Nauru says child refugee charged in rally

Nauru police have admitted a child was among the refugees charged over a protest in which another refugee was assaulted by a local.


Refugees on the tiny island have been staging protests and a campaign of non-co-operation amid growing tension with locals.

Nauru police said 183 people were arrested during this week’s protests, with 174 charged and released on bail.

Charges included unlawful assembly, serious assault, assaulting of police, damaging property, damaging of a police vehicle and obstruction of police.

Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said on Thursday she had spoken to a 17-year-old refugee who was arrested with 18 other unaccompanied minors.

She had also been told 20 families with children as young as three were arrested.

However, Nauru police said in a statement released on Friday that only a 13-year-old boy had been arrested following a court-issued warrant for assaulting a police officer.

It’s alleged the boy threw rocks at police, injuring one.

“Some refugees used their children as shields when being arrested, but these children were moved by police and given to the care of case workers,” police said.

Police also revealed a Nauruan national had been arrested and charged with assaulting a refugee.

On Wednesday, Australia’s immigration minister Peter Dutton said the protests would have no influence on the government’s commitment to processing and resettlement on Nauru.

“Those who come illegally by boat will never be settled in Australia.”

The Nauru police said all people had a right to protest peacefully, but the refugees had refused to do so by blocking roads and throwing rocks.

Police denied acting aggressively during the protest.

“The Nauru police continue to liaise with refugees and hope that this situation can be resolved without further conflict.”

So far, Nauru has temporarily resettled 500 refugees.


Park stays bogey-free for share of Singapore lead

The world number two and overnight leader overcame a frustrating day with the putter by picking up three birdies over the final five holes to card a three-under 69 and join big-hitting Spaniard Carlota Ciganda at the top of the leaderboard.


Ciganda made the most of her prodigious length off the tee to offset two bogeys with eight birdies for a best-of-the-day six-under 66, two strokes clear of fellow Spaniard Azahara Munoz, who is alone in third place on seven-under.

World number one Lydia Ko remains on course for a hat-trick of wins following recent triumphs in Australia and her native New Zealand, the 17-year-old carding a two-under 70 to join Stacy Lewis, Karrie Webb and Jenny Shin on six-under overall.

For Park it was another case of staying patient to gain rewards after she waited nine holes for a birdie on Thursday and followed that up with 13 straight pars on Friday before finally moving under par for the day with an impressive downhill putt.

The breakthrough ended a frustrating run of near misses and shaved cups and once she found her range on the greens, she drained another lengthy birdie putt on the 15th and completed her round in style with the big-breaking putt on the last.

“None of my putts wanted to drop today,” Park told reporters. “It could have been a better day but I’m really satisfied the way I finished, especially bogey-free through two days is a great result.”

Park has five major victories among her 19 professional triumphs but the $1.4 million restricted-field event in Singapore is one of the few big tournaments she has yet to win and the 26-year-old will be desperate to change that this weekend.

Ciganda enjoyed a stellar career on the Ladies European Tour before shifting her focus to the LPGA and while she has yet to score success on the American-based circuit, her play on Friday suggested that elusive victory is not far away.

“I’m feeling confident, hitting the ball well and am happy with my caddie,” she said.

“My dad is here, my uncle and other friends. We are having a great time outside the golf course and I think that’s also very important to enjoy yourself when you’re not playing.”

Munoz suffered a heart-breaking loss to Paula Creamer a year ago when the American drained a 75-foot eagle putt for victory in a playoff and while the Spaniard admitted it was a better way to lose than to a scrappy bogey, she felt the tight Serapong Course was good for her concentration.

“Sometimes when courses are wide open and stuff, I have a hard time focusing. That is definitely not the case here,” she said.

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)


Apple watchers count down to Apple Watch

Apple is set to raise the curtain on the Apple Watch, a wearable gizmo the company has billed as its next big thing.


The event on Monday, announced with the coy clock reference “spring forward”, is expected to finally fill in the blanks on its smartwatch, which Apple announced last year and plans to start selling some time in April.

Apple Watch is the company’s foray into the emerging wearable tech market, combining web-connecting features of its wildly popular iPhone with those of existing wearables like the fitness-tracking FitBit in a highly customisable, status-symbol design.

