return if they go through automated passport gates – which are set to become far more commonly used. The department estimates that between 40 and 60 per cent of the 35 million travellers leaving and entering Australia each year would be photographed, many millions of them Australians. The department can also share the biometric information for "specified purposes" according to the bill's explanatory memoranda, though it does not explain what these purposes are. The foreign fighters bill is being scrutinised by the high-powered parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security before a vote expected by the end of the month. It would allow the government to collect and store fingerprints and iris scans without needing to pass new laws. This could instead by done through regulations, which can be blocked only if opposition parties muster a majority of MPs in either house. The Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, told a recent parliamentary hearing into the legislation that under the changes, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection would hold personal biometric information to an unprecedented "extent and volume". The Immigration Department was rocked this year by an embarrassing data breach in which the personal details of nearly 10,000 asylum seekers were mistakenly made available on the department's website. Underscoring the extent of security concerns, the growing biometrics database would be secured by the nation's top defence cyberspooks, the Australian Signals Directorate, according to testimony given by the department to the intelligence and security committee last week. The ASD has indirectly suffered its own data breach recently in the case of renegade American intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, whose massive leaks of Western intelligence files involved some relating to the agency including, most spectacularly, details of Australian spying efforts against Indonesian leaders. Privacy advocates are particularly worried about the consequences of biometric data being hacked because, unlike a passport or a tax file number, it cannot be changed. "You can't readily change your fingerprints or your face," Australian Privacy Foundation chairman Roger Clarke said. Labor MP Anthony Byrne, the intelligence and security committee's deputy chairman, expressed deep concern at a public hearing last week about the privacy implications. "I am deeply, deeply uncomfortable with that level of data being kept by that department, particularly given the potential for someone to break into that and basically lift hundreds of thousands of fingerprints of Australian citizens," he said. "Think about the privacy implications of that with iris recognition, which is used for laptops and computer systems. Iris scans are now being used on portable devices." Emily Howie of the Human Rights Law Centre said more debate was needed about the government's counterterrorism laws. "Australians' right to privacy is often eroded through the use of new surveillance powers and technologies without proper legal safeguards," she said. "Of course the government has a responsibility to protect the community, but it must do so in a manner that is reasonable and accountable." Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/opposition-grows-to-storage-of-photo-and-biometric-data-20141015-116lur.html#ixzz3GFTgcZc3

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

ABC.NET.AU 13 OCT - NEW ZEALAND ORDERS REVIEW INTO FOREIGN FIGHTER LAWS

New Zealand's prime minister says a review of how the country deals with "foreign terrorist fighters" is likely to recommend urgent law changes. John Key said current laws did not address the risk posed by radicalised fighters returning to New Zealand after exposure to the Islamic State (IS) militant group, also known as ISIL, in Iraq and Syria. "We know that a small number of New Zealanders have travelled overseas to engage in the fighting," he said. "We're also aware of people within New Zealand who have a desire to travel and fight for ISIL. "Although the number of New Zealanders in these situations is modest compared with the actual numbers of our partners, they are significant relative to New Zealand's size." The country's terrorism threat level has been raised from very low to low, meaning an attack was considered "possible, but not expected". Mr Key said New Zealanders could not be complacent about the potential threat posed by returning fighters or people who may have fallen under the influence of jihadist propaganda on the internet. "If anyone believes that there's no risk of a form of domestic terrorism here, then they're actually deluded," he said. New Zealand's Cabinet has ordered a review that will consider a range of issues including tighter passport controls and the effectiveness of current laws to deal with people who fight with terrorist groups overseas. The four-week review will be led by the department of prime minister and cabinet. Mr Key said if the review should recommend law changes, he would seek bipartisan support to push them through before Christmas. He said it was important New Zealand's laws were aligned with those of its close allies, such as Australia, which recently announced a suite of new anti-terrorism laws. LINK: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-13/new-zealand-approves-review-into-foreign-fighter-laws/5810446

NEW ZEALAND HERALD 15 OCT - MAORI TRUST'S $1 MILLION IS NOW $15: WHERE HAS THE MONEY GONE?

A Far North Maori trust that received more than $1 million two years ago now has less than $15 in the bank. And a judge says there could be a case of "equitable if not actual fraud" against former trustees. Court documents show Judge David Ambler removed four trustees from the Parengarenga 3G Trust in August after allegations they paid themselves $600,000 over a year, months after the trust was set up. A further $400,000 of the trust's money is unaccounted for. A reserved judgment by Judge Ambler says the Maori Land Court appointed seven people in 2009 to replace the Maori Trustee organisation as responsible trustees for a 500ha plantation forestry block in Parengarenga. The Maori Trustee works in partnership with owners of Maori land to protect and build their assets and can be appointed to work on behalf of owners. After challenges to its membership, the trust did not receive money from the harvested forestry block until September 2012 when the Maori Trustee transferred $1,090,000 into its accounts. Judge Ambler said that between September 2012 and January 2013, three of the four former trustees - Stephen Henare, Margaret Dixon and Stephanie Henry - received "substantial" payments. Another trustee, Darryn Henare, also received payments but Judge Ambler said they were "far less significant than the payments to the others". The documents show that between September 2012 and September this year the trust paid more than $200,000 to the Stephen Henry Whanau Trust - of which Stephen Henare and his daughter, Stephanie Henry, are trustees. More than $100,000 was paid to Patrick and Margaret Dixon and in excess of $183,000 to SJ Henry and SJ Henare - understood to be Mr Henare or his daughter. A further $100,000 went to The Bear Legacy Company Limited - in which Mr Henare has a 10 per cent shareholding. The court documents said that the trust's bank accounts were left with $5.76, $2.67 and $4.98 - a total of $13.41. None of the former trustees could be contacted for comment. The documents showed the trust's lawyer, Peter Andrew, saying the trust would have difficulties in managing and maintaining its forestry block. Mr Andrew pointed to the prima facie evidence of misappropriation of funds. Judge Ambler said "the lack of any documentation to support those payments or any response from the trustees supports a good arguable case of equitable if not actual fraud". After removing the four people from the trust in August, he issued an injunction requiring them to deliver the documents and assets of the trust to the remaining trustees. He also issued an injunction freezing the bank accounts of Stephen Henare, Margaret Dixon and Stephanie Henare up to a maximum of $1 million. Q & A What has happened? A Maori whanau trust (Parengarenga 3G) that received more than $1 million two years ago for the harvesting of its forestry block now has less than $15 in its accounts. A judge says former trustees could face a fraud case. What was the trust set up for? In its application for incorporation as a charitable trust board, it said its object was to administer and preserve the interests of all whanau and use the income from those interests for the charitable purposes of promoting health, social, cultural and economic welfare and relieving poverty. Where has the money gone? Court documents show at least $600,000 has gone to four former trustees - Stephen Henare, Darryn Henare, Margaret Dixon and Stephanie Henare. It is not clear what the money was used for. A further $400,000 is unaccounted for. What has happened in the court? Judge David Ambler removed the four trustees from the trust in August. He has since issued an injunction freezing the bank accounts of three of them. The matter will go back to the Maori Land Court in December. LINK: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11342473

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 15 OCT - NETHERLANDS SAYS OK FOR BIKER GANGS TO FIGHT ISLAMIC STATE

