The Guardian 2024-03-31 01:01:14


Penny Wong blames ‘Peter Dutton-Adam Bandt alliance’ for failure to pass Labor’s deportation laws

But Greens’ David Shoebridge says Labor has ‘jumped the shark’ with the legislation and it requires more scrutiny

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Foreign affairs minister Penny Wong has blamed a “Peter Dutton-Adam Bandt alliance” for the government’s failure to rush through “draconian” deportation legislation in the parliament last week.

But Greens senator David Shoebridge, who has described the laws as “draconian”, said the Labor government was alone in supporting the laws without scrutiny, arguing it was “everybody in the parliament except for Labor” who wanted further examination of legislation “that looked like it had been drawn in crayon without any rational basis behind it”.

The Coalition supported a Greens motion in the Senate to send the deportation legislation to a Senate inquiry, despite having voted with the government to pass the legislation through the House of Representatives, after Labor failed to produce reasons for the bill’s urgency.

The inquiry will report back on the bill on 7 May, the first day parliament resumes following the autumn break, although there remains the possibility parliament could be recalled earlier to pass the bill if the government loses a coming high court challenge.

The deportation bill gives the immigration 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.

It also creates a power 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 legislation has alarmed human rights and refugee advocates who warn it could have far-reaching unintended consequences, including reversing protection findings of someone previously found to be a refugee.

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Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Wong argued the bill was a “tool” to make the immigration system “stronger” and its powers would have to be exercised in consultation with the foreign affairs minister.

“There might be other diplomatic avenues you would try and go through before you get to that point,” she said.

“But obviously, there’s an issue that we are seeking to address and we’ve worked through that carefully within government about how we might address it, and this is what the legislation is seeking to do.”

Wong said the legislation was aimed at people who had been found not to be refugees, but argued it would not be applied by the Albanese government as a one-size-fits-all.

“It’s not a it’s not something that would be used in a in a blanket way and it’s something that will be used as and when necessary,” she said.

“It’s an important part of our toolkit, in terms of managing migration.”

Wong blamed “politics” for the legislation’s hold-up.

“It’s regrettable that there we’ve got the Peter Dutton, Adam Bandt’s alliance preventing action on this but so be it, but I just say it says something about the political opportunities,” she said.

Shoebridge, the Greens new home affairs spokesperson, said Labor had “jumped the shark” with the laws, which he said went further than anything an Australian government had previously put forward.

“We have a very unfair asylum system, you know, arbitrary time limits, negative inferences, it’s a very unfair process,” he said.

“We’ve never yet said, ‘Well, if you continue to fear persecution, even though the government doesn’t believe you, we’re going to whack you on a plane and return you against your will to potential jail and persecution in Iran and if you don’t do it, we’re going to put you in jail for a mandatory minimum of one year.’

“And we’ve never yet said, ‘If you don’t sign a passport application for your kids, and take them back as well, we’re going to put you in jail.’ Even under the Coalition we never got there.”

Shoebridge said the inquiry into the legislation would examine the “god-like” powers the bill gave the minister to send people to jail if they did not comply with an order and the “blacklisting” of countries as designated nations.

“They [the government] still might get there [with the Coalition] but even the opposition I think, will be deeply troubled by legislation that is saying to diaspora communities across the country, ‘You may never see your family again.’”

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‘No longer useful’: the dark history of Australia’s post-war Asian deportations

After WWII, many Asian-born servicemen and their families were ordered to leave the country they had fought for – leaving a trauma that persists to this day

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The White Australia policy was behind thousands of deportations, many of them illegal, which took place at the end of the second world war. Families were torn apart, Australian-born women were stripped of their citizenship and Asian-born men who had served in the Australian armed forces were ordered to leave the country they had fought for.

It is a part of Australia’s dark history that has been largely buried for decades.

Forgetting is crucial to the creation of a nation, 19th-century French philosopher Ernest Renan once observed. Now, 150 years on, another Ernest on the other side of the world is exhuming the buried history of government-enforced racism, often implemented in the face of public resistance.

A research paper will be published by Dr Ernest Koh, a historian specialising in south-east Asian history, later this year, with a book to follow. The University of Canberra academic’s work – titled Stateless Love: War, interracial marriage, and Australia’s Asian Deportations 1946 – 1950 – has already been the subject of a documentary broadcast by Channel News Asia in Singapore and PBS America in the UK but which is yet to be screened in Australia.

Five years ago, Koh began researching Chinese merchant sailors living in north-west England who were recruited into the British merchant navy in the 1940s. The Royal Merchant Navy’s mariners numbered about 150,000 when war broke out in Europe, and about 8% were Chinese recruits.

These seamen played a vital role in Britain’s warfare, but were deported at the war’s conclusion. During his research, Koh came across archival material suggesting a similar scenario took place in Australia.

“I was trying to find out what happened to these Chinese sailors from Liverpool who were deported to Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong,” Koh says.

“I didn’t find answers, what I found instead were all these newspaper reports and parliament papers about these Asian men from Australia who were being deported, in many instances with their Australian wives and children, to Singapore, to Malaya, as the colony was referred to at the time. The Chifley government didn’t really know what to do with them either.”

Koh tracked down the descendants of some of these ex-servicemen, adding oral histories to his bank of research. What he recorded was a pattern of intergenerational trauma.

With the creation of new nation-states across Asia after the war, many of the sailors had become effectively stateless, and had been deported by the Australian government to countries they had no connection to.

“The act of removing someone and placing them in another place where they don’t belong has all these horrible effects that go on for generations,” Koh says.

Seaman Tony Ang Kai Ming, who carried more than two hundred European women and child refugees to Australia from Penang after the Japanese invasion of Malaya in 1941, went on to serve in the Australian Army before being recruited by the US army as a foreman for its Civil Construction Corps based in Brisbane.

It was there he met his future wife, 19-year-old shop assistant Marjorie Pettit.

When Ang received his deportation orders in 1949 the couple had three Australian-born sons. Although from mainland China, Ang and his family were deported to Hong Kong, where the family lived in squalor in the Walled City in Kowloon.

Youngest son Kerry Ang told the Guardian his Australian mother’s deportation to Hong Kong left her permanently traumatised, with a deep-seated fear of authority.

“But she just refused to talk about any of it,” says Ang, today a high school history teacher in Brisbane.

“It’s hard to believe really, I’ve spoken about it with some of my classes and you know, and they find it really difficult to even believe it ever happened, that a government could just use people and then when they’re no longer useful, get rid of them because they don’t fit into a white Anglo-Saxon racial group.”

