The Guardian 2024-03-26 10:01:25


Maryland’s governor, Wes Moore, said in a statement that he has declared a state of emergency

“We are working with an interagency team to quickly deploy federal resources from the Biden Administration,” he said, adding:

We are thankful for the brave men and women who are carrying out efforts to rescue those involved and pray for everyone’s safety. We will remain in close contact with federal, state, and local entities that are carrying out rescue efforts as we continue to assess and respond to this tragedy.

Baltimore Key Bridge collapse: vehicles fall into water after ship hits bridge

Mayor says rescue efforts are under way after cargo vessel crashed into Francis Scott Key Bridge, sending vehicles into water

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A major bridge in Baltimore in the US state of Maryland has snapped and collapsed after a container ship collided with it early on Tuesday, sending a number of vehicles into the water.

The Baltimore fire department said it was searching for at least seven people believed to be in the water, after reports that a large vessel had crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

A video posted on X appeared to show the vessel striking one of the bridge’s central supports, causing much of the 2.6km bridge to give way as a number of vehicles fell into the Patapsco River below. The ship appeared to catch fire as part of the bridge appeared to collapse over it, sending plumes of thick, black smoke into the air.

“All lanes closed both directions for incident on I-695 Key Bridge. Traffic is being detoured,” the Maryland Transportation Authority posted on X. “I-695 Key Bridge collapse due to ship strike. Active scene,” it later added.

Calls to 911 had come in at about 1.30am, reporting a vessel travelling outbound from Baltimore that had struck a column on the bridge, causing it to collapse, said Kevin Cartwright, the director of communications for the Baltimore fire department. Several vehicles were on the bridge at the time, including one the size of a tractor-trailer.

“Our focus right now is trying to rescue and recover these people,” Cartwright said. He added that it was too early to know how many people were affected but described the collapse as a “developing mass casualty event”.

Cartwright said it appeared that there were “some cargo or retainers” that appeared to be dangling from the bridge, creating unsafe and unstable conditions that were complicating the rescue operation. “This is a dire emergency,” he said.

Matthew West, a petty officer first class for the coastguard in Baltimore, told the New York Times that the coastguard received a report of an impact at 1.27am ET. West said the Dali, a 948ft (290-metre) Singapore-flagged cargo ship, had hit the bridge, which is part of Interstate 695.

The Dali had left Baltimore at 1am and was heading for the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, according to the maritime data platform MarineTraffic.

Synergy Marine Group, the manager of the Dali, confirmed that the ship had collided with one of the pillars of the bridge. It said all crew members, including the two pilots, had been accounted for and there were no reports of any injuries.

“Whilst the exact cause of the incident is yet to be determined, the Dali has now mobilised its qualified individual incident response service,” it said.

The Baltimore mayor, Brandon M Scott, and the county executive, Johnny Olszewski Jr, said emergency personnel were at the scene and rescue efforts were under way.

Built in 1977, the bridge spans the Patapsco River, a vital artery that along with the Port of Baltimore is a hub for shipping on the US’s east coast. It is named for the author of the American national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.

Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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A portion of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore has collapsed after a large boat collided with it early on Tuesday morning, sending a number of vehicles into the water below. At about 1.30am, a vessel crashed into the bridge, catching fire before sinking, according to a video posted on X. ‘All lanes closed both directions for incident on I-695 Key Bridge. Traffic is being detoured,’ the Maryland Transportation Authority posted on X. The Baltimore mayor, Brandon M Scott, and the county executive, Johnny Olszewski Jr, said emergency personnel were at the scene and rescue efforts were under way

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Analysis

Albanese government manages to unite automotive industry on fuel standards – almost

Elias Visontay Transport and urban affairs reporter

Although forced to water down its original settings, the revised model will help Australia reach its decarbonisation targets

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In bringing together a fiercely divided auto industry, the Albanese government appears to have struck a consensus model for a vehicle efficiency standard that will meaningfully bring down emissions – and Australian motorists will reap the rewards.

While the government ultimately had to buckle to industry pressure and water down the preferred settings it had unveiled in February – the most significant concessions being the easing of rules for certain large SUVs and a six-month delay to the credit and penalty system – the fact targets were ambitious to begin with meant that even environmental and electric vehicle bodies back the compromise deal.

Carbon dioxide emissions will be cut by 321m tonnes by 2050, and while this is down from the 369m tonnes predicted under the government’s initial proposal, the policy will remain a key tool in achieving Australia’s long term decarbonisation targets.

For years, Australia has been a pariah among advanced economies – with the exception of Russia – for its lack of an efficiency standard, prompting claims from climate advocates that car manufacturers have been treating the country as a dumping ground for dirtier, more costly to run cars.

Critics claimed this is because they faced no penalty for doing so, nor did they have incentive to send their electric, hybrid and most efficient petrol models here.

