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How to prepare for a bushfire

With the bushfire season upon us, fire authorities are urging families to stay safe and prepare in advance in case of a bushfire emergency.

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SBS recommends that all residents living in or near bushfire-prone areas should contact their local and state authorities for more detailed advice on how to prepare for the bushfire season. This is a summary only with links to the appropriate websites for more information.

How to prepare for a bushfire

Here are some general tips to prepare for the bushfire season based on various state fire rescue services:

•If you live in a region prone to bushfires, stay on top of the latest fire alerts via the radio, your local fire service website, or on social media (see below).

•Prepare a Bushfire Survival Plan now, if you haven’t done so already. Make sure your family understands the Plan and knows what to do and where to go during an emergency.

•Locate your nearby Neighbourhood Safer Place (NSP). This is a new concept that came about after the tragic ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires in Victoria in 2009. An NSP is a building or community space that can offer a higher level of protection during a fire. It is the last resort for people in a bushfire emergency and should be part of all Bushfire Survival Plans.

•Display a prominent house number so fire rescue workers can identity your house in case of an emergency.

•Build a protection zone (at least a 20 metre radius) around your property from a non-flammable wall or fence to slow down the fire’s speed.

•Minimise the fire traps. Move fuel containers, BBQ gas bottles, woodpiles and rubbish away from your house. Prune branches from overhanging trees. Mow your grass regularly, and clear your roof and gutters of dried leaves, twigs and branches.

•Make sure there’s a reliable alternative supply of power and water (e.g. a water tank). And remember to keep these systems well-maintained.

•Pack an emergency relocation kit in case you and your family need to evacuate your area.

Each state has its respective bushfire safety recommendations, so please refer to state fire service websites for further information (see below).

Alert updates and contact information

• If you are in a life-threatening emergency situation, always dial 000

• Call 132 500 for SES assistance

For general fire safety information, contact details and the latest alert updates, please click on the relevant links within your state:

Australian Capital Territory

Bushfire safety information: 南宁桑拿网,esa.act.gov广西桑拿网,/community-information/bushfires/

Contact: (02) 6205 0400

Alerts: 南宁桑拿网,esa.act.gov广西桑拿网,/community-information/incidents-map/

Facebook: 南宁桑拿,facebook南宁桑拿会所,/actemergencyservicesagency

Twitter: 南宁桑拿,twitter南宁桑拿会所,/ACT_ESA

Queensland

Bushfire safety information: 南宁桑拿,南宁桑拿,fire.qld.gov广西桑拿网, or 南宁桑拿,ruralfire.qld.gov广西桑拿网, (QLD Rural Fire Service)

Contact: 13 QGOV (13 74 68) or 07 3635 3834 (QLD Rural Fire Service)

Alerts: 南宁桑拿网,南宁桑拿,ruralfire.qld.gov广西桑拿网,/map.html (QLD Rural Fire Service)

Facebook: 南宁桑拿网,南宁桑拿,facebook南宁桑拿会所,/QldFireandRescueService

Twitter: 南宁桑拿,twitter南宁桑拿会所,/QldFire

New South Wales

Bushfire safety information: 南宁桑拿网,南宁桑拿,rfs.nsw.gov广西桑拿网,/

Contact: 1800 NSW RFS (1800 679 737)

Alerts: 南宁桑拿网,南宁桑拿,rfs.nsw.gov广西桑拿网,/dsp_content.cfm?cat_id=683

Facebook: 南宁桑拿,南宁桑拿,facebook南宁桑拿会所,/nswrfs

Twitter: 南宁桑拿网,twitter南宁桑拿会所,/nswrfs

Victoria

Bushfire safety information: 南宁桑拿,cfa.vic.gov广西桑拿网,

Contact: 1800 240 667

Alerts: 南宁桑拿网,南宁桑拿,cfa.vic.gov广西桑拿网,/warnings-restrictions/warnings-and-incidents/

Facebook: 南宁桑拿,南宁桑拿,facebook南宁桑拿会所,/cfavic

Twitter: 南宁桑拿,twitter南宁桑拿会所,/CFA_Updates

South Australia

Bushfire safety information: 南宁桑拿网,南宁桑拿,mfs.sa.gov广西桑拿网,/site/home.jsp#

Contact: 08 8204 3600 or 1300 737 637 (Toll free for country callers)

Alerts: 南宁桑拿网,南宁桑拿,mfs.sa.gov广西桑拿网,/site/community_safety/emergency_alert.jsp (Metro)

南宁桑拿网,cfs.sa.gov广西桑拿网,/site/fire_restrictions/fire_bans.jsp (Country)

