Syrian forces advance after scrapping ceasefire
BEIRUT: Syrian government loyalists captured a town and a village from militants and allied rebels in northwest Syria on Wednesday, after fierce clashes that killed nearly 30 combatants overnight, a war monitor said.
The town of Al-Zakat and the Al-Arba’een village in Hama province came under Syrian control on Wednesday morning, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
It said the clashes overnight killed 10 loyalists and 18 opposition fighters, including 13 militants.
The push has also seen loyalists reach the edges of Kafr Zita and Al-Latamneh — respectively, a major town and a village — held by the opposition in northern Hama, according to the Observatory.
Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS), a group led by Syria’s former Al Qaeda affiliate, has since January controlled Northern Hama as well as all of Idlib and adjacent parts of Aleppo and Latakia governorates.
A truce that started last Friday was supposed to protect three million people living in the region after three months of deadly bombardment by the regime and its ally Russia.
But HTS on Saturday refused to comply with a key condition to that truce, declaring it would never withdraw from a planned buffer zone around the area.
On Monday, the government declared the truce over, accusing its opponents of attacking civilian areas and bombarding an air base of its ally Russia. Moscow and Damascus have since resumed air strikes.
“The regime leveraged the ceasefire to send reinforcements to Northern Hama,” said Rami Abdul Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitor.
A Turkish-Russian deal struck in September last year was supposed to avert a massive government offensive on the Idlib region. But that deal was never fully implemented as militants refused to withdraw from the planned demilitarised cordon.
Instead, heightened attacks by the regime and Russia have killed more than 800 civilians since the end of April, the Observatory says. It has also pushed 400,000 people from their homes, according to the UN.
Syria’s conflict has killed more than 370,000 people and driven millions from their homes since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.
Meanwhile, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said the United States is shifting closer to Ankara’s views on a proposed safe zone in northeast Syria, and that its plans for a military deployment there are complete.
Keneally playing 'ugly and divisive politics' by trying to ban Raheem Kassam
Sky News host Chris Kenny says Kristina Keneally likes to “play ugly and divisive politics” by trying to ban Raheem Kassam from Australia. The Shadow Home Affairs Minister called on the government to cancel Raheem Kassam’s visa, arguing he had "an extensive history of vilifying people on the grounds of their race, religion, sexuality and gender". “Keneally is smearing anyone who dares turn up at the conservatives conference and even tries to link them to the sickening massacre of worshiping Muslims in Christchurch earlier this year”, Mr Kenny said. “It is a sign of the polarisation of our politics, it is a resort to the sort of extremism Keneally says she opposes.”
Labor criticised for not backing deportation laws
The Morrison Government is pressuring Labor to back new laws that would make it harder for criminals to avoid deportation. The proposed laws would see people automatically fail the character test if they were convicted of a violent offence carrying a two year jail sentence.
Hastie 'irresponsible' for linking China’s rise to Nazi Germany
Labor MP Matt Thistlethwaite has slammed Andrew Hastie as "irresponsible" for linking China's rise to Nazi Germany and has rubbished his comments as nothing but "a cheap headline". Mr Hastie, the head of parliament’s intelligence committee, warned China posed an unprecedented economic and national security threat, and drew links between the country's rise and Nazi Germany. Speaking to Sky News on Thursday, Mr Thistlethwaite said Mr Hastie's comments were not "in Australia's best interests". Mr Thistlethwaite urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison "to indicate whether or not this is the view of the Morrison government or whether these are just the comments of a back-bencher freelancing for a cheap headline".
ANIC Strongly Condemns the Recent Human Rights Violations Carried out by the Indian Security Forces in Kashmir
8th August 2019
The Grand Mufti of Australia and The Australian National Imam Council (ANIC) strongly condemn the recent human rights violations carried out by the Indian security forces towards innocent civilians of the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). We unequivocally reject the Indian Government unilateral actions to abolish the special autonomous status of Indian-Occupied portion of the Muslim-majority in Kashmir. The Indian government’s latest provocations backed by military intervention are in breach of the international laws supported by several UN Security Council resolutions.
Our sincerest thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families.
These unconstitutional actions came after days of an escalated crackdown by Indian security forces on innocent civilians in Kashmir, with thousands of troops deployed, a lockdown curfew imposed on parts of the region, a telecommunications shutdown and the arrest of political leaders.
These irrational and barbaric actions of the Indian Government has exposed the ugly face of Indian’s so called democratic government with a highly tainted record of Nationalist Government sponsored atrocities against religious minorities including Christian and Muslim communities.
We would like to call upon the Australian Government to advocate for the protection of the Human Rights of the people of the Indian Occupied Kashmir. We request the Australian Government to raise theses serious issues especially that Australia has the privilege of holding one out of ten non-permanent seats in the United Nation security council.
We count on the Australian Government to take an active role to defuse that tension that has arisen from the Indian government unilateral decision to preserve the lives and properties of the civilians and to avert any possible potential military confrontation between India and Pakistan that would destabilise our region.
Hard work of disability advocates rewarded with VISA policy changes
The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) welcomes the Federal Government's decision to make changes to the way permanent residency visa applications are assessed for migrants with permanent medical conditions or disabilities.
FECCA understands that part of these changes includes the threshold for an acceptable perceived economic cost of care for applicants with permanent medical conditions or disabilities has been increased from $40,000 to $49,000.
The Government will now also only calculate the care cost over a ten-year period, rather than the lifetime of the applicant as was previously the case, meaning many more people with permanent medical conditions or disabilities will potentially fall below the new threshold.
