ADF bombing raids in Iraq may have killed children

Chief of Joint Operations David Johnston confirmed Australia’s involvement in that civilian casualty on June 7 as well as a separate incident on March 30, also in west Mosul.

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Amnesty International Australia criticised the timing of the announcement – which has coincided with Saturday’s AFL grand final.

In July, the rights group released a damning report on civilian casualties in west Mosul, urging the US-led coalition to take more care to protect the lives of innocent people.

“It’s extremely disappointing it has taken the Australian government until now to release information about Australia’s involvement in civilian casualties, including the possible killing of a child” spokeswoman Diana Sayed told AAP.

In the June incident, Iraqi Security Forces were in a gun battle with Islamic State militants about 20 metres away and found themselves “pinned down”, Vice Admiral Johnston said.

A pair of Australian Super Hornets were nearby and were called in to provide air back up, following normal targeting procedures.

“It was a residential building, but it was assessed a legitimate target,” he said.

A single weapon – a GPS guided bomb – was dropped on the front of the building and it’s believed two IS fighters were killed.

Vice Admiral Johnston said no civilians had been observed in the area before the strike however afterward it became apparent some had been inside, as they “calmly” exited the rear of the building that was hit.

“A civilian was either seriously injured or killed as a result of that strike,” Vice Admiral Johnston said.

“It was a child carried out.”

The Australian fighter pilots reported the incident to the US-led coalition’s headquarters and up the Australian chain of command for investigation.

Vice Admiral Johnston insisted Australian rules of engagement had been followed and the strike complied with the laws of armed conflict.

The strike had successfully protected Iraqi soldiers on the ground, he said.

Meanwhile, in the March incident, a group suspected of being IS fighters had been positioned about 300 metres away from Iraqi Security Forces.

The US-led coalition authorised an air strike and seven civilians were killed or injured, including a child.

Australian aircraft were not involved in that strike but Australian defence personnel had been involved in the target decision-making process.

“It appeared the group was wrongly identified (as IS),” he said, adding that at the time the information the group was armed had come from a credible and reliable source.

The US-led coalition estimates, there have been 735 civilian fatalities since 2014 and 350 incidents are still under investigation.

Airwars, a non-government group monitoring air strikes and civilian deaths in the Middle East estimates close to 5500 civillians have died in coalition air strikes in Iraq and Syria.

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Norm Smith sweeter than Brownlow: Martin

The AFL’s most-private footballer became its public face on Saturday, when Dustin Martin capped arguably the greatest individual season with a history-making Norm Smith medal.

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Martin was best afield in Richmond’s 48-point victory over Adelaide at the MCG, where all but one of the five judges awarded him the maximum three votes.

No footballer had won the Brownlow and Norm Smith medals in the same year. Martin also earned the Leigh Matthews trophy, having topped the charts at the peer-voted AFLPA awards night.

Matthews, one of the sport’s most-respected voices and perhaps the greatest player in VFL/AFL history, recently suggested no individual had produced a better season than Martin’s 2017.

Nobody of note has put forward a counter-argument.

“By a million,” Martin said, when asked if winning the Norm Smith was better than the Brownlow.

“It was a bit surreal and just a bit of a blur, but now it feels real and it feels bloody awesome.

“I don’t think you can (top this).

“I’ve got so many important people in my life who have helped me get here. It’s too long to reel them all off.”

Martin, who was raised in Castlemaine but moved to Sydney and drove forklifts at his father’s business after dropping out of school in Year 9, was a man of few words on stage.

“Yellow and black,” the neck-tattooed superstar screamed at the end of a short acceptance speech.

Martin celebrated with Dane Swan in the rooms and hugged Jake King during a lap of honour – both colourful characters among his many mentors.

The 26-year-old talked with father Shane, who remains banned from entering Australia because of his links with a bikie group, shortly after the siren.

“Spoke to him on radio,” Martin said.

“I haven’t been near my phone. He sounded like he’d had 40 beers, so I’ve got to catch up.”

Martin has been a man of few words throughout his 178-game career, shunning the spotlight at every chance, but there were signs of him coming out of his shell while sitting alongside coach Damien Hardwick at Saturday’s media conference.

“On the left quad, big one, big tiger … Dimma said he’s going to get one too,” Martin joked, when asked about a premiership tattoo.

And his plans for the night?

“Plenty of these,” Martin quipped, holding up a beer.

Hardwick and captain Trent Cotchin were full of praise for the match-winner.

“He was incredible. He’s just so hard to stop,” Hardwick said.

“This season ranks as the most special I’ve seen from a player – no doubt.”