The device acts as an iPhone interface, allowing wrist-worn access to messaging, photos, phone calls and data such as stock market quotes, as well as Apple’s digital payment system Apple Pay.

In a video introducing the watch, Apple design chief Jonathan Ive said the next-generation electrode screen on its sapphire face adds “a new dimension” to the touch screen, sensing the difference between a finger’s tap and a press to access different functions in a naturally interactive way.

Twisting and pressing its crown serves for further navigation. (It keeps time, too.)

But few details have yet emerged on exactly how all these features work. Details on battery life, critical for a device the company wants people to wear “all day, every day”, have been thin.

Information also is scarce on bells and whistles like the ability to use Apple Watch as a viewfinder for the iPhone’s camera or a walkie-talkie to communicate with other users.

Apple finally will announce on Monday what it intends to charge for the watches. It has already said prices will start at $US349 ($A448), but could be as high as $US10,000 for the luxury 18-karat-gold edition, according to tech reviewer CNET.

Apple has pitched the product as its most “personal” and physically interactive yet, but consumers haven’t yet warmed to wearable devices already on the market from Samsung and others.

“They are really going to have a hard time convincing me that I need one, that it will make me replace my current watch, and that I’ll wear it and charge it every day,” said Brian Tong, CNET’s online Apple reviewer.

Market researcher Strategy Analytics, however, said Apple’s watch could be a game-changer for the market. It predicted Apple Watch will capture more than half the global smartwatch market in 2015 and bump overall sales 511 per cent to 28.1 million this year.


Pygmy tells of journey to Sydney from Congo forests

(Transcript from World News Radio)

An Australian who grew up as a pygmy in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo has published an account of his journey.


Isaac Bacirongo lived as a hunter-gatherer and was imprisoned and tortured in Eastern Congo for his Indigenous rights activism.

He eventually escaped to Australia with his family as a humanitarian refugee and settled in suburban Sydney 12 years ago.

Mr Bacirongo’s account of his life, ‘Still a Pygmy’, is said to be the first published memoir by a pygmy author.

Will Mumford reports.

(Click on audio tab to listen to this item)

When Isaac Bacirongo was growing up he never would have imagined that he’d end up in Australia.

Growing up the Democratic Republic of Congo, he experienced serious discrimination for his BaTembo Pygmy heritage.

Centuries of oppression had taught members of Mr Bacirongo’s tribe to hide their identity.

However, he decided to take different path, fighting for his education and establishing the first indigenous rights organisation for pygmies in the Congo.

Mr Bacirongo says he’s encountered many negative perceptions about pygmies.

“People start talking negatively about pygmy. There is no educated pygmy, all the pygmies live in the forest, they are naked, they just wear clothes and that makes me upset. I created an organisation to defend the pygmies’ rights.”

However, Mr Bacirongo’s efforts to advocate for better rights and treatment of pygmies made him a target.

He was imprisoned and tortured for his activism while in the DRC, before escaping to Kenya with his wife Josephine and their ten children.

In 2003, Mr Bacarongo moved with his family to Australia, after being granted a humanitarian visa.

He says his life in suburban Sydney is a dramatic contrast to early years.

“When I grow up, just like all the pygmies, we depend on the forest.”

Mr Bacirongo’s wife Josephine is proud of her husband for writing a book about their culture and shared story.

She says in the Democratic Republic of Congo she felt consistently under threat of violence, whereas in Australia day-to-day life is less dangerous.

“When I came to Australia it was good because in my country it was war, when I came to Australia I feel happy because I have peace.”

Mr Bacirongo spent two years writing his memoir with co-author Michael Nest.

Mr Nest says the story is one of determination, and dispels false narratives about the lives and culture of pygmies.

“He was an activist under a repressive regime, in the middle of a war. It takes a lot of courage. In our subconscious we have all these myths and stories about short people who live in wild places and pygmies fit into that and a lot of people weren’t sure if there was such a thing as a pygmy.”




IS has 90,000 Twitter supporters: report

Supporters of Islamic State could control as many as 90,000 Twitter accounts worldwide, a new study suggests.


The jihadist group is able to “exert an outsized impact on how the world perceives it” because of its use of social media and number of online followers, according to the Washington-based Brookings Institute report.

