Archive for: ‘August 2018’

China trade threat ‘ups and downs’: PM

29/08/2018 Posted by admin

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Australia’s trading relationship with China is strengthening.Chinese trade with Australia could be under threat, but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says any “ups and downs” in the bilateral relationship are coming from a high base.

The Chinese ambassador to Australia told The Australian that if growing distrust was allowed to fester it could damage the trade relationship.

Australia is bringing in laws trying to stop foreign donations to political parties, but Ambassador Cheng Jingye rejected any suggestions China was trying to interfere in Australian politics.

Speaking in London, where he is attending the CHOGM meeting, Mr Turnbull said the two countries shared a strong relationship that was getting better.

“We have a very strong economic relationship with China, in fact it’s strengthening all the time,” the prime minister told reporters on Wednesday local time.

“From time to time there are differences in the relationship, if there are ups and downs, it’s from a very, very high base.

“Trade has never been higher in every respect.”

But Mr Turnbull said he will not step back from the foreign donation laws.

“We are taking every step that we can, with our foreign interference legislation, to ensure that Australians, and Australians only, are the ones who influence Australian political processes,” he said.

Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said safeguarding Australian sovereignty came above partisan politics, but the government had been “clumsy” in its language towards China in recent months.

“Every Australian government of both political persuasions has had to manage differences with China,” Senator Wong told Sky News.

“I think we are seeing that this government’s management of those differences has been characterised by too much clumsiness in recent times.”

Senator Wong said foreign donations ought to be banned and greater transparency measures imposed on lobbying efforts on behalf of foreign governments to safeguard Australia’s sovereignty.

Australian Associated Press

Announcement due on Prince death charges

29/08/2018 Posted by admin

Prosecutors are set to announce whether anyone is to be charged over the 2016 death of Prince.A Minnesota prosecutor is set to announce whether anyone will be criminally charged in the death of music legend Prince, who died two years ago from an opioid overdose.

Carver County Attorney Mark Metz will hold a news conference in the early hours of Friday morning AEST regarding his decision following a lengthy investigation, the Carver County Attorney’s office said in a statement on Wednesday.

Prince, 57, was found dead at his Paisley Park complex near Minneapolis on April 21, 2016. The official cause of death was a self-administered overdose of the painkiller fentanyl, but no prescriptions were found for the powerful drug that is 50 times stronger than heroin.

Police investigating Prince’s death found numerous opioids in the singer’s home, according to court documents released in April 2017. At that time, they had not identified who supplied the dose of fentanyl that caused his death or where it came from.

Authorities have been investigating the death of the Purple Rain singer for two years, terming it an “active homicide investigation,” according to affidavits and search warrants unsealed in 2017.

The probe included searches of Prince’s computer, his friends’ mobile phone records and interviews with associates, the documents said. Some of the painkillers found at the residence had prescriptions in the names of other people.

Investigators were told that the singer, whose legal name was Prince Rogers Nelson, had a history of going through withdrawals believed to be tied to prescription pain medication abuse, the unsealed documents showed.

Prince, known for his androgynous style and sexually charged songs, died a day before he was set to meet a California-based doctor who specialises in addiction treatment for a “life-saving mission.”

After his death, his longtime collaborator and protege Sheila E. told Entertainment Tonight that Prince had been suffering from hip and knee pain from decades of intense performing, much of it in heels.

Later in his life, the singer and composer of such hits as When Doves Cry, Little Red Corvette and Raspberry Beret, crafted a public image of living a clean and healthy vegan lifestyle.

Australian Associated Press

Shots as UN visits suspected chemical site

29/08/2018 Posted by admin

A UN security team was fired on in Douma as they investigated a suspected chemical weapons attack.A UN security team has come under fire in Syria while doing reconnaissance for inspectors to visit sites of a suspected chemical weapons attack, and officials said it was no longer clear when the inspectors would be able to go in.

The inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are in Syria to investigate an April 7 incident in which Western countries and rescue workers say scores of civilians were gassed to death by government forces.

OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) had decided to carry out reconnaissance at two sites in the town of Douma before the inspectors would visit them.

“On arrival at site one, a large crowd gathered and the advice provided by the UNDSS was that the reconnaissance team should withdraw,” he told a meeting at the watchdog’s headquarters in remarks it later released. “At site two, the team came under small arms fire and an explosive was detonated. The reconnaissance team returned to Damascus.”

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis blamed the Syrian government for delays in inspectors reaching the sites and said it has a history of trying to “clean up the evidence before the investigation team gets in.”

