Senior police jailed over Rohingya attacks

Myanmar’s police court has sentenced three senior officers to prison for negligence after Rohingya insurgents overran three border posts in October, killing nine policemen, a government official said.

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Several hundred Rohingya men, from a Muslim minority that many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar view as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, attacked the border guard posts on October 9. Most were armed only with sticks.

The attacks set off a crackdown on the minority, prompting more than 70,000 people to flee across the border to Bangladesh.

Information Ministry director Ye Naing told Reuters on Friday an official investigation probed how the poorly trained and barely armed insurgents could successfully stage the attacks.

The government says the militants, who stole weapons and ammunition in the raids, have links to radical Islamists abroad.

The court sentenced the three senior officers in the border town of Maungdaw to one to three years in prison, Ye Naing said.

“They were jailed because they were guilty of negligence regarding security during the October 9 attacks,” he said.

Ye Naing could not specify the date of the sentencing or details of the investigation. Several other high-ranking police officers were still under investigation by the military-controlled Ministry of Home Affairs, he added.

About 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims live in apartheid-like conditions in northwestern Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship.

The United Nations has documented mass killings and rapes committed during the crackdown by security forces that it says may amount to crimes against humanity. No senior police or army officers have been found accountable for these alleged crimes.

The civilian government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has repeatedly denied almost all allegations against the country’s still-powerful armed forces during what it has said was a lawful counter-insurgency campaign that began in October.

Garmin employee gunned down in Kansas

GPS device-maker Garmin is reeling after one of its employees was killed and another wounded in a shooting at a bar close to their workplace in Kansas City.

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The tech company has long revered diversity in its workforce, even when the locale of its ever-sprawling operational headquarters – a largely white Kansas City suburb – didn’t reflect it.

It’s the place 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla came to work a few years ago and his wife said on Friday he willingly spent long hours on an aviation systems engineering team alongside Alok Madasani, a friend and colleague also 32 and from India.

Kuchibhotla’s trek led him to have a kinship with his boss, Lebanese native Didier Popadopoulos, who says he moved to America at Kuchibhotla’s age and once held the same Garmin job.

But Garmin – a billion-dollar tech giant launched in Kansas as a startup by two men nearly three decades ago – is now trying to digest Kuchibhotla’s shooting death on Wednesday at a tavern just down the road from work. Madasani was wounded, along with a stranger who tried to help.

Witnesses say the gunman, Adam Purinton, yelled at the two Indian men to “get out of my country” and opened fire. Purinton, who was arrested hours later at a bar in Missouri, remains jailed on murder and attempted murder charges.

On Friday, Garmin comforted grieving employees at a closed-door vigil at its campus in Olathe, Kansas. Kuchibhotla’s widow, Sunayana Dumala, addressed the group of about 200 workers, which included Madasani.

Laurie Minard, Garmin’s vice president of human resources, doesn’t believe the shooting will jeopardise its recruitment of workers from overseas.

“We tend to be a family here,” she said at the Garmin campus, which is waging a $US200 million ($A260 million) expansion.

“We want people to feel safe. We embrace it. We encourage it. We support it. It’s extremely important to us about acceptance.”

At any given time, she said, more than 100 Garmin employees are part of a program, which lets American companies bring foreigners with technical skills to the US for three to six years.

IS suicide blast kills 51 near Syria’s Al-Bab

The bomber blew up a vehicle packed with explosives outside a rebel command centre in the village of Susian, eight kilometres northeast of Al-Bab, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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The blast devastated the twin command posts and also seriously wounded a large number of fighters, the Britain-based monitoring group said.

Most of the dead were fighters.

There was no immediate claim for the attack but it bore all the hallmarks of IS, which had put up fierce resistance in Al-Bab for weeks.

The strategic town, just 25 kilometres south of the Turkish border, was the jihadists’ last stronghold in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo.

Turkey sent troops into Syria last August in an operation it said targeted not only IS but also US-backed Kurdish fighters whom it regards as terrorists.

With its support, the rebels launched an offensive to take Al-Bab last year.

