Strong quake causes panic in Indonesia
July 8, 2019
A tsunami warning has been lifted, two hours after a strong undersea earthquake caused panic in parts of eastern Indonesia on Sunday night.
The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.9 quake was centred 185 kilometres southeast of Manado in the Molucca Sea at a depth of 24 kilometres.
The national disaster agency said the tsunami warning that was in place for North Sulawesi and North Maluku was cancelled just after midnight.
It said it was still gathering information but was hampered by loss of communications with disaster officials in North Maluku.
Chinese ship en route to snoop on US-Australia war games
A Chinese spy ship lurking in international waters is believed to be making its way towards Queensland where it will snoop on a joint military training operation between Australia and the United States. The Australian Defence Force has confirmed it is tracking the Chinese vessel, which on Sunday night reached the coast of Papua New Guinea. The Talisman Sabre war games will see 35,000 personnel from both forces conduct training exercises over the next six weeks. The Chief of Defence Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, has told reporters: ‘We’re tracking it. We don’t know yet what its destination is, but we’re assuming it will come down to the east coast of Queensland, and we'll take appropriate measures in regards to that.’
$35 Million in New Land Conservation Agreements
8 July 2019
The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) is entering 38 new conservation agreements with landholders in NSW to protect more than 9,300 hectares of environmentally significant land, including koala habitat.
Environment Minister Matt Kean said the BCT is setting aside $35.9 million to support landholders in the Northern Tablelands, North West Plains, Murray, South West Slopes, Lachlan River and Lismore-Ballina.
“These 38 new BCT agreements will help landowners protect new conservation areas, threatened species, and pristine landscapes,” Mr Kean said.
Minister Matt Kean MP
“These landholders will earn from $21 to $423 per hectare per year over the life of the agreements to manage parts of their property to help protect native and threatened species.”
Through the BCT, the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has committed more than $350 million over the next five years to help protect and conserve the environment, plants and animals.
In just over a year since being established, the BCT has now conserved more than 29,000 hectares of land through 133 private land conservation agreements.
Morrison makes Suicide Prevention a National Priority
8 July 2019
Prime Minister Scott Morrison MP has assured of Providing greater support for all Australians needing mental health and suicide prevention services is a key priority of my Government.
Suicide takes far too many Australians, devastating families and local communities. One life lost to suicide is one too many, which is why my Government is working towards a zero suicide goal.
I am therefore pleased to announce the appointment of Christine Morgan as our new National Suicide Prevention Adviser to support this priority.
Ms Morgan will work with my Department and the Minister for Health to drive a whole-of-government approach to suicide prevention, while ensuring prevention services reach Australians that need them and communities are supported
Ms Morgan has extensive experience, currently as the CEO of the National Mental Health Commission and has been the National Director of the National Eating Disorders Collaboration, a Commonwealth funded initiative delivering greater support for Australians with an eating disorder.
I saw first-hand Ms Morgan’s work in her previous role as CEO the Butterfly Foundation, leading greater support for Australians with an eating disorder, which has one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric illness, affecting an estimated 1 million Australians.
Working closely with Ms Morgan and the Butterfly Foundation we delivered a landmark $115 million package providing tens of thousands of Australians living with an eating disorder access to life-saving treatment.
Around 80 per cent of people who die by suicide have a mental health issue, however there are a range of factors and circumstances which may contribute to suicide.
More earthquakes ‘approaching certainty’ in California
The risk of more earthquakes striking Southern California is ‘approaching certainty’ according to seismologists, following a 7.1-magnitude tremor which rattled Los Angeles and caused fire and building damage near its rural epicentre.
The most recent quake hit at 8.19pm local time on Friday, 17 kilometres from Ridgecrest in the Mojave Desert, which was the site of Thursday's 6.4-magnitude quake. Dr Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the California Institute of Technology, warned that Friday's tremor was part of the sequence that produced the earlier quake, saying Thursday's was a ‘foreshock’. Dr Jones warned there was about a 10 per cent chance another 7.0-magnitude quake could hit in the next week, and that the chance of a 5.0-magnitude tremor was ‘approaching certainty’. Offices in downtown Los Angeles shook for around 30 seconds on Friday, and the quake was also felt in the Hollywood Hills, Las Vegas and parts of Mexico. The earthquake is the strongest to hit the region in 20 years.