“We are very much aware of the delay that the regime imposed on that delegation but we are also very much aware of how they have operated in the past and seal what they have done using chemical weapons,” Mattis said before the start of a meeting with his counterpart from Qatar.

The United States, Britain and France fired missiles at Syrian targets on Saturday in retaliation for the suspected chemical use. They say the arrival of the inspectors is being held up by Syrian authorities who now control the area, and that evidence of the chemical attack may be being destroyed.

Damascus and its ally Moscow deny that any gas attack took place, that they are holding up the inspections or that they have tampered with evidence at the site. Britain’s ambassador to the OPCW Peter Wilson said it was now unclear when the inspectors would be able to reach it.

The rebel group based in Douma announced its surrender hours after the suspected chemical attack, and the last rebels left a week later, hours after the Western retaliation strikes.

Australian Associated Press

Vanuatu rules out Chinese military base

29/08/2018 Posted by admin

Charlot Salwai (right) promised Malcolm Turnbull there are no plans for a Chinese base in Vanuatu.Vanuatu has ruled out ever allowing China to build a military base on its shores, assuring Australia the idea has never been raised.

Following reports that security officials were worried about China’s intentions in Vanuatu, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull met with Prime Minister Charlot Salwai in London.

Mr Salwai said he had worked in government for 27 years, as an adviser and MP, and the idea of a Chinese military base had never been raised.

“I attend a lot of meetings, was ever (sic) in our discussion. Was never in our negotiations,” he told reporters in London on Wednesday.

Mr Salwai ruled out any plans for a Chinese base in his country, and said he raised it with Mr Turnbull in their bilateral meeting.

“I want to assure the prime minister that Vanuatu was never dreaming to become a military base one day,” he said.

“I rule out, I rule out.

“It is not in our culture, it is not in our tradition.

“We are the happiest people, and I think that’s enough for us.”

China is building a wharf in Vanuatu funded by a concessional loan, but Mr Salwai said the loan was cheaper than the one Japan offered when the Port Vila wharf was built.

China has said reports it wants a military base in Vanuatu are “sheer fiction” from troublemakers.

“The prime minister of Vanuatu has made it very clear, quite unequivocally, that the media reports about Chinese interest in establishing a military base in Vanuatu have no basis in fact,” Mr Turnbull told reporters.

“He said those reports are absolutely untrue.”

Mr Salwai thanked Australia for its support in education, health and justice, but said he would like help building the new police academy.

“Because we want to keep Vanuatu as a destination for investors, but also for tourists … Vanuatu must be ready to be a country of law and order,” he said.

Mr Turnbull also met with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela and they discussed Australia’s support for a new telecommunications cable, as well as energy and mining investments.

The cable will connect Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands with Australia.

“That is going to deliver enormous benefits to both countries, but particularly the Solomon Islands, and significantly reduce the cost of telecommunications there,” Mr Turnbull said.

Australian Associated Press

Murray Goulburn sale clears final hurdle

27/08/2018 Posted by admin

Murray Goulburn’s Koroit factory. Picture: Rob GunstoneThe sale offormer leading dairy processor Murray Goulburn (MG) to Canadian dairy giant has cleared its final hurdle with the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approvingthe acquisition.

MG spokesman said Saputo had advised it on Wednesday of the FIRB’s decision.

MG said it expected to complete the $1.3 billion sale of the cooperative to Saputo byMay 1, this year.

It said the initial distribution of 80c a share from the sale to shareholders and unitholders will take place on May 15.

The date on which MG will record those on its list of shareholders and unitholders in the MG Unit Trust, and who will receive the 80c a share or unit,has been set at April 23.

Under the terms of the sale, Saputo has agreed to divest itself of MG’s Koroit plant to counterconcerns from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commision that it would have too much control of the regional milk market if it kept the plant.

Saputo already owns the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter factory at Allansford.

The Weekly Times has quoted a Saputo spokesman as saying the Canadian company hopes to sell the Koroit plant by the end of June.

The report said at least two Australian companies had already had talks with Saputoto express their interest in the Koroit plant.

Warrnambool Standard

Vegemite verdict: Putting Darby Street’s $7 gourmet toast to the test

27/08/2018 Posted by admin

Vegemite verdict: Putting Darby Street’s $7 gourmet toast to the test TweetFacebookNewcastle Heraldthe $7 meal served on Monday to regular customerHuon Oliver was meant to give the simple offering a “bit more presentation”.

“To be quite honest, it’s an off-menu item,” she said. “We tend not to focus too heavily on our toast offerings, we do put a fair bit of effort into our poached eggs and smashed avocado on toast.

