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National security wrap

Posted By , , and on December 13, 2018 @ 14:24

The beat

Treatment of student protesters causes outrage in France

Footage of students being forced to kneel with their hands on their heads after being detained during the ‘yellow vest’ riots has caused outrage in France. But authorities have defended the actions of police, saying the students were joined in their protests by armed youths. Demonstrations started last month over proposed fuel tax increases and have since spread to wider issues including education changes.

Assange rejects deal that could let him leave Ecuadorian embassy

Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno says the UK has assured him that Julian Assange will not be extradited to a country where his life is in danger if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange’s legal team has rejected the idea, saying it would not prevent his extradition to the US if prosecutors there agreed to rule out seeking the death penalty. Last month a former US intelligence official uncovered a court mistake which revealed that the US had filed unknown charges against Assange.

Charges to be laid over modern-day cattle rustling

A man who attempted to smuggle fertilised wagyu eggs from Japan to China will face criminal charges in Japan in an attempt to deter other would-be smugglers. The man, believed to be a Japanese national, was caught by Chinese customs officials. Japan bans the export of wagyu eggs and semen to protect its high-grade beef industry. But controls are not entirely effective and there is a high demand for wagyu because of its rarity. A single ‘straw’ of frozen semen can fetch as much as $5,500.

CT scan

Deaths from far-right terrorism increase

Far-right political terrorism is on the rise in Western Europe and North America because of the hostile political climate and economic instability, a report has found. The 2018 Global Terrorism Index recorded 66 deaths at the hands of right-wing groups between 2013 and 2017. Over the past year, the number of people killed worldwide by Islamist terrorists dropped by 27%, mainly because the Islamic State group has been driven out of most of the territory it held in Iraq and Syria.

African foreign fighters’ database established

East African police chiefs and Interpol are meeting in the Ugandan capital of Kampala to establish a database through which foreign fighters returning from areas such as Syria and Iraq can be traced and identified, profiled and apprehended as they arrive home. Ugandan police inspector general Martins Okoth-Ochola said returning foreign fighters were a threat to regional stability and should be apprehended before they could join local extremist groups. Interpol’s East Africa chief, François Perrenoid, said his organisation had files on 40,000 possible terrorists.

India and China work hand in hand

India and China have agreed to resume joint military exercises, which were suspended in 2017 during the Doklam border dispute. The ‘Hand in Hand’ exercise is intended to enhance cooperation on counterterrorism operations and will involve live-fire drills and basic training. This year’s exercise will be held in the southwest Chinese city of Chengdu.


Rare porpoise a victim of Mexico’s ‘aquatic cocaine’ trade

The near extinction of the vaquita—the world’s smallest and rarest porpoise—in Mexico’s Gulf of California has shed light on the trafficking of swim bladders from the endangered totoaba fish into China. A kilo of dried swim bladder is worth upwards of $110,000 on the Chinese black market. Cartel connections and corruption have exacerbated the trade. Despite prohibitions on fishing in the area to protect the vaquita, the animals get caught in the gillnets used to catch totoaba and die.

Hong Kong politicians arrested

Amid a wave of political persecution, two pro-democracy politicians have been retrospectively arrested for their parliamentary protest of a controversial proposal in June to allow police officers from mainland China to be stationed at the Hong Kong checkpoint of a cross-border railway. The checkpoint has since opened and is the first instance of Chinese law being enforced in Hong Kong. While the island’s inhabitants were promised political freedom during the 1997 handover from the UK to China, this ‘new norm’ could see Hong Kong’s democratic status further eroded.

Italy slammed for migration policies

On the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Amnesty International released a scathing report on what it called the Italian government’s ‘xenophobic’ migration policies. While a tougher approach to asylum seekers has been welcomed by those who blame immigrants for Italy’s instability, others suggest the approach is hypocritical given that vast numbers of Italians have migrated to other countries and thousands cross the border daily to work in Switzerland.

