Ghani visit: Extra Australian troops to Afghanistan a ‘sovereign decision’

Afghanistan’s president insists Australia’s military commitment to his country is a “sovereign decision”.

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Dr Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has been in Canberra for two days of official talks including meetings with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Minister Marise Payne.

Australia has 270 defence personnel deployed mostly in the capital Kabul where they provide support and security along with some mentoring recruits at the Afghan National Military Academy.

Earlier this year, the US Army General John Nicholson, who leads American and international forces in Afghanistan, called for thousands more troops to advise Afghan forces on the ground to beat the stalemate.

Dr Ghani clarified that General Nicholson had requested about 5200.

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Asked if Australia should provide more troops, Dr Ghani said: “These are sovereign decisions.”

“We always defer to national authorities in terms of the decision-making process,” he told ABC radio.

Australia’s main base in Afghanistan had been in Uruzgan province, before the withdrawal in 2013.

The Taliban have now overrun that area.

But Dr Ghani insisted “temporary setbacks” should not be seen as reversals.

“It is not trending in the wrong direction,” he told ABC TV.

He acknowledged the threat of Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan and said authorities were dealing with them relentlessly.

“Given what has happened in Iraq and Syria, the likelihood of them migrating or jumping like cancer cells elsewhere is significant,” Dr Ghani said.

During the president’s visit thousands of Hazara protesters rallied in Canberra against a 2011 deal between Australia and Afghanistan to send failed Afghan asylum seekers back to their homeland.

Dr Ghani said it had not been a subject of conversations during his meetings with Australian government ministers.

He argued thousands of refugees had returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan in recent years and the level of participation in public life by Hazaras was increasing.

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Asked if Afghanistan would take back failed asylum seekers detained on Manus Island or Nauru, he said due process was important to follow.

“An Afghan who has gone through the full legal process has a right to return. We never refuse if the host country wants to expel them, then the due process should be observed,” he said, adding that international human rights agreements need to be taken into account.

Dr Ghani earlier on Tuesday marvelled at Australian-designed gadgets that are protecting his country’s soldiers and police from improvised explosive device attacks.

In the past two years, Australia has supplied 150,000 Redwing contraptions to Afghanistan security personnel with a further 34,000 to be delivered later this year.

The devices, which jam radio signals that can set off IEDs, cover both individuals and vehicles and are made in Brisbane.

“It’s truly amazing,” Dr Ghani said.

“You’ve taken the request to save lives extremely seriously.”

WATCH: Thousands of Hazaras protest Afghan president

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Party watchdog examines Hanson books

The electoral watchdog is examining claims Pauline Hanson’s One Nation may have breached disclosure laws.

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Former Queensland One Nation treasurer Ian Nelson told the ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday he urged Senator Hanson and chief of staff James Ashby to declare the use of an aircraft, but was told not to worry about it.

Mr Nelson also alleged Mr Ashby had pressured him to conceal the fact that Bill McNee, a Victorian property developer, had donated $70,000 to the party.

A spokesman for the Australian Electoral Commission said the information was “being reviewed in the context of the disclosure provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act”.

It is understood One Nation was already being looked at as part of a regular program of compliance reviews by the AEC.

Special Minister of State Scott Ryan, who has spoken with AEC commissioner Tom Rogers, is expected to have further talks with the commissioner in coming days.

Labor senator Murray Watt says the AEC needs to check whether electoral laws have been broken, in terms of One Nation’s financial disclosure obligations.

Senator Hanson’s office declined to comment on Tuesday when contacted by AAP.

Mr Ashby, a registered pilot, told Sky News on Tuesday his company had bought the plane and its use for party purposes had been properly declared.

One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts insisted Senator Hanson may pay for the fuel on her trips.

“The use of the plane is declared as a gift in kind, everything above board,” he told Sky News.

“The plane was there before Pauline became a candidate.”

Senator Roberts also denied claims Mr Ashby ran a “dictatorship” within the party.

“He is very direct, very honest but he’s also personable and engaging. He doesn’t get rude and nasty unless someone wants to do that to him,” he said.

“He’s not a Peta Credlin (former prime minister Tony Abbott’s chief of staff) at all, he listens extremely well… he’s one of the best people I’ve ever worked with.”

Calls to break down barriers as young migrants face institutionalised prejudice

Advocates on Tuesday made recommendations to the Inquiry into Migrant Settlement Outcomes, to combat what they said were dangerous misconceptions.