“But if someone does come in and they request good old-fashioned Vegemite on toast, then we’re prepared to gourmet it up and get some master chef action on the plate.”

Mr Oliver, who lives nearby at The Hill, said he was dining with a friend who had returned from overseas and was “craving” thespread.

Hisoriginal Instagram photo of the meal was shared by popular social-media accountBrown Cardigan, who spread the word about the $7 meal to their 349,000 Instagram followers.

“One of our regulars was in for a quick bite to eat,” Ms Reid said. “He was a bit smitten with our attention to detail. He popped it up on his Instagram and it’s gone from there.

“It’s sparked a fierce debate –not all positive, but we’re not taking it too seriously. The dish itself wasn’t meant to be taken too seriously.

“Maybe it’s the debate the nation needed to have.”

When theHeraldsampled the meal on Wednesday, Core Espresso cook NathanMcCarter said the item was proving popular after the attention.

“Our version is a representation of what we do here, we do take a lot of pride in presentation and quality,” he said.

“It’s a little bit up-market and high-end, but it fits in with the rest of menu. If it’s getting people in here, it’s all good.”

Asked if there was any secret to the meal,Mr McCarter said “any type of coffee” would complement the offering.

“We don’t like to judge anyone’s preference on [the amount of] Vegemite, that’s why we don’t put it on there. We leave it up to them.

“Anything goes with Vegemite really, we do have a few people add to the Vegemite – avocado’s been super popular …getting a scoop of avo on there.”

Newcastle Herald

Skull and Bones warns of impostor pranks

27/08/2018 Posted by admin

Impostors have been contacting Yale students purporting to represent the Skull and Bones fraternity.Skull and Bones, the secret society at Yale University, is warning of an impostor who has called some students purporting to recruit them and then asking them to complete a humiliating challenge.

The campus society has figured prominently in books, films and conspiracy theories. Its secrecy has fuelled the public’s curiosity about a group that counts former Secretary of State John Kerry and both Presidents Bush among its past members.

The note sent out to members of Yale’s junior class through the student government was a rare public statement, according to David Alan Richards, author of Skulls and Keys: The Hidden History of Yale’s Secret Societies.

“While famously its mantra has been ‘Never respond, never explain,’ because it doesn’t see itself as a public organisation, in today’s climate to have allowed that to happen could conceivably damage the society’s reputation,” Richards said. “It was a foul thing to do.”

The Yale police department has received three complaints of harassing phone calls from somebody claiming to be from Skull and Bones, according to university spokesman Tom Conroy, who said the cases remain open. Some students described an anonymous caller who instructed them to hand their phones to somebody nearby and that asked that person questions about the student’s sex life.

Cole Addonizio, a Yale junior, said he suspected it was a prank soon after he received a call from somebody who said it was the start of the “tap” process. He played along and handed his phone to his brother, who was asked inappropriate questions. They hung up on the caller.

“I figured it was a prank since I hadn’t heard about them calling them like this,” Addonizio said.

Skull and Bones, which dates back to 1832, said in its note to students that the prank caller was exploiting the society’s “mysterious nature” and encouraged people who received such calls to report the incident to Yale police or their college dean.

Australian Associated Press

All Blacks ace the latest to condemn Folau

27/08/2018 Posted by admin

New Zealand’s TJ Perenara is the latest to tweet his anger at Isreal Folau’s stance on homosexualityAll Blacks star TJ Perenara is the latest high-profile rugby player to condemn Israel Folau for his controversial views on homosexuality.

Sure to set off more alarm bells at Rugby Australia, Perenara took to Twitter on Wednesday night to say he was “100 per cent against” Folau’s comments that have created a firestorm around the world and placed the Wallabies ace’s future in the code in serious doubt.

“I’d like to add my voice to the conversation currently taking place,” Perenara posted.

“As professional rugby players, whether we like it or not, we are role models for a lot of young people. Notably, young Maori and Pasifika people.

“You don’t need to look far to know that young Maori/PI are overrepresented in youth suicide statistics and, as I understand it, even more so when you look to those who are part of the Rainbow community. Comments that cause further harm cannot be tolerated.

“Let it go on record that I am 100% against the comments that were made by Israel. It was not ok to say that.

“It’s not an attitude I want to see in the game I love. There is no justification for such harmful comments.”

Despite Rugby Australia this week opting against sanctioning Folau for claiming on Instagram gay people were headed for “HELL … unless they repent of their sins and turn to God”, the governing body must be nervous about the increasing backlash the three-times John Eales Medallist is receiving.

Off contract at the end of 2018, Folau revealed in a Players’ Voice column that he told RA chief Raelene Castle last week during crisis talks that he was prepared to quit rugby immediately if need be.

