The Guardian 2024-04-24 01:01:42


Woodside Energy is bracing for an investor-led backlash of its climate credentials at its annual general meeting in Perth today, after several major shareholders disclosed they would vote against its emissions plans.

Critics have described Woodside’s strategy as overly reliant on offsets and not aligned with Paris climate agreements, even after it revamped its policies before this year’s AGM.

The country’s biggest oil and gas producer has also been criticised for pursuing plans to develop new fields, representing an expansion in fossil fuel production at a time opponents say the sector must rein in emissions.

Two years ago, a thin majority of votes were cast in the oil and gas company’s favour for its climate report.

Some of that support appears to have evaporated, leaving the climate report at risk of being voted down today. If that occurs, it would show Woodside has lost the majority support of shareholders for its climate plans, opening the way for investors to demand radical changes to its emissions plans.

Agitators are also vying to stop the re-election of Richard Goyder as chairman as a protest over his climate leadership.

Will van de Pol, the chief executive of climate activist group Market Forces, said Woodside was “steaming ahead with dangerous gas growth”.

All investors including super funds need to hold Woodside’s leadership to account over plans to ramp up emissions that would fuel devastating climate impacts.

Woodside has consistently argued that Australia needs new gas developments to protect against an energy shock and to be used as an alternative to coal for electricity generation.

Asio boss says privacy ‘not absolute’ as he urges social media companies to do more on extremism

Mike Burgess also warns artificial intelligence ‘likely to make radicalisation easier and faster’

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Social media companies must do more to stamp out extremism and assist law enforcement to track criminals, the heads of Australia’s federal police and security agencies have urged.

In comments likely to provoke criticism from some civil and digital rights campaigners, the Asio director general, Mike Burgess, will use a major speech on Wednesday to argue “privacy is important but not absolute”, while the AFP commissioner, Reece Kershaw, believes “there is no absolute right to privacy”.

Burgess will also sound an alarm about artificial intelligence, warning the new technology “is likely to make radicalisation easier and faster”.

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In the latest salvo in an expanding dispute between the Australian government and tech companies such as Facebook and X, Burgess and Kershaw will use a joint address to the National Press Club to call for social media companies to give more assistance to law enforcement in certain circumstances, including in cases of potential crimes being discussed on encrypted messaging platforms.

It comes as the federal government and eSafety Commissioner remain locked in an incendiary standoff with Elon Musk’s X over vision of the Wakeley church stabbing. The Albanese government has also flagged introducing its long-awaited misinformation bill with large fines for tech companies, and is mulling next responses to the news media bargaining code, which would compel social platforms to pay for news content.

Australia’s anti-encryption laws, passed in 2018, give law enforcement agencies the power to issue notices to companies to render assistance, or build a new capability, to help them snoop on suspects in serious criminal investigations such as terror or child sex offences.

Draft notes for speeches from Burgess and Kershaw indicate the law enforcement chiefs do not believe the laws are working as intended.

Burgess, head of Australia’s domestic security agency, will ask tech companies “to make encryption accountable”, indicating that existing federal legislation compelling the targeted unlocking of encrypted messages for investigative purposes is not being heeded by some companies.

“If the threat, evidence, safeguards and oversight are strong enough for us to obtain a warrant, then they should be strong enough for the companies to help us give effect to that warrant. To make encryption accountable,” Burgess will tell the Press Club, according to an advance copy of his speech.

He will say Asio is investigating “a number of Australians” in racist extremist groups using encrypted platforms “to communicate with offshore extremists, sharing vile propaganda, posting tips about homemade weapons and discussing how to provoke a race war”.

“The chatroom is encrypted, so Asio’s ability to investigate is seriously compromised,” Burgess will claim.

“Obviously, we and our partners will do everything we can to prevent terrorism or sabotage, so we are expending significant resources to monitor the Australians involved. Having lawful and targeted access to extremist communications would be much more effective and efficient.”

Asio this month warned in a submission to a Senate inquiry of an uptick in activity from violent extreme-right hate groups “who want to trigger a so called ‘race war’”.

Burgess will say he is “not calling for an end to end-to-end encryption”, nor asking for new laws, powers or resources for Asio.

“I am not asking the government to do anything. I am asking the tech companies to do more. I’m asking them to give effect to our existing powers and to uphold existing laws.

“Without their help in very limited and strictly controlled circumstances, encryption is unaccountable.”

Kershaw is expected to say the AFP and other law enforcement agencies have appealed to social media companies to work with them to keep children safe.

“That includes not transitioning to end-to-end encryption until they can ensure their technology protects against online crime rather than enabling it,” he will say.

“We recognise the role that technologies like end-to-end encryption play in protecting personal data, privacy and cybersecurity, but there is no absolute right to privacy.

“People have the right to privacy just like they have the right not to be harmed. People expect to have their privacy protected just like they expect police to do their job once a crime has been committed against them, or a loved one. That expectation includes being able to respond and bring offenders before the justice system.”

Kershaw will add: “My door is open to all relevant tech CEOs and chairmen, including Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.”

Burgess’s speech will also raise concerns about broader threats from extremism online. He believes artificial intelligence technology is “equal parts hype, opportunity and threat”, warning of some extremist groups offshore asking AI services for advice on building weapons and planning attacks. Asio has concerns AI will increase espionage, foreign interference and disinformation issues.

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Elon Musk’s X v Australia’s online safety regulator: untangling the tweet takedown order

Musk calls eSafety chief a ‘censorship commissar’ while PM brands Musk an ‘arrogant billionaire’ over videos of alleged church stabbing. What is going on?

Elon Musk’s X is in a fight with the Australian online safety regulator, the courts have got involved and even the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has weighed in.

The conflict has descended into a war of words, with Musk calling the eSafety commissioner a “censorship commissar” and Albanese labelling Musk an “arrogant billionaire who thinks he is above the law”.

So, what’s it all about?

Where did it start?

Last week, the eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, used her powers under the Online Safety Act to issue both Meta and X notices to remove what is deemed to be “class 1” material under Australian classification law within 24 hours. Class 1 material depicts gratuitous or offensive violence with a high degree of impact or detail.

The notices were issued after two stabbing attacks in Sydney: one at Bondi Junction Westfield in which five women and one man were murdered, and the separate alleged stabbing of bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel at a service at the Assyrian Christ the Good Shepherd church in Wakeley. In the aftermath of both events, imagery of the victims and the church attack circulated widely on the two sites, among others.

The notices, however, only relate specifically to the church stabbing, with eSafety determining the images from the Bondi attack did not rise to the level of class 1 material.

eSafety later said Meta had complied with the request, but on Saturday X announced it intended to challenge the notice.

Have these powers been used before?

Yes. The eSafety commissioner said in its annual report that for the 2022-2023 financial year, it issued three notices to overseas services about highly violent or explicit class 1 material.

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The regulator tends to use a more informal process for most content. It said in the same time period it flagged 14,975 URLs for removal and to law enforcement, with 99% of those URLs hosting child sexual abuse material.

Why is it focused on the church stabbing content?

The Bondi Junction images did not rise to the level of class 1 under Australian classification law.

It is understood eSafety issued informal notices to the platforms related to imagery from the Bondi attack. One user posted an alert he received from X about three tweets related to the attack, which X had declined to remove after being asked by eSafety.

