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Australia

"Australia, New Zealand kick off global science ral..."

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Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area. Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east.

For at least 40,000 years before the first British settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians, who spoke languages grouped into roughly 250 language groups. After the European discovery of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades; the continent was explored and an additional five self-governing Crown Colonies were established.

On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Since Federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The federation comprises six states and several territories. The population of 23.1 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated in the eastern states.

Australia is a developed country and one of the wealthiest in the world, with the world's 12th-largest economy. In 2012 Australia had the world's fifth-highest per capita income, Australia's military expenditure is the world's 13th-largest. With the second-highest human development index globally, Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights. Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the Pacific Islands Forum.

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img Simi Rehman posted a review

Thousands of people have joined rallies in Australia and New Zealand in support of science, the first of more than 500 marches globally triggered by concern over the rise of "alternative facts".

The March for Science demonstrations come amid growing anxiety over what many see as a mounting political assault on facts and evidence and fears that research is being excluded from policy-making.

Vocal protesters in Sydney wearing white lab coats called on politicians to support the scientific community, carrying banners reading "without science, it's just fiction" and "we need thinkers not deniers".

11 hours ago
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img Simi Rehman posted a review

The Halal Snack Pack, commonly known as the HSP, is making headlines in unexpected places. 

A HSP is, at one level, simply chips, halal kebab meat, cheese, and a trio of sauces in a styrofoam box. But it's also being applauded as a popular symbol of tolerance in a multicultural society.

While the dish had been up on the menu boards of kebab shops for years (and was the 2am food of choice for many a drunken partier), it garnered a lot of attention in late 2015 and gathered momentum in 2016, especially when Labor senator Sam Dastyari invited Pauline Hanson to enjoy a HSP.  "Not going to happen," she told Dastyari. "Not interested. I don't believe in Halal certification." 

Everyone had a take on the HSP: 

12 hours ago
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Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has reportedly sparked a threat of nuclear retaliation from North Korea after saying the rogue nation will be subject to further Australian sanctions.

North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency on Saturday quoted a foreign ministry spokesman accusing the Australian foreign minister of "spouting a string of rubbish against the DPRK over its entirely just steps for self-defence".

"If Australia persists in following the US moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK and remains a shock brigade of the US master, this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of the DPRK."

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/04/23/north-korea-threatens-nuke-australia-report

16 hours ago
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img John Adams posted a review

As the sun rises over the Owen Stanley Range in Papua New Guinea, the Anzac Day dawn light will fall on a sea of thousands of white tombstones, among them the grave of the Governor General's uncle.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign and the Battle of Milne Bay, which formed part of the New Guinea campaign in the Second World War.

Sir Peter Cosgrove will deliver an Anzac dawn service address on Tuesday at the Bomana War Cemetery near Port Moresby.

It's the largest war cemetery in the Pacific with close to 4000 graves, mostly Australian.

As he pays his respects to the courage and mateship of Australia's war dead and those who survived the bitter fighting, Sir Peter will also make a personal tribute to his uncle Bill, a flight sergeant with the RAAF Beaufighter unit.

Sir Peter never had the chance to met the "boisterous and charismatic" Tigers VFL football player, who had the club's slogan "Tigers, eat 'em alive" painted on the side of his planes.

In August 1943, his plane crashed near Goodenough Island, and he left behind wife Dot and daughter Madeline.

Military service runs deep in Sir Peter's blood.

His father and grandfather were also soldiers, and he served in Malaysia and Vietnam, before going on to lead the multinational peacekeeping force during the East Timor's traumatic transition to independence. Two of his three sons also joined the army.

Sir Peter will also laud the efforts of local Papua New Guinean men, known affectionately as the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, who helped wounded and injured Australian soldiers along the Kokoda Track.

Sir Peter and Lady Cosgrove will attend commemorations at the Isurava memorial.

An estimated 625 Australians were killed on the trail and more than 1600 were wounded. Casualties from sickness exceeded 4000.

