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February, 2019

Muslim youth ready to help stop radicalisation: expert

Muslim youth need to play a greater role in combating the radicalisation of young people, Curtin University researcher Anne Aly says.

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Dr Aly told SBS IS was already “way ahead” in using younger people to influence children online.

“You don’t see anyone, say, over the age of 25 on any of their recruitment videos,” she said.

“They don’t use older men, older ideologues.

“They use young people telling other young people how great Islamic State is.

“And that’s probably one of the reasons why they’re way ahead of us here in influencing these young people because they know what works while we should know what works, but we still seem to be struggling with that.”

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Dr Aly said many teenagers, regardless of religion, could be disenfranchised from adult society, which they may see as overly prescriptive or frustrating.

“They’re often angry with adults as well, they’re often angry that they don’t have a voice and so trying to reach a 15 or 16-year-old through a 52-year-old sheikh or a 52-year-old community leader isn’t going to work,” she said.

She said governments and law enforcement agencies were taking “the easy way out” by dealing only with community leaders who were more willing to talk with governments than young people.

“All over Australia there are young people who want to be part of the solution and are extremely passionate about the well-being of their community, but the well-being of all Australian young people as well,” she said.

“The problem is many aren’t afforded the opportunity to become part of the solution.

“So we need to have a lot more programs that do that, a lot more programs that recognise that young people are the solution, they are not the problem.”

Dr Aly’s comments contrast with those of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Turnbull called on parents to keep tabs on what their children were up to in the aftermath of the shooting of a police accountant by a 15-year-old boy in Parramatta, in Sydney’s west.

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“We all need to be aware of the way in which radicalisation can occur – communities at every level, families should be aware of what young people are doing, what influences are impacting on young people,” he said.

Assistant minister for multicultural affairs Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said she believed disengaged young people were being preyed upon.

“What is very clear is that involvement, radical involvement, involvement with Daesh is now what has been termed to me a new way to rebel,” she said on Tuesday.

“They are being induced with promises of AK-47s, drugs and women – I have heard that from people who have had dialogue with the young people.”

Senator Fierravanti-Wells said she believed the solution lay in working with communities and developing programs focused on tackling social issues.

Dr Aly has worked with Muslim youth to develop apps that encourage, and challenge, Muslim youth to be better followers of their faith as well as better members of society.

But she warned that once someone had been radicalised it was very difficult to “bring them back” and intervention was necessary.

California to allow assisted suicide for terminally ill

California will become the fifth state to allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives under a new law signed by Governor Jerry Brown.

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Brown announced on Monday that he had signed the bill, offering a personal reflection on how he came to the decision.

Brown, a former Jesuit seminarian and lifelong Catholic, alluded to his own personal struggle with the issue, noting that he consulted former classmates, two of his own doctors and a Catholic bishop in debating whether to sign the bill.

“I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain,” Brown wrote in a signing statement.

“I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”

California joins four other states – Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana – in allowing such assisted suicides, making the practice legal for nearly one in six Americans.

California’s law is modeled off Oregon’s assisted suicide system, first approved by voters in 1994.

Before receiving life-ending drugs, patients need two physicians to say they have less than six months to live and are mentally fit to make the decision.

Brown’s office could not immediately answer when the new law would take effect.

California lawmakers introduced a right-to-die bill earlier this year for the first time since 2007.

The lawmakers cited increased attention to end-of-life issues after the highly publicized case of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old San Francisco Bay Area woman with terminal brain cancer who moved to Oregon to legally kill herself in 2014.

What followed was the most emotionally intense legislative battle of the year in California.

Patients with months to live, priests and people with disabilities were among those calling lawmakers’ offices and making emotional pleas in the state Capitol.

Lawmakers shared stories of watching their parents’ succumbing to cancer to explain why they supported or opposed the bill.

The national right-to-die advocacy group Compassion and Choices focused lobbying efforts on California, seeing it as the best opportunity to expand the thin ranks of states where terminally ill patients could take life-ending drugs.

Brown, who had brushes with cancer, did not take a public position on the legislation and left advocates of both sides guessing what he would do.

Brown, through a spokeswoman, objected to lawmakers pushing right-to-die legislation through a special session on health-care financing he convened, calling into question whether he would veto the bill.

But proponents eventually prevailed when state lawmakers gave their final sign-off September 11.

Days after the bill was passed last month, the California Catholic Conference issued a statement calling on Brown to veto it.