Guardian Australia has not verified whether eSafety requested the posts be removed because it would not comment on individual cases.

What does X’s policy say about violent content?

X’s rules on violent content state: “You may not post media that is excessively gory or share violent or adult content within live video or in profile or header images”. It also says users “may not threaten, incite, glorify, or express desire for violence or harm”.

Do the posts violate these policies?

Guardian Australia hasn’t seen the posts in question because eSafety does not comment on individual posts, but X has said they do not. It said the posts were commenting on the attack.

In a statement, a spokesperson for eSafety said: “The removal notice does not relate to commentary, public debate or other posts about this event. It only concerns the video of the violent stabbing attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel.”

How did X respond?

In a statement on Saturday, the company said it was complying with the directive pending a legal challenge, saying it would face fines of A$785,000 a day for not withholding the posts.

In the federal court on Monday, a lawyer representing the eSafety commissioner said X had geo-blocked the posts, meaning people in Australia could not see the tweets, but eSafety has argued this was not sufficient given the posts were still accessible globally.

Why is X fighting the case?

The company has argued that, while it respects the right of a country to enforce its law within its jurisdiction, it does not believe the commissioner has the authority to dictate what users can see globally. X also said the order was “not within the scope of Australian law”, but did not explain beyond that.

On Tuesday, Musk tweeted that the company is concerned that if any country can censor content for all countries, “then what is to stop any country from controlling the entire internet?”

While X has yet to launch a legal challenge, eSafety launched a federal court case on Monday night and obtained a temporary injunction to force X to hide the posts globally.

As of Tuesday morning, X had not responded.

The company had previously filed a challenge in the federal court against a fine levied by the commissioner last year over X’s failure to respond adequately to questions around its handling of child sexual abuse material.

Although X has promised at least two other legal challenges against eSafety, they have yet to be filed.

What has the Australian government said?

The controversy has led to bipartisan support for the commissioner against X.

The assistant treasurer, Stephen Jones, said the government was prepared to fight a legal challenge, while the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, indicated support for beefing up eSafety’s powers if needed.

On Tuesday, Albanese labelled Musk an “arrogant billionaire” who thinks he is “above the law”.

What if X ignores the notice?

eSafety is now seeking to force X to comply with the notice through the court system.

Beyond the fines and legal sanctions eSafety can seek against X, the commissioner has other options including having links to the content removed from search engines, or the app itself removed from app stores.

The eSafety commissioner has not indicated whether the nuclear option to have X removed from app stores is under consideration.

Why is it a classification claim?

Specific powers were created five years ago after an Australian-born terrorist livestreamed his actions during the Christchurch attack. The legislation empowers eSafety to order the removal of abhorrent violent material, or order internet service providers in Australia to block access to sites hosting such content.

The powers were not enlivened in this instance because the video of the church stabbing was not created by the alleged attacker himself – the service was being livestreamed by the church, and was later ripped and spread across social media.

Does this have anything to do with misinformation?

No. The eSafety commissioner doesn’t have any powers in relation to misinformation. The government is planning to introduce legislation this year that would empower another regulator – the Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma) – with the ability to ensure the tech platforms take strong action against misinformation on their sites.

The Coalition has been opposed to the bill, but since the events of last week have indicated they could support a revised bill expected later this year.

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Man charged with domestic murder of Forbes woman Molly Ticehurst was on bail for other offences

Queenslander Daniel Billings was on bail for earlier charges including stalking and cruelty before arrest for alleged murder, NSW court hears

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A man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend in regional New South Wales while on bail for rape and stalking charges against her will remain behind bars.

Daniel Billings has been charged with the domestic violence murder of Molly Ticehurst, 28, whose body was found in a Forbes homes in the early hours of Monday.

Investigations led police to a property 100km away, in Fifield, where Billings was arrested.

The 29-year-old, from Dalby in Queensland, was charged with murder and breaching an apprehended violence order and failing to comply with bail conditions.

During a brief mention in Orange local court on Tuesday morning, Billings did not apply for bail and it was refused by magistrate David Day.

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Day also revoked Billings’ bail regarding the earlier charges, including three counts of sexual intercourse without consent and four counts of stalking and intimidating Ticehurst in recent months.

The earlier charges further included two counts of recklessly destroying a car window and a pedestal fan at her house and aggravated animal cruelty against her 12-week-old dachshund puppy.

Billings had not entered pleas that were due on those charges, the court heard. “That’s not good enough,” Day said on Tuesday.

Billings remained in custody at Parkes police station and did not appear in court.

Before the court appearance, Det Insp Jason Darcy said Billings and Ticehurst had been in a relationship.

Darcy described the killing as “brutal”, adding it had left Ticehurst’s family devastated. “Naturally, they’re just distraught,” he told reporters on Monday.

Ticehurst was a childcare worker in Forbes.

The NSW premier, Chris Minns, said: “We need to understand what happened, the immediate run-up to this alleged crime and that’s exactly what we’re doing this morning.”

Billings was scheduled to next appear in Parkes local court on 20 June.

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Cobram death: homicide detectives launch investigation after woman’s body found in Victoria

Police say a man is assisting with inquiries after the body was found near NSW border on Tuesday

Victorian homicide detectives are investigating the death of a woman after her body was discovered in the state’s north on Tuesday.

Emergency services were called to an address on Campbell Road in Cobram, near the border between Victoria and New South Wales, at about 2.15pm on.

A 39-year-old Cobram man, who officers believe knew the woman, was assisting investigators with their inquiries, police said.

In a statement, police said the woman, who was yet to be formally identified, was found dead inside the property.

“Police are working to establish the exact circumstances around the death and the investigation remains ongoing,” police said in the statement.

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Judge reprimands Trump lawyer but holds off on gag order ruling

Juan Merchan reserves judgment on prosecutors’ request for maximum fine but tells Todd Blanche ‘you’re losing all credibility’

  • Skeptical judge and National Enquirer deal: key takeaways
  • Pecker says he was ‘eyes and ears’ of Trump campaign

The New York judge presiding in Donald Trump’s criminal trial held off on deciding whether he should be fined $10,000 for attacking expected trial witnesses in direct violation of the gag order designed to protect trial participants from being the target of Trump’s abuse.

The judge, Juan Merchan, reserved ruling from the bench. But he appeared deeply unconvinced by arguments from Trump’s lead lawyer Todd Blanche that a series of social media posts were just responses to political attacks on Trump and therefore permitted.

“Mr Blanche, you’re losing all credibility, I have to tell you right now,” the judge said at one stage. “You’re losing all credibility with the court. Is there any other argument you want to make?”

The admonishment from Merchan, a major rebuke particularly in the midst of a criminal trial, underscores Blanche’s difficulty in trying to explain away 10 posts that prosecutors in the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, alleged were in violation of the gag order.

Although prosecutors told the judge they were not seeking to have Trump jailed for allegedly violating the gag order, they asked that Trump be held in contempt and fined the maximum $1,000 fine for each of 10 offending posts.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office also told the judge they intended to file a further motion alleging that Trump again violated the gag order in the hallway outside the courtroom when he told news cameras that his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen was a serial perjurer.

For weeks, Trump has railed against the 34-count indictment that charges him with falsifying business records to cover up hush-money payments he made to the porn star Stormy Daniels to protect his 2016 presidential campaign from negative headlines in violation of campaign finance laws.

