Tag Archives: SMH

Press Conference of the Third General Assembly

By Sonia Feng, for the Sydney Morning Herald

The Sydney Morning Herald can scathingly report that within the Third General Assembly, denial is not just exclusive to individuals; it can be the go-to-bastion of states within public discourse.

In caucus today, the topic at hand of the Third General Assembly revolved around the abolition of the death penalty.

Problematic is China’s stance of open transparency and accountability, which lies in direct contradiction to its internal administration of justice. China has failed to disclosed as well as stands accused and confirmed of placing fifty pro-Tibetan activists on death row, purely based on the public denouncement of China’s government. China views this in direct breach of public security. There seems to be a discrepancy between China’s official position and reality.

Notably concerning is the official press agency of the People’s Republic of China, Xinhua, and their response to the situation, praising China “well done”. Back to the subject of denial was observed keenly by the Sydney Morning Herald, who witnessed open denial by the state of Iran when questioned about executions of juvenile offenders still being carried out. This is surprising given that it is in contravention of its international human rights obligations as Iran is a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


The SMH buys out the NYT

By Sonia Feng, for the Sydney Morning Herald


There has been a surprising turn of events within the International Press Gallery. The Sydney Morning Herald can finally confirm that Fairfax Media Limited has bought out The New York Times. Many in the unsuspecting international audience and broader viewership of The New York Times can cry a bloody river, because keep your hats on, the situation is riddled with a twofold story. A mildly entertaining saga, at that, within the world of riches.

Many will remember that merely a year ago, Fox News president and blatant justice obstructer despot, Roger Ailes, notably said in response to buying out The New York Times, in pursuit of some sort of heroic crusade to “purge the socialist rag of its un-American content and transform it into a paper for proper Americans”.

Well touché Fox News. Looks like Fairfax heard half of that message to purge it of its un-American content before Gina Rinehart got on another bandwagon of media investment.

Gina ‘eat your mines out’ Rinehart, the world’s richest woman, mining tycoon and budding media mogul has decided that monopoly over other industries can be both transnational and profitable.

In a precedential move towards media domination and public trust, Gina Rinehart has bought the NYT from Fox News. Speaking about her fellow conservative business partner slash broker, Rinehart has gone on the record to announce that she intends to “purge the un-American content [of the NYT] and transform it into a paper for proper Australians”. With a change of pace to its editorial direction, the SMH hopes that The New York Times will now be completely quote unquote “Australian”.

UPDATE: Crisis in the Second General Assembly

By Sonia Feng, for the Sydney Morning Herald

New evidence has emerged that Pakistan’s government was aware at least 9 months ago that at least one terrorist organisation operating within their borders, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), had been using accounts in Citibank to launder money. However, they neglected to inform other nations of their suspicions, and attempted to manage this issue internally.

Lashkar-e-Taiba is one of the largest and most active jihadi organisations in South Asia, and was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.

It has been labelled as a terrorist organisation. There have been longstanding rumours regarding the relationships between Pakistan’s main intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and LeT, however evidence for collaboration between the two remains unclear.

BREAKING: Crisis of the Second General Assembly

By Sonia Feng, for The Sydney Morning Herald

Confirmed reports that accounts held by the international banking group Citibank, which is headquartered in New York, have been used as a vehicle to finance terrorism. Technical information regarding how terrorist groups headquartered in Pakistan and Afghanistan managed to conduct such a sophisticated money laundering operation that it evaded the US authorities for the past five years is still sketchy. However, like all US banks, Citibank has been subject to rigorous oversight and regulatory requirements, therefore this revelation comes as a major embarrassment to the US Administration and brings into question the role of the USA in leading the international fight against the financing of terrorism.

Crisis in the First General Assembly

By Sonia Feng, for the Sydney Morning Herald

BREAKING: There are unconfirmed reports that a private military company (PMC) has attacked UN peacekeeping forces (comprised mainly of Pakistani and Indian troops) in Venezuela. There is confirmation that a chemical or biological weapon was used, however it is unknown whether it was by the PMC or another non-state actor in the vicinity.