The Hague: The Dutch public prosecutor said on Tuesday that motorbike gang members who have reportedly joined Kurds battling the Islamic State group in Iraq are not necessarily committing any crime. "Joining a foreign armed force was previously punishable, now it's no longer forbidden," public prosecutor spokesman Wim de Bruin said. "You just can't join a fight against the Netherlands," he said after reports emerged that Dutch bikers from the No Surrender gang were fighting IS insurgents alongside Kurds in northern Iraq. The head of No Surrender, Klaas Otto, told state broadcaster NOS that three members who travelled to near Mosul in northern Iraq were from Dutch cities Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Breda. A photograph on a Dutch-Kurdish Twitter account shows a tattooed Dutchman called Ron in military garb, holding a Kalashnikov assault rifle while he sat with a Kurdish comrade. Video footage apparently from a Kurdish broadcaster shows an armed European man with Kurdish fighters saying in Dutch: "The Kurds have been under pressure for a long time." Many countries including the Netherlands have been clamping down on their nationals trying to join IS jihadists who have taken over swathes of Iraq and Syria. Measures include confiscating would-be jihadists' passports before travelling and threatening prosecution should they return. "The big difference with IS is that it's listed as a terrorist group," said De Bruin. "That means that even preparing to join IS is punishable." Dutch citizens could not, however ,join the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), as it is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and much of the international community, De Bruin said. Dutch citizens fighting on the Kurdish side would of course be liable to prosecution if they committed crimes such as torture or rape, De Bruin said. "But this is also happening a long way away and so it'll be very difficult to prove," said De Bruin. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/netherlands-says-ok-for-biker-gangs-to-fight-islamic-state-20141015-1164so.html#ixzz3G9rWXV7d

NEW ZEALAND HERALD 15 OCT - TERROR WEBSITE SHOWS LAX ATTITUDE BY NZ OVER CHECKS

An international security expert says the terrorist website fiasco shows New Zealand is not checking website details registered here closely enough. Two websites sympathetic to Isis (Islamic State) extremists, including one still online last evening, were registered to an Auckland address. Icelandic authorities traced the khilafa.is site's registration to Private Box, a mail forwarding company in Auckland. Another extremist website called qa.af was registered to the same address, 3News reported. That site was still online last night. The Government was keeping tight-lipped but it was not clear if that was for security reasons or indecision over which agency should front the issue. Government agencies referred media inquiries to other agencies, including to police, Internal Affairs, the Department of Prime Minister and the Cabinet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Chris Finlayson, the Minister for the Security Intelligence Services (SIS) and the Government Security Communications Bureau (GCSB). The New Zealand Intelligence Community, which is responsible for the SIS and GCSB, said: "We are aware of the story, but would not comment on what may or may not be operational matters." Security analyst and political scientist Dr Paul Buchanan said the case reminded him of earlier cases of criminals using shell companies registered in New Zealand. Dr Buchanan said it was puzzling why Iceland seemingly uncovered the Auckland connection before local authorities did. He said local agencies had extensive powers under the GCSB and Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Acts to monitor internet traffic. "And of course as members of Five Eyes they're privy to all the mass data collection that goes with Five Eyes through Prism and those other metadata collection devices," Dr Buchanan added. "They may say some things slip though the cracks, although they probably don't want to say that too loudly." Gareth Foster, Private Box managing director, said he was "horrified" the website was registered to his company. It was believed to have been online since mid-September. Meanwhile, Dr Buchanan said it was likely New Zealand's SAS soldiers were preparing for battle with Isis. "The SAS is almost a sure thing. I would be very surprised if they haven't already pre-deployed into the theatre to get ready for the mission." Dr Buchanan said engineers, medics and possibly an infantry company could join the SAS. Isis has urged zealots to carry out "lone wolf" attacks against Australians and citizens of other "crusader nations" supporting the military mission in Iraq. A summit of military commanders from the US-led coalition against Isis, including New Zealand, will meet in Washington today to discuss ways to halt the jihadist group's advance in Iraq and Syria. Who oversees website domain names here? The Domain Name Commission authorises registrars, administers a dispute resolution service, and handles complaints about registrars not abiding by ".nz" policies, including incorrect domain name registration. Why did the Khilafah group choose an .is address? The khilafah.is domain was registered with Iceland's web hosting service ISNIC. Virtually any person or business can register an .is domain. ISNIC managing director, Jens Petur Jensson said he suspected the domain ending .is was attracting Isis and its supporters. How often does Iceland delete domain names like the Isis one? Icelandic media said ISNIC hosted around 50,000 domain names and this is the first time it has deleted a domain. LINK: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11342460

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES AUSTRALIA 14 OCT - ISIS-RUN WEBSITE TRACED TO NEW ZEALAND COMPANY

An ISIS-run Website with an address in New Zealand has been shut down in Iceland. Internet in Iceland Inc or ISNIC said in a statement on Oct. 12 that it had suspended domains "used for the Website of a known terrorist organisation." According to reports, ISNIC said a group that called itself ISIS has been running the site "khilafah.is." Iceland traced the web hosting company of the ISIS Website to New Zealand. The managing director of the Web hosting company said he was "horrified" to find an ISIS Website was registered to his company, ONE News reported. The Website address has been tracked to a safe deposit box in Parnell which was provided by the New Zealand company Private Box. Managing director Gareth Foster has confirmed his company provides a mail drop service for Suite 4551 but said the ISIS Website's domain was under the name of a certain Azym Abdullah. He was not a customer of Private Box. Foster said the company will be working with authorities to determine the relationship of the account associated with the name on the registered domain. Private Box had introduced more security measures in March for personal accounts identified as high risk. Foster told media that the customer had signed up in 2012 before the new measures were in place. New Zealand Federation of Islamic Associations president Anwar Ghani said he does not know anyone by the name of Azym Abdullah and confirms the person has no ties with the organisation. Ghani said the address in Parnell is not used by anyone in the association. Other Websites with similar names which ISIS militants claim to run in parts of Iraq and Syria are operational in other countries without clear ties to the group, reports said. ISNIC head Jens Petur Jensen claimed it was the first time that Iceland was forced to shut down the site because of its content. A spokesperson for New Zealand's intelligence community said they are aware of the story but will not give a statement. ISIS is known to be using the Internet to attract supporters to join them in Iraq and Syria as fighters. LINK: http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/569468/20141014/isis-new-zealand-iraq-iceland.htm#.VD2NEM6Imq0

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

LABOUR CUCKOO CONTEST - DAVID CUNLIFFE:'I RESIGN, I WANT THE TOP JOB BUT I QUIT THE LEADERSHIP RACE' (HERALD 13 OCT)

David Cunliffe has announced he is withdrawing from the Labour Party leadership contest. Speaking at his electorate office in West Auckland this afternoon, Mr Cunliffe said it had been a hard decision but within the wider interests of the party, and he was backing Andrew Little for the leadership. "I believe that although I retained support broadly around the party, the time has come to step aside." Flanked by two Labour MPs, William Sio and Nanaia Mahuta, Mr Cunliffe said he made the decision last week after Mr Little put his hat in the ring. Mr Cunliffe said he would remain as an MP in Parliament for his seat of New Lynn. But Mr Little would achieve "greater cohesion" within the party, he said. "It has been an absolute privilege to lead the New Zealand Labour Party." He said his family was "staunchly behind" his decision and he'd now be putting his full support behind Mr Little. Mr Little said Mr Cunliffe had done the right thing by withdrawing. "I think it's the right thing for the party and for himself, actually." He said it had become clear Mr Cunliffe was unlikely to be able to make the changes the party needed to lift its support among the wider population. Asked about Mr Cunliffe's endorsement of him, Mr Little said he appreciated any support he could get but it would still be a challenge to secure the leadership. He repeated he was not offering positions to MPs before the leadership vote was held and had not offered Mr Cunliffe anything. Despite that, Mr Cunliffe's endorsement could help Mr Little among the party's broader membership, especially in Mr Cunliffe's Auckland stronghold. "I appreciate any support I can get. It's always welcome but I've still got my work cut out for me to convince those who are wondering if I've got enough experience in Parliament, and other qualities you need for the leadership. So nice as it is to have support, I don't underestimate the task ahead of me." Mr Cunliffe secured a large proportion of the union vote last time, but much of that was expected to swing to Mr Little instead. Acting leader David Parker ruled out having Mr Cunliffe as his deputy but would not rule out a front bench position. "That's a decision for then, not now." Mr Cunliffe told him of his decision this morning. "He's made the right decision for him and the party, and he should be treated with the respect all former leaders deserve." Asked about Mr Cunliffe's endorsement of Mr Little, Mr Parker said MPs could endorse whoever they liked. He did not believe it was a punishment for Mr Parker's statement he had lost confidence in Mr Cunliffe following the election. "But I can't answer for him and I won't." He said it was Mr Cunliffe's right to decide to stay on in Parliament. "He's been elected and that's his right." He was confident Mr Cunliffe would be able to settle into caucus again. LINK: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11341657