The aggrievement has been particularly focused on Cohen, who facilitated the hush-money payments to Daniels, as well as Daniels herself. Both are expected to testify against Trump at trial, and are covered by the gag order.

Trump’s lawyer Blanche claimed at a hearing on Tuesday that the majority of the posts were responses to ad hominem or political attacks against Trump, while others were reposts of links to New York Post articles or views expressed by others, including the prominent Fox News host Jesse Watters.

But the judge appeared deeply skeptical of those arguments, questioning why in one post, Trump waited until after a challenge against the gag order was rejected by a New York appeals court to “respond” to a jibe from Cohen, instead of replying immediately.

The judge also invited Blanche to present examples of cases where reposts were ruled to be any different from posts authored by a defendant, and to provide the specific political attack against Trump. “Give me one. Give me one recent attack he was responding to,” Merchan said.

Blanche suggested that one particular post referencing Cohen was definitely political in nature because there was a mention of Trump granting a presidential pardon. Merchan was unimpressed: Blanche would have to do better than pointing to just one word, the judge said.

The contempt hearing ended particularly poorly for Trump when the judge interrupted Blanche to clarify that it was wrong to characterize one post as just reposting Watters’ quote from television. Trump “manipulated” the quote by making his own additions, and then put quote marks around it, Merchan said.

The scope of the gag order against Trump was expanded earlier this month, after Merchan rebuked Trump for making statements about the case he deemed “threatening, inflammatory, denigrating” ahead of the trial in New York supreme court.

Under the order, Trump cannot make, or direct others to make, public statements about trial witnesses concerning their roles in the investigation and at trial, prosecutors other than Bragg himself, and members of the court staff or the district attorney’s staff.

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Skeptical judge and tabloid deal: key takeaways from Trump trial day six

Judge admonishes ex-president’s lawyer, and first witness confirms Trump enlisted National Enquirer for 2016 campaign

  • Pecker says he was ‘eyes and ears’ of Trump campaign
  • Judge reprimands Trump lawyer but delays gag order ruling

Donald Trump watched the judge presiding in his New York criminal trial dramatically admonish his lead lawyer and hear the prosecution’s first witness confirm that Trump specifically enlisted the help of the National Enquirer tabloid to kill negative stories that could derail his 2016 campaign.

Here are the key takeaways from Tuesday’s proceedings in People of the State of New York vs Donald J Trump.

Biden v Trump: What’s in store for the US and the world?

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Who is David Pecker, a key witness in Trump’s criminal hush-money trial?

The longtime chief executive of AMI, which owns the National Enquirer, has a long history with the ex-president

  • David Pecker tells court he was ‘eyes and ears’ of Trump campaign
  • Skeptical judge and National Enquirer deal: day six key takeaways

It is, alas, an urban myth that MSNBC once used an on-screen chyron to say “Trump worried about Pecker leaking”. But like other famous doctored images, it continues to flourish on the internet, such is the bizarre (and more than slightly mucky) story of David Pecker, Trump and the tabloidization of US politics.

As the longtime chief executive of American Media Inc, Pecker developed a symbiotic relationship between Donald Trump and the National Enquirer, an AMI tabloid specialising in salacious scandal.

This week, Pecker has described that relationship in court, as Trump stands trial over hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, an adult film star who claimed an affair, which New York state says were a form of election fraud.

Pecker is a key witness (with a non-prosecution deal) because when Trump ran for president in 2016, Pecker helped Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer, orchestrate payoffs to Daniels, Karen McDougal (a former Playboy model who also claimed an affair) and a Trump Tower doorman trying to sell a story about a supposed illegitimate child.

On Tuesday, Pecker, 72, told the court: “I’ve had a great relationship with Mr Trump over the years, starting in 89 – I had an idea of creating a magazine called Trump Style and I presented it to Mr Trump and he liked that idea a lot. He just questioned me: who is going to pay for it?”

Despite Trump’s famous enthusiasm for obtaining other people’s money – and equally famous ability to lose his own – Pecker described Trump as “very knowledgable … very detail-oriented … almost a micromanager”.

The prosecution was attempting to show jurors a picture of Trump intimately involved not only with models and adult film stars but in deals to keep them quiet.

Helping Trump helped Pecker’s bottom line. Referring to Trump’s NBC reality TV shows, Pecker said: “When Mr Trump launched The Apprentice, and then launched The Celebrity Apprentice … interest in Mr Trump through my magazines, basically the National Enquirer, skyrocketed.”

Polling showed that readers wanted Trump. So when Trump moved into politics, Pecker followed.

“So I discussed with him, and we did a poll in the National Enquirer about Mr Trump running for president … research showed that 80% of the readership of the National Enquirer would want Mr Trump to [run] … and I passed that information on to Trump,” he said.

Trump’s criminal hush-money trial: What to know

  • A guide to Trump’s hush-money trial – so far

  • The key arguments prosecutors will use against Trump

  • How will Trump’s trial work?

  • From Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels: The key players

Pecker also described a meeting at Trump Tower in August 2015 at which he, Trump and Cohen discussed how the Enquirer could publish negative stories about opponents while quashing stories about Trump himself. Again, prosecutors wanted to show Trump had been dealing with Pecker specifically to influence an election.

The relationship continued with Trump in power. In 2017, the New Yorker described how Pecker rejected suggestions that the Enquirer cover a notable slap of Trump’s hand by his wife, Melania, on an overseas visit. Things unravelled when Stormy Daniels went public the following year.

It all means one Enquirer story from 2016, used by prosecutors this week, has acquired an irony all of its own.

“Ted Cruz Shamed by Porn Star,” the headline read, above a picture of a woman wearing a bikini.

The actual story was about the Texas senator having to pull an ad when an actor had turned out to work in adult films. The headline and picture led readers to other conclusions.

Such is the world of the gutter press, from which David Pecker came, to help Donald Trump pull America into a gutter all of his own.

Biden v Trump: What’s in store for the US and the world?

On Thursday 2 May, 3-4.15pm ET, join Tania Branigan, David Smith, Mehdi Hasan and Tara Setmayer for the inside track on the people, the ideas and the events that might shape the US election campaign. Book tickets here or at theguardian.live

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Trump’s hush-money trial: National Enquirer publisher says he was ‘eyes and ears’ of 2016 campaign

David Pecker testifies about meeting with Trump and Michael Cohen in 2015 to discuss how he could help presidential campaign

  • Skeptical judge and National Enquirer deal: key takeaways
  • Judge reprimands Trump lawyer but delays gag order ruling

A former tabloid publisher testified on Tuesday in Donald Trump’s hush-money trial that he promised to be the “eyes and ears” of the 2016 presidential campaign, helped to suppress harmful stories and even arranged to purchase the silence of a doorman.

David Pecker, the ex-president’s longtime ally and ex-publisher of the National Enquirer – who prosecutors contend was integral in illicit, so-called catch-and-kill efforts to prevent negative stories about Trump from going public – was on the stand again as a prosecution witness after a brief appearance on Monday following opening statements.

He told the court about being invited to a meeting with Trump and his then lawyer, Michael Cohen, in New York in 2015 after Trump had just declared his candidacy for president and was seeking a friendly and powerful media insider.

