China’s choice Lam wins Hong Kong leadership, vows to heal rifts

Hong Kong’s new leader Carrie Lam has pledged to mend political rifts after winning a vote dismissed as a sham by democracy activists who fear the loss of the city’s cherished freedoms.

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Hong Kong has been semi-autonomous since it was handed back to China by colonial ruler Britain in 1997.

But 20 years on, there are serious concerns Beijing is disregarding the handover agreement designed to protect Hong Kong’s way of life. 

The former career civil servant was chosen as the next chief executive by a mainly pro-China committee and was widely seen as Beijing’s favourite to head the city.

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Critics say she will deepen divisions in the city, but Lam said she wanted to unify Hong Kong. 

“Hong Kong, our home, is suffering from quite a serious divisiveness and has accumulated a lot of frustrations. My priority will be to heal the divide,” she said after her victory.

Lam pledged to uphold Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous “one country, two systems” set-up and protect its core values, including freedom of expression and an independent judiciary.

Asked how she would address concerns that Beijing is tightening its grip, she said there was “no difference” between the Hong Kong government and Chinese authorities’ views in terms of safeguarding the city’s status and freedoms. 

But the China analyst Ma Ngok told SBS News that Lam will be remembered “as someone who was not elected with a popular vote, only with strong control from Beijing”. 

The democratic Civic Party founder Alan Leong accused China of interferring in the election outcome.

“The high-handed manner by which the Central People’s Government has interfered it this election has left Hong Kong people wondering how much more we can trust their policy of one country, two systems,” he said.

It was the first leadership vote since mass “Umbrella Movement” rallies calling for fully free elections in 2014 failed to secure reforms, and came after a turbulent term under current chief executive Leung Chun-ying.

Leung, who is seen by opponents as a Beijing puppet, will step down in July after five years in charge. Lam, who will be the city’s first woman leader, was formerly his deputy.

An emotional Lam, 59, bowed to supporters as it was announced she had won comprehensively with 777 votes against 365 for John Tsang, seen as a more moderate establishment figure.

The third and most liberal candidate, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, received just 21 votes.   

Around three quarters of the 1,194 members of the election committee were from the pro-China camp.

Lam is intensely disliked by the pro-democracy camp after promoting the Beijing-backed political reform package that sparked 2014’s massive protests.

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That plan would have allowed the public to choose the city’s leader in 2017, but would have insisted that candidates must be vetted first. 

It was eventually voted down in parliament by pro-democracy lawmakers and reforms have been shelved ever since. 

Since then frustration among activists has sparked calls for self-determination for Hong Kong, or even a complete split from China. 

Hundreds of protesters including leading pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong gathered near the harbourfront voting venue.

Nearby, pro-China supporters played marching music surrounded by national and city flags. 

Rebel legislator Nathan Law, who as a lawmaker has an automatic vote, said he would enter a blank ballot. 

“It is still a selection from the Beijing government,” Law told AFP. 

Protesters raise a yellow umbrella and placards to protest against Carrie Lam.AP

Uphill struggle

Representatives of a broad number of sectors, from business to education, sit on the committee that chooses the chief executive, but the vast majority of the city’s 3.8 million electorate have no say in the vote. 

Pro-democracy committee members threw their weight behind Lam’s main rival, ex-finance secretary Tsang. 

But activists said he was still on Beijing’s side and rejected the vote outright as unrepresentative of Hong Kong people.

Lam will face an uphill struggle to unite a city in which young people in particular have lost faith in the political system and their own overall prospects. 

With salaries too low to meet the cost of property in an overpriced market fuelled by mainland money, getting ahead in life is seen as increasingly difficult.

While she said Sunday she wanted more democracy for Hong Kong, Lam said she intended to prioritise social issues such as housing.

Critics fear she will pave the way for more interference from Beijing after an number of incidents under Leung that rocked public confidence.

They include the disappearance in 2015 of five Hong Kong booksellers known for publishing salacious titles about China’s political elite. The booksellers all resurfaced in detention on the mainland. 

