The Guardian 2024-04-18 01:03:57


Student debt will rise by around $12bn under Labor’s term unless the federal government scraps indexation on loans in the upcoming budget, new projections prepared for the Greens show.

The Parliamentary Library modelling suggests nearly 3 million people owing student debt will be hit with an increase in excess of 4% when loans are next indexed in June, the second highest Hecs/Help rise in more than a decade.

It follows a rise of 7.1% last year, totalling 16% since Labor came into office.

Deputy Greens leader and spokesperson for education, senator Mehreen Faruqi, said talking about the cost of living crisis while ignoring the “heavy burden” of student debt wasn’t enough:

In the May budget, Labor must scrap indexation on student debt. Labor refused demands from the Greens to protect students from huge debt increases last year, but there is still time to stop the massive indexation hit coming again this June.

Even the ‘best case’ scenario will see student debts increase by a whopping 4.2% this year alone, adding a thousand dollars to average debt which already takes years to pay off. A worst case scenario would see a student debt increase of almost 5% in June, for an almost 17% debt increase in Labor’s first term of government.

Sydney church stabbing: 19-year-old charged with riot over Wakeley unrest

Teenager charged with riot, affray and damage to property and will appear at Blacktown local court on Thursday

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A 19-year-old man has been arrested and charged with riot, affray and damage to property in connection with the unrest in Wakeley after a bishop was stabbed on Monday night.

NSW police arrested the man after searching a home in Doonside in Sydney’s west at 5.40pm on Wednesday as investigations continue under Strike Force Dribs. He has been taken to Blacktown police station.

“A 19-year-old man was arrested and taken to Blacktown police station where he was charged with riot, affray and destroy/damage property during public disorder,” NSW police said in a statement on Wednesday night.

He was refused bail and will appear at Blacktown local court on Tursday, the statement added.

The arrest comes after Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was stabbed during a service at the Assyrian Christ the Good Shepherd church, triggering street protests and violence towards police and paramedics.

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Sydney is reeling from two high-profile stabbing attacks – why was only one deemed a terror incident?

Incidents at a Bondi Junction mall and at a Wakeley church have seen very different responses from police

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Two high-profile knife attacks in three days have left many in Sydney and across the country in a state of shock and alarm. The two separate incidents, at a shopping centre in Bondi Junction and a church in Wakeley, have seen different responses from police and politicians.

So why are police treating the Wakeley incident as a terror attack, while the Bondi Junction attack – which killed six people – was quickly ruled out as such?

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Labor’s deportation bill could affect 375 children born in Australia, advocates warn

Greens senator David Shoebridge says hundreds face ‘real threat’ of being separated from parents or sent overseas to ‘unknown future’

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Asylum seeker advocates have warned that 375 Australian-born children could face orders to cooperate with their removal from the country under Labor’s deportation bill – because they’ve had protection claims denied under the controversial fast-track method.

The home affairs department has revealed that as at 31 December 375 people born in Australia who are fast-track applicants have been refused temporary protection or a safe haven enterprise visa.

The fast-track process was established by the Abbott government in 2014 and has been criticised, including by Labor, for refusing to allow applicants to submit new material during a review except in exceptional circumstances.

The data on children born in Australia was released in answer to a question on notice from February’s Senate estimates. The government insists that not all 375 can be given directions to cooperate with removal because the number includes some with legal challenges afoot and individuals from countries that don’t accept involuntary deportees.

It comes after officials revealed at a Senate inquiry on Monday that up to 5,000 non-citizens could receive orders to cooperate with their removal from the country, a figure much higher than initially estimated.

The Albanese government’s deportation bill creates an offence with a mandatory minimum jail sentence of one year for an unlawful non-citizen refusing to cooperate with their deportation and gives the immigration minister powers to blacklist new visa applications from countries that refuse involuntary deportations.

On Wednesday parliament’s human rights committee, chaired by the Labor MP Josh Burns, criticised the bill’s mandatory minimum sentences as “incompatible with the rights to liberty and to a fair trial”.

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Advocates are concerned that people whose claims to protection were rejected under the Immigration Assessment Authority’s “unfair” fast-track refugee determination system could be deported.

That’s despite Labor’s 2021 platform calling for the abolition of the “fast track assessment process”, and the Albanese government introducing legislation in late 2023 to do so from July 2024.

In February the Greens senator Nick McKim asked the department: “How many of the legacy caseload refused temporary protection under the [fast-track] system have children born in Australia?”

The answers to questions on notice reveal that “as at 31 December 2023, 375 people born in Australia who are fast track applicants have been refused a temporary protection or safe haven enterprise visa”.

There are a further 80 fast track applicants in immigration detention who were refused protection visas as of February.

David Shoebridge, the Greens immigration spokesperson, said: “The Albanese government acknowledges that the fast track system has unfairly rejected thousands of asylum claims, and is moving to abolish it, while ramming through laws that add to that unfairness by jailing its victims.

“Under these cruel plans nearly 400 children are now faced with the real threat that they will be separated from their parents, or sent overseas to face a hostile and unknown future.”

Shoebridge noted that the minister “doesn’t need to have any regard to the best interests of children when issuing a direction to their parents”, which he labelled a “breach of international law, and also basic dignity”.

A government spokesperson said: “If individuals do not engage protection obligations, are not awaiting a merits or judicial review outcome, and have exhausted all avenues to remain in Australia, they are expected to depart Australia voluntarily.

“If individuals have changed country or personal circumstances they may apply for ministerial intervention.”

Sanmati Verma, the legal director at the Human Rights Law Centre, said: “There is nothing in the bill that would prevent a ‘removal direction’ being made in respect of a child born in Australia.

“Removal directions could easily be issued requiring the parent of an Australian citizen child to consent to [their own] removal, even if it would result in their child being taken into state care.

“We are working with a number of families who have been failed by the fast-track process, and whose Australian-born children are now citizens.

“This bill is a direct attack on these families – it would allow parent to be jailed if they refused to be separated from their children.”

The former immigration department deputy secretary Abul Rizvi told the Senate inquiry on Monday that the fast-track cohort who could be subject to directions “may be upwards of 7,500 people”.

“Given the legitimate criticisms of the fast-track process – and the fact those people have now been living and contributing to Australian society for over a decade – this parliament should find a way to provide those persons with a pathway to permanent residence,” he said.

