The Guardian 2024-05-28 01:11:21


The Victorian premier, Jacinta Allan, has just announced some changes to her outer ministry, including the introduction of a parliamentary secretary for “men’s behaviour change”.

Allan says Mordialloc MP Tim Richardson will take on the role – the “first position of its kind in Australia”.

He will “focus largely on the influence the internet and social media have on boys’ and men’s attitudes towards women and building respectful relationships”, she says.

Allan has also replaced Darren Cheeseman – who was booted from the parliamentary Labor party last month over “allegations of persistent inappropriate behaviour” as secretary for education with Albert Park MP Nina Taylor.

Josh Bull, the MP for Sunbury, will become parliamentary secretary for infrastructure delivery – supporting both transport and health infrastructure ministers, while upper house MP Sheena Watt will become parliamentary secretary for emergency services.

On Australia’s climate and extinction crises, the major parties both have questions to answer

Adam Morton

The Coalition has no climate policy. But Labor’s positions are undermined by its confused stance on gas and the delay of new environmental laws

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Federal parliament is back for the next fortnight and I have a wishlist. Not for things that will happen – let’s not get ahead of ourselves – but for questions that could be addressed if the country is to treat the climate and extinction crises as seriously as our leaders claim they do.

There is no shortage of discussion about nuclear energy due to the Coalition’s much-hyped but yet-to-appear plan to overturn a national ban and bring it to Australia. The issue won plenty of attention after a CSIRO-led assessment that it would be far, far more expensive than wind and solar backed by energy storage and new transmission lines.

It also found that, even under the most generous set of assumptions, there would be no nuclear power here before 2040. These are, of course, important points in their own right. Given the scale and pace of change needed to avoid blackouts and set up the country for a rapidly changing future, and the lack of bipartisan support, they should logically be enough to kill off nuclear as a serious medium-term alternative.

But there are broader questions about the Coalition’s stance that go beyond logistics and cost and deserve attention. They are not the same, but there are also issues with the government’s rhetoric on the climate crisis and environment, and the gap between what it says and does.

Let’s start with the Coalition. As things stand, the opposition has no climate policy.

It does not back the legislated national emissions target for 2030 – a 43% cut compared with 2005 – and its support for net zero climate pollution by 2050 is purely rhetorical. It wants to make new fossil fuel developments easier, opposes policies to limit industrial emissions and boost electric vehicles, and promises to slow the rollout of large-scale renewable energy rollout.

Short of a remarkable policy about-face, a Dutton government would oversee an increase in national emissions. This would have substantial economic, social, environmental and diplomatic ramifications, and raises a host of questions. Some that have a low profile will be crucial. For example, why do the Liberal and National parties oppose the creation of the net zero economy authority, which is proposed to help coordinate the country’s transformation from a dirty to a clean economy and make sure workers and communities are not left behind?

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Given the potential for social rupture, the authority – if properly implemented – may prove among the most important things the Albanese government does on climate. Ideally it would have cross-parliament support.

An obvious question between now and the election is: what would the Coalition do, if anything, to help people in places such as Gladstone through what lies ahead? Lives and livelihoods will depend on getting this right.

On the global stage Australia committed under the landmark Paris climate agreement that there would be no backsliding on national emissions targets. The nearly 200 countries that signed up to the deal agreed to boost their commitments over time. Pledges of what will be done by 2035 are due next year.

The Nationals leader, David Littleproud, has intimated that the Coalition may go to the next election without a 2035 target, suggested – without evidence – that a nationwide economic transformation could somehow be left until close to 2050.

Is the Coalition preparing to break Australia’s commitment to the Paris agreement? If it does, it will be seen by the international community as Australia walking away from the global effort to address the climate crisis.

It seems like something we should have an answer to well in advance.

Labor has its own questions to answer on climate. Unlike the Coalition, it has policies – to underwrite an expansion of renewable energy and transmission links, encourage electric vehicle uptake and support the development of green industries.

But its position is undermined by its confused stance on the future of fossil fuels, particularly gas. Last week the Western Australian Labor premier, Roger Cook, argued again that his state could help “save the planet” while increasing its own emissions from an expanded gas export industry.

As Guardian Australia has reported, this is a line used by the gas industry. The WA government has been asked if it has evidence to back it up but has not produced any. There has been no analysis released that looks at what expanding a highly polluting industry will mean for global emissions. There has been no consideration of what clean industry opportunities may be lost in the process, or what steps could be taken to ensure taxpayers aren’t left footing the bill for stranded assets.

A key question for Anthony Albanese and his ministers is: how will they meet their climate targets while WA’s carbon pollution – up 20% and counting since 2005 – continues to soar?

Put another way, will the political calculation – that WA is captured by the gas industry, and Labor needs to placate this to hold on to government – come at the cost of an ambitious 2035 emissions reduction target before the next election?

A “future gas strategy” released by the resources minister, Madeleine King, suggests the government sees gas as Homer Simpson sees beer – both the cause of, and solution to, life’s problems. The strategy acknowledges emissions from gas need to be rapidly cut but argues new sources will be needed to meet demand “to 2050 and beyond”.

It suggests the government could take a more interventionist approach to minimise gas use to where it is absolutely needed – in some industrial processes, for example – while supporting the rapid expansion of clean alternatives wherever possible.

The question we should ask: what more, if anything, will the government do to push the country down this path? Or will it just leave it up to the industry to decide?

The natural environment is too often a footnote in Australian politics, and so it is here.

But this column should not finish without noting that it is nearly two years since the environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, spoke at the National Press Club about a “story of crisis and decline in Australia’s environment, and of a decade of government inaction and wilful ignorance” under the Coalition.

A five-yearly state of the environment report compiled by scientists found Australia’s natural heritage was in poor and deteriorating health. Hundreds of species were newly listed as threatened with extinction and vast amounts of forest and woodlands were being cleared without federal oversight.

Plibersek promised the national environment laws, which everyone agrees are broken, would be fixed, declaring: “Under Labor the environment is back on the priority list.”

But the new laws have been delayed, and delayed again.

The government will soon introduce legislation to create Environment Protection Australia – the first national EPA – and a second agency to compile environmental data. But it is no longer guaranteeing the promised sweeping law reform before the election – and there was no meaningful new funding for nature protection in the budget.

The state of the environment report quoted a World Economic Forum finding that environmental degradation was a threat to humanity that could “bring about societal collapses with long-lasting and severe consequences”.

The question it leaves hanging remains one for both sides of politics, and maybe the country at large. What are we prepared to lose before we take this more seriously?

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Change in visa rules was to apply in absence of ‘serious offending or family violence’, Andrew Giles was told

Labor is standing by ‘ministerial direction 99’ despite cases that appear at odds with advice given in early 2023

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A rule change that meant a non-citizen’s ties to Australia would be considered before their visa was cancelled was intended to target people without “serious offending or family violence”, the immigration minister was told in early 2023.

But reports detailing the criminal history of some non-citizens who have had their visas restored appear at odds with the intention of that advice to Andrew Giles – leading the Coalition to pledge it would tear up the new rules if elected.

Documents released under freedom of information laws show the home affairs department ran mock exercises to test how the change could result in visas being reinstated. It concluded it would “not have a substantive effect” on non-citizens convicted of more serious crimes.

The Albanese government is standing by the rule change – dubbed ministerial direction 99 – that was introduced to reflect a “commonsense” approach that people with significant ties to Australia should not be deported to countries where they lacked community links.

An agreement was reached between Anthony Albanese and the then New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, in July 2022 and Giles signed off on the change in January 2023.

Under the rules the strength, nature and duration of ties to Australia are considered alongside four other “primary considerations” including protecting the community and “whether the conduct engaged in constituted family violence”.

The department’s submission to Giles on 20 January 2023 noted the rules were “expected to benefit cases with relatively low sentence length”.

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“Adverse decisions (eg to not revoke visa cancellation) are more likely in cases involving serious offending or family violence, despite the person having resided in Australia for a considerable period,” it said.

The department tested the likely impact of a new ministerial direction with a “desktop exercise” reviewing a sample of visa cancellation decisions.

Of the eight visa cancellation decisions tested, just two were changed under the new rules, the FoI documents reveal. In those cases, the test applicants “had relatively low sentence length (12 months and 18 months), had lived in Australia since they were children and did not involve family violence”.

