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Dumping charge defended

PORT Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie’s family company has pleaded not guilty to using Macka’s Sand and Soil at Salt Ash as an unlawful waste dump.
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The plea was entered on Friday in the Land and Environment Court after the NSW Environment Protection Authority finalised its case against the company, Grafil Pty Ltd, and directors Mr MacKenzie and son Robert.

The charge, under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, carries a $1 million maximum penalty with a further penalty of $120,000 for each day the offence continues.

The father and son also face possible special executive liability as directors of Grafil Pty Ltd, trading as Macka’s.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority launched criminal proceedings against Grafil in the Land and Environment Court inMay last yearafter investigations of alleged dumping from 2013,whenstockpiles of waste up to eight metres high, 40 metres wide and 100 metres long were found near and in waterways.

The EPA initiated the Land and Environment Court action after investigations in October, 2015found an additional 360 tonnes of waste at the Salt Ash site, in breach of orders made in 2013, with 10 tonnes found to containasbestos.

A 2013 clean-up notice that was still in place preventedany further waste from being accepted at the Macka’s premises.

The EPA initiated the Land and Environment Court action a day before announcing it hadfined Grafil and Macka’s Sand $15,000 for land pollution by asbestos waste.

It charged the company with using the Salt Ash site as a waste facility without lawful authority.

Inmedia reports in 2016 Cr MacKenzie denied the EPA’s allegation that360 tonnes of demolition waste had been dumped on the site between May 2013 and October 2015.

“We put four or five tonnes of bricks and mortar there and someone else has dumped the asbestos,” he said.

In papers filed in the court the EPA alleged Grafil Pty Ltd used the land as a waste facility between October 29, 2012 and May 15, 2013. It alleged mixed construction and demolition waste and asbestos was deposited at the Salt Ash business site to form three stockpiles.

“The premises was used as a waste facility for storing and/or disposal of waste on the land,” court papers alleged.

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act places the onus of proof in any prosecution on the defendant, Grafil Pty Ltd, to demonstrate it had lawful authority to use the property as a waste facility.

The EPA said Grafil acted promptly to remove asbestos waste after it was detected and tested.

Stockpiles: An Environment Protection Authority photo showing stockpiled material at Macka’s Sand in 2013. The EPA alleges Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie’s company used the property as an unlawful waste dump.

Berejiklian braces for ‘huge swings’ in byelections

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian met with Liberal candidate James Griffin in Manly, the day before the Manly by-election to fill former NSW Premier Mike Baird’s seat. Photographed Friday 7th April 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170407 Photo: James BrickwoodGladys Berejiklian says she is “bracing” herself for “huge swings” against the Liberal candidates in Saturday’s byelections, predicting the contests “will come down to the wire”.
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“Byelections are never easy for governments,” she said. “I knew we’d be doing it tough in all three seats.”

Ms Berejiklian was out campaigning on Friday with the Liberal candidate for Manly, James Griffin, North Shore candidate Felicity Wilson and Gosford candidate Jilly Pilon.

Asked what issues were being raised with her by voters in North Shore and Manly, Ms Berejiklian said most people were concerned about traffic, not the issue of forced council amalgamations.

The government has announced plans for a northern beaches traffic tunnel.

Ms Berejiklian was quizzed about revelations by Fairfax Media that Ms Wilson had signed an incorrect statutory declaration about how long she lived in the electorate and Mr Griffin was director of a company that a liquidator found may have traded while insolvent.

“I have every confidence in all three candidates,” she said.

Ms Berejiklian said she and the government “will wear whatever the judgement is given tomorrow”.

The Manly and North Shore byelections were called following decisions by former Premier Mike Baird and former health minister Jillian Skinner to quit politics.

In Gosford, Labor’s Kathy Smith retired for health reasons.

The Liberals hold North Shore by 21.2 percent on a two-party preferred basis versus the Greens and Manly by 24.5 per cent.

Labor is not running a candidate in either seat but there are numerous independents.

Labor holds Gosford by just 0.2 per cent. Its candidate is Australian Paralympian Liesl Tesch.

According to ABC election analyst Antony Green the average two-party byelection swing against governments in NSW since 1998 is 10.5 per cent.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Shark patrols return for break

Shark patrols return for break Date and location unknown.
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Bob Woodcock set a state record in 1981 with his 785kg great white shark caught on a 36kg line.

