More arrests over Kim assassination

Two women and a man have been arrested over the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the North Korean leader’s half brother who was reportedly poisoned this week by a pair of female assassins as he waited for a flight in Malaysia.

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Investigators are trying to piece together the details of a death that set off a torrent of speculation over whether Kim Jong Un dispatched a hit squad to kill his estranged older sibling.

The suspects were picked up separately on Wednesday and Thursday. The female suspects were identified using surveillance footage from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where Kim Jong Nam suddenly fell ill Monday morning before dying on the way to the hospital.

One of the women had Vietnamese travel documents and the other held an Indonesian passport.

Indonesia’s foreign ministry has confirmed the arrest of a female national in connection with the killing.

A still photo of the airport surveillance video showed one of the suspects in a white T-shirt with “LOL” across the front.

On Thursday afternoon, police said they had detained a Malaysian man believed to be the boyfriend of the Indonesian suspect.

An autopsy has been concluded and could reveal whether Kim Jong Nam was poisoned, and possibly shed light on the tales of intrigue that have rippled since his death: the female assassins, the broad daylight killing, the estranged dictator-sibling looking to kill him.

Kim Jong Nam, who was 45 or 46, was estranged from his North Korean relatives and had been living abroad for years. He reportedly fell out of favour with his father when he was caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport in 2001, saying he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

According to two senior Malaysian government officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Kim Jong Nam told medical workers before he died that he had been attacked with a chemical spray.

Since taking power upon his father’s death in late 2011, Kim Jong Un has executed or purged a number of high-level government officials in what the South Korean government has described as a “reign of terror.”

South Korea’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, said that North Korea had been trying for five years to kill Kim Jong Nam.

The NIS also cited a “genuine” attempt by North Korea to kill Kim Jong Nam in 2012, lawmakers said. The NIS told them that Kim Jong Nam sent a letter to Kim Jong Un in April 2012, after the assassination attempt, begging for the lives of himself and his family.

Settled Hogan to take Demons up AFL ladder

A settled and trimmed-down Jesse Hogan is ready to help launch Melbourne into the Simon Goodwin era.

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Hogan ended speculation he would seek a return home to Western Australia at the end of the season when he signed a two-year contract extension last year.

After taking over from Paul Roos, Goodwin will take the reins for the first time as the Demons’ senior coach when they take on the Western Bulldogs on Saturday.

The rookie coach spoke to reporters on Thursday and gave a glowing response when asked about the 22-year-old key forward’s preparation.

“I think Jess is now a really settled person, he’s established here at the footy club and he’s got some great work habits,” Goodwin said.

“He’s really driving his career forward. Having him signed up now is terrific … I think it gives him some clear air to really focus on what the team requires to be successful.”

Melbourne finished 11th last year and are widely tipped to play finals for the first time since 2006 in Goodwin’s first season in charge.

Hogan, the club’s leading goal kicker for the past two seasons, has slimmed down this pre-season and will play a key role if the Demons are to break their finals drought.

While Hogan’s impressive preparation gives Goodwin more options, fans can expect him to continue to anchor the forward line.

“We’ll experiment with Jess in a number of different positions but primarily he’s a forward,” Goodwin said.

“He’s on our list to play as a key forward and to really be instrumental in our forward half.

“But what Jess has been able to do is put his body shape in a great position to really launch into his season.”

Hogan will be joined by new faces Jordan Lewis and Jake Melksham when the Demons take on the Dogs at Whitten Oval.

Dom Tyson, Ben Kennedy, Michael Hibberd and Dean Kent are among the notable absentees, but all are expected to be available to play in round one of the home-and-away season.

Body found in search for Nepalese student at Sydney beach

After three days of searching, police divers have found the body of 26-year-old Sudeep Uprety under a rock ledge.

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The Nepalese student was with his friend Shristi Bhandari at Sydney’s Maroubra beach when they were swept out to sea on Monday night.

Shristi had only been in the country two weeks.

The 23-year-old’s body was found washed up on the beach on Tuesday.