In three test cases involving long-term residents with serious offending – a child sexual abuse offence, a murder and “long-term recidivistic offending (some violent)” – the visa cancellation decisions stood.

But at least in some cases decided by the independent administrative appeals tribunal since January 2023, ties to Australia have been a factor weighing in favour of a successful application to reverse a visa cancellation.

In one case, a New Zealand-born man – referred to as CHCY – was given his visa back in March despite being found guilty of nine counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16 and two counts of rape in relation to his stepdaughter.

The AAT “found that CHCY’s strength, nature and duration of ties to Australia as a primary consideration, weighs in favour of revocation of his visa cancellation as he has lived here for 21 years”.

The tribunal said CHCY had “violated the expectation that he be a law-abiding citizen” and would ordinarily lose his visa, but restored it due to his “particular circumstances and those of the victim”. The government believes this indicates the fact the victim had moved to New Zealand was the decisive factor, not the new rules.

In another case an Iranian-born man known as YVBM with common assault convictions had his visa restored after the AAT found ties to Australia weighed “heavily in favour” of that outcome.

There were other mitigating factors, including his remorse and that his partner had forgiven him for his behaviour and believed him rehabilitated.

In another man’s case, the applicant had been convicted of two counts of breaching an AVO, common assault by grabbing his teen son by the hair, and an assault occasioning actual bodily harm for punching his wife.

Despite finding there was “a real risk he may reoffend” the AAT restored his visa in part because of ties to Australia, but also because the best interests of his children weighed “heavily” in favour of that outcome.

On Monday the shadow immigration minister, Dan Tehan, said the Coalition “will, on day one as a priority, rescind that Andrew Giles ministerial direction, if we are elected at the next election”.

Tehan said the case of CHCY showed the ministerial direction was “clearly failing”.

The deputy prime minister, Richard Marles, said the decision in the case of CHCY had been taken by an independent tribunal to overturn the government’s visa cancellation.

A government spokesperson said the rule change “places a significant emphasis on serious offending and family violence which will need to be considered in all matters”.

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Palestinian officials seek Australian help with building ‘democratic institutions’ amid statehood talks

Head of Palestinian delegation says support of statehood ‘should not be lip service’ as other countries prepare to formally recognise state

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Palestinian officials have asked for Australia’s help in “building vibrant democratic institutions” and fighting corruption, as part of talks aimed at meeting the Albanese government’s conditions for recognising Palestine as a state.

Ireland, Spain and Norway are due to formally recognise Palestine on Tuesday, a step that has drawn condemnation from Israel but has prompted calls from the Greens for Australia to follow suit.

The Australian government no longer sees recognition of Palestinian statehood as a step that can only be taken at the very end of a peace process, but has signalled it is unlikely to follow the three European countries in the short term.

The foreign minister, Penny Wong, has pressed for reforms to the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and is dominated by Fatah, a rival to Hamas.

The head of the general delegation of Palestine to Australia, Izzat Abdulhadi, said he would be prepared to meet Wong to “listen to her ideas about how we can really have a more bold reform agenda”.

“We listen to our partners,” he told Guardian Australia.

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But Abdulhadi added that he saw a role for Australia to “help us also in this reform process because they have the capacity, they have experience, they have vibrant institutions”.

“If you support the establishment of a Palestinian state, it should not be lip service. You should provide something to realise and materialise this slogan, by helping, actually on the ground, to build the Palestinian institutions.”

Asked whether he was looking for capacity-building assistance from Australia’s newly established national anti-corruption commission, he said: “We are very open to this.”

The Palestinian Authority is unpopular among Palestinians as it is widely seen as corrupt and undemocratic, with presidential elections last held 19 years ago and legislative elections last held 18 years ago.

Abdulhadi acknowledged the need to “respond more effectively to the people’s needs and priorities” and said the Palestinian Authority was “talking about elections soon”.

Abdulhadi said one of the reasons for the postponement of Palestinian elections was that Israel was blocking the inclusion of East Jerusalem.

Proceeding on that basis was unacceptable, he said, because it would amount to recognising Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem. Israel’s parliament passed a law in 1980 declaring that its capital was “Jerusalem, complete and united”.

Abdulhadi also cited “the fragmentation” of the occupied territories after Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority from the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Abdulhadi argued the Palestinian Authority was responding to international calls for reform, with the president, Mahmoud Abbas, appointing his US-educated economic adviser, Mohammed Mustafa, as prime minister in March.

Wong had a phone call with Mustafa in the days before a UN general assembly vote where Australia backed expanding the Palestinian delegation’s observer rights. Wong told SBS News last week that Australia wanted to “see more reform of the Palestinian Authority”, but the immediate priorities were to call for the release of hostages held in Gaza, a humanitarian ceasefire and more aid access.

Labor has also accused the leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt, of opting for “slogans” over “substance”, after he avoided expressing direct support for a two-state solution.

Bandt told the ABC’s Insiders program that Israelis and Palestinians were “both equally entitled to live in peace and security and exercise their rights to self-determination” and “if that’s what they choose to self-determine, then that’s what they choose to self-determine”.

The assistant foreign minister, Tim Watts, said: “Anyone who is serious about peace knows that requires a two-state solution – a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel.”

The co-chief executive of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Alex Ryvchin, said the Greens had “taken every opportunity to accuse Israel and its leaders of every crime under the sun, yet Bandt could not express support for a Palestinian state alongside Israel instead of in place of it”.

The Greens will move a parliamentary motion demanding the government follow Ireland, Spain and Norway’s lead in recognising Palestine.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, last week warned other countries against “rewarding terrorism”.

The Australian government says there must be “no role for Hamas in a future Palestinian state”.

The Israeli embassy has been contacted for comment on the Australian government’s stance.

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Failed underarm serve on match point caps more Australian woe at French Open

  • Max Purcell passes up six match points in five-set defeat
  • Australians are 0-6 after two days of tennis at Roland Garros

Australia’s tale of Roland Garros woe has plumbed new depths with Max Purcell missing out on six match points before finally losing his first-round match in bewildering fashion following a stirring comeback.

But Purcell, who defended how he delivered an underarm serve on one of his failed match points against qualifier Henri Squire, was adamant after his five-set reverse that he had “no regrets”, even while reflecting on what a “shit” sport tennis can be.

The Sydneysider’s exit to the German grand slam newcomer on Monday left the green-and-gold contingent at 0-6 – five defeats and an injury withdrawal – after two days with the women’s challenge already over following Daria Saville’s earlier 6-3, 6-4 loss to Jasmine Paolini on Monday.

It will be the first time since 1997 there will be no Australian woman in the second round of the Paris slam following Ajla Tomljanovic’s exit on Sunday.

Yet Purcell looked as if would finally break the men’s drought when rallying from two sets down against big-hitting Squire and twice served for the match on the verge of his first five-set win.

He failed to convert four match points when serving at 5-4 but then, having broken Squire again to serve at 6-5, earned a fifth match point, only to take the fateful decision to serve underarm.

“I do it a lot in practice, it’s worth going for it – absolutely,” Purcell said. “No regrets – hindsight’s a shit thing, isn’t it? No just take the positives, learn from them – I hate living in the past.”

Squire caught on to the underarm ruse quickly and won the point, leaving the 25-year-old Purcell’s head understandably scrambled as he then served a double fault and screwed a backhand wide, taking the contest into a super tiebreaker

In a nail-biter, Purcell fought back once more from 9-7 to rescue two match points and earned a sixth himself which the German saved, but, eventually, a tired backhand into the net enabled Squire to prevail after three hours and 21 minutes.

Asked how he’d get over it, Purcell just shrugged: “I’ll go practice tomorrow, then doubles the next day. The game keeps going, it’s fine.

“I’m proud of the way that I fought, I should have walked off with the spoils, but that’s tennis, it’s a s*** sport, you don’t always win when you’re winning.”

That was something positive for Purcell to take from a match, interrupted by two rain breaks, in which qualifier Squire was “playing lights out” for two sets.

“I wished he’d just open his eyes,” smiled Purcell ruefully.

Earlier, Saville fought valiantly against rising star Paolini, but her second-set fightback from 5-1 to the verge of 5-4 fell agonisingly short, after it was interrupted by an hour’s rain delay that halted her momentum.

But the 30-year-old Australian No.1 didn’t complain, bemoaning only that she served so poorly, holding her delivery just once in eight attempts while also gifting nine double faults.

