Shouldn’t ‘dump’ terror supporters: Greens

The Australian Greens are worried that terror supporters who’ve been stripped of their citizenship could be dumped in countries where authorities aren’t equipped to deal with them.

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The federal government has proposed legislation to take away the Australian citizenship of dual-nationals if they support groups such as Islamic State.

It would include both people at home and abroad, so long as they’re not left stateless, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed on Sunday.

“Whether they’re here or they’re offshore, we will strip citizenship from them under this proposal,” he told Channel Ten.

There have been 150 people identified in Australia as supporting fighters in Syria, by fundraising, training and preparing to join them.

Mr Dutton also tried to defend his power to make the decision instead of a court.

“We believe that … it’s a decision for the minister of the day, because we are elected by the people to make these tough decisions,” he said.

Deputy Greens Leader Scott Ludlam said the coalition was offering “half-hatched and half-baked” proposals in an attempt to appear tough.

“One of the perverse consequences … is you’re conceivably dumping really dangerous people in other jurisdictions or in neighbouring countries where police … won’t be as able or as prepared to deal with them,” he told reporters in Perth.

Senator Ludlam said Islamic State doesn’t present an “existential threat” to Australia, but rather a security risk.

“We don’t want to see some of the tactics the government is adopting potentially making things worse by polarising and dividing people rather than uniting the Australian community.”

He called for a more measured debate, arguing prevention, like de-radicalisation programs was more important.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese reiterated the party’s in principle support to the proposed citizenship changes.

But he insisted it’s right for the opposition to want to see the legislation before giving full support.

“You have this ridiculous position … where it is almost as if some members of the government are trying to say we are more loyal to Australia than others,” he told Sky News.

Apple shows off software updates

Apple’s plans for 2015 are just about to be laid bare as the world’s most valuable company prepares to showcase software updates for its iPhone, iPad and Mac computer line-up,

It will also introduce a music streaming service to rival Spotify.

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The Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the annual event where the iPhone maker unveils the next version of mobile operating system iOS – iOS 9 this year – as well as the next generation of Mac OS X that runs on the company’s desk and laptops, opens on Monday.

This year however a lot of attention is on how Apple will approach the music streaming business, with the California-based firm expected to announce they are entering the streaming service arena with a revamp of the Beats Music app.

The app came to Apple as part of their acquisition of Dr Dre’s Beats Audio last year, and is now set to power the new service, set to take on Spotify and Jay-Z’s TIDAL platform. There have been rumours musicians such as Drake and Pharrell Williams have curated special playlists to be included in the service.

No details have been confirmed but early reports suggest a STG9.99 ($A19.97) a month subscription-based system will form the backbone of the app.

“Every iOS release is a big deal for Apple fans and that won’t change with iOS 9,” Marc McLaren, technology expert and online editor at Stuff.tv, said.

It’s likely to include features such as vastly improved maps and a split-screen feature for the iPhone 6 Plus and iPads, while also giving us a few clues about the new hardware we’ll see in September.

“We’re even more excited about Apple’s new Beats Music-powered Spotify rival.

Though no major updates are expected to the Apple Watch’s software, there are some reports Apple will debut a new developer tool kit that will enable programmers to build native apps on the Watch.

The firm’s much-maligned mapping service, Apple Maps, could also be set for an update which will include public transport routes for the first time.

The keynote speech from Apple chief Tim Cook begins at 6pm in London on Monday and is being live-streamed online.

Brumbies and Tahs in conference battle

Super Rugby’s playoff sides have been locked in with the top six decided after the penultimate round, but the duel for the Australian conference between the NSW Waratahs and the Brumbies will go down to the wire.

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The playoff teams are runaway competition leaders the Hurricanes, fellow Kiwi sides the Chiefs and Highlanders, the Waratahs, Brumbies and the Stormers, who are the only South African team.

Michael Cheika’s Waratahs scored a nine-tries-to-five 58-33 bonus-point win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Sunday (AEST) to reclaim the Australian conference lead over the Canberra-based Brumbies as they chase a week off and prized home semi-final.

Star fullback Israel Folau scored three tries for the Waratahs who are locked on 47 points with the Brumbies but lead the conference by virtue of having more wins this season.

It sets up a thrilling last round, with the Brumbies having the chance to heap pressure on the Waratahs with a bonus-point win over the Crusaders at home on Saturday afternoon before NSW face Queensland later that evening in Sydney.