“Pope Francis invites all of us to create our good society by seeing through the eyes of those who are on the margins, those in need economically, physically, psychologically and socially,” the group’s executive director, Edward Dolejsi, wrote at the time.

“Looking through those eyes, (the bill) is bad law for California. We ask the governor to veto this bill.”

Construction grows again in September

Construction activity has expanded for a second consecutive month, with residential building offsetting the struggling commercial and engineering sub-sectors.

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The Performance of Construction Index dropped slightly by 1.9 points to 51.9 to remain above the 50-point level separating expansion from contraction.

The slight easing in the pace of growth comes after the construction industry index rose for the first time this year in August, according to figures from the Australian Industry Group and Housing Industry Association on Wednesday.

Ai Group head of public policy Peter Burn said strong residential building activity held the overall sector afloat in September.

Apartment building activity expanded at its fastest rate in more than a year, while house building achieved an 11-month high in its rate of expansion.

“(This overshadowed) a fall in commercial construction and further contraction in the engineering construction sub-sector,” Mr Burn said.

While new orders for engineering work signalled further falls in mining-related construction, new orders for house, apartment and commercial building got a boost in September, the report said.

HIA economist Diwa Hopkins said residential activity remained the foundation of the broader industry, a theme which will continue at least until the first half of 2016.

“There are some tentative signs of improvement emerging from the commercial sub-sector of construction, but these are yet to be sustained,” she said.

August’s lift in the commercial construction activity sub-index evaporated in September, tumbling 6.5 points to 48.1.

“Nevertheless, new orders for this segment of the market are rising which suggests a recovery may emerge in the new year,” Ms Hopkins said.

Fiji, Romania win, South Africa eye last eight

Hosts England rang the changes for their final game, a dead rubber against Uruguay, and the debate over Stuart Lancaster’s future continued with another seasoned coach stating his interest in a role that has yet to become available.

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The final three last-eight berths will begin to be filled from Wednesday with South Africa expected to confirm their spot when they take on the United States.

England’s executioners Australia were dealt a blow ahead of their Pool A decider with Wales and hopes of an easier path to the last four when flanker Michael Hooper was banned for a week and Israel Folau deemed a doubt with an ankle injury.

“We have got a squad of 31 and that’s the reason you have a squad of 31,” attack coach Stephen Larkham said ahead of the game in which the losers are likely to face twice world champions South Africa in the quarters.

Fiji played their final part in Pool A — the group of death — by running in seven tries in a 47-15 win over Uruguay who grabbed their first try of the tournament.

The biggest cheer and wildest celebrations of the night came when Carlos Arboleya, 12 years after Uruguay coach Pablo Lemoine scored their last World Cup try, crashed over the line to be mobbed by all 22 Uruguayan squad members.

COMEBACK WIN

In the day’s other game, Florin Vlaicu nervelessly slotted a penalty three minutes from time to lift Romania to the biggest ever comeback win at a World Cup with a 17-15 Pool D victory over Canada.

Romania, who have one final match against Italy on Sunday, trailed 15-0 early in the second half until their pack began to smash the Canucks, setting up a grandstand finish in which Vlaicu duly delivered.

“I don’t think it was ever in doubt really, was it?” Romania’s Welsh coach Lynn Howells told reporters with a smile.

“They’ll have a beer, but it’s not going to be to any great extent… Semi-final won, now we play the final,” Howells said, referring to the Italy match in which an upset would seal automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup.

For hosts England, coach Lancaster attempted to look to a future in which he may play no part by handing Jack Nowell and Henry Slade their first World Cup starts among nine changes to the side that got dumped out of the tournament.

While the English coach was determined that his team stay positive and block out the “huge” noise on the outside, World Cup-winning South African Jake White joined the line formed by Japan coach Eddie Jones to potentially replace Lancaster.

RFU Chief Executive Ian Ritchie said there would be no knee-jerk decisions over Lancaster’s future but White, who led South Africa to their second World Cup triumph in 2007, is among the bookmaker’s favourites for the job.

“If they were genuinely interested and they approached me, of course I would be interested. It’s one of the biggest jobs in world sport and you’d be crazy not to consider it,” said the 52-year-old, who is currently at French club Montpellier.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Scotland players primed for biggest game of careers

Victory over Samoa in Newcastle on Saturday would put the Scots through to the last eight while defeat would end their involvement in the tournament if Japan beat the United States in their last game.

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If Scotland lost and failed to pick up a bonus point in defeat they would also exit the tournament in the unlikely event that Japan drew and scored four or more tries.