Facebook: 南宁桑拿,南宁桑拿,facebook南宁桑拿会所,/countryfireservice

Twitter: 南宁桑拿,twitter南宁桑拿会所,/SA_MFS

Western Australia

Bushfire safety information: 南宁桑拿网,南宁桑拿,dfes.wa.gov广西桑拿网,/pages/default.aspx

Contact: 1300 657 209

Alerts: 南宁桑拿网,南宁桑拿,dfes.wa.gov广西桑拿网,/alerts/Pages/alertsmap.aspx

Twitter: 南宁桑拿,twitter南宁桑拿会所,/dfes_wa

Tasmania

Bushfire safety information: 南宁桑拿网,南宁桑拿,fire.tas.gov广西桑拿网,/Show?pageId=colHome

Contact: 03 6230 8600

Alerts: 南宁桑拿网,南宁桑拿,fire.tas.gov广西桑拿网,/Show?pageId=colGMapBushfires

Facebook: 南宁桑拿,南宁桑拿,facebook南宁桑拿会所,/TasmaniaFireService

Twitter: 南宁桑拿,twitter南宁桑拿会所,/TasFireService

Northern Territory

Bushfire safety information: 南宁桑拿网,南宁桑拿,pfes.nt.gov广西桑拿网,/

Contact: 08 8999 3473

Facebook: 南宁桑拿网,南宁桑拿,facebook南宁桑拿会所,/pages/Northern-Territory-Police-Force/143359822402689

Twitter: 南宁桑拿,twitter南宁桑拿会所,/ntpolice

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Islam: Sharia and democracy – 12 points of contention

Worldcrunch.

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com / AL-MASRY AL-YOUM

Salafis might accept procedural democracy — that is to say the vote and the ballot box — as a means that allows them to attain power. But do they accept the core values of democracy? Do they respect personal freedom, diversity, coexistence and mutual understanding? In this debate with a Salafi friend, Amr Ezzat pinpoints 12 contentious issues that attempt to shed light on conservative Islamist thinking.

1-He told me that the Islamists did not voice demands for implementing Islamic Sharia or emphasizing the Islamic identity since those demands ran the risk of dividing the protesters and jeopardizing the achievement of the common goal. I told him that we now need to garner a consensus to produce a constitution that expresses the demands of all Egyptians, but that Islamists now insist on incorporating what they declined to declare in the past.

2-He told me that the situation is different now, since we are set to build the nation. And building the nation requires doing what is “right” rather than what receives a consensus. It is right to implement Sharia, which is a necessity for the Muslim majority, he said. I told him that I am counted among this Muslim majority he is speaking about and most of the members and supporters of the political powers are also counted among it, and all of us oppose what he calls for.

3-He told me that a Muslim who does not want Sharia implemented would be an atheist or in need of reviewing his or her beliefs. When I told him to deduct “the atheists” from that majority, he tolSd me that those he calls atheists were only a minority.

4-He told me that in Islam the majority does not necessarily possess the truth because truth is what God sent to his Prophet … democracy contradicts with Islam since it could lead to results that violate this truth. He explained that Islamists accepted democracy because they thought it would bring them to power since the majority of people, they thought, supported the implementation of Sharia. “If the majority does not want Sharia, what would be the case?” I asked. He said that in that event democracy would be an ineffective way to implement Sharia.

5-He told me that democracy is also in contradiction with Islam because it makes “the truth,” which is the basis for making laws, something relative and dependent on lawmakers’ discussions and votes. “Thank God those MPs were Muslims!” he said.

6- He then told me that I was manipulating the conversation to evade the truth that the majority wants Sharia. “Is that democracy?” he asked. I told him that…attempting to restrict this process in the name of Sharia is a suppression of democracy.

7-He told me that, like him, I too reject democracy when it goes against my views. I told him that an illustrative example of my point is when some people gather in some place and decide that they are all equal owners of it and that everybody has a right to be different and that collective issues would be decided on through discussion and then a majority vote.

8- I told him there is no guarantee for democracy other than the people’s agreement, otherwise the more powerful will crush the weaker and violate their freedom and right to equality.

9-He said that I am restricting the wish of a large sector of people who want to be governed by Sharia and what they think is right. I told him that with reference to the first part of our conversation, he had every right to be governed by Sharia and to use it to elicit ideas for politics, administration and the law, but that I reject to have my freedom restricted and to be deprived of a freedom that does not harm him in a direct way just because it violates what he thinks is right. He said that religion calls for such restriction and that by asking for that freedom I would be restricting his adherence to religion.

10-He asked why I opposed Sharia. I said that to think that your ideas are the words of God and that they constitute the truth is something that has nothing to do with me, for I could contest how far your ideas are expressive of religion or I could have no faith in your religion at all. We both agree that the freedom of religion is absolute and should be safeguarded and that exercising that right does not violate democracy.