Bassil fallout overshadows possible govt meet this week
Jul. 08, 2019
BEIRUT: Cabinet may be poised to meet this week in a session likely to be overshadowed by the recent controversy surrounding Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil that has prompted officials close to Premier Saad Hariri to express dissatisfaction with the political climate. “What Bassil is doing involves a heightened level of tension to the general atmosphere. Tension at this phase doesn’t benefit anyone. It doesn’t only harm a certain political group or part of the government. Rather, it harms the country,” Ammar Houri, a political aide to Hariri, told The Daily Star. Bassil “got in a conflict with all sides expect for Hezbollah,” Houri said.
Over the weekend, Bassil continued his tour of various Lebanese areas, traveling to the northern coastal city of Tripoli and the nearby districts of Akkar and Zgharta.
His decision to press on with the tour - less than a week after his visit to the Aley district caused outcry, eventually leading to a gunfight that killed two people and wounded at least four more - met with criticism.
This included a rebuke in the Saturday evening news bulletin from Future TV, which is affiliated with Hariri’s Future Movement. The premier himself, who Saturday left the country on a 48-hour “family visit,” a political source said, did not make any public comments.
“Is the point to drag the country into a security impasse that takes us back to the times of division and internal fighting? Or is the point to paralyze the government’s work?” the bulletin stated.
“Or is there someone who finds a current opportunity to [undermine] the political settlement and take things backward?” it added, referring to the 2016 political settlement that brought Michel Aoun to the presidency and Hariri back to the premiership.
What does this mean for Cabinet’s immediate future? The premier already postponed a session scheduled for last Tuesday in an attempt to defuse tensions that arose following the Aley shootout.
His decision came after an hourslong resulting from the absence of Cabinet ministers who belonged to or were affiliated with the FPM and the LDP.
The clashes in Aley took place between Lebanon’s two main Druze rivals, the Progressive Socialist Party and the Lebanese Democratic Party, as a convoy escorting Minister of State for Refugee Affairs Saleh Gharib through the town of Qabr Shmoun, where supporters of the PSP, who were expecting Bassil to pass through on his tour, had gathered to block the way. When making the announcement at the time, Hariri had said that a new session would soon be announced, something that has yet to take place.
According to the Saturday bulletin, “starting next week Hariri is supposed to set the necessary course regarding Cabinet meetings that can no longer be the hostage of political considerations.”
In its introduction for Sunday’s evening news bulletin, Future TV reiterated that Hariri this week would mobilize in a bid to call for a Cabinet session.
A source close to Hariri told The Daily Star that it was possible a session would be held Thursday. Houri, meanwhile, said “that Hariri was doing his best, hopefully he will succeed.”
But even once Cabinet convenes, how exactly the recent political developments are going to affect the ministers’ upcoming meetings also remains to be seen.
Bassil has become known for the controversial speeches he delivers on his tours throughout the country, triggering strong reactions from nearly all political sides. His visit to the north was no different.
In his latest escalation of tensions, the FPM head sparred with the leader of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea.
During a speech from Tripoli, Bassil deflected the criticism he received for not rescheduling the visit. “The strife is not me coming to Tripoli. The strife is preventing me and the Free Patriotic Movement from coming to Tripoli,” he said, adding that it was not the FPM “who killed Lebanon’s [former] premier ... [who was from] Tripoli.”
The comments take a swing at LF head Samir Geagea, who in 1999 was found guilty of masterminding the murder of former Premier Rachid Karami 12 years earlier. Geagea served 11 years in prison for crimes he was convicted of committing during the Civil War (1975-90), before being freed in 2005 as part of an amnesty.
Geagea responded to Bassil Sunday, saying he “took us back 50 years into the past, discussing things with a black heart and causing tension again.”
In an interview with Radio Free Lebanon, Geagea called on Bassil to stop giving “speeches ... with tense rhetoric,” claiming that it was hampering Cabinet’s ability to function properly.
The back-and-forth between Geagea and Bassil is yet another recent example of the sectarian infighting that is challenging political stability in Lebanon - prompting other leaders to do damage control.