Monday, 13 October 2014

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES AUSTRALIA 9 OCT - ABBOTT CALLS RADICAL ISLAM GROUP 'UN-ISLAMIC' AND 'UN-AUSTRALIAN'

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott called Hizb ut-Tahrir, the religious group which preaches radical Islam, as "un-Islamic." He also labelled the group as "un-Australian" after Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Wassim Doureihi had refused to criticise Islamic State beheadings. Doureihi was got involved in a heated debate with ABC journalist Emma Alberici on Wednesday as he did not answer questions related to Islamic State strategies. At the same time, he refused to criticise the tactics of beheadings and murders of the Middle Eastern militant group. Abbott criticised the way Doureihi handled the issue of terrorism on television. He said that, while the group had cautious avoided advocating terrorism, it also gave excuses to justify the action of terrorist organisations like the Islamic State. He said that Hizb ut-Tahrir had the ideology of justifying terrorism, and that was the reason he called it "un-Australian." Abbott spoke to Fairfax Radio on Thursday as he called the "Islamic" group as "un-Islamic." Abbott further clarified the labelling by saying that "no respectable Muslim" should have similar opinions. While Abbott clarified earlier that Australia could not ban such organisations as those were not directly involved in any terrorist activities. However, he also said that new laws would be made to ban such organisations for "promoting" terrorism with "hate" speeches against the West. The Australian PM also reminded that conservative commentator Andrew Bolt had been prosecuted for his article which was "relatively mild" in comparison to what the group would preach. SBS quoted Abbott giving the example of Bolt to compare his article with Hizb ut-Tahrir preaching in terms of being "objectionable." "Well certainly if poor old Andrew Bolt is prosecuted for a relatively mild piece," he said, "If we are looking for objectionable speech, the kind of stuff we are hearing from Hizb ut-Tahrir is infinitely more objectionable than anything you'd ever hear from Andrew Bolt." Doureihi earlier claimed that Australia was guilty of being an accomplice in the killings of several Muslims around the globe. Abbott dismissed his claim as he said that Australia was, in fact, "defending millions of Muslims" who would otherwise be victims of the Islamic State. Abbott also said that Australia would hope to do the same in Afghanistan as well. LINK: http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/569034/20141009/tony-abbott-call-hizb-ut-tahrir-un.htm#.VDrvw86Imq0

NZ HERALD 12 OCT - PM STILL CONSIDERING NZ'S ROLE IN ISIS FIGHT

It would be "odd" for New Zealand not join the fight against ISIS when so many of our major trading partners were already involved, Prime Minister John Key said this morning. Appearing on TVNZ's Q&A this morning, Prime Minister John Key said he was still considering what role New Zealand would take in the fight against the terrorist group and planned on discussing the terms of reference at the new Government's first cabinet meeting tomorrow morning. "There is more work to be done and we need to engage I think with our partners and others to consider - if New Zealand was to make a contribution, what would actually be useful, practical and work." The country had a large range of options when it came to dealing with ISIS, from humanitarian support - which was already underway, diplomacy and military options, Mr Key said. "That could be anything from everything from the form of people going in and training right through to ultimately people that would be there right on the front line." My Key declined to reveal what his preferred option would be. "We have to be very careful and cautious about what we do." "The real issue here - and it's a legitimate question for New Zealanders to ask - is should New Zealanders get involved?" "There are definite risks there. I don't want to overstate those risks, but they are there. They're risks in terms of foreign fighters in New Zealand and they're either looking to leave or return. "We're trying to get to a point where I can declassify that number to spell that out for people." It would be "odd" for New Zealand did not join the fight against ISIS when so many of our major trading partners were already involved, he said. "If you don't stand up to a known terrorist group that is dangerous and growing at a frightening rate, if the reason you don't do that is because you feel intimidated by them then by definition, they are starting to control your foreign policy." Mr Key said other priorities this term included passing National's employment law reform bill, which fell over at the last term due to the resignation of National's support partner John Banks. "I think the law is a tidy up of some scenarios which need reform."Reforming the Resource Management Act was another priority, Mr Key said. Meanwhile, an international security expert has accused the Prime Minister of "scaremongering" to build a case for war by claiming New Zealand could face domestic beheading threats. John Key also told TV3's The Nation yesterday that a disproportionate number of Islamic State fighters were sourced from in and around Oceania. International security expert Paul Buchanan said the claims were "absurd". "He's building a case for war. He's pulled the beheading imagery out for what I think are spurious purposes." Buchanan accused Key of misrepresenting New Zealand's role in joining the coalition against Isis - although he conceded it was impossible to discount a threat. "There's no evidence that because you fight against Isis the method of retribution is beheading on the streets of Auckland." He also rubbished the idea a "disproportionate" number of fighters were sourced here. Key said terrorists returning to New Zealand were a possible security risk and he warned Isis posed a major risk to Kiwi aid workers based in the Middle East. He told TV3 these reasons, and the growth of Isis, were among reasons New Zealand might join combat operations. Key has said he would consider sending troops to counter Isis if called on by allies. Earlier this week he would not rule out sending the SAS. It would be odd for New Zealand to do nothing when its allies were involved in fighting back, he said yesterday. "The question is what we do, rather than whether we do something." Islamic militants have beheaded four Western hostages since mid-August, most recently 47-year-old English aid worker Alan Henning. A fifth man - US native 26-year-old Abdul-Rahman Kassig - is being held in Syria and militants say he is next. LINK: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11341133

Saturday, 11 October 2014

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 11 OCT - THE WORLD HAS MISREAD THE MIDDLE EAST NIGHTMARE AND OUR WAR WITHOUT BORDERS