It has proved the bloodiest battle of Ankara’s campaign accounting for most of the 69 Turkish losses so far.

Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik said on Thursday that its rebel allies now had “near complete control” of the town.

The town was also seen as a prize by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, who had advanced to just 1.5 kilometres (one mile) from its outskirts in recent weeks.

On Thursday afternoon, an AFP correspondent heard intermittent gunfire as rebel units continued to clear the heavily damaged town.

Rebels pounded outside Aleppo

The battle against IS around Al-Bab is just one front line in the fighting in Aleppo province.

West of the second city, which government forces took full control of in December, fighting flared with rebels in its western suburbs even as peace talks got under way in Geneva.

Exchanges of rocket and artillery fire first broke out on Wednesday, centred on the rebel-held district of Rashideen, the Observatory said.

The government responded with intensive air strikes on Thursday that killed at least 32 rebel fighters.

“The regime wants to reinforce its positions around Aleppo and is using the rocket fire by the rebels as a pretext to bombard their positions and attempt to drive them out of the suburbs,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

A fragile ceasefire between government forces and non-jihadist rebels has been in force since late December, brokered by regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.

It has led to a sharp reduction in fighting in many areas.

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But parts of the country which are held by IS or its jihadist rival, former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, are not covered by the truce.

The talks in Geneva between government and opposition representatives formally opened on Thursday.

They are the fourth round of UN-brokered negotiations, aimed at ending a conflict that has dragged on for nearly six years and claimed more than 310,000 lives.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said: “I’m not expecting miracles,” but warned of dire consequences if the talks “fail again”.

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Cowboys eye Eels’ formula to beat Broncos

The finals formula is pretty simple for North Queensland ahead what looms as another epic NRL showdown with arch-rival Brisbane on Thursday night – win and you’re in.

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However, the Cowboys claim they’ve had their eyes on Parramatta’s blueprint for success against the third-placed Broncos, rather than the NRL ladder.

North Queensland can clinch a seventh-straight finals appearance and finish as high as fifth with victory in the final round clash in Townsville.

Lose and they must sweat on other results over what would be an anxious weekend to scrape into the eight.

“You know what, we honestly haven’t spoken about it – it’s a game, we have to win it,” Cowboys assistant David Fairleigh said.

“To be honest I haven’t even looked at the ladder, I just know we are down near eighth.

“It doesn’t matter how other games go, we’ve just got to do what we’ve got to do.

“We haven’t spoken about ‘if we win we’ll finish wherever’, we’ve just got to get out there and compete.”

Brisbane may be already assured a top-four finish but the desperate Cowboys were given a timely cheat sheet on how to dismantle them thanks to the Eels’ stunning 52-34 rout at Suncorp Stadium last week.

“We are a different team to Parramatta but one thing they did well was they turned up to play,” Fairleigh said.

“What got them in that situation was they were very physical to start with, they upset Brisbane’s rhythm with the way they moved off the line.

“Things didn’t click for Brisbane on the night but we know that can turn around very quickly.

“I am sure we won’t see that Brisbane team tomorrow night.”

Fairleigh also hoped he didn’t see the same Cowboys team as last week despite notching a morale-boosting last round win over Wests Tigers.

While the victory snapped a four game losing run to keep them in the finals mix, Fairleigh said the Cowboys could not repeat their slow start.

“We were lucky enough to have some quality players get us home in the end but Brisbane won’t give us that opportunity,” Fairleigh said.

“We’ve got to play better, that is the bottom line.”

But motivation won’t be an issue ahead of what is expected to be another epic showdown against Brisbane.

Four of the past five derbies have been decided by one point and in extra-time.

“It’s a big game, a big occasion,” Fairleigh said.

“The two teams bring the best out of each other.

“And despite what happened to them last week and our own situation I am sure it will be a quality game tomorrow.”

Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote (ankle) was cleared after training strongly on Wednesday.

STATS THAT MATTER

* North Queensland have won the last five games against Brisbane in Townsville.

* North Queensland are chasing four straight overall wins over Brisbane for the first time in club history.

* Brisbane have won three of their past four matches as the away team.