Page one of the Newcastle Post, January 29, 1992. Photo: Grahame Marjoribanks.

A thrasher shark from Cowrie Hole in 1954.George Southern, Elsie Southern, Sailor Hopkins, Peter Walmsley

Cessnock game fisherman Paul Besoff, 20, spent an anxious night at Shoal Bay wharf last night guarding his prize possesion, a 1200lb plus tiger shark, he hopes will be ratified as a world record. Photo by George Steele, April 25, 1977.

A fishermen netted this ferocious looking fellow of Nelson Bay in August, 1971. It was later identified as a Sawshark.

Big Bitie caught Gil Noble of Pelican with the 12’3″ Tiger shark on April 23, 1984. Photo: Mick Dawson.

Karyn Heyward 16, of Blakehurst with 432kg White Pointer Shark, caught by Peter Thompson of Coal Point on a 36kg line on February 25, 1979. Photo taken at the Shoal Bay weigh in.

Troy Grieves of Caves Beach with the 319kg whaler shark he caught on March 18, 1984. Photo: Ken Robson at Pelican Marina.

Weigh in for the Womens Day In Game Fishing Competition Pictured is Gina Rees of Budgewoi with a 162kg Tiger Shark at Nelson Bay public wharf on February 27, 1991.

Deborah Ford, the widow of John James Ford, who was taken by a shark off Byron Bay is escorted from a service. Photo: Ben Rushton, 1993.

Shark mesh contactor Darryl Sullivan with a tiger shark netted off Merewether at police wharf on October 26, 1983. Photo: David Johns

Scott Graham, 11, of Swansea Heads with a Hammerhead shark meshed off the coast. Photo: David Wicks.

A Tiger shark caught by Hans Zimmerman off Port Stephens. Photo published on April 3, 1990.

Mick Wright with his 395kg Maco at Swansea weigh in on October 8, 1988. Photo: Dean Osland.

Perry James, 19, of Merewether, with the tiger shark he caught off Swansea on April 25, 1978.

Myuna Bay Fitness Camp principal Murray Scoble with shark jaws, taken on November 11, 1988.

319kg Whaler Shark caught by Michael Gleghorn, 23 of Bellbird. Caught about nine mile out from Port Stephens on a 24kg line. Michael is pictured with the rod he used. Photo taken September 20, 1987.

J Pickles of Nelsen Bay with a 762lbs Mako Shark in February 1963.

Hans Meyer with his record Tiger Shark, weighing 487kg. Taken at Swansea on April 26, 1986.

Paul Temperley of Elenmore Vale with his catch, a 291kg Tiger Shark in his boat, Boat Hot Tuna in the Big Game Fishing Competition. Photo: Anita Jones, March 1, 1992 at Nelson Bay.

Lake Macquarie Game Fishing Club weigh in Fish & Shark Tournament. Boat crew: Michael Richards, (Marks Point). Angler: Glen Kirkwood, (Swansea). Greg Harrison, (Belmont), on September 29, 1992 at Swansea. Photo: Dean Osland.

World record Mako shark caught, 329kg on a 10kg line. Gary Spruce, (Boat Skipper). Neil Williamson of Cambridge Hills, on November 25, 1979 at Pelican Boat Shed. Photo: David Wicks.

Flashback to March 1984. A Big White Pointer swallows 80kg shark almost whole (in two gulps).

Chris Clarke of the Fish Bowl framed in Tiger shark jaws at the Fish Bowl Charlestown Square on August 11, 1983.

Angler Mick Wright with a huge Mako Shark caught off Norah Head. (318kg) on October 3, 1993.

Scott Fitzsimons with his world record shark catch, on October 2, 1988. Photo taken at Swansea Weigh Station.

Perry James, 19 of Merewether with a tiger shark he caught off Swansea on April 25, 1978. Photo: C. Brodie.

Game Fishing Champ. 186kg Tiger Shark from boat “Down Under” on February 27, 1993. Place taken: Nelson Bay

Brothers Joe and Dominic Bagnato with a four-metre Grey Nurse shark. Phoo taken on July 23, 1986 at Fishermans Co-op, by John Herrett.

Weigh in for the Womens Day In Game Fishing Competition. Gina Rees of Budgewoi with a 162kg Tiger shark. Taken on February 27, 1991 at Nelson Bay.

