Steve Carell as you’ve never seen him before – angry, activist and very gay

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Stacie Andree (Ellen Page) and Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) in a scene from Freeheld Photo: eOne Steven Goldstein (Steve Carell) in a scene from Freeheld. Photo: eOne
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This is Steve Carell as you’ve never seen him before – angry, activist and very gay.

In this clip from the drama Freeheld, based on a true story, Carell plays Steven Goldstein, a lawyer and gay rights activist in New Jersey who acted in a landmark case for police lieutenant Laurel Hester (played here by Julianne Moore) and her partner Stacie Andree (Ellen Page).

Hester had been diagnosed with cancer, and wanted to leave her estate, including her police pension, to Andree, but the elected officials of Ocean County – known as freeholders – refused to allow her pension to pass to a same-sex partner.

“What these freeholders are doing is unconscionable,” he tells Andree, Hester and fellow cop Dane Wells (Michael Shannon).

Goldstein floats the idea of a gay pride parade, to “show them we’re a force to be reckoned with”.

When Wells tells him he doesn’t understand the conservative nature of this community, calling him “Steve”, Goldstein responds: “It’s Steven, with a V – as in very gay – and when people disrespect my gay brothers and sisters, I rain terror on them. Shock and awe. Shock and awe.”

Zach Galifianakis – like Carell, an alumnus of Saturday Night Live (though Galifianakis joined as a writer and lasted only two weeks) – was originally slated for the role of Goldstein but dropped out last August due to a scheduling conflict.

The real Goldstein told New Jersey’s The Auditor he was delighted with the casting decision.

“I’m so glad Steve Carell is playing me in Freeheld, rather than The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” he said.

Though this is the most out-and-proud role Carell – who is married (to a woman) and the father of two children – has played, technically speaking it isn’t his first gay role.

In 1996, he and Stephen Colbert provided the voices of Gary and Ace in an animated superhero comedy series called The Ambiguously Gay Duo.

In 2006 he played a gay Proust scholar recovering from a suicide attempt who is forced to go on a family road trip to a juvenile beauty pageant in the downbeat comedy Little Miss Sunshine.

And in 2014, he starred in Foxcatcher as John E. du Pont, the mega-wealthy wrestling enthusiast who shot and killed Dave Schultz in 1996, and whose relationship with his protégé Mark Schultz (played by Channing Tatum) in the film is tinged with a repressed homosexuality.

Freeheld, which is based on an Oscar-winning short documentary of the same name from 2007, opens in Thursday November 5.

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The two Chinan girls and their mother living in ‘jail’ at Villawood detention centre

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Villawood detention centre in Sydney. Photo: Jessica Hromas’Dad, why are we here?’ No life and a baby on the way on Nauru
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Salwa Abas stands out in the busy school drop off: she is the only child escorted by a guard. Classmates tease the five-year-old for living in a “jail” and when she returns home, each pocket of her bag is searched.

Salwa and her sister Yasmin, 3, are n citizens. But they have been living with their mother behind locked gates at Sydney’s Villawood detention centre for almost a year, after the federal government cancelled their mother’s visa.

In doing so, the government acknowledged the decision was not in the children’s best interests. Their mother Zahra, who is pregnant with her third child, has begged Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to intervene.

“They were happy n kids, why [did the government] do this to them, they don’t deserve to be here,” she told Fairfax Media from inside the detention centre.

“[My children] are really upset inside and they are asking me ‘What are we doing for Christmas, are we getting out? Why are we here?'”.

Ms Abas, originally from Iraq, arrived on a boat from Indonesia in 2009 with other family members. They were taken to Christmas Island then granted protection in .

Her father, known as Captain Emad, arrived in in 2010. He fled two years later, after ABC’s Four Corners program alleged he was running a people-smuggling racket from Canberra.

The case cast a spotlight on his family, and the Department of Immigration determined Ms Abas, who was 19 when arriving in , had falsified information on her visa application, including the reason why she needed protection.

Ms Abas said this week her father was “abusive, controlling and angry” and told the family to lie to immigration officials about their names and background.

“In Indonesia he wanted to break my legs because I wanted to run away from him, and he took a hammer and hit my leg and I got stitches from it,” she said.

“He told us to tell un-genuine information and I did, but my intention wasn’t anything bad, I just wanted to live [in] freedom without him abusing me any more.”

Under the former Labor government, the department said while Ms Abas had breached her obligations under migration law, her visa would not be cancelled.

But in December last year when the Coalition was in office, then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison personally intervened to cancel Ms Abas’ visa. She was informed on Christmas Eve.

In a letter to Ms Abas, the veracity of which the department did not dispute, Mr Morrison wrote that she had been living in Malaysia for many years, rather than in Iraq where she claimed to have suffered persecution, and should not have been granted a protection visa.

He said there was no evidence she was under duress from her father when applying for a visa.

“Notwithstanding that the best interests of the dependent children would be served by a decision not to cancel the mother’s visa, this is outweighed by the seriousness of the non-compliance,” Mr Morrison wrote.

Ms Abas was taken into detention in January, and lives in residential-style housing. Her n citizen husband suffers medical problems and depression after an accident and cannot care for the children, forcing them to live with their mother at Villawood indefinitely.

Ms Abas’ husband visits the family in detention and she is 21 weeks pregnant. She is also severely depressed and fears for the future of her unborn baby and young daughters.