“We’ve always had a lot of history with the Reds,” said Waratahs skipper Dave Dennis whose side are second overall on the ladder.

“They’re playing some good rugby at the back end of the season, so we need to recover well and get back to Australia and prepare for that game.”

The Stormers snatched their third South African conference in five years with a 19-all draw against the Lions, while the Chiefs defeated Queensland 24-3 in Will Genia and James Horwill’s final game at Suncorp before continuing their careers overseas.

The Waratahs’ victory over the Cheetahs meant NSW would finish no lower than sixth and also knocked the Crusaders out of playoff contention.

On Friday, the Hurricanes eased past the Highlanders 56-20 before the Brumbies defeated the Western Force 33-20.

Star flanker David Pocock scored his second-hat-trick of tries this season in the victory to set up a big game for the Brumbies next week.

“If you finish third, there’s a fair bit of travel,” said Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham.

“We really need a good performance next week to give ourselves the best chance of getting in the top two.

“We’ve known from the last couple of years you can’t rest here and you can’t just get to the finals and say that’s a good season, we really need a top two finish.

“Next week is going to be a massive game for us.”

Earlier on Saturday, the Crusaders beat the Blues 34-11, and Melbourne ended South African visitors the Bulls’ playoff hopes with a 21-20 win in Victoria.

China pledges to end ivory trading but says United States should, too

China has pledged to end the processing and sale of ivory, a move that — if fulfilled — would be a major victory in the battle to end the slaughter of tens of thousands of African elephants by poachers every year.

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But it has not said how quickly it will act, and a top Chinese official called on the United States in an interview this week to also tighten its rules on ivory trading.

Wildlife experts said China’s recent announcement represented a sea change in official attitudes and called the prospect of an end to the legal trade in ivory in this country the greatest step that can be taken to reduce poaching. But they added that much would depend on when China acts, and how firmly.

China’s legal trade in ivory products — largely based on a stockpile imported in 2009 — provides the cover for a vast illegal trade that fuels poaching in Africa and involves global crime syndicates, experts say.

“His attitude is very firm, his point is very clear. It is not simply a sentence; China will really put this into practice.”

In an interview, a top Chinese wildlife official said his country was still deciding how far and how quickly it would act, but added that China could not be expected to act alone. Meng Xianlin, China’s top representative to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) said that other countries — including the United States — also need to toughen their regulations.

“Some people say, ‘China should take the leadership, you first, you stop everything and other countries will follow,’ ” he said. “I understand, but I think we should negotiate with other countries to push these procedures gradually.”

On May 29, China destroyed nearly 1,500 pounds of tusks and ivory carvings in a public ceremony in Beijing, after similar events in southern China and Hong Kong last year.

In a speech, Zhao Shucong, minister in charge of the State Forestry Administration, surprised assembled diplomats and environmentalists by announcing that China would “strictly control the ivory trade and processing, until eventually halting commercial processing and the sale of ivory and its products.”

The remarks prompted intense discussions within the wildlife conservation community, with enthusiasm mixed with disbelief. China had long argued that ivory carving was part of its ancient cultural heritage. Was it serious about closing its network of carving workshops, advocates wondered, or would it call a halt only when its existing stockpile was depleted?

Meng said there was a commitment at the highest levels of the Chinese government to build an “ecological civilization,” citing one of the many slogans of President Xi Jinping’s government. Now the principle has been established, he said, and it is just a matter of pushing the procedure.

“We participated in several rounds of discussion with our minister,” he said, referring to Zhao. “His attitude is very firm, his point is very clear. It is not simply a sentence; China will really put this into practice.”

Although stricter enforcement has helped reduce poaching and populations are growing in some nations, Tanzania and Mozambique have each lost half or more of their elephants in the past five years.

Wildlife groups have been campaigning for years to hear those words. A ban on the legal ivory trade in China would make it much easier to stamp out the illegal trade, they say.

“Ending the legal sales of ivory is the greatest single step that can be taken to reduce elephant poaching in Africa, and we hope it can happen as soon as possible,” said Peter Knights of WildAid, a San Francisco-based group that encourages Chinese people not to consume endangered wildlife products. “We applaud the Chinese government for its leadership.”

Cristian Samper, president of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, said Meng’s remarks should be “broadcast around the world, and should put all poachers on notice that their bloody market is no longer viable.”