Last year, the disqualification from parliament of two publicly elected pro-independence lawmakers following Beijing’s intervention also prompted accusations the city’s legislature had been seriously compromised. 

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Sydney TB cases being treated-NSW Health

NSW Health has dismissed fears of an outbreak of the bacterial infection tuberculosis after a Sydney doctor misdiagnosed a man who went on to infect 10 others.

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The patient, 23, went to his GP over three months but it wasn’t until his third visit that the doctor referred him for an x-ray that revealed a hole in his lung, The Daily Telegraph reported.

During that period he reportedly passed on the disease, which mainly affects the lungs, after coming into contact with 10 people.

But NSW Health’s Director of Communicable Diseases Vicky Sheppeard said this didn’t mean there was an outbreak of tuberculosis in Sydney.

“Public announcements about people with TB disease are rarely necessary as TB is spread via close and prolonged contact, not spread by brief, casual exposures,” Ms Sheppeard told AAP in a statement on Monday.

“As TB remains a relatively rare disease in Australia it is not unusual that it is not recognised on the initial presentation to a doctor.”

NSW has one of the lowest rates of the disease in the world.

Across the country about 1300 new cases are reported every year. In NSW in 2016, there were 533.

NSW Labor has called on the Berejiklian government to consider whether GPs needed to brush up on their knowledge of TB.

Doctors they should be able to identify symptoms in order to protect the community, opposition health spokesman Walt Secord said.

TB is a nationally notifiable disease and can be a very serious if not diagnosed early and treated.

All of the 11 persons affected in this latest case are now being treated.

Clarke questions ‘negative’ Indian batting

If India suffer a rare Test series loss at home to Australia they will rue “negative” batting in the Dharamsala decider, according to Michael Clarke.

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Former Australia captain Clarke was shocked with India’s tactics during a rollercoaster second day of the fourth and final Test. The hosts will resume on Monday at 6-248, still trailing Australia by 52 runs.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane both looked set during the post-lunch session, during which the hosts only added 89 runs. It came after they scored 64 runs in Sunday’s morning session.

India’s pre-lunch struggles were a result of inspired fast bowling from Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, who made good use of the new ball. India opener KL Rahul dubbed it the toughest session he had ever faced.

Clarke felt there were no such excuses for India’s run-rate after lunch, opining that India had the best batting conditions either side will enjoy in the game.

“If India do lose this Test match, I’ll tell you where they lost it – it’s 30 minutes before tea on day two,” Clarke said on Star Sports.

“It was so negative with their batting. Australia bowled spin from both ends, they sat on the crease and blocked and blocked and blocked.

“They’ve lost two quick wickets (after tea) … they’re under enormous pressure.

“If India can’t get a decent total in this first innings, batting last here is going to be extremely tough (if they are) chasing 200 runs.”

Australia’s only Test series win in India during the past 47 years came in 2004, when Clarke made his debut. India have lost a single series at home in the past 12 years.

The ongoing series is level at 1-1. The visitors will retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy if the final Test ends in a draw.

Former Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin echoed Clarke’s sentiments.

“India have to win the Test match and I don’t think you’re going to get better batting conditions than in that session,” Haddin said on Fox Sports.

“I was bit shocked that Pujara didn’t try to move the game forward a little bit. It looked like he put a lot of pressure on Rahane, then he’s sort of got bogged down in his shell a bit too.”

Muslims told to return to Jerusalem shrine

Muslim leaders have told the faithful to return to pray inside a major Jerusalem holy site after Israel removed all the security devices it had installed following a deadly Palestinian attack at the compound.

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Thousands of Palestinians had been praying in the streets outside the al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City to protest against the security measures since the crisis began.

“After extensive discussion and after achieving this victory in this round we call on our people in Jerusalem and inside (Israel) and anyone who can access the al-Aqsa Mosque to enter … en masse,” the Islamic leaders said in a statement.

The head of the Supreme Islamic Committee, Ikrema Sabri, said the first prayers would be held there on Thursday afternoon.

Israel installed the security measures after Palestinian gunmen shot and killed two police officers from within the site on July 14.

