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Monthly Archives: March 2019

Teenage death reopens race debate

Written on March 11, 2019 at 15:53, by

On the night of Sunday, February 26, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin walked out the front door of his father’s house in a gated community in Sanford, Florida.

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Martin had been watching a college basketball tournament on TV and had headed out to a nearby 7-11 store to buy some Skittles and ice tea.

He made his purchase but never made it home.

Returning to his father’s house, Martin encountered 28-year-old George Zimmerman, a volunteer neighbourhood watch patrolman. What happened next is not entirely clear but for reasons that are somewhat ambiguous, Zimmerman felt compelled to call police, report Martin acting suspiciously, and pursue him.

Minutes later, the teenager was dead. Shot by Zimmerman who was carrying a 9mm handgun.

The story has blown up across parts of America after police released the 911 recordings to the public. You can listen to some of the recordings here.

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something,” Zimmerman says to a 911 operator.

“He’s just staring, looking at all the houses. Now he’s coming toward me. He’s got his hand in his waistband. Something’s wrong with him.”

“These assholes always get away,” Zimmerman adds. “Shit, he’s running.”

“Are you following him?” asks the dispatcher.

“Yes,” replies Zimmerman.

“We don’t need you to do that,” the dispatcher says.

In another recording, a witness calls 911 to report a confrontation. There is screaming in the background, the sound of a single shot, and then silence.

There are further layers to the story. Martin’s father reported his son to Missing Persons when he failed to return home. He had no luck there. He called 911 to prompt a visit from police. They produced a photo of his son’s body with blood trailing from his mouth. Martin’s body had been lying in the morgue unidentified.

Zimmerman has not yet been charged in relation to Martin’s death. Not surprisingly, this has caused outrage in parts of the community.

How, it has been asked, does a teenage boy who dreamed of being a pilot, loved sport and music, and took his quadriplegic uncle to see basketball games, end up gunned down by a vigilante while walking to the store?

The answer is simple, according to others. Martin’s crime was being young and black and wearing a hooded track jacket.

The incident has reopened a hot debate about race. It is argued: had Martin carried a gun and killed Zimmerman, he’d already be locked up; the police case is biased; all black teenagers are at risk; Zimmerman was defending himself; Zimmerman is not racist – he’s Hispanic.

“He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever,” Zimmerman’s father wrote in a letter to the Orlando Sentinel newspaper.

“I just think that sometimes people get stereotyped and I fit into the stereotype as the person who got shot,” said another teenage boy who witnessed the shooting.

The message is brutal and one that many people are not comfortable discussing. But the message is also simple: Don’t be a black teenager and walk to a 7-11 for Skittles and ice team at night.

The debate will continue until this story plays out more fully. It’s also a debate that is not exclusive to Florida or even the U.S. There are, no doubt, parallels in Australia. Trayvon Martin, however, no longer has a chance to take part in it.

Sundance to sign up customers this year

Written on March 11, 2019 at 15:53, by

Sundance Resources expects to sign up customers by the end of the year as it pins its hopes on producing iron ore in west Africa by 2017.

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The Perth-based company believes it has turned the corner after shareholders had their investments halved in April following the collapse of a $1.3 billion takeover deal with China’s Hanlong Mining.

Legal action against the company over a 2010 plane crash in west Africa which killed the company’s entire board of directors has also occupied management, with the latest claim coming from the family of an investment banker seeking more than $10 million over his death.

Sundance directors believe the company is not liable for the deaths as it pushes ahead with its 35 million tonne Mbalam-Nabeba iron ore project which has the support of the local governments of Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Chairman George Jones said 95 per cent of the company’s shares had changed hands since the Hanlong deal fell over.

“The damage has already been done,” Mr Jones told the Diggers and Dealers mining conference on Wednesday.

Sundance has been in talks with major banks, Chinese steel mills and contractors over the past two years.

While the Mbalam-Nabeba project still requires financing, Mr Jones said interested parties had labelled the project robust after conducting due diligence.