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Youth Action, one the many groups that made a submission to the inquiry, said migrants continued to face prejudice, despite figures that indicated they may be less likely to commit crime.

“There is this idea they are a criminal or have some connection to criminal behaviour or anti-social behaviour of any way, shape or form,” CEO Kate Acheson said.

“Actually white young males are more likely to be committing crime than that particular community, and we are not seeing the vilification happening across the cultures, just these communities and we need to stop that.”

Youth ambassador for the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW Apajok Biar also believed many South Sudanese migrants were being unfairly linked to issues like gang violence, and that many people in her community were considered guilty until proven innocent.

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“People, [what] they see in the media is just a small percentage of the South Sudanese community,” Ms Biar said.

“There are so many of us achieving such great things and we are really contributing to Australia as a whole and they should really consider that, not just profile us because of what one person has done.”

When Tamara Mirzada was just 13 when she moved to Australia as an Afghani refugee.

“When I was growing up, I wore the hijab in high school and I faced a lot of discrimination and being called a terrorist when I just came here,” she said.

It’s something Tamana said happened daily within the Muslim community formed part of a phenomenon migrant support groups want to stop.

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Research from the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW found that young people in NSW who spoke a language other than English were less likely to be involved in crime than their English speaking counterparts.

Victorian youth born overseas were also less than half as likely to be alleged offenders compared with other young people.

Arash Bordar came to Australia as an Iranian refugee in 2015 and, in the years since, he said he has encountered prejudice and felt excluded from society.

“Sometimes when you are on the train they check your ticket and you’re the only one, they don’t ask everyone,” he said.

“We want to build the country with everyone together. But when we face the problems and all the challenges we have, it makes us a bit depressed.”

One of the recommendations made to the federal government was that migrant youth be able to access support services earlier, from the age of 12, instead of 15.

Advocates including Ms Acheson said earlier intervention is crucial.

“When you don’t have that they feel displaced, they feel devalued … that’s not really good.

“Young people will look for identity wherever they can find it,” Ms Acheson said.

There is currently no national record of crimes connected to ethnicity – something advocates are pushing to change.

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‘Time’s up’: Australia urged to join nuclear weapons ban

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, who attended the negotiations in New York, said it was “an incredibly powerful moment”.

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“It’s the large majority of the world states telling the nuclear weapons states that ‘time’s up’, that it’s time things changed,” he said.

More than 120 countries on Friday approved the first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons at a UN meeting in New York boycotted by all nuclear-armed nations.

Australia did not play any part in shaping the treaty.

Campaigners against nuclear weapons are urging the Australian government to stop clinging to the belief the country will be protected by the US having weapons of mass destruction.

Doing so sends the wrong signal to countries like North Korea at a time when the world is grappling with the possibility of the hermit nation developing nuclear weapons capable of hitting Australia or the United States, they say.

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The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) wants the Turnbull government to sign Australia up to a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons during the United Nations general assembly leaders week in September.

“There are people in Canberra and elsewhere who believe that Australia is protected by US nuclear weapons,” ICAN Asia-Pacific director Tim Wright said.

“If we’re saying nuclear weapons are essential for our security, then how can we say that North Korea shouldn’t rely on nuclear weapons also?

“It’s an incitement to proliferate.”

Senator Ludlam said defusing the situation is the best answer, and criticised G20 members for not using the summit to discuss the issue further.

“I think it could’ve been a great opportunity, but there is no doubt that it was an opportunity squandered.”

The treaty will be open for signatures as of September 20, and will come into force once 50 nations have ratified it.

Mr Wright believes it will be difficult for Australia to resist the clear international movement on the ban for too much longer, citing domestic support for the policy.

Within hours of negotiations concluding, a joint statement from the United States, Britain and France rejecting the treaty was issued.

They said the treaty “offers no solution” to either North Korea, nor to any other security challenges.

Senator Ludlam has described it as misguided.

“The logic in there is hideously flawed”, he said.

“We know we’ve got a steep hill to climb but the alternative is quite literally unthinkable.”

— With AAP

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Iraq declares victory in ‘liberated’ Mosul

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office said he was in “liberated” Mosul to congratulate “the heroic fighters and the Iraqi people on the achievement of the major victory,” three years after IS declared its self-styled caliphate from the city.

