Dutton describing refugees as Armani-clad ‘absurd beyond belief’

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has taken aim at the first group of refugees to leave Australia’s offshore detention centres for resettlement in the United States.

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Sydney radio host Ray Hadley put to the minister during a regular interview on Thursday that a photograph of the group published by News Corp this week looked like a fashion show on a catwalk in Paris or New York.

“Somebody once said to me the world’s biggest collection of Armani jeans and handbags was up on Nauru waiting for people to collect it when they depart,” Mr Dutton told 2GB radio.

More than 50 refugees this week left offshore detention on Manus Island and Nauru for a new life in the US.

‘Enjoying themselves’

Mr Dutton, asked about an image of those preparing to depart Port Moresby, said a lot of people who ended up in the island camps had not come from war-ravaged areas but were instead economic refugees.

They’d received “an enormous amount of support” from Australian taxpayers for a long time.

“We have been taken for a ride, I believe, by a lot of the advocates and people within Labor and the Greens who want you to believe this is a terrible existence,” Mr Dutton said.

“These photos demonstrate otherwise. People have seen other photos in recent weeks of those up on Manus out enjoying themselves outside this centre, by the beach and all the rest of it.”

Mr Dutton said he had long predicted once people were off Manus Island and Nauru “they’ll start to tell a very different story about how it wasn’t that bad”.

“There is a very different scenario up on Nauru and Manus than people want you to believe,” he said.

‘Lack of understanding’

Amnesty International labelled the comments extremely irresponsible.

“They also show a complete lack of understanding of the refugee convention,” refugee co-ordinator Graham Thom said in a statement.

He suggested Mr Dutton is putting at risk the opportunity for vulnerable and traumatised refugees to be safely resettled in the US.

“It is absolutely despicable that Peter Dutton would risk that by downplaying the acute vulnerability of these refugees at a time when the US is looking to cut its humanitarian program to its lowest level in over a decade,” he said.

The refugees arrived in Australian waters years ago and were transferred to offshore detention under a strict government policy to block anyone who arrived by boat from entering the country.

They were recently cleared by US authorities for resettlement under a deal struck between the former Obama administration and the Turnbull government.

Up to 1,250 refugees are expected to be resettled in the US.

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Kurds living in Australia celebrate independence vote amid fears for loved ones abroad

Days after 93 per cent of voters showed their support for independence, the Kurdish community in Australia have celebrated the country’s break from Iraq.

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Kurds gathered in Sydney on Wednesday night at an event organised by the community with live entertainment, including traditional music and dancing.

Kurdish Lobby Australia is a not-for-profit association that helps individuals and groups in and outside Australia.

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Co-chairman Zirian Fatah told SBS World News the celebrations had been a long time coming.

“It’s a 100-year-old argument that’s been continually fought, we no longer wish to go through the route of war,” Mr Fatah said.

“We believe if the Iraqi Prime Minister has the good intention, we can be good neighbours and it can be resolved through dialogue peacefully.”

The Iraqi government on Thursday escalated its confrontation with its northern Kurdish region, vowing to shut down Kurdistan’s airspace, borders and oil exports.

“Because they’ve already threatened war, the closing of our airports, closing of our borders, we don’t think that it’s a constructive way forward. The way to have dialogue is to sit down on the table and not make threats,” Mr Fatah said.

Kurds in Erbil celebrate after the announcement of the results of the independence referendum.AAP

The Australian representative of Kurdistan National Congress, Ismet Tastan, says he is concerned for the welfare of family and friends abroad.

“It was a bit shocking for us,” Mr Tastan said.

“We’re told it was going to be a peaceful process.

“I spoke to my mum yesterday, and she says all my family, her side of the family and our neighbours are really concerned, and they expect the international community to support Kurdish people.”

Mr Tastan said it could be too soon for celebrations here in Australia.

“We don’t know how it’s going to end,” he said.

“We are living in Australia and we don’t want to cause trouble living here.”