“They asked me what can I do – and what my magazines could do – to help the [election] campaign … I said what I would do is I would run or publish positive stories about Mr Trump and I would publish negative stories about his opponents, and I said that I would also be the eyes and ears because I know that the Trump Organization had a very small staff,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, however, Judge Juan Merchan heard arguments about a request from prosecutors to hold Trump in contempt of court. They said he repeatedly violated a gag order barring him from publicly attacking witnesses in the trial.

Todd Blanche, Trump’s lawyer, argued that his client was just responding to political attacks, not flouting the judge’s order, and that seven of the instances cited were reposts of other people’s content on social media, which “we don’t believe are a violation of the gag order.”

Merchan asked whether there was any case law on it. Blanche replied: “I don’t have any case laws, your honor, it’s just common sense.”

As Blanche continued to repeat that claim, the judgesaid:

“Mr Blanche you’re losing all credibility … with the court. Is there any other argument you want to make?”

Merchan on Tuesday did not announce a decision on the contempt issue.

Trump’s criminal hush-money trial: what to know

  • A guide to Trump’s hush-money trial – so far

  • The key arguments prosecutors will use against Trump

  • How will Trump’s trial work?

  • From Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels: The key players

Pecker first took the stand on Monday and provided brief testimony of his work as a tabloid honcho. “We used checkbook journalism and we paid for stories. I gave a number to the editors that they could not spend more than $10,000 to investigate or produce or publish a story, anything over $10,000 they would spend on a story, they would have to be vetted and brought up to me, for approval.”

Pecker said he had final say over the content of the National Enquirer and other AMI publications.

Prosecutors contend that Pecker was at the center of a plot to boost Trump’s chances in the 2016 election. The alleged plan with Trump and Cohen was, if Pecker caught wind of damaging information, he would apprise Trump and Cohen, so they could figure out a way to keep it quiet. That collusion came to include AMI’s $150,000 payoff to the Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed to have had an extramarital affair with Trump, prosecutors have said.

This kind of “catch-and-kill” tactic did not happen with Trump before he ran for president, Pecker said.

The alleged plot to cover up a claimed sexual encounter between Daniels and Trump is the basis of prosecutors’ case.

In October 2016, the Washington Post published a video featuring Trump’s hot-mic comments during an Access Hollywood taping, in which he boasted about sexually assaulting women. The comments, which Colangelo read to jurors, included “Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

After they surfaced, the campaign went into panic mode, Colangelo said. It worked to characterize these comments as “locker room talk”, but, when Daniels’ claim came across Trump and his allies’ radar, they feared the backlash: people would see these ill-behaved ways were not mere talk.

“Another story about infidelity, with a porn star, on the heels of the Access Hollywood tape, would have been devastating to his campaign,” Colangelo said in his address to jurors. “Cohen carried out a $130,000 payoff to Daniels which Trump allegedly repaid him in checks that he listed as legal services in official company records.

“Look, no politician wants bad press, but the evidence at trial will show that this wasn’t spin or communication strategy,” Colangelo continued. “This was a planned, coordinated, long-running conspiracy to influence the 2016 election, to help Donald Trump get elected through illegal expenditures – to silence people with something bad to say about his behavior.

“It was election fraud, pure and simple.”

Trump denies the charges. On Tuesday afternoon, Steinglass asked why Pecker said he would notify Cohen if he heard “anything about women selling stories”.

Pecker said: “In a presidential campaign, I was the person that thought that there would be a lot of women that would come out to try to sell their stories because Mr Trump was well-known as the most eligible bachelor and dated the most beautiful women.”

In fact, Trump was at the time married to Melania, his third wife. He was also accused of sexual assault and harassment by a series of women. In a civil case, Trump was found liable last year for having sexually abused the New York writer E Jean Carroll in the 1990s.

Pecker said he ran negative stories about Trump rivals, including presidential opponent Hillary Clinton and GOP rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

He said he paid $30,000 to catch and kill a story from a doorman purporting that Trump had fathered an illegitimate child with a woman who cleaned his New York penthouse.

The trial is due to resume on Thursday.

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Athens swallowed up by orange haze from Sahara dust storm

Authorities in Greece warn the dust concentrations can reduce sunlight and visibility, while increasing levels of fine pollution particles pose health risks

Clouds of dust blown in from the Sahara covered Athens and other Greek cities on Tuesday, one of the worst such episodes to hit the country since 2018, officials said.

A yellow-orange haze smothered several regions after days of strong winds from the south, limiting visibility and prompting warnings from the authorities of breathing risks.

“It’s one of the most serious episodes of dust and sand concentrations from the Sahara since March 21-22, 2018, when the clouds invaded the island of Crete in particular,” said Kostas Lagouvardos, weather research director at the Athens Observatory.

Greece had already been struck by Sahara dust clouds in late March and early April which also smothered parts of Switzerland and southern France.

Authorities warned that the dust concentrations can reduce sunlight and visibility while increasing concentrations of fine pollution particles, posing risks for people with underlying health problems.

The Sahara releases 60 to 200m tonnes of mineral dust a year. While the largest particles come rapidly back down to earth, the smallest can travel thousands of kilometres, potentially reaching all of Europe.

The Greek weather service said the skies would begin to clear on Wednesday.

The strong southerly winds over the past few days have also fanned unseasonal early wildfires in the country’s south.

The fire service said on Tuesday evening that a total of 25 wildfires broke out across the country in the past 24 hours. Three people were arrested on the Aegean Sea resort island of Paros on suspicion of accidentally starting a scrub blaze on Monday, it added. No significant damage or injuries were reported, and the fire was quickly contained.

Another blaze that broke out on Crete near a naval base was brought under control Tuesday.

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Athens swallowed up by orange haze from Sahara dust storm

Authorities in Greece warn the dust concentrations can reduce sunlight and visibility, while increasing levels of fine pollution particles pose health risks

Clouds of dust blown in from the Sahara covered Athens and other Greek cities on Tuesday, one of the worst such episodes to hit the country since 2018, officials said.

A yellow-orange haze smothered several regions after days of strong winds from the south, limiting visibility and prompting warnings from the authorities of breathing risks.

“It’s one of the most serious episodes of dust and sand concentrations from the Sahara since March 21-22, 2018, when the clouds invaded the island of Crete in particular,” said Kostas Lagouvardos, weather research director at the Athens Observatory.

Greece had already been struck by Sahara dust clouds in late March and early April which also smothered parts of Switzerland and southern France.

Authorities warned that the dust concentrations can reduce sunlight and visibility while increasing concentrations of fine pollution particles, posing risks for people with underlying health problems.

The Sahara releases 60 to 200m tonnes of mineral dust a year. While the largest particles come rapidly back down to earth, the smallest can travel thousands of kilometres, potentially reaching all of Europe.

The Greek weather service said the skies would begin to clear on Wednesday.

The strong southerly winds over the past few days have also fanned unseasonal early wildfires in the country’s south.

The fire service said on Tuesday evening that a total of 25 wildfires broke out across the country in the past 24 hours. Three people were arrested on the Aegean Sea resort island of Paros on suspicion of accidentally starting a scrub blaze on Monday, it added. No significant damage or injuries were reported, and the fire was quickly contained.

Another blaze that broke out on Crete near a naval base was brought under control Tuesday.

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‘He could have killed my dog’: ride-share drivers accused of refusing passengers with guide dogs

Advocates want government action to enforce anti-discrimination laws that stipulate guaranteed access for assistance dogs in public places

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Natalie has lost count of how many times she’s called a ride-share or taxi and been left standing on the curb with her guide dog.