It said the security measures were necessary to prevent more attacks and were standard procedure to ensure safety at sites around the world.

Palestinians claimed Israel was trying to expand its control over the site.

The issue sparked street clashes and threatened to draw Israel into conflict with other Arab and Muslim nations.

Palestinians danced, chanted “God is Great” and set off fireworks after some security devices were removed early Thursday morning.

It dismantled metal detectors there earlier this week.

Israel removed the devices under intense pressure and said it planned to install sophisticated security cameras instead.

But Palestinian politicians and Muslim clerics had insisted that was not enough and demanded Israel restore the situation at the shrine to what it was before the attack.

The stand-off at the holy site – known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount – has provoked some of the worst bloodshed in Jerusalem for years.

Israeli forces have killed four Palestinians in fighting in the cramped streets of East Jerusalem in the past week and a Palestinian stabbed three Israelis to death in their home.

Growing calls to dump Barnaby from water

There are growing calls for federal Water Minister Barnaby Joyce to be stripped of his portfolio after he was recorded telling farmers he took control of water to stop “greenies running the show”.

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Mr Joyce is heard telling those at a Shepparton pub on Wednesday night that an ABC Four Corners investigation into alleged water rorting in the Murray Darling Basin was trying to “create a calamity”.

“It’s about them trying to take more water off you… shut more of your towns down,” he says in the recording.

He admits the National Party took responsibility for water from the environment portfolio and into his agriculture portfolio to “look after” farmers.

“We’ve taken water and put it back into agriculture so we can look after you and make sure we don’t have the greenies running the show basically sending you out the back door.

“That was a hard ask but we did it.”

Responsibility for water was handed to the Nationals as part of the party’s coalition agreement with the Liberal Party in 2015.

Environment groups raised concerns at the time, warning the Nationals would prioritise the interests of irrigators over environmental concerns for the Murray River.

South Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Mr Joyce’s comments showed he was not fit to be federal water minister.

South Australian Water Minister Ian Hunter has also called for Mr Joyce’s removal.

“He is absolutely incapable of doing the job he has been given,” he said.

South Australia also criticised the NSW government’s probe into the matter as “absolutely inadequate”.

The former head of the National Water Commission, Ken Matthews, was this week appointed to head up the NSW investigation into the allegations.

The investigation’s terms of reference include investigating water theft at specific properties in northern NSW.

It will also examine whether a senior official helped irrigators undermine the Murray Darling Basin Plan, and whether a major investigation into water management breaches was stymied.

But Mr Hunter doubts it will get to the bottom of alleged long-term gaming of the water rules, and wants NSW Regional Water Minister Niall Blair to broaden its scope.

“Mr Blair needs to restore public confidence in his state’s water compliance regimes that provide the drinking and irrigation water for millions of Australians,” Mr Hunter said.

“This inquiry won’t do it.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Blair said any issues outside the terms of reference will be referred to the appropriate authorities for review.

Partington not Eagles AFL saviour: Simpson

West Coast coach Adam Simpson says it would be unfair to label Luke Partington as the AFL club’s saviour, claiming the 20-year-old won’t be able to fix all of the team’s problems.

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Partington has been named to make his AFL debut in Sunday’s clash with Brisbane at Domain Stadium.

The Eagles’ finals hopes hang in the balance after last week’s loss to Collingwood, dropping to ninth on the table with a 9-8 record.

Entering the season with the oldest list in the competition, West Coast fans have been desperate to see more of the club’s youth.

Tom Cole, Liam Duggan, Malcolm Karpany and Kurt Mutimer have been given more opportunities as the season has worn on, but injuries have prevented goalsneak Willie Rioli (hamstring) and No.13 draft pick Daniel Venables (foot) making their AFL debuts.

With West Coast casting more of an eye towards the future, Partington has finally been given his chance after a hot run of form in the WAFL.

Partington has averaged 27.4 disposals per game this season for East Perth, as well as booting 14 goals.

But Simpson is urging people not to put too much pressure on Partington, saying the team’s troubles can’t be fixed by one player.

