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Chinese economy facing some risks

Written By prayud samsah on Rabu, 20 Agustus 2014 | 21.30

FALLING property prices in China and unregulated borrowing will have to be monitored closely to make sure it is not a risk to the world's second largest economy, the RBA says.

RBA governor Glenn Stevens says the Chinese economy is going along okay despite some volatility in monthly economic data.

"The real issue is the financial part of the economy," he said.Mr Stevens is confident that as the Chinese government deregulates the banking sector, there will be less shadow banking.Shadow banking is when some lending institution operate outside of the regulated banking system.Mr Steven acknowledged that property prices in China were falling, which could be a risk to its economy."I cannot really say with any accuracy at all just how this will unfold," he said in Brisbane."This is an issue that authorities have been alert to for quite a some time."

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Vic healthcare staff protections broadened

The VIC government says it will broaden new laws designed to curb attacks on healthcare workers. Source: AAP

NEW laws designed to curb assaults on Victorian healthcare workers will be broadened to include more professions, and house calls.

LEGISLATION will be introduced to parliament this week to create two new offences - for assaulting a registered healthcare practitioner in a hospital, or anywhere they are providing care to a patient.

Health Minister David Davis said it would build on law changes earlier this year, which set out tougher penalties for assaults on doctors or staff in hospitals or healthcare facilities."The Victorian coalition government is already demonstrating it is committed to improving safety and security in our hospital and healthcare services, and will not tolerate violence against hospital staff and healthcare practitioners," Mr Davis said in a statement on Wednesday."Our new legislation further extends this commitment to all registered healthcare practitioners going about their normal duties including GPs, nurses, midwives, dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists and psychologists."The new offences will also extend the protection to healthcare practitioners during house calls.People who attack a healthcare professional in Victoria will face up to six months in jail - double the penalty for a common assault.

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British PM breaks holiday over beheading

BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron has broken off his holiday for talks on the threat posed by ISIL jihadists following the "shocking and depraved" apparent beheading of US journalist James Foley.

CAMERON was returning to his Downing Street office in London to discuss the situation in Iraq and Syria as experts worked on trying to identify the executioner in the beheading video, who spoke with a British accent.

"If true, the murder of James Foley is shocking and depraved. I will today chair meetings on the situation in Iraq/Syria," Cameron said on Twitter.The video posted on Tuesday on the internet showed a masked militant beheading a man resembling Foley, who has been missing since he was seized in Syria in November 2012.Downing Street said in a statement on Wednesday that Cameron would meet with Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and other senior officials "to discuss the situation in Iraq and Syria and the threat posed by ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, also Islamic State) terrorists".Wednesday was to have been the second day of the prime minister's break in Cornwall, southwest England.Hammond voiced his "absolute horror" at the apparent beheading, which he said is "just is one more example in a catalogue of brutality by this organisation", referring to ISIL.He said "atrocities" carried out by ISIL as it has seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria were driving the international community's efforts to support Iraqis and Kurds in pushing back against the "evil organisation".He also said the apparent attack showed the security threat posed by European extremists fighting with IS if they attempted to return home.The masked executioner in the video speaks English with a British accent."On the face of it, it appears to have been a British person. We'll have to do some more analysis to make quite certain that that is the case," Hammond said.Around 400 Britons are believed to have gone to Syria over the past two years.British extremists are among the "most vicious and vociferous fighters" in the ISIL ranks, said Shiraz Maher, an expert on jihadism.Maher, a senior research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London, said they had been operating as suicide bombers and executioners."Foreign fighters going out to Syria are not going out there to be backseat riders. They are going out to be full participants in the war, to be at the forefront of the conflict," he said.He said he and his colleagues were "fairly satisfied that it's a Brit" in the video "due to the colloquialisms" used, as well the accent."We have a database of several hundred fighters in Syria and myself and my colleagues are frantically looking through it to try to pin him down," he added.France on Wednesday lashed out at the apparent execution of Foley, labelling it a "barbaric" and "disgusting" act."This is a barbaric act that plays on fear," government spokesman Stephane Le Foll told reporters after Francois Hollande convened his first cabinet meeting after the summer break.In a statement Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that if confirmed, the "disgusting assassination would show the true face of this 'Caliphate of Barbarism'."It merits the firmest condemnation from the international community and strengthens our determination to fight against the 'Islamic State' in accordance with Resolution 2170 of the UN Security Council" that condemns the activity of ISIL.Fabius added his condolences to the flood of messages of support. "In such a sad moment, our thoughts go to the relatives of the journalist - a great professional, acclaimed by all in France - and in particular to his mother Diane Foley, whom we hosted last April," the minister said."More than ever, France is committed to the right of journalists to work safely. There can be no impunity for those that carried out these barbaric acts."Thousands of people have already posted messages of condolence on the Facebook site Free James Foley.