Salwa, once a bubbly child with many friends who loved the film Frozen, is now lonely and suffers nightmares. Yasmin has become unhappy and clingy.

“Every day [Salwa] says ‘I had a really bad day, I hate this school, I hate you, I hate this place’, and then she goes in her room and cries. She doesn’t want to go out, she doesn’t want to eat,” Ms Abas said.

“It’s like a jail – you have no freedom, no control over your life or your children’s life.”

Mr Dutton and the Department of Immigration refused to answer questions regarding Ms Abas, or explain why she was the only family member being detained. A spokeswoman for Mr Dutton said his department was “managing” the case.

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Mafia history of Gino and Mark Stocco’s alleged victim Rosario Cimone revealed

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Mark and Gino Stocco, who were captured on a property where Rosario Cimone’s body was also located. Photo: NSW Police Gino Stocco is led to a prison vehicle after appearing in Dubbo Local Court via video link. Photo: Wolter Peeters
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Mark Stocco is led to a prison vehicle after appearing in Dubbo Local Court via video link. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Mark Stocco at Dubbo police station on Wednesday. Photo: Nine News

Body of Rosario Cimone found on remote property​How the Stoccos evaded police​The tip-off that led to the final hide-outWill o’ the wisps in Kelly Gang country

The long-awaited capture of father and son fugitives Gino and Mark Stocco has taken another bizarre twist as links have emerged between their alleged victim and the Italian Mafia, long-term cannabis cultivation and a fatal electrocution last year.

The pair, who had been on the run for eight years, were charged on Thursday morning with the murder of Italian-born farm caretaker Rosario Cimone, 68, on October 7.

They did not appear in Dubbo Local Court on Thursday and magistrate Andrew Eckhold ordered they remain behind bars until their case returns on January 20.

Mr Cimone’s decomposed body was discovered in a shallow grave at Pinevale, a remote property near Dunedoo, in central western NSW, just hours after police captured the Stoccos in a dramatic, covert operation on Wednesday morning.

The elusive pair had worked on the extremely isolated property with Mr Cimone, who was reported missing to Green Valley police by his daughters, Maria and Vicenza, on October 8.

When a white ute, similar to the one allegedly stolen by the Stoccos, was spotted in bushland behind the property on Tuesday, police had their “final pieces of the jigsaw” and descended on the 385-hectare spot.

Fairfax Media can reveal Mr Cimone, from Green Valley, was a cannabis cultivator with a string of past convictions and a long history with the Calabrian Mafia in .

His son, Phillip, 35, was also convicted in 2013 of cultivating more than 1000 cannabis plants on a remote property near Bundarra, in the northern tablelands,

Rosario, known as Ross to his friends, was charged with cultivating substantial cannabis crops in the early 1980s, charged with the sale of cannabis in the mid-1980s and convicted in 2003 of a $30-million cannabis operation at a property in Nimmitabel, in far southern NSW.

He was sentenced to four years in prison for growing 14,000 cannabis plants and possessing unauthorised firearms.

He was one of a group of prisoners to be given early release, in exchange for bribes, under the corrupt 1980s prison boss, Rex Jackson.

One of his seven co-accused in the Nimmitabel drug gang, Mario Cataldo, 58, was killed in October last year when he was electrocuted by an illegal hydroponic set-up in Bringelly, on the western outskirts of Sydney.

He lay dead in a shed for two days, and his body was eventually found when his family called an ambulance because they had not heard from him.

Former friend, Giuseppe Mammone, said Mr Cimone was “a nice man” who used to own a butcher’s shop in Edensor Park in the 80s and loved going to the Marconi Club when he was in Green Valley. 

Former assistant police commissioner Clive Small, who is writing a book on the Calabrian Mafia in , said Mr Cimone played a “mid-level” role.

He had been working in the Dunedoo area in recent months but it is not known whether drugs were being grown on the rugged, isolated property, described by locals as a “perfect hideout”.

A neighbour, who asked not to be named, told Fairfax Media that she had made calls to CrimeStoppers in recent years to report suspicious people working on the property, that had no farms.

It’s not known whether the Stoccos had direct involvement but Mr Small said they would most likely have been considered too unreliable by the Mafia.

They were erratic, conspiratorial characters who were known to move frequently, barely staying on farms for more than a few weeks.

“When [the Mafia] are recruiting people to be pickers or cultivators … or crop sitters, that is, people who might go there to plant the crops under supervision with others and just sit there and make sure no one steals it, they tend, generally, to deal with people they have had experience with in the past or whose families they know.”

He said the Mafia was well and truly alive in and had a violent but little-known history.

“There are probably a number of reasons why they’ve been able to get away with it,” he said. “If you deny it’s existence, then you don’t have to do anything about it.”

In addition to murder, Gino, 57, and Mark, 36, are each charged with 17 NSW offences, including shooting with intent to murder, dishonestly obtaining property by deception, police pursuit and discharging a firearm with intent to resist arrest.

Wanted for a string of property and violent offences in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, the men became the focus of a large-scale manhunt after police were shot at during a high speed pursuit near Wagga Wagga on October 16.

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OPINION: Safety is paramount to moving China

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THE n Bureau of Statistics says more than half a million trucks use n roads every day. They are moving goods and commodities; from livestock and grains, vegetables and milk, to online shopping and imported cars – all are essential to the way we live.
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The tyranny of distance is something that has come to define in many ways. Our geographical separation from the rest of the world, let alone ourselves, gives us our unique n culture.