He expected it. But when the call came mid-morning on Thursday, Nizam Mougherit froze – the caller was threatening to behead Ibrahim, the 35-year-old's younger brother who serves in the Lebanese Army. Since early August, the so-called Islamic State and the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front, two of the strongest forces in the civil and sectarian war tearing Syria and Iraq apart, have been taunting the families of 37 cops and soldiers who were captured as the Islamists overran Arsal – a small town high in the wild mountain country that serves as Lebanon's border with Syria, and a little more than 120 kilometres north-east of the capital. "I felt like I was having a nervous breakdown," Nizam told me of a chilling exchange with a male who identified himself as an IS operative and who then proceeded to lecture Nizam on the need for the families to put more effort into daily protests, at which they've been pushing for the Beirut government to comply with the jihadis' demands for a prisoner swap – freedom for Ibrahim and his military and police colleagues, in return for the release of as many as 100 Islamist militiamen locked down in Lebanon's notorious Roumieh Prison. "We need to do a deal fast," the man from IS told him. "You have 48 hours – or the remaining prisoners will be executed by beheading." There's a Potemkin village feel to the tents erected on the pavement of Beirut's Riad al-Solh Square, named for the country's first post-independence prime minister – he was assassinated in 1952. But the families come out to protest because they were effectively ordered to do so by their kin's captors – so there's just a few slabs of bottled water and none of the musty, dug-in permanence that characterised the encampments of the global Occupy movement or of Ukraine's Maidan protests. All involved here are Lebanese, not Western, which might explain why the plight of the dozens of prisoners and their families has failed to punch through as an international news story. But the threat is real – two of the hostages already have been beheaded and a third was gunned down, according to Islamic State's social media postings. A Qatari government official is mediating between the Beirut government and the Sunni fighters who have retreated into the mountains behind Arsal – but so far, no deal. And a few hours before Nizam Mougherit's phone exchange on the urgency of beheadings, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon weighed in, expressing "grave concern" over what appears to be the Syria-based fundamentalist militias' probing the defences in Lebanon's border region, which are controlled by the Lebanese Shiite militia and political party, Hezbollah. Sit in the square with the families – sisters and wives, cousins and uncles milling with framed or banner-sized portraits of the captives – and it seems that the crisis roiling the Middle East is being miscast. As governments around the world opt in or out of the reluctant warrior Obama's coalition, the focus stays narrowly on the fighting in Syria and Iraq and keeping both countries as the post-Ottoman Western constructs that they are. It all seems to miss the point that this already is a regional, if not global conflict, in which the stakes are much higher than who turns on and off the lights in Damascus and Baghdad. This is not just about skirmishing spilling over borders into Turkey and Lebanon, but about the direct involvement of forces and funders, policymakers and provocateurs from right across the region, seeking to direct the course of the violence to pursue outcomes in Syria and Iraq, but also in pursuit of bigger but tangential regional agendas. Beyond Lebanon, it has gone virtually unnoticed that two beheadings have been carried out and many more are threatened; and that a diplomat from Qatar is attempting to defuse a situation that gives Ban Ki-moon sleepless nights. The Saudis, who are Sunnis, are pumping $US1 billion ($1.1 billion) worth of French-supplied weapons into Lebanon; and right behind them are the Shiite Iranians, promising their own, separate weapons consignment for Beirut – value not disclosed. Yet these little bits are parts of a dreadful whole, the complexities and dangers of which seem not to have been grasped around the world. The gifts of weapons from Riyadh and Tehran are just part of a slew of current arms deals in the region, estimated to be worth more than $US50 billion. And while all those weapons, no doubt, will help grow an already huge refugee crisis in the region, a UN appeal for $US1.7 billion to help the refugees, has received pledges for just 36 per cent of that target since it was launched late last year. It's all done with such naiveté and Boys' Own enthusiasm, that you wonder if our leaders obsess about military options alone, because to kick butt is easier than all the other stuff that could be done. More than a decade after the 9/11 attacks and an al-Qaeda-induced realisation that US intelligence services had nodded off on the Middle East, Nathan Brown of the Carnegie Endowment credits the Obama administration with rightly sensing that apart from the military, there are ideological and religious dimensions to this conflict. But then Professor Brown writes: "They are, however, particularly ill-equipped to understand, much less participate in, the non-military aspects of the struggle. And the consequences may not only be misunderstanding it, but more troubling, a return to the pattern of opportunistic alignments with autocrats that served US policy well in the short term, [but] at tremendous long-term cost." While all effort now goes into military attempts to solve a conflict for which all, from Obama down, admit that there is no military solution, a grim warning was issued in July by the UN negotiator who spent two years in search of a political solution to the crisis triggered in Syria by the last of the Arab Spring uprisings in the region. "There is a serious risk that the entire region will blow up," Lakhdar Brahimi warned in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, in which he predicted dire consequences for Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. "The conflict is not going to stay inside Syria. It will spill over into the region. It's already destabilising Lebanon [where there are] 1.5 million refugees – that represents one-third of the population – if it were Germany, it would be the equivalent of 20 million people." Analysing the global misreading of how events might unfold in Syria, Brahimi harped back to an earlier assignment in his career: "It reminds me a lot of 1999 – then, I resigned from my first assignment as a UN special envoy to Afghanistan, because the UN Security Council had no interest in Afghanistan, a small country, poor, far away. I said one day it's going to blow up in your faces – it did [and] Syria is much worse." And as for the notion implicit in the rhetoric of Obama and his coalition cheerleaders, that Syria somehow is to be rescued by and into the civilised world, Brahimi thinks otherwise – "It will become another Somalia. It will not be divided, as many have predicted. It's going to be a failed state, with warlords all over the place." And to the extent that there is a military solution – Washington and Canberra and the rest say that they will retrain the Iraqi military, on which the US already has spent hundreds of billions and lost thousands of its own troops in the process; and set up shoestring budget camps in Saudi Arabia to train 'vetted moderate' Syrian rebels to fight IS and the regime of Bashar al-Assad. All of which prompted a gem of self-contradiction this week by Obama spokesman Josh Earnest: "Our strategy [in Syria] is reliant on something that is not yet in place…" But with intelligence agencies warning that as many as 6000 volunteers have flocked to IS training camps since the start of the US-led bombing in Iraq in August, other experts predict that if they continue to bomb the forces and facilities of the Nusra Front, which is al-Qaeda affiliated but opposed to IS, it would drive many Syrian Sunnis, and probably Iraqis too, to fight against the US and its allies. Despite the coalition hype, it will be years before the Iraqi military or the Syrian rebels become effective fighting forces, and if past conflicts are a guide, only months will have passed before we are hearing complaints that there are no targets for air strikes. So who'll provide boots on the ground if there's to be any hope of capitalising on air strikes over Syria and Iraq in the short-term and holding territory in the medium-term? As it is, a good few of Obama's Western allies are refusing to do air strikes in Syria and all are refusing to send troops to Syria. At the same time, news reports suggest that the US is doing the lion's share of the current air strikes – despite several of the Gulf monarchs sending some of their air fleets. But what about the Arab armies – why have they not been dispatched? Those of us who were in the combined coalition columns as the first President Bush's coalition forces rolled across the desert to liberate Kuwait in 1991, still chortle at the Saudi officer class, a good number of whom drove their own luxury SUVs to war, because they would not deign to ride in military machines. With so much at stake in the region, perhaps one of the more disturbing aspects of the conflict as it shapes up, is the likelihood that the coalition will hew to the agenda of one of the myriad parties involved, at the expense of coalition unity and cohesion. Another is the inevitability that crisis momentum demands mission creep; or worse, that human error or mischief making could knock the whole venture off its axis. What might be this crisis' Franz Ferdinand moment? Recall that the archduke's assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 precipitated World War I, the aftermath of which was so ruinous for the Middle East. When I posed this question to the Beirut-based analyst Toufik Shouman, he responded: "We're practically in a World War III moment now, but it's controlled geographically and militarily…and what prevents the world from being dragged into a major global conflict is the [agenda differences] in the coalition that prevent agreement on the way forward, but you can't rule out the Franz Ferdinand moment." Shouman ticked off the likely targets, if IS was to opt to take the fight beyond Syria and Iraq – the list of embassies, consulates and businesses representing the coalition countries would be long. He concluded: "… and IS claims that it is ready to attack targets in the US itself." Dr Anthony Cordesman, of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, rebukes the US in a paper he published on Thursday. On the great difficulty of implementing coalition-based strategy, he writes: "This is particularly true when the US fails to honestly address its own problems and mistakes, minimises the costs and risks involved, and exaggerates criticism of its allies." Acknowledging the risk of mission creep, he said in a phone interview: "But you have to understand that there will be immense pushback against any effort to escalate – the US and its allies will try to control the mission to do what was originally described." But ask him about that Franz Ferdinand moment and suggestions pour out of him. Syria could shoot down a Turkish aircraft; the humanitarian dimension could be messed up; human displacement – "you can surely count on people to not understand that intervening to deal with a few thousand people can displace hundreds of thousands"; if IS advanced to a position from which it "threatened all of Iraq"; Iraq's Sunnis could refuse to co-operate with the new Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad; if violence broke out between Turkey and its Kurdish minority and Iraq's Kurds attempted to join in; if the Assad government in Syria was to step up its bombing of rebel forces "it could become a political problem too big to ignore"; and lastly, if IS was to lash out with a campaign of terrorist attacks that would provoke demands to escalate the coalition campaign. "Fully agreeing" with the idea that the conflict has been miscast as war in two countries, rather than as a regional or even bigger conflict, veteran White House adviser and CIA analyst Bruce Riedel's response to questions was a dire email in which he posits the current crisis in a seriously global framework. "Al Qaedaism, the ideology, is stronger today than ever, thanks to the failure of the Arab spring and the battlefield has expanded from Mali to Pakistan and beyond to Australia and Europe," he writes. "The worst nightmare for me is a terror attack that provokes Indo-Pakistan war; second, is a Mumbai-like attack in a Western city." Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/the-world-has-misread-the-middle-east-nightmare-and-our-war-without-borders-20141010-1143jt.html#ixzz3Fnb5j2uB

