"Baby Asha" to be released into community detention

  • 08/19/2019

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says an asylum-seeker baby being treated in a Queensland hospital will be released into community detention and not immediately transferred to Nauru.



Doctors at Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital have refused to release one-year-old baby Asha until an acceptable home is identified.


The stand-off prompted a week of rallies outside the hospital by asylum-seeker advocates.

The Australian Medical Association has issued the government with a set of demands, calling for the immediate removal of all children from detention.


Baby Asha has been receiving treatment at Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital after suffering burns from boiling water while in detention on Nauru.


Doctors at the hospital had refused to release the one-year-old until an acceptable home had been identified.


Her plight sparked a vigil and protests that have run outside the hospital since last week.


Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says the doctors have now agreed to release the child.


Mr Dutton says the government has proposed to move baby Asha and her family into community detention here in Australia from where she will continue to be processed.


“So we are proposing that baby Asha will come from Lady Cilento and will go into community detention as have 83 others who are living in the community who are in Australia for medical assistance and their family members who are here to support those for medical assistance. It will be a continuation of that policy.”


Mr Dutton says the baby and her parents will be returned to Nauru once their medical and legal matters are finalised.


“The Government’s position is perfectly clear. That is, at some point, if people don’t have a protection claim, they will be returned to the country of origin or back to Nauru. We are not going to reneg on that position. We have a very important policy to continue. That’s stopping the boats, making sure we deal with cases compassionately but if people are suggesting to you that somehow there has been a change in the policy or that we’re going to allow special treatment in baby Asha’s case, then that is not the case.”


The President of the Australian Medical Association, Professor Brian Owler, has called for the immediate release of all children in detention and a moratorium on any child being sent back to detention centres.


Professor Owler says keeping children in detention has significant health impacts.


“We know from the Human Rights Commission that there is no doubt that having children in detention is harmful. It causes physical, psychological, emotional and developmental harms. The only way to countenance there is to have children out of detention.”


The A-M-A has also called for the establishment of a transparent, national statutory body of independent clinical experts, with the power to investigate and report to the parliament on the health and welfare of asylum seekers and refugees.

Speaking at a rally in Sydney, Professor Owler warned the forced removal of baby Asha would represent a point of no return in the asylum-seeker debate.


He says doctors at the Queensland hospital who earlier refused to release the baby acted appropriately.

“We unequivocally support the doctors and nurses working in Lady Cilento. It is an absolute ethical obligation, not to mention moral obligation, of those doctors and nurses to not release baby Asha into a situation where they believe there is likely to be harm.”


Protesters pledged to maintain a 24-hour vigil outside the Brisbane hospital where baby Asha is being treated until they received further information about the family’s situation.


The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s Kon Karapanagiotidis has thanked the crowd for their support.


“Thank you again so much for sending a clear message that we are not going to stand by and allow children to be abused, we are not going to stand by and allow women and men or children to be sent to harm. We are Australians, we’re not going to stand for this, we’re not going to put up with this ever again.”



Caste protests cut water to Indian capital

  • 08/19/2019

The rioting in Haryana by the Jats, a rural caste, is symptomatic of increasingly fierce competition for government jobs and educational openings in India, whose growing population is set to overtake China’s within a decade.


Rapid urbanisation is putting pressure on water supplies after two years of drought, with the capital relying on Haryana to meet much of its needs.

“No water available now. Still no hope to get it,” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said in a tweet on Sunday morning.

The city government ordered schools to shut on Monday and rationed provision to residents to ensure that hospitals and emergency services have enough.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh was expected later on Sunday to meet leaders of the Jat community – which makes up a quarter of the population in Haryana and numbers more than 80 million in northern Indian – in a bid to defuse the crisis.

The central government also sent the army and paramilitary forces to sensitive areas, where mobile Internet services were jammed, a curfew imposed in several districts and roads blocked.

“The situation is much more in control than before,” spokesman Amit Arya, a spokesman for the chief minister of Haryana, said by telephone. He said the death toll from the protests now stood at seven, with 70 more injured.

Water stations attacked

Protesters have attacked the homes of regional ministers, torched railway stations and staged sit-ins on tracks, blocking hundreds of trains. They sabotaged pumping equipment at a water treatment plant that provides most of Delhi’s water.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, India’s biggest carmaker by sales, suspended operations at its plants in the state after the protests disrupted the supply of some components.