Two years ago, she was going to a music lesson in Sydney’s Sutherland shire when she says a driver sped off, dragging her dog, Sharnee, behind the car.

“He said no, you need to book Uber pet, basically refusing me. I was half in his car, trying to show him the guide dog card,” Natalie, who did not want her surname used, said.

“He goes, ‘Oh that’s not necessary,’ and drove off at 30 or 40km/h,” she said. “I was yelling out stop, stop, you’re going to injure my dog.”

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Natalie says Sharnee’s paw pad was scrapped off in the incident and afterwards she hated getting into any car. Natalie was forced to put Sharnee into early retirement from working as a guide dog, and Natalie now has a different guide dog.

In the months after the incident, the driver left the country, so there was no avenue to pursue a complaint, she said.

“He could have killed my dog,” Natalie said. “It took months for [the police] to come back to me with the result, which ended up being nothing.”

A month later, another driver refused to take her. After she complained to the service, the driver claimed Natalie hadn’t been wearing a mask. After Natalie produced the CCTV to prove that she had been, the man was fined but allowed to continue working as a ride-share driver.

“They have to have something to deter them from doing this,” Natalie said. “Something so they know it’s not right and the laws won’t put up with it. Right now, they’re making out like it’s a joke.”

Almost half (46%) of Australians living with low vision and blindness have experienced a refusal with a taxi or ride-share company in the past 24 months, new data collected by Ernst & Young and commissioned by Guide Dogs Australia has revealed.

More than one-third (34%) said their taxi or ride-share was cancelled, while others were ridiculed or discriminated against (15%). The report said 622 people living with low vision and blindness were surveyed across the country, with a mixture of Guide Dog clients and other individuals.

The report found guide dog handlers were more likely to face access refusals or barriers in public, most commonly when booking ride-share or taxis, highlighting the discrimination against guide dogs.

Under federal anti-discrimination laws, assistance dogs are guaranteed access to public places – including taxes and ride-shares – and drivers who refuse service can be fined up to $2,500.

But advocates say the laws are often ignored. Graeme Innes is the former disability discrimination commissioner, a Sydney-based human rights lawyer and Guide Dogs client. He said last December when he arrived at Melbourne airport he was refused three times before he got a ride.

“I was able to get photos and licence numbers, and they’ve been submitted to Safe Transport Victoria and those drivers have all been fined,” Innes said.

“But I shouldn’t have to be the policing authority here … This should be policed by the authorities at the taxi ranks where there are staff there.”

Innes estimated he was refused at least once a month and said he knew people who had guide dogs who had stopped travelling. The government needs to issue fines and work with platforms to ban drivers who refuse, Innes said.

“I think the key thing is government enforcing the law,” he said. “Ride-share companies all have training programs that their drivers go through and so drivers can’t say that they’re not aware of these laws.”

Uber did not respond to questions from Guardian Australia about the incident with Natalie. But a spokesperson said the company was rolling out a “bespoke video learning course” to educate drivers on their obligations. If the driver receives a complaint, they will be forced to complete a “knowledge course”.

Blair Davies, the chief executive of the Australian Taxi Industry Association Limited, said they were satisfied taxi drivers knew they had to provide service for everyone, but some drivers did not want to comply.

“That’s where we do encourage customers who have that experience to report it so that the industry can take action,” Davies said.

“The drivers are out there, they’re effectively working for themselves. If they choose to discriminate, there’s no immediate supervisor to call them into line, we need to wait for the complaint to come in. It’s a worry.”

Davies said the ATIA position was that some “stronger form of compliance” would be helpful as discrimination complaints currently put the onus on the alleged victim.

Tamara Searant, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT general manager of social change, said there needed to be an easier way for users to report complaints and more compliance from companies.

“One thing that’s missing at the moment is reporting,” Searant said. “Better reporting of what’s happening will help with people who want to make complaints, knowing that it’s gone somewhere and that there is an outcome.”

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Biden and Trump clinch Pennsylvania primaries shortly after polls close

State’s voters still had options in presidential contests, with tallies to provide window into how state will swing in November

Joe Biden and Donald Trump both won their primaries in Pennsylvania shortly after polls closed.

Pennsylvanians had gone to the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots in the state’s primary races – the results provide a window into where voters in the crucial battleground stand roughly six months out from the general election.

Biden and Trump had already locked up their parties’ nominations, but Pennsylvania voters still had other options in the presidential primaries.

In the Republican primary, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley’s name was still on the ballot. Although she withdrew from the presidential race last month, Haley has still won some support in the time since, a potentially worrisome sign for Trump’s general election prospects.

Biden faced challenges of his own in Pennsylvania, which he won by roughly 80,000 votes, or 1.2 points, in 2020. A group of progressive activists had run a campaign to encourage Democrats to write in “uncommitted” on Tuesday to protest against Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza. The effort, based on the similar Listen to Michigan campaign, hopes to get at least 40,000 Democrats to write in “uncommitted”, but it may take weeks to get those ballots counted.

On Tuesday, voters had the economy and foreign policy on their minds as they cast their ballots.

Karen Lau, a 70-year-old retired educator in Kingston, said she would be voting for Donald Trump this fall. She said Joe Biden’s handling of the conflict in Israel was a top issue. “Biden’s destroying our country,” she said. “The hypocrisy with Israel of saying one thing and meaning another with Biden.”

Even though Trump has been quiet on what exactly he would do in Israel, Lau said she was convinced he would handle it better. “He’s always been a supporter of Israel,” she said, citing the Abraham accords and Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. “I just have a lot more trust in what he will do.”

Lau, who is Jewish, added that she was “very concerned” with pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses. “The rise of antisemitism is something I never thought I would see in my lifetime,” she said.

Richard K, a 69-year-old retired security guard in Kingston who declined to give his last name, also said he was unbothered that Trump was not that much younger than Biden.

“Trump plays golf when he can, he has a lot more energy,” he said. “Biden walks like an old man.” He also dismissed the criminal cases against Trump, calling them “election interference”.

“If he wasn’t ahead, they wouldn’t be going after him,” he said.

Both Biden and Trump recently held events in Pennsylvania ahead of the primary, underscoring the state’s pivotal role in the general election. At a campaign stop last week in Scranton, where Biden was born, the president used the setting to contrast his vision for the country’s future with Trump’s.

“When I look at the economy, I don’t see it through the eyes of Mar-a-Lago, I see it through the eyes of Scranton,” Biden said, referring to Trump’s Florida resort home. “Scranton values or Mar-a-Lago values: these are the competing visions for our economy that raise fundamental questions of fairness at the heart of this campaign.”

Farther down the ballot, Pennsylvania voters will cast ballots in congressional primaries that will help determine control of the Senate and the House in November. In the Senate race, incumbent Bob Casey ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, while Dave McCormick was the sole candidate in the Republican primary.

McCormick ran for Pennsylvania’s other Senate seat in 2022, but he lost the primary to the celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, who was later defeated by the Democrat John Fetterman in the general election. The Pennsylvania Senate race will probably be one of the most expensive in the country, as Casey reported having nearly $12m in cash on hand earlier this month while McCormick’s campaign has more than $6m in the bank. The Cook Political Report rates the race as “lean Democrat”.

