National security wrap

The beat

Drone squad assembled in Victoria

Victoria Police has announced that it will create a new drone unit by the end of August. The unit will have up to 50 drones to help police with activities such as tracking offenders, conducting surveillance and assisting with emergency management. The drones could reduce the need for dangerous vehicle pursuits or the use of manned police helicopters.

Back to (language) school for Queensland police

Police officers in areas of Brisbane with large numbers of Mandarin speakers have started learning the language to better engage with the community. The initiative seeks to address residents’ concerns that the crime rate in the region is rising. The police involved in the initiative have reported an improved empathy with community members from non-English-speaking backgrounds.

The fake and the furious: Brazilian grift

A team manufacturing fake Ferraris and Lamborghinis has been shut down by Brazilian police. A father and son were arrested for producing the look-alike vehicles and selling them for a fraction of the price of the real thing. The cars were being promoted on social media and police investigated after complaints from the Italian supercar manufacturers. Eight vehicles were seized.


Trump administration moves to end asylum claims at southern border

The US will make it harder for migrants to claim asylum on the country’s southern border. A statement issued by the Department of Justice said that the rule would limit the rights of people who attempted to reach the US without filing for asylum in a transit country. While most migrants arriving via Mexico come from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, an increasing number are arriving from Haiti, Cuba and parts of Africa.

India and Sri Lanka caught in fishing dispute

Conflict is continuing between fishing communities in Sri Lanka and India over access to fishing stock in Sri Lankan waters. The Sri Lankan navy has continued to crack down on Indian fishermen operating in Rama’s Bridge between the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and Tamil villages in northern Sri Lanka. Fishing stocks have reduced in Sri Lankan waters as a result of overfishing and damage to the ecosystem by Indian fishing trawlers. The direct monetary loss to Sri Lankan fishermen is estimated to be $23–80 million a year.

Man caught in hairy situation at Barcelona airport

A man has been caught trying to smuggle half a kilogram of cocaine into Spain under his hairpiece. The Colombian national had arrived in Barcelona from Bogota and had tried to conceal €30,000 (A$48,000) of cocaine under an oversized wig.

CT scan

Support for China’s detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang

In opposition to a letter criticising China’s policy of mass detention of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, 37 countries including Saudi Arabia, Russia, Myanmar, Pakistan, North Korea and Venezuela have written to the UN in support of China. The letter accuses Western nations of ‘politicising human rights’ and praises China’s achievements, prompting Beijing to claim it is ‘on the right track in tackling terrorism and extremism’.

Concerns surrounding Facebook’s cryptocurrency

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has expressed concern that Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency could be misused by terrorists and criminals. Facebook announced its plans for Libra, which will be able to be sent through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, last month. Mnuchin said Libra will have to implement anti-money-laundering and counterterrorism measures like other financial institutions. Terrorist groups have used cryptocurrencies in the past, though a RAND report suggests they’ve not yet fully embraced the method.

Ruling holds Palestinian Authority liable for Second Intifada attacks

An Israeli court has found the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization liable for 17 attacks that occurred during the 2000–2005 Second Intifada. Victims can now sue the groups for damages, which may reach hundreds of millions of dollars. Compensation could extend to attacks which the PA and PLO didn’t know about but ‘retrospectively endorsed’.

First responder

Australian gulls may present major health threat

Researchers at Perth’s Murdoch University have found that more than 20% of Australian silver gulls carry drug-resistant bacteria. The finding raises concerns about the potential for deadly bacteria to spread from gulls to humans and livestock, as some of the bacteria found in seagull faeces are resistant to the most powerful antibiotics. In response to the findings, the federal health department has said the risk of transmission from gulls to humans has not been established.

UN deploys new aid monitoring system in Algeria

The UN has deployed a new electronic system in southwestern Algeria to monitor the delivery of humanitarian aid to refugee camps in Tindouf. Western Sahara has been marred by a separatist conflict that involves Morocco and a group of indigenous nomads from the Polisario Front. Aid has regularly been diverted away from refugee camps in southern Algeria to local markets and taken by the Polisario.

Powerful earthquake hits Bali

The island of Bali, a popular tourist hotspot in Indonesia, has been hit by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake. It’s the third quake to rock the region in less than a week. A magnitude-7.2 earthquake was recorded last Saturday in Indonesia’s North Maluku province, killing two people, and on Sunday a magnitude-6.6 quake shook the town of Broome in Western Australia.