Tuesday 28 May 2024

Yamba CAN announces NSW Upper House Portfolio Committee No.7 visiting West Yamba floodplain urban development site 8:30am Friday 31 May 2024

 


Now is the time to help make a difference!


Portfolio Committee 7 are coming to Yamba

24 May 2024


Members of NSW Parliament’s Portfolio Committee 7 (Planning and Environment) are visiting Yamba to undertake site visits in relation to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the “Planning system and the impacts of climate change on the environment and communities.”


When is the Committee coming to Yamba: Friday 31 May 2024

Time: 8.30am


The Committee will be travelling down Carrs Drive. There are strict protocols in relation to observers remaining at a distance from the Committee visiting sites.


Yamba CAN Inc would like as many people as possible to stand on either side of Carrs Drive, near the access to Harold Tory Drive and O’Grady’s Lane.


We will have our banners and signs that observers can hold up when the Committee will be driving past in a bus.


Please ensure personal safety in relation to traffic movement.


Please be on site at about 8.20am ready to hold a sign.


The Portfolio Committee 7 Inquiry details and submissions can be seen at:

https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2987


Please see attached the NR Times and CV Independent articles this week.


Please spread the word to others to attend and please outline that there are strict protocols.


Secretary

Yamba Community Action Network Inc (Yamba CAN Inc)


Follow us on Facebook


*********


Note:

Portfolio Committee No. 7 – Planning and Environment was established on 10 May 2023 in the 58th Parliament to inquire into and report on any matters relevant to the public administration of:

Climate Change, Energy, the Environment, Heritage, Planning and Public Spaces 

[https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/listofcommittees/Pages/committees.aspx]



Click on articles below to enlarge

Clarence Valley Independent 22 May 2024
 

Northern Rivers Times 23 May 2024



Monday 27 May 2024

A look deep into the night sky at Lake Mungo, New South Wales


By Day


A section of Lake Mungo
IMAGE: Wagga Air Centre
Click on image to enlarge





A section of Lake Mungo in south-west New South Wales, a large, ancient dry lake bed around 65-88 metres above sea level. The lake hasn't contained water for the last 18,000 years but was once an important water and food source for Aboriginal people. 

The oldest ritual burials on the shores of Lake Mungo have been dated to circa 42,000 years.

Their descendants, the Barkandji/Paakantyi, Mutthi Mutthi and Ngiyampaa people remain traditional owners of the land.


By Night


Click on image to enlarge

Photographer John Rutter: ‘This Mars-like landscape is the shores of the ancient Lake Mungo, where some of the oldest human remains outside Africa have been discovered, making it a significant site for all humankind. Its remote location grants it a Bortle 1 sky (the darkest and clearest), allowing you to stand where the first Australians once did and gaze at the same sky they beheld. The beauty of the arid, wind-carved landscape and the untouched sky is only eclipsed by the rich history of this area’

Photograph: John Rutter/2024 Milky Way photographer of the year

The Guardian, 21 May 2024


Sunday 26 May 2024

Suicide is a distressing subject and one that is linked in many kitchen table conversations with Centrelink income support programs. It appears that such a link may exist


The Guardian, 22 May 2024:


More than 30% of people who took their lives in 2019 were on welfare, AIHW says


The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has just released some data that shows more than 30% of suicides in 2019 were people on the disability support pension (DSP) and newstart – despite being just 5.7% of the population.


During 2019, the most recent pre-Covid pandemic year, the age-standardised suicide rate among males who received unemployment payments was 2.8 times that of the male Australian population comparison. For females, it was 3.3.


During the same year, unemployment recipients accounted for approximately 20% of all suicide deaths among Australian males and females (across the same age range 15-66 years). Those on DSP were 14.5%.


The DSP recipient and Antipoverty Centre spokesperson, Kristin O’Connell, said:


The new figures on welfare recipient deaths by suicide are chilling, but reflect my all-too-frequent experiences supporting people who are planning to or have made an attempt as a result of dealing with “mutual” obligations or poverty.


Every government decision to leave us in poverty and subject people to abuse through “mutual” obligations is a decision that kills.


In 2020, Australia’s Mental Health Think Tank said the fastest and most effective thing the government could do to ease the mental health crisis was to keep the jobseeker payment at the poverty line.