It is the thousands of kilometres of road separating n cities that has given birth to a strong and vibrant trucking industry.

The Hunter Region is home to a large number of nationally recognised companies that are at the heart of the trucking and logistics industry.

With all the time we spend on the road, as an industry we have had to develop a rigorous approach to safety. In the past few weeks in our region we were reminded about the tragic effects of road accidents that involve cars and trucks.

About 21 years ago the local transport industry decided to do something about road transport safety and we held our first event at Civic Park with the objective of improving safety through education and awareness.

To do this we used our close working connections with our emergency services and it was this relationship that began a tradition that will celebrate the 22nd Newcastle and Hunter Region Road Transport Awareness Day on Sunday, November 1.

Our overall objective has not changed. We remain committed to improving road safety, but our focus has moved slightly. One accident involving a truck and car is one too many. With more and more motor vehicles on our roads we must work harder to educate people about how we can better share roads.

Each year on the first Sunday of November, the trucking industry comes together with emergency services and our wider business community in Newcastle to celebrate what we do, with a strong message of safety and awareness that is aimed at the whole community.

On Sunday, a parade of more than 50 big rigs will roll in from Sandgate to Newcastle Foreshore where a community family fun day will promote the role of the trucking industry in the community and advocate for safe road use for us all.

A big part of our day is to support the work of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. For almost 40 years the rescue helicopter has been servicing our region, and like so many people in the Hunter and beyond, the trucking industry understands the enormous value of its work within the emergency healthcare chain.

The transport and logistics industry plays a role in the community that extends well beyond travelling along highways. Whether it’s providing storage or logistics to community and sporting events or sponsoring kids’ sport, we are proud of our contribution and proud to work with our community to keep people safe.

Education is the key to ensuring safe road use for everyone. Whether that is understanding the distance it takes for a loaded B-Double to stop or how to overtake with care.

Like you, truck drivers want to get home safely to their families.

Pete Black is the chairman of the Newcastle and Hunter Region Road Transport Awareness Group

OPINION: Women reclaim the night

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Reclaim the Night rallies are held nationwide. Picture: Craig SillitoeTHIS evening hundreds of women will take to the streets to demand an end to sexual assault and violence against women.
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Reclaim the Night (RTN) is a yearly tradition for women that takes place all over the world, and Newcastle is no exception.

This protest was born in Germany in 1977 and the same year women’s rights activists in Britain organised RTN across 11 cities. By 1978 the event reached .

Reclaim the Night is, and always has been, a protest about ending sexual assault and violence against women.

The march is exclusively for people who identify as women and asserts that every woman has a right to live their lives free from violence, rape or fear.

Whether or not people wish to acknowledge it, violence and murder committed against women is chronic, brutal and devastating, and the statistics back this.

Almost every week one woman is murdered by a current or former partner, one in five women experiences sexual violence in their lifetime and one in three has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.

Furthermore, intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to ill-health and premature death in women under 45, more so than any other risks, including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking, according to Our Watch.

The impact is so devastating that we feel the need to keep count: Destroy the Joint reports that 75 women have been violently killed this year and REAL for women has counted 34 Aboriginal women killed this year alone.

It’s a crisis and an injustice, and women deserve better. Women deserve to live their lives free of fear.

Rosy Batty has done much to put violence against women on the agenda in 2015, however, more needs to be done.

Ms Batty has given us a platform not just to raise awareness but to engage the community and work towards changing the culture of violence that exists in this country.

The need for these changes is reflected in the 2013 National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey, which demonstrates some disturbing attitudes about violence against women by young people in : 40per cent of young people think rape results from men ‘‘not being able to control their urges’’, 60per cent think violence is caused by men being unable to control their anger and 25per cent think partner violence can be excused if they regret it.

These attitudes reflect a culture that condones violence against women and much more needs to happen, particularly with children and young people, to educate them around gender equality and human rights.

This is beyond simply respecting women; this is about creating a culture that does not abuse women and where men no longer feel entitled to abuse women.

Local issues of concern associated with this year’s RTN include the defunding of women’s and legal services by the federal and state governments and the absence of a Federal Circuit Court judge in Newcastle.

Hunter Domestic Violence services are very aware that incidents of domestic violence increase over summer, however, most services are at capacity already.

That scenario of support services at capacity, combined with a looming increased need for services, is a lethal combination that is terrifying.

Funding to women’s and legal services needs to be increased, not decreased, and comprehensive violence prevention strategies need to be implemented, as well as an overhaul of the legal system so that it supports women who are experiencing violence.

If these measures do not take effect, women will continue to be abused, assaulted, injured and murdered.

This is why we need initiatives like Reclaim the Night, so that we can continue to fight for justice and rights for women and to create a fairer society where women are free from harm and receive the services they so desperately need.

■ Reclaim the Night will be marked in Newcastle tonight with a march in Beaumont Street, Hamilton. Women and children are invited to march. Men are invited to attend activities before and after. Marchers will meet at 5.45pm in Gregson Park, Hamilton, for a 6pm march.

■ A Lake Macquarie march tonight has been organised jointly by Eastlakes and Westlakes Domestic Violence Committees, for Warners Bay foreshore. Meet at about 6pm near the rotunda for a march around 7pm.