Robyn Spruce with the jaws of her world record breaking shark. Photo taken at Belmont on December 10, 1980.

319kg Whaler Shark caught by Michael Gleghorn, 23 of Bellbird. Caught about nine mile out from Port Stephens on a 24kg line. Michael is pictured with the rod he used. Photo taken at New Marina, Nelson Bay, on September 20, 1987.

Neville James of Swansea caught this 273kg Tiger Shark off Catherine Hill Bay, at 1.30pm on April 8, 1979. It took him six hours to land it onto his boat Gari-Lee. He caught it on a 50lb line.

Mick Middleton with a Whaler Shark 185kg shark caught on 15kg line on June 30, 1989.

Brett Remington with a 121kg thresher shark on June 29, 1981.

Derek Henon caught this world-record hammerhead shark on January 5, 1986. The 208kg shark was taken on a 15kg line and took more than two hours to bring alongside boat. It was hooked about 10 km east of Port Macquarie. The previous best was 198.22kg caught off Port Stephens in 1982.

Jason Malowey (left) and Brad Thompson on January 5, 1989.

This article, published on January 23, 1988, detailed 15 shark attacks since the turn of the century.

Nathan Ghosn, 12, at Nelson Bay.

Sharks of Dudley Beach, taken February 27, 1997. Photo: Grahame Marjoribanks.

Belmont baths in the 1960’s. Photo: Damon Cronshaw.

Shark attack at Evans Head on January 4, 1989.

Two sharks in Newcastle. Date unknown.

Shark caught. Myuna Bay. Date unknown.

Deckhand from Alice L, Brian Craig pulls a small shark into the dinghy off Bar Beach. Photo: Ron Bell, January 15, 1998.

Shark meshing boat Alice L in Newcastle Harbour. Photo: Ron Bell, January 15, 1998.

Sharks of Dudley Beach, taken February 27, 1997. Photo: Grahame Marjoribanks.

Sharks of Dudley Beach, taken February 27, 1997. Photo: Grahame Marjoribanks.

Sharks of Dudley Beach, taken February 27, 1997. Photo: Grahame Marjoribanks.

Sharks of Dudley Beach, taken February 27, 1997. Photo: Grahame Marjoribanks.

TweetFacebookHELICOPTER surveillance will return to Hunter beaches from Saturday to offer an extra layer of vigilance during the Easter school holidays, the NSW government has announced.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said on Friday, the last day of the school term, that helicopter surveillance of beaches would run daily, right along the NSW coastline, during the break.

“We want to ensure our beaches are as safe as they can be across these school holidays,” Mr Blair said.

“Over the summer our shark spies were very effective at spotting any potential dangers and, on 78 occasions, assisted local authorities and NSW Police to evacuate the water.”

The return of the aerial surveillance follows a surfer suffering a bite at One Mile beach, in Port Stephens,last weekend.

He suffered lacerations to his left foot and calf in the incident, which occurred shortly after 5pm on Sunday.

Beachgoers are encouraged to avoid swimming when it is dark or during twilight hours, in murky waters after recent heavy rainfall and flooding, and to avoid areas used by local fishers where possible.

The Newcastle mermaid who stars in Bondi RescuePHOTOS

The Newcastle mermaid who stars in Bondi Rescue | PHOTOS Beachie: Newcastle’s Juliana Bahr-Thomson appears on Bondi Rescue.
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TweetFacebookMeat is MurderJuliana says she’s always been into “health, nutrition and holistic stuff”.

Her diet is plant-based.

“I just don’t eat anything that had a mother,” she said.

She’s passionate about animals rights.

“I was pretty lucky when I was younger, mum worked in the travel industry, so I got to travel a lot,” she said.

As a toddler, she went through open meat markets.

“I used to get upset seeing all the meat there,” she said.

“I was that awkward child that you take to a Chinese restaurant that demands to speak to the manager because one of the fish doesn’t look happy.

“This is what mum had to deal with.”

Juliana’s next big fitness challenge will be in July.

She’s been accepted to race in the Molokai to Oahu paddleboard world championships in Hawaii.

“It’s 53 kilometres but, even though I’ve paddled further than that, it’s probably going to be the most painful paddle of all because you have to do it fast.

“My other paddles were done at a leisurely pace.”

The race will be in one of the most dangerous channels of water.

“They call it the channel of bones,” she said.