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Mavis Ada Anderson was a 17-year-old Sydney waitress when she met Abdul Samad Amjah, who had arrived in Fremantle on the SS Klang after the siege of Singapore a year earlier.

He joined the Royal Australian Navy and the couple met in Sydney in 1943, where Amjah was recovering from severe injuries after his ship was attacked by Japanese bombers.

Amjah received his notice to leave Australia in October 1947. Mavis, born in the south Sydney suburb of Sans Souci, learned at this time the Australian government had reclassified her as an alien. She was pregnant with the couple’s second child.

Both Amjah and the Ang family managed to eventually gain re-admittance to Australia.

“A lot of the Chinese [people] dad worked with didn’t fight it, they just did what they were told and left,” Kerry Ang says. “But he was married, he had his Australian wife and three kids, and he fought against it.”

In his own research, Ang found records of Australia’s first minister for immigration, Arthur Calwell discussing his father’s case.

“Calwell was arguing that dad really wasn’t in the Australian Army … and we know that’s not true because we’ve got his Australian Service Medal.”

In September 1948, the Singapore-based Amjah signed on as crew on the SS Marella, and upon reaching Sydney deserted the ship to re-join his family. He avoided immigration authorities for three months and was subsequently charged with being a prohibited immigrant.

Both men’s cases captured media attention.

Several of the women who were married to Chinese sailors formed the Australian Wives of Chinese Deportees’ Association. Koh says their strategy was simple: “Keep the story in the newspapers, focus on the Australian-born children and on the war service performed by their husbands in defence of Australia.”

Like events that would unfold in the small rural town of Biloela in Queensland decades later, public sentiment, Koh says, was turning.

“A lot of the pushback actually came from not the sailors themselves, but from the community who rallied around the wives,” he says. “You have the churches, the unions and even the RSL all telling the media the same thing – they’ve earned their right to stay here through war service, they have families, they have children. Let them stay.”

The daughter of Abdul Samad Amjah, Carol Marshman, told the Guardian if it wasn’t for the support of the RSL and the World Council of Churches, she may have never seen her father again.

“It turned out that because my father could speak English, [immigration authorities] gave him the compulsory dictation test in French,” she says. “But that wasn’t what finally won him the case. That test had to be given to immigrants within a five year period, and my father’s test happened a few weeks after that period, so legally, they should never have deported him in the first place.

“He won on a legal technicality, rather than on any point of justice.”

Koh says as many as 20,000 Asian refugees and mariners arrived in Australia in the aftermath of the Japanese conquest of south-east Asia. But unlike their European counterparts, once the war ended most of the Asian immigrants were ordered to leave, and many mixed Asian and Australian families were never able to return.

When US Navy seaman Ahmad bin Osman was ordered to leave Sydney in 1947, his Australian wife, Phyllis Frater, left for Singapore with him. But the government would not allow her to bring her three children from a previous marriage with an Australian man, who had played no role in their upbringing.

The children were placed in an orphanage and she never saw them again.

Australian Navy seaman Jacob Abdullah and his Torres Strait Islander wife, Mercia, were deported with their four Australian-born children in 1948.

Like a number of Australians who accompanied their husbands back to Asia, Mercia succumbed to malaria in Singapore the same year.

Five years later, Abdullah died, and the children, now numbering five, were rejected by his family. They spent a period living on the streets before being placed in foster care, continuing a pattern of abuse that left lifelong scars.

With a prewar population of less than 7 million, Australia was never going to be capable of sourcing all its war effort from an exclusively white population.

It was not the only country in such a position. By the war’s end, Koh says, it is estimated nearly 30,000 Chinese sailors were serving on US vessels across Europe and the Pacific.

It was not uncommon for a Japanese warship to be attacked by a US vessel crewed by Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese recruits.

“But the second world war became the bedrock for postwar, nationalist creation stories, and this racial diversity has become a lost history,” says Koh.

“When we think about who was fighting to defend Australia at the time, the enduring images of the second world war are very stereotypical.

“In the retellings of the second world war, its armies are almost always of a single colour, such is the monochromatic nature of second world war histories.”

While forgetting may be crucial to the creation of a nation, Australia cannot deny that there was a “banal cruelty” with the racially motivated deportations that followed the deadliest war in history, Koh says.

“For all of its progressiveness, post WWII was not simply a celebratory watershed moment in Australian immigration history. It had a darker side to it.”

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Gemma Joseph with her cavoodle Walton, who is entered in a dog show at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian

Cavoodles, labradoodles and groodles are increasingly popular but purebreed enthusiasts question their place in Australia’s most prestigious dog show

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by Luca Ittimani

When two-year-old Walton crosses the stage next Tuesday, he will be breaking new ground for cavoodles across Australia.

For the first time, poodle crossbreed dogs – or “oodles” – have been given their own event at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, home to the most prestigious dog show in Australia.

But purebred dog enthusiasts are up in arms over the oodles’ intrusion into a show that for years was reserved for pedigree dogs.

Gemma Joseph, a music teacher and Walton’s owner, is one of more than 50 dog owners who jumped at the chance to take their cavoodles, groodles, labradoodles and other oodles to the Easter show.

“I’ve been to the Easter show, and growing up I’ve seen a number of dog shows, but because he’s an oodle we’ve never had the opportunity to have him in a dog show before,” she says.

“But the cavoodles are becoming so incredibly popular … I see more oodles at the park than any other breed.”

Walton, the caramel-coated son of a poodle and King Charles cavalier, will compete to be named “most handsome oodle” at the Easter show, with other categories ranging from “best dressed” to “cutest puppy”.

Joseph invited her mother and friends from the dog park to come cheer Walton on.

“I do get quite anxious about things, but I know my dog is beautiful,” she says. “It’s just going to be an opportunity to show him off to some people and hopefully they appreciate him as much as I do.”

While the Easter show has long permitted oodles to enter dog sports competitions such as obedience and agility, this year’s event marks the first dedicated breed show for oodles.

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However, the crossbred dogs will still be excluded from the prestigious conformation breed show categories that award the “best in breed” and “best in show”, instead being relegated to a novelty event on the last day of the festival.

John Bryson, the chair of the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) of New South Wales domestic animals committee, says the separation reflects the lack of “breed standard” or objective template in crossbred dogs.

“It’s virtually impossible to judge them the same way,” he says.

According to the vet and RAS council member Robert Zammit, that’s because crossbred dogs vary too much to judge them by a single template.

“You get a labrador male and a labrador female, you know what you’re going to get,” he says.

“The problem when you cross, say, a labrador and a poodle, is the puppies in the litter may not all be the same … Genetics is like throwing paint on the wall – you’re not sure what pattern you’re going to get.”