11-He said that those guarantees that pepper my speech would make me, like him, reject democracy if it does not have freedom and equality as a basis for it and that he rejects democracy if it will not be a method to implement Sharia and so we would never agree. I said that he was right since I insist on my freedom and right to equality while he insists on restricting that.

12- He said that conflict was the solution since the power is sometimes needed to establish the truth. He added that Egyptians would have not been Muslims if it weren’t for the Islamic conquest of Egypt. I told him that Egypt has since taken strides to become a democratic republic and that Egypt was entering a new stage where political legitimacy emanates from the masses which did not raise the implementation of Sharia as a demand. He said that they did not want conflict at the beginning. I told him that he wants to use force to establish what he thinks is the truth, away from democratic participation. He said that this was legitimate. I said “do not ask me then why I do not want your understanding of Sharia implemented!”

Translated by Dina Zafer

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Father shocked by son’s rampage

Peter Lanza is the father of Adam Lanza, who is thought to have taken his own life shortly after carrying out Friday’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

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He released a statement to WFSB television in Connecticut.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends who lost loved ones and to all those who were injured. Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy,” the statement said.

“No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We are in a state of disbelief in trying to find whatever answers we can,” it continued.

“We, too, are asking why. We have cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so. Like so many of you, we are saddened and struggling to make sense of what has transpired.”

Lanza was divorced from Adam’s mother Nancy. Adam lived with his mother in Newtown, and she is thought to have been his first victim before he set off for the school.

The slain mother owned a registered collection of guns, including those used in the attack.

OBAMA TO ATTEND MEMORIAL

President Barack Obama will attend a memorial service on Sunday in Newtown, Connecticut, the site of

Friday’s deadly elementary school shooting.

Hours after the shooting, a tearful Obama said he grieved first as a father. In those remarks and later in his Saturday radio address, the president called for “meaningful action” to prevent such shootings, but did not say what it should be.

Obama’s visit to Newtown for an inter-faith vigil on Sunday would be the fourth time he has travelled to a city after a mass shooting.

The president had planned to travel to Maine on Wednesday for an event promoting his positions in “fiscal cliff” negotiations, but the White House cancelled that trip because of the shooting.

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Cool nerve key on Masters first 9: Scott

Adam Scott’s nerves used to have him severely under the gun on the opening nine holes of the Masters.

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Now, with a green jacket safely tucked away in the Champions locker room, it’s a different story.

Scott completed his preparations for the 2015 Masters with a final trip around the front nine at August National, a collection of holes he has played 22-over-par in his 48 tournament rounds.

While those numbers aren’t great reading, it is worse when you look at just the opening seven, where the Queenslander is 41-over, with the opening hole (+20) his clear weakness.

His first birdies ever on number one, known as Tea Olive, came in the opening rounds over the last two years and as such the 2013 champion feels he’s on the way to handling the problem hole.

“I think a lot of the pressure is taken off when you’ve won it,” world No.6 Scott said with a smile.

“I certainly identified it was a problem and there will be nerves for sure but I’d like to see them calm early and get off to a good start.

“A good start here can really set you up for a great round and one great round can go a long long way at a major.”

Asked how countryman and world No.5 Jason Day might be feeling, given he hasn’t won a green jacket but is a hot tip from many this year, Scott expected nerves would be a factor early.

“This was and is the most nervous I feel at any event I wouldn’t be surprised if Jason is the same,” Scott said.

“Anyone coming in who has not won, it’s a dream to win, and those nerves build and questions are asked the longer it goes on.

“It’s very difficult.”

Day opted to finish his preparation with the social par-three contest, playing with his wife Ellie and two-year-old son Dash as caddies.

He then headed to the range for some last minute fine tuning given he will go out in the final group of the day in the opening round.

“The amount of preparation I’ve put in, I feel really good about it.

“But now it is about going out there and executing the game plan, executing the shots and giving yourself the chance of winning the tournament,” he said.

It is all the old cliches but it is real. I have to stay in the moment. I have to hit the shot that is in front of me.

“It’s exciting because it feels like it has been a long week and I’m looking forward to it because I know from Thursday to Sunday it is going to go quick.”

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Jack’s ball goes in One Direction for first Augusta ace

Nicklaus has never had a hole-in-one in 163 rounds on the Augusta National competition course, but an ace at the 130-yard fourth was a nice consolation prize.

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His shot across the DeSoto Springs Pond landed a few feet beyond the pin, took one hop forward and then put on the breaks and sucked back perfectly and disappeared into the hole.

“I had an interview this morning, and I said ‘well, all I’ve got to do is go out and win the Par-3 and make a hole and one’, and I make a hole in one,” Nicklaus told reporters afterwards.