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES UK 10 OCT - ISIS: 'EVERY UK POLICE OFFICER IS A TERRORIST TARGET'

Police officers have been told to be vigilant "for their own personal safety" following a rise in the terror threat from "substantial" to "severe". The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) offered advice to 130,000 officers across the UK as the threat towards police has "heightened". Home Secretary Theresa May announced in August the terror threat level in the UK had risen to "severe", suggesting an attack is "highly likely". May said the reason for the increase was due to "developments in Syria and Iraq where terrorist groups are planning attacks against the West". The advice was also given following the arrests of four people in London on suspicion of being involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of terror acts. Whitehall officials have said they believe the men may have been planning an "Isis-related" terrorist attack in the UK. There have been no more specific threats and intelligence available, but ACPO are now reminding officers "of the need to be vigilant for their personal safety". National Policing Lead for Counter-Terrorism, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley added: "The threat level to police officers and staff has been heightened, but we are used to confronting risk and danger, this is what we do on a daily basis, and we are well trained. "We are informing our officers and staff of the heightened risk and reminding them to remain vigilant and alert to any possible dangers. We are asking them to follow existing policies and good practice. Measures are being put in place to increase the vigilance of officers and staff. "All police forces constantly review their security and safety procedures and this will, of course, continue. You will see no major changes in the way we continue to police the UK and engage with our communities - our emphasis is on vigilance." ACPO are also asking for the public's help in order to combat terrorism. "We therefore continue to urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police," a spokesperson added. "In particular we need communities and families to bring to our attention anyone they perceive may be vulnerable or in danger of escalating towards terrorism." LINK: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/isis-every-uk-police-officer-terrorist-target-warning-1469467

Thursday, 9 October 2014

THE TELEGRAPH UK 7 OCT - SPAIN FACES MOUNTING CRITICISM OVER HANDLING OF EUROPE'S FIRST EBOLA OUTBREAK

Spanish officials were facing mounting criticism on Tuesday over their handling of Europe’s first Ebola outbreak. They admitted they had still not worked out how a nurse became infected with the virus while working at a Madrid hospital. The European Commission has demanded an urgent explanation from the Spanish authorities of how the infection happened in what was supposed to be a high-security treatment ward. Spain’s health ministry has now put more than 50 people under observation for signs of infection. The infected nurse was named as Maria Teresa Romero Ramos, 44, who is believed to have become infected while treating Manuel Garcia Viejo, an elderly Spanish missionary repatriated to Madrid from Sierra Leone last month. Three other people, including her husband, were placed in quarantine on Tuesday, while a further 52 health workers have been put under observation by the health authorities. While Spanish officials tried to quell public panic, insisting that “all necessary measures were in place to ensure public health”, concerns remained about their failure to identify exactly how Ms Romero had become infected. Like other staff at specialist isolation unit of Madrid’s Carlos III hospital, she had been drilled in how to use protective clothing when treating patients, and had apparently only visited Mr Garcia’s room twice, once to change his medical nappy and once to clear the room after his death on September 25. “We are complying with the established procedure but we are revising all protocols, including those inside the hospital and those outside,” said Rafael Perez-Santamarina, a senior health official, admitting that the source of the infection was still unknown. “When we finish the investigation, we will be able to say.” Javier Limon, the husband of the infected nurse, insisted that his wife had stringently “followed regulations” while caring for the missionary priests repatriated with the illness. “She did everything she was told to, and at no time was she concerned that she could have been infected,” he told Spain’s El Mundo newspaper in a telephone interview from the hospital isolation ward where he has been quarantined. Staff at the hospital, meanwhile, staged a public protest, complaining that emergency measures and training on how to look after Mr Garcia and another Ebola-infected priest had not been adequate. They said they had been issued with substandard overalls which were not entirely impermeable, and that they should also have been given breathing apparatus, although medical experts say the latter is not considered essential as Ebola is not airborne. Questions have also been raised as to why it took so long to isolate the nurse after she began to feel unwell on September 30. She reportedly contacted health workers to tell them she was suffering from a low fever and fatigue, explaining that she had assisted in the care of the missionaries. But it was not until she presented herself at her local hospital with a high fever early on Monday that she was finally admitted and tested positive to the deadly haemorrhagic virus. Spanish officials also took the extra precaution of taking away her pet dog to be put down, amid concerns that the dog could have acted as a carrier of the virus. Ms Romero is the first person to have contracted Ebola outside of west Africa, where the virus has now claimed nearly 3,500 lives. The outbreak, which began in Guinea in December, has spread mainly to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone, but isolated cases have also been reported in Nigeria, Senegal and last week also in the US, where a man tested positive after flying to Texas from Liberia. Thomas Eric Duncan has been in critical condition at a Dallas hospital since Saturday, and has been put on a kidney dialysis machine. Spain’s opposition parties called for the resignation of Ana Mato, the health minister of Spain’s conservative government over her handling of the crisis. A European public health safety committee will also meet on Wednesday to review the situation, amid fears that the Madrid outbreak could spread to other countries. Meanwhile, Zsuzsanna Jakab, the director of the World Health Organisation, predicted that further outbreaks would almost Ebola virus would almost inevitably take place in Europe, given the extensive air links between the European capitals and west Africa. “Such imported cases and similar events as have happened in Spain will happen also in the future, most likely,” Ms Jakab said. “It is quite unavoidable ... that such incidents will happen in the future because of the extensive travel both from Europe to the affected countries and the other way around,” she said. Passengers travelling from Ebola-infected nations in west Africa currently undergo temperature checks before boarding flights, with anyone registering a thermometer reading of 38C banned from boarding. But given that the virus has an incubation period of up to three weeks, it is impossible to screen with complete effectiveness. While some airlines have suspended direct flights to infected countries, such as British Airways, United Nations health chiefs have lobbied for others to remain in operation, arguing that a complete ban on international air travel would hamper the international aid effort. Despite the Spanish case, Ms Jakab said a widespread outbreak in Europe was unlikely because of the high standard of health services and public sanitation. “The most important thing in our view is that Europe is still at low risk, and the Western part of the European region particularly is the best-prepared in the world to respond to viral haemorrhagic fevers,” she said. She added that she saw no reason yet for screening at Europe’s borders of travellers coming from the affected countries in West Africa, despite plans for such measures in the US. LINK: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/ebola/11147508/First-European-transmission-of-Ebola-avoidable-say-experts.html

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 9 OCT - AUSTRALIAN SUPER HORNET BOMBS ISLAMIC STATE TARGET IN IRAQ

A RAAF fighter has launched Australia's first attack against the Islamic State, dropping two bombs on a militant facility overnight. The strike was launched from a RAAF Super Hornet fighter. All Australian aircraft have since exited the area and returned safely to base, Defence said in a statement. The weapons dropped on the Islamic State target would either have been 500-pound GBU-12 laser-guided bombs or JDAM (joint direct attack munition) bombs which are directed by GPS and come in 500-pound and 2000-pound versions. Both types weapons have similarly high levels of accuracy with an error margin of only about one metre. The Defence statement did not say what target was hit, describing it only as a "facility" – which is significant because it suggests a more static target. Most of the RAAF combat missions are expected to focus on moving targets such as vehicles carrying Islamic State fighters. "Overnight the Australian Air Task Group operating in the Middle East attacked its first target in Iraq," the Defence statement said. "Two bombs were dropped from an F/A-18F Super Hornet on to an ISIL facility. All aircraft exited the target area safely and returned to base." It was the first time that Australian fighters have actually launched an attack, though this was the fourth combat mission flown by the Super Hornets. Defence chiefs revealed on Wednesday that Super Hornets pulled out of a potential strike on a moving Islamic State target in Iraq on Sunday night because of fears of killing civilians. The revelation from Australia's first day of combat operations underscores what is likely to be a typical pattern for coalition air missions, with Islamic State fighters adapting to bombing raids by fleeing for the safety of civilian areas when confronted by a threat from above. Chief of Joint Operations David Johnston said on Wednesday their commanders were tracking a target but employed the "red card" system – which cancels any strike – after it moved into a built-up area. "One of our [Super Hornet] packages on the first night … had an identified target which it was tracking and that particular target moved into an urban area where the risks of conducting a strike on that target increased to a point where it exceeded our expectations of collateral damage, so they discontinued the attack at that point," he said. The RAAF has now carried out three combat missions on each of the past three nights. Vice-Admiral Johnston said they would now fly such missions "on most evenings". The missions tend to be about seven hours long, with two hours flight time each way and two to three hours patrolling for targets. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australian-super-hornet-bombs-islamic-state-target-in-iraq-20141009-113fe9.html#ixzz3FbJs3RTL