Surf Lifesaving NSW Director John Restuccia told SBS this latest incident is tragic, but people need to adhere to the warnings and only swim between the flags.

“At night time there’s no way in world to know what the rips and the waves or even the currents are doing,” Mr Restuccia said.

Mr Restuccia believes we need to get “serious” about better educating foreigners about Australian water safety and the government needs to get on board.

“They are always looking excited when they come in to Australia. The first place they want to go to is a beach so maybe some more safety messages on the aeroplanes prior to landing at Australia would possibly help the situation,” said Mr Restuccia.

There’s been 23 drownings in NSW since Christmas, four within the Nepalese community.

Non-Resident Nepalese Association Secretary Tonnou Ghothane says he is pushing for students to be taught about the dangers of water in schools and universities in Nepal and for compulsory swimming lessons when young people arrive in Australia.

“Because we come from a land locked country and try to teach them what it’s like the dangers of sea back in Australia and I hope once they are aware they’ll be more careful,” Mr Ghothane said.

‘I love you so much sis’: Selena Gomez reveals best friend gave her a kidney

Pop star Selena Gomez has revealed she underwent a kidney transplant over the summer in an Instagram post that shows her in hospital beside her friend, who donated the organ.

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In the post, shared on Thursday, the Good For You singer said that fans had been wondering why she had been “laying low” over the summer.Selena Gomez, left, attends the Harper’s BAZAAR party on Sept. 8, 2017 in New York and Francia Raisa (right) attends the premier of ’13 Reasons Why’ in 2017.AAP

“I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health,” she said.

The singer also shared images of a post-operative scar on her lower abdomen.

Gomez, who with 126 million Instagram followers is the most-followed person on the social media platform, also revealed that the donor was her longtime friend Francia Raisa, an actress best-known for her role in TV series The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

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“There aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend,” she said of Rasia. “She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis.”

At the time of writing, Gomez’s post had over three million likes on Instagram.In this image posted on Selena Gomez’s Instagram account on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, Gomez, right, holds hands with actress Francia Raisa in a hospital.AAP

Gomez’s representatives were not immediately available for comment.

Gomez has topped the US charts on multiple occasions since the release of her first album in 2013, and was regularly the focus of the celebrity press for her relationship with Canadian singer Justin Bieber.

In 2016, she cancelled her Revival world tour last year and went to therapy because she was depressed, anxious and “my self-esteem was shot”.

North Korea threatens to ‘sink’ Japan, reduce US to ‘ashes and darkness’

The Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, which handles the North’s external ties and propaganda, also called for the breakup of the Security Council, which it called “a tool of evil” made up of “money-bribed” countries that move at the order of the United States.

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“The four islands of the archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche. Japan is no longer needed to exist near us,” the committee said in a statement carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency.

Juche is the North’s ruling ideology that mixes Marxism and an extreme form of go-it-alone nationalism preached by state founder Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong Un.

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Regional tension has risen markedly since the reclusive North conducted its sixth, and by far its most powerful, nuclear test on Sept. 3, following a series of missile tests, including one that flew over Japan.

The 15-member Security Council voted unanimously on a US-drafted resolution and a new round of sanctions on Monday in response, banning North Korea’s textile exports that are the second largest only to coal and mineral, and capping fuel supplies.

The North reacted to the latest action by the Security Council, which had the backing of veto-holding China and Russia, by reiterating threats to destroy the United States, Japan and South Korea.

“Let’s reduce the US mainland into ashes and darkness. Let’s vent our spite with mobilization of all retaliation means which have been prepared till now,” the statement said.

0:00 Tillerson and Johnson on NKorea Share Tillerson and Johnson on NKorea

Japan’s Nikkei stock index and dollar/yen currency pared gains, although traders said that was more because of several Chinese economic indicators released on Thursday rather than a reaction to the North’s latest statement.

South Korea’s won also edged down around the same time over domestic financial concerns.

Despite the North’s threats, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he was against having nuclear weapons in his country, either by developing its own arsenal or bringing back US tactical nuclear weapons that were withdrawn in the early 1990s.