Nicole Molyneux is a social science student, human rights activist and member of the Reclaim the Night Organising Collective 2015

MICHAEL McGOWAN: Guilty in his innocence

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Former n Prime Minister Tony Abbott gives The Margaret Thathcher Lecture at a banquet for The Margaret Thatcher Centre held at London’s Guildhall. Picture: Julian Andrews
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‘‘GOD save us always,’’ the novelist Graham Greene once wrote, ‘‘from the innocent and the good’’.

I wonder what Greene, a Catholic, would have made of the speech given by Tony Abbott in London this week.

While he seems intent on hanging grimly to what’s left of his parliamentary career, the former prime minister is apparently unhampered by his duties as member for Warringah, and found time to pop across to the old country to deliver the second Margaret Thatcher lecture.

You might say that Mr Abbott’s argument, that the ‘‘wholesome instinct’’ to love your neighbour as yourself has led Europe to make a ‘‘catastrophic error’’ in its response to the Syrian refugee crisis, fits neatly with Greene’s point.

The 1955 novel The Quiet American, from which I pulled the line, is set during the French war in Vietnam, and follows a cynical British journalist and an idealistic American CIA agent – two frenemies, to put it in contemporary terms.

The American – inexperienced and naive – is determined to make a difference in the conflict, but in the end his interventions only cause more harm.

In the context of ’s immigration policy, it is hard not to be reminded of the Left’s determined moral righteousness.

While decrying the government’s asylum seeker policy as fundamentally wrong, there seems to be no practical humane alternative to achieve what has become, rightly or wrongly, the electorate’s main concern; thatis, ‘‘stopping the boats’’.

Faced with an electorate more concerned with stopping brown people reaching our shores than a humane resettlement policy, the government has struck a sort of Faustian Pact in the interest of holding power, while the liquid-spined Labor Party follow along at its heels.

And there is no question that they have succeeded.

But, listening to Mr Abbott speak, I was struck, not for the first time, at the narrow lens through which he seems to view the world.

At the black-tie dinner, which cost £250 a head and, if you were wondering, featured Scottish lobster and Poached Hereford Tournedos on the menu, he lectured the crowd on how the continent’s compassion towards refugees risked ‘‘a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever’’.

Plenty has been written about the stunning obtuseness of those comments.

As if ’s policy of towing refugees back to Indonesia where – although they are reduced to a status as an essentially non-person – they aren’t shot, could or should be copy and pasted onto the literally millions fleeing civil war in Syria and the threat of Islamic State.

His comments seem to me to display a different kind of naivety. That of the blinkered ideologue.

I was living in England in 2009, and remember laughing out loud when I heard that the man I had always viewed as a sort of conservative conscience for the Liberal Party had become its leader.

He represented a sliver of modern life. The arch-conservative whose views, while not part of the fringe, still seemed antiquated.

The elevation of his sort of evangelical take on life seemed entirely out of step with what is generally a fairly moderate n public.

There was no way, I thought, that he could be acceptable to the average voter.

I turned out to be wrong.

But, now, unshackled from the chains of moderation that high office required, and with the (steadily decreasing) diplomatic heft that being a former n prime minister brings, Mr Abbott has decided to take his show on the road.

Still relatively young in political terms, he now gets to turn statesman, introducing the expanded version of his famous three-word slogans to a global stage.

There is another Greene line that springs to mind: ‘‘Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell,’’ he wrote, ‘‘wandering the world, meaning no harm’’.

EDITORIAL: The wrong question on councils

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THE answer, according to the NSW government, is to amalgamate more local councils around the state to create larger, more efficient entities and better economies of scale.
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If that’s the answer, then maybe the wrong question has been asked.

Local government has many faults, but it has some tremendous virtues. One of the greatest of these is that it is ‘‘local’’. Councils employ people who live within their local government boundaries. They spend money in their local areas, helping to stimulate local economies and supporting local businesses. They make decisions – as far as they are permitted – about local matters using local knowledge and experience.

Contrast this with state governments. Taking NSW as an example, the state government expends the greater part of its energies and resources looking after the state capital. Portfolio spending – both capital and recurrent – is heavily skewed to the capital.

Why, for instance, does the government spend hundreds of millions of dollars on cultural facilities in the capital, but steadfastly refuse to let any more than a trickle of funds leak into the regions? It is a cause for much frustration that Newcastle – the state’s second city – is left by the state to support its libraries, museums, art galleries and historical sites from council rates.

Too often, when the NSW government takes an interest in the Hunter Region, its decisions can appear ill-informed and unsuited to local circumstances.

No doubt some benefits can be obtained by amalgamating some local government areas.

However, many would argue that much greater benefits would accrue to ratepayers in regional NSW if only the current resourcing inequities could be effectively addressed.

Some day that will probably happen. Non-capital residents of NSW will eventually reach the point where they will refuse to tolerate the unfairness and put their demands for reform with such force that they can no longer be ignored.

Before then, however, the state government will keep pushing for council amalgamations. If the push becomes irresistible, ratepayers must insist that the resulting ‘‘super-councils’’ don’t replicate in smaller scale the negative aspects of centralised state rule.

Already many ratepayers within existing council boundaries – such as Beresfield in Newcastle and some parts of western Lake Macquarie – consider themselves victims of local government bureaucracies that can’t see far beyond the walls of their council chambers.