Ministers’ decisions could be under cloud

A constitutional expert says it would be wise for ministers under a High Court cloud to step aside or the federal government could face legal action over its decisions.

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Five members of parliament, including Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, face a High Court test of their eligibility under section 44 of the constitution, which bans dual nationals from being MPs.

Another two, including cabinet minister Fiona Nash, will be referred to the court by parliament next week.

One ministerial colleague, Matt Canavan, stood aside when issues were identified about his status.

Professor George Williams, one of the nation’s foremost constitutional experts, says it’s difficult to see that any of the seven MPs facing the court had taken reasonable steps to renounce their citizenship of other countries.

He said that while no law was likely to be undone because it was “tainted” by the election of an ineligible member – based on previous High Court decisions – there were question marks over government decisions.

“The situation of ministers is less clear,” Prof Williams told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

“The wisest course is for them to refrain from making decisions or to step down pending the outcome of the High Court hearing.”

He said this was because their authority to run their departments and to make decisions under legislation depends upon the law regarding them as being properly appointed.

Section 64 of the constitution says that “no minister of state shall hold office for a longer period than three months unless he is or becomes a senator or a member of the House of Representatives”.

“If current ministers are ruled in breach of section 44, they will have made many decisions without apparent legal support from when the three-month period of grace ran out late last year,” Prof Williams said.

He said decisions about contentious matters such as Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in Queensland might be challenged in the courts.

The University of NSW academic said the issue may get much worse, and after the court makes its decisions there may be merit in an audit of all MPs which he believed could uncover 20 or more members with eligibility problems of various kinds.

However, an audit would face the difficulty of some members refusing to comply and others arguing it’s a matter for the courts.

Asked whether Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was right to say he was very confident the court would clear his ministers, Prof Williams said such comments were unwise.

The court will hear the cases from October 10 to 12.

Growth driven by engineering, construction

A surprisingly strong rise in engineering work suggests economic activity has perked-up after a sluggish start to the year.

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It will give the Turnbull government something to cheer about as it tries to get the focus back on the Australian economy when parliament sits next week, after the distraction of the citizenship fiasco.

New figures show construction work jumped by 9.3 per cent in the June quarter, buoyed by a 21.5 per cent surge in engineering.

Economists had expected an overall rise of just one per cent.

The rise in engineering, due to the installation of a large piece of LNG infrastructure for a West Australian project, comes after a more modest 2.7 per cent increase in the March quarter and many quarters of negative growth beyond that as the mining investment boom unwound.

Commonwealth Bank economist Kristina Clifton said outside of WA, engineering was also supported by solid infrastructure spending in other states.

The construction data feeds into next Wednesday’s national accounts for the June quarter.

Building construction was more subdued but not unexpected by economists.

Residential construction fell 0.4 per cent while non-residential construction rose 1.1 per cent.

“We expect residential construction to drift lower for the next couple of quarters before rising a little until the RBA begins lifting the cash rate,” Macquarie Research economist Shane Lee said.

The construction data joins already released retail sales and trade that also surprised on the upside.

Ms Clifton says while there are further reports to come before the national accounts, at this stage, the construction figures overall suggest there are upsides risks to CBA’s preliminary forecast for a 0.5 per cent GDP rise in the June quarter.

This would come after the limp 0.3 per cent rise in the March quarter and take into account the impact of Cyclone Debbie in late March.

Treasury had expected the cyclone that hit northwest Australia would reduce economic growth by about a quarter of a percentage point in the June quarter.

Thursday will see the release of business investment spending for the June quarter, followed by company profits and business inventories early next week.

Diana no frivolous airhead: Aus professor

When Bob Graham, his wife and three children were invited to afternoon tea with Princess Diana they thought they were in for a nice chat over tea and treats at her luxury hotel overlooking Sydney Harbour.

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But when the family arrived they were stunned to find Diana hiding in the dark.

“She had all the blinds closed and we said, ‘Why have you got the curtains closed because it’s a lovely sunny day’,” recalls Prof Graham, who as head of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute hosted the princess during her three-day stay in November 1996.