“He’s in his second year. I just hope you’re not building him up to fail,” Simpson said.

“He’s getting some good numbers. But there’s more to footy than just getting the ball.

“He’s playing well. But to suggest he’s going to come in and dominate the competition – I think we’ve just got to take a deep breath.”

Sam Mitchell, Eric Mackenzie, Fraser McInnes and Malcolm Karpany were also brought into the 25-man squad.

Lewis Jetta (calf) and Matt Priddis (quad) were forced out.

Brisbane will be without suspended midfielder Dayne Zorko and decided to rest Eric Hipwood, Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage.

Michael Close, Jarrad Jansen, Claye Beams, Nick Robertson, Sam Skinner, Jacob Allison and Corey Lyons were all added to the extended squad.

Final-quarter fadeouts have been a big problem this year for West Coast.

In Sunday’s loss to Collingwood – when the Magpies booted the last five goals of the match – 13 Eagles players didn’t record a contested possession in the final term.

Simpson concedes his team are not fit or fast enough – areas he won’t be able to fix this year.

But Simpson says players still have the scope to improve their effort, and the fourth-year coach is determined to lift the group into a finals berth.

Colombian judge suspends Cassie Sainsbury’s plea deal hearing

The shock decision came after Sainsbury told the court she had agreed to smuggle drugs only because her family and fiance had been threatened.

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Those comments may endanger the deal the 22-year-old had struck with prosecutors to serve just six years instead of at least 20 in return for information on the ring.

Sainsbury has told the court in Bogota on Thursday morning that she “didn’t want to take any package anywhere” but did so under coercion.

“I was told that my family and partner would be killed,” she said when asked what would happen if she didn’t agree.

This April 12, 2017 photo released by Colombia’s National Police press shows Australian Cassandra Sainsbury in handcuffs after she was arrested.AAP

Judge Leon told the court on Sainsbury’s explanation raises questions about the the legality of the deal. Another date will be set for the hearing.

Sainsbury was caught at Bogota’s international airport in April, trying to smuggle 5.8 kilograms of cocaine inside 18 separate packages of headphones.

She has been held in a Bogota prison since her arrest, with her case attracting huge attention in Australia.

Her mother Lisa Evans and fiance Scott Broadbridge were in Bogota to support her during the sentencing hearing on Thursday morning Australian time.

Sainsbury’s sister on Wednesday told Channel 7 in Adelaide the plea deal was the best outcome they could have hoped for.

But Kahla Sainsbury said her sister’s life would never be the same, even after just a few years in prison.

0:00 Dutton comments on Sainsbury’s legal costs Share Dutton comments on Sainsbury’s legal costs

“I don’t think there’s much she can do when she comes back home. It’s going to be hard for her to get a job. It’s going to be hard for her to do anything,” she said.

“Because she’s going to be labelled as ‘Cocaine Cassie’.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the case served as another warning to Australians travelling overseas.

“People need to abide by the laws of that country. If not, they will face serious consequences,” he told Seven on Thursday.

The government provided consular assistance to Sainsbury but did not fund her legal case, Mr Dutton said. 

Petrol, diesel cars set to go in Britain in 2040

The British government has announced diesel vehicles, the main cause of pollution in London, will be banned in 23 years, from 2040.

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Environment Secretary Michael Gove says new petrol vehicles will also suffer the same fate.

“We have to get rid of petrol and diesel cars off our roads if we’re going to make sure not only that we deal with the health problems that air pollution causes but, also, that we meet our climate-change targets.”

France has the same target as Britain, while Norway’s is just eight years away, in 2025.

But in Australia, News Corp motoring analyst Josh Dowling says Australia would be a longer way off.

“I think it’s extremely unlikely for Australia to follow Paris and London down the electric-car path. We don’t have the infrastructure, we’ve got completely different geography and a (different) set of circumstances, and we have much greater distances to travel.”

But Beyond Zero Emissions’ Michael Lord says he disagrees, suggesting Australia could make the change in less than 10 years.