Four of her colleagues from Bondi Rescue will also race at the event.

They’re trying to raise funds and awareness for childhood obesity.

Details at pozible南京夜网/project/question-your-impossible-1.

Milk Matters There are so many milk choices now, but one cafe owner has drawn the line.

A cafe owner we know is usually pretty happy to accommodate the constantly changing diet landscape and the quirks of food obsessives.

Back in the day, milk was milk. It was full-cream and delicious.

That’sall there was. Then came skim milk, which some people love but others say tastes like water.

Anyhow, the cafe owner has – over the years – added soy andalmond milk to his fridge.

But recently someone asked him for rice milk.

He thought about getting some rice milk, but decided against it.

“I have to draw the line somewhere,” he said, with an exasperatedtone.

Leunig on Leak, and how to let go

NATIONAL TREASURE: Beloved cartoonist Michael Leunig is a headline guest of the Newcastle Writers Festival. Picture: Simone De PeakIF ANYONE wantsto wind back Australia’sracial discrimination laws in the name of a beloved cartoonist, they’d best not ask Michael Leunig.
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The 71-year-oldsays cartoonists in Australia “have masses of freedom”, despite arecent push to overhaul section 18C of the Racial Discrimination act.

A guest of this weekend’sNewcastle Writers Festival, Leunig said the cartoonist atthe centre of the free speech maelstrom, the late Bill Leak, was “egged on” by commentators eager for a fight.

Leak died last month aged 61, following an investigation by the Human Rights Commission into his cartoon that portrayeda neglectfulAboriginal father.

“I thought Bill made a terrible mistake in drawing that cartoon,” Leunig told the Newcastle Herald.

“I thought it was a cruel cartoon which had no point except for reinforcing some stereotypes. I didn’t like it.”

The national living treasure andCurly Flat creatorsaid he had reservations about more protections forspeech deemed offensive, and that Australians readilyacceptlibel and slander laws.

But Leunig, whose workhas criticisedAustralia’s militaryinvolvement in Iraq,aspects ofchildcare,and Victoria’sban on un-vaccinated children attendingkindergarten, said he’d thought about the latter stages of Leak’slife.

“I imagine it could’ve been painful, deep water he was in.”

In the social mediaage, when anyone can be used“as a bit of content”, Leunigsaid being a cartoonist camewith its share of soul-searching.

“It’s a lonely job. You’re given great freedom on the one hand, but you’ve got to wear it alone,” Leunig said.

“Some people say cartooning is just making wisecracks about politicians, but I’m more interested in our part in all of this.”

In a career spanning 40 years of whimsy in Fairfax newspapers, has Leunigregretted a cartoon?

“I think I have. There area deadlines, and sometimesthere’s nothing coming,” he said.

“You look backand think, that was a bit spiteful, or that was a bit clever dick-ish. That pressure to be cruel for the sake of it, I find pretty pointless.”

Onhis second visit to Newcastle, the first having been at night, Leunig said he was still recovering from a near-fatal head knockthat had “sent the books flying” from his memory.

Leunig was struckby asteel trapdoor last year in a bushfire shelter in rural Victoria, and suffered seizures and bleeding onhisbrain.

Since then, Leunig said he values“letting go-ness”and being in the natural world.

“It’s sort of liberating to have an accident like that;it makesyoulet go,” he said.

“Life is a kind of injury. None of us gets awaywithout some kind of damage.”

Political comment is one thing, he said, but “sometimes you just want to do a drawing of a little guy talking to a dog, saying something about life”.

No excuses: Why Kyrgios doesn’t deserve Australia’s love

Here’s a question for the Australian sporting public: Have you any self-respect? Or are a few cheap wins all that stand between you and the surrender of your pride?
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Australia’s moral bottom line is for sale, and the transaction is being run by Nick Kyrgios, sometime professional tennis player and amateur auctioneer. Kyrgios, if you didn’t know, put his car up for sale on his Facebook page this week. But in wearing the national colours for Australia’s Davis Cup tie with the US in Brisbane over the weekend, he is also taking bids on the price of our national sporting principles.

I have not bothered to write about Kyrgios in this column previously. One thing he and I have in common is that neither of us is all that interested in tennis. But Kyrgios is the chump; he’s the one trapped in it. The rest of us can walk away from this most pointless of corporate advertising vehicles, but he is snared by his own prodigious talent, poor dear, and can’t break out into his preferred professions of basketballer, car salesman or gentleman of leisure because, bless his cotton ankle socks, he is, like his heroic forebears in the land of Homer, cursed by too much talent.