Alas, that was the highlight of the six-time Masters champion’s day, as he later “choked” and put a ball in the water at the eighth hole.

World number one Rory McIlroy, in the group behind, saw Nicklaus’s ace from the nearby third green.

“I’m fortunate that I get to spend a little time around Jack, and I saw him practising for this day at the Bear’s Club the last couple of weeks down on Florida and he was taking it pretty seriously,” McIlroy said.

There were five aces in all, matching the record from 2002, and Colombian Camilo Villegas made two of them on a steamy afternoon in front of thousands of patrons who packed every nook and cranny on the compact nine-hole layout that is tucked away behind the 10th tee of the main course.

Woods, playing the Par-3 for only the second time, had two caddies – his daughter Sam and son Charlie – while girlfriend Lindsey Vonn swapped her ski suit for a lime green dress as she walked inside the ropes, completing an apparently perfect family outing.

Star sightings were everywhere. McIlroy was out-famed by his caddie, diminutive One Direction boy band member Niall Horan.

Though One Direction’s fan base skews somewhat younger than the average Masters spectator, 21-year-old Horan was widely recognised, according to Morgan Hoffman, who played with McIlroy.

“It was completely crazy,” Hoffman told Reuters.

For the record, American Kevin Streelman won the Par-3 in a playoff with Villegas, thereby disqualifying himself from any chance of winning the tournament proper, if past history is any guide.

No player has ever won the Par-3 and the main tournament in the same year, though that may be a coincidence more than the jinx it has come to be known as.

Streelman’s victory provided a special moment for his caddie, 13-year-old Ethan Couch.

Couch, who has a brain tumour, was invited by Streelman to caddie after they hooked up through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

(Editing by Steve Keating.)

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French banks ‘set lead’ by rejecting mines

Conservationists are calling on Australia’s banks to follow their French counterparts in refusing to fund proposed coal mines in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

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Major French banks BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, and Credit Agricole have written to campaign group Market Forces pledging not to fund the development of the Galilee.

Indian giant Adani has proposed to build the $16.5 billion Carmichael mine in the region and export at least 50 million tonnes of coal a year through the Abbot Point terminal, north of Bowen.

The plans are currently the subject of a legal challenge mounted by conservation group Coast and Country in Queensland’s land court.

The decision of the three French banks is telling, according to Greens Senator Christine Milne.

“These French banks are some of the world’s biggest coal industry lenders and even they can see that investing in the Galilee Basin coal mines is environmentally and financially reckless,” she said on Thursday.

The trio join another eight international banks that have stepped away from the projects, she said.

“This leaves Adani, which is already mortgaged to the hilt, with very few options to finance the Carmichael mine and Abbot Point coal port expansion.”

Greenpeace and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) echoed Ms Milne’s call for Australia’s banks to follow suit.

But Adani had not formally requested any financing from the three institutions and therefore the news had no bearing on the company, a spokesman said.

“Adani’s projects in Queensland comply with the strictest environmental conditions in a world’s best practice environmental approvals framework,” he said.

“The company continues to progress the financing arrangements for its projects in Australia.”

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Is Foxtel most at risk in the new Game of Screens?

Ben Goldsmith, Queensland University of Technology

In the US, the phenomenon of “cord-cutting”, or “churn” – when a consumer cancels their subscription to a cable or satellite pay television service, often in order to take up cheaper “over the top” services delivered online, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Apple TV – has attracted increasing attention in recent years.

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The US launch today of the stand-alone service HBO Now (initially available exclusively via Apple TV boxes) has increased the frenzy of reports on cord-cutting, and proliferated guides to “ditching cable”.

And yet while pay television subscriptions are falling in both the US and Canada, they are falling very slowly. One research firm has reported that the 13 largest US pay-television providers that collectively represent about 95% of the market, lost a total of 125,000 subscribers – or 0.1% of the total – in 2014.

In Canada, the drop in 2013 was even smaller, from 11.514 million to 11.507 million subscribers (or less than 0.1%). Meanwhile, revenues, profit, and employment in the sector all increased.

The Netflix wildcard

In Australia, Foxtel reported in its half-year results ending December 31, 2014 that its subscribers rose by 118,000 to 2.6 million. This rise, while probably due to substantial discounting by Foxtel in the lead-up to the Australian launch of Netflix, more than offset a very high churn rate of just below 11.5%.

Despite Foxtel’s rise in subscriptions, its revenue growth was a weak 1.2% for the half-year, and less than 30% of Australian households currently subscribe to a pay television service. This proportion has risen very slowly over the last decade. In the USA, the equivalent figure is more like 80%.

The “glass half full” take on this, represented by Telstra CEO David Thodey, (Telstra is a part-owner of Foxtel) is that the Australian subscription television/SVOD base is set to rise to approximately 70% in future. Thodey did not predict what proportion Foxtel would command.