First responder

Telstra defends charging for disaster-warning messages

Telstra CEO Andy Penn says it’s ‘disgraceful’ for the Queensland government to argue that its text-message service for disaster warnings should be free after 1.2 million messages were sent during the state’s bushfire crisis. Penn said Telstra and the Queensland government had already agreed upon payment arrangements for services the telco provides, but emergency services minister Craig Crawford said the texting service should be paid for by either the Commonwealth or Telstra in a way that doesn’t cost state taxpayers.

Satellites to help Japan’s disaster response

The Japanese government has contracted Gilat Satellite Networks to build the country’s next-generation disaster response platform. The multimillion-dollar system will be used to create a secure, multiple-service network to transmit high-quality voice and video feeds and emergency alerts, and provide mobile and data coverage to disaster sites to aid rescue workers.

WHO worried about ‘dual’ polio crisis

The World Health Organization’s director of polio eradication has warned of an onset of a ‘dual emergency’ in global efforts to eliminate the disease. The first is the failure to curb polio in its last two bastions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. According to The Economist, the second emergency involves rare cases of polio caused by one type of vaccine which uses a weakened form of a live virus. Earlier this year, a few batches of contaminated vaccines administered in India caused fears that the disease could return there.

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[1] Footage of students: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46481397

[2] authorities have defended: https://www.todayonline.com/world/french-government-defends-heavy-handed-police-tactics-against-students

[3] started last month: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46499996

[4] UK has assured him: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/julian-assange-news-ecuador-embassy-london-wikileaks-lawyer-extradition-latest-a8672056.html

[5] revealed: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/accidental-filing-indicates-indictment-prepared-julian-assange-n937036

[6] smuggle fertilised wagyu eggs: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/05/national/crime-legal/man-face-charges-carrying-fertilized-wagyu-eggs-china/#.XBBIw2gzaUl

[7] high demand: https://www.vice.com/en_au/article/qvqezv/japan-wagyu-beef-cattle-crime-theft-sperm

[8] the rise in Western Europe and North America: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/global-terrorism-index-farright-attacks-increase-overall-deaths-fall-institute-for-economics-peace-a8667031.html

[9] Global Terrorism Index: https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/global-terrorism-index

[10] meeting: https://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Interpol-regional-police-chiefs-track-returning-ISIS-fighters/688334-4882292-8x6fsw/index.html

[11] resume: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/india-china-to-resume-military-drills-after-one-year-gap/articleshow/67010191.cms

[12] trafficking of swim bladders: http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/magazine/entry/missed-opportunity-vaquita-whistleblowers/

[13] $110,000 on the Chinese black market: https://tucson.com/news/local/vaquita-s-last-stand-the-struggle-to-save-the-world/article_63facb0d-ad51-5061-bcf9-7f78519793a4.html

[14] retrospectively arrested: https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/12/07/two-hong-kong-lawmakers-face-charges-joint-checkpoint-protests-legislature/

[15] Chinese law being enforced: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2150869/everything-you-need-know-about-hong-kongs-joint-rail

[16] democratic status further eroded: https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/lawmakers-12102018112007.html

[17] ‘xenophobic’ migration policies: http://www.ansa.it/english/news/politics/2018/12/10/amnesty-accuses-italy-over-migration_36c9badd-59d6-4d82-9011-10011dff8f1c.html

[18] cross the border: https://www.forbes.com/sites/annalisagirardi/2018/12/10/the-cross-border-commuters-at-the-swiss-italian-frontier-and-the-challenges-of-labor-migration/#7211f8991808

[19] says: https://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/thats-disgraceful-telstra-ceo-says-no-to-free-emer/3599603/

[20] has contracted: https://www.telecompaper.com/news/lascom-selects-gilat-for-japanese-disaster-response-platform--1272770

[21] has warned: https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2018/12/08/progress-on-eradicating-polio-has-stalled

[22] contaminated vaccines: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/contaminated-vaccines-put-indias-polio-free-status-at-risk/articleshow/66021197.cms