The unrest poses a threat to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise of jobs and growth for the aspirational Indians who elected him in 2014 with the largest majority in three decades.

Modi wants to attract foreign investment to back his ‘Make in India’ drive to create 100 million manufacturing jobs by 2022. At the current rate India may only create 8 million jobs in that period, by one independent estimate.

The Jat protests echo a similar movement last year in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, where the Patel community demanded a greater share of scarce government jobs and college places that are now reserved for people from lower castes.

Hardik Patel, the 22-year-old leader of the Gujarat unrest, became a national sensation after drawing half a million people to one rally. The authorities cracked down on Patel, who was charged with sedition in October.

Last survivor of Nazi camp Treblinka dies

  • 08/19/2019

Samuel Willenberg, the last survivor of Treblinka, the Nazi death camp where 875,000 people were systematically murdered, has died in Israel at the age of 93.


Only 67 people are known to have survived the camp, fleeing in a revolt shortly before it was destroyed.

On August 2, 1943, a group of Jews stole some weapons, set fire to the camp and headed to the woods. Hundreds fled, but most were shot and killed by Nazi troops in the surrounding mine fields or captured by Polish villagers who returned them to Treblinka.

“The world cannot forget Treblinka,” Willenberg told The Associated Press news agency in a 2010 interview.

He described how he was shot in the leg as he climbed over bodies piled at the barbed wire fence and catapulted over.

He kept running, ignoring dead friends in his path.

He said his blue eyes and “non-Jewish” look allowed him to survive in the countryside before arriving in Warsaw and joining the Polish underground.

After the war Willenberg moved to Israel and became a surveyor for the Housing Ministry.

Later in life, he took up sculpting to describe his experiences.

His bronze statues depicted Jews standing on a train platform, a father removing his son’s shoes before entering the gas chambers, a young girl having her head shaved, and prisoners removing bodies.

“I live two lives, one is here and now and the other is what happened there,” Willenberg said.

“It never leaves me. It stays in my head. It goes with me always.”

His two sisters were killed at Treblinka. He described his survival as “chance, sheer chance.”

The Nazis and their collaborators killed about 6 million Jews during the Holocaust.

The death toll at Treblinka was second only to Auschwitz – a prison camp where more than a million people died in gas chambers or from starvation, disease and forced labour.

Hawks win, take NBL semi series to game 3

  • 08/19/2019

The New Zealand Breakers have one NBL grand final berth sewn up, but the defending champions have to wait five days before finding out who they face on the big stage.


Illawarra shrugged off the absence of MVP Kevin Lisch (ankle injury) to beat the Perth Wildcats 104-87 on Sunday at WIN Entertainment Centre in Wollongong, forcing the best-of-three semi-final series to a deciding third game on Friday in Perth.

Lisch, who captured NBL MVP honours and the defensive player of the year award last week, rolled his ankle in the opening quarter of Illawarra’s 80-68 game one loss to Perth last Friday, and is expected to be sidelined for the rest of the playoffs.

Illawarra’s triumph over the Wildcats was their first in six meetings this season.

The winner of game three will host the Breakers in game one of the grand final series on March 2.

New Zealand’s 91-78 home win on Saturday completed a 2-0 sweep of their semi-final series with minor premiers Melbourne United.

The Breakers have won their past seven games and are shooting for their fifth title in six years.

Perth have won an NBL-best six championships and haven’t missed the playoffs for an incredible 30 consecutive seasons.

The Wildcats head into the decider knowing they haven’t lost at home to the Hawks in the past 23 meetings.

“It’s a one-game series now, and we’ve got the added advantage being at home, but we have to be a lot more aggressive than we did tonight,” Perth coach Trevor Gleeson said.

“We played tentative and brittle and it was disappointing. They were playing desperately and we weren’t. They played at a different level and we didn’t raise the bar at all.”

Hawks captain Oscar Forman celebrated his 450th NBL game in style, scoring a team-high 21 points in an unaccustomed role off the bench.

AJ Ogilvy tallied 20 points, while Kirk Penney and Tim Coenraad combined for 35.

American duo Casey Prather (21) and Jermaine Beal (20) led the Wildcats.