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The data appears to back this up. A new car sold in Australia uses, on average, 6.9 litres of fuel for each 100km compared with new cars in Europe and the US that use 3.5 litres and 4.2 litres, respectively, according to analysis from the Climate Council.

Though primarily a climate measure, the government had sought to centre the cost-of-living benefits of the NVES in the debate as much as it could – something which had at times struggled to cut through loud claims from the opposition, manufacturers – including Toyota – and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

They had claimed that the standard, as initially proposed, would see the cost of Australia’s most popular cars – gas-guzzling SUVs – spike, and could spell the end of the ute.

The debate proved heated as the responses to the proposed standard became clear. Tesla and fellow electric carmaker Polestar sensationally quit the FCAI, claiming it was not representing them, as the body raised concerns the rules could increase the price of popular utes by up to $13,000.

Those tensions appear to still be raw.

At Tuesday’s unveiling of the updated standard, transport minister Catherine King and energy minister Chris Bowen were joined by bosses from Toyota, Hyundai, Tesla and the Electric Vehicle Council, among other climate and industry leaders. The FCAI’s absence was notable.

In getting Toyota – the nation’s biggest selling brand – on board, King was able to herald the predicted $95bn in bowser savings the updated deal is predicted to deliver Australians by 2050, without a warning of a hit to consumers.

Toyota’s CEO, Matthew Callachor, turned down the opportunity to call the standard a “car tax”, despite the government’s concessions falling well short of the tweaks Toyota had called for, but he did say affordability of some vehicles in light of the standard “remains a significant challenge”.

Tesla’s Sam McLean echoed Bowen, saying “nobody has left with everything they wanted”.

Meanwhile, the Smart Energy Council’s Richie Merzian was among stakeholders at the government’s announcement, but the group waited until after the announcement to take a jab at the recategorisation of some SUVs and, specifically, Toyota – seen as a laggard by some, as it only last month released its first fully electric car.

“Calling a Toyota Land Cruiser a light commercial vehicle does not pass the school drop-off test,” the council’s CEO John Grimes said late on Tuesday. “Toyota is Kodak on wheels.”

His barb was a reminder of Australia’s love affair with large SUVs that has developed over the last decade, and the importance of this in the emissions reductions and cost-of-living puzzle.

Regardless, the government must still navigate political risks from the federal Coalition, who on Tuesday were calling the standard a “family car tax”.

Yet in getting major car brands and green groups on the same page, the government appears to have cleared a path forward to legislating a standard, which, while not world-leading, will be seen as a milestone by the market, consumers and in the energy transition.

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55 min: Socceroos substitution Patrick Yazbek, a 21-year-old of Lebanese descent, replaces Ajdin Hrustic.

Liz Cheney: controversial NBC hire Ronna McDaniel enabled Trump ‘depravity’

McDaniel ‘facilitated Trump’s corrupt fake elector plot’, says ex-congresswoman as NBC hosts and union group protest

The Republican National Committee chair turned NBC politics analyst Ronna McDaniel “enabled criminality and depravity” in her support for Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, the former congresswoman Liz Cheney said as controversy swirled over McDaniel’s media role.

“Ronna facilitated Trump’s corrupt fake elector plot and his effort to pressure Michigan officials not to certify the legitimate election outcome,” Cheney, a Republican who was vice-chair of the House January 6 committee, wrote on social media.

“She spread his lies and called January 6 ‘legitimate political discourse’. That’s not ‘taking one for the team’. It’s enabling criminality and depravity.”

McDaniel rose in Republican politics as a member of the powerful Romney family before reportedly dropping the name at Trump’s behest and becoming RNC chair in 2017.

In February 2022, the RNC said Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the other anti-Trump Republican on the committee that investigated the deadly attack on Congress on 6 January 2021, were engaged in the “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse”.

Cheney lost her seat in Congress that year. Kinzinger chose to retire. McDaniel was eased out of the RNC last month, to be replaced in part by Lara Trump, the former president’s daughter-in-law.

McDaniel’s NBC role was announced last week. On Sunday, she appeared on Meet the Press, the flagship politics show.

Characterising her support for Trump’s election fraud lies as “taking one for the whole team”, she said she did “not think violence should be in our political discourse” and that Biden won “fair and square” – but still claimed it was “fair to say there were problems [with battleground state elections] in 2020”.

A former Meet the Press host, Chuck Todd, issued an on-air protest.

“There’s a reason why there’s a lot of journalists at NBC News uncomfortable with this,” he told the current host, Kristin Welker, “because many of our professional dealings with the RNC over the last six years have been met with gaslighting, have been met with character assassination.”

Monday brought proliferating reports of staff discontent – and its open expression by two of the network’s biggest names.