“I felt like the whole match was actually a lot closer than maybe the scoreline suggested,” said Saville, “but I struggled with the serve, and it cost me, especially in the first set.”

“But at 5-4 on that return game, I made four unforced forehand errors, trying to dictate but missing. I’m okay with that, though, because I think I took a chance, but it just didn’t work out.”

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Global shock after Israeli airstrike kills dozens in Rafah tent camp

At least 45 people, including many women and children, killed in assault that prompts international outcry

An Israeli airstrike that caused a huge blaze at a tented area for displaced people in Rafah has killed 45 people, medics have said, with images of charred and dismembered children prompting an outcry from global leaders and putting ceasefire talks in jeopardy.

Bombing overnight that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said targeted senior Hamas militants in a precision strike appears to have ignited fires that spread quickly through tents and makeshift accommodation, overwhelming a nearby field hospital operated by the International Committee of the Red Cross and overstretched local hospitals.

“We pulled out people who were in an unbearable state,” Mohammed Abuassa, who rushed to the scene in the north-western neighbourhood of Tel al-Sultan, told the Associated Press. “We pulled out children who were in pieces. We pulled out young and elderly people. The fire in the camp was unreal.”

The health ministry in the Hamas-controlled area said about half of the dead were women, children and older adults. Barefoot children wandered around the smoking wreckage on Monday as searches for the dead continued and mourning families prepared to bury their loved ones.

Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said in parliament that “something unfortunately went tragically wrong” with the airstrike. “We are investigating the incident and will reach conclusions, because this is our policy,” he said.

The US, Israel’s staunchest ally and weapons supplier, described the images from the aftermath as devastating.

The strike, one of the deadliest single incidents in the eight-month war to date, came two days after the international court of justice in The Hague, which arbitrates between states, ordered Israel to stop its operation in Rafah immediately.

More than 85% of the Palestinian territory’s population had sought shelter in the area having fled fighting elsewhere, and a million people have been forced to move again since Israel’s ground operation began on 6 May. Israeli ground troops have so far probed Rafah’s southern and eastern outskirts, rather than its overcrowded centre.

Aid deliveries have slowed to a trickle, with the Rafah and nearby Kerem Shalom crossings effectively blocked.

International censure of Israel’s war against Hamas has grown steadily in tandem with the death toll and humanitarian crisis in the strip, but Israeli officials have repeatedly said that a ground operation in Rafah, where it believes Hamas’s leadership and four battalions of fighters are camped out with Israeli hostages, is necessary for “total victory”.

Friday’s order from the ICJ is binding, but not enforceable. Several countries called on Israel to obey the judges 13-2 majority decision in the wake of the Rafah strike.

Qatar, a key mediator between Israel and Hamas in attempts to secure a ceasefire and the release of hostages, said the Rafah casualties would complicate the protracted negotiations. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported later on Monday that Hamas had decided to pull out of the latest proposed talks over what its senior leadership described as a massacre.

Neighbouring Egypt and Jordan, which made peace with Israel decades ago, also condemned the Rafah strike.

Relations between Egypt and Israel, cool at the best of times, have reached a nadir since the Rafah operation began. The situation deteriorated further on Monday after the Israeli military confirmed there had been an exchange of fire between Israeli and Egyptian soldiers in the Rafah crossing area in which at least one member of Egypt’s security forces was killed. Both countries’ militaries are reviewing the incident.

France, a European ally of Israel, said it was outraged by the Rafah strike. “These operations must stop,” the country’s president, Emmanuel Macron, posted on X. “There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians. I call for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire.”

Several thousand demonstrators reportedly gathered in Paris on Monday evening to protest against Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, posted: “Horrified by news coming out of Rafah on Israeli strikes killing dozens of displaced persons, including small children. I condemn this in the strongest terms.”

Italy’s defence minister, Guido Crosetto, said that bombings such as Sunday night’s would have longstanding repercussions for Israel. Speaking to Sky TG24, he said: “Israel with this choice is spreading hatred, rooting hatred that will involve their children and grandchildren. I would have preferred another decision.”

The head of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said: “The state of Israel continues to violate international law with impunity and in contempt of an international court of justice ruling … ordering an end to its military action in Rafah.”

After criticism of the Rafah strike, the IDF said it had not anticipated civilian casualties, and had bombed an area outside the latest “evacuation zone” to where Palestinians have been ordered to move, although that claim appeared to contradict a previous “safe zone” map from 22 May.

The bombing had killed Hamas’s chief of staff for the West Bank and another senior official responsible for deadly attacks on Israelis, the IDF said.

About 1,200 Israelis were killed and another 250 taken hostage in Hamas’s 7 October attack that triggered the latest conflict. According to the local health ministry, more than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory operation, which has left desperate civilians without healthcare, food or water and reduced most of the coastal territory to ruins.

After a week in which Israel’s global standing had plummeted, Sunday’s attack attracted more attention than usual in the Hebrew-language media, which has often avoided daily reporting on the scenes of death and destruction in Gaza.

Several rightwing Israeli journalists celebrated the Rafah attack in appearances on Israeli television and on Twitter, likening it to this week’s Jewish bonfire festival, Lag B’Omer. Commentator Yinon Dromi retweeted another user’s post which showed a fire in Rafah, adding her own: “Happy Holidays.”

Hostilities also flared on Israel’s northern border on Monday. The powerful Lebanese group Hezbollah said it had launched a salvo of rockets at Israeli territory in response to a deadly Israeli strike outside a hospital in southern Lebanon earlier in the day.

Israel has been locked in a battle of attrition with the Iranian-backed militia since 8 October, when Hezbollah began firing missiles at the Jewish state to aid Hamas.

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Trump tells donors he will crush pro-Palestinian protests if re-elected

Presumptive Republican nominee calls demonstrations against Israel’s war in Gaza part of a ‘radical revolution’

Donald Trump has told a group of wealthy donors that he will crush pro-Palestinian protests on university campuses if he is returned to the White House.

The former president and presumptive Republican nominee called the demonstrations against Israel’s war in Gaza part of a “radical revolution” and promised the predominantly Jewish donors that he would set the movement back 25 or 30 years if they helped him beat Joe Biden in November’s presidential election.

“If you get me re-elected, we’re going to set that movement back 25 or 30 years,” Trump replied, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the event.

Trump also said his administration would expel any foreign students found to be taking part in the protests, which have recently taken the form of tented encampments in colleges across the US.

Addressing the meeting in New York on 14 May, Trump heard one donor complain that many of the students and faculty academics taking part in the protests could, in future, hold positions of power in the US.

He praised New York police for clearing the encampments at Columbia University and said the approach should be emulated by other cities, adding: “It has to be stopped now.”

Republicans have increasingly sought to make the campus protests an election issue, depicting them as a manifestation of “chaos” rampaging unchecked on Biden’s watch.

Congressional Republicans have staged a series of hearings on Capitol Hill to highlight the trend, focusing on reports of antisemitism among protesters and alleging multiple failures of university presidents to combat it.

In the latest hearing last week, GOP members of the education and the workforce committee assailed the presidents of Northwestern and Rutgers universities for negotiating voluntary dismantlements of the encampments, rather than calling in the police, as advocated by Trump.

In further remarks to the donors, Trump performed an apparent U-turn on Israel’s offensive in Gaza after months of equivocating by saying that he supports the country’s right to continue its “war on terror”.

He has previously said Israel is “losing the PR war” with its actions in Gaza. More than 36,000 Palestinians have so far been killed in an operation originally launched in retaliation for last October’s murderous assault by Hamas, which resulted in around 1,200 Israelis being murdered and another 253 being taken hostage.

Speaking to the mass-circulation Israel Hayom newspaper in March, Trump said: “You have to finish up your war … You gotta get it done.” He has also said Israel should “get back to peace and stop killing people”.

In his donor meeting – which he joked was attended by “98% of my Jewish friends” – Trump reportedly failed to mention the name of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, who he resents for recognising Biden’s victory in the 2020 election and has not spoken to since.

But he boasted of his policies towards Israel, namely the decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the recognition of the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, which Israel took from Syria in the 1967 six-day war.

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Fatima Payman labels Israel’s strike on Rafah ‘deplorable’ and calls on government to cease trade

Labor senator the first government member to publicly voice outrage over strike in southern Gaza that killed 35 people

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Labor senator Fatima Payman has labelled Israel’s strike on a displaced person’s camp in Rafah “deplorable”, calling on her own government to stop trade with Israel and recognise a Palestinian state.