After trailing by two at quarter-time, the Hawks were up 52-50 at half-time and took a 16-point lead into the final period.

Lisch was on crutches and remains a long shot to be fit for Friday night’s decider.

“His foot is black and blue and big as a basketball,” Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge said.

“He’ll want to play but it’s a pretty bad sprain.”

Gleeson won’t be surprised if Lisch suits up on Friday.

“You never count Kevin out,” Gleeson said.

Forman believes the pressure is all on the Cats to advance to the grand final.

“When you get to the playoffs, you don’t want it to end because if you lose you don’t know what to do the next day, and we don’t want that feeling,” the 34-year-old forward said.

Suns down Lions in scrappy AFL win

  • 08/19/2019

The plumbing in the change rooms failed but that wasn’t the only thing on the nose as Gold Coast claimed a scrappy 25-point AFL pre-season win over Brisbane.


But Suns coach Rodney Eade still reckons the error-riddled display at Burpengary was enough to give midfielders Jesse Lonergan and Aaron Hall a round one sniff.

Not much went right on Sunday, starting with the toilet malfunction in the sheds.

The closest the Suns got to greatness was when injured skipper Gary Ablett appeared on the sidelines in full kit preparing for a promotional photo.

Sadly for the 3807-strong crowd, Ablett then joined fellow star Suns midfielders David Swallow, Dion Prestia and Jaeger O’Meara on the sidelines.

Ablett is not expected to be sighted until the March 11 pre-season clash against Adelaide due to a foot complaint.

Forward Tom Lynch took up the reins in Ablett’s absence and led by example in the 0.9.14 (68) to 0.6.7 (43), kicking three goals.

And Eade reckoned Lonergan (23 touches, 16 contested) and Hall did enough to stake a claim along with veteran Michael Rischitelli to join his missing midfield stars for the AFL season opener.

But Touk Miller (16 touches) also looks set to give Eade a welcome headache when he determines his midfield for the March 26 opener against Essendon.

“Jesse played really well. Hally was down a bit but he’s had a good pre-season so we know he’s in our mix, and Rischa was solid and did well again – that gives you seven (round one midfielders),” Eade said.

“With the way the game is played now with 90 rotations, you are going to need a lot of mids so hopefully we can fit them all in.”

Lynch impressed but Peter Wright looks set to pressure Sam Day for the second key forward berth this season after kicking one goal and four marks against Brisbane.

Rookie Darcy MacPherson also turned heads with a goal and 10 tackles.

Eade said he would welcome back Prestia and Jack Martin in their next clash against West Coast in Joondalup on March 3.

Brisbane had nine players making their debut for the Lions including No.2 draft pick Josh Schache, former Blue Tom Bell and ex-Cats Josh Walker and Jarrad Jansen.

Stand-in skipper Mitch Robinson and Bell impressed, as did busy draftee Rhys Mathieson, while Schache showed flashes of brilliance up forward in a first-half cameo.

Lions coach Justin Leppitsch said their best available would run out against St Kilda on March 6 in Mackay, including skipper Tom Rockliff, Pearce Hanley, Dayne Zorko, Daniel Rich and North Melbourne recruit Ryan Bastinac.

Jetta not sighted in Eagles’ AFL shocker

  • 07/19/2019

Buddy’s back.


The Eddie Betts Show has returned.

But Lewis Jetta was hardly sighted in the NAB Challenge first round, which included a nightmare start by AFL grand finalists West Coast, who copped a 100-point humbling by the Betts-inspired Crows in Adelaide.

Eagles assistant Justin Longmuir was not reaching for the panic button after fielding just seven players from their 2015 grand final team on Sunday.

But few would have predicted such a quiet Eagles debut from former Swan Jetta, who managed just three touches.

“We expect him to take a little bit of time to get to know the players he’s working with now, get to know our system of play,” Longmuir said.

“He’ll probably play three games in the pre-season.

“I’m sure come round one he’ll be much more familiar with his surroundings and have a bigger impact.”

Betts didn’t waste time making a statement.

He booted five goals and a nine-point supergoal while racking up 18 touches as Adelaide coasted to a 2.20.10 (148) to 0.7.6 (48) win at Unley Oval.

“We’ve planned to play our best side in the last two weeks of the pre-season,” Longmuir said.