“Australia’s the ideal place to switch to electric cars and to run them on renewable energy, because we’ve got some of the best renewable-energy resources in the world and we know that, already, one in five Australians have solar panels on their rooftops, so they could be charging their cars for free.”

But there are challenges with the size of Australia, and the fact not many people are buying electric cars.

Last year, almost 1.2 million new cars were sold in Australia.

More than 1.1 million were petrol or diesel.

Only 12,800 were hybrid or electric — just 1 per cent of the market.

Josh Dowling says that does not suggest people are ready.

“Forcing Australians into electric cars is a bit like fighting the obesity epidemic by only selling small T-shirts. You need to create customer demand, you can’t just change the rules.”

The Queensland government is trying to create that demand, announcing 18 fast-charging stations will be installed from the Gold Coast to Cairns.

It will be the longest electric-vehicle super-highway in the world and will be installed over the next six months.

Early usage is expected to be low — there are only 700 fully electric vehicles registered in Queensland.

 

 

 

 

 

‘Tell me I’m not worthy to my face’: Retired Navy SEAL’s challenge to Trump

The former Navy SEAL Team 6 Marine who came out as transgender, dared Trump to tell her she was “not worthy” to her face and says that the president has ‘opened a can of whoop a**’.

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Beck served for 20 years in the US Navy and was deployed 13 times.

“Being transgender doesn’t affect anyone else,” she told Business Insider.

“We are Liberty’s light. If you can’t defend that for everyone that’s an American citizen, that’s not right.”

Speaking on CNN, Beck urged the US government not to base their data “on one thing”.

“I’m transgender and I’m capable to serve,” she said.

@realDonaldTrump YOU just opened a can of WHOOP-ASS!!!!#NavySEAL #pipehitter #transgender

MEET ME & tell me I’m not WORTHY to my face. pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/eqAHTysfma

— Chief Beck (@valor4us) 26 July 2017

“I can serve now and I can do with great capability that would surprise you.”

Speaking with Air Force Times, Air Force Officer Sergeant Logan Ireland said no one was going to deny him the right to serve his country.

“I would like to see them try to kick me out of my military,” he said.

“You are not going to deny me my right to serve my country when I am fully qualified and able and willing to give my life.”

Earlier today, another former Marine Connie Rice told Vice’s Broadly the decision “hurt thousands of serving people and their family”.

“I served; Trump never did … He is a self-absorbed narcissistic f***wit,” Rice said.

Celebrities have also spoken out against reintroducing the ban.

“Trump is banning all transgenders from the military. To those who believed Trump would be a friend to LGBTs, time to admit you were conned,” George Takei tweeted.

Caitlyn Jenner questioned Trump’s promise made in June 2016.

There are 15,000 patriotic transgender Americans in the US military fighting for all of us. What happened to your promise to fight for them? 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/WzjypVC8Sr

— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) July 26, 2017This AM, @POTUS attacked trans people fighting for our country. Every American should be outraged. My full response: 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/ALJwnvFwQg

— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) July 26, 2017

“There are 15,000 patriotic transgender Americans in the US military fighting for all of us. What happened to your promise to fight for them?” she tweeted.

Hours after Trump’s tweet announcing his plan to reintroduce the ban, Canada’s military took to Twitter to welcome recruits from all gender identities.

The tweet from the Canadian Armed Forces’ official account included a photo of military band members marching in a parade with rainbow flags fluttering from their instruments.

“We welcome Cdns of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Join us!” said the tweet, which included the hashtag #DiversityIsOurStrength.

Within an hour, it had been shared 2,500 times.

The planned policy change, which comes a year after the president declared he would “fight” for the LGBT community, has been described as “despicable” and something which “must be challenged” by actress Mia Farrow.

On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted that he planned to reintroduce a ban on transgender individuals from serving in the US armed forces “in any capacity”. 

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

Trump’s action would reverse Democratic former President Barack Obama’s policy, which halted years of efforts to eliminate barriers to military service based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Of those praising Trump’s decision was president of the Family Research Council advocacy group Tony Perkins, who felt: “Troops shouldn’t be forced to endure hours of transgender ‘sensitivity’ classes and politically correct distractions.”