For the purebred dog community, however, the very idea of letting crossbreeds into the Easter show is an insult.

“Sydney Royal Easter Show highlights the best of the best of purebred, whether it is cattle, sheep, goats, horses – so why are our purebred dogs being compromised?” one member of the purebred dogs community, who wished to remain anonymous, said in an email.

For some, oodles are “mutt” or “mongrel” crossbreeds that lower the standard of the dog community. Criticism flies thick and fast on Facebook pedigree dog groups.

However, few purebred dog enthusiasts are willing to speak publicly or even anonymously. Guardian Australia contacted dozens of pedigree dog breeders and associations but most refused to comment or did not respond.

Bryson says the critics are fighting for the identity of the purebred dog community.

“Maybe they’re a little threatened by it,” he says. “I think a lot of purebred people certainly are only ever going to want to promote purebred dogs, and they don’t see these as purebred dogs … so they wouldn’t be too thrilled.”

But the booming popularity of oodles has also raised concerns about the rise of unregulated and unethical breeding, which can leave puppies with persistent health issues.

“Unscrupulous breeders will come into those breeds just to breed for money and not care about the soundness of the welfare of the animals,” Zammit says.

“We’ve had a lot of these poodle crosses where we’re fixing knees and hips very early in life because they’ve been badly bred.”

Puppy farms and unregistered or “back yard” breeders operate in NSW with minimal regulation, as efforts to ban the practice have stalled. Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland have all outlawed puppy farming.

The experienced breeder Julia Grainger says the show is an opportunity not just to showcase her groodle Axel but also to join the fight against poor breeding practices.

“Being able to promote the dog as an emerging breed, and not just have everybody think that people are breeding as a back yard endeavour – it’s important for us,” she says.

Grainger says the dog world stands to gain from letting oodles take a turn in the spotlight.

“Let’s just embrace all dogs and people who like their dogs. That way, you get a bigger dog-loving community and perhaps a better one.”

  • The oodle parade will be held in the Sydney Royal Easter Show Pet Pavilion on Tuesday 2 April

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Trump rebuked for sharing video showing Biden hog-tied on pickup truck

Biden campaign communications director says image could be construed as suggesting physical harm towards president

Donald Trump drew an angry response from the Joe Biden White House as well as other opponents after he posted a video containing the image of the president hog-tied on the tailgate of a passing pickup truck.

The Biden campaign communications director, Michael Tyler, said the provocative image of the truck festooned with Trump 2024 insignia on Friday night could be construed as suggesting physical harm toward the former president’s political rival.

“Trump is regularly inciting political violence and it’s time people take him seriously – just ask the Capitol police officers who were attacked protecting our democracy on January 6,” Tyler said, referring to the day in early 2021 when the ex-president’s supporters attacked Congress.

The Trump campaign spokesperson, Steven Cheung, replied that the picture in question depicted the back of a pickup truck that was traveling down the highway.

“Democrats and crazed lunatics have not only called for despicable violence against president Trump and his family, they are actually weaponizing the justice system against him,” Cheung said.

Cheung’s remark was a clear reference to more than 80 criminal charges pending against Trump for attempts to forcibly overturn his defeat to Biden in the 2020 election, retention of classified materials after his presidency and hush-money payments. Trump is also facing multimillion-dollar civil penalties for business practices that have been deemed fraudulent and a rape claim which a judge has determined to be substantially true.

The image of Biden in the truck as well as the reaction to it cap another week of scripted – and unscripted – drama on a presidential campaign trail that is becoming increasingly tense.

Biden’s polling number have risen in crucial swing states since a punchy State of the Union address. And his campaign is beating presumptive Republican nominee Trump in fundraising to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

On Thursday night, Biden held a fundraiser at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall with former Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The glitzy event raised a reported $25m, though it was repeatedly interrupted by demonstrators protesting against the military aid that Biden’s administration has provided to Israel in its strikes in Gaza.

Trump, meanwhile, was at the wake of New York police officer Jonathan Diller, 31, who was shot to death during a traffic stop. The former president called Diller’s murder “a horrible thing” and said “police are the greatest people we have”.

Yet Trump’s remarks also earned him criticism, with commenters noting that the January 6 US Capitol attack carried out by his supporters injured dozens of officers. The attack – a failed, desperate effort to keep Trump in office despite his defeat to Biden – was also linked to some officers’ suicides.

Meanwhile, a caption on the video with the image of a hog-tied Biden said it had been taken in Long Island, New York, just as the former president attended Diller’s memorial and condemned the violence that killed the officer.

Trump’s posting of the hog-tie video comes less than three weeks before the former president is due to stand trial in a criminal case alleging that he covered up payments to two women ahead of the 2016 election to suppress information about extramarital sexual encounters they said he had with them years earlier.

The prosecutor in that case, the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, has also been the subject of violent pictorial representation posted by Trump. The former president last year shared a picture showing him holding a baseball bat next to Bragg.

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Trump rebuked for sharing video showing Biden hog-tied on pickup truck

Biden campaign communications director says image could be construed as suggesting physical harm towards president

Donald Trump drew an angry response from the Joe Biden White House as well as other opponents after he posted a video containing the image of the president hog-tied on the tailgate of a passing pickup truck.

The Biden campaign communications director, Michael Tyler, said the provocative image of the truck festooned with Trump 2024 insignia on Friday night could be construed as suggesting physical harm toward the former president’s political rival.

“Trump is regularly inciting political violence and it’s time people take him seriously – just ask the Capitol police officers who were attacked protecting our democracy on January 6,” Tyler said, referring to the day in early 2021 when the ex-president’s supporters attacked Congress.

The Trump campaign spokesperson, Steven Cheung, replied that the picture in question depicted the back of a pickup truck that was traveling down the highway.

“Democrats and crazed lunatics have not only called for despicable violence against president Trump and his family, they are actually weaponizing the justice system against him,” Cheung said.

Cheung’s remark was a clear reference to more than 80 criminal charges pending against Trump for attempts to forcibly overturn his defeat to Biden in the 2020 election, retention of classified materials after his presidency and hush-money payments. Trump is also facing multimillion-dollar civil penalties for business practices that have been deemed fraudulent and a rape claim which a judge has determined to be substantially true.

The image of Biden in the truck as well as the reaction to it cap another week of scripted – and unscripted – drama on a presidential campaign trail that is becoming increasingly tense.

Biden’s polling number have risen in crucial swing states since a punchy State of the Union address. And his campaign is beating presumptive Republican nominee Trump in fundraising to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

On Thursday night, Biden held a fundraiser at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall with former Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The glitzy event raised a reported $25m, though it was repeatedly interrupted by demonstrators protesting against the military aid that Biden’s administration has provided to Israel in its strikes in Gaza.