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 7 OCT - IRAQ APPROVES AUSSIE SPECIAL FORCES ON THE GROUND

Australian special forces have been cleared to start work on the ground in Iraq, helping local troops as they face the grinding task of driving Islamic State fighters out of their stronghold towns and cities. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is expected to announce on Tuesday that the final legal hurdles with the Iraqi government have been cleared, meaning the Australian commandos can begin their "advise and assist" work with the Iraqis. The paperwork from Baghdad came as RAAF Super Hornet fighters returned safely to the United Arab Emirates from their first combat mission in Iraq, providing air cover for local troops in the country's north, though they did not launch weapons. But even as the RAAF missions began, Defence Minister David Johnston acknowledged that the Islamic State fighters were quickly adapting to air strikes. "I think that's pretty certain that they will adapt very quickly not to be out in the open where the Iraqi security forces can call in an air strike," he said. Air strikes would less frequently be against fixed targets but would rather be in support of Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground, as the US was currently doing in the besieged northern Syrian town of Kobani, he said. But Senator Johnston acknowledged this would be harder in the major Islamic State strongholds in Iraq such as Fallujah, Ramadi and Tikrit, where the Iraqi forces would need to "step up" and drive the militants out. "I think it was always going to be … that the Iraqi security forces would have to step up and go into these towns and clean them out." The former Chief of Air Force, retired Air Marshal Geoff Shepherd, said the militants would "melt among the population". "At the start of their campaigns, they were massing as a military force … but they're smart enough now to melt back into the population and it will be more difficult to contain them by air power alone." He warned that this could raise the risk of civilian casualties, which would need to be avoided.

"We're not going to win this just by bombing. We're going to win it by challenging their ideology and their view of the world, and every time we kill an innocent civilian … that drives people into the arms of jihadis." Syrian Kurds warned that air strikes were failing to halt the advance of the Islamic State in that country's north as they lay siege to a key town near the border with Turkey. "Air strikes alone are really not enough to defeat ISIS in Kobani," said Idris Nassan, a senior spokesman for the Kurdish fighters trying to defend the town, using an alternative name for the militants. "Each time a jet approaches, they leave their open positions, they scatter and hide. What we really need is ground support. We need heavy weapons and ammunition in order to fend them off and defeat them." Up to 200 Australian special forces soldiers will work in Iraq, bolstering the local troops on the ground. It is understood that some left Al Minhad air base in the United Arab Emirates before the final legal clearance, to begin work. Their focus will be on strengthening the leadership ranks among the Iraqis to avoid the military collapses that allowed the Islamic State to seize large swathes of territory in recent months. But Fairfax Media understands that among the troops will also be elite joint terminal attack controllers – special forces experts who can call in air strikes from the ground with great accuracy. They would work with the RAAF Super Hornets and Wedgetail surveillance and control planes to hit moving Islamic State targets while the Iraqi army fight them on the ground. The Australian government needed a detailed legal agreement with the new government in Baghdad that ensures Australian Defence Force personnel have the necessary legal cover if, for instance, they are involved in the deaths of civilians. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/iraq-approves-aussie-special-forces-on-the-ground-20141006-10r14g.html#ixzz3FOm6k8WD

Monday, 6 October 2014

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES UK - 5 OCT - CHINA LAUNCHES TEST MISSILE CAPABLE OF CARRYING NUCLEAR WARHEADS TO EUROPE AND US

China has successfully launched a test missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead 10,000km – meaning the whole of Europe and parts of the US is within its range. The Dongfeng missile can be fired from mobile launchers capable of traversing rough terrain, meaning they can be easily moved and hidden from detection by spy satellites. China launched the missile on 26 September. The Pentagon confirmed the launch it took place. Although refusing to provide details, Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia O Smith told the Washington Free Beacon: "We continue to monitor China's military modernization, including its missile tests." Concern in the US is growing at the extent of China's nuclear armoury, particularly as Chinese state media has stated weapons are being developed for use against the US, probably to strengthen its hand in nuclear proliferation talks. China has a wide range of missiles capable of being launched from land, air or submarines, and some have the capability to carry multiple nuclear warheads, capable of striking up to three US cities simultaneously. The US, Russia and India are believed to be developing similar missiles. It is estimated that China only has around 250 nuclear warheads, compared with the 2,104 operational warheads operated by the US. Major General Yao Yunzhu, China's director of the Center of America-China Defense Relations for the Academy of Military Science, said in a letter to the Pacific Forum of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, that China still lags behind the US in terms of nuclear weapons. "The Ballistic Missile Defense systems that the US and its allies have deployed, or are planning to deploy, are capable of intercepting Chinese nuclear weapons launched for retaliation after it has already been attacked, thus potentially negating the deterrence effect of the Chinese nuclear arsenal," said Yunzhu. Retired Peoples' Liberation Army general Xu Guangyu told the South China Morning Post: "Beijing just wants to increase China's military might and its nuclear strategic threat. It's not really targeting the US or other countries. "China needs to conduct intensive weapons tests and military drills because the (US-led build-up) now in the Asia-Pacific area is not good for Beijing." LINK: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/china-launches-test-missile-capable-carrying-nuclear-warheads-europe-us-1468574

LABOUR'S CRISIS: A NEW HAMLETIC LITTLE LEADER? (HERALD 4 OCT)

The Labour leadership race could yet have another twist after newly-confirmed MP Andrew Little said he would now consider a bid for the top job. Mr Little, a list MP, had been waiting for the final election results to make sure he would be returned to Parliament on the list. The commission called him at 12.45pm to confirm that his seat was secure. Mr Little immediately held a press conference, where he said he would consider entering the leadership battle. "It's not something I've considered because I've been waiting to see whether I've been confirmed in Parliament," he said. "It's something that I may now well consider. I will also be considering how realistic my prospects are and that's where it's at." The leadership contest is currently a two-horse race between Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe. Other potential candidates include former leader David Shearer and Napier MP Stuart Nash, though Mr Nash is reportedly waiting to see if Mr Little puts his hand up. Mr Little said that while he had been involved in Labour for a long time he was only in his second term as an MP and had run two failed campaigns in New Plymouth. "These are things I have to weigh up." He had spent the last two weeks since the election "preparing for the worst, hoping for the best" and it was "way too early" to decide about whether he would run or not. He believed it was important to look at the reasons for Labour's election failure before a leader was chosen. "I'm one of the those who really wants to work out ... what needs to change and therefore the sort of person we need leading the party." In an interview on TV3's The Nation this morning, Mr Little was critical of Labour's 2014 election campaign. He said some of its big policies, in particular raising the superannuation age, combined with Labour's potential coalition partners had "scared people". He said voters were seeking a level of personal and economic security and they did not see Labour delivering that. Mr Little is a former EPMU president and could secure strong support from unions in a primary contest for Labour's top job. He would not comment on this potential advantage this afternoon. LINK: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11337063