Despite pressure from the Iraqi government, Mr Fatah says nothing will halt their celebrations and their support for Kurdish independence.

Kurdish Lobby Australia and members of the Democratic Kurdish Community Centre are calling for Australian backing.

“We sincerely hope that the Australian government and the international community can support Kurdistan in their efforts of achieving independence,” Mr Fatah said.

SBS World News has contacted the Iraqi community for comment. 

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Ryanair has a day to sort out compensation

Ryanair has been ordered by the UK’s aviation regulator to sort out compensation for hundreds of thousands of travellers hit by mass flight cancellations by 5pm on Friday.

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The Civil Aviation Authority instructed the budget airline to tell passengers they are entitled to be re-routed by another carrier and explain how that will work.

Ryanair must also publicly state it will reimburse expenses for affected customers, according to a letter from the CAA.

In addition, the Dublin-based carrier must commit to helping passengers who chose an unsuitable option as a result of being misled.

It comes after the regulator accused the airline of “not complying with the law” over its handling of the fiasco.

CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said he was “furious” after Ryanair cancelled an extra 18,000 flights for the winter season on Wednesday – a move that will hit 400,000 customers.

“They are not making it clear to people their entitlement,” Haines told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

“If they follow through on what they are saying, then they would be breaking the law.”

A Ryanair spokesman said the company will meeting with the CAA and comply fully with its requirements.

The latest round of cancellations adds to mounting anger against Ryanair, which was already coming under heavy fire after cancelling up to 50 flights a day earlier this month.

Ryanair says the cancellations were brought about because of an error with pilot holiday rosters.

Passengers have expressed their frustration with the airline, with many left out of pocket due to a lack of alternative flights and accommodation bookings they can no longer use.

Haines said airline passengers are “well-protected by the law”.

“They are entitled to compensation and if there is a cancellation, they are entitled to be re-routed by other airlines.

“The chief executive of Ryanair (Michael O’Leary) has gone on record and said he is not going to do that. He then issued a clarification.

“But yesterday when they announced 18,000 further cancellations, they failed to follow through on that.

“We are furious they are not complying with the law and they are not giving customers what they are entitled to.”

The regulator could take legal action against the airline for breaching consumer protection laws.

It says Ryanair has falsely claimed it did not have to re-route passengers on other airlines, particularly when there are no other services available.

The CAA also accused the airline of stopping short of providing details on its obligations to refund additional expenses incurred by passengers as a result of cancellations including for meals, hotels and transfer costs.

North Korean firms in China ordered to close

The ministry said the companies, including joint ventures with Chinese firms, have 120 days to close from the date the United Nations resolution was adopted, September 11.

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The announcement comes days after China confirmed that it will apply another major part of the sanctions: a limit on exports of refined petroleum products to North Korea starting October 1 and a ban on textiles from its neighbour.

China’s application of UN sanctions is particularly biting for North Korea. Beijing is Pyongyang’s main ally and trading partner, responsible for around 90 percent of the hermit nation’s commerce.

The United States has pressed China to use its economic leverage to strongarm North Korea into giving up its nuclear ambitions.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit Beijing this weekend for talks with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Tillerson will discuss the North Korean nuclear tensions, trade issues and President Donald Trump’s planned trip to China in November, the US State Department said.

Trump’s tour will also take in regional allies Japan and South Korea.

‘Abyss of misery’ 

Washington has alternated between criticising and praising Beijing’s role in the North Korea crisis, on the one hand welcoming its support for new sanctions but also insisting it must do more to rein in its unruly neighbour.

For its part, China has called on both Trump and North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un to tone down their increasingly bellicose rhetoric and instead try to begin peace talks.

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“We are opposed to any war on the Korean peninsula, and the international community will never allow a war (which would) plunge people into an abyss of misery,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular press briefing.

“Sanctions and the promoting of talks are both the requirements of the UN Security Council. We should not overemphasise one aspect while ignoring the other,” Lu said.