Payman is the first government member to publicly voice outrage over the strike on Rafah’s Tal al-Sultan neighbourhood, in southern Gaza. At least 35 people were killed, according to Palestinian medics.

Footage from the scene of Sunday’s airstrike in Rafah showed heavy destruction, burning buildings and civilians sifting through wreckage. The Israeli military said its air force struck a Hamas compound and that the strike was carried out with “precise ammunition and on the basis of precise intelligence”.

The IDF said it had taken out Hamas’s chief of staff for the West Bank and another senior official behind deadly attacks on Israelis, adding it was “aware of reports indicating that as a result of the strike and fire that was ignited, several civilians in the area were harmed. The incident is under review”.

A spokesperson with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said the death toll was likely to rise as search and rescue efforts continued. The society said the location had been designated a “humanitarian area” by Israel and was not included in areas that its military had ordered people to evacuate from earlier this month.

In a message posted to her X, Facebook and Instagram accounts, Payman wrote: “This is deplorable.

“We must demand an end to this genocide, stop all trade, divest and recognise a Palestinian state.”

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Payman also referred to alleged atrocities from a widely circulated video, which Guardian Australia has not independently verified.

A government spokesperson said: “Reports of civilian casualties in Rafah, following a strike by Israel in retaliation for a Hamas rocket attack, are deeply concerning.

“These events only underscore that we must see a humanitarian ceasefire now so that civilians can be protected. Hostages must be released and aid increased.”

The foreign minister, Penny Wong’s office and Payman’s office were both contacted for comment.

Days earlier, the shadow defence minister, Andrew Hastie, accused pro-Palestinian supporters of “running cover” for Hamas and questioned the “twisted morality” of the international criminal court in an angry address to his followers.

Hastie said the opposition would not let pro-Palestinian supporters shred Australia’s “finely woven social cohesion with their imported violence” in a newsletter on Friday evening.

The Western Australian Liberal MP and former special forces commander called pro-Palestinian supporters “Little Sennacheribs” in a biblical reference to an ancient Assyrian king, Sennacherib, whose army was massacred by an angel of death as it tried to take control of Jerusalem.

Hastie accused student activists and celebrities on red carpets who had been supportive of the Palestinian cause of “gaslighting those who stand against antisemitism”.

“Little Sennacheribs are besieging Jewish Australians in our institutions; their student armies encamped in our universities. They are lining up on the red carpet, winking indirect support for Hamas. They flip the narrative, and gaslight those who stand against antisemitism,” Hastie’s newsletter read.

“Meanwhile, our prime minister, Anthony Albanese, walks right on by and says that he has no opinion on these Little Sennacheribs, and their hatred for our fellow Australians.”

Last week the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, applied for warrants for the arrest of five people – Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli defence minister, Yoav Gallant, and Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh – in connection with events in Gaza and Israel since Hamas’s 7 October attacks.

The Albanese government’s response so far has been not to comment while it waits for the ICC to make its decision on whether to grant the arrest warrants. The opposition’s response, however, has been to accuse the international tribunal of determining a “moral equivalence” between Israel and the militant group Hamas, and threatening to withdraw from the Rome Statute.

The shadow defence minister described Khan’s announcement as “twisted morality reach[ing] its zenith”.

“Only someone stupefied by the opulent decadence of The Hague could come up with this plot twist,” the newsletter continued.

“I have no faith in the ICC. And if this is how they apply international law, I want them nowhere near our Australian troops. But we won’t stand for this sort of behaviour in the Coalition.”

Human rights groups have written to Albanese, Wong and the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, urging them to denounce Dutton and the opposition’s criticism of the ICC.

In a letter sent on Monday, the Australian Centre for International Justice, Human Rights Law Centre and Amnesty International said Dutton’s threats “undermine Australia commitment to international law and promote a culture of impunity”.

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‘Nothing justifies what we have witnessed here’: the doctors returning home from Gaza

British doctors Mohammed Tahir and Omar El-Taji thought they were mentally prepared to help treat people in Rafah. But what they and other foreign volunteers faced was beyond anything they could have imagined

Just a few days after arriving at a hospital outside Rafah in the Gaza Strip, Dr Omar El-Taji – a urologist who usually works in Manchester – was woken up at 2am to operate on an urgent case. “A man in his 30s was brought in after his entire building was bombed,” he says. “He had an open wound to his abdomen, his hand was falling off, and his ankles were completely mangled.”

The man was quickly taken into the operating room. “The shrapnel had completely sliced through him – I had never seen anything like it,” says El-Taji.

The patient survived the surgery, but died two days later after he went into renal failure due to sepsis as there was no dialysis available. “This would not have happened in a healthcare system that was adequately resourced,” he says.

El-Taji was part of a group of international doctors who spent three weeks in Gaza, operating under the umbrella of the World Health Organization. It has given them a first-hand look at a health system that has been shattered by Israel’s continuing offensive in Gaza, where two dozen hospitals are no longer operating.

The team of medical workers arrived at the European hospital near Khan Younis at the beginning of May with suitcases filled with essential items, including medication, surgical instruments, and boxes of Quality Street. “For the kids,” says El-Taji.

“I thought I was mentally prepared,” he says. “But what we witnessed in Gaza was beyond anything I could have imagined.”

About 36,000 Palestinians in Gaza have died since Israel started its military offensive last October, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory. There have also been more than 400 reported attacks on healthcare facilities and personnel and, according to the ministry, at least 340 healthcare workers have been killed.

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces said it was “committed to mitigating civilian harm during operational activity” and “respecting all applicable international legal obligations, including the law of armed conflict”. They said IDF lawyers were also “on hand at all levels of command to ensure that strikes comply with international legal obligations, including proportionality”.

As the doctors made their way into the hospital for the first time they say they found thousands of desperate Palestinian families packed into tents and cardboard shelters. Inside, they say they saw displaced families occupying corridors and stairs, making it difficult for them to even get in.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies what we have witnessed here,” says Dr Mohammed Tahir, an orthopaedic surgeon from London. “People bring in their children, who are dead on arrival, and want us to try to resuscitate them – even though their bodies show no sign of life. They then leave carrying the limbs of their dead children in cardboard boxes.”

For the doctors, making triage decisions was one of the hardest aspects of the mission. Often decisions had to be made instantly, which in some cases meant leaving severely injured patients to die in order to preserve dwindling resources.

The foreign doctors worked alongside Palestinian doctors, many of whom were themselves displaced and living in tents outside the hospital. A key part of the mission is to teach and train local medical staff and students.

“The Palestinian medical students are the real heroes,” says Tahir. “They have had their universities destroyed and flock to us for any knowledge we can impart that may help them, help others. They are young volunteers, who aren’t getting paid, but turn up to work every day, trying desperately to prop up a failing health system because the world has failed them.”

One day, the doctors say they visited the sites of the destroyed Nasser and al-Shifa hospitals, where the mass graves of hundreds of Palestinians were recently discovered, many stripped naked with their hands tied, according to reports published by the UN human rights office.

“It was apocalyptic,” says Dr Laura Swoboda, a wound care specialist from Wisconsin. “The sheer destruction was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Decomposing bodies still stuck beneath the rubble. All around us, we could smell death.”

As she walked among the debris, Swoboda says she saw overturned ambulances and a burned-out dialysis centre; medical supplies scattered everywhere and the sound of black body bags flapping in the wind. “There were notes scribbled on the walls of theatre rooms by doctors who had been hiding there,” says Swoboda. “And then in the rubble, I came across a human finger. It was like a horror movie.”

When Dr Ahlia Kattan and her husband Dr Sameer Khan decided to join the mission, their parents offered to babysit. After months of seeing horrific videos of injured and dead Palestinian children on their social media feeds, the couple from California were left wondering, what if these children had been their own.

During their time in Gaza, the couple, who are both anaesthetists, saw hundreds of patients – the majority of them women and children. But there was one case in particular that Kattan says she cannot get out of her mind.

“One day I went to the emergency room and lying on a stretcher was a small boy, the exact same size as my four-year-old son; his ashened baby hands were becoming toddler hands,” says Kattan.

“His name was Mahmoud and he was a victim of an Israeli bombing campaign that left more than 75% of his body burnt. His eyebrows were singed off, his hair smelt of smoke.”