“She said, ‘Well, every time I go out on the porch two helicopters take off wanting to take photos’. So she was virtually locked in this room.”

The moment offered a compelling glimpse into Diana’s life and her constant battle to escape the prying eyes of the media.

Diana’s visit was her final one to Sydney, coming just nine months before her death in a Paris car crash on August 31, 1997.

It was also her first solo visit to Australia following her divorce from Prince Charles.

Diana was in town to raise money for the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, where her secret boyfriend at the time, heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, had trained.

Prof Graham, like the rest of the world, was unaware of the relationship when Diana visited but remembers that while the princess never mentioned Khan she knew an incredible amount about heart disease.

“I was impressed that she wasn’t just some frivolous airhead,” he said.

“She was someone who was genuinely interested and who had learned quite a lot about medicine and heart disease and had a genuine interest in helping people, and not just because she had someone who happened to be a cardiologist as her boyfriend.”

Diana dazzled Sydney’s social set at a glittering charity dinner for the institute, where pop star Sting serenaded her and hundreds of people lined the streets to catch a glimpse as she arrived.

“It speaks volumes for the people of Australia that despite the passage of time you’ve still both recognised and remembered me,” Diana told the dinner guests.

The confident princess who took Sydney by storm was a far cry from the shy aristocratic 19-year-old who secretly fled to regional NSW 15 years earlier, just two days after Prince Charles asked her to marry him.

Unbeknown to the world at the time, Lady Diana Spencer spent three weeks with her mother Frances Shand Kydd working on wedding plans while staying with a friend at Mollymook on the NSW south coast and the family’s Bloomfield sheep station near Yass in February 1981.

“That was a complete disaster because I pined for him but he never rang me up,” Diana later told journalist and author Andrew Morton in a series of taped conversations he used for his blockbuster book, Diana Her True Story.

After their fairytale wedding in 1981 Diana and Charles chose Australia for their first official tour in 1983 – a trip that also caused angst for the princess.

The royal couple brought their nine-month-old son Prince William with them on the six-week tour, which Diana described as “make or break time for me”.

She found the crowds overwhelming, confiding in tears to her lady-in-waiting at the end of the first week how she wanted to flee home to London.

Prince Charles was also surprised by how wellwishers were more interested in his new bride than their future king.

“Everybody always said when we were in the car, ‘Oh, we’re in the wrong side, we want to see her, we don’t want to see him,’ and that’s all we could hear when we went down the crowds and obviously he wasn’t used to that and nor was I,” Diana told Moreton.

Despite the behind-the-scenes tensions, the tour was judged a success.

The crowds came out in force again when Charles and Diana returned for Victoria’s 150th anniversary in 1985, and Australia’s bicentenary in 1988 when speculation was mounting about the state of the royal marriage.

In between those official tours Charles rekindled his affair with long-time love Camilla Parker Bowles while Diana embarked on a five-year affair with former British Army captain James Hewitt.

But amid the searing summer heat of January 1988, Diana and Charles put on a good public show of togetherness as they spent Australia Day on Sydney Harbour before touring Darwin, Adelaide and Melbourne.

During a rare public speech, Diana pondered the future.

“Like most people with small children I often wonder what sort of world our sons will inhabit in the next century. When I meet people like you all here today, I am encouraged to believe that the future will, after all, be something to look forward to,” she told a crowd in Adelaide.

However Diana’s next few years were far from enjoyable, with prince and princess separating in 1992.

Diana was determined to forge her own path and reduce her public engagements, saying she had found the media attention of the past decade overwhelming and wanted to focus on her sons William and Harry.

Her affair with Hewitt had ended a year earlier, but Diana eventually found love again with Pakistani-born heart surgeon Hasnat Khan and even dreamed of moving to Australia with him to escape the Fleet Street press.

The romance fizzled out just weeks before Diana’s death after Khan refused to marry her because he had no desire to be thrown into the public spotlight.

Prof Graham says while Diana hated the spotlight just as much as Khan, he was struck by how she tried not to let the media attention stop her from doing what she wanted.