Cotchin described Martin as a special person.

“He deserves all the accolades. He’s worked bloody hard for it,” Cotchin said.

Martin polled 13 Norm Smith votes, with Bachar Houli ranking second on 10.

Martin’s performance will also result in him receiving the Gary Ayres medal for best performer in the finals series, in addition to the swag of media awards he’s already collected.

NORM SMITH MEDAL VOTES:

13 — Dustin Martin

10 — Bachar Houli

2 — Alex Rance

2 — Shane Edwards

2 — Dion Prestia

1 — Jack Graham

Teenager carrying knife arrested in Melbourne CBD

A 15-year-old boy wearing a black armoured uniform and allegedly armed with a knife has been Tasered and arrested by police after driving erratically near Melbourne’s Federation Square on AFL grand final day.

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Video footage taken by passers-by and posted online shows the green four-wheel drive reversing at speed down Swanston Street in the CBD before spinning 180 degrees.

A member of the public threw a hire bike under the small 4WD to try to stop it, while police rushed to the area.

Officers say they are treating it as a mental health situation and don’t believe there was any terrorist links. Police confirmed the youth as a 15-year-old from Knoxfield.

He remains in police custody.

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Witness Nik Stacy Jerkovic, 25, said the teenager was dressed in full riot gear, wearing a motorbike helmet, elbow pads and knee pads and carrying a black rucksack.

“He had an extremely long baton and he was swinging it,” he said.

“He was ready to attack. Anything could’ve happened.”

The teenager got out of the vehicle and was pacing in circles at the corner of Swanston and Flinders streets when police surrounded him shortly before 8am.

He appeared to lunge at one officer, who fell back, before he was Tasered and subdued.

No injuries were reported and the youth was arrested and taken into police custody. He is in hospital being assessed.

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Acting Superintendent Wayne Newman said investigators had no information the teenager was trying to harm anyone.

“It’s to be confirmed, but we believe he has a mental health issue,” he said.

“I don’t think he posed a great threat.”

Acting Supt Newman said the man’s outfit was “concerning” but freely available in any army disposal store.

Mr Jerkovic was waiting near Flinders Street station when he heard the screech of tyres and saw a four-wheel drive heading towards the tram he was about to board.

“It reversed back and some guy then threw a bike underneath it so it couldn’t really go anywhere,” he said.

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He said a young man jumped out of the car and began walking towards him.

Mr Jerkovic said he would have confronted him but was concerned by the full backpack he wore.

“It was definitely a scary situation,” he said.

The Bomb Response Unit searched the 4WD as a precaution and the area was cordoned off with police urging people to avoid the area.

It comes as thousands packed Melbourne for the AFL grand final between Richmond and Adelaide.

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AFL Grand Final Snapshot

SNAPSHOT OF RICHMOND’S 48-POINT AFL GRAND FINAL WIN OVER ADELAIDE:

* RESULT: Richmond 16.

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12 (108) bt Adelaide 8.12 (60) on Saturday afternoon at the MCG in front of 100,021 at the MCG

* THE STORY: Adelaide began cleaner but Richmond simply fought, and fought, and fought. Damien Hardwick’s side smashed their opponents around the ball, were dominant in defence and relentless inside 50. A run of seven-straight goals after quarter-time put the game on the Tigers’ terms

* THE GOAL: With clean hands, Shane Edwards dished off to Tigers skipper Trent Cotchin in the second quarter, who found the youngest man on the ground, Jack Graham. The 19-year-old put Richmond in front where they’d stay all afternoon, finishing with three goals in just his fifth senior game

* THE MOMENT: The Tigers entered the fourth term 34 points up, but plenty of nerves remained. Jack Riewoldt’s soaring mark and goal to begin the quarter put Richmond 40 points up and began the Tiger party

* THE STARS: Dustin Martin won the Norm Smith Medal for a lion-hearted performance around the ball, claiming 21 contested possessions and kicking two goals. But Alex Rance was imperious in defence. The All Australian captain produced an all-action effort at the heart of the Tiger backline, giving no inch and subduing the much-vaunted Adelaide attacking threat.