The home affairs department secretary, Stephanie Foster, told the inquiry that directions punishable by a year in prison are a “measure of last resort” and the best interests of children are protected by existing policies.

Foster said the department acknowledged the concerns of those who gave evidence particularly in relation to family unity, but she warned that “most” had roles in advocacy.

“We remain strongly of the view the bill is an important measure to take to protect the integrity [of the migration system],” she said.

Foster noted the bill did not expand the cohort of people who were required to be removed from Australia.

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Bondi Junction stabbing: Pakistani security guard injured in Westfield attack may be offered residency

Anthony Albanese says people such as security guard Muhammad Taha, who showed ‘extraordinary courage’ during the attack, should be thanked

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A Pakistani security guard stabbed in the Bondi Junction attack may be offered permanent residency or citizenship, after Australia made a similar offer to a French citizen, Anthony Albanese said.

On Thursday the prime minister said all those who showed bravery during the Westfield Bondi Junction attack on Saturday were a “light in amongst the darkness” and deserved Australia’s gratitude.

The government “certainly will” consider extending a residency offer to Muhammad Taha, he said.

Albanese confirmed Damien Guerot, dubbed “Bollard Man” for his efforts confronting alleged attacker Joel Cauchi with a bollard at the Bondi Junction shopping mall, will be given permanent residency in Australia.

On Thursday The Australian reported that Taha, who was seriously injured in the Bondi Junction attack, had asked why he had not been offered the same since he and colleague Faraz Tahir, who was killed, had also confronted Cauchi.

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“As a direct victim of the incident, I believe I deserve recognition and consideration for citizenship,” Taha reportedly said.

“As well [as] the guards working alongside [who] came running towards the point of incident and risking their lives … [they] should be ­offered citizenship as well.”

Albanese was asked on Thursday if the government would consider offering residency or citizenship to Taha on the same basis as Guerot, in recognition of his bravery in responding to the alleged stabbings.

“Yes, we certainly will,” Albanese told Adelaide’s FiveAA Radio.

“Damien Guerot, the French citizen who was praised overnight by my friend president [Emmanuel] Macron who was out there very proud of him … what he [Guerot] was after, he was here on a temporary visa, he was after a permanent visa, not to change his citizenship, but a permanent visa will be granted to him today.

“And certainly, the circumstances where people are there working as security guards, the tragedy of Faraz Tahir who lost his life, this other person Muhammad Taha, he confronted this guy, the [alleged] perpetrator Joel Cauchi, on Saturday [will be considered].”

“It just shows extraordinary courage, these are people who were … not thinking of themselves … putting themselves in danger protecting Australians they didn’t know, just people going about their shopping.

“And that’s the sort of courage that we want to say thank you to, frankly. Those extraordinary stories of bravery in amongst the carnage and tragedy that we saw on Saturday.

“It’s a bit of light in amongst the darkness that you saw these extraordinary acts.”

Earlier, the deputy prime minister, Richard Marles, said that “certainly the actions of Mr Taha were enormously brave, there’s no doubt about that”.

“I’m not aware of the particular applications that Mr Taha has … but I’ve got no doubt that his circumstances will be worked through,” he told Radio National.

“The notion that the sort of bravery that Mr Taha exhibited is what we want to see in this country is, of course, right.”

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Bondi Junction stabbing: French man who confronted attacker with bollard to receive permanent residency

Damien Guerot praised for ‘extraordinary bravery’ after CCTV footage showed him confronting Joel Cauchi

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The Australian government will grant permanent residency to a French citizen who confronted the Bondi Junction attacker with a bollard, but not citizenship, because it cannot waive residency requirements.

The clarification comes after the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, offered him the ability to stay in Australia as long as he liked and said he was someone the country would “welcome becoming an Australian citizen”.

The French construction worker Damien Guerot was dubbed “bollard man” after CCTV footage showed him confronting Joel Cauchi on an escalator in Westfield Bondi Junction, where Cauchi allegedly fatally stabbed six people on Saturday before he was shot dead by police.

On Tuesday Albanese thanked Guerot for his “extraordinary bravery” and offered to resolve visa issues for the French citizen after reports his visa is due to expire in July.

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“I say this to Damien Guerot – who is dealing with his visa applications – that you are welcome here, you are welcome to stay for as long as you like,” Albanese told reporters in Canberra.

“This is someone who we would welcome becoming an Australian citizen, although that would of course be a loss for France.

“It says a lot about the nature of humanity at a time when we are facing difficult issues, that someone who is not a citizen of this country stood bravely at the top of those escalators and stopped this perpetrator from getting on to another floor and potentially inflicting further carnage on citizens.

“I think that on Saturday we saw some of the best of human character at the same time as we saw such devastating tragedy. And I thank Damien for his extraordinary efforts.”

The promise of permanent residency was “amazing news”, Guerot told his lawyer, Belinda Robertson, after being contacted by the immigration department. He was told he would be informed on when permanent residency can be officially granted “as soon as possible”.

“It is truly heartwarming for something positive to come out of all the pain and tragedy,” Robinson told Guardian Australia.

The immigration minister, Andrew Giles, said: “Mr Guerot’s extraordinary bravery is an example of the character we all want to see in our society.

“I am aware of Mr Guerot’s case and have asked my Department to look into visa options for him. Once again, we thank Mr Guerot as well as other members of the public, our heroic police officers and first responders who have helped protect others from danger.”

Earlier Albanese told WSFM radio that Australia needs “to do more” to protect women in the wake of the Bondi Junction attack, after New South Wales police confirmed they are investigating whether Cauchi deliberately targeted women and children.

“Women should be safe going about their shopping on a Saturday afternoon,” Albanese said. “They also should, of course, be safe in their home.”

“And we’ve seen too many incidents of domestic violence as well already this year. It is a tragic statistic that tells a story well beyond just numbers. That a woman loses their life to someone that they know on average once a week in Australia.

“We need to do more on the scourge of domestic violence.”

On ABC Melbourne, Albanese declined to get into a “definitional debate” about whether violence motivated by misogyny could constitute terrorism.

Albanese said the Bondi Junction attack was “completely unacceptable” and “horrific” but said there was an “ongoing investigation as to motivation”.

It was “absolutely” up to every Australian – including men – to deal with violence against women,” he said.

“Women shouldn’t feel like they have to change their behaviour [or that] they shouldn’t be able to walk home from the train station or bus stop at night.