“Her attitude was, not that she ever said it, was she just couldn’t give a damn, she just wanted to do what she felt was right, which I thought was very impressive.”

Diana’s thoughts on Australia

FIRST OFFICIAL VISIT TO AUSTRALIA WITH PRINCE CHARLES, 1983

“It was make or break time for me,” Diana told journalist Andrew Morton in a series of tape recordings for his blockbuster book Diana, Her True Story.

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“It was hot, I was jet-lagged, being sick. I was too thin. The whole world was focusing on me every day. I came back from this engagement and I went to my lady-in-waiting, cried my eyes out and said: ‘Anne, I’ve got to go home, I can’t cope with this.'” – After her first engagement visiting the School of the Air in Alice Springs.

“Everybody always said when we were in the car, ‘Oh, we’re in the wrong side, we want to see her, we don’t want to see him,’ and that’s all we could hear when we went down to the crowds and obviously he wasn’t used to that and nor was I.” – On the royal couple’s surprise at the huge crowds that followed them on tour.

“He took it out on me. He was jealous; I understood the jealousy but I couldn’t explain that I didn’t ask for it.” – On Charles’ surprise at the overwhelming attention paid by Aussies to Diana.

“We didn’t see very much of him (William) but at least we were under the same sky, so to speak.” – On having Prince William with her in Australia.

“I was more grown up, more mature, but not anything like the process I was going to go through in the next four or five years. Basically our tour was a great success.”

1988 VISIT TO MARK AUSTRALIA’S BICENTENARY

“When I meet people like you all here today, I am encouraged to believe that the future will, after all, be something to look forward to.” – In a rare speech in Adelaide

“It’s a bit hot, not what we’re used to in England.” – Diana’s reaction to the oppressive heat in Adelaide.

SPEECH TO THE VICTOR CHANG CARDIAC RESEARCH INSTITUTE CHARITY BALL 1996:

“It speaks volumes for the people of Australia that despite the passage of time you’ve still both recognised and remembered me.” – On her eight-year absence from Australia.

Likely court overturn of marriage survey

The Turnbull government could be forced to come up with a Plan C on same-sex marriage within weeks, as controversy reins over a new “no” case advertisement.

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The High Court will next week hear a challenge to the government’s plan for a postal survey on changing marriage laws.

The voluntary survey was Plan B after the Senate blocked the compulsory plebiscite promised by the coalition at the 2016 election.

Constitutional expert George Williams said he expected a quick answer to whether the government had the power to spend money on the survey without legislation having passed parliament.

“It is facing an uphill battle in this case, with its position running counter to line of High Court authority,” Prof Williams told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

“Over a series of recent decisions, the High Court has found that the federal government generally requires parliamentary approval to spend taxpayers’ money.”

The government found the $122 million needed to run the survey by using laws to make an advance payment to the finance minister in circumstances where there is an urgent need for spending and the situation was unforeseen.

Same-sex marriage advocates who are taking the matter to the court argue the spending does not fit the category of either “urgent” or “unforeseen”.

“How could this expenditure be said to be unforeseen at the relevant date of May 5, 2017, when the government had a long-standing policy of holding a plebiscite on same-sex marriage?” Prof Williams said.

“Overall, I would be surprised to see the government emerge with a victory.”

The advocates are also arguing the survey falls outside the powers of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which has been asked to roll it out instead of the Australian Electoral Commission which usually runs referendums and elections.

If the survey is found to be unconstitutional, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will face a choice of doing nothing further on same-sex marriage this term, allowing a private member’s bill to go to parliament or having another shot at passing the plebiscite bill.

However he has repeatedly promised not to change marriage laws without the Australian people having a say and could face the ire of coalition conservatives if he departs from that.

Meanwhile, Labor has described as hurtful and offensive an ad featuring three mothers highlighting their concerns about how the marriage law changes will effect what is taught and promoted in schools.

One of the women featured on the commercial tells viewers her son had been told he could wear a dress to school next year if he wanted to.

However, the principal of the Victorian high school from which the mother withdrew her children said the offer to students “never happened”, Fairfax media reported.