Several House races will provide additional clues about Pennsylvania voters’ leanings ahead of the general election. In the Pittsburgh-based 12th district, the progressive congresswoman and “Squad” member Summer Lee faces a challenge from local council member Bhavini Patel, who has attacked the incumbent over her support for a ceasefire in Gaza. The Moderate Pac, a group that supports centrist Democrats and is largely funded by the Republican mega-donor Jeffrey Yass, has spent more than $600,000 supporting Patel, and the race will be closely scrutinized as an early test for progressives facing primary challenges this year.

In south-eastern Pennsylvania, the Republican representative Brian Fitzpatrick won his primary after attracting a threat from an anti-abortion activist, Mark Houck, who criticized the incumbent for being too centrist. In 2022, Fitzpatrick won re-election by 10 points in a district that Biden carried by 4.6 points two years earlier, according to the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. Cook rates the first district as “likely Republican” in the general election. Fitzpatrick will face Democrat Ashley Ehasz, who ran uncontested in the Democratic primary, in November.

Elsewhere in the state, three Republicans are running in the seventh district primary, vying for the chance to face off against the Democratic incumbent Susan Wild. The Lehigh Valley district is considered a “toss-up” in the general election, per Cook’s ratings.

In the 10th district, based around the city of Harrisburg, Democrat Janelle Stelson won the crowded Democratic primary. The former news anchor will face the Republican incumbent and former House freedom caucus chair Scott Perry. Cook rates Perry’s race as “lean Republican” in the general election.

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One in five Australians wrongly believe dementia is ‘normal part of the ageing process’, survey shows

Few Australians know dementia risk can be avoided despite prevalence of condition, first-of-its-kind survey shows

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Dementia is the leading cause of premature death in older Australians, but fewer than one in three people are confident they know how to reduce their risk of it, a first-of-its-kind survey has shown.

The Dementia Awareness Survey released Wednesday by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is the largest nationally representative survey of its kind measuring knowledge of dementia risk factors and common misconceptions.

Dementia is an umbrella term for several diseases that over time destroy nerve cells and damage the brain, affecting memory, thinking and the ability to perform daily activities.

Some risk factors, such as ageing and genetics, cannot be changed, but current evidence indicates that about 40% of the risk can reduced by avoiding or changing certain behaviours such as not smoking, maintaining healthy blood pressure and socialising.

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More than 5,400 adults completed the online survey available in six languages between July and August 2023, which asked them to respond to statements about the most common forms of dementia.

More than one in five respondents (22%) wrongly agreed that “dementia is a normal part of the ageing process”.

The most common misconceptions were that eating a protein-rich diet could lower the risk of dementia (31%), followed by avoiding the use of artificial sweeteners (26%) and aluminium cookware (20%).

Fewer than one in three participants confidently identified the 14 known risk factors of dementia.

Melanie Dunford, the head of the dementia data improvement unit at the AIHW, said despite the prevalence of dementia as a health and aged care concern in Australia, the community has poor understanding of what can be done to reduce the risk of dementia.

“When people have little knowledge it tends to correlate with greater stigma, which can lead to delays in people seeking help and whether they share diagnosis with others,” she said.

Conversely, the survey showed Australians who knew more about dementia tended to take more actions to reduce their dementia risk.

Almost all participants (99.6%) undertook one or more behaviours that can reduce the risk of developing dementia but fewer than two in five were doing so specifically for that reason.

Dr Nikki-Anne Wilson, a research fellow at Neuroscience Research Australia and the University of New South Wales, said while the overlap between known risk factors for other chronic health conditions such as heart disease may be having secondary effects for dementia risk reduction, other health prevention information would not capture the full spectrum of risk reduction factors for dementia.

Her research has also shown Australians have a much poorer understanding of the risk reduction factors for dementia compared with other health conditions.

Wilson said individuals alone were unable to “efficiently reduce all the modifiable risk factors” and socioeconomic factors such as the cost of healthy food also played a role.

“There’s actually barriers to engaging in those risk reduction behaviours. So if the people who know what to do are already doing it, we need to shift our focus about addressing not only increasing information about what people can do … but also supporting those who may know what to do, but can’t do it for financial reasons, or for lack of time,” Wilson said.

The survey found significantly higher levels of knowledge about dementia amongst women, people with personal experience of people living with dementia, those with higher levels of education and household income, non-heterosexual people and people born in English-speaking countries.

The government commissioned the AIHW to conduct the survey, which will provide baseline data against which the effectiveness of the National Dementia Action Plan – which is still in development – can be measured.

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One in five Australians wrongly believe dementia is ‘normal part of the ageing process’, survey shows

Few Australians know dementia risk can be avoided despite prevalence of condition, first-of-its-kind survey shows

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

Dementia is the leading cause of premature death in older Australians, but fewer than one in three people are confident they know how to reduce their risk of it, a first-of-its-kind survey has shown.

The Dementia Awareness Survey released Wednesday by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is the largest nationally representative survey of its kind measuring knowledge of dementia risk factors and common misconceptions.

Dementia is an umbrella term for several diseases that over time destroy nerve cells and damage the brain, affecting memory, thinking and the ability to perform daily activities.

Some risk factors, such as ageing and genetics, cannot be changed, but current evidence indicates that about 40% of the risk can reduced by avoiding or changing certain behaviours such as not smoking, maintaining healthy blood pressure and socialising.

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

More than 5,400 adults completed the online survey available in six languages between July and August 2023, which asked them to respond to statements about the most common forms of dementia.

More than one in five respondents (22%) wrongly agreed that “dementia is a normal part of the ageing process”.

The most common misconceptions were that eating a protein-rich diet could lower the risk of dementia (31%), followed by avoiding the use of artificial sweeteners (26%) and aluminium cookware (20%).

Fewer than one in three participants confidently identified the 14 known risk factors of dementia.

Melanie Dunford, the head of the dementia data improvement unit at the AIHW, said despite the prevalence of dementia as a health and aged care concern in Australia, the community has poor understanding of what can be done to reduce the risk of dementia.

“When people have little knowledge it tends to correlate with greater stigma, which can lead to delays in people seeking help and whether they share diagnosis with others,” she said.

Conversely, the survey showed Australians who knew more about dementia tended to take more actions to reduce their dementia risk.

Almost all participants (99.6%) undertook one or more behaviours that can reduce the risk of developing dementia but fewer than two in five were doing so specifically for that reason.

Dr Nikki-Anne Wilson, a research fellow at Neuroscience Research Australia and the University of New South Wales, said while the overlap between known risk factors for other chronic health conditions such as heart disease may be having secondary effects for dementia risk reduction, other health prevention information would not capture the full spectrum of risk reduction factors for dementia.

Her research has also shown Australians have a much poorer understanding of the risk reduction factors for dementia compared with other health conditions.

Wilson said individuals alone were unable to “efficiently reduce all the modifiable risk factors” and socioeconomic factors such as the cost of healthy food also played a role.

“There’s actually barriers to engaging in those risk reduction behaviours. So if the people who know what to do are already doing it, we need to shift our focus about addressing not only increasing information about what people can do … but also supporting those who may know what to do, but can’t do it for financial reasons, or for lack of time,” Wilson said.

The survey found significantly higher levels of knowledge about dementia amongst women, people with personal experience of people living with dementia, those with higher levels of education and household income, non-heterosexual people and people born in English-speaking countries.