While China has imposed sanctions on its renegade neighbour, it wants to avoid precipitating the regime’s downfall over fears that its collapse could send an influx of refugees across its border and place the US army at its doorstep.

But Beijing appears to be running out of patience with North Korea’s nuclear antics — the last test earlier this month triggered an earthquake that was felt in northeast China.

Branches of China’s biggest banks have told AFP that they have suspended financial transactions for North Koreans, a measure that is not required under UN sanctions.

Australian jihadist Prakash, on trial in Turkey, ‘regrets joining IS’

Neil Prakash, who was detained one year ago inside Turkey close to the Syrian border, is jailed in the Gaziantep region of southern Turkey.

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However, his trial, which got under way earlier this year, is being held in the neighbouring Kilis region with Prakash being cross-examined via video link.

In his testimony, Prakash said he said received training from IS in their de-facto capital of Raqqa in Syria before moving north to the town of Kobane to fight Kurdish militia.

He was wounded in the fighting and then requested to be moved to another area where he did not have to fight.

“But I went to Raqqa and was told I had to fight,” he said, quoted by the Turkish-language Dogan news agency. “I was also made to speak in propaganda videos.

“I decided to escape after seeing the true face” of IS, he added. “I very much regret joining the organisation,” he said.

Prakash denied being the Australian “representative” of IS in Syria and asked to be released and deported to a Muslim country and not Australia. However the court decided to keep him in custody, Dogan news agency said.

The trial was adjourned to an unspecified later date.

Australia last year had asked Turkey to extradite Prakash, who Canberra previously had reported as having been killed in a US airstrike in northern Iraq.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called Prakash the senior Australian operative in IS. He was reportedly on a list of high-value IS recruiters targeted by the US in drone attacks in Iraq.

Prakash told the court he had spent his early life in Cambodia in a Buddhist family but had decided to become a Muslim after watching IS videos.

Turkey had been under fire from its allies for not taking a hard enough line against jihadists on its territory but stepped up arrests from 2015 after a string of terror attacks.

Pumas dream of finally overcoming mighty All Blacks

New Zealand can retain the title with a win ahead of their final test in South Africa next week.

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They have 19 points to 11 for the Springboks, 8 for Australia and none for Argentina.

The Pumas today are a side admired by New Zealand as they have acquired an impressive attacking game but the risks they take in going forward are exploited by their southern hemisphere rivals as they tire in the latter stages of a test.

“I think fatigue is what leads to our performance diminishing a bit and our game becoming a bit disorganised,” lock Marcos Kremer told Reuters.

“We need to stick to our game system to the last minute, which is what I think we don’t do, because 10 to 15 minutes from the end we start to lose it and the result escapes us.”

Argentina led New Zealand 16-15 at halftime and by seven points after 50 minutes in their previous meeting in New Plymouth on Sept. 9 before conceding three converted second half tries in the final half hour and going down 39-22.

Prop Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro said an important part of Argentina’s training this week has been on always having a man marking an All Blacks opposite.

“We’ve been focusing on defence, on having one against one because we believe that will be key,” he said.

Faced with defending an unbeaten record in 25 tests against the Pumas, New Zealand are not taking the match lightly knowing that Argentina have beaten South Africa twice and Australia once in their five previous seasons in the tournament.

“It’s all part of being involved in the All Blacks, there’s a legacy we’ve got to look up to and we’re playing a team that’s a very proud rugby nation in their own right,” assistant coach Ian Foster told reporters.

“They’ve had some great victories over nearly every other team and I guess they are passionate about trying to beat us.

“We don’t go out there with the fear of having to defend that (unbeaten record), it’s more the excitement of us playing as good as we can and that’s our goal on Saturday.”

(Additional reporting by Miguel Lobianco; Reporting by Rex Gowar, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

IS chief urges jihadists to ‘resist’ in apparent recording after reports of his death

The audio, partly dedicated to religious scriptures, came after several reports Baghdadi had been killed.

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His last recording was in November 2016, two weeks after the start of the battle to recapture the city of Mosul from IS.