On Morning Joe, the MSNBC show that often sets the Washington agenda, co-host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, said: “We’ve been inundated with calls this weekend, as have most people connected with this network, about NBC’s decision to hire” McDaniel.

“We learned about the hiring when we read about it in the press on Friday. We weren’t asked our opinion of the hiring but if we were, we would have strongly objected to it for several reasons including, but not limited to, as lawyers might say, Miss McDaniel’s role in Donald Trump’s fake elector scheme and her pressuring election officials to not certify election results while Donald Trump was on the phone.”

Scarborough’s wife and co-host, Mika Brzezinski, said: “To be clear, we believe NBC news should seek out conservative Republican voices to provide balance in their election coverage.

“But it should be conservative Republicans, not a person who used her position of power to be an anti-democracy election denier. And we hope NBC will reconsider its decision. It goes without saying that she will not be a guest on Morning Joe in her capacity as a paid contributor. Here’s why.”

There followed a compilation of McDaniel’s comments about the 2020 election, which Brzezinski called “exhausting”.

Later, the host, Nicole Wallace – once White House communications director for George W Bush – told viewers NBC had, by hiring McDaniel, “wittingly or unwittingly” told election deniers they could spread Trump’s lies on “our sacred airwaves”.

One of Wallace’s guests, Yale historian Timothy Snyder, author of the book On Tyranny, said: “What NBC has done of its own volition is bring into a very important conversation about democracy, one which is going to take place for the next seven months or so, someone who … tried to disassemble our democracy. Who personally took part in an attempt to undo the American system.”

NBC, Snyder said, was making an “adjustment in advance” of a possible Trump victory: “So yeah, I think this is pretty bad.”

As observers waited to see what primetime stars including Jen Psaki and Rachel Madow might say on Monday night, disquiet was also reported over McDaniel’s reported $300,000 deal.

“Across MSNBC they have been cutting contributors,” an unnamed host told Politico. “So everyone’s like, what the fuck? You found 300 for her?”

Later on Monday, the union group NBC News Guild, said on social media: “Two weeks before NBC News proudly announced the hiring of Ronna McDaniel, execs illegally terminated 13 union journalists.”

No explanation was offered for the layoffs, the Guild said, adding: “Actions speak clearly – NBC prioritised an election denier over its own reporters.

“Ronna encouraged a lie that many of our own journalists have spent countless hours debunking. Our journalism is tarnished by … executives elevating a liar over the workers who have spent years delivering the kind of reporting that our newsrooms are typically known for.”

NBC did not comment, nor did McDaniel.

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Liz Cheney: controversial NBC hire Ronna McDaniel enabled Trump ‘depravity’

McDaniel ‘facilitated Trump’s corrupt fake elector plot’, says ex-congresswoman as NBC hosts and union group protest

The Republican National Committee chair turned NBC politics analyst Ronna McDaniel “enabled criminality and depravity” in her support for Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, the former congresswoman Liz Cheney said as controversy swirled over McDaniel’s media role.

“Ronna facilitated Trump’s corrupt fake elector plot and his effort to pressure Michigan officials not to certify the legitimate election outcome,” Cheney, a Republican who was vice-chair of the House January 6 committee, wrote on social media.

“She spread his lies and called January 6 ‘legitimate political discourse’. That’s not ‘taking one for the team’. It’s enabling criminality and depravity.”

McDaniel rose in Republican politics as a member of the powerful Romney family before reportedly dropping the name at Trump’s behest and becoming RNC chair in 2017.

In February 2022, the RNC said Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the other anti-Trump Republican on the committee that investigated the deadly attack on Congress on 6 January 2021, were engaged in the “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse”.

Cheney lost her seat in Congress that year. Kinzinger chose to retire. McDaniel was eased out of the RNC last month, to be replaced in part by Lara Trump, the former president’s daughter-in-law.

McDaniel’s NBC role was announced last week. On Sunday, she appeared on Meet the Press, the flagship politics show.

Characterising her support for Trump’s election fraud lies as “taking one for the whole team”, she said she did “not think violence should be in our political discourse” and that Biden won “fair and square” – but still claimed it was “fair to say there were problems [with battleground state elections] in 2020”.

A former Meet the Press host, Chuck Todd, issued an on-air protest.

“There’s a reason why there’s a lot of journalists at NBC News uncomfortable with this,” he told the current host, Kristin Welker, “because many of our professional dealings with the RNC over the last six years have been met with gaslighting, have been met with character assassination.”

Monday brought proliferating reports of staff discontent – and its open expression by two of the network’s biggest names.

On Morning Joe, the MSNBC show that often sets the Washington agenda, co-host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, said: “We’ve been inundated with calls this weekend, as have most people connected with this network, about NBC’s decision to hire” McDaniel.