Mahmoud lay crying in pain as Kattan unwrapped his wounds; an ultrasound revealed a shattered spleen and crushed lungs. “We did not have the resources to save him and he died in front of us – cold and in pain with no one who knew him,” she says, holding back tears. “I wish I could have protected him. He was only four.”

As Israel began its assault on Rafah in May, the doctors say bombs started landing a few hundred metres from their clearly marked safe house. Loud explosions shook the walls of their rooms while outside, the sound of artillery fire became constant. One night, the doctors decided it was no longer safe and scrambled out, still wearing their scrubs, and moved into the European hospital, where they slept on the floor.

From there, the doctors say the situation steadily worsened. The hospital became low on fuel and the generator often stopped working during surgeries, plunging theatre rooms into darkness. The medical supplies the doctors had bought were also running out. Since their evacuation, they say no one has been able to replace them – leaving the European hospital with even fewer workers to look after patients with increasingly fewer resources.

Despite the danger they faced, since returning home, many of the doctors have had mixed feelings about leaving Gaza.

“As I woke up for the first time without the sounds of airstrikes and gunfire, my thoughts immediately went to those I left behind” says El-Taji. “We can’t look away. In the face of such immense suffering, we all have a duty to act.”

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Pro-Palestine protesters at ANU move campus camp by 50 metres ahead of noon deadline

University dramatically escalated its response to the on-campus occupation on Monday, demanding protesters vacate their site in the centre of campus

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Student protesters in Canberra have moved their pro-Palestine encampment to a new location after police demanded they pack up by noon on Tuesday.

Protesters at the Australian National University voted on Monday night to relocate their camp 50 metres down the road, saying they had engaged in good faith. But they condemned what they called “reckless and unjustifiable intimidation tactics” from the university.

The ANU dramatically escalated its response to the on-campus occupation on Monday, demanding protesters vacate their site at Kambri, in the centre of campus.

Police attended campus at the ANU’s request on Monday and warned students that failure to comply with university directions to leave the site by midday on Tuesday “may result in further action by ACT Policing”.

“Let us be clear: our goal has never been to occupy Kambri Lawns,” encampment organisers said in a statement.

“Our goal has always been to, and continues to be, to ensure our ANU degrees are no longer contributing to genocide.

“By relocating, we have demonstrated our willingness to cooperate with [ANU] vice-chancellor [Genevieve] Bell’s demands. It is now time for … ANU leadership to start engaging with ours.”

An ANU spokesperson said the university had ensured that protests were safe, appropriate and lawful.

“ANU has provided options for the protestors to continue their protests in ways that are respectful and safe for the entire university community,” the spokesperson said. “The university will continue to discuss these options with protestors.”

ACT Police said officers remained in regular contact with ANU security and were monitoring developments with protestors. No arrests had been made in relation to the encampment.

ANU initially directed the encampment to move on Monday morning when director of facilities and services, Jeremy Matthew, said the camp was in a fire evacuation zone, creating an “unacceptable risk” to staff and students.

“We’re committed to the safety of this campus,” encampment spokesperson and ANU student Al, who preferred not to share their surname, said.

“We want to engage in good faith, on the fire evacuation or on our demands as a whole.”

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Protesters called on supporters to rally on campus on Tuesday morning in support of the camp and said they plan to continue their campaign.

“We’re prepared to stick around for as long as it takes to get our demands met,” Al said.

Earlier on Monday ANU security ordered the remaining students entering their fourth week occupying the site to immediately disband.

Students rejected the demands, instead issuing a call-out for supporters and legal observers to reinforce numbers. In a video posted to social media, an organiser said a vote had been taken and the remaining protesters had decided to stay on at the Kambri site.

“The police have come and told us that we need to leave but we as a collective have decided we’re going to say,” they said. “We will not be moved, we will be staying in Kambri.”

Students for Palestine Canberra called on supporters to return to the campus at 10.30am on Tuesday for a snap protest to reinforce the encampment.

“The police have issued a move on order which comes into effect at 12pm tomorrow … please come down and spread the word,” they wrote on social media. “We continue to demand that ANU disclose and divest.”

ACT policing confirmed it had been in regular contact with campus security. The force told the encampment it supported the right to protest but students had to move from a grassed area.

From 8am to 3pm on Monday, police officers joined about two dozen members of campus security as protesters drummed on upturned buckets, chanting: “We are the students. We won’t be silenced. Cut the ties now, now, now, now.”

The ANU spokesperson said: “No one has been told not to protest.”

They added: “The university has given the small number of encampment participants a reasonable and non-negotiable direction, on the basis of safety and wellbeing for the ANU community, to immediately remove their belongings and vacate the site.”

The direction follows meetings with a small group of students who were advised to disband or risk breaching the university’s code of conduct.

Students refused, vowing they would not move until ANU disclosed and divested its ties to weapons manufacturers. Both the University of Melbourne and Curtin University have agreed, in part, to protesters’ demands while negotiating an end to encampments.

Camps at La Trobe and Deakin University have also been disbandedas university managements warn of disciplinary action.

Asked whether ANU would change its position, the spokesperson said all university investments were governed by its socially responsible investment policy.

“The university thanks our student body for drawing our attention to areas that we may need to now consider in 2024,” they said. “This includes expanding companies for review, along with emerging areas of research including artificial intelligence.

“The university has listened to this important feedback from its students and thanks them for it.”

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Pro-Palestine protesters at ANU move campus camp by 50 metres ahead of noon deadline

University dramatically escalated its response to the on-campus occupation on Monday, demanding protesters vacate their site in the centre of campus

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

Student protesters in Canberra have moved their pro-Palestine encampment to a new location after police demanded they pack up by noon on Tuesday.

Protesters at the Australian National University voted on Monday night to relocate their camp 50 metres down the road, saying they had engaged in good faith. But they condemned what they called “reckless and unjustifiable intimidation tactics” from the university.

The ANU dramatically escalated its response to the on-campus occupation on Monday, demanding protesters vacate their site at Kambri, in the centre of campus.

Police attended campus at the ANU’s request on Monday and warned students that failure to comply with university directions to leave the site by midday on Tuesday “may result in further action by ACT Policing”.

“Let us be clear: our goal has never been to occupy Kambri Lawns,” encampment organisers said in a statement.

“Our goal has always been to, and continues to be, to ensure our ANU degrees are no longer contributing to genocide.

“By relocating, we have demonstrated our willingness to cooperate with [ANU] vice-chancellor [Genevieve] Bell’s demands. It is now time for … ANU leadership to start engaging with ours.”

An ANU spokesperson said the university had ensured that protests were safe, appropriate and lawful.

“ANU has provided options for the protestors to continue their protests in ways that are respectful and safe for the entire university community,” the spokesperson said. “The university will continue to discuss these options with protestors.”

ACT Police said officers remained in regular contact with ANU security and were monitoring developments with protestors. No arrests had been made in relation to the encampment.

ANU initially directed the encampment to move on Monday morning when director of facilities and services, Jeremy Matthew, said the camp was in a fire evacuation zone, creating an “unacceptable risk” to staff and students.

“We’re committed to the safety of this campus,” encampment spokesperson and ANU student Al, who preferred not to share their surname, said.

“We want to engage in good faith, on the fire evacuation or on our demands as a whole.”

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

Protesters called on supporters to rally on campus on Tuesday morning in support of the camp and said they plan to continue their campaign.

“We’re prepared to stick around for as long as it takes to get our demands met,” Al said.

Earlier on Monday ANU security ordered the remaining students entering their fourth week occupying the site to immediately disband.

Students rejected the demands, instead issuing a call-out for supporters and legal observers to reinforce numbers. In a video posted to social media, an organiser said a vote had been taken and the remaining protesters had decided to stay on at the Kambri site.

“The police have come and told us that we need to leave but we as a collective have decided we’re going to say,” they said. “We will not be moved, we will be staying in Kambri.”

Students for Palestine Canberra called on supporters to return to the campus at 10.30am on Tuesday for a snap protest to reinforce the encampment.

“The police have issued a move on order which comes into effect at 12pm tomorrow … please come down and spread the word,” they wrote on social media. “We continue to demand that ANU disclose and divest.”

ACT policing confirmed it had been in regular contact with campus security. The force told the encampment it supported the right to protest but students had to move from a grassed area.

From 8am to 3pm on Monday, police officers joined about two dozen members of campus security as protesters drummed on upturned buckets, chanting: “We are the students. We won’t be silenced. Cut the ties now, now, now, now.”

