Powered by 80s5!

Default utility Image

Hockey \’second choice after Costello\’ in treasury role Mr Hockey is taking over from Deputy Opposition leader Julie Bishop, who stepped down yesterday after five months as shadow treasurer to stop a destabilisation campaign against her within the Liberal party. She becomes shadow foreign minister and will stay deputy. But there has been speculation that the treasury job was first offered to Mr Costello, who served as treasurer under former Prime Minister John Howard. Costello camp denies shadow offer While well-placed sources insisted the offer had been made, others close to Mr Costello strongly denied this, Fairfax reported. The former treasurer made it clear this month he was not interested in the shadow treasurer\’s job. Mr Costello, who has been the subject of repeated speculation about a possible move for the Liberal leadership, has still not said whether he intends to contest the next election. Liberal frontbencher Tony Abbott said speculation that Costello was approached to take up a front bench position was nothing but “feverish gossip”. Nelson to quit politics Meanwhile, former opposition leader and defence and education minister Brendan Nelson says he will not be re-contesting his Sydney seat of Bradfield at the next election. It is believed Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Costello spoke on Sunday about the pressure on Ms Bishop to quit, and again yesterday after it was reported Mr Turnbull had made the offer to Mr Costello. Mr Costello is believed to have told people that Ms Bishop had done nothing wrong, Fairfax reports. Coonan new opposition finance spokesperson Economic minister Senator Helen Coonan will replace Joe Hockey as opposition finance spokesperson. In the minor reshuffle following Ms Bishop\’s announcement, Mr Turnbull said education spokesman Chris Pyne would take over Mr Hockey\’s tactically important role of manager of opposition business in the House of Representatives. Tasmanian Senator Stephen Parry will become manager of opposition business in the Senate, lightening the load for Senator Coonan, in addition to his role as Senate opposition whip. Mr Turnbull said both Mr Hockey and Senator Coonan, who was assistant treasurer and minister for revenue in the Howard government, would make “a formidable team to take on the Rudd government”. Three shadow treasurers in 15 months But Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said that in 15 months of government, the opposition had appointed three different shadow treasurers and finance spokesmen. “The Liberal Party\’s changed the jockey but it\’s still the same horse, they\’ve voted against jobs, voted against nation building in the parliament last week and is hysterically exaggerating the government debt,” Mr Tanner said. “Yeah, Joe\’s a nice bloke, he seems to present pretty well, he\’s also the same bloke who a week or two ago was saying the last people you\’d want to listen to in a global economic crisis is economists.” Mr Hockey praised his predecessor in a statement saying Ms Bishop had “done a very good job” in laying the foundation for the party\’s economic policy for the next election. Neither Mr Turnbull\’s office nor that of former treasurer and now backbencher Peter Costello would confirm speculation that Mr Costello was offered a frontbench spot only to decline the role. Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout appeared to favour the change, saying the role of shadow treasurer was a big task in the current economic times “but Joe Hockey hasn\’t shied away from big challenges in the past”. “We have a lot of respect for Julie Bishop having worked closely with her in a number of roles,” Ms Ridout added. An Essential Research poll, asking whether Mr Turnbull or Mr Costello would make a better Opposition leader, found 37 per cent favoured Mr Costello and 26 per cent Mr Turnbull. Coalition voters favoured Mr Costello over Mr Turnbull 46-36 per cent; Labor voters preferred Mr Costello to Mr Turnbull 37-22 per cent, Fairfax reported. Ms Bishop rejected suggestions she\’d been pushed after a series of leaks to the media in the past week that suggested she was not up to the job. “I formed the opinion, I have made the judgment, it is my call,” Ms Bishop told reporters in Perth. “While I believe I have carried out my duties as shadow treasurer diligently and competently, I have formed the opinion that the ongoing commentary on my role has been a distraction from the scrutiny that should have been applied to the government\’s reckless economic performance.”

Default utility Image

NSW residents cut off by floods A caravan park has been evacuated and a town is cut off by floodwaters as heavy rain continues on the NSW mid-north coast. The town of Bellingen, with a population of about 2,700, is isolated after its main road, Waterfall Way, was cut by floodwaters on Tuesday. “Both sides of the town are flooded,” the manager of the Diggers Tavern said. The State Emergency Service (SES) said the flooding occurred after the Bellingen River peaked at Bellingen about 11am (AEDT) on today. The flood peak was now moving down the river and was expected to peak about 3pm (AEDT) at Repton and Urunga. Twenty-four people had been evacuated from the Repton Riverside Caravan Park in anticipation of flooding there, an SES spokeswoman said. No other evacuations were planned, but the SES was “keeping an eye on things”, she said. The SES had received about 150 calls for assistance from residents of the Bellingen area since the heavy rain began on Friday, the spokeswoman said. Bourke declared natural disaster zoneMeanwhile Bourke has been declared a natural disaster zone by the New South Wales government following major flooding in the state\’s north-west over the weekend.Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan visited Bourke today to inspect flood damage and thank local emergency services for their efforts. Almost 200mm of rain about two-thirds of the region\’s annual rainfall fell over 15 hours from last Friday night and the situation was made worse by another 27mm of rain yesterday. Mr Whan says the natural disaster declaration will provide for a range of assistance to residents, council and business owners who suffered property damage. Weather warnings The Bureau of Meterology also issued a flood warning for Sydney after heavy rain overnight and further heavy falls and flash flooding are forecast for today. The is a strong wind warning for coastal waters between Wooli and Ulladulla on the NSW coast and gale warnings for the Mid North Coast and Hunter Coast. For emergency assistance call the SES on telephone number 132 500. For the latest weather forecast see the Bureau\’s website. FloodSafe advice is available here.