“Men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of this violence and men as a group have to change their behaviour.”

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Palestinian boy who survived airstrike dies during food aid drop

Zein Oroq’s death turns focus once again on human cost of six months of violence, food shortages and malnutrition in Gaza

When an Israeli airstrike destroyed his family’s home in November, Zein Oroq was pinned under rubble. He was wounded but survived, while 17 members of his extended family died.

But Zein, 13, would later suffer a cruel fate in Gaza, where more than 2 million people have endured more than six months of food shortages and malnutrition.

US officials have said that that famine is already beginning to take hold in parts of the besieged coastal strip, where Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas have been fighting for more than six months.

Last week, during an airdrop of aid, Zein was struck by one of the packages as he rushed to try to get a can of fava beans, some rice or flour.

“The first time, when the house was hit by a strike, he came out from under the rubble with wounds in his head, hand and leg. God saved him,” said Zein’s grandfather, Ali Oroq.

The grandfather, standing by a large pool of wastewater, recalled how Zein would swim in a pond to get a meal from the air drops, and how he should have been at school instead.

But with mediators failing to secure a truce and Israel and Hamas braced for further war in Gaza, which has been rendered a wasteland by the fighting, his luck eventually ran out.

“While parachutes were falling, an aid box hit his head. Also, the stampede of people who were heading towards the box did not pay attention to the boy – they were also hungry,” said his father Mahmoud.

“So, his head was cut and wounded, he got fractures in the pelvis, skull and abdomen, and with the flow of people, the pressure increased on him.”

Zein was taken to hospital, where he died on Sunday.

On 5 March, five people were killed and 10 injured when the parachute on a pallet of aid failed to open and it dropped to the ground, striking a group of people. On March 26, at least 12 people drowned while trying to reach an aid package that had landed in the sea off Gaza beach.

The war in Gaza began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on 7 October, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel responded with a fierce offensive that has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health authorities, and turned much of the densely populated strip, home to 2.3 million people, into rubble, twisted steel and dust.

“My son is so precious. He was my support, my entire life, my first joy in this world, my biggest child. May he rest in peace,” said Mahmoud.

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Israel reportedly deploys extra weapons for assumed Rafah offensive

IDF confirms buying thousands of tents for evacuation, raising fears over long-threatened attack

Israel has reportedly deployed extra artillery and armoured personnel carriers to the Gaza Strip periphery, suggesting that the military is preparing for its long-threatened ground offensive on Rafah, the only place of relative safety for at least 1.4 million displaced Palestinian civilians.

Israeli daily Ma’ariv also said on Wednesday that troops had been put on alert and “the governing principle of the operation” had been approved by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) general staff and Yoav Gallant, the defence minister. The IDF declined to comment on the reports.

The IDF confirmed on Tuesday it was buying 40,000 tents to prepare for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians who have sought shelter in Rafah, the southernmost town in the Gaza Strip, which is only major urban area in the territory that Israeli ground forces have not yet entered.

The new operation in the six-month war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas will reportedly focus first on securing northern and central Gaza, particularly the string of refugee camps around the town of Deir al-Balah, Ma’ariv said.

It comes 10 days after Israel withdrew the bulk of its ground forces from the strip, leaving one division to man the Netzarim Corridor, the Israeli-built buffer that now divides the coastal territory.

But Palestinians on the ground said there had been a renewed presence of Israeli ground troops in northern Gaza this week, including in Beit Hanoun, where tanks surrounded school buildings where displaced people were sheltering.

Overnight, Israeli airstrikes hit Rafah and several other urban areas. Wafa, the Palestinian news agency, said six people were killed in the bombing of a market in Gaza City. The IDF said it had hit more than 40 targets, including a cell operating an armed drone and rocket launcher sites.

Israel has said for weeks it is going to launch a ground operation into the last corner of Gaza that has not seen fierce ground fighting, despite intense opposition from its closest allies, including the US. Israel says that Hamas’s leadership, and Israeli hostages, are also in Rafah, along with four battalions of fighters.

As of Tuesday, the US state department said it had still not been briefed in detail on Israel’s “plans for evacuation or humanitarian considerations’’ of the potential operation. Any major ground operation in Rafah will almost certainly need to be coordinated with Washington and Cairo, given the town’s sensitive position on the Egyptian border.

The reported preparations for an offensive come against a backdrop of stalling internationally mediated ceasefire talks, as well as heightened tensions between Israel and Iran following Tehran’s first ever direct attack on the Jewish state, which took the form of a salvo of more than 300 missiles and drones fired in Israel’s direction over the weekend.

Israel’s war cabinet is now focused on weighing up how to respond to Iran, but the government has also repeatedly insisted the Rafah operation will go ahead.

On Wednesday, Qatar’s prime minister and foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said negotiations aimed at a ceasefire and release of Israeli hostages had once again hit a “stumbling block”.

Israel and Hamas have been unable to agree on the conditions and length of a ceasefire and the identities and numbers of Israeli hostages to be released in exchange for freeing Palestinians held in Israel jails. A ceasefire held at the end of November collapsed after a week.

Since then, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has become steadily worse: Israel has destroyed almost all the strip’s healthcare facilities and famine is now present in some areas.

International pressure on Israel to increase the flow of aid to Gaza in the wake of the 1 April killing of a team of international aid workers has “increased and quite dramatically” in the last few days, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said on Monday. A single bakery in Gaza City was able to open for the first time in months earlier this week, drawing crowds who waited for hours.

Since aid, to an extent, is leverage that Israel no longer holds in the hostage-release talks, an operation in Rafah may be a way to increase pressure on Hamas at the negotiating table, said Amos Harel, a military and defence analyst and writer for Israeli daily Haaretz.

“Biden has been telling Bibi that he can’t invade Rafah, so it may be that we see a smaller incursion over a limited time period in which Israel hits the Hamas battalions hard and then withdraws,” he said, using a well-known moniker for the Israel prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

At least 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s latest war against Hamas, triggered by the Palestinian militant group’s 7 October attack in which 1,200 Israelis were killed and about 250 taken hostage.

Israel has been strongly criticised by Palestinians and the rest of the world for launching an unprecedented war in Gaza without any plan for the “day after” the conflict.