The Morrison government plunged people back into deep poverty, and despite their claims to offer “cost of living relief” the Albanese government has continued the brutal welfare policies that led to these alarming suicide rates and widespread harm in our communities.


The wider picture also supports the assertion that welfare recipients of workforce age as a cohort are experiencing higher levels of suicide than the Australian population and, within that cohort those receiving disability or unemployment income support show the highest suicide rates. With a higher suicide rate than the general population continuing into old age for those receiving disability income support.


Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing, Suicide & self-harm monitoring, Supporting people who experience socioeconomic disadvantage: Deaths by suicide among Centrelink income support recipients, retrieved 22 May 2024:



Age-specific rates of suicide among those who received income support payments between 2011 and 2021









Click on images to enlarge



AIHW, 15 August 2023:


Deaths by suicide, by socioeconomic areas


 From 2001 to 2022, age-standardised suicide rates were highest for those who lived in the lowest socioeconomic areas (most disadvantaged areas), and generally decreased as the level of disadvantage lessened.


In 2022, the suicide rate for people living in the lowest socioeconomic (most disadvantaged) areas (18.4 deaths per 100,000 population; Quintile 1) was more than twice that of those living in the highest socioeconomic (least disadvantaged) areas (8.2 deaths per 100,000 population; Quintile 5). Similarly, the number of deaths by suicide generally declined as socioeconomic disadvantage decreased.


Overall, age-standardised suicide rates increased for those living in the lowest socioeconomic areas (Quintile 1); from 14.0 deaths per 100,000 population in 2001 to 18.4 deaths per 100,000 population in 2022. In contrast, smaller change was observed for those living in the higher socioeconomic areas (Quintiles 4 and 5). [my yellow highlighting]


The Coronavirus Supplement was introduced in April 2020 and abolished in April 2021. Then COVID-19 Disaster Payments were announced in June 2021 and withdrawn in November 2021 placing increased financial stress on up to 2 million people. The Reserve Bank Cash Rate Target began to rise on 4 May 2022 and kept on rising - swiftly exacerbating a cost-of-living squeeze into an escalating crisis.


Although the causes of individual suicides can be complex, it is hard to resist seeing an economic policy correlation with the rising suicide rate between 2021 and 2022. It is also hard to avoid viewing entrenched poverty as being heavily influenced by federal income support policy decisions.


Saturday 25 May 2024

UK General Election 2024: Rain as a Metaphor?

 

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/observations/gcpvj0v07
Click on image to enlarge






Before facing the world's press to confirm a 2024 general election date, it seems neither the British Prime Minister, members of his Cabinet nor his staff thought to consult the UK Bureau of Meteorology which clearly shows it was expected to rain all afternoon in London and did - particularly at 17:00 BST.


The media had a field day - creating front pages & headlines just begging to become election campaign memes.





And then there were these.....




Cartoons of the Week

 

David Pope


John Shakespeare
Matt Golding

Cathy Wilcox




Friday 24 May 2024

On Monday 20 May 2024 the International Criminal Court began considering the prosecutor's request to issue arrest warrants for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his Minister for Defence and HAMAS leader Yahya Sinwar and two of his deputies



International Criminal Court

Statement: 20 May 2024


Statement of ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC:

Applications for arrest warrants in the situation in the State of Palestine


Today I am filing applications for warrants of arrest before Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court in the Situation in the State of Palestine.


On the basis of evidence collected and examined by my Office, I have reasonable grounds to believe that Yahya SINWAR (Head of the Islamic Resistance Movement (“Hamas”) in the Gaza Strip), Mohammed Diab Ibrahim AL-MASRI, more commonly known as DEIF (Commander-in-Chief of the military wing of Hamas, known as the Al-Qassam Brigades), and Ismail HANIYEH (Head of Hamas Political Bureau) bear criminal responsibility for the following war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of Israel and the State of Palestine (in the Gaza strip) from at least 7 October 2023:


  • Extermination as a crime against humanity, contrary to article 7(1)(b) of the Rome Statute;

  • Murder as a crime against humanity, contrary to article 7(1)(a), and as a war crime, contrary to article 8(2)(c)(i);