At the end of 2014, approximately 40% of American households subscribed to an SVOD service, with Netflix by far the most popular.

In Australia, it has been reported that around 200,000 Australians have previously subscribed to the American Netflix service. Around ten times that number have reportedly indicated that they either already subscribe, or intend to subscribe to the Australian Netflix service. If this latter figure is correct, it is not far off Foxtel’s current subscriber base.

It is of course highly likely that many Foxtel subscribers are also subscribing to Netflix – at least during the latter’s initial first month free promotion. It will be fascinating to see whether Netflix’s numbers fall when this promotion ends.

Substantial price discounting

In November, Foxtel drastically reduced its prices for new subscribers, offering a range of new channel bouquets. In February, through its part-owner Telstra, Foxtel launched a “triple-play” bundle combining subscription television, broadband, and home phone.

And late last month, just as Netflix opened for business in Australia, Foxtel launched its new iQ3 set top box. Unfortunately for Foxtel, the box has been plagued with problems, much to subscribers’ annoyance.

All of these moves reflect the fact that Foxtel is not able to compete with Netflix on price alone. The new SVOD service’s basic offering costs A$8.99 per month, while Foxtel’s cheapest package is A$25 per month, which doesn’t include the new set top box.

Foxtel considers itself much more competitive in terms of content offered. Netflix’s Australian catalogue currently boasts about 1000 films and programs. This is substantially smaller than its offerings in the USA and Canada, leading the chief executive of News Corp (half-owner of Foxtel) to describe the Australian service as “slightly warmed-up leftovers”. This is both disingenuous, given Netflix’s investments in original content, and hypocritical, given some of the programs that fill Foxtel channels’ schedules. And further, takeup of Netflix to date suggests consumers are unconcerned.

Content will be king

Exclusive content is the main battleground, and Game of Thrones is Foxtel’s champion – for the next ten weeks, at least. Two years ago, Foxtel signed a deal with GoT’s producer HBO. This was soon followed by a landmark deal for first-release content with the BBC. And of course Foxtel also has a slew of sports content that Netflix cannot match, for the moment at least.

Neither should it be forgotten that Foxtel has its own VOD service – Foxtel Play – alongside Presto, its SVOD joint venture with Fairfax Media. In theory, Foxtel Play should be Foxtel’s trump card. Along with access to a huge back catalogue, the service also allows subscribers to watch live television online.

But the app that allows access to Foxtel Play on mobile devices – somewhat confusingly called Foxtel Go – is as buggy and unpopular with subscribers as the new iQ3 set top box. And judging by comments on the app’s page in the Appstore, and on Foxtel’s own Foxtel Go Community page, these problems are not new, and Foxtel seems unwilling or unable to do anything about them.

Foxtel has a number of advantages that should help it maintain its business for the time being. First, it has a large and still growing (albeit very slowly) subscriber base, which delivers a very healthy average revenue per user of around $100. However, high churn rates and the issues with some of its services and technologies suggest that subscribers are not all rusted on.

Second, it has an extensive catalogue of exclusive content, including an unmatched offering of sports programming.

Powerful backers

Third, it is an innovator, brokering deals to offer its services through devices such as Microsoft’s XBox and Sony’s Playstation, as well as online. Its set top box technology, in theory, is top of the range, although teething problems have taken a bite out of the iQ3. It offered catch-up services online in advance of most of its competitors, but technological problems persist.

Fourth, it has the backing of two major players in the form of joint owners Telstra and News Corp. Neither of these behemoths are likely to see their offspring go down without a fight, and there are clear indications that they will do all they can to prop it up.

The “triple play” deal leverages Telstra’s market power, with Foxtel also an integral part of Telstra’s T-Box service. And if Megan Brownlow, editor of PwC’s Australian Media and Entertainment Outlook, is correct in arguing that “This will be a marketing war not just a content war”, then News Corp will be an invaluable ally.

Watch this space

There are also several factors that play against Foxtel. First, its overheads are considerably higher than Netflix’s, given the technological infrastructure and support services that Foxtel must maintain.

Second, Australians are increasingly comfortable with VOD services. In research conducted prior to the launch of Netflix, over 50% of Australians surveyed reported regularly watching video online. 50% of those surveyed said that they would watch more content online if they had a faster Internet connection.

It will only be a matter of time before this changes. In its latest Internet Activity survey, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that at the end of 2014, almost 99% of all Internet connections were broadband. Over 70% of broadband subscribers have a service with an advertised download speed above 8Mbps. While many still experience lower speeds, this is still more than sufficient to receive VOD services in Standard Definition.

There may be no ultimate victor in the new Game of Screens. But judging by the contestants’ moves, and by the audiences they are attracting, it will be compulsive viewing for some time to come.