The Cosgroves will also visit Milne Bay, where the Japanese suffered their first defeat on land during the Pacific war.

18 hours ago
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img Yuri Michael posted a review

Australia's immigration minister is sticking to his version of events surrounding a young boy entering the Manus Island asylum seeker centre, despite the claims differing from information provided by local police.

Peter Dutton says he has information that isn't public and he still believes the incident sparked a shooting at the Papua New Guinea immigration detention centre on Good Friday.

The minister last week said PNG defence personnel may have opened fire because three asylum seekers were spotted leading a five-year-old boy towards the immigration centre.

On Sunday he said his briefing on the matter had been "particularly succinct and clear".

"I have senior people on the island. We also have a significant contact with the governor and people of Manus," Mr Dutton told ABC TV.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/04/23/dutton-defends-his-version-manus-island-shooting

23 hours ago
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img Yuri Michael posted a review

The Turnbull government is rolling out a $5.5 million immunisation awareness program to encourage parents and carers to get their kids vaccinated.

Labor is disappointed the government isn't allocating more resources to this critical initiative.

Building on the government's successful "No Jab No Pay" policy, which saw around 200,000 extra children vaccinated, the new three-year campaign will target areas where vaccination rates can be as low as 64 per cent.

"These pockets of low coverage pose risks to the community, especially people who cannot be immunised because they are too young or for medical reasons," Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement on Sunday.

While Australia's national coverage is 93 per cent, the campaign will address myths and misconceptions surrounding immunisation while explaining the benefits of childhood vaccinations for both the individual and the community.

The government intends to use a range of advertising platforms combined with direct engagement at over 11,000 child care centres to target parents of children aged under five years.

Labor believes the government has not only dragged its heels on acting on this important initiative, it has failed to put enough money behind it to seriously combat the level of misinformation circulating in the community.

"Dangerous misinformation peddled by anti-vaccination proponents should never take the place of proven, scientific advice," Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his health spokeswoman Catherine King said in a joint statement.

"Health experts have consistently reiterated the importance of getting accurate information to parents and have been calling on the government to act."

1 day ago
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img Dev Achmed posted a review

"If Australia persists in following the US moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK and remains a shock brigade of the US master, this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of the DPRK," Pyongpang said.

Undeterred, Ms Bishop told AAP on Sunday that North Korea's threats of nuclear strikes against other nations further underlines the need for the regime to abandon its illegal nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

"These present a grave threat to its neighbours and, if left unchecked, to the broader region including Australia," she said.

1 day ago
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img Dev Achmed posted a review

During the Second Word War, around 4,000 men, women and children were rounded up and sent to civilian internment camps in Australia, which were already detaining thousands of Italians and German civilians. 

Joe Murakami was just 14 years old and living in Darwin when his life was thrown into chaos. 

“One day the soldiers came and brought us in, we didn’t know what was going on,” he told SBS News by phone from the retirement home in Kawasaki, Japan where he now lives.

“They said we were to be taken to an internment facility and get everything together in the few hours…we had to abandon everything.”

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/04/20/japanese-survivors-recall-australias-wwii-civilian-internment-camps

1 day ago
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img Mark Henry posted a review

A 12-year-old boy trying to drive from coast-to-coast through the Australian outback was stopped by traffic police more than a thousand kilometres into the epic road trip, authorities said Sunday.

The child was picked up by local police in the mining city of Broken Hill, around a 14-hour drive from his starting point in the village of Kendall in the east of Australia. 

He had been planning to travel some 4,000 kilometres to Perth, but was caught out by a broken bumper, which was dragging across the ground, according to a statement from New South Wales state police.

"Checks revealed the driver to be a 12-year-old boy (who) was travelling from Kendall NSW on his way to Perth," it said, adding that the boy had been arrested.

Police are conducting further inquiries and no further details were available, a spokeswoman told AFP.

