Taskforce to combat welfare fraud
A pilot project to target welfare fraud—colourfully and misleadingly described in the Sydney press this week—has now been converted to a new task force within the Department of Human Services. Led by Assistant Commissioner Ray Johnson (on secondment from the AFP), Taskforce Integrity will identify people who deliberately withhold or provide false information to claim welfare payments. Following a trend where taskforces are used to deal with high-priority crime areas, Taskforce Integrity will draw on the expertise of a number of Commonwealth government agencies including Social Services and Tax. This grouping will allow the complimentary skills of the AFP and Human Services officers to use data to identify high-risk areas for closer investigation. The government expects this taskforce to complete the recovery of about $3b of welfare that’s already identified as incorrectly paid, and recoup a further $1.7b over four years.
A Russian company has developed a new type of police dog body armour, reportedly designed by the St Petersburg-based Scientific Productive Association of Special Materials, to protect police canine companions patrolling their beats. The amour can fitted onto a dog in around a minute with help from incentives (no doubt delicious ones).
West’s war on daesh ramping up
In the wake of the Paris attacks and appeals by French President Francois Hollande, the German cabinet has this week supported plans for Germany to join the fight against daesh. The proposed force includes Tornado reconnaissance aircraft, a naval frigate and 1,200 personnel, but German forces will not participate in air strikes and have ruled out cooperating with Syria’s Bashir al-Assad. The vote is expected to take place by the end of this week.
The UK parliament will also be debating the war on daesh this week, as the country contemplates a bombing campaign against targets in Syria. If the proposal is approved, additional Tornado and Typhoon aircraft are expected to be sent to RAF Akrotiri airbase in Cyprus.
The US is also deploying a new special operations strike force into Iraq and Syria to aid the fight against the extremist organisation. Around 200 special operators will deploy to the region and will enable the US to conduct unilateral ground operations into Syria.
ISIS in America
A new report on daesh-related extremism in the US has been released by George Washington University. The report examines details of 71 individuals arrested in the US for activities including domestic plots and attempted to travel to Syria, breaking down demographics by age, state and the reason for their arrest. The second chapter of the report analyses the variety of motivations (e.g. religious obligation; personal fulfilment) displayed by daesh sympathisers in the US. If you’d like to compare the US experience to that of other Western countries, check out the recently-released New America report, ISIS in the West.
A report by the NSW Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics command has been revealed to suggest as many as 300 right-wing ‘sovereign citizen’ anti-government extremists in the state. Sovereign citizens are highly individualist and refuse to pay taxes or recognise government sovereignty. US domestic sovereign citizens have been linked with terror attacks in the United States, such as the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and are considered by the US Department of Homeland Security to be the number one domestic threat. Home-grown Australian sovereign citizens are a reported to be a growing ‘potential terrorist threat’ by NSW CT police. For more, take a look at the 7:30 report on the subject.
Illegal fishing not a ‘green’ problem
As COP21 discussions progress, the Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, has urged that illegal unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) activities be regarded as transnational crimes. The Minister said fishery crimes threaten human rights, and that they’re both pervasive and lucrative. The announcement comes a week after Norway and Indonesia recognised the urgent need for stronger political commitment to combat IUUF in a joint statement.
There’s a growing awareness that fisheries crime isn’t only a ‘green issue’, this piece on The Conversation explains why IUUF won’t be curbed only by using regulatory measures and fisheries agencies.
US may farewell EB-5 investor visa
On 11 December, the US EB-5 investor visa program (IVP) will expire unless Congress acts quickly. The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) has reported that the program, which grants a two-year conditional legal permanent residence (green card) to foreign nationals who invest US$500k to $1M in a US company that creates or preserves ten jobs, comes under scrutiny as other OECD countries aim to maximise their IVPs’ economic benefits. Check this MPI webinar that examines IVP’s utility, challenges and successes.
Counterfeited online trade targeted
As illegal cigarette seizures keep the Australian Border Force busy, Europol, and the US’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations led the largest international operation to date against the sale of counterfeit goods online. Law enforcement authorities from over 20 countries seized nearly 1,000 websites that were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise to online consumers.