Any proposals for amalgamating councils in the Hunter must include safeguards to ensure the inevitable centralisation of administration does not exacerbate existing disadvantage, real or perceived, for those who don’t live close to the new centres of power.

Melissa Peacock’s inability to cope with mother’s dementia led to her death: inquest

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A Sydney medical receptionist who failed to take her sick, elderly mother to a doctor for more than two years, and then left her body in bed for months after she died, had been unable to cope with the woman’s descent into dementia, a coroner has found.
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The badly decomposing body of Noreen Peacock, 83, was found in October 2013 by real-estate agents conducting an inspection of the Kellyville home she had shared with the youngest of her three daughters, Melissa Peacock.

Six days later, police found Melissa at the Shangri La Hotel in central Sydney – one of a number of hotels in which she had been staying since her mother’s death.

They charged her with fraud and failing to report a death, the inquest into Mrs Peacock’s death heard.

“This was an extraordinarily sad case,” Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund said in handing down her findings on Thursday.

“Noreen Peacock died being cared for by the person who no doubt loved her the most, her youngest daughter.”

The inquest found that Melissa had lived with her mother since 1995 and cared for her since 2010 when Mrs Peacock was diagnosed with dementia.

The pair reportedly had a “very close and dependent relationship” but, from November 2010 until her death sometime in July or August 2013, Melissa failed to take her mother to a doctor or seek any other form of assistance.

The frail woman was left in the house for nine hours a day, six days a week, while Melissa undertook her job as a medical receptionist at Norwest Private Hospital.

Medical evidence suggested that Mrs Peacock had weighed as little as 37 kilograms at the time of her death, the inquest heard.

One doctor said he believed hypothermia was the most likely cause of death because she had been lying naked in bed during the coldest months of the year, probably without the heater on.

The doctors were unable to draw any conclusions from the discovery of fractured thyroid cartilage in Mrs Peacock’s neck.

While Ms Freund was unable to make a formal finding as to the cause of Mrs Peacock’s death, she found that the woman’s isolation from medical and other care had been a contributing factor.

“Responsibility for Mrs Peacock’s isolation must rest primarily with Melissa,” Ms Freund said.

“It was, in my view, totally unacceptable that Mrs Peacock was deprived of medical attention from November 2010.

“It is also unacceptable that Mrs Peacock was being left alone, locked in a two-storey house for up to nine hours a day, six days a week for many months while Melissa went to work.

“The risks involved in leaving an elderly person alone for this length of time are obvious.”

However, the coroner found that Melissa had most likely been suffering from serious, long-term depression and, more recently, alcoholism.

She also found that Mrs Peacock’s other two daughters, Jaslyne and Deborah, also bore some responsibility because they had failed to come up with a plan to assist with the care of their mother or “make further inquiries about how Melissa was coping”.

“They simply did not want to know,” Ms Freund said.

“At some point, Melissa became unable to cope with the responsibility of being the sole carer and provider of an elderly, frail mother who was suffering from the advanced stages of dementia.

“Melissa did not reach out for help. Her sisters did not extend assistance despite awareness of their mother’s deteriorating condition.

“This, in my view, further isolated Melissa from the outside world. Melissa was left to flounder and the consequences were extreme.”

‘Dehumanisation and stigmatisation’ of Rohingya Muslims based on Nazism: report

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A refugee bathes his child at the Kutupalong Camp in Teknaaf, Bangladesh. Photo: New York TimesWho are the Rohingya, and why are they being persecuted?Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi criticised for silence on Rohingya
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Bangkok: ​Nazi ideology and Islam-phobia are being used to stoke hatred of more than a million Rohingyas in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state, according to the findings of an 18-month investigation.

The country’s military-backed government, state-level officials and Buddhist monks are orchestrating the mass annihilation of the Rohingya, say researchers at Queen Mary University of London.

Drawing on leaked government documents, researchers say they have uncovered evidence that the persecution of the stateless Rohingya – including corralling them into ghettos, sporadic massacres and restrictions on movements – amounts to a longer term strategy by Myanmar’s government to isolate, weaken and eliminate the group.

In a report titled Countdown to Annihilation: Genocide in Myanmar researchers from the university-based International State Crime Initiative concluded that “dehumanisation and stigmatisation” techniques being used against Rohingyas warrant comparison with Germany in the 1930s and Rwanda in the early 1990s.

Researchers said they found Nazi and SS paraphernalia such as t-shirts and helmets in official documents of the Arakan National Party, a Rahkine party.

Copies of Adolf Hitler’s manifesto Mein Kampf are being sold on  Rakhine’s streets, they said.

The report quotes an editorial in an Arakan National Party magazine declaring in 2012 that “in order for a country’s survival …crimes against humanity or inhuman acts may be justifiably committed.”

“We will go down in history as cowards if we pass on these [Rohingya] issues to the next generation without getting it over and done with,” the editorial said.

Professor Penny Green, director of the initiative, said weakened and traumatised Rohingyas in camps and ghettos “endure the barest of lives and denial of basic human rights, with the ever-present fear of attack.”

Myanmar’s government officially refers to Rohingya as “Bengalis” from Bangladesh and claims they are mostly illegal immigrants in the country where 90 per cent of its 53 million people are Buddhists.

The report’s release comes ahead of landmark elections in Myanmar on November 8 that are seen as a test of progress in the country’s transition from half a century of often-brutal military rule to democracy.