* THE QUOTE: “Who would have thought we finished 13th last year, beaten by (113) points in the last round and now we’re f**king premiers,” Riewoldt sums up Richmond’s rise from frogs to princes

* THE STATS: Richmond’s first premiership in 37 years came after a 13th-placed finish last season – the biggest jump-up in AFL history. Adelaide went goalless in a quarter against the Tigers for the first time in the second term

* THE INJURIES: How costly were a string of Adelaide complaints? Charlie Cameron was clearly hampered early by a calf issue. Jake Kelly (hamstring), Josh Jenkins (ribs), Hugh Greenwood (calf) and Luke Brown (knee) were hurt in the second term

* WHAT’S NEXT: A party on Punt Road that could last all summer and, for Adelaide, a flight to South Australia that’s never felt longer. Trade period starts on Monday October 9, the draft is on November 24 and Richmond will play Carlton on Thursday March 22 to begin the 2018 AFL season

Bulldogs gave Tigers AFL flag inspiration

Until Saturday, no club had ever leapt from 13th place one year to winning the AFL premiership the next.

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That’s until Richmond broke the mould at the MCG, and they say the Western Bulldogs showed them the way.

The Tigers were shock 48-point victors over Adelaide in the grand final, re-writing the record books in the process.

It was Richmond’s first premiership in 37 years, completing one of the great rags to riches tales in recent memory.

The modern-day strugglers hadn’t even won a final in 16 years until earlier in September.

Thanks to the efforts of stars like Alex Rance, the Tigers were able to break through.

Rance was simply impassible in defence, denying the Crows time and again with his spoils, smothers and man-marking.

He said it was talent, effort and teamwork that won them the flag — but it was the Bulldogs that allowed them to dream.

“The Dogs were the flagship team to give the underdog a hope,” Rance said.

“We never really thought … we’d get this far, we just put one step in front, one step in front and now we’re here.”

Captain Trent Cotchin also said he was inspired by the Bulldogs’ 2016 success — their first for 62 years.

“They didn’t finish 13th the year before but they got to work last season and they gave everyone a great example of what was possible,” he said.

“The Doggies did that for everyone last year.”

Rance said Richmond had “talent coming out the wazoo here with Dusty, Dan Rioli, (Jack) Riewoldt, Cotch”.

“You also need connection. Synergy. You’ve all got to work together, its a team game,” he said.

“It’s about knowing your role and not trying to be something you aren’t.

“We’re a champion team now. We’ve proven that with these medals.

“It’s been an amazing group.”

One other factor helped; the club’s incredible fanbase.

Tigers supporters jumped out from every corner of Melbourne to pack the MCG in three blockbuster finals.

More than 289,000 people witnessed the three matches, the vast majority clad in yellow and black.

“We had the support in the two finals before hand and we outnumbered them 20 to 1,” Rance added.

“There’s no doubt it helped us get over the line in those games. It’s amazing.”

Euphoric scenes as Tigers end 37-year wait

Battered by powerful waves of yellow-and-black pressure and passion, the lid came off and the AFL premiership cup came back to Punt Rd after a 37-year wait.

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The grand final is synonymous with scenes: be it among the capacity crowd, on the streets of Melbourne or in the middle of a heaving MCG.

Saturday was no different.

If you want proof of how much football clubs mean to their constituents, watch footage of club icon Matthew Richardson and long-suffering members cry tears of joy during Saturday’s fourth quarter.

Watch Trent Cotchin, the captain who became the face of Richmond’s recent meek elimination-final surrenders when he opted to kick into the wind against Port Adelaide in 2014, celebrate the 48-point win over Adelaide.

Listen to Damien Hardwick, the coach whose supposed incompetence had plenty of pundits calling for a sacking after last year’s 13th-placed finish, speak from the heart about his team’s transformation from hopeless to heroes.

Listen to Dustin Martin, who became the first footballer to win the Brownlow and North Smith medals in one season, scream the words “YELLOW AND BLACK” in a predictably short acceptance speech.

Richardson, enlisted by the league to hand Richmond’s 11th premiership cup over to Hardwick, was among so many of the 100,021-strong crowd to have invested so much in the Tigers.

Their reward was a barnstorming triumph over the minor premiers, who took an early 13-point lead then were harassed into submission.

The Tiger Army were out in force but the league’s grand-final ticketing policy stopped plenty from storming the MCG.

It meant the roar wasn’t as loud as last week’s preliminary final, with fans instead setting up camp a torpedo punt away at the club’s spiritual home of Punt Rd Oval.

If you grant AFL the status of religion, as some supporters do, then you might look for miracles and omens on the most holy day of its calendar.

Especially when you’re a cynical Richmond fan, having built a well-founded fear of abject failure and false dawns since the 1982 grand final.

That stretch had featured so little resilience but so much rudderless football and regular heartbreak; so many rage-worthy random blunders, regrettable draft choices, repetitive jokes about finishing ninth on the ladder.

No more – finally they are the Tigers of old, strong and bold.