“All we’ve got to do now is work out the best way to package it,” he said.

He added that a number of legal claims against the company over the 2010 plane crash deaths had not been pursued.

“One confidential report indicates that there’ll be no liability, that there’s no fault of ours,” he said.

Sundance on Wednesday said it had begun issuing tenders for the construction of rail and port infrastructure for the Mbalam-Nabeba project.

The company is in talks with 10 contractors, including six Chinese and four international contractors, about building the massive project, subject to financing.

Managing director Giulio Casello said the project had a proposed debt to equity split of 85 per cent to 15 per cent.

The majority of the debt funding would come from the China import/export banks and the China Development Bank, while the equity would come from investors and the company’s own cash reserves of $20 million.

Labor’s numbers can’t be trusted, says Abbott

Written on March 11, 2019 at 15:53, by

The federal opposition leader Tony Abbott says it’s time to build a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia.

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But in replying to Treasurer Wayne Swan’s budget, Mr Abbott has failed to put a price on the Coalition’s plans for the economy if it wins the election in September.

 

Tony Abbott says Labor’s budget numbers can’t be trusted and only a Treasury update just before the election will reveal what he calls the emergency rescue that is needed to ease the cost of living and restore Australia’s finances.

 

Amanda Cavill has the details.

 

Mr Abbott has delivered his budget reply speech in parliament two days after Labor forecast an $18 billion deficit for 2013/14.

He has laid a plan to restore Australia’s finances, help families deal with cost-of-living pressures, and restore confidence and certainty to government.

 

Mr Abbott says a Coalition government would keep the current income tax thresholds and the current pension and benefit fortnightly rates while scrapping the carbon tax.

 

“So with a change of government, your weekly and fortnightly budgets will be under less pressure as electricity prices fall and gas prices fall and the carbon tax no longer cascades through our economy.This will strengthen our economy – because there’ll less tax hitting Australian businesses but not their overseas competitors.

 

Mr Abbott has given conditional support to a number of measures in Tuesday’s budget, including axing the baby bonus.

He says the National Disability Insurance Scheme has the Coalition’s full support although just how it is funded needs closer scrutiny.

 

But he’s warned a coalition government could not guarantee the Gonski school reforms would be viable in the short term.

And he says if a Coalition government is elected there would be a two-year delay in the ramp up in compulsory superannuation planned by Labor.

 

Mr Abbott says everybody would need to contribute to re-invigorating the economy.

 

“Tonight, I confirm that we won’t continue the twice a year supplementary allowance to people on benefits because it’s supposed to be funded from the mining tax and the mining tax isn’t raising any revenue. As well, we won’t continue the low income superannuation contribution because that’s also funded from the tax that isn’t raising any revenue.”

Mr Abbott says the measures he’s announced would produce nearly $5 billion a year in savings, which would be more than enough for tax cuts without a carbon tax.

 

And he says a Coalition government he leads would encourage greater engagement in the region that would benefit Australia and its closest neigbours.

 

“We will establish a new, two-way street version of the Colombo Plan taking our best and brightest to the region as well as bringing their best and brightest here. It will be part of a foreign policy that’s focused on Jakarta, not Geneva. All these commitments are affordable and deliverable.

 

Mr Abbott’s also pledged to produce a comprehensive white paper on tax reform in the first two years of a coalition government.

He says the coalition would finish the job that the Henry review started and the Labor government failed to complete.

 

But Mr Abbott says the top priority of an Abbott government would be getting rid of Labor’s carbon tax.

 

“There is no mystery to how this will happen. What one parliament legislates, another parliament can repeal and thThe Coalition has already announced that we will rescind the increase to the humanitarian migration intake because – until the boats are stopped, and we will stop them – it’s the people smugglers who are choosing who comes to Australia.

Mr Abbott says by working with the states, a coalition government would also produce a white paper on state and commonwealth reform in its first two years.

 

He says its objective would be to reduce an end waste and duplication between the different levels of government.

 

And on asylum seeker policy, the opposition leader has repeated his pledge to “stop the boats”.