Trump, meanwhile, was at the wake of New York police officer Jonathan Diller, 31, who was shot to death during a traffic stop. The former president called Diller’s murder “a horrible thing” and said “police are the greatest people we have”.

Yet Trump’s remarks also earned him criticism, with commenters noting that the January 6 US Capitol attack carried out by his supporters injured dozens of officers. The attack – a failed, desperate effort to keep Trump in office despite his defeat to Biden – was also linked to some officers’ suicides.

Meanwhile, a caption on the video with the image of a hog-tied Biden said it had been taken in Long Island, New York, just as the former president attended Diller’s memorial and condemned the violence that killed the officer.

Trump’s posting of the hog-tie video comes less than three weeks before the former president is due to stand trial in a criminal case alleging that he covered up payments to two women ahead of the 2016 election to suppress information about extramarital sexual encounters they said he had with them years earlier.

The prosecutor in that case, the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, has also been the subject of violent pictorial representation posted by Trump. The former president last year shared a picture showing him holding a baseball bat next to Bragg.

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Ex-Trump adviser says former president ‘hasn’t got the brains’ for dictatorship

Despite disparagement from John Bolton, critics maintain Trump is clear threat to democracy, given admiration for dictators

A former national security adviser in the Donald Trump White House has said that the ex-president “hasn’t got the brains” to helm a dictatorship, despite his admiration for such rulers.

In an interview with the conservative French outlet Le Figaro, John Bolton, 75, was asked whether Trump had tendencies that mirror dictators like the ones he has previously praised. Bolton not only disparaged Trump’s intellectual capacity, he also disparaged the former president’s professional background, exclaiming: “He’s a property developer, for God’s sake!”

Now a vocal critic of Trump, Bolton served as the former president’s national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019. Bolton had previously served as US ambassador to the UN during George W Bush’s presidency, developing a reputation as a foreign policy hawk.

Bolton’s remarks to Le Figaro suggesting Trump is not smart enough to be a dictator will almost certainly do little to allay fears on the political left at home or abroad about a second Trump presidency.

After all, Trump has suggested he plans to be a dictator, if only for the first day of his presidency if he were re-elected.

Meanwhile, as seeks a second term in the White House, the incumbent Joe Biden has warned that Trump – the lone remaining contender for the Republican nomination – and his allies are “determined to destroy American democracy”. Trump recently provided fuel for that argument by hosting Hungary’s autocratic prime minister Viktor Orbán at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Trump, furthermore, is known to have lavished praise on leaders considered opposed to US democratic ideals and foreign policy interests, including North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and China’s Xi Jinping.

Bolton nonetheless claimed Trump – who is grappling with more than 80 pending criminal charges as well as multimillion-dollar civil penalties – lacks the kind of coherent political philosophy effective dictators require. He also said Trump does not like to “get involved in policy analysis or decision-making in the way we normally use those terms”.

For Trump, Bolton added: “Everything is episodic, anecdotal, transactional. And everything is contingent on the question of how this will benefit Donald Trump.”

Such disparagements from Bolton – who advocated for the Trump White House to withdraw from a deal with Iran aimed at dissuading it from developing nuclear weapons – are not new. In a new foreword to his account of his work for Trump’s presidency, The Room Where It Happened, Bolton warns that Trump was limited to worrying about punishing his personal enemies and appeasing US adversaries Russia and China.

“Trump is unfit to be president,” Bolton writes. And though he may not think Trump can foster a dictatorship, Bolton has warned: “If his first four years were bad, a second four will be worse.”

Trump has seemingly leaned into such predictions. He stoked alarm at a campaign rally earlier in March when – while musing about how foreign car production affects the US auto industry – he said: “If I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole – that’s going to be the least of it. It’s going to be a bloodbath for the country.”

His use of the word “bloodbath” recalled provocative language Trump has used previously, including describing immigrants as “poisoning the blood of our country”.

He told a rally in New Hampshire last year that he wanted to “root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections”.

After that remark, Biden attacked Trump for his use of the world “vermin”, saying Trump’s language “echoes language you heard in Nazi Germany” as Adolf Hitler rose to power and orchestrated the murders of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust.

In his interview with Le Figaro, Bolton said it was “very likely” that Trump would act on his threat to pull the US out of the Nato military alliance if he were re-elected. In recent months, Trump has repeated his threat not to protect countries whom he believes do not pay enough to maintain the security alliance, and he claimed that European members of the alliance “laugh at the stupidity” of the US.

“Trump, when he has an idea, comes back to it again and again, then gets distracted, forgets, but eventually comes back to it and acts on it,” Bolton warned. “That’s why leaving Nato is a real possibility. A lot of people think it’s just a negotiating tool, but I don’t think so.”

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Job providers receiving millions of dollars for positions found by jobseekers themselves

Welfare advocates say there is ‘simply no reason’ for $3.6m in payments over past five years to agencies when jobs were found prior to engaging their service

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Job providers are being paid millions of dollars in public money for work that jobseekers are finding themselves, with advocates saying there is “simply no reason” for the payments.

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations has paid providers over $3.6m in the past five years for pre-existing employment, where someone on jobseeker found a job prior to starting with a provider, according to data provided to Guardian Australia by the department.

The data shows there has been an uptick in pre-existing employment payments, with providers receiving $1.1m in the 2023-2024 financial year, more than double the $464,200 paid in 2019-2020.

Service providers are allowed to claim outcome payments when clients have completed four, 12 and 26 weeks in employment, regardless of whether the client or provider found the job. Jobseekers signed on to mutual obligations must complete a range of tasks each month – such as job applications, education or training with employment service providers – to continue to receive their welfare payments.

Welfare advocates argue there is “no reason” for providers to get paid for jobs they do not help people find.

Neither the minister for the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Tony Burke, nor the National Employment Services Association, the peak body for job providers, would answer questions from Guardian Australia.

Providers also receive public funding for outcome payments when a jobseeker has found work after signing up with a service. In the 2022-2023 financial year, providers were paid $329.07m for all outcome payments.

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Sydney-based Nathan – who asked not to use his full name – used the atWork employment services provider last year for nine months. After he found a job himself as an assistant manager, he let atWork know that he wouldn’t need them as he didn’t need Centrelink moving forward.

Nathan said atWork asked him for pay dates, his salary, weekly hours and manager’s name.

“Centrelink themselves told me it was because they [employment services providers] get bonuses for getting the job for someone,” he said. “When I said I wouldn’t give that information, they put a strike through me, which negated me from getting my final payment.”