The government commissioned the AIHW to conduct the survey, which will provide baseline data against which the effectiveness of the National Dementia Action Plan – which is still in development – can be measured.

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Secret report warns Australian Border Force’s marine unit is ‘not safe for women’

Exclusive: Human rights commission calls for immediate intervention in the division and says sexism and bullying are rife

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Australian Border Force’s marine unit is rife with “inappropriate workplace behaviours including sexual harassment and bullying”, meaning female officers are not safe, according to the human rights watchdog.

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), in a secret report for the ABF, revealed that in the marine unit 100% of women who responded to a survey “witnessed sex discrimination, sexual … and/or sex-based harassment” and 78% had personally experienced that behaviour.

This included “bullying, sexually suggestive and sexist comments and incidents of sexual harassment described by officers as ‘serious’”.

The report by the sex discrimination commissioner, Anna Cody, demanded “immediate intervention” and called for border force leadership “at all levels … [to] be held accountable for addressing reported and known incidents of inappropriate workplace behaviours”.

The ABF commissioner, Michael Outram, responded by telling staff the reported behaviours were “confronting and disturbing and run counter to our ABF values”. He promised to crack down on unlawful conduct.

The marine unit report is part of a five-year partnership with the AHRC to improve workplace culture and gender equity in the ABF. It was handed to ABF’s top brass in late March and was never intended to be made public.

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A summary of the report, seen by Guardian Australia, said there was “an urgent need to prevent inappropriate behaviour in the marine unit” with “much work to be done” to ensure “a safe and respectful environment for all officers regardless of their gender, sexuality, cultural or racial background or disability”.

Despite the marine unit’s culture “slowly improving”, the report found that “significant improvement is still required” in particular due to the “normalisation of inappropriate behaviours [and] cliques”.

“The marine unit remains male-dominated and there is limited cultural and racial diversity,” the report found. Women comprise 10% of the marine unit compared with 44% of the entire ABF.

The report warned of a “high prevalence of inappropriate workplace behaviours”, which “pose a significant safety risk for officers and an institutional risk for the ABF”.

“Women continue to face stigma and differential treatment in the marine unit and experience discrimination and isolation.”

The report drew on an anonymous survey of 50 respondents conducted between September and October 2023. It portrayed “a workplace that is not safe for women and challenges efforts to build a genuinely inclusive culture”.

It found 100% of women surveyed had witnessed sex discrimination or sexual or sex-based harassment in the marine unit compared with 33% of men. About 78% of women had personally experienced that behaviour compared with 18% of men.

Reported experiences included: sexist, misogynistic or misandrist comments, jokes or banter (67% of women and 8% of men); intrusive comments about their private life or physical appearance (56% of women and 5% of men); and sexually suggestive comments or jokes (44% of women and 3% of men).

While the survey was “not a representative sample” it was backed by 17 focus groups with a total of 104 participants and 32 individual interviews. These uncovered reports of “humiliating or threatening behaviour from colleagues, such as the deliberate denial of diet-appropriate meals during a patrol, ‘career curtailing gossip’ and yelling”.

The AHRC reported a “perceived lack of accountability … for inappropriate behaviours leading to distrust in the system” as complaints were made but “led to inadequate action or no visible consequences”. Examples included “accused officers being transferred to other vessels rather than … directly addressing the behaviour”, it said.

The AHRC called on the ABF to “undertake periodic risk assessments of inappropriate workplace behaviours in the marine unit and identify control measures”.

“The ABF should integrate diversity and inclusion training to foster a greater understanding of the experiences of women, first nations and Carm [culturally and racially marginalised] officers,” it said.

In a message to staff, Outram said the conduct uncovered was “not representative of all officers in our organisation” but accepted that “outdated ideas and assumptions about gender … and a lack of respect for diversity and inclusion drive these behaviours within the ABF”.

Outram vowed to “strengthen our systems that prevent and respond to unlawful workplace conduct and other inappropriate behaviour”.

Outram told Guardian Australia he had “proactively commissioned” the AHRC work in April 2022. “Given the experience of other similar organisations, it was always likely … we would find examples of conduct that has been identified in the reports,” he said.

Outram has now accepted all 42 recommendations of the marine unit report and a separate and wider AHRC Respect@Work project for the border force, which has also not been released. He promised a “detailed implementation plan”.

“I am resolutely committed to working with the AHRC to establish ABF as an exemplar in providing a safe, equitable, diverse and inclusive culture and workplace.”

The home affairs minister, Clare O’Neil, said she “shared the commissioner’s concerns with the findings of the report and note the ABF has accepted all recommendations”.

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Peter Dutton may face party upset if opposition supports government’s misinformation bill

Opposition leader has backed giving eSafety Commissioner further powers, reforms that conservative Coalition senators strongly oppose

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Peter Dutton may face a party room revolt if the opposition elects to support the government’s misinformation bill, with a number of conservative colleagues and lobby groups saying they remained strongly opposed to the changes.

Dutton has expressed support for giving the eSafety Commissioner further powers, while the shadow communications minister, David Coleman, has said the Coalition was “open” to considering any changes to the government’s misinformation bill.

But conservative Coalition senators Matt Canavan, Claire Chandler and Alex Antic have all expressed strong criticisms of the proposed reforms, while the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) have also indicated they will continue to campaign against the bill.

The misinformation bill, released as an exposure draft in 2023, would empower the Australian Communications and Media Authority to require online platforms to address content considered “false, misleading or deceptive, and where the provision of that content on the service is reasonably likely to cause or contribute to serious harm”.

It was met with strong objections, from the ACL, IPA, , One Nation and numerous Coalition politicians, including Coleman, who set up a website, still active, called “Bin The Bill”. The conservative campaign group Advance labelled it a “Ministry of Truth”, a reference to George Orwell’s dystopian 1984.

The communications minister, Michelle Rowland, withdrew the bill in 2023, promising “refinements”, but after misinformation spread online following the Bondi Junction and Wakeley stabbings in Sydney, Rowland indicated the bill would be resurfaced.

Canavan, the Queensland LNP senator, was critical of the government for pointing to the recent stabbings in Sydney as further evidence for its misinformation bill.

“The PM has caused more division by shamelessly tying a violent video to his agenda to outlaw some types of speech. The basic principle is, if you don’t trust politicians, don’t give them the power to tell you what you can say,” he told Guardian Australia.

The IPA’s director of law and policy, John Storey, raised similar concerns. “The federal government is blatantly misleading the public in linking the terrible attacks in Sydney to its proposed misinformation laws, which are designed to do nothing more than censor the opinion of mainstream Australians online,” he claimed.

The government is yet to outline changes to the initial bill it will introduce to parliament. Rowland has said the government is considering refinements including additional protections for freedom of speech, greater transparency, and “improved workability”.

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Dutton told the ABC’s Insiders on Sunday the Coalition was “happy to have a look at anything the government puts forward”, but added “we need to get the right balance”.

“We don’t want to impinge on your ability to express a view in a democracy. It’s a key, fundamental element of who we are, that people can express their view, but they need to do it respectfully,” he said.

The Tasmanian senator Claire Chandler, shadow assistant minister for foreign affairs, who has previously described the bill as a “threat to democracy”, said on Tuesday she stood by those criticisms.