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Heineken reports sales, profit drop

HEINEKEN NV, the Amsterdam-based brewer, has reported first half earnings showing a small drop in both revenues and profits - but says its underlying performance was good.

NET profit was 631 million euros ($A946.45 million), from 639 million euros in the same period a year ago.

Sales were down 1.4 per cent to 1.2 billion euros, which Heineken, the largest brewer by sales within Europe, said was due to the strong euro.Stripping out currency and acquisition effects, Heineken said its sales prices were up 1.5 per cent, and sales volumes rose 3.9 per cent.Chief Executive Jean-Franois van Boxmeer said on Wednesday the company's operations grew on a like-for-like basis in almost all regions in the first half but warned that growth in underlying profit and revenues would "moderate" in the second half.Meanwhile Danish brewer Carlsberg says uncertainty in its eastern European and vast Russian market continued to weigh on its financial performance during the second-quarter of the year.Carlsberg said on Wednesday net profit grew slightly to 2.2 billion kroner ($A42.63 million), up from 2.1 billion for the same period a year ago, on a modest revenue increase to 19.2 billion kroner for the three-month period ending June 30 against 19.06 billion kroner.The group said its eastern European markets are "increasingly challenging and uncertain", and expects them to deteriorate further in the second part of 2014 especially with consumption declines in Russia and Ukraine.Carlsberg's full-year net profit was expected "to decline by mid- to high-single-digit percentages".

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Qld bikies can fill out 'resignation' form

Written By prayud samsah on Selasa, 24 Juni 2014 | 21.30

QUEENSLAND bikies and their associates can fill out a form to declare they are no longer part of an outlaw group.

THE Queensland Police Service website has a questionnaire asking people to describe the steps they have taken to "disassociate".

The form asks participants to circle yes or no boxes to indicate if they have returned or destroyed their club colours, if they have a club tattoo, and whether it's been removed.They are also asked to declare if they are an office holder, general member or associate of a bikie chapter.New laws are coming into effect from July 1 banning bikies from working as used car sellers, security guards, locksmiths, tow truck drivers, bookmakers, pawn brokers, tattoo artists and bar workers.More than a dozen lines on the form are set aside so people can describe their future intentions with an outlaw group and the steps their organisation has taken to disassociate from them.A declaration section asks participants to give an undertaking to provide documents to the police within 10 business days.Earlier this month, Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie announced the government would delay a controversial plan to ban people with bikie links from working in the building industry.This means plumbers and electricians with suspected bikie links won't be banned from having a trades licence until July 2015, after a federal royal commission into unions.But new licensing requirements will apply to other industries under the Tattoo Parlours Act 2013.Bikies can call a police hotline for help on filling out the form, which is subject to the Information Privacy Act.The Queensland police website promises that applications to disown bike membership would be assessed "in a timely manner".But participants are advised that delaying a response to a letter could jeopardise their ability to hold an industry licence.The form has to be witnessed by another signature.Queensland police say two people have filled out the form to distance themselves from a bikie group since they were posted online on June 10.