Default utility Image

Earth-like planets \’in our galactic neighborhood\’ “There are something like a few dozen solar-type stars within something like 30 light years of the sun, and I would think that a good number of those — perhaps half of them have Earth-like planets,” Alan Boss told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AASS). “So I think there is a very good chance that we will find some Earth-like planets within 10, 20 or 30 light years of the Sun,” the astrophysicist from the Carnegie Institution for Science told his AAAS colleagues meeting here since Thursday. One light year equals the distance light travels in one year at the speed of 300,000 kilometers per second, or 9.46 trillion kilometers. Boss is convinced that the Earth-sized planets could be found either by the Kepler space telescope US space agency NASA plans to launch on March 5, or by the French-European telescope-equipped COROT satellite that has been in orbit since 2006. “I will be absolutely astonished if Kepler or COROT didn\’t find any earth-like planets, because basically we are finding them already,” Boss told a press conference Saturday when asked why he felt so confident. COROT has already discovered the smallest extraterrestrial planet so far. At a little over twice the Earth\’s diameter, the planet is very close to its star and very hot, astronomers reported earlier this month. Boss said Kepler and COROT will likely find so many Earth-like planets that they will “tell us how to go ahead and build the next space telescope to go and examine these planets, after we know they are there.” The images from those new planets, he added, should identify “light from their atmosphere and tell us if they have perhaps methane and oxygen. That will be pretty strong proof they are not only habitable but actually are inhabited.” “I am not talking about a planet with intelligence on it. I simply say if you have a habitable world … sitting there, with the right temperature with water for a billion years, something is going to come out of it. “At least we will have microbes,” said Boss. Raymond Jeanloz, professor of astronomy, earth and planetary science at the University of California at Berkeley, delved further into the matter. “I can strongly reinforce Alan Boss\’s point that life from this perspective that is very much driven by our understanding from the genome, is in some sense \’inevitable,\'” if the same basic building blocks of life that exist on Earth are present. “The distinction will be more between a class of life form that can communicate with us versus … the vast abundance of life forms recorded in our fossil records, namely microbial life.” On the possibility of finding an extra-terrestrial civilization, Boss said the research “is an interesting one and an important one to do because, even though there is a small probability of success, if you actually find something, it is an immense discovery to make. “So you say, \’yes, this is worth doing.\'”

Default utility Image

Factbox: Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge tribunal Here are key facts about Cambodia’s long road from genocide to justice: THE GENOCIDE: The communist Khmer Rouge seized control of Cambodia in April 1975 and immediately began dismantling modern society in their drive to transform the country into an agrarian utopia. The regime abolished religion, schools and currency and exiled millions of people onto vast collective farms. Up to two million people died of starvation and overwork or were executed from 1975 to 1979. The horrors of the genocide were portrayed in the film The Killing Fields. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: The Khmer Rouge were driven from power in 1979 by Vietnamese troops and former regime members who defected, including Hun Sen, now Cambodia’s prime minister. He was a mid-level military commander until fleeing to Vietnam in 1977. Under him, the Cambodian government fought the Khmer Rouge until the movement collapsed in the mid-1990s. THE TRIBUNAL: Cambodia and the United Nations signed an agreement in 2003 which essentially brought the tribunal into being and set out its mandate. Known as the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), it is a complex hybrid court combining elements of international law with Cambodia’s judiciary. Its mandate is to prosecute “those most responsible” for crimes committed between 1975 and 1979. The tribunal has faced controversy over allegations that Cambodian staff were forced by their superiors to pay kickbacks for their jobs. It can impose a sentence of imprisonment of up to life in prison. There is no death penalty and no financial compensation for victims. It is funded by foreign nations, the biggest donors being Japan and Germany. The tribunal was widely praised for its landmark first trial but it has come under fire from survivors in recent months who fear the court is bowing to political pressure to wind up proceedings after the second trial. Officially, the court is still looking into two more cases against five other unnamed Khmer Rouge suspects but observers widely expect these third and fourth cases to be dismissed. The Cambodian government has repeatedly objected to further trials, saying they could destabilise the country. WHO FACES TRIAL: After Duch, the court is scheduled to try Khmer Rouge “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea,former head of state Khieu Samphan, ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary, and his wife, former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith, all on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The court is also due to rule whether to pursue charges against other former leaders after the Cambodian co-prosecutor said such a move would destabilise the country. Many observers say the decision on whether to prosecute more Khmer Rouge suspects represents a test of the court’s independence from the current Cambodian government. AND THOSE WHO ESCAPED: Because of the tribunal’s limited scope, thousands of lower-level Khmer Rouge members and fighters who carried out the regime’s brutal acts will never face court. Also escaping justice are “Brother Number One” Pol Pot, who died in 1998, and military commander Ta Mok, one of the regime’s most vicious figures, who was in jail when he died in 2006.