Nick Vlastuin could have become part of grand-final folklore for all the wrong reasons when he watched the Sherrin inexplicably slip through his hands and quickly onto the boot of Eddie Betts.

It meant the Crows had the opening two goals of the contest, and all the momentum, but Vlastuin didn’t drop his head.

Jack Riewoldt, the subject of trade speculation this time last year, missed Richmond’s first three chances to kick goals but didn’t drop his bundle. He laid a team-high seven tackles.

Richmond rallied. The Crows capitulated.

And suddenly, everything the hosts touched started turning to gold. Even Connor Menadue, running the halftime 100m sprint, saluted in 11.39 seconds and had time to turn and do his best Usain Bolt impersonation.

Rex Tillerson meets Chinese leaders to pile pressure on North Korea

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with China’s top diplomats in Beijing on Saturday to discuss efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and prepare President Donald Trump’s November visit.

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Tillerson, whose arrival was delayed due to technical problems with his plane in Tokyo, held talks with State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Great Hall of the People at Tiananmen Square.

The visit comes as relations between the two superpowers appear to be improving after months of tensions over how to handle North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear provocations.

“Our two presidents have developed a very regular and close working relationship,” Tillerson told Yang.

“I know President Trump is very much looking forward to the upcoming summit as is everyone on his team,” said Tillerson, who was due to meet Xi later in the day.

Yang, who is China’s most senior diplomat, said Trump’s trip was of “great importance” for Sino-US relations.

“Let us concentrate on cooperation and properly manage our differences in the spirit of mutual respect and mutual benefit so that we can keep moving the China-US relationship forward in the right direction,” Yang said.

In a separate meeting, Wang told Tillerson: “At present, China-US relations overall have a positive momentum and have arrived at an important opportunity to progress further.”

None of them mentioned North Korea in their public remarks before reporters were ushered out, but the topic was expected to be on the agenda.

Tillerson had been due to arrive on Friday evening but his aircraft’s problems forced him to travel to China on a military transport plane on Saturday.

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‘Two trains of thought’

Trump has repeatedly urged Xi to exert more economic pressure on Pyongyang to convince the renegade regime to give up its nuclear ambitions.

China, North Korea’s main trade partner, has responded by backing a slew of new United Nations sanctions.

For its part, Beijing has insisted that the sanctions must be coupled with efforts to organise peace talks, but Trump and Kim have traded increasingly personal insults that have raised fears that the crisis could spark a conflict.

“There appear to be two trains of thought in the international community regarding denuclearization of the peninsula: Crush North Korea or talk to North Korea so as to increase its sense of security. China and Russia hold the latter view,” China’s state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial.

0:00 UN says North Korea has made ‘rapid progress’ Share UN says North Korea has made ‘rapid progress’

China applies sanctions

The acting US assistant secretary of state for East Asia, Susan Thornton, told sceptical US lawmakers ahead of Tillerson’s trip that China appears to be on board with the plan to squeeze Pyongyang.

“We are working closely with China to execute this strategy and are clear-eyed in viewing the progress – growing, if uneven – that China has made on this front,” she said.

“We have recently seen Chinese authorities take additional actions,” she said, referring to new controls on the cross-border trade and finance that is North Korea’s economic lifeline.

On Thursday, China said it was ordering North Korean firms on its territory to close by January.

The announcement came days after China confirmed it will limit exports of refined petroleum products to North Korea from October 1 while banning imports of textiles from its neighbour.

The measures were in accordance with UN sanctions that were approved earlier in September after North Korea detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb — a test that triggered an earthquake felt across the border in China.

Trump’s November trip will be part of a tour that will also take in regional allies Japan and South Korea.

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Teenager dressed in black armour and carrying knife arrested in Melbourne CBD

Video footage taken by passersby and posted online shows the green four-wheel drive reversing at speed down Swanston Street in the CBD before spinning 180 degrees.

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A member of the public threw a hire bike under the 4WD to try to stop it, while police rushed to the area.

Officers say they are treating it as a mental health situation and don’t believe there was any terrorist links.

0:00 Man allegedly carrying knife tasered and arrested Share Man allegedly carrying knife tasered and arrested  

The teenager was wearing a black armoured uniform, black helmet and carrying a black rucksack.

He got out of the vehicle and was pacing in circles at the corner of Swanston and Flinders streets when police surrounded him shortly before 8am.

He appeared to lunge at one of the officers, who fell back, before the teen was tasered and subdued.

No injuries were reported and the teenager was arrested and is in police custody.

The Bomb Response Unit were searching the 4WD as a precaution and the area has been cordoned off.