In a sermon Sunday, for example, in apparent response to the clashes in Aley, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai underscored that the Mountain Reconciliation, which brought together the Druze community with the Maronite Church, “was above all considerations.”
Rai also called on the different political sides to resort to “a political rhetoric that brings us together and doesn’t divide us.”
“People are done with the politicians’ bickering their expense and at the expense of paralyzing the work of state institutions.” - Additional reporting by Sahar Houri
Iraqi forces launches wide military operation near Syrian border
Iraqi forces launches wide military operation near Syrian border
ERBIL-- Iraqi joint operation command announced on Sunday the launch of a wide military operation on the Iraqi-Syrian border to chase the remains of the so-called organization of the Islamic State (IS/Daesh).
The first phase of the operation, which will last for several days, started on Sunday morning to clean areas of Salah Elden, Nineveh, and Anbar provinces with the Syrian border said Deputy Commander of Joint Operations, Major General Abdul-Amir Rashid Yarallah In a statement to security media.
The operation comes in participation of large sectors from the army and other joint forces, and supported by the Iraqi Air Force and the International Alliance, said Deputy Commander of Joint Operations, Major General Yarallah added in a statement to security media.
In 2017, Iraqi forces launched military campaigns against IS in the area and declared it free, but the organization is still active.
Iran announces increase in enriched uranium output, breach nuclear deal
KUWAIT-- Iran announced Sunday that it would increase its output of enriched uranium in a
step breaching the nuclear deal signed with the west.
"The main announcement will be the increase of the level of enrichment to 5 percent from 3.67 percent that we agreed under the deal," an Iranian official said.
According to Al-Arabiya network, Iran said that it was still open for diplomacy to salvage the deal through a new initiative.
Australian government to preserve late PM Bob Hawke's home
7 July 2019
The Australian Government will provide $750,000 to purchase and renovate the childhood home of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, to protect its heritage value and commemorate his life and achievements.
Robert James Lee Hawke was born in 1929 at Hawke House in Bordertown, South Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the conservation of Hawke House was important for Australia’s heritage and democratic history.
“Bob Hawke made an extraordinary contribution to Australian life and holds a special place in the hearts of Australians,” the Prime Minister said.
“Australians loved him and he loved them back. Every Australian felt connected to him, regardless of their politics, and he was big enough that we entitled an era after him - the Hawke era.
“His childhood home is a significant part of our national story and preserving it will enable current and future generations to celebrate his life, achievements and substantial role in our democratic history.”
Hawke House will add to the homes of former Prime Ministers already preserved for the nation, including Ben Chifley’s home in Bathurst, New South Wales; John Curtin’s home in Cottesloe, Western Australia; and Joe and Enid Lyons’s family homes in Stanley and Devonport, Tasmania.
The Australian Government will now work with the local Bordertown community and the National Trust of South Australia to upgrade Hawke House and ensure its heritage value is protected so all Australians can understand and celebrate the Bob Hawke story.
$5 million will also be provided to the existing endowment fund of The General Sir John Monash Foundation to create an annual scholarship known as the Bob Hawke John Monash Scholar.
The Scholars, chosen by the Foundation, will study in any field deemed in the interests of the nation. The aim will be to support, for up to three years, talented young Australians with ability and leadership potential to develop their skills at leading overseas universities.
New brain tumour treatment for SA
July 7, 2019
A high-precision radiation therapy for patients with secondary brain tumours has become available in Adelaide.
The image-guided radiation system will be used as a non-invasive form of intracranial radiation to deliver precisely targeted radiation in fewer, high-dose, treatments than traditional therapy.
The technology features a state-of-the-art imaging system that provides for highly accurate patient positioning and brain tumour targeting.
It gives the clinician the ability to see and monitor a patient's position in real-time so they can instantly detect any unintended movement that would impact treatment precision.
Oncologist Andrew Potter said the system heralded a new era for radiation therapy in South Australia.
"Brain metastases or secondary brain tumours are estimated to occur in 20-40 per cent of cancer patients and, as a result, we are seeing an increasing number of patients benefiting from stereotactic treatment," Dr Potter said.