“We’ve done a lot of work on changing momentum and hopefully our more senior players will take a lot more ownership than what happened today.”

Lance “Buddy” Franklin also made a quiet return as Sydney outlasted an undermanned Port Adelaide by 21 points at Blacktown on Saturday.

In his first game since round 23 after battling mental health issues, the triple Coleman Medallist started the match in the centre square and spent time in the midfield before moving forward.

He gathered just six touches, one goal and a mark in three quarters.

“Buddy was fine. It was good to see him out there again and it’s good to get a run around,” acting Sydney coach Jarrad McVeigh said.

Meanwhile, Fremantle’s Hayden Ballantyne and Aaron Sandilands appear in strife after the full-strength Dockers’ 60-point win over a no-name Richmond in Mandurah.

Ballantyne was caught using his phone in the change rooms during the game on Friday – a practice outlawed under AFL laws.

He also suffered a second-quarter hamstring injury.

Sandilands may be in trouble for a third-quarter bump on Ben Griffiths.

Richmond forward Ty Vickery came off early with a head knock.

St Kilda missed a chance to catch a glimpse of life after Nick Riewoldt in their 44-point loss to North Melbourne at Wangaratta.

The man expected to replace Riewoldt in the forward line – former No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin – lasted just 10 minutes on Saturday due to hamstring tightness.

Three-time premiers Hawthorn kick-started their NAB Challenge with a 21-point win against 2015 wooden-spooners Carlton at Launceston on Thursday night.

And Tom Lynch kicked three goals to help Gold Coast beat Brisbane by 25 points at Burpengary on Sunday.

Report urges more budget cuts to pathology

  • 07/19/2019

Claims women could be forced to fork out $30 for pap smears have been slammed by a scathing report which accuses the pathology industry of using patients as pawns to keep shareholders happy.


The Grattan Institute report handed to Health Minister Sussan Ley last week says proposed funding cuts to pathology services outlined in the government’s mid-year budget update do not go far enough.

Report author Stephen Duckett, the institute’s health program director and a former federal health department boss, has called for a major shake-up of the industry to protect patients from co-payments and stop government paying too much for pathology.

The government wants to scrap bulk-billing incentive payments for pathology services (worth between $1.40 and $3.40) which, along with changes to bulk-billing incentives for diagnostic imaging, would save $650 million over four years.

Pathologists say it’s unlikely they’ll be able to absorb the cuts, forcing patients to pay for tests, and Labor has vowed to do whatever it can to block the changes in the Senate.

Dr Duckett says the government pays too much for pathology – $2.5 billion in 2014/15 – and has outlined a plan to save around $340 million each year “from narrowing the margins of profitable corporations, not from cutting services to the ill and vulnerable”.

Access to Medicare rebates should be limited to providers that bulk-bill out-of-hospital pathology services, abolishing the need for any bulk-billing incentive payment and removing the risk of patients being slugged.

“What was wrong with MYEFO is it allowed the companies to use the consumers as bargaining chips,” he told AAP.

Two publicly-listed companies, Sonic Healthcare and Primary Healthcare, control 78 per cent of the market.

And while the number of tests being conducted in Australia increases, the rebate paid for those tests remains fixed, despite the fact additional tests can be performed for little cost.

Greater volumes are amounting to greater profits for the companies, but taxpayers are failing to reap any of those benefits, Dr Duckett says.

He’s proposing a five per cent volume discount for large providers.

“We pay as if testing was still done by thousands of small providers manually processing tests, and not by two industry giants with automated services.

“Medicare is not meant to provide guaranteed revenue for corporations. But pathology companies don’t seem to agree.”

He’s also calling for a tender process where companies would compete for contracts to provide pathology services in a bid to increase competition and drive down costs.

Pathology Australia chief executive Liesel Wett said Dr Duckett’s conclusions were incorrect, insisting removal of the incentive payment will force providers to charge patients for critical tests.

Airlines restore Fiji flights

  • 07/19/2019

Some airlines will resume flying in and out of Fiji after a tropical cyclone tore through the islands, leaving homes flattened and at least five people dead.


As the clean-up effort began after Cyclone Winston, the strongest cyclone on record to hit the Pacific islands, Virgin Australia, Fiji Airways and Air New Zealand said flights would resume on Monday.