Default utility Image

Khmer Rouge trial: Who is Duch? Khmer Rouge torturer-in-chief Duch once taught maths to school children but put his cold, calculating mind to far more devastating use as head of a jail from which few inmates ever came out alive. The 67-year-old — whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav — oversaw the extermination of some 15,000 men, women and children at the Tuol Sleng prison in Cambodia’s capital during the communist regime’s brutal 1975-1979 rule. Those who worked under him at the prison testified that Duch was universally feared by the staff. Most who worked there were uneducated teenage boys, whom Duch said could be easily indoctrinated because they were “like a blank piece of paper”. “Comrade” Duch begged for forgiveness at Cambodia’s UN-backed war crimes court for crimes committed under his command at the jail, where prisoners were tortured into denouncing themselves and others as foreign spies. But victims questioned whether his remorse was genuine after Duch asked to be acquitted in his closing remarks in November, and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison Monday for war crimes and crimes against humanity. As a staunch communist, then a born-again Christian and finally remorseful defendant, Duch seemed to always strive to please those above him, making his request to be released all the more surprising. “He is meticulous, conscientious, control-oriented, attentive to detail and seeks recognition from his superiors,” according to a psychological examination released by the UN-backed court. Born in 1942 in central Cambodia, Duch is remembered as a sincere teacher devoted to helping the poor, before he became a Khmer Rouge cadre in 1970. The decision to join the communist guerrilla movement was influenced by one of his high school instructors, who also enlisted but would later be executed at Tuol Sleng as a suspected traitor. “I joined the revolution in order to transform society, to oppose the government, to oppose torture,” Duch said during his trial. “I sacrificed everything for the revolution, sincerely and absolutely.” Inside the rebel-controlled zones, he chose Duch as his revolutionary name because it was used by a model student in a schoolbook from his youth. He then oversaw a series of jungle prisons before being made head of Tuol Sleng after the regime seized the capital in 1975. What began as only a few dozen prisoners turned into a daily torrent of condemned coming through Tuol Sleng, or S-21, as the regime purged itself of its “enemies”. Ever meticulous, Duch built up a huge archive of photos, confessions and other documents with which prosecutors traced the final horrible months of thousands of inmates’ lives. Following the Khmer Rouge’s fall from power, he maintained posts within the communist movement as it battled Vietnam-backed troops. He also reportedly worked in the 1980s for Radio China and later taught English and maths in at least one refugee camp. After his wife was murdered in 1995, Duch turned to Christianity. He was arrested after Irish photojournalist Nic Dunlop uncovered him working for a Christian aid agency in western Cambodia under a false name. Before that, many had long assumed he was dead following his disappearance after Vietnamese troops ousted the Khmer Rouge in 1979. “I told Nic Dunlop, ‘Christ brought you to meet me’,” Duch told his trial. “I said, ‘Before I used to serve human beings, but now I serve God’.”

Categories

Recent Posts

Default utility Image Public warned against revenge after arson charge

As he was driven away from Morwell Magistrates Court on Friday, angry residents hurled abuse...

Default utility Image Stimulus plans under scrutiny at G7 talks

Top economic powers urged action to help the world scramble out of a deepening recession,...

Default utility Image G7 sets sights on urgent economic reform

Italy\'s Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti called for a "new world economic order"...

Default utility Image Suspected US missile strike kills 27 in Pakistan

The strike, among the deadliest yet, defied Pakistani government warnings that the tactic is...

Default utility Image Vidmar apologises for extraordinary outburst

Vidmar, named the league\'s coach of the year only a week ago, labelled Adelaide...

Recent Posts

Default utility Image Default utility Image Default utility Image Default utility Image Default utility Image

Recent Posts

Default utility Image Public warned against revenge after arson charge

As he was driven away from Morwell Magistrates Court on Friday, angry residents hurled abuse...

Default utility Image Stimulus plans under scrutiny at G7 talks

Top economic powers urged action to help the world scramble out of a deepening recession,...

Default utility Image G7 sets sights on urgent economic reform

Italy\'s Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti called for a "new world economic order"...

Default utility Image Suspected US missile strike kills 27 in Pakistan

The strike, among the deadliest yet, defied Pakistani government warnings that the tactic is...

Default utility Image Vidmar apologises for extraordinary outburst

Vidmar, named the league\'s coach of the year only a week ago, labelled Adelaide...

Tag Cloud