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The fighting did not seem to be completely over, with gunfire and explosions still audible in the city, but Abadi’s arrival had been expected for days as a signal of the formal end of the battle for Mosul.

The victory comes at an enormous cost: much of Iraq’s second city in ruins, thousands dead and wounded, and nearly a million people forced from their homes.

And enormous challenges lie ahead, not just in rebuilding Mosul but in tackling the continued presence elsewhere of IS, which remains a potent force.

Photographs released by his office showed Abadi dressed in a black military uniform and cap, shaking hands with police and army officers.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, center, holds a national flag upon his arrival in Mosul, Iraq.AAP

His office said Abadi held meetings with commanders in Mosul and issued a series of commands on “sustaining victories and eliminating the defeated remnants” of IS, as well as “establishing security and stability in the liberated city.”

Victory for all Iraqis’ 

Iraqi forces celebrated, waving flags and flashing victory signs, after Abadi arrived in the city.

“This victory is for all Iraqis, not just for us,” Mohanned Jassem, a member of the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, told AFP at the police base where Abadi met commanders.

Jassem, who fought in most of the other main battles of the war against IS, said Mosul was the toughest.

“I took part in fighting in Ramadi and Tikrit and Salaheddin and Baiji and Al-Qayara… but the fighting here in (IS’s) stronghold was the most violent,” he said, an Iraqi flag draped over his shoulders.

IS swept across much of Iraq’s Sunni Arab heartland in a lightning offensive in mid-2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” straddling Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

Imposing its strict interpretation of Islamic law, the group committed widespread atrocities and organised or inspired deadly attacks in Iraq, Syria and abroad.

رئيس مجلس الوزراء يتجول وسط المواطنين في الجانب الايسر من الموصل قادما له من الجانب الايمن عبر نهر دجلة ويصل الى مبنى محافظة نينوى. pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/vT77rfz4aM

— PM Media Office (@IraqiPMO) July 9, 2017

A US-led coalition launched military operations against IS in Syria and Iraq in mid-2014, carrying out waves of air strikes against the jihadists and sending advisers to work with local ground forces.

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country is a key part of the coalition, was among the first world leaders to offer his congratulations.

“Mosul liberated from Daesh,” he tweeted, using an Arabic acronym for IS. “Homage from France to all those, with our troops, who contributed to this victory.”

IS has lost most of the territory it once controlled and after Mosul the coalition is aiming to oust the jihadists from their Syrian stronghold Raqa, which is under assault by US-backed Arab and Kurdish forces.

Iraqi forces launched their campaign to recapture Mosul in October, seizing its eastern side in January and launching the battle for its western part the next month.

But the fight grew tougher when Iraqi forces entered the densely populated Old City on the western bank of the Tigris River that divides the city.

In recent days, security forces have killed jihadists trying to escape their dwindling foothold in Mosul, as Iraqi units fought to retake the last two IS-held areas near the Tigris.

Earlier Sunday Iraq’s Joint Operations Command had said it killed “30 terrorists” trying to escape across the river.

Even in the final days of the battle, thousands of civilians remained trapped inside the Old City and those who fled arrived grief-stricken after losing relatives in jihadist sniper fire and bombardments.

The United Nations said this week that since October around 915,000 residents had fled Mosul, which had a population of two million three years ago.

Not yet ‘the death knell’ 

The recapture of Mosul will not mark the end of the threat posed by IS, which holds territory elsewhere in Iraq and is able to carry out frequent bombings in government-held areas.

In Iraq it holds towns including Tal Afar and Hawijah in the north, as well as a stretch of territory in western Anbar province.

It also continues to hold significant territory in Syria including Raqa, where the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are battling to oust the jihadist group after penetrating its fortified historic centre.

Analysts warned that while the loss of Mosul was a major blow to the jihadists it was not yet a fatal one.

“We should not view the recapture of Mosul as the death knell for IS,” said Patrick Martin, Iraq analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.

“If security forces do not take steps to ensure that gains against IS are sustained for the long-term, then IS could theoretically resurge and recapture urban terrain,” he said.

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The European Union on Sunday hailed the defeat of IS in Mosul as a “decisive step” in fighting terrorism but called on Iraqis to work together to improve their country.

“The recovery of Mosul from the hands of (IS) marks a decisive step in the campaign to eliminate terrorist control in parts of Iraq and to free its people,” the EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and its aid commissioner Christos Stylianides said in a joint statement.