“We learned about the hiring when we read about it in the press on Friday. We weren’t asked our opinion of the hiring but if we were, we would have strongly objected to it for several reasons including, but not limited to, as lawyers might say, Miss McDaniel’s role in Donald Trump’s fake elector scheme and her pressuring election officials to not certify election results while Donald Trump was on the phone.”

Scarborough’s wife and co-host, Mika Brzezinski, said: “To be clear, we believe NBC news should seek out conservative Republican voices to provide balance in their election coverage.

“But it should be conservative Republicans, not a person who used her position of power to be an anti-democracy election denier. And we hope NBC will reconsider its decision. It goes without saying that she will not be a guest on Morning Joe in her capacity as a paid contributor. Here’s why.”

There followed a compilation of McDaniel’s comments about the 2020 election, which Brzezinski called “exhausting”.

Later, the host, Nicole Wallace – once White House communications director for George W Bush – told viewers NBC had, by hiring McDaniel, “wittingly or unwittingly” told election deniers they could spread Trump’s lies on “our sacred airwaves”.

One of Wallace’s guests, Yale historian Timothy Snyder, author of the book On Tyranny, said: “What NBC has done of its own volition is bring into a very important conversation about democracy, one which is going to take place for the next seven months or so, someone who … tried to disassemble our democracy. Who personally took part in an attempt to undo the American system.”

NBC, Snyder said, was making an “adjustment in advance” of a possible Trump victory: “So yeah, I think this is pretty bad.”

As observers waited to see what primetime stars including Jen Psaki and Rachel Madow might say on Monday night, disquiet was also reported over McDaniel’s reported $300,000 deal.

“Across MSNBC they have been cutting contributors,” an unnamed host told Politico. “So everyone’s like, what the fuck? You found 300 for her?”

Later on Monday, the union group NBC News Guild, said on social media: “Two weeks before NBC News proudly announced the hiring of Ronna McDaniel, execs illegally terminated 13 union journalists.”

No explanation was offered for the layoffs, the Guild said, adding: “Actions speak clearly – NBC prioritised an election denier over its own reporters.

“Ronna encouraged a lie that many of our own journalists have spent countless hours debunking. Our journalism is tarnished by … executives elevating a liar over the workers who have spent years delivering the kind of reporting that our newsrooms are typically known for.”

NBC did not comment, nor did McDaniel.

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‘Pretty bad’: NBC condemned by top US historian over role for Ronna McDaniel

Timothy Snyder says former RNC chair ‘tried to disassemble our democracy’ and should not have been invited to take up position

The Republican National Committee chair turned NBC politics analyst Ronna McDaniel “tried to disassemble our democracy” by supporting Donald Trump’s electoral fraud lies and should not be given such a media role, a leading historian said amid uproar over the appointment.

“What NBC has done is they’ve invited into what should be a normal framework someone who doesn’t believe that framework should exist at all,” Timothy Snyder, a Yale professor and author of On Tyranny, told MSNBC, part of the network now employing McDaniel.

On Friday, NBC announced it had hired the former RNC chair and the network’s senior vice-president for politics, Carrie Budoff Brown, said that McDaniel would contribute her analysis “across all NBC News platforms”.

“What NBC has done of its own volition is bring into a very important conversation about democracy, one which is going to take place for the next seven months or so, someone who … tried to disassemble our democracy. Who personally took part in an attempt to undo the American system,” Synder said.

“And so … what NBC is doing is saying, ‘Well, [it] could be that in ‘24 our entire system will break down. Could be we’ll have an authoritarian leader. Oh, but look, we’ve made this adjustment in advance because we’ve brought into the middle of NBC somebody who has already taken part in an attempt to take our system down.’

“So, yeah, I think this is pretty bad.”

On Sunday, days after joining the network, McDaniel said on the Meet the Press that Biden won “fair and square” and said she did “not think violence should be in our political discourse”.

But McDaniel also claimed it was “fair to say there were problems [elections in battleground states] in 2020” and said she had supported Trump’s election fraud lies as a way of “taking one for the whole team” .

That stoked an on-air protest from Chuck Todd, a former Meet the Press host. On Monday, MSNBC hosts including Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Nicole Wallace, to whom Snyder spoke, also condemned the McDaniel hire. The day also saw a protest from a union group representing NBC News staff.

McDaniel and NBC did not comment.

Snyder, who has written for the Guardian, said: “If you are going to be on American media, you should be somebody who believes there is something called truth, there are things called facts and you can pursue them. You shouldn’t be someone who has over and over and over again pushed the idea of fake news, educated Americans away from the facts, away from belief in the facts.”

Describing such work by McDaniel, the anti-Trump conservative ex-congresswoman Liz Cheney said that as RNC chair, McDaniel “facilitated Trump’s corrupt fake elector plot and his effort to pressure Michigan officials not to certify the legitimate election outcome. She spread his lies and called January 6 ‘legitimate political discourse’. That’s not ‘taking one for the team’. It’s enabling criminality and depravity.”