Ben Goldsmith does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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Police allegedly find blood, pic of body

Blood and a photo of what’s believed to be a burnt body have allegedly been found by police as a school cleaner prepares to front a NSW court where he’s expected to be charged with the murder of missing Leeton bride-to-be Stephanie Scott.

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A 24-year-old man, a cleaner at the local high school, was arrested at his family home in Leeton on Wednesday evening.

Police have allegedly found blood in a car and photos of the body on a mobile phone.

The man, who is understood to have moved to Australia from the Netherlands four years ago, is in police custody and will appear in Griffith Local Court later on Thursday.

Ms Scott, a English and drama teacher at Leeton High School, had been planning her marriage to her childhood sweetheart Aaron Woolley when she went missing on Easter Sunday.

Ms Scott’s body has not been found.

A week before her wedding day she went to her workplace to finalise a handover to a teacher replacing her while she went on honeymoon in Tahiti.

The 26-year-old was due to marry Mr Woolley in Eugowra on Saturday.

The town in southwest NSW, in the heart of the irrigation region, has a population of about 10,000.

Residents are in shock over the death of popular school teacher.

“We were all holding our hopes she’d be found alive and obviously to hear this, this morning, is just absolutely devastating,” said Leeton Shire mayor Paul Maytom.

“It’s devastating for the family and devastating for her fiance and devastating for all friends and our community,” he told Macquarie Radio on Thursday.

Ms Scott’s last known contact was an email she sent after midday on Sunday to a bus company about transporting wedding guests this weekend.

Officers visited a home on Maiden Avenue at about 7.30pm on Wednesday and were speaking to two residents, when a third resident, a 24-year-old man, arrived home.

Police are still searching for Ms Scott’s car, a red Mazda 3 sedan with the NSW registration BZ-19-CD.

Police are also keen to speak to anyone who may have seen an older model, white Toyota Hilux space-cab 2WD with a canopy over the back travelling in Leeton or the surrounding area.

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Protesters decry South Carolina police shooting

With dozens of demonstrators in North Charleston protesting the fatal shooting there on Saturday of 50-year-old Walter Scott, which was captured on video by a witness, officials held a tense news conference expressing revulsion and appealing for calm.

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“I have been praying for peace, peace for the family and peace for this community,” North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers said.

At protest over shooting of #WalterScott, protesters’ signs declare: “Back Turned, Don’t Shoot.” pic.twitter广西桑拿,/s0F4h9adPz

— Steven Greenhouse (@greenhousenyt) April 8, 2015

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey told reporters that police officer Michael Slager, 33, had been fired. Summey said the remainder of the police force in North Charleston will soon be equipped with body cameras.

Slager was charged on Tuesday with murder in the death of Scott, the latest among several police shootings of black men over the past year in cities including New York; Ferguson, Missouri; and Cleveland, Ohio. The incidents have stirred debate across the United States about police use of lethal force and race relations, also drawing President Barack Obama into the discussion.

Chief Driggers says his heart goes out to the family of #WalterScott. pic.twitter广西桑拿,/A5fcVO0vyj

— Colin Daileda (@ColinDaileda) April 8, 2015

Police said Saturday’s shooting occurred after Slager, who joined the department in 2009, stopped Scott for a broken brake light.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice are investigating Scott’s shooting. Civil rights leaders called for calm, and many people praised the courage of the witness who filmed the killing and gave the video to Scott’s family.

Protesters headed down the city hall stairs. #WalterScott 南宁桑拿,南宁夜生活,/VpTdsxeqZf

— Colin Daileda (@ColinDaileda) April 8, 2015

Holding signs that read “The whole world is watching” and “Back turned, don’t shoot,” protesters said Scott’s death should not be viewed as an isolated incident.

The shooting was the 11th involving a police officer in South Carolina this year and the second in North Charleston, said Thom Berry, spokesman for the state’s law enforcement division. No one was injured in the prior incident in the city in January, he said.

The memorial at the spot where #WalterScott was killed. pic.twitter广西桑拿,/VONDs9FkXQ

— Colin Daileda (@ColinDaileda) April 8, 2015

The video shows a brief scuffle between the pair before Scott begins to run away. Slager is then seen taking aim with a handgun before shooting eight times at Scott’s back. Scott then slumps facedown onto the grass.

According to a police report, Slager told other officers Scott had taken his stun gun from him.

At no point in the video, which does not show the initial contact between the men, does Scott appear to be armed.

Slager is seen placing the victim in handcuffs as he lies on the ground, and then the officer walks back to a spot near where he opened fire.

The video then shows him appearing to pick something up, return to Scott, and then drop it next to him on the ground.