Every patriotic American who is qualified to serve in our military should be able to serve. Full stop.

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 26, 2017

The announcement caught some White House officials by surprise.

Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman John McCain, the most prominent military veteran in Congress, who was a Navy pilot and prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, called Trump’s announcement unclear and inappropriate until a Pentagon study on the issue is completed and reviewed by Mattis, the military leadership and lawmakers. 

‘Shameful’: Transgender support groups slam decision 

Mara Keisling from the US-based National Centre for Transgender Equality said the decision was an “appalling attack on our service members”.

“It is about bigotry rather than military readiness, reason or science. It is indefensible and cannot stand,” she said.

“The president wants to discard thousands of trained and skilled troops who are already serving honorably and done nothing but be honest about who they are.

“To turn away qualified recruits simply because of who they are is a shameful way to show our country’s gratitude to the people who serve our country.”

0:00 Transgender equality centre reacts to Trump’s transgender ban Share Transgender equality centre reacts to Trump’s transgender ban

The centre reports that more than 15,000 transgender people currently serve in the US armed forces.

Ayla Holdom, Britain’s first transgender military pilot, said the decision was “beyond belief”.

“I have so many friends in the US military, both current and past serving, and I can only imagine how they’re feeling right now in terms of the message they’ve just heard today,” she said.

“The vast majority of trans people sadly do really struggle with resistance from employment, from family and so forth. I’m very lucky that I didn’t.

“I shouldn’t be the outlier, I should be the norm.”

What happens now

US Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the Pentagon was working with the White House to “address the new guidance” from President Trump.

Cpt Davis said the Pentagon would be providing guidance to Defence Department officials “in the near future”.

According to Associated Press there is not yet any new written policy or executive order and details of the ban remain unclear.

Protesters took to New York’s Times Square on July 26 (AAP)AAP

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12,000 evacuated due to French fires amid ‘apocalyptic’ scenes

In some places, locals used spades, rakes and even tree branches in a desperate bid to beat back the flames until the firefighters arrived.

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Emergency workers, who have been fighting the blazes for three days now, were also battling infernos in the mountainous hinterland, and on the island of Corsica.

Thousands of tourists fled to the safety of public shelters after a fire broke out overnight in the village of Bormes-les-Mimosas, on the Cote d’Azur, and swept towards the area’s campsites.

“We were slapping it with branches to prevent it from spreading, but it came back here,” said Bastien Guyomard, a resident of Toulon who is visiting Bormes-les-Mimosas.

“We contained it until the firemen came, an hour and a half later or even two hours, but… the firemen are spread out everywhere. There’s fire everywhere.”

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The head of the rescue operation in Bormes-les-Mimosas, Serge La Vialle, told AFP that more than 550 firefighters backed by five water bomber aircraft had not yet managed to contain the flames.

“It’s moving slowly and even growing a bit,” he said.

Some of the evacuees ended up spending the night on the beach, but many families took shelter in a local gymnasium and public hall where volunteers served up drinks and breakfast.

Amelie, a German tourist from a family of nine, said she had woken to the sound of sirens. “We all gathered on the beach. The mountain was ablaze and the sky was red,” she told AFP.

“The hills were all on fire, running right down to the sea,” Jean-Paul Poinsart, 68, said.

Since Monday, firefighters have been criss-crossing the southeast trying to extinguish infernos in a tinder-dry region buffeted by strong winds.

About 100 kilometres northwest of Bormes-les-Mimosas, a pine forest in Peynier caught fire on Wednesday.

Local authorities said it risked consuming 1,000 hectares of forest but that no homes were in danger.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was due to visit the area on Wednesday evening.

In a tweet Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron expressed his admiration and support “for those fighting relentlessly against the fires ravaging our territories.”

He also expressed his support for those forced to flee their homes.

In all, over 6,000 firefighters, troops and civil security officials backed by 19 water bombers have been deployed.

At least 12 firefighters have been injured and 15 police officers affected by smoke inhalation so far, officials said.