Nathan was relying on the final payment before starting work. He says his job provider said he missed three appointments in a week – but Nathan claims he didn’t miss any.

“These appointments, they said, were over the phone and there were no calls, there were no appointments. I didn’t miss any. And three in a week doesn’t make sense.”

Another jobseeker, Jessica, who also asked not to use her full name, said she found a part-time role for herself. But two months into her role, her boss asked her if she knew someone from the job provider APM.

The 22-year-old said she hadn’t told APM she had been hired, leading her to believe APM called every company she said she had applied to work with.

“Then they [APM] sent me a message saying we know you’re working [there] you need to come and fill out some forms.”

Jessica receives a small amount of Centrelink each fortnight to supplement her income. She said at her next appointment with APM, she was asked to sign paperwork backdated to before she started the job, saying APM had helped her find the job.

“I’m trying to get more hours which is more likely at work so that’s good. But as far as the employment agencies go, they don’t help.”

AtPay has been contacted for comment. APM said it cannot comment on specific cases.

Speaking generally, Jeremy Poxon, an officer at the Australian Unemployed Workers Union, said the union regularly hears from participants who are “harassed for their payslip information by providers who need to enter those details into the system to receive their outcome payments”.

“There is simply no reason why the government should give providers outcome payments for jobs that participants have found themselves prior to even meeting with them,” Poxon said.

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“Participants tell us that providers make it more difficult to keep their pre-existing employment due to the constant barrage of mutual obligation activities, threats and penalties.

“This is a significant failure from the Labor government to stand up for the rights of some of the most disadvantaged workers in the labour market.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations said there must be a significant “increase in the client’s earnings/hours, that occurs while being supported by the provider, in order for an Employment Outcome to be paid”.

“It is inappropriate for any Workforce Australia Services provider to harass, bully or threaten clients into handing over information about their employment,” the spokesperson said.

“The Australian Government is considering employment services settings as part of the recommendations of the Select Committee Inquiry into Workforce Australia Employment Services.”

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Jimmy Barnes to make stage return at Bluesfest in first performance since open heart surgery

Rock legend’s highly anticipated return will mark his first performance since November

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Rock legend Jimmy Barnes will make his highly anticipated return to the stage on Sunday at the latest edition of Bluesfest after recovering from open heart surgery.

The Scottish-born singer underwent the operation in December after a bacterial infection spread to his heart.

Barnes announced in February that he would be performing at the annual festival, marking his first performance since November.

“I can’t wait to get back on stage again, in front of the band, playing for you all,” he said in a video posted to X at the time.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun, I’ll see you there.”

Barnes will be joined at Bluesfest, which began on Thursday, by a roster of Australian and international artists that includes Tom Jones, Ben Harper, Elvis Costello and the Teskey Brothers.

The 67-year-old has been taking fans inside his rehabilitation journey after his surgery across his social media channels, even hinting this month at new music in a post to Instagram.

“Aside from working on my fitness and health, these holidays have given me time to create, I’ve written a couple of new songs,” he said.

Barnes’ first show back will showcase both electric and acoustic songs off his Flesh and Wood album, which was released more than 30 years ago.

The Bluesfest event, which is taking place outside Byron Bay, follows the shock cancellation of the annual Splendour in the Grass festival, due to be held near the northern New South Wales town in July.

It is one of a series of high-profile cancellations since 2022, with many festival organisers blaming rising costs and shrinking household budgets for the sector’s woes since the turbulence of the Covid pandemic.

Bluesfest director Peter Noble said ticket sales at his event were still as much as 30% down on pre-pandemic levels and it was important to have the right artists to pull in the crowds.

“We’re fortunate enough to find they’re already lining up to play next year,” he said.

Noble described Barnes as a “tour de force” and one of the hardest-working people in show business.

“We don’t want him to overdo it, but we can’t wait to see him play on Sunday afternoon,” he said.

An estimated 70,000 people attended the previous year’s Bluesfest, which has been running since 1990. The festival ends on Monday.

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ATO assured minister robotax scheme followed best practice – months later, it came to grief

Correspondence shows tax officials defended program, which aimed to claw back ‘on-hold’ debts, as being in line with watchdog advice

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The Australian Taxation Office assured the government that its widely criticised “robotax” scheme adhered to best practice principles months before it suspended a major component of the program and it was publicly reprimanded by the ombudsman.

Internal ATO documents released to Guardian Australia show the tax office responded to a query from the office of the assistant treasurer, Stephen Jones, about the scheme’s methods by arguing the agency had taken on previously issued advice designed to improve how it communicated with taxpayers.

The ATO emailed its response on 1 December, according to documents released under freedom of information laws, three days after publicly apologising for the “unnecessary distress” caused by its letter campaign designed to alert people to the historical debts.

Less than three months later, in February, the ATO suspended the most controversial part of the scheme which involved scraping refunds for decades-old debts.

The debts still stand, pending a review, and the issue could require federal government intervention.

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Taxpayers have frequently complained that communications from the ATO contained no detail about how the alleged debts were accrued and that many far exceeded the five-year period that most taxpayers are required to keep records, making the debts impossible to verify.

There is no statute of limitation on tax debts, but lifelong taxpayers interviewed by Guardian Australia have claimed the ATO pursuit broke an unwritten covenant over debt retrieval timeframes.

Dubbed robotax, the scheme is designed to raise more than $15bn and eventually capture up to 1.8m entities, largely consisting of individuals, with a focus on resurrecting old debts of which many taxpayers have no recollection.

The robotax debts are deemed to be “on hold”, which means they are extracted from tax refunds and credits.

After queries from Jones’s office, the ATO defended its processes using a technical argument that its now suspended letter campaign wasn’t required to tell people how the debts were accrued.

“The purpose of the awareness letter was to remind agents and clients about their debts on hold and let them know that existing debts on holds were going to be made visible in client accounts on ATO online,” a tax office representative said in response to a question from Jones’s office.

The ATO also assured Jones’s office that it adopted all recommendations made in a critical 2009 ombudsman’s report that laid out how the tax office should communicate with taxpayers when pursuing old debts.

“The 2009 ombudsman report made six recommendations regarding the ATO’s non-pursuit (debts on hold) process and the ATO implemented all six of the ombudsman’s recommendations,” the tax office representative told the government.

An ATO spokesperson declined to comment on the correspondence.

Robotax has captured a variety of people, including retirees, workers, welfare recipients and deceased estates. The amounts owed are as small as a few cents rising to many thousands of dollars.

This month, the tax ombudsman released details of the “traumatising experience” of a taxpayer who was denied relief from their robotax debt despite being in serious financial hardship and at risk of homelessness.