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Senator breaks into song during farewell

Senator Ursula Stephens has burst into song during her valedictory speech. Source: AAP

LEAVING parliament may be a blessing in disguise for Labor Senator Ursula Stephens, who looks prepped to shine on another stage - in showbiz.

THE Irish-born Australian stopped short of doing a jig during her valedictory speech in the Senate on Tuesday, instead providing the house with a shaky duck analogy, a famous Australian poem and a wee Irish melody.

After tipping her glass to the Irish ambassador, Senator Stephens burst into song to bid farewell to her colleagues."For all the comrades e'er I had, they would wish me one more day to stay," she reverberated clearly across the chamber.A little less clear was the duck analogy which the senator used to back into her message about caring for the 51 million people displaced around the world.The story goes: Canberra traffic was banked up on Senator Stephens' way to work recently because a duck had been injured and another duck had stayed by its side."And I thought to myself, yes, even a duck looks after its mate," she said.That was followed by the senator reciting Dame Mary Gilmore's Nationality poem which famously declares "this loaf is my son's bread"."We must find a way to feed our own son and also look after our fellow human beings in need."Leader of the opposition in the senate, Penny Wong, congratulated Senator Stephens on her 12-year term and said ending in song was a nice touch.

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Tax, security info at cyber attack risk

TAX and social security records and national security information remains vulnerable to cyber attacks, a new report shows.

AN auditor-general review of seven major government agencies found that none complied with the required cyber security measures which were due to be in place by mid-2014.

The agencies included the Australian Tax Office, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Customs, Australian Financial Security Authority, the Department of Human Services and IP Australia.The agencies hold a wide range of personal, national security and economic information.The report said that in 2012 there were more than 1790 security incidents against Australian government agencies, of which 685 were considered serious.While the audited agencies had put in place internal security safeguards to protect their information "the selected agencies had not yet achieved full compliance with the top four mitigation strategies" mandated by the government in 2013.And none was on track to meet the mid-2014 compliance date.The agencies were found to have a "reasonable" level of protection from breaches from internal sources, but "vulnerabilities remain against attacks from external sources to agency systems"."In essence, agency processes and practices have not been sufficiently responsive to the ever-present and ever-changing risks that government systems are exposed to," the report concluded.The four strategies agencies have been asked to put in place include protections against malicious programs, security "patching" of applications, devices and operating systems and keeping administrative privileges to a small group of users.

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Bishop restates support for Fiji election

FOREIGN Minister Julie Bishop has been updated on Fiji's progress towards its first democratic elections in nearly a decade.

FIJI has promised to hold elections on September 17, the first since the country's leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama seized power in a military coup in 2006.

Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth in 2009 after Commodore Bainimarama failed to meet a deadline to return it to democracy.But the federal government is keen to normalise Australia's frosty ties with Fiji, and started by lifting travel bans on senior military and government figures in March.Ms Bishop on Tuesday met her Fijian counterpart Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, where she emphasised Australia's "strong support" for the electoral process.Australia has accepted in-principle an invitation from Fiji to co-lead an international observer group to oversee the election, and is finalising the terms of reference for the mission.The two foreign leaders also discussed preparatory work to re-establish defence ties between the two nations.It's illegal under Australian law to sell weapons to Fiji or provide military advice.

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Vic 'palm reader' jailed for assaults

Written By prayud samsah on Senin, 23 Juni 2014 | 21.30

A VICTORIAN man who used an offer to read women's palms as a ruse to sexually assault them while travelling on a train has been jailed for at least 10 months.

AJAY Chopra, 41, had pleaded guilty to all five charges relating to the assaults on five women over a three month period in 2011.