McDaniel became RNC chair in January 2017. In that role, she defended Trump through his scandal-ridden presidency; his refusal to accept his 2020 defeat by Joe Biden, culminating in his incitement of the deadly January 6 attack on Congress; and through his surge to another presidential nomination despite facing 88 criminal charges and multimillion-dollar civil penalties and regularly admitting to authoritarian ambitions.

Despite such support, Trump last month pushed McDaniel out of the RNC, to be replaced by his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump.

Snyder said: “If we’re going to be putting people on the news who have participated in an attempt to overthrow the system, then we have to ask at the very beginning, ‘Why did you do that? Why is that legitimate?’ And we have to ask ourselves, ‘Why is it that we are taking this step to bring people into the middle of our discussion?’

“So my two red lines are, you should be somebody who’s at least trying for the facts, and you shouldn’t be somebody who has taken part in an attempt to undo the system, which is what we’re talking about here. We shouldn’t mince words about it.”

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Frank Zumbo used power to lure young women into ‘world of his own design’, court told

Former aide to Craig Kelly found guilty of sex crimes against four victims aged between 19 and 24 at time of offending

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An aide to the former federal MP Craig Kelly used his position to lure powerless young women who he would go on to sexually touch and assault over a period of years, a court has been told.

Frank Zumbo pressured the women, who were looking to further their careers, into “kisses and cuddles”, touching them inappropriately and exposing himself to one victim.

He was found guilty of seven charges of aggravated indecent assault of a victim under authority of the offender, and one charge of assault with an act of indecency, which related to four women who worked in the Sutherland Shire electorate office.

The 56-year-old drew the women into a “world of his own design”, where he was the director of everything, prosecutors said during a sentencing hearing in Sydney’s Downing Centre local court on Tuesday.

The four victims were aged between 19 and 24 at the time of the offending, while Zumbo was more than twice their ages.

As an aide to Kelly, who was then Liberal MP for the southern Sydney seat of Hughes, Zumbo was responsible for hiring staff to work in his electoral office.

“Really at the heart of these offences is the notion of power,” crown prosecutor Shaun Croner told the court.

“The powerful and the powerless.”

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Zumbo presented himself to the women as a person of significant power and influence in the political sphere, the court was told.

“They needed that leg up in their career,” Croner said.

Multiple complainants said Zumbo would greet them with hugs and kisses in the office, conduct that escalated to groping their breasts or touching their backsides.

“There was an introduction of touch in an innocuous way that was designed, in the Crown’s submission, to break down barriers,” Croner said.

“All of these victims said they did not want a kiss and hug, they did not want what was described as a ‘social greeting’.”

One woman said Zumbo exposed his penis to her while they were on a park bench, while another said he touched her vagina while they were in his car by the roadside.

Magistrate Gareth Christofi earlier acquitted Zumbo of two further charges of aggravated sexual touching relating to a fifth complainant, the woman who first went to police and sparked a criminal investigation.

Christofi said he could not be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Zumbo’s touching of the teenager’s thigh and rubbing of her shoulder was sexual.

Zumbo’s lawyer Carolyn Davenport argued he had contributed to society through his work in politics and academia and should be entitled to some leniency.

The case is expected to return to court for sentence on 12 April.

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Rushed bill forcing hundreds of non-citizens to facilitate own deportation passes lower house

Human Rights Law Centre says bill ‘deliberately separates families’ and risks non-compliance with obligations under refugee convention

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Legislation that would force hundreds of non-citizens to facilitate their own deportation or face imprisonment has been rushed through the lower house, despite warnings it breaches human rights obligations.

The Labor government combined with Peter Dutton’s opposition shortly before question time on Tuesday to approve the new powers for the immigration minister despite howls of dissent from independents and minor parties about lack of due process.

After the bill was introduced at noon, Labor and the Coalition gagged debate after a little over two hours. The migration amendment (removals and other measures) bill passed to the Senate, where it will be considered by a two-hour inquiry hearing on Tuesday evening before possible passage on Wednesday.

The bill gives the minister the power to direct a non-citizen who is due to be deported “to do specified things necessary to facilitate their removal”, or risk a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison or up to five years.

The Greens, independents, Refugee Council of Australia and Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law have raised concerns that the bill applies to those who had “fast-track” assessment of their protection claims, which Labor criticised in opposition.

“We are concerned that those who do have strong claims, but have not had a fair hearing or review, will be sent back to real harm,” the Refugee Council chief executive officer, Paul Power, said.

At the Tuesday inquiry hearing, home affairs officials said the bill would apply to people whose claim for refugee protection had been finally resolved, but could not say how many were assessed by the fast track.