Kyrgios’ talent is such that, in spite of his best efforts, he is on a path to fulfilment. His results this year suggest he is not only unable to avoid the destiny that his natural gifts bestow but is also luckier than he deserves, rising to the top just as a lot of tall timber is falling around him. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are enjoying an Indian summer before they take their leave, and behind them, the Djokovic-Murray generation is showing signs of burnout. Kyrgios’ time is nigh.

Now for Australia to ask itself: will on-court success whitewash their reservations about Kyrgios’ personality? Should he reach his potential and begin winning major tournaments, will Australia forgive him (or script for their own absolution and willed amnesia), and rewrite the past as a story of perfectly understandable youthful indiscretion? Will the Davis Cup – a green-and-goldwash of reputation-laundering – be Kyrgios’ avenue to redemption?

Shame on you, Australia, for even contemplating it.

In case that path seems well-trodden, it’s not. Look at Lleyton Hewitt, courtside, the patron saint of redeemed bad boys. Hewitt grew up in the public eye, made his mistakes, but then transformed himself from uncouth bogan into national treasure. But Hewitt never had to climb out of a gutter as deep as Kyrgios’. He was not quite comme il faut, but never so wantonly foul.

Nor was it winning titles that earnt him the public’s love. When Hewitt was, briefly, the world’s best player and the winner of Wimbledon and a US Open (at which Kyrgios has never proceeded beyond the round of eight), he still carried the stigma of his occasional displays of ignorant temper. What absolved Hewitt was not success, nor even his commitment to Davis Cup, but his long, long, long career of giving every ounce of his energy and willpower to his game.

Hewitt was far more loved as the eternal middle-aged battler, giving his all year after year, chasing down every ball even when the game had left him behind, than he ever was as a brash youngster. It wasn’t success that saved him, but sheer persistence. We resisted him, but he ended up wearing us down. Whatever else we thought of him, we had to bow to his epic determination.

Perhaps Kyrgios will still be courageously chasing down younger opponents in his 30s. Hard to see, when the generation gap between him and his seniors is so deep. Why would he have respect for his own seniority when he has so little for anybody else’s? During his duel with Roger Federer at Indian Wells last week, Federer’s wife Mirka – the Dorian Grey portrait of Roger’s true feelings – was catcalling the Australian. At the end of the match, which should have been a celebration of tennis for tennis’ sake, Kyrgios threw his toys out of his cot while Federer looked as if the first thing on his list, after having to shake his opponent’s hand, was to have a wash. Kyrgios has earnt this treatment through his actions and his words. He cannot complain that he is not being valued, among his peers, at his true worth.

But will some wins for Australia win Australia over? It’s a depressing thought. Yes, we all love a winner, but at what cost? Do we have no principles at all?

A lot of the Kyrgios-forgiveness line is engraved around the pressures of individual sports. The young man is on his own, he is exposed on the court, he lacks the warm bosom of a team to sink into and hide behind, so the outbursts of temper are entirely understandable. And other crap of this kind.

Look at some other young Australian individual sportsmen plying their trade this weekend. Jason Day has carried his debt to his mother with a love that is plain to see and heart-wrenching in its naked authenticity. Adam Scott and the other Australians at Augusta National have brought nothing but credit upon their country and their sport through their conduct over the years. What has Kyrgios got, next to these men?

Look to the west, where surfer Owen Wright continues to overcome a brain injury that left him with a terrifying future, looking at one point as if he might never be able to hold a coherent thought, let alone practise his sport. After a 15-month convalescence, Wright came back to defeat the best in the world at Snapper Rocks last month and has extended his world championship lead taking on ground-shaking waves at Margaret River. This is courage.

These are young professionals in individual sports with all the same excuses for being dickheads that Kyrgios leans on – uneducated, precociously spoilt, insulated from the real world – and yet, when the real world has broken into their bubble, the likes of Day and Wright have shown true character, true bravery. They don’t need to win in their sports to gain our admiration. They have gained it already, for who they are.

