AUSTRALIA & WORLD NEWS

SYDNEY: Man dies after falling close to 300 metres from Sydney Tower, police report

SYRIA: Thousands return after ceasefire deal

Nine police killed in Tunisia attack

High schools to get specialist teachers who studied maths, science at university under Federal Government plan

Kuwait's highest court jails politicians

Thai boys' perilous trip through dark maze

Thousands of Turkish civil servants fired

Othman Talks General Situation With Boustani




SYDNEY: Man dies after falling close to 300 metres from Sydney Tower, police report

A MAN has died after falling 286 metres to his death from Sydney’s tallest building, Sydney Tower.

A NSW police spokeswoman confirmed that ambulance services were called around 7pm after reports a person “had jumped” from the building formerly known as Centrepoint Tower.

Police were called to Sydney Tower at 7pm on Sunday night after reports a man had fell from the building. Picture: Channel 7Source:Supplied

“The body of a man was found a short time later, not in public view,” the spokeswoman said.

“A crime scene has been established which will be examined by forensic specialists.

 “Inquiries suggest the incident is self harm related. A report will be prepared for the coroner.”

The Sydney Tower Eye tweeted that it would remain closed until further notice.

It comes just four months after a woman died after she removed her harness during the skywalk tour at the top of the building, which sits above the Westfield shopping centre in Sydney’s CBD.

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Nine police killed in Tunisia attack

Nine members of Tunisia's security forces have been killed in an attack in the west of the country close to the border with Algeria, state news agency TAP reports.

Militants present in rural parts of Tunisia occasionally target security forces, but Sunday's toll was the highest since 2015, a year in which Islamist militants carried out three major attacks.

The police unit from Gar Dimaou in the region of Jendouba was ambushed during a regular patrol, TAP reported.

"The terrorist attackers threw a grenade at the first security car and there were confrontations with firearms," the report cited a security source as saying.

One of the Arab world's most secular nations, Tunisia became a target for militants after being hailed as a beacon of democratic change with an uprising against autocrat Zine Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

Some militants operate in remote areas near the border with Algeria, which has been fighting the remnants of a major Islamist insurgency in the 1990s.

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SYRIA: Thousands return after ceasefire deal

BEIRUT: Tens of thousands have returned to their homes in southern Syria since a ceasefire deal between Russia and rebels to end more than two weeks of deadly bombardment, a monitor said on Sunday.

The deal was largely holding despite air strikes on two areas that killed four civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said, as rebel evacuations under the deal were postponed.

President’s Bashar al Assad government is determined to retake control of the key southern province of Daraa bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, seven years after protests there sparked Syria’s civil war.

Since June 19, a deadly bombardment campaign on the province had caused more than 320,000 people to flee their homes, according to the United Nations, many to the sealed border with Jordan.

On Friday, rebels and the government announced a ceasefire deal, providing for opposition fighters to hand over their heavy weapons and paving the way for a regime takeover of the province.

More than 60,000 people have since hit the road from the Jordanian frontier, heading back to their homes in the east or west of the province, the Britain-based Observatory said.

On Sunday, the returns were continuing, the Observatory said, even as government warplanes pounded two areas of the province. Three civilians were killed in air strikes on Um al Mayazeen, just five km north of the Jordanian border, said the Britain-based monitor.

“Syrian forces launched an assault on the village,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said, two days after they retook control of the key border crossing of Nassib to its south.

Earlier, rebel fire on a Syrian convoy travelling near Um al Mayazeen on the highway from the border had killed several soldiers, Abdel Rahman said, without providing a toll.

A government air strike on the rebel-held half of the provincial capital of Daraa also killed one civilian, he said. On Friday, government forces retook control of Nassib, near which thousands of families had set up makeshift tents for shelter.

Under the ceasefire deal, government forces were to deploy along the frontier with Jordan, while rebels were to hand over their heavy weapons.

Opposition fighters were also given the option of being bused out to rebel-held areas in northern Syria.

But a rebel official said the evacuation of opposition fighters and their families planned for Sunday was temporarily put on hold.

“A hundred buses were supposed to arrive but (the operation) has been postponed to a later date, in around two days,” the official said.

“There was an exchange of fire between both sides and the first (wave) has been postponed.”

An IS group affiliate, which holds a small pocket in the southwest of Daraa, is excluded from the ceasefire deal. The bombardment campaign on rebel-held areas in Daraa since June 19 had killed more than 160 civilians, the Observatory says.— AFP

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High schools to get specialist teachers who studied maths, science at university under Federal Government plan

Every high school would have to employ science and maths teachers who have studied those subjects at a university level, under a new Federal Government plan to be announced today.

The Government said at the moment, not enough teachers were knowledgeable and passionate about the topics.

For example, it said around one in five year 7 to 10 general science teachers in 2013 had not completed even a year of university study in that area.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said he hoped the move would in turn encourage more high schoolers to take maths and science classes.

"It's not just about knowledge of content," Senator Birmingham said.

"It's also about ensuring students are inspired to stick with maths, to stick with the sciences, so that they continue right through their schooling years and hopefully into further studies to give us more skilled scientists and more people skilled in the STEM disciplines."