On Wednesday, Israeli media reported that the US was holding talks with Arab states aimed at creating a “multinational transitional authority” that would be responsible for governing and rebuilding the strip for the next five years as part of steps towards international recognition of a Palestinian state.

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Israel ‘making decision to act’ after Iran attack, says Cameron on Jerusalem visit

UK foreign secretary is probably first non-Israeli politician to admit military reprisal is inevitable but urges Israel not to escalate

David Cameron has said it is clear Israel is “making a decision to act” in response to last weekend’s Iranian mass drone and ballistic missile attack, as Benjamin Netanyahu brushed off calls for restraint and said his country would make its own decisions about how to defend itself.

Lord Cameron, the UK foreign secretary, speaking on a visit to Jerusalem, said he hoped the Israeli response would be carried out in a way that minimised escalation.

“It’s right to have made our views clear about what should happen next, but it’s clear the Israelis are making a decision to act,” he said after meeting the Israeli president, Isaac Herzog. “We hope they do so in a way that does as little to escalate this as possible,” he added, becoming the first non-Israeli politician to openly admit that some kind of military reprisal is inevitable.

Cameron later met Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, who made it clear Israel would reach its own decisions on its security.

Speaking at the beginning of his cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Netanyahu said: “I thank our friends for their support for the defence of Israel … They also have all kinds of suggestions and advice, I appreciate it, but I want to make it clear: we will make our own decisions, and the state of Israel will do everything necessary to protect itself.”

Cameron met Netanyahu and Herzog alongside the German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock. She was on her eighth visit to Israel since the Hamas attack on 7 October, in which 1,200 people were killed and 253 taken hostage, which prompted the Israeli offensive in Gaza that has so far killed an estimated 34,000 Palestinians.

Britain, in conjunction with the US and its European allies, has been pressing Israel not to mount a full-scale reprisal for Iran’s attack. Cameron has urged Israel to be governed by its head as well as its heart and to regard the destruction of most of the Iranian missiles and drones directed at Israel over the weekend as a win.

He argued it was more important to focus on freeing the remaining hostages from Hamas, getting aid supplies to the Gaza Strip and achieving a ceasefire in the conflict. He said he wanted to press for this in talks with the Palestinian Authority. Rishi Sunak delivered a similar message by phone to Netanyahu on Tuesday.

A No 10 spokesperson denied that Cameron’s admission that Netanyahu would take some form of action represented a snub for those lobbying the Israeli leader to show restraint – including Sunak.

Asked whether the government was disappointed that Israel seemed intent on a military response, the spokesperson said: “We’ve always said that Israel has got a right to defend itself. But clearly, we want to see all sides exercise restraint. So obviously it’s a decision for Israel but if Israel decided to act and respond, we urge them to do so in a way that avoids a significant escalation.”

In a statement issued by Herzog’s office after the meeting with the two foreign ministers, Herzog said the leadership in Tehran was endangering stability in the entire region with its actions. “The entire world must act decisively and defiantly against the threat by the Iranian regime,” the statement said.

Cameron is also due to hold talks with Mohammad Mustafa, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.

One of the side-effects of the Iranian assault has been to reduce some of the pressure on Israel to do more to improve humanitarian aid flows into Gaza. The UK remains deeply concerned that if the media and diplomatic pressure is eased, Israel may not fulfil the pledges it made a fortnight ago to Joe Biden to allow more aid in through more crossings.

Iran has daily threatened a severe and major escalation if Israel does launch an attack, insisting it will provide no advance warning, as it did over the weekend. But officials admit Iran’s response will be calibrated according to Israel’s own attack, with one factor being whether it is directed on Iranian soil or instead seeks to attack Iranian assets in Syria and elsewhere.

At the annual military parade in Tehran, the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, told Israel that even the “smallest invasion” would lead to a “massive and harsh” reaction. Iran’s attack last weekend had only limited targets, Raisi said, adding that a larger attack could hit Israel much harder.

The latest round of tit-for-tat violence broke out on 1 April when Israel killed seven Iranian commanders, including two Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) generals, in Iran’s consulate in Damascus. Some Israeli sources have said the target was legitimate since the Iranians were using the building to mount attacks on Israel, thus losing the diplomatic immunity provided by the Vienna convention.

The US state department said on Tuesday it was still carrying out an investigation into whether the consulate was a diplomatic building or not. The US said it was relying on intelligence capabilities and allies on the ground to ascertain the true purpose of the building.

Cameron said he wanted to see coordinated sanctions against Iran, and that would be the key purpose of a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting starting formally on Thursday in Capri, Italy. He argued Iran must be “given a clear, unequivocal message” over its support for Hamas, its Lebanon-based ally Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi rebels. “I hope that will happen at the meeting,” he said.

Iran is already under probably the heaviest sanctions in the world. The most effective way to further punish it would be to hit the Chinese banks and energy firms involved in importing Iranian oil, the single largest revenue earner for Tehran, but the Biden administration is reluctant to become embroiled in a sanctions war with China and does not want to see petrol prices rise in the midst of a presidential election.

Britain is also pressing Israel to realise that the nascent anti-Iranian sentiment in the Gulf states provides an opportunity for Israel to forge stronger links with Arab nations, so isolating Iran.

Tensions between Jordan and Iran have emerged over Jordan’s decision to knock out Iranian drones heading for Israel. It has also been reported that Egypt was still negotiating with Iran three hours before the attack was launched, saying it was seeking understandings from Israel over a ceasefire and an Israeli commitment not to attack Rafah.

Iranian diplomats insisted they wanted a UN security council statement condemning the Israeli attack on Iran’s consulate, but Washington rejected the proposal.

It was also reported in the Iranian media that it was the IRGC, not the Iranian foreign ministry, that summoned the conduit for Iranian-US relations, the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, at 3am on Sunday to convey the message that Tehran was prepared to go further if the US intervened.

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‘It just spiralled’: Meg Lanning opens up on struggles that led to cricket retirement

  • ‘Unhealthy relationship’ with exercise and food behind decision
  • Ex-Australia captain admits she was in denial about needing help

Former Australia cricket captain Meg Lanning struggled with “an unhealthy relationship” with exercise and food leading up to her shock retirement. A self-described private person, Lanning has finally decided to share why she ended her international career last November at the age of 31.

The Victorian took an extended break from cricket in 2022, returned to lead Australia to a Twenty20 World Cup title in February 2023, but suddenly pulled out of last year’s Ashes for undisclosed medical reasons.