“For a lot of us this is going to be the biggest match of our careers,” Denton told reporters.

“For most of the people on our team this is our first World Cup but now we’ve essentially got a playoff game… If we win we’re into the quarter-finals, if we lose we’re probably not.”

Scotland overwhelmed Japan and the U.S. in their first two matches before losing 34-16 to South Africa.

“We can’t go into a game and let a team impose what they want to do on us, we need to do it the other way around, so for the coming weekend we need to impose our game on Samoa,” Denton said.

“We need to make sure we get a good first half. We need to come out of the blocks raring to go and not give them a foothold in the game.”

Scotland coach Vern Cotter has rotated his squad in the first three matches and Denton believes that policy will pay dividends.

“It means that most players haven’t been run into the ground. Most players have had sufficient rest between the games,” he said.

Prop Gordon Reid is expecting a very physical challenge from the Samoans who cannot reach the last eight.

“Samoa are quite a difficult team, big straight-line-running forwards,” he said. “The last time we played them they actually beat us, so we need to take that into consideration.

“Everyone says it’s a nothing match for them but Samoa’s a proud nation and they’ll come out guns blazing and they’ll want to win. They’ll want to finish on a high.”

Scotland started slowly against Japan and the U.S. before racking up points in the second half.

“We’ve spoken about that,” flanker Ryan Wilson said. “Even if it is tight in the second half we know we can edge our way through it and win the game.

“The set-piece is massive for us, we need that to function. We know that if we’re in the game we can go on and win it.”

(Reporting by Ed Osmond; editing by Toby Davis)

Winners, losers – and others – under TPP

After years of negotiations, trade ministers from 12 countries, including Australia, have finally agreed to create one of the world’s biggest free-trade zones.

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Despite million-dollar boosts to many industries, not all farmers feel they’ll benefit under the deal.

But some industry advocates remain wary of the details in this largely secretive deal.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told radio 3AW Australian businessess will reap rewards from the deal.

“It means that you, your business, will be able to sell its services into other markets around the region much more easily than it can today. It means that if you’re involved in agriculture, you’ll be able to sell a lot more beef to Japan, than you currently can. And more sugar to the United States. And more cheese to Japan.”

But for the Australian sugar industry, a $16 million uplift is bittersweet and doesn’t go as far as some would have liked.

Annual sugar exports to the United States will increase by 65,000 tonnes to 152,000 tonnes each year.

It’s a great deal less than the 700,000 tonnes or thereabouts many had hoped for.

The chairman of Canegrowers Australia, Paul Schembri, says the once-in-a lifetime deal was a lost opportunity.

“Yes we’ve been included, but I must be honest and say that the outcome falls well short of what our expectations were. We believe we had a credible case to increase access to the United States, and what this shows, what this shows more than anything else, is that the Australian sugar industry has come up against that huge wall of protectionism for the United States agriculture, paticularly the sugar industry. So an economic uplift, but a lost opportunity as well.”

Australian farmers seem to agree.

Chief Executive of the National Farmers Federation, Simon Talbot, says while it’s disappointing for sugar cane farmers, it’s ultimately positive for the agricultural sector, saying it will return around one billion dollars to farmers overall.

“Certainly market access improvements for rice, for dairy, and some pretty good outcomes for the red meat sector. We’ve got tariff reductions for carrying across 14 countries around the Pacific, and it’s already building on the back of what is a record high year for beef in particular in this country.”

Mr Talbot says he looks forward to going over the detail of the agreement, which is yet to be released.

He says farmers will be keeping a close eye on the tariff reduction critera and the period of time they will be reduced over.

Others, however, remain skeptical about the slow release of detail.

Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, Patricia Ranald, says she holds concerns about a price increase to pharmaceuticals, despite govenrment assurances they won’t rise.

“What the Minister is saying about medicines is that he has not agreed to make changes which would link the monopolies on biologic medicines. However the US government is saying that there is provision for longer monopolies but because we don’t have the text, we don’t exactly know how that’s going to work.”

Meanwhile, the Opposition has offered broad support to the agreement.

Opposition trade spokeswoman Penny Wong says continuing support will depend on the wording of the deal, which they will be scrutinising in coming weeks.

“There’s always issues in trade agreements and always issues when you look at the press releases versus what’s in the agreement… But in relation to the TPP, we welcome Mr Robb’s assurances he’s held the line in the relation to the accessibility of medicines. We’ll hold him to that and we will consider and analyse the whole of the agreement in the national interest.”