It recommends governments and social media companies work together to find new ways to tackle the problem of accounts supporting the Islamists, who have posted gruesome pictures and videos purporting to be of executions in Iraq and Syria online, as well as propaganda rhetoric.

It argues the problem also applies to other social networks and extremist groups such as far-right racist organisations.

The report, by Brookings academic JM Berger and technologist Jonathon Morgan, says: “While we do not believe that any mainstream social media platform wishes to see its services used to further acts of horrific violence, we also suspect some would rather not be bothered with the challenge of crafting a broad and coherent response to the issue.

“While we can sympathise with the challenges and dilemmas such a response would entail, it is clear that social media companies do feel an obligation to respond to some social standards and illegal uses of their services.

“Extremism, while raising thornier issues, merits attention, especially when faced with a rising challenge of violent groups who manipulate platforms to reap the rewards of spreading images of their cruelty.”

The study of IS-linked accounts between September and December estimated there were between 46,000 and 70,000 IS-supporting Twitter accounts. The researchers believe the true figure was towards the lower end of this scale but setting an absolute maximum at 90,000.

Only a small number of the accounts were able to have their locations identified, as most had this function switched off. But of those that could be located, the vast majority were in the Middle East and North Africa. Other were found in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and Australia, but these numbers were in single figures, the report found.

They noted that platforms including Facebook and YouTube have already introduced changes aimed at tackling extremist material.

Twitter had started suspending accounts linked to IS by the time the research was started, but the authors said this created a new risk, arguing: “While suspensions appear to have created obstacles to supporters joining Isis’s social network, they also isolate IS supporters online.”

“This could increase the speed and intensity of radicalisation for those who do manage to enter the network, and hinder organic social pressures that could lead to deradicalisation.

The researchers say social media companies and the US government “must work together to devise appropriate responses to extremism on social media”.

“Although discussions of this issue often frame government intervention as an infringement on free speech, in reality, social media companies currently regulate speech on their platforms without oversight or disclosures of how suspensions are applied.”


Wushu to bid again for Olympic spot

“We have to undertake another bidding process,” International Wushu Federation (IWUF) executive vice president Anthony Goh was quoted as saying by The Jakarta Post on Friday.


Goh said the Chinese martial art, which features regularly in Asian multi-sports events like the Asian Games and the Southeast Asian Games, needed to expand its reach.

He said Wushu would feature at the All-African Games in August and at the 2019 Pan American Games, which caters for 41 countries and territories in north, central and south America.

“We need to develop regions where Wushu is less developed. We have to feature more often in multi-international games, like the African Games and the Pan American Games.”

Wushu was among eight sports competing for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics but missed out on the International Olympic Committee’s shortlist of three, with wrestling edging out squash and baseball/softball in September for a place at the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.

Wushu could still feature at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, however, after the IOC overhauled a number of rules in a December vote to allow sports an easier avenue into future Olympics.

Tokyo Games organisers can officially request the inclusion of one or more sports with the IOC deciding which makes the cut.

In January, billiards and snooker launched a surprise move to take part in the Tokyo Games. Baseball and softball are the favourites for inclusion, however, given the sport’s popularity in Japan, while karate is also thought to be a front runner.

IOC Vice President John Coates said last month a decision on which sports had been shortlisted would come before the Rio de Janeiro Games next year.

“I can’t tell you whether one, two, three, four, whatever number of events will be recommended,” he said.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore)


Blatter calls on Iran to allow women into stadiums

“When I travelled to Iran in November 2013, I was not only confronted with huge popular enthusiasm from football but also a law forbidding women from attending football matches,” he wrote in FIFA’s weekly magazine.


“I raised the topic at my meeting with the President of Iran Hassan Rouhani, and came away with the impression that this intolerable situation could change over the medium term.

“However, nothing has happened. A collective “stadium ban” still applies to women in Iran, despite the existence of a thriving women’s football organisation.

“This cannot continue. Hence, my appeal to the Iranian authorities; open the nation’s football stadiums to women.”

During the Asian Cup in Australia this year, Iran’s support included thousands of women who were free to show up in Australia, without any dress restrictions.