Lanning has revealed she was grappling with an identity crisis outside of cricket that not even her teammates and closest friends knew about. She was often only eating two “not significant” meals a day despite running up to 90km a week.

Lanning did not label her relatively insignificant food intake as an eating disorder – but admitted she was in denial about needing help.

“It sort of just spiralled,” Lanning told The Howie Games podcast. “I was not in a place to be able to go on tour and play cricket and give the commitment levels required for that Ashes series, mentally and physically.

“I got down to about 57kgs from 64kgs. The ratios were out of whack a lot. It was just all out of whack and I kept sliding. At some point, it’s got to stop. I felt very out of control in terms of what my future looked like: ‘If it’s not cricket, what does life look like if I am not playing?’.”

At her lowest, Lanning only slept for a “couple of hours” every night.

“I dreaded night time because I knew I would go to bed and not be able to sleep,” she said. “That would make me so mad. I would just get more angry with myself. If you can’t sleep, you can’t do anything.’’

Privately dealing with health challenges, Lanning was still able to perform on the field, but could no longer commit to being captain of Australia and touring regularly.

“No matter what was happening, I was always able to perform,” she said. “[But] it had become a bit of auto pilot.”

The star batter has continued playing in the Women’s Big Bash League, the National Cricket League and the lucrative Women’s Premier League in India, but has decided against representing Australia again.

She led the nation to a record five T20 World Cup crowns after becoming the Australia’s youngest skipper in 2014, at the age of 21. A three-time Belinda Clark Medal winner, Lanning scored 8352 runs from 241 international matches after debuting in T20s in 2010.

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‘It just spiralled’: Meg Lanning opens up on struggles that led to cricket retirement

  • ‘Unhealthy relationship’ with exercise and food behind decision
  • Ex-Australia captain admits she was in denial about needing help

Former Australia cricket captain Meg Lanning struggled with “an unhealthy relationship” with exercise and food leading up to her shock retirement. A self-described private person, Lanning has finally decided to share why she ended her international career last November at the age of 31.

The Victorian took an extended break from cricket in 2022, returned to lead Australia to a Twenty20 World Cup title in February 2023, but suddenly pulled out of last year’s Ashes for undisclosed medical reasons.

Lanning has revealed she was grappling with an identity crisis outside of cricket that not even her teammates and closest friends knew about. She was often only eating two “not significant” meals a day despite running up to 90km a week.

Lanning did not label her relatively insignificant food intake as an eating disorder – but admitted she was in denial about needing help.

“It sort of just spiralled,” Lanning told The Howie Games podcast. “I was not in a place to be able to go on tour and play cricket and give the commitment levels required for that Ashes series, mentally and physically.

“I got down to about 57kgs from 64kgs. The ratios were out of whack a lot. It was just all out of whack and I kept sliding. At some point, it’s got to stop. I felt very out of control in terms of what my future looked like: ‘If it’s not cricket, what does life look like if I am not playing?’.”

At her lowest, Lanning only slept for a “couple of hours” every night.

“I dreaded night time because I knew I would go to bed and not be able to sleep,” she said. “That would make me so mad. I would just get more angry with myself. If you can’t sleep, you can’t do anything.’’

Privately dealing with health challenges, Lanning was still able to perform on the field, but could no longer commit to being captain of Australia and touring regularly.

“No matter what was happening, I was always able to perform,” she said. “[But] it had become a bit of auto pilot.”

The star batter has continued playing in the Women’s Big Bash League, the National Cricket League and the lucrative Women’s Premier League in India, but has decided against representing Australia again.

She led the nation to a record five T20 World Cup crowns after becoming the Australia’s youngest skipper in 2014, at the age of 21. A three-time Belinda Clark Medal winner, Lanning scored 8352 runs from 241 international matches after debuting in T20s in 2010.

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China sounds warning after Philippines and US announce most expansive military drills yet

Exercises starting on Monday will be the first to be held outside Philippines’ territorial waters, and come amid a rise in tensions in the South China Sea

Philippine and US forces will carry out their first ever military exercises outside the south-east Asian country’s territorial waters, in a move China has said will only lead to greater insecurity in the South China Sea.

The annual Balikatan or “shoulder-to-shoulder” drills – which will run from 22 April to 10 May – will involve 16,700 soldiers simulating retaking enemy-occupied islands in areas facing Taiwan and the South China Sea.

It will be the first time the maritime exercises are carried out beyond Philippine territorial waters, according to Michael Logico, a Philippine army colonel overseeing the exercises.

In response to the planned drills, China’s foreign ministry warned that the Philippines should be “sober enough to realise” that bringing in external countries to show off their force in the South China Sea and provoke confrontation will only aggravate tensions and undermine regional stability.

“Attempts to bring in external forces to safeguard its so-called security will only lead to greater insecurity for itself,” ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said at a scheduled news conference, urging both countries to stop provocation.

Logico said US troops and their Philippine counterparts will simulate retaking islands occupied by hostile forces in the northernmost islands of the country, close to Taiwan and in the western Palawan province facing the South China Sea.

A small French contingent will join this year’s drills for the first time since the annual exercise began in 1991, deploying a frigate that will sail jointly with Philippines and US naval vessels in Manila’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

About 14 nations will join as observers, including Japan, India and countries in Asean and the European Union, Logico said.

Aimed at improving communication and coordination between the US and Philippine militaries, the drills come against the backdrop of recent aggressive behaviour from Beijing in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, flashpoints for Chinese and US tensions.

The so-called “gray-zone” harassment by China has included shining military-grade lasers at the Philippine Coast Guard, firing water cannon at vessels and ramming into Philippine ships running resupply missions near the Second Thomas Shoal, which both Manila and Beijing claim.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea despite a 2016 ruling by an international tribunal that found Beijing’s sweeping claims had no legal basis.

Last week, Joe Biden pledged to defend the Philippines from any attack in the South China Sea, as he hosted the first joint summit with Manila and Tokyo amid growing tensions with Beijing.

On Thursday, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi kicked off a tour of south-east Asia that will see him visit Indonesia, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea.

Indonesia’s president-elect Prabowo Subianto visited China at the beginning of April, where President Xi Jinping praised their ties and laid out a vision for regional peace. China is one of the biggest sources of foreign direct investment in Indonesia and has poured billions of dollars into projects in the country.