Despite being described as Myanmar’s first free poll in 25 years, Muslims have been prevented from contesting and been the target of racial and religious abuse during campaigning by ultra-nationalist Buddhist groups like Ma Ba Tha, an acronym for the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups have warned of an imminent humanitarian disaster as Rohingya families take to unsafe people-smuggler boats to escape Myanmar now that the monsoon season has ended in the Bay of Bengal.

While many reports have documented the decades-long persecution of Rohingya, the Queen Mary University report controversially finds they face the final stages of genocide, which it said was not always visible in Rakhine.

“It can be stopped but not without confronting the fact that it is, indeed, genocide,” Professor Green said.

The finding is backed by Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN’s special rapporteur of human rights in Myanmar between 2008 and 2014.

“At this point, the situation of the Rohingya cannot be understood without considering a possible genocide,” he said in comments released with the report.

“For decades, the Rohingya people in Myanmar have been victims of widespread government violations that, when considered hollistically, and analysed systematically, reveal a bleak conclusion: the Rohingya people are being gradually decimated,” Mr Quintana said.

“This dramatic conclusion has not been drawn powerfully or often enough,” he said.

The report said Rohingyas “have been subjected to a virulent and official nationwide policy and propaganda campaign which has incrementally removed them from the State’s sphere of responsibility.”

“The State’s persistent and intensified ‘othering’ of the Rohingya as outsiders, illegal Bengali immigrants and potential terrorists has given a green light to Rakhine nationalist and [Islamophobic] monks to orchestrate invidious campaigns of race and religious hatred reminiscent of these witnessed in Germany in the 1930s and Rwanda in the early 1990s,” it said.

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Malcolm Turnbull defends plan to build $1b icebreaker overseas

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An artist’s impression of ‘s new icebreaker. Photo: Supplied An artist’s impression of ‘s new Antarctic ship. Photo: Supplied
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended the government’s decision to select a British-based operator and Dutch shipyard for ‘s $1 billion Antarctic icebreaker project.

The British Serco-owned n company, DMS Maritime, is close to sealing a deal with the government over the yet-to-be named icebreaker, to be commissioned in 2019.

It is being designed by Danish naval architects, Knud E. Hansen, and built by Damen Shipyards in the Netherlands, which claims broad experience with commercial and naval vessels.

The choice of the foreign build marks another loss of a major vessel to the n ship-building industry.

Mr Turnbull said the business of building icebreakers was clearly a northern hemisphere speciality.

“I don’t think it’s surprising that all the tenderers were involved with an overseas yard,” Mr Turnbull said.

The current icebreaker, the P&O owned Aurora Australis, was built at Newcastle in 1989.

The new design that was unveiled in Hobart on Thursday shows a ship almost twice the size of Aurora.  It is expected to be central to the n Antarctic program until mid-century.

The new 156-metre long, 23,800-tonne vessel will have increased cargo and marine science capability but is expected to carry around the same number of passengers.

Its crucial ice-breaking capacity will give it the power to steam through 1.65-metre ice, compared to Aurora’s 1.23 metres.

DMS Maritime was the sole tenderer for the project after P&O withdrew in January, saying the tender forced the contractor to unnecessarily pile up costs.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the final stages of the tender were being overseen by the Department of Finance and accountants KPMG.

“Both have verified that we are on track to a very successful result for ,” Mr Hunt said. “We’re driving a hard bargain.”

The $1 billion cost would include building the ship and its lifetime operation, he said.

A national naming competition is to be held for the vessel, and Mr Turnbull said that would be a chance to engage young people with n Antarctic history.

Aurora has been refitted to take it through to May 2017. No decision has been taken yet on filling the gap until the new icebreaker is ready in late 2019, a Senate estimates hearing was told.

Comment was sought from DMS Maritime.

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Malcolm Turnbull’s five mistakes about coal

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants a ‘clear-eyed, cool-headed, rational’ approach to coal. Photo: Andrew Meares Train of thought: what’s the future of coal? Photo: Glenn Hunt
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Brown-coal fired power plant in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley. Photo: Paul Jones

The young woman leading the energy revolution

This week Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that when it came to coal, it was “important to take the ideology out – just approach it in a very clear-eyed, cool-headed, rational way”.

The PM’s comments were made in response to a call by 61 leading ns for an international halt to new coal mines and mine expansions.

The signatories included Nobel-winning scientist Peter Doherty and former Reserve Bank Governor Bernie Fraser, individuals who may not be unfamiliar with logic and rationality.

Mr Turnbull’s comments drew widespread applause from the mining industry, so it is likely that we’ll hear them echoed repeatedly between now and the Paris climate summit next month from both the PM and his colleagues.

Here are some of his comments and why the PM failed his own test:

Coal is a very important part…the largest single part of the global energy mix and likely to remain that way for a very long time. So that is not my forecast but the International Energy Agency’s forecast and many others.

​True, coal vies with oil as the largest share of the energy mix, at 29 per cent versus oil’s 31 per cent stake, according the IEA’s 2014 World Energy Outlook.

But the IEA, like Nostradamus, says many things about the future.

In its Energy and Climate Change report released in June, the agency proposes a peak in energy-related within five years in order to ensure global warming can be limited to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels (we are about half way).

“In the Bridge Scenario, coal use peaks before 2020 and then declines while oil demand rises to 2020 and then plateaus,” the agency says.