It’s Business Time for Older workers
8 August 2019
The NSW Government is stepping up the fight against age discrimination in the workplace announcing a new toolkit to help employers, managers and HR professionals engage and retain older workers.
Minister for Seniors John Sidoti said it makes no sense to have such a highly skilled, experienced section of the community sidelined from work.
“Research shows that potential employers too often overlook, poorly manage and disregard older workers,” Mr Sidoti said.
“That’s why we’ve worked with our partners at the Australian Human Rights Commission to develop a toolkit to help employers recognise and reject unlawful age discrimination and start discovering the benefits of older workers.”
Mr Sidoti urged businesses to use the guide as a first step in changing their workplaces for the better.
“Employers have the power to build broadly skilled, multigenerational workplaces that contribute to longer, healthier and more productive working lives for Australians,” Mr Sidoti said.
“That’s good for business, great for the community, and excellent for older Australians.”
The toolkit, called Multigenerational workforces: a guide to the rights of older workers under the Age Discrimination Act 2004, is available now at https://www.humanrights.gov.au/olderworkers
AOUN: Have no Fear for Lebanon for We Are Always able to Rise
06 Aug 2019
Lebanon - President Michel Aoun on Tuesday called the Lebanese not to fear for their country, expressing belief in Lebanon's capacity to rise again after setbacks.
"History has shown that we are always able to rise after regression," the President stressed.
"Our country may be going through a difficult time, but this also the case in many other countries," he indicated.
Aoun made these remarks during his meeting at Baabda palace with a delegation of the Maronite Diaspora Foundation.
The President later met with a delegation of the President of the National Council of the Argentine-Lebanese Cultural Association, in the company of a number of young people who are visiting Lebanon to participate in the LEBolution Youth Conference.
He also received former MP Amal Abu Zaid, with talks touching on the latest political developments.
On a different note, Aoun cabled his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to whom he offered condolences on the victims of the terrorist attack that his Cairo yesterday.
BASSIL Meets Young Expats, Relatives of Lebanese Detained in Uganda
06 Aug 2019
Lebanon - Foreign Minister, Gebran Bassil, met Tuesday with a hundred of young expatriates of Lebanese roots from at least 20 countries, who are visiting Lebanon upon the invitation of the Maronite Diaspora Foundation, in collaboration with Holy Spirit University (USEK).
"Our nationality is our identity," Bassil told his visitors, stressing that the Lebanese citizenship recovery is a crucial part of his job in that respect.
The Minister later met with a delegation of families and relatives of the Lebanese detained in Uganda.
Labor ‘always listens’ to Paul Keating
Labor will always “listen to the advice” of former prime minister Paul Keating when crafting its policies, according to Opposition frontbencher Matt Thistlethwaite. Mr Keating this week said voters rejected Labor at the last election because of its high spending priorities and failure to prioritise the aspirations of middle-class voters. Mr Thistlethwaite told Sky News Labor understands it “lost the election” and said all the party's policies, including its contentious negative gearing and franking credits policies, are under review.
Shorten failed to understand the middle class: Keating
Former prime minister Paul Keating has issued a scathing criticism of Labor, saying the party failed to understand the middle class under Bill Shorten's leadership. Mr Keating said voters rejected Labor because of its high spending priorities and plans to introduce a top marginal tax rate.
India looks to build more coal mines in Australia
Encouraged by the approval of Adani's Carmichael Coal Mine, cashed-up Indian companies are reportedly in talks with the Australian Federal Government to build more coal mines. Resources Minister Matt Canavan said he was inundated with expressions of interest from Indian companies looking to supply their energy market. Potential locations include Gunnedah in northern NSW and the Queensland Galilee Basin. Mr Canavan said he would visit India in late August to meet with potential investors.
Iran ‘favours’ talks despite Trump snub
TEHRAN: President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that Iran favours talks with the US if it lifts sanctions against the Islamic Republic, despite his top diplomat turning down a meeting with US President Donald Trump.
Rouhani said “peace with Iran is the mother of all peace” and “war with Iran is the mother of all wars” as he defended a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
“Iran favours talks and negotiations and, if the US really wants to talk, before anything else it should lift all sanctions,” Rouhani said in remarks aired live on state television.
Tensions between Iran and the US have been rising since Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the nuclear deal in May 2018 and began imposing sanctions on it as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.
Rouhani, speaking after meeting with his top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said Iran was ready for talks regardless of whether or not the US was party to the deal.
“Whether they want to come into the JCPOA or not, it’s up to them,” said Rouhani, referring to the accord known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“All sanctions should be lifted so that there will be no criminals facing us,” he said, accusing the US of committing acts of “economic terrorism” for blocking food and medicine imports.
In response, the US ambassador on disarmament Robert Wood said: “Iran simply needs to make up its mind to decide what it wants to do.”
“My president has said he is willing to sit down and have a discussion with Iran. We are not sure Iran wants to have that discussion,” he said in answer to a question from AFP on the sidelines of a conference in Geneva.
However, Rouhani described as “weird” the US approach of calling for negotiations and then slapping sanctions on Zarif.
“So how should we negotiate?” he said on Tuesday. “The person in charge of negotiations is the foreign minister. He must talk to you.”
Trump has said publicly several times he is willing to hold talks with Iran even as he lambasts its leadership as corrupt, incompetent and a threat to regional security and US interests.
Twelve months on from the US withdrawal, Iran responded by suspending some of its commitments under the nuclear deal.
Rouhani, with Zarif sitting beside him, defended the foreign minister who has faced criticism from hardliners over his role in the deal ultimately abandoned by the Americans.
“We had so many economic victories (in the wake of the deal) that it enraged some people,” he said.