It comes after a report by Australia's Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, found the number of students choosing to take science had dropped from 55 per cent in 2002 to 51 per cent in 2013.

The number of overall maths students was steady at 72 per cent. But the report said that was because pupils were moving towards easier level maths.

Intermediate and advanced maths declined from 54 per cent in 1992 to 36 per cent in 2012.

Senator Birmingham said he hoped that by bringing in more highly-qualified teachers, that could turn around.

Because teachers are employed at a state and territory level, the Government will need the support of the states to make this plan a reality.

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Kuwait's highest court jails politicians

Kuwait's highest court has ordered an opposition leader and several politicians imprisoned for three-and-a-half years over the 2011 storming of parliament during the country's Arab Spring protests.

The case before Kuwait's Court of Cassation involved dozens of politicians, activists and others.

The defendants were initially acquitted in the years-long case, but a shock court decision in November resurrected the charges against them.

Among those sentenced on Sunday was Musallam al-Barrack, an opposition leader who left prison in April 2017 after serving a two-year sentence on separate charges.

Sitting and former politicians also were sentenced to prison. The case involved a total of 70 defendants.

Al-Barrack had left Kuwait before the sentencing. He could not be immediately reached for comment.

As Arab Spring protests convulsed the region in 2011, Kuwait's ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, ordered 1000 dinar ($A4800) grants and free food coupons for every Kuwaiti.

That came on top of Kuwait's cradle-to-grave entitlements for it citizens, which the OPEC member is able to afford because it holds the world's sixth-largest known oil reserves.

Allegations swirled at the time that some politicians had been bribed $US350 million by the government to sway their votes, along with rumours that they were involved in embezzling state funds.

Kuwait's then-prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al Sabah, Sheikh Sabah's nephew, who also faced allegations, survived a no-confidence vote.

Amid strikes and confrontations with police, protesters briefly entered parliament on November 16, 2011, waving flags and singing the country's national anthem.

The activists were initially charged after the storming of the parliament but a lower court in 2013 ruled they had no criminal intent during the incident.

However, a surprise appeals court ruling last November sentenced dozens of defendants to prison terms of as much as nine years.

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Thai boys' perilous trip through dark maze

As the world holds its breath, 12 boys and their soccer coach, accompanied by an elite team of rescue divers, are making a treacherous journey to safety through flooded underground caverns that have tested some of the world's best cavers.

Four boys have so far completed the hazardous escape, according to rescue officials, and are receiving medical treatment. Efforts to bring the remaining eight boys and their adult coach to the surface will resume on Monday morning.

The boys are each being led by two divers as they wind four kilometres through pitch darkness, trudge through thick mud, clamber over slippery jagged rocks and dive through narrow passageways swirling with cold, strong currents.

"It's dangerous to the most experienced divers to go through," said one diver who spoke to Reuters. "It's pretty scary."

The cave system, in a limestone mountain range bordering Myanmar in northern Thailand, has proven to be a formidable challenge for the international rescue coalition drawing some of the world's best divers who have volunteered to help in the operation alongside Thai Navy SEALs.

One cave explorer who has been inside the Tham Luang cave complex described it a "labyrinth", adding it was much more difficult to navigate than any he had experienced.

Thousands of Turkish civil servants fired

More than 18,000 Turkish government employees have been fired for being threats to state security, in what could be the last government decree under a state of emergency that's been in place for almost two years.

The decree, published in the government register on Sunday, comes two weeks after national elections and amid promises that a state of emergency in place since an attempted coup in 2016 will soon be lifted.

Among those fired are about 9000 police officers and 6000 members of the armed forces, as well as teachers, university lecturers and workers for various ministries.

Ever since the coup, thousands of workers considered to have ties to hostile powers - particularly the Gulen movement, which supported the government until a falling out between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen - have been ousted and even imprisoned.

The register also announced that 12 clubs, three newspapers and one TV channel would be shut down. One of the shuttered newspapers is the pro-Kurdish publication Ozgurlukcu Demokrasis.

The reason given for the latest purge in Turkey was suspected links to terrorist organisations or activities that threaten state security.

More than 100,000 public-sector workers have been sacked on suspicion of links to Gulen, whom Ankara blames for the coup plot. An additional 70,000 people have been jailed and numerous media outlets and groups closed.

State news agency Anadolu said this would be the last such decree before the lifting of the state of emergency.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim - whose job is about to be removed thanks to constitutional changes - had said last week that the emergency should be lifted on Monday, when Erdogan is sworn in for his latest term.

Under current law, the state of emergency is set to stay in place until July 19.

It allows Erdogan to rule by decree and limits fundamental rights such as freedom of assembly.

The extraordinary measures were in place on and in the run-up to June 24 elections, when Erdogan secured another term under a new presidential system that gives him sweeping powers.

Othman Talks General Situation With Boustani

Lebanon - Internal security chief, Major General Imad Othman, on Friday welcomed at his Barracks office MP Farid al-Boustani, with whom he discussed the general situation in the country.

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