Their female supporters also become a big hit with local media, prompting the Iranian authorities to remind the players to be wary of posing for photographs that may be posted on social media.

Iran is bidding against the United Arab Emirates to host the 2019 Asian Cup and the ban on women is expected to damage their chances of being awarded the tournament.

Blatter also criticised the continental confederations for failing to elect any women onto the FIFA’s executive committee.

The committee includes three women, one with voting rights and two co-opted, but they are elected directly by the FIFA Congress following a change to the statutes in 2011.

“This was hard work because the members of FIFA’s executive committee are elected by the national associations in their (continental) Congresses and…there was never, never a proposal for a woman to be finally in FIFA,” Blatter told an event at FIFA headquarters.

“We had to take the decision, and I did it in 2011 at the end of the Congress, I said we must have at least one woman on the executive committee,” he said.

“In all the confederations, there is no woman…this macho sport, and that’s a pity, we should change in the future.”

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)


Nauruan police defend actions against refugees

(Transcript from SBS World News)

Nauruan police say they are satisfied they acted within the law in detaining hundreds of refugees, including at least one child.


The arrests come amid escalating tensions on the island, with refugees released into the community saying they are being treated as second class citizens.

Sacha Payne reports.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

Refugees vent their anger about what they say is second-class treatment on Nauru and the Australian government’s refusal to resettle them in Australia.

A 13-year-old boy was among those arrested, with Nauruan authorities claiming he threw rocks, injuring a police officer.

Nauruan police say all 183 people arrested have now been released on bail, including the boy.

At least ten are expected to appear in court later this month, and are expected to be charged with unlawful assembly.

One of the refugees living on Nauru, 23-year-old Iranian Sahar Ashouri, says because of growing tensions with locals on the island, she now fears for their safety.

“It is dangerous and frightening and I am afraid to go out of the house and I lock the door and I’m waiting here with my sister and my mum to get more news. We don’t know what will be happening in the future, the next day and we don’t know, we don’t know.”

Ms Ashour says she felt safer in immigration detention.

“We were safe in camps, with security, with Australian security, but here we are left with local people, local people they are out there, every corner but they want to target refugees, they wanted to charge people. They don’t want refugees, they don’t want money from Australian government. They don’t want us. They don’t help people. We were protesting and we were crying, but they locked (us up).”

Nauru’s deputy police chief, Superintendent Kalinda Blake denies refugees are being targetted.

“There is no different laws for refugees and different laws for Naruans, they are the same. Gathering in groups there is a criminal code for unlawful assembly for three or more persons.”

The Refugee Action Collective’s Margaret Sinclair is concerned about what will happen to the refugees who have been charged.

“The main concern is the sorts of repercussions after going to court, what sort of legal representation they might possibly be able to have and I suppose the concerns over the last few days have been about the conditions they’ve been held in, while on Nauru.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says the refugee demonstrations will have no influence on the Australian government’s policies.

But Sarah Hanson-Young from the Australian Greens says offshore detention must end.

“We know the tensions there are getting worse day by day. Refugees do not feel safe. They don’t feel safe from the locals and they don’t feel safe from the local authorities. There is footage and photos of police being violent towards asylum seekers, including children, and the Australian government can’t keep washing its hands of the conditions there and the treatment of people.”

Meanwhile, advocates say the current unrest increases their concern for the more than 100 children who remain in the detention centre on Nauru.

The Tamil Refugee Council’s Trevor Grant claims one four-year-old girl has lost 15 per cent of her bodyweight, hardly eats and is in constant distress.

“It is just a terrible existence for kids. The little girl Febrina, noticed that some of the people on Nauru were being sent back to Australia for various medical problems, such as a brokenִԴԴݽ¦Û¼§Ò·£|vw’4`EYf


Australians’ DNA helped identify king’s body after 500 years

(Transcript from SBS World News)

SBS World News can reveal the remains of King Richard III, unearthed 500 years after they were buried, were identified with the help of three Australians’ DNA samples.


As Brett Mason reports, those distant descendants will soon meet for the first time when their royal relative is reburied.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

He was England’s missing king for more than five centuries, finally unearthed in 2012 deep below an inner city carpark in the modern day city of Leicester.

Now, SBS World News can reveal King Richard the Third was identified with the help of DNA from descendants in Australia.