Unrelenting rain and downed powerlines hampered relief efforts on Sunday as officials assess the damage.

Virgin updated its Monday flight details about 4.50pm on Sunday, giving relief to stranded tourists.

People whose flights were cancelled will be provided with updated flight details, Virgin said in a statement.

Fiji Airways advise passengers due to the destruction caused by the cyclone, some services out of Nadi on Monday may operate without its regular catering.

Air New Zealand cancelled flights in and out of Nadi on Sunday but said scheduled services would resume on Monday.

Jetstar’s flights between Sydney and Fiji remained cancelled for Monday.

A decision on Jetstar’s Tuesday flights will be made on Monday.

The devastating category-5 cyclone that swept over Fiji led the government impose a nationwide curfew.

Winston made landfall late on Saturday, delivering wind gusts of up to 325km/h.

Weatherwatch says the storm was the strongest on record to hit Fiji.

UNICEF worker Alice Clements – who is staying in Suva – described the beginning of the storm to AAP on Saturday night as a dystopian scene of downed banana trees, howling winds and the “ominous” sounds of corrugated iron lifting on some of the roofs.

Djokovic determined not to get carried away with success

  • 07/19/2019

The Melbourne Park victory earned the Serb an 11th grand slam trophy, bringing him level with Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver, and the 28-year-old admitted such milestones are important to him after winning four of the past five majors.


“People start talking about the all-time greats and me coming closer to them, but I still would like to follow the same approach and philosophy of focussing only on the next tournament,” Djokovic told reporters in Dubai.

“I try not to be over-confident because I have lots of respect for other players … but being at the peak of my career I’m trying to use this momentum and take everything out of myself and achieve more.”

After winning 34 of his last 35 grand slam matches, it is not inconceivable that Djokovic could end up eclipsing Roger Federer’s record of 17 majors before too long.

But for all his success, Djokovic has yet to crack the French Open, finishing runner-up on three occasions.

But with rivals such as Federer, Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal unable to keep pace with him in the best-of-five set contests, the Serb is hoping to end his Roland Garros jinx in 2016 and perhaps even become the first man to achieve the calendar year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

“I try to approach each tournament optimistically and I believe that I can win every match that I play against anybody on any surface,” said Djokovic, who is 12-0 this year.

Anything other than victory in Dubai, where Djokovic will potentially only face two other top-10 players, would be a huge shock especially after Federer withdrew with injury. The duo have won the last seven Dubai titles between them.

Djokovic’s most likely challenger in Dubai will be world number four Stan Wawrinka, who beat him in last year’s Roland Garros final.

“He has been playing at a different level from the rest of the players. He’s number one by far. It’s going to be tough to beat him this year,” Wawrinka told reporters.

(Reporting by Matt Smith, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Missing radioactive material found in Iraq

  • 07/19/2019

Radioactive material that went missing in Iraq has been found dumped near a petrol station in the southern town of Zubair, officials say, ending speculation it could be acquired by Islamic State and used as a weapon.


The officials told Reuters on Sunday the material, stored in a protective case the size of a laptop computer, was undamaged and there were no concerns about radiation.

Reuters reported last week that Iraq had been searching for the material since it was stolen in November from a storage facility belonging to US oilfield services company Weatherford near the southern city of Basra.

It was not immediately clear how the device, owned by Swiss inspections group SGS, ended up in Zubair, around 15km southwest of Basra.

“A passer-by found the radioactive device dumped in Zubair and immediately informed security forces which went with a special radiation prevention team and retrieved the device,” the chief of the security panel within Basra provincial council, Jabbar al-Saidi, told Reuters.

“After initial checking I can confirm the device is intact 100 per cent and there is absolutely no concern of radiation.”

A security official close to the investigation said it had been established soon after the material was stolen that it was being kept in Zubair and controls had been tightened to prevent it being taken out of the town.

“After failing to take it out of the town, the perpetrators decided to dump it,” the security official said. “I assure you it is only a matter of time before we arrest those who stole the radioactive device.”

The material is classed as a Category 2 radioactive source by the IAEA, meaning that if not managed properly it could cause permanent injury to a person in close proximity to it for minutes or hours, and could be fatal to someone exposed for a period of hours to days.

SGS and Weatherford have both denied responsibility for the disappearance of the material last year.