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Australia sends police and troops to Honiara as violent protests continue in Solomon Islands – The Guardian

Australia sends police and troops to Honiara as violent protests continue in Solomon Islands

Australian deployment to support ‘riot control’, with protesters reportedly from neighbouring island, which opposed government’s 2019 decision to switch allegiance from Taiwan to China

Violent protests have broken out in the Solomon Islands’ capital, Honiara, for a second day, with witnesses saying Chinese-owned businesses were being targeted. Australia has deployed police and army to support ‘riot control’

Australia is deploying more than 100 police and defence force personnel to the Solomon Islands amid reports of fresh protests in the capital Honiara.

The Australian government on Thursday said the deployment would support “riot control” and security at critical infrastructure, a day after demonstrators attempted to storm parliament and topple the prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare.

Canberra said the move was in response to a request from Sogavare under an existing security agreement between the two countries, and should not be seen as taking a position in the Solomon Islands’ internal affairs.

Sogavare said his government was still in control.

“Today I stand before you to inform you all that our country is safe – your government is in place and continues to lead our nation,” Sogavare said on Thursday, adding that those responsible would “face the full brunt of the law”.

Protesters defied a 36-hour lockdown imposed in the wake of Wednesday’s unrest and again took to the streets on Thursday targeting police and businesses in the capital’s Chinatown area, a Honiara resident told newswire AFP.

The man, who did not want to be named, said police had erected roadblocks but the protests showed no sign of abating more than 24 hours after erupting outside parliament.

“There’s mobs moving around, it’s very tense,” he said, as local media reported looting and police using teargas.

The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, announced his government was deploying 73 Australian federal police (AFP) officers and 43 Australian defence force (ADF) personnel in response to a request from the Solomon Islands.

Morrison said it was a time to support “our Pacific family”.

“We have received reports of more buildings burning on the main road in the center of Honiara, including a large commercial building and a bank branch, and increasing numbers of people on the streets,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

The first 23 police officers left Canberra on a Royal Australian Air Force plane on Thursday afternoon.

Morrison said the police officers would “support riot control” while additonal police and the ADF personnel would “support security at critical infrastructure”.

But Morrison said Australian personnel would stay away from the parliament and the executive buildings of the government, as guarding those facilities was a task for the Solomon Islands police force.

“Our purpose here is to provide stability and security to enable the normal constitutional processes within the Solomon Islands to be able to deal with various issues that have arisen and that be done in a climate of peace, stability and security,” Morrison said.

“It is not the Australian government’s intention in any way to intervene in the internal affairs of the Solomon Islands – that is for them to resolve. I’ve made that very clear.”

The prime minister expected the deployment would last “a matter of weeks” but Australia would assess the situation regularly.

Morrison said the personnel would be “under the direction of our commanders but obviously there to support the Royal Solomon Islands police force”. “Our deployed personnel will carry both lethal and non-lethal weapons, primarily, but not exclusive for force protection purposes.”

The Australian foreign minister, Marise Payne, said the Australian diplomatic mission in Honiara remained operational and all staff and family members were safe.

“They are supporting the government in the provision of information about events as they unfold,” she said on Thursday.

Witnesses posted images on social media of smoke rising from the capital and said Chinese-owned businesses were being targeted, prompting Beijing’s embassy to express “serious concerns” to the Solomons’ government.

“[The embassy] made representations requesting the Solomon Islands to take all necessary measures to strengthen the protection of Chinese enterprises and personnel,” it said in a statement.

The latest disturbance came after several hundred demonstrators torched buildings, including a police station, and looted stores on Wednesday after marching on parliament to demand Sogavare’s resignation.

Sogavare ordered an immediate curfew across Honiara, set to run until 7am on Friday, describing the unrest as a “sad and unfortunate event aimed at bringing a democratically elected government down”.

Most of the protesters in Honiara are reportedly from the neighbouring island of Malaita.