On Tuesday, Italy answered a French request for help, sending an extra two planes to scoop water from the sea to douse the flames.

‘Work of arsonists’

France’s Cote d’Azur bulges in July and August as holidaymakers head to the beach.

Bormes-les-Mimosas “doubles or triples its population in summer”, a local fire official said.

The area is experiencing a particularly hot and dry summer that has made it especially vulnerable to fires.

Officials said they suspected Tuesday night’s blaze, which started in a caravan storage yard, was the work of arsonists. Other fires have been blamed on discarded cigarettes.

The fires have devoured around 7,000 hectares (27 square miles) of forest across southeast France and Corsica.

On Tuesday, a fire ripped along the coast in La Croix-Valmer near Saint-Tropez, a resort frequented by the rich and famous.

La Croix-Valmer’s deputy mayor Rene Carandante described a landscape of blackened headlands fringed by charred umbrella pines, where green forest had once framed the azure waters of the Mediterranean.

“It’s a disaster area. There’s nothing left,” he said.

Blackened forests

Northeast Corsica was also counting the ecological cost of fires.

Aerial footage of the region Wednesday showed vast tracts of forest blackened and bare.

Experts say said a drop-off in farming in southeast France since the 1970s has allowed forests to mushroom, making the region more prone to fires.

A proliferation in the numbers of homes, roads and power lines has also increased the fire hazard.

Portugal, meanwhile, which last month suffered deadly forest fires, has been battling fresh blazes since Sunday in centre of the country, forcing the evacuation of around 10 villages.

About 1,100 firefighters have been drafted to stop the advance of the flames in the same area that was engulfed by fire last month, leaving 64 people dead.

 

Australia and UK pledge closer security ties on Boris Johnson visit

Australia and Britain have pledged to strengthen their military, intelligence and trade ties as the UK prepares to exit from the European Union.

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The pledge was made by foreign and defence ministers from both countries during their annual talks in Sydney on Thursday.

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In a joint statement the ministers said they would cooperate on military activities in the Asia region, share more classified information, as well as swap details on getting the military to help with domestic counter-terrorism operations.

“Australia and the UK will work together to find opportunities to conduct cooperative activities in the region whenever we have military assets in the same area at the same time,” the ministers said.

Both countries plan to share more classified information about their defence and security arrangements.

Following a spate of terrorist attacks in Britain, the ministers have also agreed to swap notes on how to coordinate the involvement of their respective military forces in domestic counter-terrorism operations, and what they call post-attack rehabilitation.

On trade, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told reporters his country wanted to work more closely with Australia as the UK exited the European Union.

“We have today reaffirmed our shared goal of concluding a free trade agreement as soon as possible after we leave the EU,” he said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the UK agreement, which would be “high quality and comprehensive”, would come shortly after Australia concluded a deal with the EU.

Ms Bishop said Britain was a “natural partner” to work with Australia on the development and security of the Pacific, noting the ministers had discussed the return of foreign fighters, China, North Korea and the threat of ISIS in the Philippines.

The UK and Australia plan to hold a leadership forum in 2018, featuring business, government, academics and community leaders.

They will also co-chair an international workshop on human trafficking and modern slavery at the Australian High Commission in London.

0:00 Boris Johnson on the UK and Australia’s ‘rugby style’ relationship Share Boris Johnson on the UK and Australia’s ‘rugby style’ relationship

Allergic reaction to nuts may lessen over time but sufferers unlikely to outgrow condition

Liam Wray was just a toddler when his parents, Chris and Lisa Wray, discovered he had an allergy.

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“He had an allergic reaction to pistachios,” Mrs Wray told SBS World News.

“He came out in all hives, and he was finding it quite difficult to breathe.”

From that scary moment, Liam discovered a reaction to other nuts too, and carries an epipen and antihistamines with him everywhere.

“I get really tingly in my throat, like it’s very itchy, but it’s like an inside, inside your throat itch, you can’t actually get rid of it. And then I start to feel sick,” Liam said.