Saturday, 4 October 2014

NZ HERALD 4 OCT - MORE LIVING IN CARS AS RENTS GO THROUGH ROOF

Families are being forced into desperate measures - paying more than half their income in rent and even living in cars - as Auckland's rental housing crisis deepens. South Auckland social service agencies say they are seeing more families with children living in cars, camping grounds and boarding houses in the past two or three months as private sector rents become unaffordable and state houses have become almost unavailable. Housing stress is also spreading into middle-income families as the proportion of all renters paying more than 40 per cent of their income in rent has more than doubled in the past decade nationally, from 9.5 per cent to 23 per cent. Last year 48 per cent of all renters who received an accommodation supplement, or 94,000 households, already paid more than half their income in rent. Salvation Army Manukau community ministries director Pam Hughes said some families were now paying more than 70 per cent of their incomes on rent, but could not keep up payments and came to her service in crisis. "We are seeing an increase in families in vehicles. Families in cars have been increasing over the last three or four months, simply because there isn't enough affordable accommodation for them," she said. "It's actually affecting our social workers because they are unable to assist some of the families we are seeing, and that is taking a big toll on them. We will go the extra mile, we always do, but currently we have hit a brick wall. We don't have enough affordable housing." Manurewa Marae whanau support worker Ngaire Munro said she had also seen "an influx of families in crisis mode for housing". Despite an economic upturn, priority A applicants on the social housing waiting list, described as "at risk and including households with a severe and persistent housing need that must be addressed immediately", have ballooned nationally from 425 in mid-2012 to 3188 this June. More than half (1707) are in Auckland. Michael Clatworthy, electorate secretary for former Manukau East MP Ross Robertson and its new MP Jenny Salesa, said a major factor was a reversal of transtasman migration. "It's one of those perfect storms. A lot more people are coming back from Australia and less people are leaving, so the Housing NZ houses that used to be becoming available are not becoming available," he said. On top of that, he said, a transfer of the social housing waiting list from Housing NZ to Work and Income in April had removed the flexibility that Housing NZ managers used to have. For example, Work and Income might assess a family with six children in a van as needing a house with four or five bedrooms, so they might sit on the waiting list for months until such a large house became available. "Under the old system, you could talk to a manager and they could get you a three-bedroom house, which was better than nothing," Mr Clatworthy said. Social Development Ministry general manager Marama Edwards said Work and Income still worked closely with emergency housing providers and adjusted families' priority ratings when their circumstances changed. "If people are experiencing hardship they should contact Work and Income," she said. The Manukau Salvation Army is auctioning a "tent for any tenant" on Trade Me to fund its housing services. Bids close on Friday, October 10, World Homeless Day. LINK: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11336725

NEWS.COM.AU 4 OCT - ISIS: AUSTRALIA AT WAR IN IRAQ

LESS THAN a month ago, you’d be forgiven for not knowing who ISIS were. Now, Australia is on high terror alert, one terror suspect is dead, there have been major raids across Melbourne and Sydney and sweeping changes to legislation are set to be rushed through parliament. Overnight, Australia completed it’s first “operational missions” over Iraq. But if leaping into war has left you a struggling to catch up, here’s what we know and don’t know about what is happening so far. WHAT IS GOING ON? Overnight the Defence Force confirmed two aircraft conducted missions in support of a US-led coalition fighting in Iraq to destroy ISIS — the brutal terrorist group that now controls large parts of land across Northern Iraq and Syria. MORE: The unlikely weapon in ISIS’ arsenal The Defence Force said “the missions were completed without incident and the aircraft have returned safely to Australia’s main support base in the Middle East.” There are currently 600 Australian military personnel stationed in the United Arab Emirates awaiting a specific request from the Iraqi government on what to do next. This includes eight Super Hornets, a Wedgetail early warning and control aircraft, a refueller aircraft and an SAS team advising the military in Iraq. This morning, Iraq’s Ambassador Mouayed Saleh confirmed “it’s just a matter of getting the paperwork done” and a decision on further Australian involvement will be made within days. But he said there is no request for ground troops to be sent. “I can tell you thing one thing for sure. We are not allowing troops on the ground.” Yesterday, the Prime Minister said a final decision to commit Australia’s Super Hornets to air strikes has not been made yet, while Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the national security committee and cabinet will consider requests before they are approved. “We are being prudent and measured and cautious in relation to this matter,” Ms Bishop said. The Defence Force completed it’s fifth shipment of military supplies to Northern Iraq last week delivering 11.5 tonnes of weapons and stores. Australia has also undertaken two humanitarian aid drops over the last three weeks. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor supported the operation. WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP? The next announcement will likely come after the national security committee meet to discuss the request, which is expected to be today, tomorrow or the weekend. Australia Defence Association’s Executive Director Neil James said: “It’s not clear what the specific request is about, it could just be a formal document. The invitation so far has mainly been verbal to our diplomats in Iraq.” MORE: Tony Abbott brands ISIS ‘apocalyptic death cult’ He said the two countries are likely determining rules of engagement — the classified guide that determines what targets can and can’t be hit. So far, Australian planes have not dropped bombs but have been “operationally involved” through refuelling planes flown by other countries involved in strikes or possibly undertaking surveillance in order to co-ordinate strikes, Mr James said. WHO ELSE IS INVOLVED? The US is leading an international coalition of 20 countries that have pledged direct military support to destroy ISIS — including France, Saudi, the UAE, Bahrain, UK, Germany, Canada, Italy, Lebanon and Turkey. There are now a total of 62 countries that are offering military, humanitarian or political support for the mission against IS in Iraq and Syria, according to the US State Department. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE? The government has not put any time frame on the conflict and Mr James said to do so would be foolish as conflict has a dynamic nature. “A conflict situation changes all the time so the demand that a deadline might be set is quite frankly and act of stupidity,” he said. How long the war lasts depends on the ability of Iraq’s government and coalition forces to undermine ISIS and build morale in the Iraqi army, plus supply Peshmerga forces with the weapons they need. “I would be very surprised if we are out in six months and (we’ll be there) probably longer.” HOW MUCH WILL IT COST? While some costs can be forecast — such as the number of aircraft flying per day, Mr James said because conflict changes all the time it’s virtually impossible to come up with a dollar figure. “The question is can we afford not to undertake this activity? The moment you accept you have to undertake it you have to accept the costs. It’s like fighting a bushfire … or undertaking a search and rescue mission,” he said. “You don’t say you can’t fight it because you haven’t budgeted for it.” ARE WE REPEATING THE SAME MISTAKES AS 2003? Debate about entering Iraq has drawn plenty of comparisons to the 2003 Iraq war, particularly in the US, where it became an expensive and protracted conflict. However Mr James said the nature of the current threat means its “silly” to make comparisons about the situation more than a decade ago. “This is a much more complex and nuanced situation than when we first went into Iraq in 2003 and people need to stop making silly comparisons that are locked into a time freeze and fail to recognise everything that’s happened since then,” he said. WHY ARE WE GOING INTO IRAQ AND NOT SYRIA? The difference between air strikes in Iraq and Syria comes down to the legality of the invasion under international law. Mr James said the UN charter makes it legal only to enter a conflict in self-defence or if authorised by the UN Security Council. Seeing as Australia’s involvement comes at the behest of the Iraqi government, this is seen as legal, but the situation in Syria is much more complex. “To operate in Syria you would need a request from the Syrian government. The problem there is it’s a four-sided Civil War. The Assad government doesn’t control large parts of Syria and they’re the type of government people would be unwilling to accept an invitation from.” But he also said there is an argument that Iraq should be allowed to defend itself by striking inside Syria — which makes up the basis for strikes by the US and other Arab nations. “Australia and Britain are unlikely to operate outside Iraq without further clarification of the legal situation,” he said. LINK: http://www.news.com.au/national/isis-australia-at-war-in-iraq/story-fncynjr2-1227077774691

Friday, 3 October 2014

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 3 OCT - AUSTRIA PROPOSES NEW LAW ON ISLAM