People on the island have long complained of neglect by central government and strongly opposed the Solomons’ decision to switch diplomatic allegiances from Taiwan to China in 2019.

The opposition leader, Matthew Wale, called on Sogavare to step down, saying the unrest would not be quelled by a police-enforced lockdown.

“Regrettably, frustrations and pent up anger of the people against the prime minister are spilling uncontrollably over on to the streets, where opportunists have taken advantage of the already serious and deteriorating situation,” he said in a statement.

“The 36-hour lockdown is yet another reactionary response that is not the solution to the current situation.”

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Fraudsters of the world, come to London. And bring your dirty money – The Guardian

Fraudsters of the world, come to London. And bring your dirty money

Nick Cohen
Kleptocrats love this country, knowing full well they’ll be free from proper scrutiny
‘No one can say how many in the UK are living off immoral earnings’

There is no better representation of the decline of the English upper class into the global rich’s servant class than Ben Elliot. On the one hand, the co-chairman of the Tory party is now a rent collector, hauling in money for the Johnson administration from the Russian rich and native hedge fund bosses.

On the other, he is an actual servant: an upmarket flunkey, to be sure, praised by society magazines for his “puppyish schoolboy charm”, but a flunkey nonetheless. Elliot is a founder of the Quintessentially “concierge” service that gives the super-rich anything they want: luncheon on an iceberg; the Sydney Harbour bridge closed for a wedding proposal. There’s nothing Elliot won’t do for paying customers up to and including arranging a meeting with our future sovereign. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is Elliot’s aunt and it appears that no considerations of good form or good manners have prevented him monetising the connection. Not that the prince appears to mind. A Quintessentially advert interrupts a montage of shots of yachts and celebrities to quote his royal highness as saying he is “particularly grateful” to Quintessentially for organising a party he attended. Members of Elliot’s Quintessentially club donate to the Conservatives. The Conservatives gave Elliot £1.4m of taxpayers’ money in 2016 to “attract the right high-value individual investors to the UK through bespoke programmes”. If on arrival, those high-value individuals went on to show how valuable they were by hiring Quintessentially and donating to the Tories, the circle would be complete.

Upstairs has moved downstairs in the remains of the Tory day and a large segment of British capitalism is now employed as the best servants money can buy. The law, PR, City, estate agency and banking know that easy riches come from serving the large part of the world where it pays to forget Balzac’s warning that the secret of a great fortune no one can explain is invariably an undetected crime. For want of an agreed name I propose “Corruptistan” to cover Russia and the ex-Soviet states, the kleptocracies of Africa and the Middle East and probably soon China as the communist elite learns how to expatriate its wealth.

Given the secrecy of the financial system, the defunding of the police and regulatory authorities and the English libel law, no one can say how many in the UK are living off immoral earnings. But two statistics and one quotation give us a measure of the UK’s dependency culture. Graeme Biggar, of the National Economic Crime Centre, said a “disturbing proportion” of criminal money from the old Soviet Union is “laundered through UK corporate structures”. Companies House, meanwhile, has become a front organisation for organised crime. So welcoming is it to criminals that 335,000 of its listed companies do not reveal the name of their beneficial owners. And 4,000 of the names it appears to reveal turn out on close inspection to belong to children aged two or under.

Last month, Professor Sadiq Isah Radda, a Nigerian anti-corruption official, encapsulated the consequences of the UK’s tolerance of theft. An opponent of corruption in Nigeria, home to countless online scams? A joke figure, you might think. But Radda spoke with a seriousness no government minister can muster when he said the UK was “the most notorious safe haven for looted funds in the world today”. The corruption we facilitate destablised Nigeria and, he might have added, many other countries besides.

Last week, a handful of MPs asked why the Conservatives were so peculiarly soft on this particular crime. In 2017, they promised a law that would compel the foreign owners of UK property to reveal their identities. (The willingness to allow private and state criminals to launder their wealth anonymously through the prime London property market was Radda’s main charge against Boris Johnson.) Nothing has been heard of this bold “anti-corruption strategy” since.