That prospect doesn’t point to the need for a lot of new coal mines. Opening up the giant Galilee coal province in Queensland could raise the amount of internationally traded coal by as much as 273 million tonnes if all 10 projects got developed, according to Tim Buckley, a former Citi analyst and now director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Not taking action to curb coal and other fossil fuels would leave the world on a course to 3.6 degrees of warming. Yes, that is also an IEA forecast, but to avoid that fate would require the entire world becoming “carbon neutral” – with emissions countered by storage – by 2040.

“Since emissions are not going to drop suddenly to zero once this point is reached, it is clear that the 2-degrees objective requires urgent action to steer the energy system on to a safer path,” the IEA said in its outlook report.

I don’t agree with the idea of a moratorium on exploiting coal…If stopped exporting coal, the countries to which we export it would simply buy it from somewhere else.

Actually, very few groups demand that every bit of the black rock has to be left in the ground. The call is for an end to new coal mines or the expansion of them – at home and abroad.

If, as the IEA calls for, coal use peaks with a few years, implying that the issue won’t just be a matter of buying the fuel from elsewhere.

But let’s entertain the prospect of an export halt by  – would that make a difference to prices?

Well, last year accounted for 186 million tonnes of the 310 million tonnes of internationally traded coking coal used in steel making – that’s 60 per cent, according the government’s own figures.

Even for thermal coal used in power stations – which is really the fuel substitution issue at stake – ‘s 201 million tonnes of coal exported in 2014 amounted to just under one-fifth of the globally traded commodity.

Mr Buckley says that as a major player in global coal markets, ‘s actions – even to cap exports – would have a big impact on markets.

“It’s just nonsensical from an economics point of view, what Turnbull was saying,” Mr Buckley said.

So if were to stop all of its coal exports … it would not reduce global emissions one iota. In fact, arguably it would increase them because our coal, by and large, is cleaner than the coal in many other countries.

Two problems here.

As above, ‘s actions to limit, cut or even ban exports – even taken alone – would likely lift the price of coal.

Alternative fuels almost always produce fewer emissions, especially if the source is renewable, such as solar, wind and hydro, all of which have virtually zero emissions once the plants are installed. The higher the price of coal, the more “iotas” of emissions reduction.

But how clean is n coal?

The Newcastle thermal benchmark is typically cleaner than Indian domestic coal. The energy content per tonne of the former is 6000 kilocalories per tonne, with a 12-14 ash content, Mr Buckley notes. By contrast, the Indian variety typically generates 4400 kcal with a 20-45 ash content.

However, the big Galilee coal province – which a focus of much of the opposition in to new coal mines – has a relatively poor quality.

According to details released to Mr Buckley by Adani, the proposed developer of the giant Carmichael mine earmarked to supply India, the average energy content will be 4950 kcal, with a 25-30 per cent ash content.

Once the coal has been dug up and carted hundreds of kilometres to the coast and shipped thousands more to India, the Carmichael coal will struggle to be cleaner than whatever it displaced.

People talk about different forms of energy and often, and some people talk about it in an ideological way, as though one type of coal is better or worse than wind which is better or worse than solar which is better or worse than nuclear power.

These are all things. They don’t have any moral characteristics. They are things. They have certain physical characteristics and financial characteristics.

One this point, Mr Turnbull is closer to the mark, although his comments do contradict his own Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg, who argued earlier this month  had a “strong moral case” to proceed with the $16 billion Carmichael mine.

Mr Frydenberg’s argument is that the coal would help ease the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of Indians by lowering the cost of electricity to a point where more of them could afford to join the grid for the first time.

If morality were the driver for such a worthwhile goal, then why not take a smaller profit to start with by lowering the coal price? Or perhaps donate our royalties to ensure more poor people could enjoy our coal (rather than slashing our aid budgets)?

But back to Mr Turnbull. Does every thing really have a value solely for its “physical and financial characteristics”?

Does it matter whether we exclude the cost of burning fossil fuels from its price, given the impact we know the greenhouse gas will have on global warming?

We know from Mr Turnbull’s turbulent time as Opposition Leader that he used to think a carbon price was a good thing. (The US government has made this stab at estimating the social cost of a tonne of CO2.)

Does it matter that those most likely to bear the brunt of the impacts of the more extreme weather we can count on from climate change are the very people whom we purport to be so concerned about when it comes to “energy poverty”?

Finally, what price, say, does a species made extinct by our actions have, or perhaps that is an “ideological” question.

Hugh Bowman hopes his good fortune rolls again in the Victoria Derby

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Ready for the Derby: Hugh Bowman is hoping Shards will continue his great run in the Victorian Derby. Photo: Bradleyphotos杭州龙凤论坛m.auWizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all RacingFollow our Derby Day tips to find a winner
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There is a  healthy dose of serendipity when it comes to the Victoria Derby for Hugh Bowman.

He has won the blue ribbon  three times and two have been like his ride this year, Shards, late pick-ups.  “It has been a lucky race for me,” said Bowman, who has won Derbies on Sangster, Lion Tamer and Polanski in the past five years.

“Lion Tamer is the only one I would say I was riding a long way out. I rode him in Sydney first-up and then I missed a couple of runs on him and was back on in the Vase when was a good second,” Bowman remembered.

“Then a week later he came out and scored a huge win on a very wet day. Sangster I was lucky to pick up when they were looking for another jockey after [the] Caulfield Classic. It was the same with Polanski, I picked him up because his jockey was suspended for the Caulfield Classic. I managed to win it on him and retained the ride for the Derby.”