 

Russia’s anti-gay law uproar an ‘invented problem’ – minister

Written on March 11, 2019 at 15:53, by

The law, which parliament passed in June, bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” and imposes fines on those holding gay pride rallies.

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It has attracted international condemnation and cast a shadow over the athletics world championships in Moscow, with questions raised over whether it will apply to athletes and spectators at next year’s Winter Olympics in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The International Olympic Committee is seeking clarification from Russia while there have already been some calls for a boycott of the Games.

Mutko told reporters before the start of the track and field championships that critics should “calm down”, saying the rights of all athletes competing in Sochi will be respected.

On Sunday, at a news conference before the start of the final day of the August 10-18 championships, he blamed continuing debate on “an invented problem” in Western media.

“We don’t have a law to ban non-traditional sexual relations,” he said. “The mass media in the West have focused much more on this law more than they do in Russia.”

Critics of the anti-propaganda law have said it effectively disallows all gay rights rallies and could be used to prosecute anyone voicing support for homosexuals.

Mutko said the law was intended to protect Russian children.

“We want to protect our younger generation whose physicality has not been formulated. It is a law striving to protect rights of children – and not intended to deprive anybody of their private life,” he added.

Few athletes at the world championships have openly talked about the legislation, although Russia’s world pole vault champion Yelena Isibayeva caused international uproar when she spoke out in favour of it and appeared to condemn homosexuality, before later backtracking and saying she had been misunderstood.

American 800 metres silver medallist Nick Symmonds branded her as “behind the times”, while Swedish high jumper Emma Green-Tregaro made a gesture of support for Russia’s gay community during competition by painting her fingernails in the colours of the rainbow flag used by the gay movement.

After being warned the gesture broke the sport’s code of conduct, Green-Tregaro appeared in Saturday’s final with her rainbow nails changed to red.

Mutko, without referring to Green-Tregaro, said he hoped athletes in Sochi “come to compete and don’t have time for other things”.

He reiterated that athletes’ private lives in Sochi would be safe.

“Russian athletes, foreign athletes, guests, those who come to Sochi will be granted all rights and freedom,” he said. “This law does not deprive any citizen of rights, whether athletes or guests.”

(Editing by Alison Williams)

James Hardie lifts first quarter profit

Written on March 11, 2019 at 15:53, by

Building products maker James Hardie expects profit to be steady as housing conditions in the United States and Australia improve.

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Chief executive Louis Gries says sales in the US have increased 10 per cent and those in Australia have risen five per cent over the three months to June 30.

James Hardie on Monday reported first quarter operating profit of $US52 million ($A56.91 million), up 19 per cent from $US43.8 million in the previous corresponding period.

Its net profit of $US142.2 million ($A155.61 million), which includes one-off items relating to its asbestos liabilities and legal matters, was up from $US68.5 million

“Our first quarter results reflect improved sales volumes and average net sales prices when compared to the previous corresponding quarter for both our USA and Europe and Asia Pacific Fibre Cement segments,” Mr Gries said in a statement.

However, the company sounded a note of caution.

“Management cautions that although US housing activity has been improving for some time, market conditions remain somewhat uncertain and some input costs remain volatile,” the company said.

The company expects full year earnings, excluding asbestos and legal items, asset impairments and tax adjustments to be between $US165 million and $US194 million for the year ending March 31, 2014.

This is broadly in line with earnings of $US181 million recorded in the previous year.

James Hardie derives most of its earnings from the US, where it has seen a continuing increase in the number of housing starts as well as improving house values.

Morningstar analyst Nathan Zaia said the company’s sales figures were a little higher than expected, while its margins had also improved.

“After recent margin weakness, partly attributable to costs in adding capacity and improving plant efficiency, it’s comforting to see the benefits start to flow through,” he said.

Recent efficiencies, improvements in cost and price would help the company as the housing market picked up, he said.

James Hardie shares were 19.5 cents, or 2.1 per cent, higher at $9.47.5 at 1343 AEST.