Likewise, the government has said it wants to stop Companies House being a crime scene where anyone can set up a firm without proof of identity or the most cursory checks. Even the Conservative party appeared to agree that it should not be harder to apply for a passport than to set up a shell company. But once again nothing happened.As for the recommendations in the Russia report on money laundering, they vanished as soon as they were made.

The SNP’s Alison Thewliss asked: “I wonder who benefits from this delay. Is it the oligarchs and those to whom they donate?” Pat McFadden, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, asked Conservative MPs why they thought “their party has been such an attractive destination” for £2m in gifts from Russian donors.” Change must come soon or not at all. Britain has benefited so greatly from the wealth of the corrupt we may soon be at the stage where we cannot afford to clean ourselves up. So many people are making so much money, what was once outrageous has become normal. This to my mind is why the security services and the judges just shrug when oligarchs with links to hostile foreign powers use the intimidatory costs of England’s unreformed legal system to menace critics. No one likes hard questions about a nation’s guilty secrets, not even the men and women who are professionally obliged to ask them. Labour certainly believes that tolerance of fraud is now part of the government’s economic strategy and the Treasury wants to loosen what few protections exist to compensate the financial services industry for the Brexit debacle.

Cynical readers may not care as long as the UK can wallow in streams of hot money. They should recall how many times con artists have tried to fleece them. Online fraud is the crime you are most likely to suffer from, yet nowhere in the government’s online safety bill is there a word about fighting the fraudsters who flourish on social media platforms. Once the Tories started turning a blind eye, they found it impossible to stop.

You cannot profit from economic crimes committed abroad while enjoying the rule of law at home. The presence of the global plutocracy’s valets at the top of government and society shows the UK no longer even bothers to pretend that it can.

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Indonesia volcano: Dozens injured as residents flee huge ash cloud from Mt Semeru – BBC News

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One person has died and dozens are injured after a volcano erupted on Indonesia’s Java island, officials said on Saturday.

Residents were filmed fleeing a giant ash cloud from Mt Semeru.

Witnesses described nearby villages covered in debris, and thick smoke blotting out the Sun, leaving them in pitch darkness.

The deputy chief of Lumajang district put the number of injured at 41, saying they had suffered burns.

Indah Masdar called for helicopters to help rescue at least 10 people trapped in buildings.

“We’re in big distress,” she said. “It’s harrowing, their families are all crying.”

Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) later said it knew of 35 people being treated at local medical facilities.

Evacuation efforts have been hampered by choking smoke, a power blackout, and rainstorms during the eruption which turned the debris into mud.

Thoriqul Haq, a local official, told Reuters that a road and bridge from the area to the nearby city of Malang had been severed.

“This has been a very pressing, rapid condition since it erupted,” he said.

People ride a motorbike on a road covered with volcanic ash after Mt Semeru erupted, pictured in Sumberwuluh village in Lumajang regency, East Java province, on 4 December, 2021

Image source, Reuters

Several hundred people have been moved to shelters or left for safer areas, local broadcaster tvOne quoted him as saying.

The eruption took place at about 14:30 local time (07:30 GMT). Local authorities have set up a restricted zone within 5km (3 miles) from the crater.

Airlines have been warned of an ash cloud rising up to 15,000m (50,000 ft).

The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) in Darwin, Australia said the ash appeared to have detached from the summit and was drifting south-west over the Indian Ocean.

The VAAC provides advice to the aviation industry about the location and movement of potentially hazardous volcanic ash.

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Campbell Biggs, a meteorologist at the VAAC, told the BBC that the 15,000m plume was higher than the cruising altitude for most aircraft and would cause most flights in the vicinity to divert their flight paths to avoid it.