The date of the 46-minute recording released via the Al-Furqan news organisation was not clear.

But in it, Baghdadi makes an apparent reference to recent events including North Korean threats against Japan and United States and the recapture two months ago of Mosul by United States-backed Iraqi forces. 

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Since Baghdadi proclaimed the caliphate stretching across Iraq and Syria in 2014, Iraqi forces have retaken a string of cities in western and northern Iraq including Mosul, where he made his announcement from the city’s El Nuri mosque. 

Western-backed Syrian forces are also thrusting into the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, Islamic State’s operational headquarters from where it plotted many of the attacks that have killed hundreds of people around the world. 

“Beware of retreat, or the feeling of defeat, beware of negotiations or surrender. Do not lay down your arms,” Baghdadi said, referring to followers in Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, North Africa and elsewhere in Africa. 

“Oh Soldiers of the Caliphate, fan the flames of war on your enemies, take it to them and besiege them in every corner, and stand fast and courageous.” 

Baghdadi also referenced Western media, saying: “Oh soldiers of Islam in every location, increase blow after blow, and make the media centres of the infidels, and where they wage their intellectual wars, among your targets.”

Fall of Mosul

The fall of Mosul in July effectively marked the end of the Iraqi half of Baghdadi’s “caliphate” even though Islamic State continues to fight in some territory outside of Mosul, the largest city they came to control in both Iraq and Syria. 

An IS branch in Libya was also defeated last year in the city of Sirte, where they had set up a North African beachhead in 2014. In Egypt’s northern Sinai, another affiliated militant group is still fighting Egyptian military forces. 

“With God’s will and his strength, we are staying determined, patient…The abundance of killing will not stop us,” Baghdadi said in the audio recording.

Officials have said they believed it could take years to capture or kill Baghdadi as he is thought to be hiding in a vast swathe of sparsely-populated desert between Mosul and Raqqa, where attacking drones are easy to spot. 

The US has offered a $25 million bounty for information that would locate Baghdadi.

Russia’s defence ministry said earlier this year it might have killed Baghdadi in an air strike on a gathering of IS commanders on the outskirts of Raqqa.

But US officials said they could not corroborate the death and other Western as well as Iraqi officials were sceptical. 

South Africa’s Markram upbeat after run out denies him debut ton

“I’m more than happy to take it,” he said at stumps of his innings of 97, with South Africa on 298 for one at Senwes Park.

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“Had you asked me if I would take 97 last night I would have taken it with open arms, I’m more than happy with the 97.”

The 22-year-old Markram appeared to be heading for a dream start to his test career before he was caught out of his crease, backing up too quickly as he attempted to help opening partner Dean Elgar to reach a century. Elgar was on 99 and looking for a quick single to get to three figures but, after a moment’s hesitation, he decided against a run, leaving Markram halfway up the crease and scrambling unsuccessfully to get back to safety.

The pair put on a 196-run opening partnership as they took advantage of a batsman-friendly track.

“I’ve never really looked at the game from a selfish perspective,” Markram told reporters.

“I think I wanted it so badly for him (Elgar) that I got caught in no-man’s land. It’s part of the game, you have to take it on the chin and move on. He was extremely upset. Dean and I have come a long way, we’ve developed a good friendship as well.

“It was tough for him, a bitter pill to swallow. I told him at tea that he needs to kick on for the team’s sake. That is all that matters. He has put himself in a great position to do so.”

On Friday Elgar will resume on the second day at 128 not out, along with Hashim Amla who has 68.

“You have to take your hat off to the innings that Dean played. I’m incredibly happy for him for scoring another hundred,” Markram added.

“Knowing the kind of person he is, he really would like to kick on tomorrow. He has a very hard personality, he is a proper fighter as we have all seen.”

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Auckland to stage 2021 America’s Cup

Team New Zealand have vowed to restore America’s Cup traditions that have been lost when they stage the next event in Auckland in 2021.