  • Taking hostages as a war crime, contrary to article 8(2)(c)(iii);

  • Rape and other acts of sexual violence as crimes against humanity, contrary to article 7(1)(g), and also as war crimes pursuant to article 8(2)(e)(vi) in the context of captivity;

  • Torture as a crime against humanity, contrary to article 7(1)(f), and also as a war crime, contrary to article 8(2)(c)(i), in the context of captivity;

  • Other inhumane acts as a crime against humanity, contrary to article 7(l)(k), in the context of captivity;

  • Cruel treatment as a war crime contrary to article 8(2)(c)(i), in the context of captivity; and

  • Outrages upon personal dignity as a war crime, contrary to article 8(2)(c)(ii), in the context of captivity.


My Office submits that the war crimes alleged in these applications were committed in the context of an international armed conflict between Israel and Palestine, and a non-international armed conflict between Israel and Hamas running in parallel. We submit that the crimes against humanity charged were part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population of Israel by Hamas and other armed groups pursuant to organisational policies. Some of these crimes, in our assessment, continue to this day.


My Office submits there are reasonable grounds to believe that SINWAR, DEIF and HANIYEH are criminally responsible for the killing of hundreds of Israeli civilians in attacks perpetrated by Hamas (in particular its military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades) and other armed groups on 7 October 2023 and the taking of at least 245 hostages. As part of our investigations, my Office has interviewed victims and survivors, including former hostages and eyewitnesses from six major attack locations: Kfar Aza; Holit; the location of the Supernova Music Festival; Be’eri; Nir Oz; and Nahal Oz. The investigation also relies on evidence such as CCTV footage, authenticated audio, photo and video material, statements by Hamas members including the alleged perpetrators named above, and expert evidence.


It is the view of my Office that these individuals planned and instigated the commission of crimes on 7 October 2023, and have through their own actions, including personal visits to hostages shortly after their kidnapping, acknowledged their responsibility for those crimes. We submit that these crimes could not have been committed without their actions. They are charged both as co-perpetrators and as superiors pursuant to Articles 25 and 28 of the Rome Statute.


During my own visit to Kibbutz Be’eri and Kibbutz Kfar Aza, as well as to the site of Supernova Music Festival in Re’im, I saw the devastating scenes of these attacks and the profound impact of the unconscionable crimes charged in the applications filed today. Speaking with survivors, I heard how the love within a family, the deepest bonds between a parent and a child, were contorted to inflict unfathomable pain through calculated cruelty and extreme callousness. These acts demand accountability.


My Office also submits there are reasonable grounds to believe that hostages taken from Israel have been kept in inhumane conditions, and that some have been subject to sexual violence, including rape, while being held in captivity. We have reached that conclusion based on medical records, contemporaneous video and documentary evidence, and interviews with victims and survivors. My Office also continues to investigate reports of sexual violence committed on 7 October.


I wish to express my gratitude to the survivors, and the families of victims of the 7 October attacks, for their courage in coming forward to provide their accounts to my Office. We remain focused on further deepening our investigations of all crimes committed as part of these attacks and will continue to work with all partners to ensure that justice is delivered.


I again reiterate my call for the immediate release of all hostages taken from Israel and for their safe return to their families. This is a fundamental requirement of international humanitarian law.


Benjamin Netanyahu, Yoav Gallant


On the basis of evidence collected and examined by my Office, I have reasonable grounds to believe that Benjamin NETANYAHU, the Prime Minister of Israel, and Yoav GALLANT, the Minister of Defence of Israel, bear criminal responsibility for the following war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the State of Palestine (in the Gaza strip) from at least 8 October 2023:


  • Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare as a war crime contrary to article 8(2)(b)(xxv) of the Statute;

  • Wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health contrary to article 8(2)(a)(iii), or cruel treatment as a war crime contrary to article 8(2)(c)(i);

  • Wilful killing contrary to article 8(2)(a)(i), or Murder as a war crime contrary to article 8(2)(c)(i);

  • Intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population as a war crime contrary to articles 8(2)(b)(i), or 8(2)(e)(i);

  • Extermination and/or murder contrary to articles 7(1)(b) and 7(1)(a), including in the context of deaths caused by starvation, as a crime against humanity;

  • Persecution as a crime against humanity contrary to article 7(1)(h);

  • Other inhumane acts as crimes against humanity contrary to article 7(1)(k).