They said the bill would apply to at least 150 to 200 people in detention, people on bridging visa R including those released by the NZYQ high court decision, and an unspecified number on other bridging visas on a pathway to removal.

But the Greens senator David Shoebridge noted there was “no limit” to the minister using regulation to add visa classes to the list of those who can be given directions.

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In parliament, the independent MP Kylea Tink argued the bill breached Australia’s obligation not to forcibly return asylum seekers to their country of persecution.

The independent MP Zoe Daniel warned that “if we make a mistake here” people may be taken back to their country of persecution and “murdered”.

The most contentious provision states that it is not a “reasonable excuse” to the new offence of refusing a direction that the person “has a genuine fear of suffering persecution or significant harm if the person were removed”.

The Human Rights Law Centre said the provisions “will apply to people who have serious and legitimate claims for protection”.

“They risk serious non-compliance with Australia’s obligations under the refugee convention as well as other international instruments.

“The bill deliberately separates families,” it said. “The minister can require a person to comply with a direction in relation to their removal, irrespective of the impact this would have on their spouse, children or other family members.”

The Greens leader, Adam Bandt, warned the bill meant “a mum who refuses to sign a passport application for her children to be returned to Iran where they have a fear of persecution could be put in jail”. He noted this carried a mandatory minimum sentence of a year in prison, in apparent breach of Labor’s platform.

In the hearing, the home affairs general counsel Clare Sharp said the “legislation doesn’t prevent [family separation] from happening, it’s possible”, but it may be a reason the minister may grant a person a visa.

In question time, Tink noted the bill can force guardians “to take actions in the aid of having their children removed from Australia”.

The immigration minister, Andrew Giles, noted the bill contains a “safeguard which deals with children”, that is, that children cannot be issued directions to facilitate their own deportation.

Giles claimed that the bill was “consistent with Australia’s human rights obligations”. In fact, the statement of compatibility said it was consistent in “most respects” but to the extent it limits human rights it does so “in order to maintain the integrity of the migration system”.

“What we’re doing with … this important piece of legislation is to fill a very significant loophole, that a small cohort of people who have no basis upon which to remain in Australia are refusing to cooperate with efforts to affect their removal.”

Giles said that those affected were “not refugees”. The bill’s explanatory memorandum says those who have “been found to engage Australia’s protection obligations … cannot be directed to interact with or be removed” to their country of persecution, but can be directed to do things to be removed to a “safe third country”.

The bill also creates a power for the government to designate another country as a “removal concern country”, which will impose a bar on new visa applications from non-citizens outside Australia who are nationals of a country that does not accept removals from Australia.

The power could affect applicants hoping to leave countries including Russia, Iran, Iraq and South Sudan.

Shoebridge said that “entire communities” in Australia face being permanently barred from visits from relatives from those countries.

The Refugee Legal executive director, David Manne, said this aspect of the bill was “discriminatory and extreme overreach”.

The shadow immigration minister, Dan Tehan, told Guardian Australia the Coalition was worried if the bill “doesn’t work as intended, it could force people to get more desperate and jump on boats” if their country is designated.

The independent senator David Pocock said it was “incredibly disappointing” that Labor was rushing the bill through, accusing the major parties of “disgraceful” treatment of independents who had raised concerns about the bill.

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A Moscow court has extended the pre-trial detention of the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich to 30 June.

His detention had already been extended several times but no date has been set for his trial.

Gershkovich was detained in the Urals city of Ekaterinburg while on a reporting trip at the end of last March. Russia’s FSB Security Service claimed he was collecting state secrets about the country’s military-industrial complex.

Gershkovich, his paper and the US government all strongly deny the charges, which carry a sentence of up to 20 years.

A Moscow court has extended the pre-trial detention of the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich to 30 June.

His detention had already been extended several times but no date has been set for his trial.

Gershkovich was detained in the Urals city of Ekaterinburg while on a reporting trip at the end of last March. Russia’s FSB Security Service claimed he was collecting state secrets about the country’s military-industrial complex.

Gershkovich, his paper and the US government all strongly deny the charges, which carry a sentence of up to 20 years.

WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann bids to buy it back for more than $500m

Former CEO of shared office space rental company has reportedly been in talks with investors

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Adam Neumann, the ousted co-founder of WeWork, has tabled a bid worth more than $500m (£395m) in an attempt to regain control of the long troubled shared office space rental company that he launched in 2010.

Flow, Neumann’s property company, said on Monday that it had submitted a potential bid for WeWork with a “coalition of half a dozen financing partners”. The Wall Street Journal, which first reported Neumann’s offer, said it was tabled at more than $500m.

“WeWork is an extraordinary company and it’s no surprise we receive expressions of interest from third parties on a regular basis,” WeWork said in a statement shared with Reuters.

“Our board and our advisers review those approaches in the ordinary course, to ensure we always act in the best long-term interests of the company,” it added.