The journey from Kendall to Perth by car would be a gruelling trip, taking more than 40 hours.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/04/23/police-arrest-12-year-old-boy-trying-drive-solo-across-australia

1 day ago
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img Dan Ficke posted a review

There is a fascinating struggle taking place in Australia over the soul of Islam. The women of Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia, acting out their pantomime of “permissible” discipline in a Muslim marriage, set tongues wagging.
I say pantomime because surely no one believes the event was not set up to mask the true level of male control in Islam. If you doubt it, look at the laws on marriage, or succession, or rape in marriage among our key migrant source Islamic countries: Lebanon, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia. A striking feature of the laws is that they distinguish the application of the law by religion. Religion first; the rule of law second.

The struggle over the soul of Islam in Australia is taking place in the mosques, in the universities and in public life.

In his book Islamic Exceptionalism, Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institute argues that “because the relationship between Islam and politics is distinctive, a replay of the Western model — Protestant Reformation followed by an enlightenment in which religion is gradually pushed into the private realm is unlikely … We aren’t all the same but, more important, why should we be?”

Hamid’s call to “respect” Islamic exceptionalism was taken up by the darlings of the ABC, who gave it plenty of coverage.

Hamid also wrote: “If it were destroyed tomorrow morning, the Islamic State would still stand as one of the most successful and distinctly ‘Islamist’ state-building projects of recent decades.”

This is a liberal scholar from a US think tank. Is this the liberal society’s burden, to suffer those who would do us harm?

But even the enemy can reveal truths. Hamid made the point that hoping for the liberalisation of Islam is false. “Liberalism … needs liberals to survive and prosper.”

In this, Hamid is dead right. Importing illiberal minds is not smart. While Muslim immigrants to Australia may want to escape Islamic laws, to what extent do they carry the habits and mindset of authoritarian Islam?

Why should Australia take on the burden of liberalising Muslims? In a multicultural policy setting and amid identity bellicosity what happens when they tell us to get stuffed?

A 2014 study of Muslim communities that have settled around Brisbane’s Holland Park mosque, reported “a marked shift” in the community following the large-scale migration of Muslims from the 1990s. They observed a more conscientious practice of Islam, and a tendency to “Arabise everything”. Some of the (Muslim) participants resented the overt Islamist identity and hostility towards Australia.

A 2014 study in Melbourne reported that 18 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds conducted their daily life “strictly in accordance with sharia law”.

Others grafted environmentalism to Islam. “It makes me a better neighbour and environmentally aware as there’s an Islamic element to it.” One suspects that Muslim students are now primed to talk of love, social justice and environment to help align Islam and left-greens politics.

As Kenan Malik, in his book From Fatwa to Jihad, observed in Britain: “It is not mosques but universities that provide the real recruiting ground for Islamists.”

Seven imams instructed their flocks in the West Australian election to vote Greens. Today, in Indonesia, imams are instructing their flock to vote against the Christian candidate for mayor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja “Ahok” Purnama, who is on trial for blasphemy.

Some people are leaving Islam in Australia because they find it too oppressive, but others are joining.

Silma Ihram is a Muslim convert and featured last week on an interview with a perplexed David Speers of Sky News over the Hizb ut-Tahrir ladies’ panto. Silma was born Anne Frances Beaumont on Sydney’s northern beaches. Her journey has been a long one: Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist, born-again Christian, including missionary work, and finally, after a trip to Indonesia, to Islam. At the other end are those jumping ship, which in Islam can have nasty consequences. Ibn Warraq’s book Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out is revealing. Australia has its version at the website, Australian Ex-Muslims.

In Australia, the Atheist Helper website responded to my requests as follows: “With respect to Islam, the problem we almost invariably find is that they have left the religion, no longer believe in it, but are unable to tell their family and friends for fear of ostracism and retribution.”

The struggle within the Muslim community, between liberals and authoritarians, between leavers and joiners, influenced by source-country politics, and local politicians trawling for advantage, is a plague. What Australians must decide is, why is this our struggle?

3 days ago
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Australia, New Zealand kick off global science rallies
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