But they urged Iraqis to pick up the pieces of their country, parts of which were easily overran by IS three years ago.

“It is now essential that a process of return and the re-establishment of trust between communities begins, and that all Iraqis are able to start building a shared future,” they said.

Britain’s Defence Minister Michael Fallon praised Iraq on Sunday for defeating IS in Mosul but warned that more has to be done to combat the jihadists.

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“I congratulate Prime Minister (Haider) Abadi, and the Iraqi forces who have been fighting on the ground with great bravery and care against a brutal opponent,” Fallon said in a statement.

But “there is still more to do” around the city and in the broader region, Fallon said.

“This barbaric group remains dug in west of the Euphrates and clearing operations in and around Mosul will be needed because of the threat from improvised explosive devices,” he added.

IS still controls swathes of western Iraq including much of the desert Anbar province and rival forces, which largely cooperated against the jihadists in Mosul, are expected to compete for a share of the spoils.

No contingency plan in place for Slater

Queensland captain Cameron Smith has all but confirmed Billy Slater will play in Wednesday night’s State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium.

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And the Maroons leader has given his strongest hint yet that he believed the veteran fullback would play on in 2018.

Smith said no contingency plan was in place for Slater after the 34-year-old pulled up well from rolling his ankle at training on their Gold Coast camp on Sunday.

The veteran of 41 Origins said Slater would be given until the last minute to prove his fitness for what may be his final game for Queensland and would not be required to take part in Tuesday’s captain’s run.

Off contract Melbourne No.1 Slater is yet to confirm whether he will play on in 2018 ahead of his 29th Origin.

“I would much rather prefer him being ready for Wednesday than him being forced into a captain’s run,” Smith said of Slater.

“But I saw him this morning and he is walking around. He said he had done a few hops on the ankle – I think he will be right to play.

“He put a scare through the camp yesterday but seeing how good it has pulled up he is confident of playing on Wednesday.”

Slater and Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk are expected to make an announcement on their Origin future after Queensland attempt to seal their 11th series win in 12 years.

“Hopefully we’ll find out after this series is done where Cooper’s at for next year, Bill’s a bit different,” Smith said.

“I think he’s very keen to play on it’s just whether he feels his body’s up to it.

Slater’s injury looked set to spark a back-line reshuffle that slotted five-eighth Cameron Munster to No.1 and fellow debutant Ben Hunt from the bench to pivot.

However, Smith said Queensland coach Kevin Walters was sticking with the Maroons playing as per program on Wednesday night.

Walters on Monday echoed Smith’s confidence about Slater.

“I think he got more of a scare than anything,” Walters told Sky Sports Radio on Monday of Slater’s incident.

“It was that ankle he injured against the Sharks about a month ago and just maybe tore a bit more scar tissue off there or something.

“If he’s in some sort of doubt, yeah, we’ll have to bring someone. But I think Bill’s going to be okay to be honest.”

Walters confirmed he’d given star NRL playmakers Munster and Michael Morgan permission to rotate between five-eighth and centre during game three.

“They’ve got a licence to do that if they feel that’s necessary. But we’re comfortable with Cameron (at five-eighth),” Walters said.

Trump says time to work ‘constructively’ with Russia

While ruling out easing sanctions so long as the two countries remain at odds over Syria and Ukraine, Trump said it was time for US-Russia relations to move forward, even though members of his own party said he should be mulling new punishments.

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Two days after his first face-to-face talks with his Russian counterpart, Trump said he had confronted Putin when they met in Germany over evidence from the intelligence agencies that Moscow meddled in the US elections.

Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017

“I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election,” he said of Friday’s meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg. “He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion…..”

But after saying that he had called out Putin over the election, Trump said they could work together on some areas, including on Syria, where he said a ceasefire which began on Sunday would “save lives.”

I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017

“Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!”

In a series of early-morning tweets on his return from Europe, Trump said he and Putin had talked about the idea of setting up what he called “an impenetrable cyber security unit” to prevent hacking in future elections.

‘Dumb idea’ 

But senior Republican senators, including former presidential candidate John McCain, poured scorn on the idea.

Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate’s armed services committee, said on NBC that the cyber idea was “not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close.”

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Voice dripping with sarcasm, McCain told a CBS interviewer that he was “sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort, since he’s doing the hacking.”