So getting the call up from Godolphin on Sunday morning to ride for them doesn’t faze Bowman. Either does the fact that he was shifted from Etymology to Shards after retained  jockey James McDonald changed his mind on what he wanted to ride in the Derby.

There is not a better jockey in the country than Bowman at the moment and he is riding on a high after winning four of the past five group 1s he has ridden in, including the Cox Plate on Winx.

Bowman is one of the best judges of a staying race in the land as  his Derby record shows. He feels there are similarities in Shards’ Vase second to the effort of Lion Tamer in the same race.

“I take confidence that he ran very well in the Vase last week. My horse ran second and is double figures and the $2.40 favourite for the Derby [Tarzino] ran third,” Bowman said.

“Look, Lion Tamer ran a very similar race to what Shards did in the Vase. I’m not anticipating that he will come out and do what Lion Tamer did but he is a live chance going into the race.”

Tarzino has been the punters’ elect since an impressive win at Caulfield in September and his runs in the Caulfield Guineas and Vase have caught the eye. He looks like 2500 metres will suit but the draw of 10 has to be of concern because of his lack of tactical speed.

Blake Shinn, who rides Lizard Island, made the point that because of the nature of the Derby, where horses don’t stay and drop out, those back in the field often have run their race before they get to the business end.

“I have watched a few Derbies on preparing for the race and horses like Complacent and Criterion got back and gave up too much ground to the leaders,” Shinn said. “They are great horses but they had to make runs that were too long.

“I think you need to be in the first half of the field and my bloke [Lizard Island] is going to be from the good draw.”

Lizard Island was runner-up in the Caulfield Guineas and Caulfield Classic, which would usually entitle him to a single-figure quote but he is $13 at Crownbet.

“I think people believe he is suspect at the trip but watching his last run in the Caulfield Classic over 2000m, I’m comfortable,” Shinn said. “I thought he was fairly strong at the end of 2000m after doing some work and he is going to get the gun run from the barrier on Saturday.”

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Dear Nauru: Why Chinan journalists will keep asking you questions

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n journalists keep asking questions, trying to find out the truth of life on the island. Photo: Angela Wylie Asylum seekers during recreational time at Nauru detention centre. Photo: Angela Wylie
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Nauru President Baron Waqa Photo: Michelle Smith

We don’t need to answer your questions: Nauru

Dear government of Nauru,

Thanks for your note on Wednesday. I wanted to reply by sending a friend request on Facebook, but, well, you banned it in your country.

That’s one sure way to stifle any domestic dissent. But your other strongarm tactics have been inspired. Suspending the opposition from Parliament without pay – genius! Revoking visas and deporting the judiciary – bravo!

And then stripping the pensions from citizens who dared to participate in a protest this year at the Parliament, which you called a riot, even though they have not been convicted of a crime. Way to exert control.

Oh, but there I go again, just another n journalist displaying what you dismiss as “great arrogance and an air of racial superiority”. Pesky questions and all.

But here’s the thing. I was on Nauru in 2013, and I still have my blue “Nauru sport fishing” hat. It was just a few months before you slapped an $8000 price tag on a visa application for a media visit (that’s for the application, remember, not necessarily an approved travel document).

I went to report on the aftermath of an undisputed riot, one that levelled the detention “camp” – President Baron Waqa’s word when I interviewed him beforehand.

That riot was started by the asylum seekers that you – and your predecessors, remember, those opposition MPs? – had agreed to host on behalf of .

And I reported the distress of the Nauru people, their fear at events potentially spiralling out of control and what might happen to their kids. And I heard the resentment of people who believed the asylum seekers “had it all good and they burnt it down”.

But I was also there when you began censoring the local television, to stop the opposition from questioning your deal with a desperate Labor government in to resettle people found to be refugees. Questions like are they to live in Nauru permanently, or not quite? Will these refugees be given passports to travel off the island and return with supplies, as many local like to do?

Then followed your refusal to allow United Nations officials to visit, the selective lock-out of foreign media (no ABC, no al-Jazeera), the shrill allegations against the opposition MPs before they have been convicted of any crimes, and complaints they have spoken critically of you to people like me in the international media.

And how about those rude Kiwis, huh? Scrapping aid to you over concerns about meddling with the judiciary. Outrageous.

Yes, there are all the claims, and counter-claims, about the treatment of refugees. If journalists were allowed on the island, you say, “refugees who are now living peacefully would – under the direction of n based advocates – start to protest and riot for the cameras”.

But that didn’t happen when you finally allowed The n to visit last week, and good on you for testing this out.

What little trouble I had on the island two years ago was with overly-zealous n officials, and never with Nauru’s. Locals warned me of “Naurumours”, and there is no doubt these stories get around.

The key reason n journalists keep asking you questions, trying to find out the truth of life on the island, is the n government is paying you to be a deterrent for asylum seeker boats.

And like any country, I found many contrasting views in my week on Nauru. Ain’t democracy a tremendous thing? (So look forward to watching your elections in June. Reckon opposition will be in jail by then?)

So before you next summarily declare someone a “prohibited immigrant” and deport them from the island, or take aim at “biased international media”, keep calm.

You are indeed a “sovereign” country, as you declare, and that is precisely why wants to keep you on side.

Oh, and don’t forget to friend me.

Daniel

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