It said it remained focused on restructuring efforts, after filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US in November as high interest rates, and falling demand for office space because of home working, took their toll. WeWork added that its turnaround plans would help it emerge as a “financially strong and profitable company”.

Last month it emerged that Neumann had been trying for months to meet the company – which was once valued at $47bn – to negotiate a deal to buy it outright, or provide it with debt financing.

Lawyers representing Neumann’s new venture, Flow Global, sent a letter to WeWork advisers in February, reportedly suggesting he was exploring a joint bid for the company with investors including the US hedge fund Third Point.

Third Point later told Reuters it had held “only preliminary conversations” with Neumann, and had not made any financial commitments towards a potential deal.

Neumann was once tipped to join the ranks of the world’s richest people, with a personal fortune of $14bn from the planned flotation of WeWork in 2019.

During its ascendence, the company invested heavily in acquiring a series of long-term leases in some of the world’s most expensive real estate markets, amassing nearly 800 locations across 39 countries.

But investors, already sceptical of the company’s near-$50bn valuation, were ultimately put off by terms of the stock listing, including demands that each of Neumann’s shares should carry 20 times the votes of ordinary stock, and that his wife should have a say in selecting his successor should he die.

The IPO was eventually postponed, and Neumann later quit as chief executive, as a series of increasingly damaging allegations about his personal conduct and eccentric lifestyle came to light.

The executive “would convince employees to take shots of pricey Don Julio tequila, work 20-hour days [and] attend 2am meetings”, according to the New York Times. “He would convince them to smoke marijuana at work, dance to Journey around a fire in the woods on weekend excursions, smoke more pot [and] drink more tequila.”

Neumann has since returned to leadership, and announced plans for the property venture Flow – focused on branded apartments targeting millennial rentals – in 2022. Despite scheduling a 2023 launch, its business plan has yet to be made public, leaving its website still claiming it is “coming soon”.

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Three people dead after fishing boat capsizes off South Australian coast

Two others taken to Port Lincoln hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after being winched to safety

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Three people are dead and two are in hospital after their fishing boat capsized off the coast of South Australia.

Emergency crews began a frantic water and air search on Monday evening after the boat and its five occupants did not return to Port Lincoln.

A police rescue helicopter located the upturned boat near Spilsby Island in the Spencer Gulf about 2am on Tuesday, and winched two members of the party – a 44-year-old man and a 13-year-old boy – to safety from a reef.

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Placid seas raised hopes that the other three occupants of the boat were still alive, but they were dashed after rescuers recovered two bodies later in the morning.

The fifth and final member of the crew was found dead shortly after 2pm.

The rescued pair were taken to Port Lincoln hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

They were treated for conditions related to hypothermia as a result of exposure to the cold, police Supt Paul Bahr told reporters on Tuesday.

“The boat itself has also been located and is on its way back to Port Lincoln,” Bahr said.

“That will be off-loaded later today and will be subject to further forensic examination and any examination the coroner may require.”

The fishing party comprised family members and close friends, and aside from the one rescued teen were all adults.

The two rescued anglers told police their boat was swamped by a wave about 4pm on Monday, overturning the vessel and throwing all aboard into the water.

A large-scale rescue operation was launched after family members of the crew alerted police about their non-return just after 8.30pm on Monday night.

As well as the police helicopter, police water operations, local Sea Rescue vessels, a Challenger jet plane and P&O cruise ship the Pacific Explorer took part in the search.

Police will now prepare reports for the coroner.

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Greens and disability groups criticise federal government gag on NDIS talks

Guardian Australia understands a major announcement will be made on Wednesday but those consulted are sworn to secrecy

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Disability organisations and advocacy groups are disturbed by a federal government gag on upcoming NDIS announcements, with the Greens warning “behind closed doors” negotiations were “serving politicians” and not the community.

The Albanese government has pledged to work meaningfully with disability representative and carer organisations as it readies its plans to respond to the landmark NDIS review released in December.

Guardian Australia understands a major announcement relating to the scheme’s future will be made on Wednesday but groups consulted on the proposal have been sworn to secrecy.

A group of more than two dozen disability representatives have signed the confidentiality agreements in exchange for a seat at the table as the government takes its first steps responding to the NDIS review.

One representative, who spoke to Guardian Australia under the condition of anonymity, said the process had been “extremely frustrating” and not in the spirit of co-design as the Labor government had repeatedly promised.

The NDIS minister, Bill Shorten, has said people with disabilities on the scheme needed to be at the centre of any changes that directly affect them, promising co-design with the community was a focus.

Guardian Australia has contacted Shorten’s office for a response.

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An advocate in the disability sector, who was not party to this briefing, said the practice acted to constrain them in their work while also controlling who was in the room, and was becoming increasingly common across all levels of government.