The US and Russian sides have issued sharply conflicting accounts of Friday’s meeting, with Putin saying on Saturday that Trump had been “satisfied” by his denials of any Russian interference in the polls.

The US president has previously equivocated over whether Russia did try to tilt the outcome of last November’s election contest against Hillary Clinton in his favor, amid an investigation into whether members of Trump’s campaign team actively colluded with Moscow.

So his public assessment that Russia did meddle has triggered calls to bring in more sanctions.

“So far they have not paid a single price for that,” McCain said.

Moscow has warned that a program of existing sanctions, which were mainly imposed over Russia’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, threatens their whole relationship.

Asked on Sunday whether new sanctions were in the pipeline, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told ABC television: “We have sanctions that are already on the table and we expect to enforce those sanctions.”

Mnuchin also insisted that Russia and the US could work together on cyber security.

‘Strategic alliance’ 

“What we want to make sure is that we coordinate with Russia, that we’re focused on cyber security together, that we make sure that they never interfere in any democratic elections,” he said.

“This is like any other strategic alliance, whether we’re doing military exercises with our allies or anything else. This is about having capabilities to make sure we both fight cyber (crime) together, which I think is a very significant accomplishment for President Trump.”

Syria has been a particular source of friction between the two countries, as Russia is a close ally of President Bashar al-Assad. 

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Moscow was furious when the Trump administration launched a cruise missile strike against Syrian forces in April, in retaliation for what Washington said was a chemical weapons attack by Assad’s regime against civilians.

While saying sanctions were not discussed at the meeting with Putin, Trump indicated that Moscow could not expect any relief “until the Ukrainian & Syrian problems are solved.”

But while the brokering of a Syria ceasefire by the two countries — along with Jordan — means that one area of friction could be eased, the differences over Ukraine remain stark. 

Speaking on a visit to Ukraine, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Russia to take action to ease the bloody separatist conflict in the country’s east, which Kiev and the West believe is being fueled by Moscow.

“It is necessary for Russia to take the first step to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine,” Tillerson said as he made his first visit as Washington’s top diplomat to Kiev.

Schauffele British Open-bound after Greenbrier victory

He described the victory as life-changing after carding a closing 67 to finish at 14-under-par 266, edging fellow American Robert Streb by one stroke.

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Another American, Jamie Lovemark, and Colombian third round leader Sebastian Munoz finished two behind.

All four players qualified for the British Open at Royal Birkdale in two weeks.

Davis Love, 53, seeking to became the oldest winner on tour, faded with a 75 after starting the day four strokes off the pace.

For much of the back nine on Sunday it looked like nobody wanted to win, as the four contenders, with only one victory between them on tour, stumbled one after another, before Schauffele came through with two birdies in the final three holes for his maiden triumph.

Schauffele, 23, said his self-belief was boosted by a tie for fifth at the U.S. Open three weeks ago.

“The U.S. Open was a huge moment in my career,” he told reporters. “It kind of gave me the confidence and allowed me to play and win this week.”

Not that he did not have his nervous moments on Sunday in what was only his 23rd start on tour.

“I felt very nervous kind of late in the round. I tried to back to the basics, close my eyes and take some deep breaths.”

Schauffele comes from strong sporting stock. His father Stefan was a promising decathlete whose international dreams were dashed when he suffered a serious eye injury in a car crash.

Stefan subsequently moved to the United States and married a woman from Taiwan, the couple settling in southern California.

Schauffele acknowledged the role of his father in his development.

“He kind of put me on some plan of his and I would say we’re trending,” he said.

“It’s slowly sinking in. I had a couple minutes to myself in the locker room, but it’s just been an incredible feeling and it’s honestly just a dream come true.”

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris/Peter Rutherford)

Liberal voters oppose coal mine subsidies

Malcolm Turnbull’s constituents and those of six of his senior ministers overwhelmingly oppose taxpayers subsidising the planned Adani coal mine in Queensland.

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Polling conducted by ReachTEL for the left-leaning think tank The Australia Institute also finds more voters support a ban on new coal mines than would oppose one.

The government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is considering whether to grant Indian company Adani a $900 million loan to build a rail line to its planned Carmichael coal mine.

Pollsters surveyed people in Wentworth (Mr Turnbull’s seat), Cook (Scott Morrison), Curtin (Julie Bishop), Dickson (Peter Dutton), Flinders (Greg Hunt), Kooyong (Josh Frydenberg) and Sturt (Christopher Pyne).