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Protocols for the 36th regatta were unveiled by the holders in Auckland on Friday, with a date of early 2021 cemented into place along with a return to monohull racing.

Auckland will be host city as long as infrastructure can be guaranteed and built before early 2019, when the first pre-regatta is planned.

Team NZ chief executive Grant Dalton was delighted to have agreed protocol details formulated so quickly following negotiations with the challenger of record, Italian syndicate Luna Rossa.

He said both parties were adamant former holders Team USA had steered the 166-year-old event too far from its traditional roots and priced the event beyond the reach of several challengers.

It is three months since the Kiwi syndicate lifted the Auld Mug off Team USA in Bermuda. But Dalton’s determination to honour the original Deed of Gift hasn’t waned as he launched into criticism of what he says was a self-centred American reign from 2010-17.

“This a collective attempt to create a competitive environment but not a biased one,” Dalton said.

“An America’s Cup where challengers feel they will be treated totally fairly and the rules will be transparent to the public.”

The two previous regattas in San Francisco employed high-speed catamarans.

Dalton said the 75-foot monohull boats would still have room for innovation and could even have foiling capability.

Drawings and concept images of the boat will be released on November 30 and the design rules unveiled on March 31 next year.

That will give syndicates about a year to design and build the two boats allowed.

The sailor nationality rule will require 20 per cent of sailors to be citizens of each team’s country.

The rest of the crew must meet a residency requirement. They must reside in the their team’s country for at least a 380-day period from September 1, 2018 to September 1, 2020.

“It’s not an attempt to stop yachtsmen earning a living,” Dalton said.

“But it’s an attempt to make a country firstly look at its own before it looks offshore.”

America’s Cup could move to Italy if Auckland not ready

They took international sport’s oldest trophy off Oracle Team USA with a stunning 7-1 victory in Bermuda’s Great Sound in June in a regatta raced in high-powered foiling catamarans.

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TNZ boss Grant Dalton released the protocol, or rules, for the 36th America’s Cup at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron on Friday. They had been written in consultation with the official Challengers, Italian syndicate Luna Rosa.

Dalton said the date was yet to be confirmed and they had not signed a host city agreement as Auckland still had no infrastructure for the America’s Cup base and they needed to start construction by the middle of 2018 for a 2021 regatta.

“The intention is to hold the Cup in 2021,” Dalton told reporters at a media conference. “At this stage no infrastructure exists to hold it by that date.

“We (New Zealand) have just come out of an election but there has been some planning going on. Infrastructure needs to be started by mid-2018.”

Dalton added that if Auckland was unable to complete preparations in time, the regatta would be moved to Italy, but it was not a warning shot to the government.

“We need to give certainties to teams,” he said.

NATIONALITY CLAUSE

Dalton, who had already signalled his desire for a nationality clause, said each crew of 10-12 sailors must be contain at least 20 percent from the challenging country.

The rest of the team must have established residency criteria, which Dalton said was determined by being resident in the country for 380 days between Sept. 1 2018 and Sept. 1 2020.

“The most significant America’s Cup in my time was when Australia 2 beat Liberty in Newport, Rhode Island in 1983,” Dalton added. “It was country versus country.

“Countries need to be encouraged to grow their own talent. It’s not an attempt to stop yachtsmen make a living but for a country to look at its own first before they go overseas.”

The specifications for the new boats would be released on Nov. 30.

Dalton added that each syndicate could build two boats and there would be pre-regattas in 2019 and 2020. Contrary to what he told Italian media two weeks ago, he said there was still the possibility for ‘cyclors’ to be used.

TNZ used ‘cyclors’, grinders who sat on upright bike stations and used their legs rather than arms to generate the hydraulic power needed to sail the foiling catamarans, in their successful challenge.

Last week he was quoted as telling La Stampa that “grinders will return”, indicating the cyclors would not feature, but said on Friday the rules did not preclude them.

Races for the next regatta were likely to be “longer than Bermuda”, which were typically about 20 minutes, but Dalton said they would be less than an hour.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Ken Ferris)