“The democratic process works when stakeholders have access to the process and are able to provide feedback freely and without fear of consequence,” the advocate said.

“If you have the confidence of your convictions to propose changes to legislation, presumably to make it better, have the courage to share that with critical friends who might have thought of things that you haven’t and then you can avoid unintended consequences and legal challenges down the track.”

A paper produced by the Parliamentary Library for the Greens said the agreements were routine and ministerial guidance said draft bills were provided on a “confidential basis”.

But multiple sources subject to the non-disclosure agreements in order to participate in consultations told Guardian Australia the arrangement was more stringent than usual and made it difficult to consult with communities on the proposed changes.

They said they had not been given copies of the legislation.

The Greens have previously raised significant concerns with the use of NDAs in policy development negotiations, arguing they risk entrenching secrecy and lack of transparency around policymaking processes, and allow powerful corporations and lobbyists access to negotiating text before it gets to parliament.

The Greens’ spokesperson for disability rights, Jordon Steele-John, said it was concerning that major changes to the NDIS were being done “behind closed doors”.

“Making advocates sign non-disclosure agreements is only serving politicians and is no way genuine co-design,” he said.

“If these changes actually improved the lives of disabled people, politicians wouldn’t be so secretive about them.

“The secrecy is causing deep concern in the community. No disabled child or adult should be pushed by abled-bodied politicians off the NDIS into the giant hole that is non-NDIS disability supports in this country.”

The NDIS review offered 26 recommendations, paired with 139 detailed actions, to fix the scheme, which has been the subject of political scrutiny over its ballooning cost.

The federal government has struck a deal with the states and territories to lift funding for disability services outside the NDIS scheme – known as foundational supports – in an effort to curb the number of new entrants to scheme.

The scheme supports more than 600,000 Australians with disabilities but is projected to grow considerably in the coming decades.

Its budget is expected to exceed $50bn in this year’s federal budget in May with projections showing it could push past $90bn a year within a decade.

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Julian Assange extradition appeal: what you need to know before the UK high court’s ruling

WikiLeaks founder to learn on Tuesday if he can appeal against his extradition to the United States

Julian Assange will learn whether he can fight to stop his extradition to the United States at 9.30pm AEDT (10.30am UK time) on Tuesday when two senior judges of London’s high court hand down their ruling.

“This is it,” his wife, Stella Assange, said in a post to X. “DECISION TOMORROW.”

The WikiLeaks founder has since 2019 battled extradition from the UK to the US, where he would face espionage charges for the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, as well as diplomatic cables, in 2010 and 2011.

But what was his two-day hearing in London’s high court about, and what is at stake now? Here is everything you need to know.

What is Assange arguing?

Last month, Assange took to London’s high court seeking permission to appeal his extradition.

In 2022, Britain approved his extradition, which he has been trying to overturn since. His first attempt to appeal was refused, hence the two-day hearing seeking to reverse that judgement.

Assange’s legal team argued that it would be in breach of the extradition treaty between the UK and the US, which prohibits extradition for political offences.

“This legally unprecedented prosecution seeks to criminalise the application of ordinary journalistic practices of obtaining and publishing true classified information of the most obvious and important public interest,” Edward Fitzgerald KC, who represents Assange, submitted to the court.

Fitzgerald said Assange and WikiLeaks “were responsible for the exposure of criminality on the part of the US government on an unprecedented scale,” including torture, rendition, extrajudicial killings and war crimes.

He alleged “state retaliation” motivated the US prosecution and so was unlawful. Fitzgerald also warned that if Assange was extradited there was “a real risk that he’ll suffer a flagrant denial of justice”.

Mark Summers KC, also for Assange, raised the issue of CIA officials under former US president Donald Trump reportedly discussing abducting and even assassinating Assange.

The US case

The US argue Assange’s leaks put the lives of their agents in peril, and accused Assange’s team of having “consistently and repeatedly misrepresented” the case.

James Lewis KC, for the US, said Assange was not being prosecuted for “mere publication” but for “aiding and abetting” or “conspiring with” the whistleblower Chelsea Manning to unlawfully obtain the documents in question, “undoubtedly committing serious criminal offences in so doing and then disclosing the unredacted names of sources (thus putting those individuals at grave risk of harm)”.

What’s next?

A full appeal hearing will be held to reconsider Assange’s challenge to extradition, if he wins.

But if the judges deny permission to appeal, all challenges his legal team can make in the UK courts will have been exhausted.

Assange, who has been held at Belmarsh prison since 2019, could, however, appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to order the UK not to extradite him while it considers his case – this would be his last option.

If extradited to the US, he could be jailed there for up to 175 years.

The Wall Street Journal reported in February that the US government considering a plea deal offer to Assange, allowing him to admit to a misdemeanor, but his lawyers say they have been “given no indication” Washington intends to change its approach.

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