Related Reading

Additional reporting by Colleen Jenkins and Doina Chiacu; Writing and editing by Jonathan Kaminsky and Grant McCool.

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Blake targets double at Beijing World Championships

“I’m pretty confident with that (recovery) and how I’m training now, I really think I can get back there, so right now I’m not worried,” the 25-year-old Blake told Reuters in Kingston on Wednesday of his aspirations for the Aug.

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22-30 championships in China.

“Based on how my training is feeling right now, I would like to attempt the (100-200) double at the national trials,” he added of the June 25-28 national championships.

“I don’t know what the coach has in mind, but that’s what I feel and training is going really well and I just hope he gives me his blessing for that.”

The Jamaican, who is the joint second fastest man over 100m with 9.69, suffered the hamstring injury at the Glasgow Grand Prix last July and his manager Cubie Seegobin is impressed with the pace of his recovery.

“I’ve watched him train and I’ve seen the times and the progression and like I’ve said, we are ahead of ourselves,” Seegobin said.

“Maybe in May or June we’ll see something (on the track), but I think our long term look is maybe for Rio (2016 Olympics) and I would be pleasantly surprised about a lot of things before then.”

While also satisfied with Blake’s progress, coach Glen Mills, who also conditions six-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, is not setting any timeline for his competitive return.

“We don’t have a planned time to say that he would start competing in the months’ time or two weeks’ time,” Mills said, while adding he is being monitored in two distinct phases of preparation.

“One is the rehabilitation and developmental stage and the other is the competitive training that he has to undergo to be able to compete and that is a different level of intensity.

“When we reach that (level) it’ll give us a better indication of what is happening.”

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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Effort question hurt the Suns the most

Of all the criticism that was thrown Gold Coast’s way following their round one AFL loss to Melbourne there was one which stung the most with defender Rory Thompson.

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When people started suggesting the Suns had lacked effort against the Demons in the 26-point loss it stuck in the craw.

“That’s the most damning word you can hear in football, if someone questions your effort,” Thompson said.

“You might question your kicking or your skill or your talent, but when it’s your effort, it’s not what you want to hear.”

Some felt the Suns had turned up against the Demons expecting to win, with coach Rodney Eade suggesting his players “though it was just going to happen”.

The Demons out-tackled the Suns 66-53 in the match and also won the contested possessions 150-136, a clear indicator of a greater desire between the two teams.

The Suns face a similarly underrated opponent on Saturday at home in St Kilda, the favourite to pick up the wooden spoon.

But Thompson says anyone who thinks the Suns will assume they’ve already got the win in their pocket is kidding themselves.

The key defender says everyone at the club is desperate to atone for the Demons loss against the Saints.

“Rocket (Eade), the other coaches, the fans, expect a better performance than what we delivered on the weekend and hopefully this weekend we can go out there and deliver on that,” he said.

“It’s just basically implementing all the things we practised over the pre-season just a lot better. A lot of things we practised the majority of the pre-season we sort of went away from and that’s what opened us up.

“If we can get back to getting our team defence really strong, that’ll go a long way to helping us.”

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Year to forget for Titans

If a year is along time in footy, the past 12 months seem more like an eternity for the Gold Coast Titans.

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The Titans ended round six last year sitting on top of the NRL ladder with five wins and one loss an optimism was running high.

As the club prepares for Saturday’s round six fixture against Parramatta the story could hardly be more different.

On the field the Titans have won just five of their last 23 fixtures since reaching the league’s summit in 2014, including just one solitary victory at home.

Off it, the club has sacked foundation coach John Cartwright, become mired in player behaviour issues, undergone a rushed takeover by the NRL and been forced to stand down four players for a month after they were issued with drug charges and faced a Queensland court.

Heading into this week’s away clash with the Eels, the Titans have just one win from five starts in 2015 and that was a victory pinched in the dying seconds against Cronulla with an intercept try.

NSW and Australia representative Greg Bird, one of the four Titans players facing cocaine supply charges, admits the downturn on-field has been stark but he insists if can be reversed.

“We’re not doing a lot different,” Bird told AAP.

“We’re finding ourselves in these gritty games. We’re probably not playing as consistent over the 80 minutes as we were last year.

“There’s a fine line between winning by two and losing by two and unfortunately we’ve been on the wrong side of it this year.”

Last year’s strong start was built on the back of winning tight contests.

Four of the five wins were by six points or less, while this year the Titans have lost twice at home in the dying seconds to Wests Tigers and Newcastle, results which Bird knows could easily have gone his team’s way.

“There’s no reason why we can’t turn that around and get a bit of confidence and learn how to win again,” he said.

“Get that feeling and when the game comes down the crunch, make sure we’re putting ourselves in the right positions with the ball and then without the ball.