My Office submits that the war crimes alleged in these applications were committed in the context of an international armed conflict between Israel and Palestine, and a non-international armed conflict between Israel and Hamas (together with other Palestinian Armed Groups) running in parallel. We submit that the crimes against humanity charged were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population pursuant to State policy. These crimes, in our assessment, continue to this day.


My Office submits that the evidence we have collected, including interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses, authenticated video, photo and audio material, satellite imagery and statements from the alleged perpetrator group, shows that Israel has intentionally and systematically deprived the civilian population in all parts of Gaza of objects indispensable to human survival.


This occurred through the imposition of a total siege over Gaza that involved completely closing the three border crossing points, Rafah, Kerem Shalom and Erez, from 8 October 2023 for extended periods and then by arbitrarily restricting the transfer of essential supplies – including food and medicine – through the border crossings after they were reopened. The siege also included cutting off cross-border water pipelines from Israel to Gaza – Gazans’ principal source of clean water – for a prolonged period beginning 9 October 2023, and cutting off and hindering electricity supplies from at least 8 October 2023 until today. This took place alongside other attacks on civilians, including those queuing for food; obstruction of aid delivery by humanitarian agencies; and attacks on and killing of aid workers, which forced many agencies to cease or limit their operations in Gaza.


My Office submits that these acts were committed as part of a common plan to use starvation as a method of war and other acts of violence against the Gazan civilian population as a means to (i) eliminate Hamas; (ii) secure the return of the hostages which Hamas has abducted, and (iii) collectively punish the civilian population of Gaza, whom they perceived as a threat to Israel.


The effects of the use of starvation as a method of warfare, together with other attacks and collective punishment against the civilian population of Gaza are acute, visible and widely known, and have been confirmed by multiple witnesses interviewed by my Office, including local and international medical doctors. They include malnutrition, dehydration, profound suffering and an increasing number of deaths among the Palestinian population, including babies, other children, and women.


Famine is present in some areas of Gaza and is imminent in other areas. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned more than two months ago, “1.1 million people in Gaza are facing catastrophic hunger – the highest number of people ever recorded – anywhere, anytime” as a result of an “entirely manmade disaster”. Today, my Office seeks to charge two of those most responsible, NETANYAHU and GALLANT, both as co-perpetrators and as superiors pursuant to Articles 25 and 28 of the Rome Statute.


Israel, like all States, has a right to take action to defend its population. That right, however, does not absolve Israel or any State of its obligation to comply with international humanitarian law. Notwithstanding any military goals they may have, the means Israel chose to achieve them in Gaza – namely, intentionally causing death, starvation, great suffering, and serious injury to body or health of the civilian population – are criminal.


Since last year, in Ramallah, in Cairo, in Israel and in Rafah, I have consistently emphasised that international humanitarian law demands that Israel take urgent action to immediately allow access to humanitarian aid in Gaza at scale. I specifically underlined that starvation as a method of war and the denial of humanitarian relief constitute Rome Statute offences. I could not have been clearer.


As I also repeatedly underlined in my public statements, those who do not comply with the law should not complain later when my Office takes action. That day has come.


In presenting these applications for arrest warrants, my Office is acting pursuant to its mandate under the Rome Statute. On 5 February 2021, Pre-Trial Chamber I decided that the Court can exercise its criminal jurisdiction in the Situation in the State of Palestine and that the territorial scope of this jurisdiction extends to Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. This mandate is ongoing and includes the escalation of hostilities and violence since 7 October 2023. My Office also has jurisdiction over crimes committed by nationals of States Parties and by the nationals of non-States Parties on the territory of a State Party.


Today’s applications are the outcome of an independent and impartial investigation by my Office. Guided by our obligation to investigate incriminating and exonerating evidence equally, my Office has worked painstakingly to separate claims from facts and to soberly present conclusions based on evidence to the Pre-Trial Chamber.


