Thursday, September 06, 2018

Russian military officers charged for poisoning

Two Russian military intelligence (GRU) officers have been charged in relation to the nerve agent attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March this year. Britain's Crown Prosecution Service has obtained a European arrest warrant for “Alexander Petrov” and “Ruslan Boshirov” for attempted murder. Photos of CCTV show the two men arriving at London’s Gatwick airport from Russia, two days before the victims were found poisoned, and travelled by train to Salisbury where the attack happened. They then boarded a flight back to Moscow from Heathrow airport the night of the attack. It’s believed the GRU agents were using aliases to travel. Speaking to the British parliament, prime minister Theresa May said, “this was not a rogue operation. It was almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state.” The Russian Foreign Ministry has denied Russia’s involvement, saying the released photos “tell us nothing” and called the charges “informational manipulation”. Extradition of the two suspects from Russia not being sought, but if they travel to anywhere where a European arrest warrant is valid, they could be arrested and face extradition.

The Government of Nauru has gone against court orders and stopped the medical evacuation to Australia of a refugee in need of urgent treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Nauru’s secretary for multicultural affairs blocked the transfer because she was “just not convinced” it was an emergency, the Federal Court heard in an emergency hearing last night. Denial of the transfer puts the Commonwealth and home affairs minister in breach of the court orders, although the judge conceded it was not the Government’s fault.

A leaked recording has revealed that Nauru immigration centre employees were warned their jobs would be in jeopardy if they spoke to journalists during the Pacific Islands Forum. In the recording of a Canstruct meeting last week, the company which runs the centre, employees are directed on what they can and can’t talk about with journalists by PR agent Lyall Mercer. “They want to get information. Obviously, we don’t want to give out information about our company, because that’s not what we do,” he said. “We have a contract with the Australian government as well, and they won’t allow us to talk about those things. Breaching that will jeopardise your employment contract.” Speaking to the Guardian, employees said they felt threatened and that “the message was clear”. This week, New Zealand journalist Barbara Dreaver’s accreditation was briefly suspended and she was interviewed by police for speaking to refugees during the forum.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched an industry investigation into the “fake honey” allegations raised by the joint Fairfax/7.30 report on Monday. After conducting independent testing, it was found almost half of the product samples containing imported honey were adulterated with other substances, despite being sold as “pure honey”. ACCC chairman Rod Sims, said they “had a team on it straight away” and investigators were pulled into the project from other tasks. "I think there's a chance that some consumers have been misled, that's the allegation we are investigating,” he said. “Whenever you've got allegations coming from such a credible source about such an important staple product, then it becomes a very high priority for us." The Australian ($) has raised doubts about the tests arranged by the law firm King & Wood Mallesons. At the same time that the report into Capilano’s honey was commissioned, the law firm was also representing a client interested in buying the honey company. Fairfax stands by the integrity of the reporting, saying that “Mr Costa and the bidders for Capilano were represented by the same law firm is a matter for that law firm to reconcile”. A $190 million deal between Capilano and potential buyers Roc Partners and Wattle Hill was struck on August 13. Mallesons has since removed the firm as a representative for the bidders.


“The alt-right does not aspire toward intelligence or evidence, but toward power. They don’t cherish the debate so much as they cherish the attention and the credibility that the debate inherently suggests. Bannon doesn’t headline a New Yorker festival to subject his ideas to great scrutiny; Bannon headlines a New Yorker festival to reassert the dominance of his ideas, however contested, however detested by his ‘combative’ host.”


“VidCon is where YouTubers and social media influencers are called ‘creators’, and where they will learn how to monetise their burgeoning YouTube presence … In the overly familiar vernacular of social media, their fans are labelled their ‘community’, and they pay upwards of $100 for a lanyard bearing that marker. Most are teenagers who travel in tiny clusters or accompanied by patient parents; many are visibly bursting at the possibility that their favourite internet personality might materialise in front of them at any moment.”


“Mike was kept on the LSU campus in a trailer. His original name was Sheikh, and he was purchased from the Little Rock Zoo for $750. The official story is that the athletic director and a few others decided LSU needed a tiger. In 1935, that desire and a mountain of quarters collected from students was all anyone needed to justify the purchase of a deadly apex predator. The big cat arrived in 1936. LSU named him after athletic department trainer Chellis ‘Mike’ Chambers and blithely housed the 200-pound cat in the middle of campus, surrounded by potential meals.”


“The shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese did not endorse the tweet, but he said the reaction to it needed some perspective. He said the Coalition never spoke about the crucial role of unions in keeping people safe on construction sites. ‘An individual sent a tweet – let’s put this in some perspective here,’ Albanese told Sky News. ‘It’s an inappropriate tweet, but we shouldn’t determine policy over what occurs in the construction industry over a tweet.’ ”


“Criscon pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to comply with health and safety duty over the October 2016 deaths of Ashley Morris, 34, and 55-year-old Humberto Leite. The company was the principal contractor when the pair were killed after becoming sandwiched between two slabs which fell in a domino effect ... A sewage pipe was used as makeshift bracing for 14-tonne concrete panels that formed the walls for a foul-water drainage tank, the court heard on Tuesday. Two workers acting as health and safety co-ordinators did not know they had been nominated for the roles.”



“The World Wide Web was invented almost 30 years ago by Tim Berners Lee to help people easily share information around the world. Over the following decades, it has changed significantly – both in terms of design and functionality, as well its deeper role in modern society. Just as the architectural style of a building reflects the society from which it emerges, so the evolution of web design reflects the changing fashions, beliefs and technologies of the time.”

Anna Horan
is a Melbourne-based editor and writer.