The ANU spokesperson said: “No one has been told not to protest.”

They added: “The university has given the small number of encampment participants a reasonable and non-negotiable direction, on the basis of safety and wellbeing for the ANU community, to immediately remove their belongings and vacate the site.”

The direction follows meetings with a small group of students who were advised to disband or risk breaching the university’s code of conduct.

Students refused, vowing they would not move until ANU disclosed and divested its ties to weapons manufacturers. Both the University of Melbourne and Curtin University have agreed, in part, to protesters’ demands while negotiating an end to encampments.

Camps at La Trobe and Deakin University have also been disbandedas university managements warn of disciplinary action.

Asked whether ANU would change its position, the spokesperson said all university investments were governed by its socially responsible investment policy.

“The university thanks our student body for drawing our attention to areas that we may need to now consider in 2024,” they said. “This includes expanding companies for review, along with emerging areas of research including artificial intelligence.

“The university has listened to this important feedback from its students and thanks them for it.”

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Coalition’s Jane Hume unapologetic for 13,000 questions to departments including 300 on paper costs

Senate is ‘only place this Labor government is unable to escape accountability’, Liberal says

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An opposition senator accused of wasting public servants’ time by submitting nearly 13,000 formal written questions in two years – including more than 300 about the use of paper – has accused Labor of hypocrisy and vowed not to slow down.

Officials face grillings over their agency’s finances and dealings over four weeks each year during the Senate estimates process, including a two-week block of hearings in the weeks after the federal budget.

If an official cannot answer the question, or needs to consult with other areas, they are able to take the question “on notice” to answer within the month.

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Since May 2022, 36,147 questions have been asked, a figure fast approaching the 37,778 that were lobbed at the Morrison government during its three years in office.

The sheer number of questions has caused grumbles within the Albanese government, with some questioning whether some answers could have been found in a quick internet search.

Jane Hume, who has asked nearly 13,000 questions on notice since May 2022, far more than any other senator, has refused to apologise for the time and resources spent answering those questions, saying: “The Senate is the only place that this Labor government is unable to escape accountability.” A spokesperson said the questions about paper were to defend local manufacturers.

The questions on notice system is considered a part of parliamentary transparency, much like freedom of information requests and Senate orders to produce government documents. Questions can be asked in person or lodged later in writing.

As of Friday, one-fifth of the questions asked of public servants and ministers appearing at hearings in February – more than three months ago – have gone unanswered.

In total, 9,217 questions on notice were recorded in February’s five days of hearings. Of those, 7,260 were answered, 1,954 are overdue and three remain unanswered but are not considered “overdue”.

More than half of the questions came from Hume.

The Victorian Liberal senator, the shadow minister for the public service, asked 5,282 questions across the week.

Hume has asked several department and agencies – including smaller entities such as the Australian Institute of Family Studies and Cancer Australia – how much paper they have used over the past five years and who manufactured it.

She has also asked several departments how many of their staff work on public holidays.

Other more common accountability questions have gone to the use of agency credit cards and the costs of overseas trips.

After Hume, the next highest inquisitors are the Tasmanian senators Jacqui Lambie and the Greens’ Nick McKim, who have 2,827 and 1,302 questions on notice to their name since May 2022.

The finance minister, Katy Gallagher, has taken aim at the Coalition’s use of questions on notice, noting that the senior Liberal senator Simon Birmingham had tabled one asking what temperature the offices of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet had set its thermostats at.

Gallagher said the “vexatious use of questions on notice by the Liberals and Nationals diminishes the capacity for us to respond in substance to legitimate questions asked by other parties and independents”.

A spokesperson for Hume said the process ensured Labor senators “can’t escape accountability for their hypocrisy”.

They said Australia’s last local paper producer had shut its doors during Labor’s term and criticised the government for viewing the issue as trivial.

“We will never apologise for submitting questions on notice, just as Labor did when they were in opposition,” they said. “But unlike Labor, we didn’t have the prime minister’s office create a manual directing public servants on how to dodge questions.

“Which questions does Labor think are not worthy of receiving an answer? Is it questions about the amount of travel for public servants? Or the question on the use of public money to upgrade public servants’ offices?”

In May the Labor government tabled an 18-page booklet offering advice and guidance to public servants when answering Senate estimates questions on notice. Birmingham labelled it a “secret manual” but Gallagher disputed that.

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Explainer

What causes turbulence on flights and which routes around the world are most affected?

After the fatal Singapore Airlines incident and injuries to passengers above Turkey, we explain what’s behind the phenomenon

A Qatar Airways flight has encountered turbulence above Turkey, injuring 12 passengers and crew. The flight from Doha to Dublin landed safely after the episode, which caused people to “hit the roof” of the plane.

The news comes just five days after the death of a British passenger and injuries to 104 others after a Singapore Airlines flight hit sudden turbulence above Myanmar, causing it to dramatically lose altitude.

We know turbulence is a common part of flying – but are some routes more prone? And where is it the worst?

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Police deploy divers and dog in search for mother and baby after evidence of birth found on Sydney riverbank

Officers urge woman to go to hospital to receive care for herself and her child

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Police have deployed divers and a blood detection dog in the search for a mother and her newborn baby after finding evidence she may have given birth by a Sydney riverbank.

Emergency services were called to the Cooks River at Earlwood in the city’s south-west on Monday afternoon after a resident walking his dog found what police believe to be a placenta and umbilical cord. Police said tests on the organs had revealed them to be human.

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Serious concerns were held for the welfare of the child and mother and detectives established a crime scene.

Officers urged the mother to attend her nearest hospital to receive urgent care.

Supt Christine McDonald said lights had been brought in to allow the launch of a large-scale search on Monday night. The search resumed on Tuesday morning with police divers “searching the mangroves and the water’s edge”.

McDonald said it would “take some time to work through the scene” as the placenta and umbilical cord were found amid mangroves and “it is muddy down there”.

A blood detection dog also arrived onthe scene on Tuesday morning after police identified an area needing “further forensic examination”.

An area near Lang Road remained taped off on Tuesday and investigators were also searching through a grassy area outside the Canterbury rugby union club.

“Obviously our search will hopefully identify what has taken place; whether the delivery of that child occurred at this location or another location is yet to be determined,” she said. “I ask anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers.

“It’s very important and it’s extreme urgency we find the mother and the child as soon as we can. We ask she goes to a hospital. We will be contacting hospitals.”

The Cooks River flows from Yagoona in Sydney’s outer south-west and runs into Botany Bay at Kyeemagh, 23km away.

Anyone within the vicinity of Lang Road, Wardell Road, Ewen Park and Tennent Parade on Monday who may have seen a woman in distress was urged to come forward.

“Any information is critical,” McDonald said, with police also appealing for CCTV footage. “I am deeply concerned for the safety and mental health of the mother and also for the safety of her baby.

“There is no judgment. They need to know we are concerned for them. We are wanting to know they are safe.”

Police said at this stage there was no evidence the baby had been harmed.

The placenta and umbilical cord was sent for testing on Tuesday morning to try to establish the gestation period, the gender of the child and how long the placenta and umbilical cord were at the river.

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Police deploy divers and dog in search for mother and baby after evidence of birth found on Sydney riverbank

Officers urge woman to go to hospital to receive care for herself and her child

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Police have deployed divers and a blood detection dog in the search for a mother and her newborn baby after finding evidence she may have given birth by a Sydney riverbank.

Emergency services were called to the Cooks River at Earlwood in the city’s south-west on Monday afternoon after a resident walking his dog found what police believe to be a placenta and umbilical cord. Police said tests on the organs had revealed them to be human.

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

Serious concerns were held for the welfare of the child and mother and detectives established a crime scene.

Officers urged the mother to attend her nearest hospital to receive urgent care.

Supt Christine McDonald said lights had been brought in to allow the launch of a large-scale search on Monday night. The search resumed on Tuesday morning with police divers “searching the mangroves and the water’s edge”.

McDonald said it would “take some time to work through the scene” as the placenta and umbilical cord were found amid mangroves and “it is muddy down there”.

A blood detection dog also arrived onthe scene on Tuesday morning after police identified an area needing “further forensic examination”.

An area near Lang Road remained taped off on Tuesday and investigators were also searching through a grassy area outside the Canterbury rugby union club.