Wang will finish the tour in Papua New Guinea, where in recent years Beijing has tried to chip away at US and Australian influence.

Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

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Australia rises to second in world budget management rankings, IMF data shows

Treasurer and finance minister hail ‘remarkable achievement’ as monitor finds balance to be behind only Canada among G20 countries

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Australia’s overall budget balance is the second strongest among G20 nations, behind only Canada, according to the International Monetary Fund’s latest fiscal monitor.

The IMF’s half-yearly update, released on Wednesday night, found Australia’s overall budget balance came in at -0.9% of gross domestic product in 2023, with only Canada’s budget position (-0.6%) faring better.

Australia has shot up the rankings in the latest data, having placed equal 14th in 2021 and seventh in 2022, when it fared worse than countries such as Korea, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, and the finance minister, Katy Gallagher, hailed what they described as a “remarkable achievement” in Australia’s budget management since they took office. The balance includes the budgets of the states and the commonwealth.

“Our responsible management is ensuring that fiscal policy is taking the pressure off inflation when it is at its highest,” the ministers said.

“The Albanese government delivered Australia’s first surplus in 15 years in 2022-23, achieving a $100bn turnaround in the forecast inherited from the former government. A second surplus in next month’s budget remains within reach.”

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Use of Australia’s overall budget balance is just one gauge of economic management, and the IMF does not produce a formal ranking of performance. By net debt, Australia’s tally amounted to 28.3% of GDP in 2023, placing it fourth among the G20 nations that the IMF was able to track.

Still, Australia’s economy has fared better than most counterparts coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic, even if it might not have scaled the heights of 2011, when Euromoney magazine dubbed Wayne Swan – Chalmers’ boss at the time – as the best treasurer in the world.

Australia’s silver placing among G20 nations may not last long.

On the IMF’s projections, the country will slip to fourth in 2024 for its general government balance – at -1.3% of GDP – even if the commonwealth notches back-to-back budget surpluses of its own. Canada, Korea and even crisis-hit Argentina should deliver better balances this year.

The IMF said while the global economy was stabilising, many nations would “continue to struggle with the legacies of high debt and deficits while facing new challenges”.

It encouraged more “fiscal tightening” to support the “last mile” of disinflation.

“Slowing growth and financial turbulence in China could weigh on global growth and trade, posing fiscal challenges for countries with strong trade and investment linkages,” the IMF said, without naming nations.

Chalmers said on Wednesday that China, which is easily Australia’s largest market, “has been a big feature of our discussions as we put the budget together”.

“The property sector in China has been a really significant factor in the slowing of the Chinese economy,” Chalmers told ABC’s RN Breakfast. “And obviously given the structure of our economy and our trading relationships with China, we’re not immune from the way that the Chinese economy has slowed considerably.”

The IMF also noted 2024 was shaping up as the “Great Election Year”, with 88 economies or economic areas, representing more than half of the world’s population and GDP, holding elections.

“Support for increased government spending has grown across the political spectrum over the past several decades, making this year especially challenging, as empirical evidence shows that fiscal policy tends to be looser, and slippages larger, during election years,” the IMF said.

Most commentators expect the Albanese government to hold off elections until 2025 when its term expires.

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Far-right US Senate candidate tells crowd to ‘strap on a Glock’ before elections

Kari Lake of Arizona warned supporters of ‘intense’ election year in which Democrats will come after them ‘with everything’

Republican US Senate candidate Kari Lake has told supporters to “strap on a Glock” ahead of the 2024 elections as she struggles to gain ground against her Democratic rival in Arizona.

In a campaign speech made to a crowd in Arizona’s Mohave county on Sunday, Lake echoed Trump-like terms in calling Washington DC a “swamp” – and used a reference to carrying guns when she told people to prepare for an “intense” election year.

Lake hopes to represent Arizona in the seat to be vacated by Democrat turned independent Kyrsten Sinema.

Lake told the crowd: “We need to send people to Washington DC that the swamp does not want there. And I can think of a couple people they don’t want there. First on that list is Donald J Trump; second is Kari Lake.

“He’s willing to sacrifice everything I am. That’s why they’re coming after us with ‘lawfare’,” Lake said, referencing the ex-president’s many legal troubles as he stands trial in New York.

“They’re going to come after us with everything. That’s why the next six months is going to be intense. And we need to strap on our … ”

Lake briefly paused before deciding on the item her supporters should strap on. After suggesting a “seatbelt”, a “helmet” and “the armor of God”, she said: “And maybe strap on a Glock on the side of us just in case.”

Before running for the Senate seat, Lake ran for governorship of Arizona in 2022 on a hard-right platform where she echoed Donald Trump’s false claims that he was not beaten in the 2020 presidential election by Joe Biden. She lost to her Democratic rival, Katie Hobbs.

She told supporters on Sunday, referring to constitutional gun rights and free speech rights: “We’re not going to be the victims of crime. We’re not going to have our second amendment taken away. We’re certainly not going to have our first amendment taken away by these tyrants.”

But despite Lake’s assertive remarks, more voters are now moving towards her Democratic opponent, Ruben Gallego, Politico reported.

Politico cited election analyst Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, which moved the likelihood of the open Senate race from “toss-up” to “leans Democratic”.

It’s not yet clear how much the issue of abortion will sway elections in the state, where last week the Arizona supreme court ruled a divisive 19th-century near-total abortion ban would soon go into effect, almost two years after the overturning of Roe v Wade’s federal abortion rights protection by the US supreme court. The revived historical law in Arizona makes no exceptions for rape or incest and only allows abortions if the mother’s life is at risk.

Lake has flip-flopped on the issue, previously supporting the law and now saying she opposes it.

Democrats in the Arizona house of representatives are seeking to repeal the pending 1864 ban on abortion, but they will need the help of some Republicans in the closely divided legislature.

Reuters contributed reporting

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Far-right US Senate candidate tells crowd to ‘strap on a Glock’ before elections

Kari Lake of Arizona warned supporters of ‘intense’ election year in which Democrats will come after them ‘with everything’

Republican US Senate candidate Kari Lake has told supporters to “strap on a Glock” ahead of the 2024 elections as she struggles to gain ground against her Democratic rival in Arizona.