The issue was only resolved after intervention from the complaints management service.

The ombudsman – headed by the inspector general of taxation, Karen Payne – also rebuked the ATO for not implementing previous advice and recommendations on taxpayer rights, including those made in the 2009 report.

The ombudsman said issues linked to the ATO scheme could have been mitigated if the agency had regard for past lessons.

“Agencies should have regard to current and past observations and recommendations of oversight bodies,” the March ombudsman’s report said.

“Don’t just re-commit past failings. The community is entitled to expect agencies have a corporate memory.”

The ATO spokesperson said the agency agreed with the principles outlined by the ombudsman, which include: being accountable; explaining actions; providing information; being accessible; and learning and improving.

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ATO assured minister robotax scheme followed best practice – months later, it came to grief

Correspondence shows tax officials defended program, which aimed to claw back ‘on-hold’ debts, as being in line with watchdog advice

  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

The Australian Taxation Office assured the government that its widely criticised “robotax” scheme adhered to best practice principles months before it suspended a major component of the program and it was publicly reprimanded by the ombudsman.

Internal ATO documents released to Guardian Australia show the tax office responded to a query from the office of the assistant treasurer, Stephen Jones, about the scheme’s methods by arguing the agency had taken on previously issued advice designed to improve how it communicated with taxpayers.

The ATO emailed its response on 1 December, according to documents released under freedom of information laws, three days after publicly apologising for the “unnecessary distress” caused by its letter campaign designed to alert people to the historical debts.

Less than three months later, in February, the ATO suspended the most controversial part of the scheme which involved scraping refunds for decades-old debts.

The debts still stand, pending a review, and the issue could require federal government intervention.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

Taxpayers have frequently complained that communications from the ATO contained no detail about how the alleged debts were accrued and that many far exceeded the five-year period that most taxpayers are required to keep records, making the debts impossible to verify.

There is no statute of limitation on tax debts, but lifelong taxpayers interviewed by Guardian Australia have claimed the ATO pursuit broke an unwritten covenant over debt retrieval timeframes.

Dubbed robotax, the scheme is designed to raise more than $15bn and eventually capture up to 1.8m entities, largely consisting of individuals, with a focus on resurrecting old debts of which many taxpayers have no recollection.

The robotax debts are deemed to be “on hold”, which means they are extracted from tax refunds and credits.

After queries from Jones’s office, the ATO defended its processes using a technical argument that its now suspended letter campaign wasn’t required to tell people how the debts were accrued.

“The purpose of the awareness letter was to remind agents and clients about their debts on hold and let them know that existing debts on holds were going to be made visible in client accounts on ATO online,” a tax office representative said in response to a question from Jones’s office.

The ATO also assured Jones’s office that it adopted all recommendations made in a critical 2009 ombudsman’s report that laid out how the tax office should communicate with taxpayers when pursuing old debts.

“The 2009 ombudsman report made six recommendations regarding the ATO’s non-pursuit (debts on hold) process and the ATO implemented all six of the ombudsman’s recommendations,” the tax office representative told the government.

An ATO spokesperson declined to comment on the correspondence.

Robotax has captured a variety of people, including retirees, workers, welfare recipients and deceased estates. The amounts owed are as small as a few cents rising to many thousands of dollars.

This month, the tax ombudsman released details of the “traumatising experience” of a taxpayer who was denied relief from their robotax debt despite being in serious financial hardship and at risk of homelessness.

The issue was only resolved after intervention from the complaints management service.

The ombudsman – headed by the inspector general of taxation, Karen Payne – also rebuked the ATO for not implementing previous advice and recommendations on taxpayer rights, including those made in the 2009 report.

The ombudsman said issues linked to the ATO scheme could have been mitigated if the agency had regard for past lessons.

“Agencies should have regard to current and past observations and recommendations of oversight bodies,” the March ombudsman’s report said.

“Don’t just re-commit past failings. The community is entitled to expect agencies have a corporate memory.”

The ATO spokesperson said the agency agreed with the principles outlined by the ombudsman, which include: being accountable; explaining actions; providing information; being accessible; and learning and improving.

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How do Australian police taskforces get strange names like Tromperie?

In NSW, you can blame a computer which generates names at random, while in the Northern Territory ‘generic categories’ deliver operations named after rivers and battleships

New South Wales police last week arrested 15 people as part of Strike Force Wessex – an investigation into alleged organised criminal networks operating “dial-a-dealer” schemes.

But what does Wessex, an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in Great Britain, have to do with drug dealing and mobile phones across Sydney?

And what does an international investigation into an alleged Lebanese criminal syndicate have to do with tromperie?

Well, not a lot.

In NSW, names for police investigations, taskforces and strike forces are generated randomly using a computer system and then selected by investigating officers and the state crime command coordination unit.

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The system offers names from a pool of words and can be asked to regenerate them if the one selected is deemed inappropriate for any operation.

According to the force, operations are given names as a point of reference, to identify each investigation and link multiple related probes together.

Recent high-profile operations include Operation Shelter, the high-visibility policing operations launched in response to pro-Palestinian protests. Last year, Taskforce Magnus was established to investigate a spate of public shootings across Sydney.

NSW police try not to reuse names but sometimes they are recycled with the addition of a reference year – for example, Trident 2020 and Trident 2024.

This was an example provided by NSW police – but Strike Force Trident was also a real investigation (conducted alongside Trawler) which led to four men being charged with online grooming and child abuse material offences in 2023.

Other states and territories have different ways of naming operations. In the Northern Territory, names are obtained through Territory Intelligence – a branch of the NT Police – according to a spokesperson.

NT police revealed a list of possible operation names was created using “generic categories”.

These include rivers by continent, including African rivers such as the Nile and European rivers like the Danube, classes of ships including second world war battleships, and chemical elements that appear in the periodic table, including vanadium and tungsten.

Names are vetted before being added to the list “to ensure no adverse connotation may be made by using that name in any operation”.

“Once that filtering process is complete, those names are added to a list held within the NT police,” a spokesperson said.

“Members requesting operation names are then allocated a name from the list on a ‘next cab off the rank’ basis. Checks are also made that no operation name is duplicated.”

No ‘frivolous’ names

Geetanjali Saluja, a senior lecturer in marketing at the University of Technology Sydney, says naming operations is an important way to identify them – both internally and for the public.

“The most basic function is to identify the operation without giving any details,” she said.

Saluja said it was important for police forces to have the ability to override automatically generated names if they were not appropriate. “Say, for example, someone has lost their life. You do not want it to be named something frivolous,” she said.

In Victoria, taskforces and operations are named by investigators.