The Bendigo man targeted young women who were travelling alone on the Melbourne to Bendigo V/Line train, with each crime starting with an offer to tell their fortune."All of this was a ruse and what you were attempting to do was either to put their hand in your crotch area, or put your hand in their crotch area," Victorian County Court Judge Gerard Mullaly said.Jailing Chopra for 21 months, Judge Mullaly said his actions were shameful and dishonourable."The fact they were conducted on public transport adds to the unfortunate sense of fear that women have that public transport is not safe," he said."This fear is corrosive and impacts on women's rights to go about their lives freely."Prosecutor Neil Hutton said once Chopra had hold of a woman's hands he would resist any efforts by them to pull away.In one case, he held his hand under a woman's dress. In another, he held his victim's hand against his penis."She could feel the man's erect penis on the back of her hand," Mr Hutton said."This activity happened for most of the trip to Bendigo, where he got off the train."He turned and said `have a nice life` as he did so."Another incident was cut short - with Chopra moving to a different carriage - after the woman managed to make a mobile phone call.Defence lawyer Mark Hird tendered to the court character references which he said showed Chopra was a gentle person and the incidents were completely out of character.He said his client had entered an early plea of guilty to all charges - three counts of indecent assault, and two counts of attempted indecent assault."They are clearly quite serious offences ... and it is conceded they were carried out in circumstances of coercion," Mr Hird said.Chopra, who was supported in the court by his wife, was placed on the sex offenders register for life.

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Salvos sorry for abuse 'greatest failure'

The Salvation Army will again give evidence at the child sex abuse royal commission in Sydney. Source: AAP

THE Salvation Army says it is profoundly sorry for the abuse suffered by children in its care, and events revealed by the royal commission into child sexual abuse represent the greatest failure in its history.

HOWEVER, the organisation maintains sexual abuse was not widespread after the commission heard evidence of more than 100 cases of children suffering horrendous abuse in homes run by the Salvation Army in Queensland and NSW in the 1960s and 1970s.

As the royal commission moved to finalise its investigation into the church on Monday, counsel for the Salvation Army, Kate Eastman, challenged a statement from counsel assisting the commission that sexual abuse was "widespread" at boys' homes it ran.In an apology to survivors, Ms Eastman read a statement from the Salvation Army saying the organisation was "profoundly sorry for failing to care for you as you deserved, for the neglect, hurt, abuse and deprivation of human rights that all children are entitled to".Ms Eastman said the church "acknowledges that this is the greatest failure in its history in Australia".She said that in the 113 years from 1883 to 1996, the Salvation Army had 17,831 children in its care across four homes in NSW and Queensland and there had been 157 claims of abuse from children in that time.She said 115 of those children were from boys' homes and of 23 perpetrators identified, 19 were Salvation Army officers."We don't for one moment seek to diminish or oversimplify or justify by historical circumstances but we do submit that the total number of claims against the total number of children reflects a relatively small number of children reporting sexual abuse during their time at the home," Ms Eastman said.Counsel assisting the commission Simeon Beckett said the number of children abused in Salvation Army homes would never be known because many had not come forward or had not been able to speak out.The commission heard evidence from survivors of extreme sexual and physical abuse meted out by Salvation Army workers at homes in Indooroopilly and Riverview in Queensland, and Bexley and Goulburn in NSW.Hearings held in January and February heard evidence that the Salvation Army failed to investigate complaints that its staff were abusing boys and did not refer matters to police.Boys who did report abuse to officials were punished and many did not report abuse for fear they would not be believed and would suffer further punishment.Ms Eastman also revealed the Salvation Army has dismissed an officer accused of abusing children in the 1970s.John McIver was suspended by the Salvation Army in February after allegations he sexually abused two boys in a NSW home in the 1960s and 1970s, and whipped a boy with a strap and dislocated his arm during a beating at a home in Queensland in 1975.On Monday the commission heard McIver had been dismissed from the organisation in June and matters had been referred to police.The commission will now prepare its report into the events that occurred at Salvation Army homes in the 1960s and 1970s, and into separate events of alleged abuse that have occurred since 1993.

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