Vienna: Austria called on Thursday for standardised German-language translations of the Koran and moved to prohibit foreign funding of Muslim organisations on its soil in a draft law aimed in part at tackling Islamic extremism. The bill will overhaul a 1912 law governing the status of Austrian Muslims, prompting concern from a major local Islamic body, which saw it mirroring widespread mistrust of Muslims. The initiative comes at a time of robust support for the far-right in Austria and also alarm over reports of Muslims from the small, neutral country joining Islamist militant forces fighting in the Middle East. "The clear message should be that there is no contradiction between being a faithful Muslim and a proud Austrian," said Foreign Affairs and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz, a member of the conservative People's Party. "If you don't have orderly legal regulation ... this can always bring dangers (of extremism). In this sense, if you like this is maybe a part of prevention," he told reporters. He added that sharia, or Islamic law, had "no place here". Roughly half a million Muslims live in Austria, representing about 6 percent of the total population, which is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. The Christian and Muslim communities have co-existed for years and relations have been relatively unproblematic by comparison with friction seen in other European nations. For example, unlike France, Austria has not moved to ban Muslim women from wearing full-face veils in public. However, tensions have grown with the rise of the anti-immigration and Islam-critical Freedom Party, which is backed by roughly a quarter of Austrians according to opinion polls. Under the terms of the draft bill, state-recognised religious organisations will have to offer a unified German-language version of their doctrine and sources of faith, including for the Muslim holy book, the Koran. At present, there are only two officially recognised Islamic organisations in Austria. The legislation would also forbid Islamic teachers employed by any foreign states from working in Austria and stop outside funding for any Islamic organisations. "Among the Muslim base, the law is not seen as a gift for the Eid holiday," said Carla Amina Baghajati, spokeswoman of the Islamic Community of Faith in Austria (IGGIO), referring to Eid-al-Adha which Muslims will celebrate in the coming days. "(The bill) mirrors in its overtone the spirit of the times we currently perceive, which is marked by blanket suspicion and mistrust against Muslims," she said, adding that she was optimistic the legislation might still be amended. Specifically, the IGGIO was worried about the law appearing to bundle together various Sunni, Shi'ite and Alawite sects and also about the ramifications of trying to agree on a unified German-language version of the Koran. The Arabic version of the Koran is generally thought of as the word of Allah in Islam, with any translation including an element of interpretation. "If a version of the Koran (in German) comes along as the codified, ultimate (version), then this would contradict the self-conception of Islam," Ms Baghajati said. Foreign minister Kurz told Austrian radio last month that numerous translations of the Koran had generated countless interpretations and said it was in the interests of local Muslims to eliminate possible misunderstandings. The Austrian government warned in August that Islamist militancy was on the rise and officials have said around 140 people have left Austria to fight with the likes of the Islamic State, which has grabbed control of swathes of Iraq and Syria. Last month, Austria said it would ban militant Islamist groups' symbols and strip citizenship from people who travel abroad to fight with jihadists. On Thursday Mr Kurz dismissed suggestions that a unified translation would pose a problem. "Am I sceptical when I hear this is difficult or not easily done? Fundamentally no," said Mr Kurz, adding that it had previously been possible to create unified teaching material for Islamic religious studies at schools across Austria. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/austria-proposes-new-law-on-islam-20141003-10pm4l.html#ixzz3F1Mqg9zm

Thursday, 2 October 2014

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES UK 1 OCT - CONSERVATIVE CONFERENCE 2014: CAMERON TO AXE INCOME TAX FOR MINIMUM WAGE WORKERS

A Conservative Party government would abolish income tax for a million workers on the minimum wage, according to David Cameron. The UK Prime Minister, speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, said he would lift the tax-free personal allowance on income tax to £12,500 ($20,235, €16,069) by 2020. The current rate is set at £10,000 and means that an employee, who works 30 hours per week and earns £6.50 an hour, is only taxed £28 a year. "I can tell you now that a future Conservative government will raise the tax free personal allowance from £10,500 (its April 2015 rate) to £12,500 that will take one million more of the lowest paid workers out of income tax and it will give a tax cut to 30 million more," Cameron said. "With us if you work on minimum wage for 30 hours you will pay no income tax. That is what I call a Britain that is proud to call home." In addition, Cameron said he would raise the 40p income tax threshold from £41,900 to £50,000 in the next parliament. The prime minister also blasted Ed Miliband after the Labour Party leader forgot to mention the UK's deficit in his conference speech earlier this month. "Look, Ed, people forget their car keys," Cameron said. "I once even forget that I left Nancy [his daughter] down the pub. You cannot be prime minister of this country and forget the most important issue that we face. Some mistakes? Labour were just one big mistake." The announcement comes after Nigel Farage promised his party would abolish income tax for people on the minimum wage by increasing the income tax threshold to £13,500. The move, which would cost £12bn, means employees who work 40 hours a week (10 more hours than Cameron's calculations) on the current minimum wage would be lifted out of income tax. The Ukip leader also said he wants to cut the upper limit income tax rate to 35p, down from 40p, for people earning up to £55,000. At the moment there are three tax bands – a 20% threshold (for people with incomes up to £31,865), a 40% (for those people over the 20% limit) and a 45% 'additional' threshold (for people with taxable incomes of more than £150,000). Elsewhere, Miliband promised that a Labour government would increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour by 2020. The latest ComRes survey had Labour six points in the polls ahead of the general election (Lab 35%, Con 29%, Ukip 19%, Ldem 7%, Grns 4%). LINK: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/conservative-conference-2014-cameron-pledges-axe-income-tax-minimum-wage-workers-1468071

YAHOO NZ NEWS 2 OCT - LABOUR WILL HAVE NEW LEADER IN NOVEMBER

Labour will have a new leader by the end of November, with the party's ruling council deciding on a timetable for the leadership election. There are so far only two contenders - David Cunliffe who is seeking re-election and Grant Robertson. The council met on Wednesday night and decided that the new leader will be announced on November 18 - before the report on Labour's disastrous election campaign is made public on December 7. But acting leader David Parker has said it should be possible for an interim report to be issued to give MPs, members and unions an idea of what went wrong and why. Nominations will close on October 14 and after that a code of conduct for the candidates will be finalised. The election, known as a primary, will involve the candidates going around the country speaking at 14 meetings of party members and representatives from Labour's seven affiliated unions. There's speculation Stuart Nash, a newly re-elected MP, could be nominated but he hasn't given any strong indications he's ready for it. Another possibility is former leader David Shearer, who hasn't ruled it out. Mr Shearer has been out the country this week because he's Labour's foreign affairs spokesman and accompanied Foreign Minister Murray McCully to the UN in New York. Mr Robertson has the numbers in caucus while Mr Cunliffe believes he has the edge among party members and the unions. It's clear most MPs don't think Mr Cunliffe deserves another term as leader after Labour's worst election result since 1922. The 19-member council is headed by party president Moira Coatsworth. It includes six vice-presidents representing the party's sections, seven regional representatives, a rainbow representative, a policy council representative, two Maori representatives and the general secretary. LINK: https://nz.news.yahoo.com/election/a/-/25158124/labour-will-have-new-leader-in-november/#

LABOUR'S LEADERSHIP SITCOM 1 OCT: 'CUNLIFFE BEEN WATCHING TOO MUCH TV' ROBERTSON SAYS

LABOUR'S LEADERSHIP CONTEST. NOVEMBER 2014. GAY VS QUEER. Starring DAVID "In & Out" CUNLIFFE versus GRANT "Fabulous" ROBERTSON. And - maybe - Mister LITTLE as The Outsider. Don't Miss It. On The Box.

RWR NZ NEWS: A NEW NATIONAL COUNCIL

RWR NZ ARE GOING TO FORM a National Council to share the work load. This is an opportunity for skilled RWR Officers willing to prove themselves. Open for nominations now to add two people to the RWR National Team. If you're interested, please apply via cellphone or e-mail. RWR HQ: rwrnz@hotmail.com - cellphone 027 2579269. (Kingsland Wolf - AKL & NORTHERN WOLVES MEDIA)