So enough of the rubbish. Kyrgios himself has shown zero regard for what Australians think of him, and that disregard ought to be mutual. But will it? If he brings down the US in the Davis Cup, if he goes on to win Wimbledon and Flushing Meadow and Melbourne Park, Kyrgios will still be Kyrgios. But what of you, Australia – how will you be changed?

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Work like a dog, now time to rest like one

Work like a dog, now time to rest like one HEART MELTER: Guide Dog Stamford with Belinda Carroll and musician Matt McLaren on Friday. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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BUDDIES: Musician Matt McLaren and his Guide Dog Stamford. Picture: Marina Neil

Matt McLaren and Stamford in Martin Place, Sydney, last year. Picture: Jessica Hromas

Matt McLaren and Stamford in Martin Place, Sydney, last year. Picture: Jessica Hromas

Matt McLaren and Stamford in Martin Place, Sydney, last year. Picture: Jessica Hromas

BUDDIES: Musician Matt McLaren and his Guide Dog Stamford. Picture: Marina Neil

BUDDIES: Musician Matt McLaren and his Guide Dog Stamford. Picture: Marina Neil

TweetFacebook Matt McLaren and StamfordIF adog is man’s best friend, a Guide Dog must be family.

Stamford, the four-legged companion of Newcastle singer and songwriter Matt McLaren, has proven he’s still got it, raising more than $4000 for Guide Dogs at his retirement party.

The Labrador melted hearts across Australia when he appeared with McLaren onAustralia’s Got Talentin 2016. Stamford will hang up the harness next month after nine years of service. But he is not going anywhere, McLaren will keep him as a pet.

Scores of people turned out to farewell the pup two weeks ago, and on Friday, the proceeds of his retirement party were handed over to a graciousBelinda Carroll of Guide Dogs’ Newcastle branch.

McLaren said it was a fitting tribute to the selfless canine.

“People love getting behind Guide Dogs because it’s tangible thing –they enable so many people in so many ways,” he said.“It’s incalculable, really, what they do for people. I wouldn’t even understand the scope (of what) Stamford has done for me over the years.”

A Guide Dogcosts more than $35,000 to breed, raise and train.

PM ‘knew in advance’ of US strike on Syria

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Minister Marise Payne. Photo: Alex EllinghausenUS bombs Syria: Transcript of Donald Trump’s statement in fullWhat we know so far Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Photo: HOPD
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The Trump administration informed the Australian government in advance of its plans to launch the Tomahawk missile attack on Syria, Fairfax Mediaunderstands.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had pointedly said before news of the strikes broke that the chemical attack on civilians “cries out for a strong response”.

On Friday morning Mr Turnbull linked the attacks to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and blamed Russia for failing to rein in its ally.

But Mr Turnbull carefully sidestepped questions about what action Australia might take against the regime after Washington appeared to ramp up its rhetoric about the need for Mr Assad’s removal.

“This is a war crime of the worst sort. It is inhumane and it has been universally condemned,” Mr Turnbull told radio 3AW.

Within hoursreports emerged that the US had launchedabout 50 Tomahawk missiles from US Navy warships at targets in Syria.

United StatesSecretary of State Rex Tillerson overnight described the chemical attack as a “serious matter” that warranted “a serious response”.

He said given the gas attack, “it would seem that there would be no role for [Mr Assad] to govern the Syrian people”. He also said removing Mr Assad needed an international effort and, when asked if the US would organise that effort, said “those steps are under way”.

The US response in Syria has been an about-face from its previous stated position. Last week Washington told the United Nations that removing Mr Assad was not a priority. And it was uncertain whether Mr Tillerson was referring to international steps that have been underway for two years to find a political process for the removal of Mr Assad as part of ending the Syrian civil war.

US media reports overnight stated that the Pentagon was preparing military options for President Donald Trump against the Syrian regime.

Mr Trump said of Mr Assad that “something should happen” in response to the chemical attacks.

Hillary Clinton on Friday called for the Trump administration to “take out” the Syrian air force to prevent further attacks.

The gas attack on the opposition-held town onKhanSheikhounkilled more than 70 people, including dozens of children. Photos and videos shared on social media showed victims choking and foaming at the mouth, with some locals needing to be hosed down by rescue workers.

On Friday morning, Mr Turnbull branded the gas attack “a war crime of the worst sort”.

Asked whether Australia would step up its military effort in Syria beyond air strikes against the so-called Islamic State group, Mr Turnbull said he had spoken “a little while ago” to Defence Minister Marise Payne and Chief of the Defence Force Mark Binskin but refused to say if any action was being discussed.