Assistant minister Zed Seselja said the mothers were simply putting the case their ability to object to “fairly radical sex education in schools” would be harder if marriage was redefined.

Storm want to send Cronk out as NRL winner

Will Chambers says Melbourne will do their best to ensure they give departing halfback Cooper Cronk a fitting farewell in his last regular-season NRL match at AAMI Park.

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The Storm host Canberra on Saturday night with the club preparing for a massive occasion. It will be Cronk’s final home-and-away game and captain Cameron Smith will equal Darren Lockyer’s record of 355 games.

Smith will also accept the JJ Giltinan Shield for the Storm winning the minor premiership.

After 14 seasons with Melbourne, Cronk remains undecided on his playing future but is moving to Sydney for personal reasons and Chambers says the team want to perform well in honour of him.

They are set to host a finals match in week one but want this last regular match to be one to remember.

“I don’t think he wants much done – Cooper shies away from it and he just wants play good footy and wants everyone to perform,” Chambers said.

“I know that the boys will give it their best for Cooper this weekend because he’s been a big part of this club for a long time.

“Everyone always talks about the big three. Well, he’s the first of them to go.”

While Cronk’s on-field contribution speaks for itself, Chambers says the Test halfback has given so much to the club and to him.

“He’s been a big mentor to me; he’s the ultimate professional and he’s got an open heart,” Chambers said.

“Any new players who come here, he takes them out to dinner and he gets to know everyone.”

Chambers moved in with Cronk when he arrived in Melbourne as an 18-year-old and said he had taught him about professionalism and having a positive outlook.

“Cooper turned up every day with a smile and that’s what I took away and tried to keep.”

Approvals show housing sector resilience

Building approvals fell by a less than expected 1.

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7 per cent in July, and economists are confident housing construction is on track for a gradual easing.

Weakness in approvals for apartments dragged down overall activity in July, though the decline was less than the five per cent fall economists had been expecting.

CBA economist John Peters said the numbers indicate more resilience than markets had anticipated.

“Today’s residential approvals outcome is consistent with our medium-term view that that the widely anticipated decline in residential construction over the next two years will be gradual and protracted rather than something sharp and painful,” he said.

Approvals for private sector houses remained nearly steady at 9,743 in July, continuing the stabilisation seen in recent months.

However, the ‘other dwellings’ category, which includes apartment blocks and townhouses, slipped 6.7 per cent to 8,080, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

An increase in total dwelling approvals in June was revised to 11.7 per cent, but over the 12 months to July approvals are down 13.9 per cent.

The data reinforces figures released by the Housing Industry Association on Tuesday, which showed overall new home sales fell by 3.7 per cent in July, led by significantly fewer new apartments being sold.

The renewed weakness comes amid tighter lending conditions and the Reserve Bank of Australia’s warnings about the rising levels of housing debt.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority capped interest-only mortgage lending on March 31, telling lenders to limit higher risk interest-only loans to 30 per cent of new residential mortgages.

That set off a fresh round of rate increases by the major lenders, with banks repricing their loan books to make interest-only and investor loans more expensive.

The Australian dollar jumped after the release of the approvals data, and figures showing a sharper than expected increase in construction work done in the June quarter.

The local currency was trading at 79.89 US cents at 1545 AEST, up from 79.67 US cents ahead of the release of data at 1130 AEST.

Rohingya, others caught between fighting, border

Rohingya Muslims and others fleeing towards Bangladesh to escape violence in western Myanmar are facing the twin dangers of sickness and exile.

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A series of attacks on security forces in Myanmar’s Rakhine state last week, allegedly by Rohingya rebels, has triggered a mass migration by villagers.

Over a hundred people have been killed in the clashes, most of them militants but also including civilians and members of the security forces.

Still, authorities in Bangladesh are trying to stop people and send them back into Myanmar.

People caught in between, like this woman Win who fears the Rohingya militants, say they cannot go home.

“I will not live there again, even if someone gives us gold or money. I will live if there are no more Muslims. I will not live at all if there are Muslims. I feel bad from my heart. My husband was also killed, as they slit his neck.”