West Australian police operation names are randomly generated. “The relevant investigative unit has oversight of this name, and can change the operation name if required,” a spokesperson said.

South Australian operation names are chosen to fit the type of activity being undertaken.

An operation for traffic operations in the Adelaide Hills area was named Safe Hills and another aimed at preventing livestock theft was dubbed Operation Poach.

“Many operation names are continually used from year to year, such as Safe Holidays and Distraction, targeting mobile phone use,” a SA police spokesperson said.

If a complaint is made by an employee or member of the public, the force takes “immediate steps to rectify the issue”.

The Australian federal police and Australian Defence Force both use randomly generated naming systems – although requests for specific names can be made within the AFP.

“An application and approval process is undertaken to consider a number of factors prior to approval and allocation of a name,” a federal police spokesperson said.

“Operation names are generally not reused and they can be changed in the event that an unforeseen issue arises.”

The ADF uses a random naming method from a database of more than 100,000 words.

For public-facing tasks and activities – including humanitarian and disaster situations – operations are named “in accordance with the nature of the task”.

In Tasmania, operation names are selected at random, as they are in Queensland.

Earlier this year, 21 young people were arrested in Ipswich as part of Queensland police’s Taskforce Guardian aimed at dealing with youth crime.

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‘Death at any moment’: fights break out as Gazans compete over airdropped aid

Armed gangs take food and water from desperate locals, as critics say airdrops are dangerous and merely designed to divert public anger

Airdrops of humanitarian aid are leading to fatal fights in Gaza as the desperate and hungry battle to reach parachuted food and essentials, amid fears that little of the much-needed assistance is reaching those most threatened by a looming famine.

Eyewitness accounts, images and interviews with aid workers in Gaza suggest the high-profile airdrop operations are of limited help, and have contributed to growing anarchy there.

Yousef Abu Rabee, a strawberry farmer in northern Gaza before the conflict, said he had given up trying to reach aid drops to provide for his family after being shot at by unidentified armed men during a recent chaotic struggle around one parachuted pallet of assistance.

“Since then, I have stopped going as it is not worth all this risk, as a person is vulnerable to injury and death at any moment,” Rabee, 25, said.

A Red Crescent paramedic said that five people were shot dead yesterday and dozens more injured during aid distribution in northern Gaza. Twelve people drowned trying to get to aid dropped by plane off a Gaza beach last week. Others have reported deaths by stabbing, as well as in stampedes.

Earlier last month, five were killed near the coastal refugee camp known as al-Shati, one of the most devastated parts of Gaza, after a parachute failed to deploy properly and aid fell on a group of waiting men, teenagers and children.

On 25 March, the UK parachuted more than 10 tonnes of aid, including water, rice, cooking oil, flour, tinned goods and baby formula, along Gaza’s northern coastline, the Ministry of Defence in London said.

Critics say the airdrops by the UK, US, France, Spain, Jordan and other countries are “inefficient, dangerous and expensive” and primarily aimed at diverting public anger as international powers fail to convince Israel to allow more aid to reach Gaza.

Aid agencies said only about a fifth of required supplies are entering Gaza as Israel persists with an air and ground offensive, triggered by Hamas’s 7 October attack which killed 1,200, mostly civilians, and that deliveries by air or sea directly on to beaches are no substitute for increased supplies coming in by land via Israel or Egypt.

Last week the International Court of Justice said Israel must act immediately “to allow … urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance”.

Israel initially imposed a total blockade on Gaza after the Hamas attacks but then allowed a small amount of strictly controlled aid into the territory.

Aid convoys have to traverse up to 25 miles(40km) of smashed roads strewn with rubble to reach the north, where the threat of famine is greatest. Many convoys have been blocked or delayed by Israeli forces. Some have been looted by organised gangs or desperate individuals.

Israel said it puts no limit on the amount of aid entering Gaza and blames problems on UN agencies, which it said are inefficient.

Rabee said he had fled his home in the town of Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza, in the first days of Israel’s offensive, which has so far killed 33,000, mostly women and children. Earlier this month, he returned to Beit Lahia, which is now reduced to rubble.

“At one stage, aid began to arrive by airdrop, and people began to track and watch for this aid where it was landing near the beach. People were gathering in large numbers in unimaginable scenes … fighting to get a single item any way they could,” Rabee said.

When he managed to reach an aid parcel, he was surrounded by men with guns. “Many armed men gathered around me and started shooting to keep me and the others away from the aid, which forced me to leave it in the end and go away without getting anything,” Rabee told the Observer.

Jalal Muhammad Harb Warsh Agha, a 51-year-old livestock trader, now in Rafah, said the airdrops had “led to the outbreak of many troubles with fighting and crimes among the citizens there, through which I lost one of my relatives”.

Nariman Salman, 42, said that her eldest son had been stabbed to death in a fight over assistance airdropped to northern Gaza.

“We fled to Rafah but left my son in our home in the north. This was a terrible mistake. When he went with his cousin to find the airdropped assistance, there was a big fight and the two of them were attacked and someone stabbed him straight in the heart,” Salman said.

“These airdrops not only caused the death of my son, they also caused a lot of trouble and fighting amongst people as there isn’t enough and everyone wants to take what they need. So someone with a gun or a knife will get the aid for himself and leave most people helpless.”

Aid officials in Gaza are already seeing deaths caused by acute malnutrition among the most vulnerable – young children, the sick and the elderly. There are acute concerns for those left without protection, such as widows or orphans.

David Miliband, the former Labour foreign secretary and chief executive of the International Rescue Committee, said at the start of March that airdrops were a measure of desperation: “The simple truth is that we wouldn’t need airdrops if the crossings were properly open, there were more crossing points, the bureaucracy was reduced and above all that the humanitarian case for a ceasefire was recognised. This is where all diplomacy must be urgently focused”.

Juliette Touma, the communications director at the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), said reports of fatalities underlined that the best way to deliver aid to people in Gaza is by road and with the United Nations, including UNRWA, which Israel recently banned from travel to northern Gaza.

“This is the most efficient, fastest, cheapest and, most importantly, safest way to reach people with much-needed humanitarian assistance,” Touma said.

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Scientists link elusive human group to 150,000-year-old Chinese ‘dragon man’

Researchers have found fresh evidence that may connect the mysterious Denisovans to the early human species Homo longi

They remain one of the most elusive groups of humans to have walked on earth. Evidence from the DNA traces left by Denisovans shows they lived on the Tibetan plateau, ­probably ­travelled to the Philippines and Laos in south Asia and might have made their way to northern China more than 100,000 years ago. They also interbred with modern humans.