“He was driving certainly erratically which is concerning to Victoria Police and the community but there is no intention, that I’m aware of, that he was deliberately trying to hurt anyone,” he said.

“Obviously it was concerning but this paraphernalia he had is freely available, the clothing [was] certainly from any army disposal store but obviously [being] in the CBD dressed like that is of concern, but I think that’s clearly in line with his mental health condition which we’re assessing.”

Police are urging people to avoid the area.

It comes as thousands pack the area for the AFL grand final between Richmond and Adelaide.

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Something major going down in Fed Square. #melbourne #AFLGF pic南京夜生活,/AlzUUYVsh6

— Thomo (@liamthompson1) September 29, 2017

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Hardwick chokes up about captain Cotchin

If Richmond are looking for people to build a statue of after the club’s breakthrough AFL premiership, Trent Cotchin will almost certainly be at the top of the list.

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There will never be another Jack ‘Captain Blood’ Dyer, whose status as a club icon was immortalised in 2003 when his death prompted a bronze likeness to be erected outside Punt Rd Oval.

But Cotchin’s class and captaincy will be remembered and revered every time the tale of the Tigers’ 2017 turnaround — and any future success — is told.

Coach Damien Hardwick became emotional when talking about Cotchin’s work as a midfielder, motivator and match winner this September.

“I sort of choke up a little bit speaking about this guy. About what he means to me and means to our football club,” Hardwick told reporters.

“He’s a freak. I love what he does, I love how he’s led the club.

“He’s an incredible player and we’re very lucky to have him.”

The feeling is mutual.

“I don’t know if there would be a prouder person (of Damien Hardwick), other than Mrs Hardwick,” Cotchin said.

“He’s a special person and I’m just so rapt for him.”

Cotchin epitomised leadership throughout this year’s finals series, crashing packs and the opposition’s best-laid plans.

“I don’t know what his possessions were today but he would have had 15 ‘smashes’. He was just a battering ram,” Hardwick said.

Off the field, Cotchin has been just as immense.

Footage of the 27-year-old cleaning up the Tigers’ changerooms after their qualifying-final win went viral.

It is that sort of mindset that has rubbed off on so many teammates.

Hardwick noted Dustin Martin would not be the player he is without Cotchin’s influence.

“Not anywhere near,” Hardwick said, detailing how it hurt to see Cotchin cop so much criticism during the Tigers’ recent failures.

“He’s been enormous in that aspect (of improving the club culture).”

Not even Hardwick believed the Tigers were capable of winning the 2017 premiership at this point last year, when a 13th-placed finish prompted an aborted board challenge.

“I was confident if we played our best we’d make finals … a premiership cup? I’d have said you’re kidding yourself,” he said.

“I get the plaudits because I’m the coach but .. a lot of people are responsible for us winning that premiership cup.

“I’ve got an outstanding bunch of assistant coaches, they’ve inspired me.

“The players grabbed it and ran with it.”

Crows coach puzzled by grand final flop

Don Pyke has no idea why.

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But the defeated Adelaide coach has vowed to find the reasons in a forensic examination of the Crows’ grand final flop against Richmond at the MCG on Saturday.

The Crows were belted by eight goals, leaving Pyke puzzled why the competition’s season-long pacesetters and minor premiers stumbled on the grand stage.

“When the big games are on, you have got to bring your best and we didn’t bring our best,” Pyke told reporters.

“And that is taking nothing away from Richmond, I thought they were fantastic … we clearly could have been better.

“If you asked our players individually, there would be some of them that felt like they produced one of their poorer performances on what is obviously a big day.”

Pyke sensed a collective funk descend on the Crows late in the second quarter.

After holding an 11 point lead at quarter-time, Adelaide was outscored 0.5 to 4.1 in the second stanza.

Richmond then demolished Adelaide in the third term, booting 5.4 to 1.2 – when the Tigers recorded 20 more contested possessions – which Pyke made particular reference to.

“At one stage the numbers I was looking at was minus 27 (contested possessions) in the quarter and that is a phenomenal number,” he said.

“Richmond outworked us at the contest. They won the contest, they had extra numbers there.

“And no surprise the game got played in their half and they were able to score. And from that point it became a long way back.”

Pyke said players and coaches must learn from the harsh lessons of failing to produce their best in the club’s first grand final since 1998.

“That is the conversation we had after the game: it’s important we reflect,” he said.

“They are shattered, the players. They put a lot of energy into the season and walk away with nothing.

“We’re not sitting here going ‘woe is us’.

“We came to a grand final, we weren’t good enough.

“We have got to accept that and we have got to try to do something about it to work our way back into this position again.”