This Rohingya woman, identifying herself only as Begum, says the Rohingya fleeing the violence have no choice either.

“In Myanmar, they are killing us. They burn our houses, killing Muslims, and, because of that, we have come here. They rounded us up with helicopters, looted our belongings, chasing and killing our men. They killed many people. So we came here.”

Conflict has simmered since last October, when a smaller series of Rohingya militant attacks on security posts prompted a fierce military response.

Myanmar’s national security adviser, Thaung Tu, has condemned the latest violence by the militants.

“It is a crime against Myanmar citizens. It is a crime against your country. It is crime against civilised nations that cannot be accepted by the civilised world.”

The United Nations has focused on the fighting in the area, issuing a plea that civilians be allowed to seek shelter.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, says the recent events can be put down to years of civil-liberty breaches.

“I utterly condemn the violent attacks on security personnel, which have led to the loss of many lives and the displacement of thousands of people. Unfortunately, what we feared appears to be occurring. Decades of persistent and systematic human-rights violations, including the very violent security responses to the attacks since October 2016, have almost certainly contributed to the nurturing of violent extremism, with everyone ultimately losing.”

Bangladesh border guards reportedly have sent about 550 Rohingya back to Myanmar.

Still, more than 8,700 have registered in Bangladesh since late last week.

The Rohingya are denied citizenship in Myanmar and classified as illegal immigrants, despite claiming roots that go back centuries.

 

Trump visits Texas as storm damage grows

Tropical storm Harvey is not going anywhere fast, the slow-moving nature of the storm causing further havoc and catching authorities by surprise.

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Thousands of people across the state have been affected by the intense weather conditions, which have brought the city of Houston to a standstill.

Among the dead is a Houston police officer.

The city’s police chief, Art Acevedo, relayed the news in an emotional press conference.

“This morning at 8am, the dive team was out there again, which was their number one priority, and, within 20 minutes, they found him. Unfortunately, in the darkness, Sergeant Perez drove into an underpass that’s about 16-and-a-half feet (5m) deep, drove into the water, and he died in a flood drowning-type event.”

Residents in Texas’s south-eastern Harris County were told to leave as workers released water to alleviate pressure on reservoirs built to handle drainage waters.

They had begun to overflow.

The Pentagon, which would usually be in recovery mode by this stage, says it is instead preparing for further calls for help as the storm continues to sit over the Gulf of Mexico.

Officials say shelters are struggling to cope with the demand, with the main shelter housed in a downtown convention centre at nearly double its capacity.

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner has appealed for greater resources.

“The reality is that not only are we providing shelter for Houstonians, but we are also providing shelter for people who are coming from outside the city of Houston, who have been directly impacted by the storm. We’re not turning anyone away, but it does mean that we need to expand our capabilities and our capacity.”

At least one site south of Houston has had its rainfall record broken by Harvey, recording 1.25 metres of precipitation since the storm began.

Around 3,500 people have already been rescued in the Houston area, and police say they are seeing instances of looting.

The crisis has drawn comparisons to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, when then-president George W. Bush faced criticism over his response as almost 2,000 people died.

Speaking in Corpus Christi, where Harvey first made landfall, US president Donald Trump says he wants to set a precedent for disaster management.

“This was of epic proportion. Nobody’s ever seen anything like this. And I just want to say that working with the governor and his entire team has been an honour for us. So, Governor, again, thank you very much. And we won’t say congratulations, we don’t want to do that, we don’t want to congratulate. We will congratulate each other when it’s all finished.”

Mr Trump planned to head next to the state’s capital, Austin, because he could not reach Houston in the hazardous conditions.

The United Nations says climate change could be responsible for the hurricane’s ferocity.

It says rising temperatures are likely to blame for increased humidity and heavier rainfalls.

Rebuilding efforts are expected to take years and cost billions of dollars.

Houston resident Jose Gonzalez says the mental scars will take longer to heal.

“It’s bad, man. It’s terrible. It’s really bad. The water is way … it’s almost, I want to say, up to my knees, just about, but it’s really bad over there. Nobody expected this.”