 

 

Why we need more diverse dolls

Even people like me who actively avoid watching any and all brands of football could not help but be touched by the image of Johnathon Thurston weeping tears of joy as he held his young daughter on the football field after kicking the winning goal in the NRL grand final over the weekend.

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The moment of tenderness between a champion athlete and his little girl would have been moving in any circumstances, but the detail that made it entirely irresistible was the dark-skinned doll in the little girl’s arms. The rugby star’s daughter’s doll made headlines around the world, with the BBC, The Independent and The New York Times all running stories about it.

It’s interesting that the sight of a black baby doll in the arms of an Aboriginal child remains such a noteworthy event. Of course, this attention is largely due to the significance of the match itself – the first time in NRL history that both teams in the final had Indigenous captains.  And after all, it isn’t so long ago that the only black or brown dolls in common circulation in Australia were grotesquely offensive gollywogs. I’m certainly still recovering from my own Barbie-traumatised childhood.

Barbie epitomised the bubbly blonde adoreableness to which every little girl in my Queensland primary school aspired – an ideal that a scrawny bad-tempered half-Pakistani misfit like me could never hope to attain. I had only one Barbie of my own and I unleashed all my pent-up rage upon her – slashing her hair, dressing her in rags, and locking her in the room of the doll’s house I referred to as “the dungeon”, where she was to reflect upon her vanity, her shallowness, her blondeness, until she had reached a sufficient level of remorse to be worthy of parole.

Nothing would have warmed my angry little heart more than knowing that a streetwise multi-ethnic girl gang – aka “the Bratz dolls” – was going to come along and kick Barbie’s skinny white arse so hard that she (or at least, Mattel’s marketing department) would be reduced to a snivelling, pathetic wreck, forced to engage in desperate attention seeking stunts such as dressing like Paris Hilton and dumping Ken for an Australian surfie, only to “leak” rumours of a reconciliation 18 months later.

I made sure that my own daughter’s bedroom was filled with an array of dolls whose skin tone ranged from cream to dark chocolate. Even her Barbie house was occupied by one very happy Ken and a harem of multiracial Barbies, inherited from the daughter of my ethnic studies lecturer. There was even a “Minangkabau Barbie” that an Indonesian postgrad had brought back from fieldwork. But no matter her skin colour, Barbie remains a blonde at heart.

My daughter’s most adored dolls were bought in Pakistan, from a village craft co-operative that enables women to generate independent income, and they are works of art as well as toys. Zohra and Maryam are handmade cloth dolls, dressed in traditional costumes from the delicate silver jewellery in their hair to the leather slippers on their feet. These dolls were much coveted by our Indian neighbour’s young daughter, who would tap on the door to ask “Can we play brown dollies?” A girl after my own heart, Parvati would fling any blonde doll that gatecrashed the game clear across the room.

Parvati’s passion for brown dollies reinforced my belief that children need toys that reflect the reality of their own families and selves – and the reality of the world in which we live. It’s important in that not only are dark-skinned dolls now owned by a few dark-skinned girls (and white girls with politically conscientious parents) – they are owned and desired by girls (and boys) of all backgrounds. It doesn’t signify the end of racism, but it does allow us the luxury of a more inclusive imagination.

Shakira Hussein is a writer and researcher based at the Asia Institute at The University of Melbourne.

Smartphones can be taken over with just one text message: Snowden

Mr Snowden, who leaked classified information from the US National Security Agency, is now a fugitive in Russia.

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Speaking to the BBC, Mr Snowden said the British spy agency, GCHQ, can access a personal smartphone by sending it an encrypted text message, and using it to take pictures and listen to conversations.

Mr Snowden said both the GCHQ and the US National Security Agency had invested in technology that allows them to hack smartphones.

Mr Snowden described in some detail the GCHQ’s collection of secret intercept capabilities, known as the “Smurf Suit”.

“Dreamy Smurf is the power management tool which means turning your phone on and off without you knowing,” he said.

“Nosey Smurf is the ‘hot mic’ tool. For example, if it’s in your pocket, GCHQ can turn the microphone on and listen to everything that’s going on around you – even if your phone is switched off because they’ve got the other tools for turning it on.”

“Tracker Smurf is a geo-location tool with allows GCHQ  to follow you with a greater precision than you would get from the typical triangulations of cell phone towers.”

Mr Snowden also explained that the SMS message sent by the agency to gain access to the phone would pass unnoticed by the handset’s owner.

He said the encrypted text message used to access a phone can enter a person’s phone without them noticing.