“Against the Knights, we should have won that game. We’d ground out that game right to the end and fell asleep in the last couple of minutes and Jeremy Smith dives over to score a try and that’s another loss for us.

“We just need to be a lot more consistent and I’m sure the results will start turning in our favour.”

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

Record after round 6 2014 – Won 5, lost 1, position 1st

Record after round 5 2015 – won 1, lost 4, position 15th

* Titans have won five matches since rd 6 last year

* Only one win at home in that time (Rd 26, 2014 – bt Canterbury 19-18)

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Yemen’s Houthis battle in central Aden as first medical aid arrives

Residents saw a dozen bodies strewn on the streets and said several buildings were burnt or demolished by rocket fire.

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Mosques broadcast appeals for jihad against the Houthis, Iran-allied fighters who have taken over large areas of Yemen.

The Houthi attack in the central Crater neighborhood, backed by tanks and armored vehicles, was at least partially repelled, residents said, and Houthi gunmen had also been driven from some northern neighborhoods.

Iran, which denies arming the Houthis, has condemned the Saudi-led offensive. Tehran sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday, saying they would protect Iranian shipping.

Aden has been the target of a three-week-old assault by the Shi’ite Muslim fighters, who control the capital Sanaa. Their campaign prompted Tehran’s rival Saudi Arabia and its allies to launch air strikes against the Houthis.

Saudi Arabia’s leading role against the Houthis has turned Yemen into the latest theater of a regional proxy conflict between the Gulf’s leading Sunni Muslim and Shi’ite Muslim powers – a struggle also playing out in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

The fighting has had a devastating impact on parts of Aden. Scores of people have been killed, water and electricity have been cut off in central neighborhoods, and hospitals have struggled to cope with the casualties.

“It’s nearly catastrophic,” said the International Committee of the Red Cross spokeswoman in Yemen, Marie Claire Feghali.

“Shops are closed, so people cannot get food, they cannot get water. There are still dead bodies in the street. Hospitals are extremely exhausted.”

A boat carrying 2.5 tonnes of medicine docked in Aden on Wednesday, the medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said. MSF said it was the first shipment it had delivered to the city since the fighting escalated.

The ICRC said a surgical team also arrived by boat in Aden, which has a population of one million.

The World Health Organization says at least 643 people have been killed in the conflict and more than 2,200 wounded. Tens of thousands of families have been displaced.

Regional struggle

Iran has called for an immediate halt to the air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition which includes four other Gulf Arab states, and appealed for dialogue.

Its deputy foreign minister said Yemeni factions should form a national unity government. “We in the Islamic Republic of Iran are undertaking all good initiatives and efforts that help in reaching this political solution,” Morteza Sarmadi said.

Iran’s Alborz destroyer and Bushehr support vessel would patrol the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea to protect Iranian shipping from piracy, navy chief Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said.

United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said Iran was meddling in the conflict and elsewhere in the region. “There is systematic action that has been going for years in the idea of exporting the (Iranian) revolution,” he said in Abu Dhabi after talks with Yemen’s foreign minister.

A military spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said Iran had the right to send ships to international waters as long as they had no aggressive intent.

But he repeated accusations that Iranians in Yemen had supported, trained and equipped the Houthi fighters, adding that any of them who remained “are now in the same trench as the Houthi militias, and will face the same fate”.

The United States, a major Saudi ally, said on Tuesday it was speeding up arms supplies for the offensive, and had increased intelligence sharing and planning coordination.

State media in the United Arab Emirates says Saudi Arabia has deployed 100 jets in its air campaign, alongside 30 from the UAE, 15 each from Kuwait and Bahrain, and 10 from Qatar. Sudan, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco have also supported the campaign.

Pakistan’s parliament is debating a Saudi request for it to join the military operation. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has promised to defend Saudi Arabia’s “territorial integrity”, but has not said what, if any, commitments he has made.

The foreign minister of Oman, the only member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) not participating in the bombing campaign, called for a short humanitarian truce after meeting his Iranian counterpart in Muscat on Wednesday.

Yusuf bin Alawi previously said Oman was ready to help mediate between the two sides but he did not believe the combatants were ready to come to the table.

Overnight, warplanes struck al-Anad airbase, about 50 km (30 miles) north of Aden, local officials said.

The base, which once housed U.S. military personnel involved in Washington’s covert drone war against al Qaeda fighters in eastern Yemen, has been taken over by soldiers loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who are allied to the Houthis.

There were also air strikes against Houthi positions in the town of Dhalea, further north from al-Anad.

(Additional reporting by Mohammed Ghobari in Cairo, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Sam Wilkin in Dubai, Fatma Al Arimi in Muscat and Sami Aboudi in Abu Dhabi; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Crispian Balmer)