It has been confirmed that casualties number at 9 women, 7 men and a total of 18 others injured. Many are reported to be suffering from severe burns.

It is rumoured that this PMC was hired by a joint Japanese-Australian mining company. This is not surprising news given that both Japan and Australia hold national PMC headquarters. Although if the rumours prove to be true, this will be the first of accounts holding a joint Japanese-Australian mining company liable.
Although there are a number of national and international laws that regulate the use of private armies, existing legislation does not cover the current status of private security contractors. International efforts to control the use of PMCs have failed to effectively deal with many of the issues related to their use.
Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations has strongly condemned this unprovoked act of aggression as “reprehensibly unfounded”.

The Issue With Combatting Terrorism’s Revenue

By Sonia Feng for the Sydney Morning Herald

The story of global financing of terrorism is one that is deeply ingrained and problematic. Pitched by the Second General Assembly of the United Nations as one of the important avenues in combatting terrorism by the international community, it in reality and praxis lies secondary in counter terrorism measures and is notoriously difficult to address.

The focus on combatting the financing of terrorism is subsidiary in the international sphere. Alternative counter terrorism processes that have largely been successful according to the Second General Assembly involve localised police and intelligence services, use of military force, the fracture and disintegration of existing terrorist organisations and the legitimisation of previous non-state actors with renewed recognised status as political agents.

According to Second General Assembly director, Jason Smith, the financing of terrorism “remains highly contentious” as the concept in its entirely hinges on a concept “not properly defined”. Such issues of uncertainty over the definition of terrorism prolong the stratagem to address it in its fullest capacity. Director Smith further questioned how one is able to fund something that is not officially and internationally defined.

The United Nations treaty and the Terrorist Financing Convention criminalises acts of financing terrorist activities. According to the briefing paper released during committee today, “these terrorist organisations require larger financial reserves to perform tasks that support their terrorist activities, and to maintain a sphere of regional influence”. These funds can be sourced from both legal and illegal activities.

Typically as history and contemporary times dictates, less well-regulated and ill-supervised financial institutions, charities and NGOs support such illegal and criminal activities, both knowingly and unknowingly, that go on to fund directly and indirectly terrorist acts. According to the briefing paper today, “the US Drug Enforcement Administration estimates up to 60% of terrorist organisations are connected to the illegal narcotics trade”. Indeed drug trafficking has provided funding for insurgency actions for those who utilise terrorist violence in various regions throughout the world. Furthermore, listed amongst the criminal activities include kidnapping and people trafficking, weapon smuggling and corruption which can generate large profits for terrorist organisations to fund their network and activities.

In our growing globally connected world, money is easily transferred state to state electronically. It surpasses state borders, for currency surpasses traditional sovereignty. Notable is the much manipulated and abused hawala system in which an informal value transfer occurs based on an honour system rather than currency movement. Terrorist organisations also launder money to conceal the unlawful nature of the aforementioned criminal activities. As such, anti-money laundering is on the United Nations agenda because it is considered a crucial component of combatting the pervasive and aggrandised revenue of terrorism.

Director Smith went on to state that as widespread terrorism funding is, it is also notable that it is inexpensive to fund. According to the briefing paper, it is estimated that the 9/11 terrorist attacks took less than $500,000 to fund. The expediency and economically viable nature of terrorism is another issue that extend its existence within the international landscape of insurrectional behaviours.

With financing terrorism, there lie many contributors. The problematic axis of transparency and the greater question of accountability is one that needs to be further explored. In committee today, moderated caucus on the topic of state sponsored terrorism brought out vitriol and denial. At its crux, state sponsored terrorism remains a touchy subject for many nation states (re: the bitch fight or “bilateral bickering” between the delegates of Pakistan and India). To which institution, (non-) actor or agency understood to be held account is one that needs additional discussion.

In conclusion, global financing of terrorism is one that is deeply ingrained and problematic that needs further investigation, discussion and accountability.