“I don’t want to speculate any further about that. You know where we stand. We have condemned this attack, utterly. It cries out for a strong response and we are in very close touch, as we always are, constant communications with our allies, in particular the United States.

In a slap at the administration of Vladimir Putin, Mr Turnbull said that “Russia obviously is the principal foreign sponsor of the Assad regime”. Asked whether Russia has behaved appropriately, Mr Turnbull said, “No.”

The most likely way that the US can find a political path forward to removing Mr Assad would be to persuade his key backer Moscow to help engineer his removal. But Mr Putin has long refused to abandon his military and political support for his ally, frustrating international efforts to remove the dictator.

Illustrating the uncertainty about the process for removing Mr Assad, Mr Tillerson said the international community effort would mean first defeating the Islamic State group, then stabilising Syria and working on a political transition.

But such a transition has been discussed for two years without progress, given that there is little leverage to oust Mr Assad – a situation that would only become further solidified if Syria were stabilised with the regime still in power.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten saidAustraliawas already providing forces to fight the Islamic State inIraqandSyriabut it was up to countries such asRussiaandIranto pressure the Assad regime.

“Australiacertainly can provide some sort of international condemnation of Assad,” he said. “You can’t gas citizens of your own country. That is a war crime.

“It’s time for Putin and the Russians to step up.”


US launches missiles on Syria: what we know so far

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The United States has fired more than 50 missiles at a Syrian airbase following orders from President Donald Trump. The escalation was in response to the chemical weapon attack earlier this week, which killed more than 80 civilians, including at least 30 Syrian children. The attack has been widely blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. This is what we know so far:

What has just happened?

The United States has launched more than 50 Tomahawk missiles at the al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs, an air base that is under the control of the Assad government.

A chemical attack was launched from this airfield earlier this week on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria, in which at least 80 people were killed, including some 30 children.

The Syrian government denied responsibility for the chemical attack. The Russian government said chemicals leaked when the Syrian government conducted an air strike on a rebel-held chemical weapons depot. What is the latest Trump has said on the strikes?

In a press conference about midday on Friday Sydney time, Trump said the strike was “to prevent and deter the spread of deadly chemical weapons”.

He said there was no dispute Syria was behind the chemical attack.

“Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behaviour have all failed,” he said. He called on other nations to end terrorism.

“We ask for God’s wisdom as we face this challenge,” he said. Has anyone been killed in the missile strike?

Syrian state television says the strikes “led to losses”. CNN reported there were Russian personnel at the base at the time of the strike. It is not known if they were injured. What is Australia’s position?

It is being reported that Trump received support from nations including Australia before launching the attack.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has not yet commented on the US’s response, but he has previously called for a strong response to the deadly chemical attack.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten supports the strikes. “We support the US sending a strong signal that these gas attacks should have never occurred – and they should never occur again,” he said. How will Russia respond?

It will certainly raise the risk of confrontation with Assad’s main military supporters, Russia and Iran.

A senior military official said there were no Russian planes at the Shayrat airbase and Russian military officials were informed ahead of the strike.

Just before the attack, Russia’s deputy UN envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, warned of “negative consequences” if the United States carried out military strikes on Syria over the deadly toxic gas attack. His government accused Trump of being “too hasty” in his response.

Neither country’s leader has yet issued a statement on the strikes. How are people reacting?

The attack was described as “American aggression” by Syrian state TV.

A Pentagon statement said “he strike was a proportional response to Assad’s heinous act”. . “Shayrat Airfield was used to store chemical weapons,” it said.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton applauded Trump’s military action. “I commend President Trump for taking swift, decisive action against Bashar al-Assad’s outlaw regime.”

Fellow Republican Bob Corker, who is the chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, also welcomed Trump’s “decisive action”.

“It is critical that Assad knows he will no longer enjoy impunity for his horrific crimes against his own citizens, and the proportional step was appropriate.” What happens next?

The UN Security Council may convene another emergency meeting. The world is expecting Russia and Iran to make a statement. How did the United States initially respond to the chemical attack?

On Thursday, the United States signalled it could take a more aggressive response to the chemical attack..

When asked if the attack on a Syrian hospital crossed a “red line”, Trump said “it crossed a lot of lines”. “That crosses many, many lines, beyond red lines,” he said.