“In a democracy like ours, we should never accept the government of the day having the power to force media of any type to censor views, opinions and debate,” Chandler said.

“What we should expect, as Mr Dutton has said, is that social media companies will act on the appalling child abuse, foreign interference and violent imagery prevalent on their platforms.”

Antic tweeted on Tuesday that he “will not support the Misinformation Bill”, which he considered “monstrous”.

The ACL has previously raised concerns about Acma having power to decide what posts were considered misinformation. On Tuesday, ACL director of policy, Christopher Brohier, said it remained opposed.

“The events of the last week should not make a difference as there is no way of knowing the source of any influence on the young man who is alleged to have stabbed the bishop and there is [no] link known between the Bondi stabbings and the internet,” he said.

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Voyager 1 transmitting data again after Nasa remotely fixes 46-year-old probe

Engineers spent months working to repair link with Earth’s most distant spacecraft, says space agency

Earth’s most distant spacecraft, Voyager 1, has started communicating properly again with Nasa after engineers worked for months to remotely fix the 46-year-old probe.

Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which makes and operates the agency’s robotic spacecraft, said in December that the probe – more than 15bn miles (24bn kilometres) away – was sending gibberish code back to Earth.

In an update released on Monday, JPL announced the mission team had managed “after some inventive sleuthing” to receive usable data about the health and status of Voyager 1’s engineering systems. “The next step is to enable the spacecraft to begin returning science data again,” JPL said. Despite the fault, Voyager 1 had operated normally throughout, it added.

Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 was designed with the primary goal of conducting close-up studies of Jupiter and Saturn in a five-year mission. However, its journey continued and the spacecraft is now approaching a half-century in operation.

Voyager 1 crossed into interstellar space in August 2012, making it the first human-made object to venture out of the solar system. It is currently travelling at 37,800mph (60,821km/h).

The recent problem was related to one of the spacecraft’s three onboard computers, which are responsible for packaging the science and engineering data before it is sent to Earth. Unable to repair a broken chip, the JPL team decided to move the corrupted code elsewhere, a tricky job considering the old technology.

The computers on Voyager 1 and its sister probe, Voyager 2, have less than 70 kilobytes of memory in total – the equivalent of a low-resolution computer image. They use old-fashioned digital tape to record data.

The fix was transmitted from Earth on 18 April but it took two days to assess if it had been successful as a radio signal takes about 22 and a half hours to reach Voyager 1 and another 22 and a half hours for a response to come back to Earth. “When the mission flight team heard back from the spacecraft on 20 April, they saw that the modification worked,” JPL said.

Alongside its announcement, JPL posted a photo of members of the Voyager flight team cheering and clapping in a conference room after receiving usable data again, with laptops, notebooks and doughnuts on the table in front of them.

The Retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who flew two space shuttle missions and acted as commander of the International Space Station, compared the JPL mission to long-distance maintenance on a vintage car.

“Imagine a computer chip fails in your 1977 vehicle. Now imagine it’s in interstellar space, 15bn miles away,” Hadfield wrote on X. “Nasa’s Voyager probe just got fixed by this team of brilliant software mechanics.

Voyager 1 and 2 have made numerous scientific discoveries, including taking detailed recordings of Saturn and revealing that Jupiter also has rings, as well as active volcanism on one of its moons, Io. The probes later discovered 23 new moons around the outer planets.

As their trajectory takes them so far from the sun, the Voyager probes are unable to use solar panels, instead converting the heat produced from the natural radioactive decay of plutonium into electricity to power the spacecraft’s systems.

Nasa hopes to continue to collect data from the two Voyager spacecraft for several more years but engineers expect the probes will be too far out of range to communicate in about a decade, depending on how much power they can generate. Voyager 2 is slightly behind its twin and is moving slightly slower.

In roughly 40,000 years, the probes will pass relatively close, in astronomical terms, to two stars. Voyager 1 will come within 1.7 light years of a star in the constellation Ursa Minor, while Voyager 2 will come within a similar distance of a star called Ross 248 in the constellation of Andromeda.

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‘An enigma’: scientists finally learn what giant prehistoric shark looked like

Full and part skeletons found in Mexico reveal body shape and anatomy of Ptychodus as well as its likely diet

Fossil experts say they have gained unprecedented insights into a type of enormous prehistoric shark, after finding complete skeletons of the creatures.

The specimens, discovered in small quarries in north-eastern Mexico within the last decade, belong to Ptychodusa creature that roamed the seas from around 105m to 75m years ago.

Ptychodus fossils had turned up before but with its bones made of cartilage, which does not mineralise well, many were isolated teeth, which were huge and unusual.

As a result, it was difficult to pin down exactly what Ptychodus looked like and where it sat on the evolutionary family tree.

“Its general appearance has remained a mystery up to now because of the lack of more complete material during almost two centuries,” said Dr Romain Vullo, first author of the research from the University of Rennes.

“The discovery of the new specimens from Vallecillo, revealing the body shape and anatomy of this extinct shark, solves this enigma.”

Prof Michael I Coates of the University of Chicago, who was not involved in the work, said the new fossils were superb.

“Ptychodus has long been a classic example of teeth in search of a body,” he said. “And here we have it, with thorough analyses of where it sits in the shark family tree and a good stab at its ecomorphology – how it fits into marine ecosystems of the late Cretaceous.”

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Vullo and colleagues report how they studied six Ptychodus specimens, dating from about 93m years ago.

Among them was a complete specimen revealing a side view of Ptychodus, containing not only almost all its skeletal elements but also teeth, preserved muscle remains and a body outline complete with all its fins.

A further three of the specimens were almost complete, including a juvenile measuring just over 56cm in length, while the remaining two specimens were incomplete or partial skeletons.

The team say the plethora of features preserved within the specimens, including its fin skeletal anatomy, enabled them to carry out a fresh analysis of where Ptychodus sits on the evolutionary family tree.

The results reveal it was a kind of mackerel shark – a group that includes the extinct gigantic shark megalodon and the great white shark that inhabits oceans today.

The researchers add that as well as its overall body shape and proportions, a number of features of Ptychodus, including the size, shape and position of its fins, as well as its thick vertebral column, suggest it was fast-swimming, while its massive pavement-like teeth support previous conclusions it fed on shelled creatures.

Taken together, the team say the findings suggest Ptychodus hunted prey in open water, with its meals probably comprising sea turtles and ammonites rather than creatures such as clams that dwelled on the sea floor, as had previously been thought.

“Ptychodus was generally thought to be morphologically similar to benthic sharks like the modern nurse shark, but we now know that it looked like the extant porbeagle shark, a fast-swimming pelagic form,” said Vullo.

While Ptychodus was possibly the largest shark ever to live on such a diet, the new fossils suggest it had a maximum length of about 9.7 metres – larger than today’s great white shark but smaller than previous estimates that suggested it could have reached more than 10 metres in length.

The study also offers hints as to the demise of Ptychodus, suggesting it could have died out because of competition with other creatures, such as large aquatic reptiles, that fed on similar prey.

Patrick L Jambura, an expert in fossil fish at the University of Vienna, who was not involved in the study but works alongside three of the authors, said this was important, given more than a third of all sharks and rays today were threatened with extinction.

“Ptychodus provides us with a mirror that shows us what will happen to large apex predators such as the white shark if we, as their main competitor, do not rethink our actions,” he said.

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