“There is clearly a senior level of commitment from the Chinese government to stop the ivory industry in China,” he said. “Now, Chinese government agencies responsible for regulating and managing the ivory issue will need to develop a plan and a timeline to implement this decision. And people from all nations need to stop buying ivory.”

China imported 62 tons of ivory in 2008 at a time when elephant numbers were relatively healthy and limited international trade was allowed. It has been releasing that stockpile gradually to more than 30 licensed workshops to be carved into ivory products but refuses to say how much of the stockpile remains.

Meanwhile, poor enforcement of the licensing system allows the widespread sale of products made from poached ivory, fueling the slaughter. The African elephant population has fallen from more than 1 million in 1989 to about half a million now, with more than 20,000 animals estimated to have been killed for their tusks in each of the past two years.

Although stricter enforcement has helped reduce poaching and populations are growing in some nations, Tanzania and Mozambique have each lost half or more of their elephants in the past five years. There have also been big declines in forest elephant populations in central Africa.

“It’s up to us to change the laws — and actually enforce them — before it’s too late.”

Meng said the government is selling five tons of ivory a year to carving workshops but would “gradually” reduce that annual quota to zero. He said a total ban on ivory processing and sales could come “very quickly,” but then added: “One year, two years, three years, four years, 10 years. Is that quick or not quick compared to the history of the world?”

There is a precedent: Rhinoceros horn had been used in traditional Chinese medicine, but its use was banned in China in 1993 and it is hard to find here now.

Attitudes are also changing, with demand for shark fin soup sharply lower here in recent years. Meng said his son, and the younger generation in general, no longer wants to eat endangered wildlife products. WildAid says that 95 percent of people surveyed in China’s three largest cities now support a ban on ivory trading.

But Meng said China should not be the only country to act.

The United States is the second-largest market globally for illegal wildlife products after China, and it still allows trade in ivory acquired before a worldwide ban in 1989. Trophy hunters, Meng pointed out, are also allowed to import ivory into the United States for non-commercial use; Europeans still trade in ivory acquired in colonial times, while some African countries encourage trophy hunting for income.

In 2014, President Barack Obama ordered a tightening of the rules on ivory trading, while New York and New Jersey have both passed laws outlawing it. But the administration has failed to reach its ultimate goal of a national ban. The National Rifle Association’s support for trophy hunting and for trade in guns with ivory-inlaid stocks remains a barrier, environmentalists say.

“China’s announcement puts the ball back in our court,” Peter LaFontaine, a campaigns officer at the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Washington, wrote in a blog post. “The U.S. must lead by example to show we will not be an active player in the devastation and eventual extinction of such a majestic and intelligent species.

“It’s up to us to change the laws — and actually enforce them — before it’s too late.”

Washington Post correspondents Xu Jing and Liu Liu contributed to this report.

© The Washington Post 2015

 

Netherlands beat New Zealand 1-0 in World Cup debut

 

Playing in their fourth World Cup, New Zealand were again denied a maiden victory when Lieke Martens’ 33rd minute curling strike from outside the area sailed past the outstretched arms of Erin Nayler.

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“It was just one bit of brilliance from a player that we knew was capable of that, that made the difference,” New Zealand coach Tony Readings told reporters.

“We challenged ourselves as a team that we had another couple of gears to go up. We played OK in the first half but OK isn’t good enough in the World Cup.

“When we do up the ante and play to the pace we are capable of we can out-perform teams in this tournament.

“It’s a good lesson for us.”

Considered the tournament dark horse by many, New Zealand stormed through qualifying, outscoring opponents 30-0, but failed to test Dutch keeper Loes Geurts despite enjoying the better of the play.

Scoring goals has become a major problem for the Ferns who have now failed to find the back of net in their last four contests against Spain, United States, Japan and the Netherlands.

“We need to make our opportunities count because when you get to these tournaments it’s not just about putting in a good performance it’s about putting in a good performance and win games or take points,” Readings added.

The win moved the Netherlands to the top of Group A alongside Canada who opened the tournament with a 1-0 win over China.

Next up for the Dutch are China while New Zealand will face Canada.

“We’re very happy we could start this way,” said Netherlands coach Roger Reijners. “Everyone was very excited to be here but we know what we want.”

 

(Editing by Ian Ransom)