At a sitting of the United Nations Security Council an hour earlier, US Ambassador Nikki Haley stood up at her desk to show diplomats photos of dying children and accused Russia, which backs Syria, of pushing a false narrative blaming rebel forces for the attack.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Man, 29, stabbed in 14-hour crime spree across ACT and Queanbeyan

In a lethal rampage spanning 14 hours two teens have allegedly killed a man, stabbed another and brutally attacked a third with a tyre iron.
Nanjing Night Net

Police are investigating whether two boys, aged 15 and 16, stabbed Caltex service station attendant Zeeshan Akbar, 29, to death at Queanbeyan in an act of terrorism.

The pair were arrested in the ACT on Friday morning and it is expected they will be extradited to NSW on Saturday.

NSW Police Force Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burns said there was some evidence the spree could be terror-related or linked to drugs.

“We have two teenagers in custody and sufficient information to believe the actions of one of those teenagers may be related to terrorism,” she said.

“That information comes from physical evidence at the scene and other sources.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the circumstances of the stabbing warranted the involvement of the Joint Counter-Terrorism Team.

Friends paid tribute to Mr Akbar, a Muslim man who was hoping to get his Australian citizenship.

His friends had posted photos online of him celebrating New Year’s Eve at Sydney Harbour and sightseeing at the Blue Mountains and Collins Beach in Manly.

“This is really an unbearable loss for his family,” one friend posted.

It is believed the ordeal began about 8.10pm on Thursday with the alleged attempted robbery of the Vintage Cellars liquor store in Oaks Estate.

After fleeing the store empty handed the two teens allegedly embarked on a trail of destruction that included: Smashing a long neck beer bottle over the head of a man in Queanbeyan’s Apex Park between 8.30pm and 11.30pmBreaking into a home on Stornaway Road and bashing a man with a tyre iron between 8.30pm and 11.30pmStabbing an attendant to death at the Caltex Service station on Bungendore Road about 11.45pm???Stabbing another man in the stomach at the intersection of Southwell Place and Barracks Flat Drive about 6.20am on Friday

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the first victim allegedly approached by the two teenagers described the chilling signs of carnage to come.

The man had just finished a shift at the Oaks Estate liquor store on Thursday night when they approached him out of the darkness.

“One of them was holding something behind his back like they wanted me to think he had a gun,” he said.

“He said three times, ‘Give me the cash’.”

CCTV footage seen by Fairfax Media shows a brief scuffle, before the assailants flee empty handed.

“To think that a man was killed later that night. It’s too scary to even think about man.

“I could have been killed.”

Mr Akbar would not be so lucky when the pair allegedly entered a Caltex store on Bungendore Road just three hours later.

Police alleged the teenagers were let into the store by Mr Akbar, before they set upon him in a “horrific” stabbing.

He was found by a workmate about 11.55pm and died a short time later, Monaro police commander Superintendent Rod Smith said.

It is alleged the teens took the cash register before fleeing.

In the hours leading up to the fatal stabbing, police alleged the boys violently attacked a man in Queanbeyan’s Apex Park.

“They approached a man in the park and it is alleged they made some demands of him before hitting him over the head with a beer bottle.

“They caused him significant facial injuries.”

After that, they allegedly forced their way into a property on Stornaway Road and bludgeoned a man with a tyre iron.

Their final act came about 6.20am on Friday, when they allegedly stabbed a man in the stomach and stole his silver Ford Falcon.

A witness told The Canberra Times she peered out her window to see a man lying in the middle of the street surrounded by police cars on Southwell Place near Barracks Flat Drive.

It is understood the two boys fled the scene in the stolen car, evading police attempts to stop them as they travelled through Queanbeyan.

They were arrested a short while later by ACT police about 6.35am, on the Monaro Highway south of Isabella Plains.

NSW Police have begun extradition proceedings to bring the teenagers back across the border, with the pair expected to face court in the ACT on Saturday morning.

Prime Minister Turnbull said his thoughts were with all those affected by the violence.

“Our condolences go to the family of the victim,” he said.

“We send our prayers and best wishes to the two other victims of that evening.”

ACT Police and Emergency Services Minister Mick Gentleman said police believed the incident was an isolated matter, and there was no ongoing threat to the community.

With Rachel Olding, Megan Levy

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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