“My faith is far more important to me than my career,” he wrote.

“I told Raelene if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately.”

It remains how RA and Folau will receive the latest noise coming from across the Tasman and whether the criticism will impact contract negotiations.

Perenara joined the debate less than 24 hours after Chiefs halfback Brad Weber slammed Folau’s comments as disgusting.

Perenara also revealed he had donated $NZ500 ($AUD470) to a fundraising page for the NZ Falcons, an Auckland-based gay rugby club.

“To anyone, young Maori/Pasifika people especially, who may be struggling with their identity – please know that it is ok to be you,” he tweeted.

“You are perfect as you are. Do not let these comments keep you from being yourself. Polynesia has been sexually diverse since forever.”

In a new move, Castle has sent out a strongly worded memo to Australian Super Rugby players warning them of their obligation to use social media in a respectful way, although it is clear the message is directed at Folau.

“Rugby Australia respects and supports the rights of all players and employees to have their own individual views and to share those views in a respectful way,” reads the memo, excerpts of which were published by News Corp Australia on Thursday.

“When we engage in any public commentary, we should be mindful of how our words may be received by the public, including rugby fans, aspiring young rugby players and people at all levels of our game, from the volunteers at a community level right through to the sponsors that invest in our game to make it what it is today.”

Australian Associated Press

George W salutes ‘warm, wonderful’ mother

27/08/2018 Posted by admin

George W Bush with his mother Barbara, who died earlier this week aged 92, in 1999.Former US president George W Bush has said his mother, Barbara Bush, did not fear death because she believed she would be “wonderfully received in the arms of a loving God”.

The former president appeared on Wednesday with his wife Laura Bush on the Fox Business Network.

He said his mother “was warm and wonderful, until you got out of line”.

Barbara Bush, the wife of former president George H W Bush, died on Tuesday at the age of 92.

George W Bush says that during a recent visit with his mother, she told her doctor that her son “is the way he is” because she “drank and smoked when (she) was pregnant with him”.

Laura Bush says her mother-in-law had long supported literacy campaigns and believed “if everyone could read and write, a lot of problems would be solved”.

Australian Associated Press

Jackson Hastings isn’t a bad guy: Robinson

27/08/2018 Posted by admin

Manly utility Jackson Hastings is likely to spend the rest of the season in reserve grade.Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has lent his support to exiled Manly utility Jackson Hastings, four seasons after he gave him his NRL debut.

Robinson handed Hastings his debut as an 18-year-old ahead of the 2014 finals series, and even placed his faith in the youngster when he opted against re-signing proven winner James Maloney at the end of 2015.

But less than three years later Hastings’ career is at the crossroads, having been dumped back to reserve grade indefinitely after Manly claimed there’d been a number of issues since his arrival at the start of last year.

Hastings affirmed his “hundred per cent” commitment to returning to first grade this season when approached by reporters at training for feeder club Blacktown on Wednesday.

He also said he could work with Sea Eagles captain Daly Cherry-Evans, with whom he had clashed with.

“I’m fully committed to doing whatever it takes to get back into that first grade team,” he told Fairfax Media.

The Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) are also monitoring the situation, with Manly keen to continue to offer support to the 22-year-old after coach Trent Barrett admitted he’d likely spend the rest of the year at Blacktown.

And when quizzed on the matter, Robinson admitted Hastings also had trouble fitting in with the Roosters playing group before he was released at the end of 2016.

“He obviously had some issues here at different times,” Robinson said.

“The only thing I would say is it sometimes easier to forgive someone when they do commit a crime and then say sorry and come back.

“Jackson’s not a bad guy, he doesn’t do anything wrong. He’s not doing anything wrong there. Obviously he just needs to work on team environment.

“He’s not going to misbehave. He never has.”

The situation has also been particularly tough for Barrett, who has known Hastings since his teenage years.

Barrett revealed on Wednesday there had been documented issues for 12 months – including a meeting with his manager, the RLPA, and welfare officers in February – before it’s all culminated in two altercations with Cherry-Evans earlier this month.

But Robinson was confident the playmaker would have strong support base around him.

“Jackson is a strong individual,” Robinson said.

“He’s got a good family support around him, so I would say they would be supporting him strongly right now.

“His mum is a really good lady and has been there through a lot with him. She would be the main support right now.”

Meanwhile, NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said on Wednesday he would leave the issue largely to Manly.

“For me that’s a matter between a player and his club and I’d expect them to do that,” he said.

“It’s not dissimilar to what might happen at a number of clubs over the course of the season.”

Australian Associated Press