In a campaign speech made to a crowd in Arizona’s Mohave county on Sunday, Lake echoed Trump-like terms in calling Washington DC a “swamp” – and used a reference to carrying guns when she told people to prepare for an “intense” election year.

Lake hopes to represent Arizona in the seat to be vacated by Democrat turned independent Kyrsten Sinema.

Lake told the crowd: “We need to send people to Washington DC that the swamp does not want there. And I can think of a couple people they don’t want there. First on that list is Donald J Trump; second is Kari Lake.

“He’s willing to sacrifice everything I am. That’s why they’re coming after us with ‘lawfare’,” Lake said, referencing the ex-president’s many legal troubles as he stands trial in New York.

“They’re going to come after us with everything. That’s why the next six months is going to be intense. And we need to strap on our … ”

Lake briefly paused before deciding on the item her supporters should strap on. After suggesting a “seatbelt”, a “helmet” and “the armor of God”, she said: “And maybe strap on a Glock on the side of us just in case.”

Before running for the Senate seat, Lake ran for governorship of Arizona in 2022 on a hard-right platform where she echoed Donald Trump’s false claims that he was not beaten in the 2020 presidential election by Joe Biden. She lost to her Democratic rival, Katie Hobbs.

She told supporters on Sunday, referring to constitutional gun rights and free speech rights: “We’re not going to be the victims of crime. We’re not going to have our second amendment taken away. We’re certainly not going to have our first amendment taken away by these tyrants.”

But despite Lake’s assertive remarks, more voters are now moving towards her Democratic opponent, Ruben Gallego, Politico reported.

Politico cited election analyst Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, which moved the likelihood of the open Senate race from “toss-up” to “leans Democratic”.

It’s not yet clear how much the issue of abortion will sway elections in the state, where last week the Arizona supreme court ruled a divisive 19th-century near-total abortion ban would soon go into effect, almost two years after the overturning of Roe v Wade’s federal abortion rights protection by the US supreme court. The revived historical law in Arizona makes no exceptions for rape or incest and only allows abortions if the mother’s life is at risk.

Lake has flip-flopped on the issue, previously supporting the law and now saying she opposes it.

Democrats in the Arizona house of representatives are seeking to repeal the pending 1864 ban on abortion, but they will need the help of some Republicans in the closely divided legislature.

Reuters contributed reporting

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Indonesia volcano eruption sparks tsunami fears

Mount Ruang has repeatedly erupted, and officials fear it could collapse and create a tsunami, with hundreds evacuated from the area

Authorities in Indonesia have issued a tsunami alert after a volcano erupted several times in the province of North Sulawesi, spewing a column of smoke more than a mile into the sky and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people from their homes.

Mount Ruang, a stratovolcano, first erupted at 9.45pm local time on Tuesday and then four times on Wednesday, Indonesia’s volcanology agency said.

Officials worry that part of the volcano could collapse into the sea and cause a tsunami, as happened in 1871. Tagulandang island to the volcano’s north-east is again at risk, and its residents are among those being told to evacuate.

The alert level for the volcano, which has a peak of 725 metres above sea level, was raised on Wednesday evening from three to four, the highest level in the four-tiered system.

“Based on the result of visual and instrumental observation that showed an increase in volcanic activity, Mount Ruang’s level was raised from level three to level four,” Hendra Gunawan, the head of Indonesia’s volcanology agency, said in a statement.

Authorities widened a 4km exclusion zone around the crater to 6km on Wednesday evening.

There were no reports of deaths or injuries, but more than 800 people were evacuated from two Ruang Island villages to nearby Tagulandang Island, located more than 60 miles north of the provincial capital, Manado, the state agency Antara reported.

The volcanology agency said residents of Tagulandang must be evacuated outside the 6km radius by Wednesday evening.

Indonesia’s national disaster mitigation agency said residents would be relocated to Manado, the nearest city, on Sulawesi island, a journey of six hours by boat.

In 2018 the eruption of Indonesia’s Anak Krakatau volcano caused a tsunami along the coasts of Sumatra and Java after parts of the mountain fell into the ocean, killing 430 people.

In a statement, Gunawan told people to “be on alert for the potential ejection of rocks, hot cloud discharges and tsunami caused by the collapse of the volcano’s body into the sea”.

Ruang’s initial eruption on Tuesday evening pushed a column of ash 1.2 miles into the sky, with the second eruption pushing it to 1.5 miles, Muhammad Wafid, the head of the geological agency, said in a statement.

The volcanology agency said on Tuesday that volcanic activity had increased at Ruang after two earthquakes in recent weeks.

Indonesia, a vast country of archipelagos, sees frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific’s Ring of Fire, an arc where tectonic plates collide, which stretches from Japan through south-east Asia and across the Pacific basin.

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Brazilian woman arrested after taking corpse to sign bank loan: ‘She knew he was dead’

Shock in Brazil after woman is arrested and charged with violating a corpse and attempted theft through fraud

When Érika de Souza Vieira wheeled her lethargic-looking uncle into a Brazilian bank, clerks quickly sensed something was amiss.

“I don’t think he’s well. He doesn’t look well at all,” remarked one distrustful employee as Vieira tried to get her elderly relative to sign off on a 17,000 reais ($3,250) loan.

Paulo Roberto Braga was indeed indisposed. In fact, the 68-year-old appears to have been dead.

Shortly after entering the lender in Rio late on Tuesday with her late uncle, Vieira was arrested and charged with violating a corpse and attempted theft through fraud, according to the Rio newspaper O Dia.

“She knew he was dead … he had been dead for at least two hours,” the investigating officer, Fábio Luiz Souza, told the breakfast news program Bom Dia Rio on Wednesday.

“I have never come across a story like this in 22 years [as a cop],” added Souza, who said visible signs of livor mortis left no doubt as to Braga’s state.

Footage of Vieira’s surreal and macabre alleged attempt to cash in on her relative’s corpse has gone viral on social media, with Brazilians voicing stupefaction at the scene.

At one point in the images – which bank workers began filming after smelling a rat – one suspicious employee comments on Braga’s pallid complexion. “That’s just what he’s like,” Vieira replies, before trying to place a pen in his limp hand once again.

Brazilian journalists shared their viewers’ bewilderment.

“It is just unbelievable. It seems like a wind-up, but this is serious,” the news presenter Leilane Neubarth exclaimed as she told viewers about the scandal on the network GloboNews. “She has gone into the bank with a cadaver – and has tried to get money with a human being who is dead.”