As an additional safeguard, I have also been grateful for the advice of a panel of experts in international law, an impartial group I convened to support the evidence review and legal analysis in relation to these arrest warrant applications. The Panel is composed of experts of immense standing in international humanitarian law and international criminal law, including Sir Adrian Fulford PC, former Lord Justice of Appeal and former International Criminal Court Judge; Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, President of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute; Elizabeth Wilmshurst CMG KC, former Deputy Legal Adviser at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Danny Friedman KC; and two of my Special Advisers – Amal Clooney and His Excellency Judge Theodor Meron CMG. This independent expert analysis has supported and strengthened the applications filed today by my Office. I have also been grateful for the contributions of a number of my other Special Advisers to this review, particularly Adama Dieng and Professor Kevin Jon Heller.


Today we once again underline that international law and the laws of armed conflict apply to all. No foot soldier, no commander, no civilian leader – no one – can act with impunity. Nothing can justify wilfully depriving human beings, including so many women and children, the basic necessities required for life. Nothing can justify the taking of hostages or the targeting of civilians.


The independent judges of the International Criminal Court are the sole arbiters as to whether the necessary standard for the issuance of warrants of arrest has been met. Should they grant my applications and issue the requested warrants, I will then work closely with the Registrar in all efforts to apprehend the named individuals. I count on all States Parties to the Rome Statute to take these applications and the subsequent judicial decision with the same seriousness they have shown in other Situations, meeting their obligations under the Statute. I also stand ready to work with non-States Parties in our common pursuit of accountability.


It is critical in this moment that my Office and all parts of the Court, including its independent judges, are permitted to conduct their work with full independence and impartiality. I insist that all attempts to impede, intimidate or improperly influence the officials of this Court must cease immediately. My Office will not hesitate to act pursuant to article 70 of the Rome Statute if such conduct continues.


I remain deeply concerned about ongoing allegations and emerging evidence of international crimes occurring in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. Our investigation continues. My Office is advancing multiple and interconnected additional lines of inquiry, including concerning reports of sexual violence during the 7 October attacks, and in relation to the large-scale bombing that has caused and continues to cause so many civilian deaths, injuries, and suffering in Gaza. I encourage those with relevant information to contact my Office and to submit information via OTP Link.


My Office will not hesitate to submit further applications for warrants of arrest if and when we consider that the threshold of a realistic prospect of conviction has been met. I renew my call for all parties in the current conflict to comply with the law now.


I also wish to emphasise that the principle of complementarity, which is at the heart of the Rome Statute, will continue to be assessed by my Office as we take action in relation to the above-listed alleged crimes and alleged perpetrators and move forward with other lines of inquiry. Complementarity, however, requires a deferral to national authorities only when they engage in independent and impartial judicial processes that do not shield suspects and are not a sham. It requires thorough investigations at all levels addressing the policies and actions underlying these applications.


Let us today be clear on one core issue: if we do not demonstrate our willingness to apply the law equally, if it is seen as being applied selectively, we will be creating the conditions for its collapse. In doing so, we will be loosening the remaining bonds that hold us together, the stabilising connections between all communities and individuals, the safety net to which all victims look in times of suffering. This is the true risk we face in this moment.


Now, more than ever, we must collectively demonstrate that international humanitarian law, the foundational baseline for human conduct during conflict, applies to all individuals and applies equally across the situations addressed by my Office and the Court. This is how we will prove, tangibly, that the lives of all human beings have equal value.


For further details on "preliminary examinations" and "situations and cases" before the Court, click here, and here.