What Denisovans looked like or how they lived has remained a­ ­mystery, however. Only a jaw ­fragment, a few bits of bone and one or two teeth ­provide any evidence of their physical characteristics.

Their DNA, which was first found in samples from the Denisova cave in Siberia in 2010, provides most of our ­information about their existence.

But recently scientists have pinpointed a strong candidate for the species to which the Denisovans might have belonged. This is Homo longi – or “Dragon man” – from Harbin in north-east China. This key fossil is made up of an almost complete skull with a braincase as big as a modern human’s and a flat face with delicate cheekbones. Dating suggests it is at least 150,000 years old.

“We now believe that the Denisovans were members of the Homo longi species,” said Prof Xijun Ni of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, last week. “The latter is ­characterised by a broad nose, thick brow ridges over its eyes and large tooth sockets.”

The possible Denisovan-Homo longi link is one of several recent developments by researchers working on these humans with whom Homo sapiens shared the planet for hundreds of thousands of years. It is even thought they could have played a key role in our own evolution.

Scientists in Tibet have discovered a Denisovan gene in local people, the result of interbreeding between the two species in the distant past. Crucially, this gene has been shown to help modern men and women survive at high altitudes.

In addition, evidence to ­support the Denisovan-Homo longi link has also been traced to the Tibetan ­plateau, where scientists began studying a jawbone initially found in a remote cave 3,000 metres (10,000ft) above sea level by a Buddhist monk, who kept it as a relic.

The bone was found not to come from a modern human. But only when researchers began to study the cave where the jawbone had been originally discovered did they find its ­sediments were rich in Denisovan DNA. In addition, it was found the fossil itself contained proteins that indicated Denisovan origins.

“It was the first time a Denisovan fossil find had been made outside Sibera and that was very important,” said Janet Kelso of the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. “Equally intriguing was the fact that the jawbone has teeth that are similar to the teeth found in Homo longi. So I think the evidence suggests a link between the cranium and Denisovans”

This view was backed by Prof Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London. “The evidence supports the idea that Denisovans were members of Homo longi but we are still short of absolute proof. Nevertheless, that will come with time, I believe.”

A big problem for researchers has been the fact that no DNA has yet been found in Chinese fossils such as Homo longi, added Stringer. “Their genes have not survived the ­passing of time. However, using the ­techniques of proteomics may ­provide key new data. These focus on a fossil’s ­proteins, which survive for far longer than its DNA and could tell us much more about the species.”

Recent research also suggests these people might have played a key role in the evolution of our own species.

The impact of the Denisovan gene found in Tibetans today provides one example. But Denisovan DNA has also been found in other modern populations, including people in New Guinea, northern Australia and the Philippines, and appears to have helped them fight infections from diseases such as malaria.

Denisovans settled in areas that covered a very varied geography, said Stringer. “Some were hot and low-lying, others were cold and mountainous. They represented very diverse habitats, from the Tibetan plateau to islands like Sulawesi [in Indonesia].”

By contrast, the Neanderthals, the third large grouping of humans that evolved over the past few hundreds of thousands of years, confined themselves to the cooler climates of a region that stretched east from Europe to southern Siberia.

They did not expand from this relatively uniform environment. So is the rich variety of homelands adopted by the Denisovans a sign that they were capable of much more diverse and adaptive behaviour than Neanderthals, scientists are now asking?

Homo sapiens also appears to have interbred with Denisovans on more than one occasion. “Indeed, there is good evidence that some modern humans interbred with genetically distinct Denisovans on multiple occasions,” said Kelso. “This suggests that the two groups coexisted for an extended time, with some studies suggesting a last contact as recently as 25,000 years ago.”

Crucially, by this time, Neanderthals were already extinct.

Research being carried out by Ni and Stringer also suggests that of the three main bands of humans who evolved at this time, Homo sapiens and the Homo longi group were the last to diverge on different evolutionary pathways, possibly a million years ago, with the Neanderthals branching off even earlier.

However, DNA analyses have suggested more recent divergence dates, with Homo sapiens splitting off first, so this is a crucial question for future research, said Stringer.

“How often our paths crossed after that parting of the ways is also now a topic of intense scientific interest,” he added. “We have got so much to learn.”

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Chance Perdomo, star of Gen V and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, dead at 27

Television star was killed in a motorcycle accident that involved no other parties, representatives say

Chance Perdomo, the British American actor who starred on the television shows Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Gen V, has died in a motorcycle accident. He was 27.

Nobody else was involved in the accident, his representatives said in a statement. No details on the location or date of the accident were shared.

“His passion for the arts and insatiable appetite for life was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth will carry on in those who he loved dearest,” a statement from his reps said. “We ask to please respect the family’s wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their beloved son and brother.”

Perdomo’s most recent role was in Gen V, a spinoff of superhero parody-drama The Boys, and played one of the leads: Andre Anderson, a student who can use magnetic forces to manipulate the world around him.

The first season, which debuted during last year’s Hollywood strikes, was a hit with critics. Production on the second season, which was expected to begin principal photography in April, has been indefinitely delayed after Perdomo’s death.

“We can’t quite wrap our heads around this,” the Gen V producers wrote in a statement shared on X. “For those of us who knew him and worked with him, Chance was always charming and smiling, an enthusiastic force of nature, an incredibly talented performer, and more than anything else, just a very kind, lovely person. Even writing about him in the past tense doesn’t make sense. We are so sorry for Chance’s family, and we are grieving the loss of our friend and colleague. Hug your loved ones tonight.”

Amazon MGM Studios and Sony Pictures Television, which also produces Gen V, wrote, “The entire Gen V family is devastated by the sudden passing of Chance Perdomo. Amazon MGM Studios and Sony Pictures Television extend our heartfelt thoughts and support to Chance’s family and all who loved him at this difficult time.”

Perdomo also played Ambrose Spellman in all four seasons of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. In the show, based on the Archie comic that inspired the 90s sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Ambrose was the cousin Sabrina the witch, played by Kiernan Shipka, and often served as her guide and moral compass.

Perdomo was born in 1996 in Los Angeles, but was raised in Southampton, England. He moved to London and joined the National Youth Theatre.

He was nominated for a Bafta for best actor in a leading role in 2018 for his performance in the dramatisation Killed by My Debt, in which he played Jerome Rogers, a self-employed courier who killed himself aged 20 in 2016, after being overwhelmed by the cost of two traffic fines. The Guardian called Perdomo’s performance “beautiful [and] utterly believable” and said it “should be played, on a loop, in the offices of Camden council, which issued Jerome’s tickets”.

He also appeared in the After film series, Midsomer Murders and Hetty Feather.

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