Another journalist, Camila Bomfim, was similarly stunned. “This is the last straw … This goes beyond all limits because there can be no doubt … about the difference between a living person and a dead person,” Bomfim said.

Ana Carla de Souza Correa, a lawyer representing Vieira, insisted it was not. “The facts did not occur as has been narrated. Paulo was alive when he arrived at the bank,” Correa told reporters, claiming there were witnesses who could prove that. “All of this will be cleared up,” the lawyer added. “We believe in Érika’s innocence.”

The police chief Souza said he was also investigating if Vieira was in fact the deceased man’s niece. “Anyone who sees that [footage] can see the person was dead,” he said.

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Tasmanian devil facial tumour research challenged: disease may not be declining after all

Cambridge scientists critique study that concluded the cancer was no longer a threat to species’ survival

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Cambridge researchers have challenged a previous study which had concluded that a facial cancer that devastated the Tasmanian devil population was on the decline.

Devil facial tumour disease, a fatal cancer spread through biting and sharing of food, emerged in the 1980s. The spread of DFTD led to the species being listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2008.

The original study, published in the journal Science in 2020, found that the rate of transmission had slowed, so that an affected animal would only infect one other animal – previously an infected devil would affect another 3.5.

The researchers in 2020 were “cautiously optimistic” that the devils had developed a natural immune response to the cancer and concluded the disease was no longer a threat to the species’ survival.

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Cambridge scientists replicated the study, and concluded the key findings of the original study could not be reproduced, leaving the future of Tasmanian devils uncertain, in a critique published in Royal Society Open Science.

Elizabeth Murchison, a professor of comparative oncology and genetics at the University of Cambridge and one of the critique’s senior authors, said the original researchers sequenced DNA half the recommended number of times.

She said it was recommended that scientists sequence DNA at least 30 times when analysing tumours to have confidence that a variant is actually a mutation. Her reanalysis found the researchers in the original study sequenced DNA an average of 15 times.

Murchinson said the mutation rate recorded by the original researchers was “implausibly high” and suggested that the mutations recorded were likely non-meaningful.

The authors of the initial study disagreed, and said they stood by their research. They said they had published papers in the years since that “support the basic conclusion that continued survival of Tasmanian devils in the wild is likely and that there has been rapid evolution of devils in response to the disease”.

In a joint statement, they said the Cambridge researchers had previously approached the journal Science to publish a critique of the first study, but the publication rejected it. They said Murchison and her fellow authors had now published “an almost identical” critique in the Royal Society Open Science and not afforded them the right to respond before publication, contrary to “usual procedure”.

The Cambridge researchers said they reproduced the initial study after noticing that the tree mapping out how the tumour evolved over time generated by the original researchers “looked nothing” like their own tree.

Carolyn Hogg, a population biologist at the University of Sydney who was not involved in either study, commended the depth of sequencing analysis the Cambridge researchers took. She said they were “by far the global experts” in the field.

She disagreed with the conclusions the authors drew in their initial paper and did not see how their conclusions were supported by their data.

“I don’t know if the [initial] researchers did anything wrong,” she said. “They probably weren’t aware [of sequencing depths] … because they’re not cancer researchers.

“It’s a cautionary tale for scientists to be cautious of the conclusions they draw if they’re not an expert.”

Hogg said the “best bet” for Tasmanian devils was a vaccine being developed by the Menzies Institute for Medical Research.

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Mentally stimulating work plays key role in staving off dementia, study finds

People in routine and repetitive jobs found to have 31% greater risk of disease in later life, and 66% higher risk of mild cognitive problems

If work is a constant flurry of mind-straining challenges, bursts of creativity and delicate negotiations to keep the troops happy, consider yourself lucky.

Researchers have found that the more people use their brains at work, the better they seem to be protected against thinking and memory problems that come with older age.

In a study of more than 7,000 Norwegians in 305 occupations, those who held the least mentally demanding jobs had a 66% greater risk of mild cognitive impairment, and a 31% greater risk of dementia, after the age of 70 compared with those in the most mentally taxing roles.

“It really shows how important work is,” said Dr Trine Edwin, a geriatrician and postdoctoral fellow at Oslo university hospital. “It’s important to go to work and use your brain, and to use your brain to learn new things.”

Edwin and her colleagues examined the cognitive complexity of various jobs based on the amount of routine manual and mental work, and the degree of analytical and interpersonal tasks, they involved.

Most people worked jobs with similar degrees of cognitive demands throughout their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, meaning that those who started work in less mentally stimulating jobs tended to remain in them, as did those who took on cognitively challenging positions from the off.

After the age of 70, the volunteers took part in standard memory and thinking tests and were classified as having either no cognitive impairment, mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Of those who had worked in the least cognitively challenging jobs, 42% were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, compared with only 27% who had worked in the most cognitively stimulating roles.

Among the jobs ranked as most stimulating were teachers and university lecturers, according to the study, in Neurology. Some of the least cognitively demanding jobs were those that involved repetitive manual tasks, such as road work, cleaning and delivering the post.

Previous studies have shown that education has a significant protective effect against cognitive decline in old age. Part of the reason is that better educated people are more likely, and more able, to lead healthier lives. But education also appears to build “cognitive reserve” – the capacity to improvise and find alternative ways of doing things – which may help stave off mental decline, much as physical exercise delays frailty.

According to Trine, higher levels of education accounted for about 60% of the protective effect seen among people who did mentally stimulating jobs. “It means that education is very important, but it’s also what you do afterwards: it’s how you use your brain when you are working. You are building your cognitive reserve at work by being cognitively active,” she said.

The results suggest that people who spend their working lives in less mentally stimulating jobs might benefit from further education and pursuing more cognitively challenging pastimes outside work. “It’s not that you are doomed or you are not – we can empower people for their later cognitive health with education and tasks that are cognitively stimulating,” Trine said.

Prof Gill Livingston, professor of the psychiatry of older people at University College London, said the findings were in line with other studies on the impact of work. “It is not just that more educated people do more cognitively stimulating jobs – they do – but cognitive stimulation in work through problem solving and new situations has an effect by itself.

“This is a lot of cognitive stimulation, as most people work many hours for many years,” she said. But work may not have as big an impact as education, she added, because the brains of children and young adults may change more than those in adults to increase cognitive reserve.

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