Source: Office of the Prosecutor

~~~~~~~~


The State of Palestine is one of the 135 signatories to and 124 parties acceding to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998).


On 1 January 2015, the Government of The State of Palestine lodged a declaration under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute accepting the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court ("ICC") over alleged crimes committed "in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014". On 2 January 2015, The State of Palestine acceded to the Rome Statute by depositing its instrument of accession with the UN Secretary-General. The Rome Statute entered into force for The State of Palestine on 1 April 2015. [International Criminal Court, State of Palestine, ICC-01/18]


The State of Israel is also a signatory to the same Rome Statute (1998) signing on 31 December 2000. However, on 28 August 2002 Israel stated its intention not to become a party to the treaty. A move which appeared to closely mirror the actions of the United States of America, which on 31 Dec 2000 signed the Rome Statute then on 6 May 2002 stated its intention not to become a party to the treaty.


The International Criminal Court has recognised jurisdiction in matters concerning (a) the crime of genocide; (b) crimes against humanity; (c) war crimes; (d) the crime of aggression.


On 5 February 2021 the Court ruled that it had criminal jurisdiction to hear matters concerning the Situation in the State of Palestine and by extension may consider the actions State of Israel given that these actions occurred on the territories of a state party to the Rome Statute, that is the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem. Likewise having jurisdiction over the actions of the Islamic Resistance Movement as the de facto government of the Gaza Strip.


At this point in time the application for the five arrest warrants is before ICC Pre-Trial Chamber 1 (Judge Iulia Motoc as Presiding Judge, with Judge Reine Alapini-Gansou & Judge Nicolas Guillou). It appears that Chamber decisions are usually handed down within two months. However a decision can be delayed by up to twelve months.


Israel has stated it will establish a special committee to fight the ICC prosecutor’s efforts to secure a warrant, and also embark on a diplomatic push against it [Nationwide News Pty Ltd, 21.05.24] and, although aware itself of "scores of specific incidents" alleged to be war crimes [Report of the Independent Task Force on the Application of National Security Memorandum-20 to Israel, 18 April 2024], the United States is outraged at the warrant application against the two "Israeli leaders" [Statement from President Joe Biden on the Warrant Applications by the International Criminal Court, 20 May 2024]


As a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998) the Commonwealth of Australia is under a legal obligation to Article 86 General obligation to cooperate....cooperate fully with the Court in its investigation and prosecution of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, and refrain from Article 70 1. (d) Impeding, intimidating or corruptly influencing an official of the Court for the purpose of forcing or persuading the official not to perform, or to perform improperly, his or her duties and, 4. (a) Each State Party shall extend its criminal laws penalizing offences against the integrity of its own investigative or judicial process to offences against the administration of justice referred to in this article, committed on its territory, or by one of its nationals;

(b) Upon request by the Court, whenever it deems it proper, the State Party shall submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.

Those authorities shall treat such cases with diligence and devote sufficient resources to enable them to be conducted effectively;

(e) Retaliating against an official of the Court on account of duties performed by that or another official. 

[Excerpts from Articles 86 & 70, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998)]



OPINION


MiddleEast Eye, 21 May 2024:


War on Gaza: The ICC has suspended Israel's licence to kill

David Hearst


For 76 years, Israel had a narrative more robust as a protective shield than any Iron Dome.


For the victims of the worst case of industrial killing in modern history, self-determination for post-Holocaust Jewry was not merely a necessity, this narrative went, it was a moral imperative. Any state that emerged was immune from judgement, the story went. Israel was beyond international law.


It was allowed to have indeterminate borders. It was allowed to occupy. It was allowed to settle the areas it occupied. It was allowed to regularly attack its neighbours pre-emptively. It was allowed nuclear weapons, outside the control of any regulatory authority.


It could violently discriminate against its non-Jewish minority and still be accepted into the family of democratic nations. It was not just allowed to lay siege to Gaza and starve the territory’s population for 16 years, it was assisted in this by the international community.


Anyone who rejected the credo that this violent state had a right to exist faced political banishment.


Israel was a “lifeboat” for Jews facing antisemitism throughout the world. It was not the primary cause of waves of antisemitism. It safeguarded Jews. It did not endanger them.


For 76 years, Israel literally had a licence to kill. Until Monday.


The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, did much more than apply for arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. The ICC prosecutor punctured the myth that any Israeli leader, official or soldier was beyond the reach of international law....


...the pretrial chamber of three judges must only convince themselves on two points - that there are reasonable grounds to believe that at least one crime within the court’s jurisdiction has been committed, and that the arrest of those named “appears necessary” to ensure they appear at trial, do not endanger an investigation, and cannot continue to perpetrate the same crime.