“Obviously our search will hopefully identify what has taken place; whether the delivery of that child occurred at this location or another location is yet to be determined,” she said. “I ask anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers.

“It’s very important and it’s extreme urgency we find the mother and the child as soon as we can. We ask she goes to a hospital. We will be contacting hospitals.”

The Cooks River flows from Yagoona in Sydney’s outer south-west and runs into Botany Bay at Kyeemagh, 23km away.

Anyone within the vicinity of Lang Road, Wardell Road, Ewen Park and Tennent Parade on Monday who may have seen a woman in distress was urged to come forward.

“Any information is critical,” McDonald said, with police also appealing for CCTV footage. “I am deeply concerned for the safety and mental health of the mother and also for the safety of her baby.

“There is no judgment. They need to know we are concerned for them. We are wanting to know they are safe.”

Police said at this stage there was no evidence the baby had been harmed.

The placenta and umbilical cord was sent for testing on Tuesday morning to try to establish the gestation period, the gender of the child and how long the placenta and umbilical cord were at the river.

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Threatened species and chips? Other fish frequently sold as flake, Australian study finds

Scalloped hammerhead and greeneye spurdog among at-risk shark discovered in genetic testing of fillets

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One in 10 fillets of shark meat bought by Australians at fish and chip shops and markets – often labelled as flake – is from a threatened species, according to a study that has uncovered widespread mislabelling of shark sold to the public.

Nine of 91 fillets were found to be either scalloped hammerhead, greeneye spurdog or school shark – all considered threatened in Australia – after scientists at Macquarie University used DNA analysis to check what they were sold.

Marine conservationists said Australians would be “appalled” that threatened species were allowed to be caught and sold.

The study calls into question the usefulness of the voluntary Australian Fish Names Standard after finding that 40 of the 59 fillets labelled as “flake” – which the standard says should either be gummy shark or rig – were a different species altogether.

Prof Adam Stow, head of the conservation genetics laboratory at the university and a co-author of the study, said: “It’s shocking and disappointing. Something needs to be done.

“I hope this puts on some pressure to make the labelling standards mandatory. Most people want to know what they’re eating.”

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Stow said the mislabelling of “flake” was concerning because many consumers looking for more sustainably managed fish species would opt for fillets with that label.

Researchers visited markets and takeaways in Canberra, Sydney, the New South Wales south coast, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth to buy uncooked fillets.

Genetic testing revealed an array of sharks and fish being sold as “flake”, including the threatened scalloped hammerhead and greeneye spurdog, as well as mullet, barramundi, wobbegong shark and bull shark.

At 19 outlets researchers asked the retailer for more information about the fillets. Some 16 responses did not match the label, according to the study, which was published in the journal Marine and Freshwater Research.

When retailers identified the species they were selling, only two of those descriptions actually matched the fillet after genetic testing.

Teagan Parker Kielniacz, who led the research while at Macquarie University, said: “I asked [the retailer] if they knew what species of shark it was or if it was locally caught. More often than not, they didn’t know.

“Having unreliable labels takes choice away from consumers. If you want to make a sustainable choice, you can’t, because you cannot trust the labels.

“As shark species around the world start to plummet, we need to be more careful about what we purchase.”

Dr Leonardo Guida, a shark scientist at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said: “Australians would be appalled to know that our governments allow endangered species to be caught and sold for Aussies to eat. They would also be appalled to know that the fish they buy may not be what was written on the label.”

AMCS advised consumers not to buy flake because while gummy shark numbers were thought to be stable, “fishing for them puts threatened school shark at risk”, Guida said.

The two fillets of greeneye spurdog – a deepwater species unique to Australia – were bought in Victoria. Guida said NSW was the only jurisdiction in Australia where the species was allowed to be kept when caught.

He said NSW fishing records showed only 69kg of greeneye spurdog was caught in 2019, the year the samples were collected, compared with about 2,100 tonnes of shark caught and sold annually in south-east Australia.

“If fishing rules are being followed, the chance of finding endangered greeneye spurdog in a fish retailer are minuscule,” Guida said. “Finding greeneye spurdog in the 91 samples collected across the country is like finding a needle in a haystack.

“The study suggests greeneye spurdog is being caught in NSW and shipped to Victoria or, even worse, illegal fishing is happening in Australia.”

AMCS and Humane Society International have released a report listing a range of changes to fishing rules they say would better protect Australia’s native sharks.

The two conservation groups have nominated greeneye spurdog for protection under Australian environmental law.

A university-led study last year found widespread mislabelling of shark at seafood outlets in South Australia.

A spokesperson for the fisheries minister, Murray Watt, said it was “always concerning when Australian consumers think they’re buying flake but instead are unwittingly eating an endangered species.”

The statement added: “It is also concerning when products are being mislabelled, either intentionally or otherwise. The Australian government is progressing two important initiatives relating to labelling and supply chains.”

Country-of-origin labelling would help retailers “to label seafood as either Australian, imported or mixed” and was expected to come into force in 2025.

The government is also close to finalising work “on the election commitment to consider a framework to prevent imports of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishery products”.

“This may provide for greater transparency and understanding of supply chains,” the spokesperson added.

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Pope Francis allegedly used offensive slur during discussion about gay men

Bishops say pontiff made remark during closed-door debate on admitting homosexual men into seminaries

Pope Francis allegedly used an offensive slur during a discussion with bishops over admitting homosexual men into seminaries, several Italian newspapers have reported.

The pontiff, 87, is alleged to have made the remark during a closed-door meeting with bishops in Rome last week, where they were reportedly discussing whether out gay men should be admitted to Catholic seminaries, where priests are trained, a topic that the Italian bishops conference (CIE) is said to have been pondering for some time.

During the discussion, when one of the bishops asked Francis what he should do, the pope reportedly reiterated his objection to admitting gay men, saying that while it was important to embrace everyone, it was likely that a gay person could risk leading a double life. He is then alleged to have added that there was already too much “frociaggine”, a vulgar Italian word that roughly translates at “faggotness”, in some seminaries.

The story was first reported by the political gossip website Dagospia, before being covered by the Italian dailies La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, and the news agency Adnkronos.

La Repubblica, Corriere and Adnkronos quoted unnamed bishops, who said that the pontiff meant the derogatory term as a “joke”, and that those around him were surprised and perplexed by the alleged slur. One bishop told Corriere della Sera that the pontiff might not have been aware that the term was offensive.

La Repubblica and Corriere reported that there was a meeting among bishops in November during which it was decided that homosexual men could be admitted to seminaries, so long as they did not practise their sexuality, but that the move was ultimately stopped by the pope.

Since he was elected pope in 2013, Francis has sought to adopt a more inclusive tone towards the LGBTQ+ community in his public statements, much to the disdain of conservative cardinals.

Soon after becoming pope, he famously said in response to a question about gay priests: “Who am I to judge?”

He approved a ruling in December allowing priests to bless unmarried and same-sex couples in what was a significant change of position for the Catholic church.

However, he has been clear about not allowing gay people to join the clergy. In an interview in 2018 he said he was “concerned” about what he describes as the “serious issue” of homosexuality and that being gay is a “fashion” to which the clergy is susceptible.

“In our societies it even seems that homosexuality is fashionable, and that mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the church,” he said at the time.

The Roman Catholic church’s position is that homosexual acts are sinful. A decree on training for priests in 2016 stressed the obligation of sexual abstinence, as well as barring gay men and those who support “gay culture” from holy orders.

A spokesperson for the Vatican did not respond to a request for comment.

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Some of the biggest NSW waste companies broke rules meant to keep contamination out of landscaping products

Exclusive: Facilities owned by Bingo Industries and Aussie Skips Recycling among more than 20 named in NSW parliament for breaching regulations

  • Recycling fill sold in Sydney stores tests positive for asbestos
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Some of the best-known waste companies in New South Wales are among those that broke safety rules that led to potentially contaminated soil fill being supplied to back yard landscapers, schools, childcare centres and parks across the state.

As part of an investigation into soil contamination, Guardian Australia can reveal that Bingo Industries, Aussie Skips Recycling, Benedict Recycling and KLF Holdings breached state regulations for testing a type of cheap soil made from recycled construction and demolition waste.

The fill – known as “recovered fines” – is used in place of virgin materials in construction projects, and in public spaces such as sporting fields, but is also sold directly to consumers for home landscaping by landscape and garden stores.