“It’s called an ‘exploit’,” he said. “That’s a specially crafted message that’s texted to your number like any other text message, but when it arrives at your phone it’s hidden from you. It doesn’t display. You paid for it [the phone] but whoever controls the software owns the phone.”

However, Mr Snowden said the NSA and GCHQ are not interested in tracking the average member of the public, rather these tools are used on those suspected of involvement in terrorism or other serious crimes such as paedophilia: “but to find out who those targets are they’ve got to collect mass data”, he said.

Turkey warns Russia of airspace violations in Syria operations

The government says Russian planes carrying out airstrikes in Syria crossed into Turkish territory over the southern province of Hatay for a second time.

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NATO has warned of the “extreme danger” of such violations and condemned the incursions.

Turkey launched fighter jets after Russian planes twice entered Turkish air space.

Turkey’s government calls it an “unacceptable” intrusion.

But it’s a simple mistake, according to Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov. “The incident occurred because of unfavourable weather conditions in that area. You shouldn’t be looking for any conspiratorial reasons in this case.”

Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish Prime Minister, was diplomatic in response but his implication was clear. “Whoever it is, wherever it comes from, whatever direction it comes from, our rules of engagement are clear when our airspace is violated.”

Russian planes could be shot down if the “mistake” is repeated.

The incident prompted an emergency meeting of NATO leaders and a warning from Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, of the extreme danger of such behaviour.

“Russia’s actions are not contributing to the security and stability of the region. I call on Russia to fully respect NATO airspace and to avoid escalating tensions with the alliance.”

NATO also wants Russia to stop attacking Syrian opposition fighters and civilians.

The Russian government says its mission aims to weaken IS militants.

But Turkey and most Western powers see it as support for President Bashar Al-Assad.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says that’s borne out by the targets being attacked by the Russians. “They are actually concentrating their efforts on territory held by opponents of the regime, which may include some extremists, but don’t, according to our analysts, include many, if any, ISIL forces.”

Russia has suggested cooperating with the US on bombing missions.

US Secretary of State John Kerry warns that without it, the risk of a serious confrontation is high. “It is precisely the kind of thing that, had Turkey responded under its rights it could have resulted in a shootdown, and it is precisely the kind of thing we warned against.”

Turkey’s threat to respond if provoked again raises the prospect of direct confrontation between the former Cold War enemies.

 

 

Wales hoping to end Wallaby streak

It’s a no-go zone at Camp Wallaby, but Wales aren’t shying away from their miserable record against Australia in recent years.

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The Wallabies are currently on a 10-game winning streak which dates back to 2008, and their current squad boasts just five members of the team which lost at Millennium Stadium seven years ago.

And while Australia’s coaches and players are reading from the same hymn sheet – declaring as one that the record isn’t something which they’ve given any thought to ahead of Saturday’s final World Cup pool clash – Welsh star Jamie Roberts isn’t afraid of a little history.

The brutish 110kg outside centre is one of only a few Welsh players to have tasted success against Australia recently, having played in their 21-18 victory in 2008 as well as enjoying victories as part of the 2013 British and Irish Lions squad.

Those victories have been few and far between, however.

“You look back at the last seven years, and it’s the same old story. There is no hiding from that,” Roberts admitted on Tuesday.

However, he hopes the importance of Saturday’s Twickenham clash, with not only bragging rights in Pool A going on the line but also the prospect of an easier run to the final, will ensure Wales aren’t plagued by fadeouts as they have been in previous encounters.

“The last 10 minutes in games against them have killed us on many occasion, and hopefully what’s on the line this week will bring out the best in us,” he said.

Wallabies captain Stephen Moore, backs Drew Mitchell, Quade Cooper and Matt Giteau and lock Dean Mumm are the only current squad members left from the 2008 loss, while back-up hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and Mitchell played in the only other defeat to Wales since 1987 – when they were pipped 24-22 in 2005.

“I wasn’t a part of the regime until this year,” said Wallabies backs coach Stephen Larkham, who enjoyed four wins and one draw against Wales in a stellar career.

“Those old games against Wales have no relevance to this weekend.”

Meanwhile, Mumm says Australia have drawn a line in the sand ahead of the match, which it is treating like a final.

“We have drawn a bit of a line in the sand because Wales is significant test for us,” said Mumm.

“There is a bit of momentum for us and we are taking it extremely seriously.

“The mentality in the camp from here on in is every game is important, but this pool game has the aura of a final about it.”

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