Ash that solidifies on cooler parts of plane engines can disrupt airflow, which can lead to engines stalling or failing completely.

It also affects visibility for the pilots and can affect air quality in the cabin – making oxygen masks a necessity.

Mt Semeru was quite an active volcano that regularly spewed ash up to about 4,300m, so Saturday’s eruption was a “pretty significant increase in intensity”, Mr Biggs said.

The ash cloud should slowly dissipate, he said.

Mt Semeru rises 3,676m above sea level and previously erupted last December, forcing thousands of residents to seek shelter.

It is among Indonesia’s nearly 130 active volcanoes.

Indonesia is on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where continental plates meet, causing frequent volcanic and seismic activity.

Videos shared by emergency officials and local media showed residents running away as a giant ash cloud rose behind them.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

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The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

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How have you been affected by the volcano erupting? Email [email protected].

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also get in touch in the following ways:

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world news

Indonesia volcano: Dozens injured as residents flee huge ash cloud from Mt Semeru – BBC News

This video can not be played

To play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.

One person has died and dozens are injured after a volcano erupted on Indonesia’s Java island, officials said on Saturday.

Residents were filmed fleeing a giant ash cloud from Mt Semeru.

Witnesses described nearby villages covered in debris, and thick smoke blotting out the Sun, leaving them in pitch darkness.

The deputy chief of Lumajang district put the number of injured at 41, saying they had suffered burns.

Indah Masdar called for helicopters to help rescue at least 10 people trapped in buildings.

“We’re in big distress,” she said. “It’s harrowing, their families are all crying.”

Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) later said it knew of 35 people being treated at local medical facilities.

Evacuation efforts have been hampered by choking smoke, a power blackout, and rainstorms during the eruption which turned the debris into mud.

Thoriqul Haq, a local official, told Reuters that a road and bridge from the area to the nearby city of Malang had been severed.

“This has been a very pressing, rapid condition since it erupted,” he said.

People ride a motorbike on a road covered with volcanic ash after Mt Semeru erupted, pictured in Sumberwuluh village in Lumajang regency, East Java province, on 4 December, 2021

Reuters

Several hundred people have been moved to shelters or left for safer areas, local broadcaster tvOne quoted him as saying.

The eruption took place at about 14:30 local time (07:30 GMT). Local authorities have set up a restricted zone within 5km (3 miles) from the crater.

Airlines have been warned of an ash cloud rising up to 15,000m (50,000 ft).

The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) in Darwin, Australia said the ash appeared to have detached from the summit and was drifting south-west over the Indian Ocean.

The VAAC provides advice to the aviation industry about the location and movement of potentially hazardous volcanic ash.

1px transparent line

Campbell Biggs, a meteorologist at the VAAC, told the BBC that the 15,000m plume was higher than the cruising altitude for most aircraft and would cause most flights in the vicinity to divert their flight paths to avoid it.

Ash that solidifies on cooler parts of plane engines can disrupt airflow, which can lead to engines stalling or failing completely.

It also affects visibility for the pilots and can affect air quality in the cabin – making oxygen masks a necessity.

Mt Semeru was quite an active volcano that regularly spewed ash up to about 4,300m, so Saturday’s eruption was a “pretty significant increase in intensity”, Mr Biggs said.

The ash cloud should slowly dissipate, he said.

Mt Semeru rises 3,676m above sea level and previously erupted last December, forcing thousands of residents to seek shelter.

It is among Indonesia’s nearly 130 active volcanoes.

Indonesia is on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where continental plates meet, causing frequent volcanic and seismic activity.

Videos shared by emergency officials and local media showed residents running away as a giant ash cloud rose behind them.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

1px transparent line

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

1px transparent line

Banner saying 'Get in touch'

How have you been affected by the volcano erupting? Email [email protected].

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also get in touch in the following ways:

If you are reading this page and can’t see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question or comment or you can email us at [email protected]. Please include your name, age and location with any submission.

Continue Reading

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