The ‘School Nut’ study assessed 15 food allergies of 10 thousand children aged 10 to 14.SBS World News

His parents have worked hard to ensure he’s independently aware of the risks.

Now, thanks to a landmark study at Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), the 14-year-old has had some happy news.

“I used to be allergic to hazelnuts and almonds, but I’ve grown out of being allergic to them, which is good, cos I can have Nutella and stuff now,” says Liam.

Transient v persistent food allergies

The ‘School Nuts’ study assessed 15 food allergies in ten-thousand children aged 10 to 14, to find out the extent of allergies, and the cause and scale of reactions.

Lead researcher, pediatric allergist, Professor Katie Allen, said her team discovered that one in 20 students had an allergic reaction during food challenges.

“There’s what we call the transient food allergies, and the persistent food allergies. So the transient food allergies are the early life ones, like cow’s milk and egg allergy, they’re more likely to be grown out of, we know that 80 per cent of them will grow out of it by age five,” Professor Allen told SBS World News.

“But this [the study] has now confirmed what we thought clinically, that children with nut allergy, are more likely to have persistent problems.”

The ‘School Nut’ study’s lead researcher, pediatric allergist, Professor Katie Allen.SBS World News

Professor Allen said it highlighted the importance of patients being re-tested as they advance into secondary school and beyond, to better understand the severity of their condition.

“Children with nut allergy are more likely to have lifelong allergies, they’re also more likely to have anaphylaxis, and unfortunately the fatalities are more likely to be associated with nut anaphylaxis.”

As researchers work towards a treatment, the benefits of testing could be immediate.

Just like for Liam Wray, whose allergy, and routine, has changed.

“If I didn’t get the testing done, I wouldn’t have been able to have almonds or hazelnuts and I wouldn’t have known what they’re like, so it’s good to know I can have, some type of nut.”

For nut allergy sufferer Liam Wray, eating his first nut has been fourteen years in the making.SBS World News

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Canavan confirms he will not resign from the Senate

Coalition senator Matt Canavan is standing firm in refusing to follow Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters in resigning from the Senate over his dual citizenship.

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The senator and former Turnbull government minister held a press conference in Rockhampton confirming he would take the case to the High Court. 

Senator Canavan is seeking further legal advice but believes the fact that his mother signed him up for Italian citizenship – allegedly without his knowledge or consent – means he is not in breach of Section 44 of the Constitution. 

“I was working on the presumption you would have to fill out forms, give consent and sign papers to become a citizen of another country,” he said. 

Section 44 makes it illegal for a dual citizen to sit in the Australian parliament.

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It is the section that saw two Greens senators resign in recent weeks: Senator Ludlam, over his New Zealand citizenship; and Senator Waters, over her Canadian citizenship. 

Senators Canavan, Waters and Ludlam all claim they were unaware of their second citizenships, but Senator Canavan has the additional claim that he has never even visited Italy. 

Senator Canavan resigned from the cabinet over the revelations, handing his portfolios to the Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

Media coverage in the days following the resignation has been focused on whether or not it is possible that Senator Canavan’s mother would have been able to register her son as an Italian citizen without at least his signature. 

“My mum acted with what she thought was my best interests and had no idea of the ramifications around any of this,” Senator Canavan said. 

Di Natale: ‘He should do the honourable thing and resign’ 

Greens leader Richard Di Natale is calling for Senator Canavan to step down. 

He said it was inconsistent for Senator Canavan to resign from the ministry but not the Senate. 

“He should do the honourable thing and resign,” he said.

“Ignorance is no excuse.”

Senator Di Natale says the Coalition senator should follow the lead of Greens senators Ludlam and Waters. 

“For people to have faith in the system, people within the system need to act with integrity and honesty. That’s exactly what our two Greens senators did.” 

“They took responsiliblty. They didn’t seek to blame anyone else for their actions.” 

Senator Di Natale has also echoed calls from One Nation for a full audit of every federal politician’s eligibility and citizenship status, to be carried out by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. 

0:00 Constitutional expert on Matt Canavan’s High Court case Share Constitutional expert on Matt Canavan’s High Court case

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