Results showed on average 62.5 per cent opposed any government loan for the rail link, with opposition strongest among voters in Treasurer Scott Morrison’s southern Sydney seat.

Fewer than one in four people were in favour of a loan, with support highest among voters in Mr Dutton’s Brisbane electorate, the only Queensland seat surveyed.

There were similar results on the question of whether taxpayers should be subsidising the Adani mine in any way.

Australia Institute executive director Ben Oquist said it made sense the Liberal Party base would oppose subsidising an industry as well established as coal mining.

“Despite a push by some conservatives for coal subsidy polices, these results – in key blue-ribbon Liberal seats – show strong opposition to that very idea,” he said on Monday.

“These results show that Malcolm Turnbull should be confident in staring down the pro-coal faction in his party room.”

Voters were also asked if they supported or opposed a moratorium on building coal mines, meaning existing mines could continue running but no new ones would be allowed.

More people thought a moratorium was a good idea than not, but the suggestions only got a majority of support among Mr Turnbull’s constituents and those in Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg’s inner-Melbourne seat.

But almost one in four people responded they didn’t know where they stood on the moratorium.

El Salvador teen sentenced to 30 years jail after baby dies at birth

Evelyn Hernandez gave birth in April last year in the makeshift bathroom of her home in the central Cuscatlan region.

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She was 18 years old and eight months pregnant.

She said her son was stillborn but a court in the city of Cojutepeque convicted her on Wednesday of murdering him, abortion rights group ACDATEE said.

A spokeswoman for the group, Morena Herrera, said Hernandez was convicted “with no direct proof” and that the court failed to take into account key forensic evidence.

ACDATEE cited a pathologist’s report which it said indicated the baby had choked to death while still in the womb.

Prosecutors argued Hernandez was culpable for not having sought prenatal care, ACDATEE said.

From Dateline:

It said Hernandez had not known she was pregnant and gave birth on the toilet after feeling abdominal pains.

Hernandez got pregnant as the result of a rape which she did not report out of fear because her family had been threatened.

“The conviction is unjust and we are going to appeal,” Herrera told AFP.

“This case is evidence that the judicial system acts with prejudice.”

Abortion under any circumstances is illegal in El Salvador, where it is classed as aggravated homicide.

Even women who abort due to birth defects or health complications risk jail sentences of up to 40 years. Campaigners say some have been jailed after suffering miscarriages.

The country’s abortion law made international headlines in 2013 when a sick woman was forbidden from aborting a fetus that did not have a head.

Under a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Salvadoran state eventually authorized that woman to undergo a Cesarean section. The baby died a few hours after the procedure.

Lawmakers presented a bill in the Salvadoran legislature in October last year proposing to decriminalize abortion. The bill has been blocked by conservative parties.

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Investigation into alleged killing by special forces in Afghanistan

A secret defence inquiry is examining the conduct of Australian special forces in Afghanistan and the alleged killing of at least two children by Australian troops, according to a special report by the ABC.

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Australian special forces soldiers were reportedly moving through a remote area when they allegedly shot a young boy dead in Kandahar Province in 2012. 

The source the ABC spoke to alleges the killing was never reported up the official chain of command, with the boy’s body recovered by local villagers and retrieved by his family.

In a statement, an AFP spokesperson confirmed the matter had been referred to the ADF for investigation.

“On 2 September 2016 the Chief of Army Australia Defence Force (ADF) referred a matter to the AFP relating to an allegation of an unlawful killing by the ADF in Afghanistan in 2012,” the statement said.

“The AFP is undertaking an evaluation of the matter referred, and as such it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

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Australia’s record in Afghanistan

In April 2006, Chief of Army Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell said the slew of disturbing stories about the conduct of Australia’s elite special forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere would be examined by an independent investigator.

He said a “range of unsubstantiated, third-person, hearsay stories” warranted “deeper consideration, but independently”.

In May 2016, the Defence department revealed that three soldiers were charged over the death of six Afghanis because they allegedly threw a grenade into a room they knew contained women and children.

A Defence ministerial submission, released under Freedom of Information, said the soldiers believed they were under insurgent fire but evidence indicated it was an Afghan national defending his home and family from attack in the middle of the night in February, 2009.

But charges of manslaughter against the three special forces personnel were dismissed on the grounds that soldiers had no legal duty of care to civilians during combat.