Considering the bullying that the court itself has come under, with the US threatening its members with sanctions, a third unwritten imperative will loom large in their minds: the need to uphold the independence of the ICC.


If they bow to this pressure, the ICC’s legitimacy will be finished - and besides, the evidence for the seven charges is overwhelming.......


Read the full article at

https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/war-gaza-icc-has-suspended-israels-licence-kill


Monday 20 May 2024

North Coast Voices Notice to Readers, 20 May 2024

 

North Coast Voices will not be posting between Monday, 20 May and Thursday, 23 May 2024.

Apologies to readers and browsers.

 

Sunday 19 May 2024

For around 43 years the invasive Fire Ant has been expanding its territory on the Australian east coast and the federal & state governments have still not eradicated this dangerous menace - in fact they appear to be losing the battle


Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) nests have been surfacing on the Australian east coast from Port of Brisbane, Qld to Port Botany, NSW beginning in February 2001 but are believed to have actually arrived on the Australian east coast up to 20 years earlier, given the initial Port of Brisbane discovery uncovered 470 known colonies spread over 8,300 hectares.


The most recent NSW infestation was found in northern NSW at Wardell, near Ballina, on 19 January 2024.


Approximately 99 per cent of the Australian mainland is vulnerable to this invasive species which according to the National Fire Ant Eradication Program has the capacity to surpass the combined damage done each year by our worst pests: feral cats, wild dogs, foxes, camels, rabbits and cane toads.


Image courtesy of Invasive Species Council under creative commons licence 4.0


On the 18 October 2023, the Fire Ant situation was referred to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee for inquiry and report by 18 April 2024.


The 96-page report was published on 13 May 2024 under the title "Red imported fire ants in Australia: Don't Let This Come Back to Bite Us".


The report made ten recommendations which, in diplomatic language, pointed to the fact there is no statutory body overseeing the current eradication plan. 


While the Queensland-focussed 10 year plan itself, now morphed into a broader 5 year plan struggling under the need for expanded expertise, is still significantly underfunded and hampered by past poor execution starting from the federal-states decision making right down to regional level response. With the most notable blunder occurring during the federal Howard Liberal Government years when funding was permanently withdrawn around four years into the original eradication response. This was followed in 2012 by a Qld Newman Liberal Government reduced both funding and staff numbers in that state's fire ant eradication response. Both these events at various points in time have (not without a degree of justification) been blamed for the current failure to either eradicate or contain the spread of fire ants in the eastern half of the country.


So perhaps the following news article should come as no surprise.



ABC News, 18 May 2024:


When Amanda King and her mother Leanne Williams were bitten by fire ants, they were not prepared to become frontline recruits in the federal government's battle with the pest.


The pair were last year bitten multiple times at their Kleinton home, north of Toowoomba, resulting in painful pustules on their legs and arms.


They reported the suspicious nests to the state and federally funded National Fire Ant Eradication Program (NFAEP) in April last year and it took 67 days for a program officer to inspect and subsequently eradicate the pests.


What happened during that time, Ms King said, were repeated requests for them to collect photographic and physical evidence before inspectors would visit their home.


"He basically said, 'No. You need to send photos first,' and then he sent an email with specifications of what to send," Ms King said.


"I rang back and said, 'I can't get photos.'"


What are fire ants and why do they pose such a threat?

There are fears the spread of fires ants could change the outdoor lifestyle Australians know and love.


Ms King, a veterinary nurse who often works 6am to 6pm, said it was difficult to take accurate photos in the dark and that the program was putting too much of the surveillance burden on the public.


"What happens if it's some 70-year-old lady who thinks she has [them]?" she said.


"She's probably not going to have an iPhone that's going to take a proper photo. I think it's unfair for them to do that, so that needs to change."


Her mother agrees....


The ants, which were first detected in 2001 in Brisbane, have spread to south east Queensland and northern New South Wales, with concerns they could enter the Murray-Darling river system after being found at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre in April [78 nests].


Biosecurity zone to be set up

A biosecurity zone will be set up within a 5-kilometre radius of the Oakey base on Monday, placing further legal requirements on those in the zone.


Yesterday, 4 kilometres from Amanda and Leanne's home, fire ants were also officially detected in Meringandan West for the first time.


NFAEP said public help was vital to the program.


"Reports from the public are vital to our national eradication effort and we thank Ms King for her vigilance in notifying us about this sighting," the spokesperson said.


But with 36,945 suspected fire ant reports made since May 2023, and 13,786 of them confirmed as positive, testing is a mammoth task for the governments and departments involved..... [my yellow highlighting]


Read the full article at

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-18/calls-to-better-resource-national-fire-ant-eradication-program/103857306