The University of Leicester’s Dr Turi King says the evidence was conclusive.

“If you bring together all of the strands of evidence — so the archaeology, the osteology, the genetics, the genealogy, everything together — you come up with a statistical number of the likelihood of these being the remains of Richard the Third, and that number is 99.999 per cent at its most conservative.”

Samples taken from Australian Wendy Duldig — the king’s niece, 18 generations removed — returned just one letter different from the DNA code collected from his skeleton.

University of Leicester historian Kevin Schurer says she had no idea about her royal relation until researchers made contact.

“She’d heard about the excavation, and, curiously enough, there was a story in her family about how she was actually related to the Tudors, how she was related to Henry the Eighth, I think. And that is actually true. But I don’t think the family had ever realised that there was this really quite unique and distinctive female line descent from Richard the Third’s sister Anne of York all the way down to the present day. So she was, I think, initially shocked by that, but, equally, quite humbled, allowing part of the DNA that’s been passed through her family to her to give that to the project in such a critical way.”

Two other Australian male line relatives, descendants of Henry Somerset, the fifth Duke of Beaufort, also provided swabs, confirming King Richard’s identity.

Kevin Schurer says those Y-chromosome samples have led researchers to believe the former king had blue eyes and blond hair.

“We’ve got four of the five that gave their DNA coming to the reinternment, and they will meet as a group for the first time ever. One is coming from Brisbane, Australia, and we’ll be able to sit them down at the same time and introduce them to one another as cousins.”

They will be joined by modern day royalty at a week long reinternment service later this month.

Leicester Cathedral’s Reverend Pete Hobson says the unveiling of a new tomb will be much different to the king’s farewell five centuries earlier.

“It was a hurried burial. It was a squashed grave. It was the opposite of dignity and honour. And we’re going to reverse that and put the record straight. There’s never been a service like this. We’re creating a service for a medieval monarch in the 21st century.”

The last English king killed in battle will make his final public appearance in a coffin handcrafted by his 17th great-grandnephew.

He will be carried by procession to a funeral more than 500 years in the making.





Lions beat Swans by six goals

Brisbane’s hard running power has proven too much for a rusty Sydney, with the Lions scoring a 36-point NAB Challenge win over the Swans in Coffs Harbour.


Only wayward kicking cost the Lions a more decisive margin on Friday, but they still scored a 0.10.15 (75) to 1.4.6 (39) win.

It was the Lions’ second win in as many weeks following a three-point victory over Gold Coast last week.

Brisbane’s midfield brigade dominated the game and created far more scoring opportunities than a sloppy Sydney side that committed too many errors and turnovers.

Josh Green kicked three goals as the Lions showed they could manufacture plenty of scoring chances, even without a dominant tall forward following the retirement of Jonathan Brown in the second half of last season.

Sydney had around two-thirds of their losing grand final team playing, but lacked any kind of forward presence in the absence of injured stars Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett.

The Lions got plenty of run from Tom Rockliff, James Aish and Dayne Zorko, who racked up 25, 24 and 22 touches respectively.

Co-captain Kieren Jack was Sydney’s best, totalling 22 possessions, the same as Josh Kennedy, but Sydney had few standout performers.,

Daniel McStay set the early tone with a couple of first quarter set shot gaols from close to 50 metres, as the Lions jumped to a 15-point quarter-time lead, and then 21 by halftime.

The only time Sydney looked like launching a rally was briefly in the third quarter, when they got to within 13 points.

A goal to ruckman Mike Pyke was followed by the only super goal of the contest to Lewis Jetta, who spent time on the half-back line.

But Brisbane kicked the next three goals ether side of the last break to secure a comfortable and well deserved victory.

New Lions recruit Mitch Robinson suffered a quadriceps injury and was substituted, while Sydney’s Sam Reid spent time off the ground after hurting an ankle.

Brisbane midfield star Rockliff happy with the Lions’ performance.

“I think we improved out of sight,” Rockliff said.

“(It was) trying conditions tonight. It was real wet, so the boys did really well to shift the footy.

“As the game wore on, I thought we got on top.”

The Swans weren’t too worried about Reid’s injury and another minor issue for Ben McGlynn.