Defence has also denied Australian involvement in an incident in Oruzgan province in 2006 in which a taxi was mistakenly fired upon, killing an Afghan civilian man, blinding a woman and seriously injuring a girl.

In May 2013, then Defence Minister Stephen Smith rejected concerns raised by Sydney-based advocacy group the Public Interest Advocacy Centre over allegations that Australian forces in Afghanistan mistreated Afghan detainees in their custody.

The allegations were put forward by Afghan detainees captured by the Australian Defence Force and held at a United States military prison near Bagram air base.

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Meanwhile Australia has committed an extra 30 troops to Afghanistan, taking its deployment to 300 Australian Defence Force personnel.

The ADF’s presence in Afghanistan is due to expire in 2018, but Defence Minister Marise Payne says it is under constant review.

The Australian commitment to Afghanistan is known as Operation Highroad, which replaced combat operations in 2014.

Since Australian troops were first sent to Afghanistan in 2001, 42 troops have died.

 

Cordner wants Daley back for Origin 2018

NSW captain Boyd Cordner has pleaded for Laurie Daley to stay past this year’s State of Origin decider amid fears the Blues could be on the lookout for a new coach in 2018.

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Daley’s contract expires at the end of this year’s series however there is no guarantee to remain at the helm should NSW lose a fourth attempt at the shield under his watch.

No Blues coach has survived more than three series defeats, and Daley has been non-committal on whether he would be seeking a new deal next year.

However ahead of Wednesday’s decider at Suncorp Stadium, where the Blues enter as favourites, Cordner went in to bat for the former Blues champion.

The Blues skipper said the Origin coaching gig was made for Daley, who also stands on the precipice of becoming the second NSW coach to claim more than one series triumph.

Legendary mentor Phil Gould has six series wins.

“I love Loz as a coach. I don’t think I’ve met a more passionate man who’s worn the blue jersey. I think it’s carbon-copied for him to have his job just with the emotion he shows,” Cordner said.

“He wears his heart on his sleeve. A hundred per cent I want him to stay.”

NSW under-16s and 18s coach Brad Fittler and current Blues assistant John Cartwright have been mentioned as possible candidates to take over should the job be vacated.

The future of selection adviser Peter Sterling, who signed a one-year deal last year, is also under a cloud after recently hinting his status would be tied to Daley’s decision.

Cordner, who was appointed captaincy from Paul Gallen on the eve of this year’s series, credited Daley for helping develop him into one of the NRL’s elite players.

Matthews second in Tour green jersey race

Michael Matthews’ great effort in the sprinters’ green jersey battle was overshadowed on a dramatic day when fellow Australian Richie Porte crashed out of the Tour de France.

长沙夜网

Riding in the mountains with the world’s best climbers for a good part of the tour’s toughest stage, Matthews improved from third to second in the points classification after collecting the maximum 20 points for winning the intermediate sprint.

He closed to within 52 points of green jersey leader Marcel Kittel (212 points), the winner of three stages,and is 30 points clear another German star, Andre Greipel.

The versatile Matthews was part of a 38-rider breakaway group seven kilometres into the Sunday’s stage, maintaining his spot among the leaders by the 126.5km mark to win the 7.5km-sprint at Massignieu-de-Rives.

“Wow, what a day by all my team at (Sunweb). That was a team effort,” he tweeted.

The 26-year-old Matthews’ chances for a maiden green jersey title have been greatly boosted the absences of sprint heavyweights Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish.

Five-time green jersey winner Sagan was disqualified from the remainder of the Tour after he sent Cavendish crashing in the stage four sprint.

French star Arnaud Demare, who was in second place in the points competition, is also now out after missing the time cut off on stage nine.

BMC’s Porte, one of the pre-race favourites, crashed heavily at high-speed on the stage’s final descent on Mont du Chat, fracturing his right clavicle and pelvis.

Colombian Rigoberto Uran of Cannondale-Drapac won the stage, which claimed Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas to a crash injury.

Matthews’ Sunweb teammate Warren Barguil, the polka dot jersey wearer for leading climber came second behind Uran in a photo-finish on Sunday and later acknowledged the Australian’s efforts.

“Today was an amazing day for myself and the team. We had five guys in the break which was brilliant,” Barguil said.

“After Michael won the intermediate sprint, the guys went full for my chances on day success and that gave me the confidence that I needed to climb at my best.”