Some waste companies also sell the fill in bulk directly from their facilities.

A previous Guardian Australia investigation revealed the state’s environmental regulator, the Environment Protection Authority had known for more than a decade that companies had breached regulations meant to limit the spread of contaminants.

Now more than 20 of those waste and recycling facilities have been named in documents tabled in the NSW parliament.

The NSW Greens environment spokesperson, Sue Higginson, asked for the information about the identity of companies that engaged in practices highlighted by EPA investigations to be tabled, after the first Guardian reports.

“It is deeply concerning that some of the largest producers of recovered fines have avoided their obligations to ensure their products do not contain harmful contaminants,” Higginson said.

Widespread breaches

Recovered fines are made from residues found in skip bins at construction and demolition sites.

Recycling facilities process the waste, which would otherwise go to rubbish tips, to produce soil fill that is sold under names such as recycled turf underlay, budget fill, crusher dust or recycled road base.

Each year facilities in NSW produce about 700,000 tonnes of fill made from recovered fines. They are required under resource recovery regulations to test their products for hazardous contaminants such as lead. If they exceed legislated thresholds, they must dispose of the product and report the results to the EPA.

But two EPA investigations, one in 2013 and one in 2019, found widespread breaches of routine sampling and testing requirements. The 2019 investigation looked at about 50,000 pieces of testing and sampling data taken by facilities in 2017 and 2018.

The EPA also took samples from waste facilities and tested them.

The investigations also found that instead of reporting non-compliant results to the EPA and disposing of contaminated products, some companies retested samples until they received a compliant result.

Retesting of recovered fines is not prohibited. But if any test shows a sample has exceeded a contaminant threshold, the product is considered non-compliant.

The regulations do not require producers to test for asbestos but the recycling and reuse of asbestos in any form is prohibited. They are required to test for a range of other contaminants including lead and other heavy metals, physical contaminants and pesticides.

The regulator has now named the responsible companies in response to the NSW Greens’ questions.

  • Companies found in the 2019 investigation to have asked private laboratories to keep retesting samples when they exceeded contaminant thresholds were: Bingo Industries in Auburn, four Benedict Recycling facilities in Sydney, Breen Resources in Kurnell, South Coast Equipment Recycling at Warrawong, Hi-Quality Waste Management at St Marys and Brandown Pty Ltd at Cecil Park. The 2013 investigation also found two Benedict Recycling facilities were retesting samples.

  • Twenty-one facilities were found in the 2019 investigation not to have been meeting EPA sampling rules such as the frequency with which samples should be collected and tested and what they were tested for: eight sites owned by Bingo Industries, four owned by Benedict Industries and one each by Aussie Skips Recycling, KLF Holdings, Breen Resources, Brandown, Hi-Quality Waste Management, Budget Waste Recycling, Rock & Dirt Recycling, South Coast Equipment Recycling and Builders Recycling Operations. Aussie Skips Recycling and Hi-Quality Waste Management were also among 11 facilities found in 2013 to be breaching testing rules.

  • After the 2019 investigation, the EPA issued prevention notices to six facilities because it detected asbestos in their recovered fines. In at least two instances the product had already been removed for use in the community.

  • In one case, 16 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated soil produced by KLF Holdings was supplied to an apartment complex in Bankstown and the regulator was forced to order a clean-up.

Guardian Australia contacted each of the waste companies. One – Builders Recycling Operations – could not be reached. Detailed questions were sent to the other nine. Five – Benedict Industries, KLF Holdings, Aussie Skips Recycling, Breen Resources and South Coast Equipment Recycling – did not respond. Budget Waste Recycling declined to comment.

A spokesperson for Rock & Dirt Recyling said the company “does not propose to respond to your questions other than to reject the false premise that Rock & Dirt is supplying contaminated material to members of the public”.

A spokesperson for Bingo said the company had long been an advocate for improved standards of compliance and supported rigorous enforcement of the regulations.

“In response to the findings from the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) investigations in 2019, BINGO Industries met all requirements and obligations for recovered fines,” they said.

“As part of the investigation, EPA visited and took samples from BINGO’s Kembla Grange facility in 2019, the only BINGO facility producing recovered fines at the time. The EPA subsequently confirmed that the samples taken by the EPA were compliant.”

A spokesperson for Hi-Quality Waste Management said the samples of recovered fines taken by the EPA during its 2013 and 2019 investigations were found to meet the regulated thresholds for all contaminants.

They said the company “regularly reviews and evolves its practices to ensure it is meeting the highest environmental, safety and operational standards”.

“Hi-Quality recognises that recovered products are crucial to creating a more sustainable sector and welcomes the opportunity to work with industry and stakeholders to strengthen regulation and advance the sector.”

A spokesperson for Brandown said several changes had been made since the 2019 investigation, including the introduction of new standards by the EPA to improve the management of construction and demolition waste.

“To further strengthen these standards, Brandown has advanced its testing protocols and made operational changes to reduce potential risk.”

Samples positive for asbestos

The 2019 investigation found only 29% of waste facilities were testing for asbestos. When the EPA took samples at 14 facilities, it found eight had asbestos in recovered fines; six of those were ordered to temporarily implement a stricter testing protocol.

The facilities that received notices were two owned by Benedict Industries and one each by Aussie Skips Recycling, Brandown, KLF Holdings and Builders Recycling Operations. According to public prevention notices published by the EPA, in the case of KLF Holdings and Builders Recycling Operations, 100% of the samples taken by EPA officials tested positive for asbestos.

The EPA said most of the stockpiles where it found asbestos was present in 2019 were kept in storage at the facilities and were either disposed of or broken into smaller batches and reassessed.

The EPA also found breaches of the legal thresholds for contaminants other than asbestos in samples it took from Aussie Skips Recycling, Benedict Recycling and KLF Holdings.

But despite recommendations from its own officials, the regulator abandoned plans for tougher regulations for recovered fines in 2022, when the Coalition government was in power, after pressure from the waste industry.

One of the recommendations made by EPA investigators in 2013 was that recovered fines not be permitted for use in landscaping because of the higher risk for potential human exposure to contamination.

The current chief executive of the EPA, Tony Chappel, pointed to changes passed by parliament that increase maximum penalties for breaching resource recovery orders from $44,000 to $2m, or $4m where asbestos was involved.

“We know we have more to do around recovered fines, which is why we are consulting with industry to make improvements and also finalising a recent compliance campaign to help us work on the areas that need prioritisation,” Chappel said.

“Over the next 12 months, we will also conduct targeted programs to assess industry compliance and take enforcement action for identified non-compliance with resource recovery orders.”

Higginson said the evidence tabled in parliament was shocking: “These potentially contaminated materials may have wound up in consumer products and may also have been sold for use in public areas.

“The history and evidence of non-compliance means we may never know how far and wide these companies … spread their potentially contaminated products.”

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World’s longest-serving flight attendant dies aged 88: ‘Fly high, Bette’

Bette Nash began flying in 1957, and said it was the romance and glamor of flying that initially attracted her to the job

Bette Nash, the world’s longest-serving flight attendant, has died aged 88 after nearly 67 years of working in the skies.

Nash began flying with the now-defunct Eastern Airlines in 1957 and primarily worked the shuttle flight between Washington DC and Boston so she could be home every night to care for her son, ABC reported.

It was the romance and glamor of flying that initially attracted Nash to the job. “I wanted to be a flight attendant from the time I got on the first airplane – I was 16 years old,” she told CNN. “The pilot and the flight attendant walked across the hall and I thought ‘Oh my God,’ and I said that was for me.”

At the start of her career, “you had to be a certain height, you had to be a certain weight. It used to be horrible,” she told WJLA. “You put on a few pounds and you had to keep weighing yourself, and then if you stayed that way, they would take ya off the payroll!”

In 2022, Nash was honored with the Guinness World Record title for longest-serving flight attendant. She never officially retired from her role with American Airlines and died on 17 May in hospice care after a recent breast cancer diagnosis, according to ABC.

“We mourn the passing of Bette Nash, who spent nearly seven decades warmly caring for our customers in the air,” American Airlines said in a statement on social media. “She started in 1957 and held the Guinness World Record for longest-serving flight attendant. Bette inspired generations of flight attendants. Fly high, Bette.”

Nash “touched many with her warmth, dedication, and service”, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), the union representing American Airlines flight attendants, said in its statement. “RIP, Bette. You won’t be forgotten.”

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