“To respond to North Korea by having our own nuclear weapons will not maintain peace on the Korean peninsula and could lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia,” Moon said in an interview with CNN.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry also said it planned to provide $8 million through the UN World Food Programme and UNICEF to help infants and pregnant women in the North.

The move marks Seoul’s first humanitarian assistance for the North since its fourth nuclear test in January 2016 and is based on a longstanding policy of separating humanitarian aid from politics, the ministry said.

Related reading’Dancing to the tune’

The North’s latest threats also singled out Japan for “dancing to the tune” of the United States, saying it should never be pardoned for not offering a sincere apology for its “never-to-be-condoned crimes against our people”, an apparent reference to Japan’s wartime aggression.

It also referred to South Korea as “traitors and dogs” of the United States.

Japan criticized the North’s statement harshly.

“This announcement is extremely provocative and egregious. It is something that markedly heightens regional tension and is absolutely unacceptable,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, visiting India, called for strict enforcement of the UN resolution, saying the world must force a change.

The 15-member Security Council voted unanimously on a US-drafted resolution and a new round of sanctions against North Korea on Monday in response to its latest and most powerful test, banning North Korea’s textile exports that are the second largest only to coal and mineral, and capping fuel supplies.

North Korea had already rejected the Security Council resolution, vowing to press ahead with its nuclear and missile programs.

A tougher initial US draft of Monday’s resolution was weakened to win the support of China, the North’s lone major ally, and Russia. Significantly, it stopped short of imposing a full embargo on oil exports to North Korea, most of which come from China.

The latest sanctions also make it illegal for foreign firms to form commercial joint ventures with North Korean entities.

US President Donald Trump has vowed that North Korea will never be allowed to threaten the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile, but has also asked China to do more to rein in its neighbor. China in turn favors an international response to the problem.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the international community had reached a “high consensus” on trying to realize a peaceful solution.

“We urge the relevant directly involved parties to seize the opportunity and have the political nerve to make the correct political choice as soon as possible,” Hua told a regular press briefing.

The North accuses the United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, of planning to invade and regularly threatens to destroy it and its Asian allies.

The United States and South Korea are technically still at war with North Korea because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty.

Same-sex marriage: Asian Australian Alliance backs ‘Yes’ vote

“At the heart of the campaign for marriage equality is the inherent dignity of all family members and friends, including family members who are LBGTI,” national convener Erin Chew said.

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The grass roots and community based network, which is a collective of Australians of Asian descent, began in New South Wales in 2013, currently has a presence in Victoria, ACT, Queensland and Western Australia, with over 800 members.

“I think that things are changing, I know when I was young, families were a little bit different, but we are now in the 21st century and there are families of different natures,” one of the group’s founders, Daphne Lowe Kelley, said.

In calling for support for same-sex marriage, the group has urged for the debate to be respectful.

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“[The AAA] supports freedom of speech as the foundation of robust democratic speech. We condemn speech that incites hate as not just unlawful but also immoral,” Susan Joo, a state convener for NSW, said.

“Australia is a multicultural, multi-faith society. Hate speech undermines the enterprise of building an inclusive and just society.”

The Alliance has the endorsement of the Equality Campaign.

“As we are looking to get everyone on board with us, we decided that the multicultural communities were just as important to involve in this campaign,” said Francis Voon who is liaising with several multicultural groups.

President of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association NSW branch Kingsley Liu said the announcement was about supporting equality.

“Today is just like any day because it’s part of a process that’s been going for significant time,” he said.

“It’s recognition about rights and it’s about developing those rights for special people and ordinary people in our community. It’s a community where we value equality.”

0:00 Same-sex marriage around the world Share Same-sex marriage around the world

Mr Liu explained how the same-sex marriage campaign challenges the “traditional” view of family. 

“It’s challenged because there is a need to recognise the growing change in how society views a family unity,” he said.

“It’s changed and has been altering for the past 50 years. You can see this by how people vote in various countries and we’re talking about western countries with a similar make up to Australia.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is aiming to get the survey forms out to 16 million voters by September 25, with the first arriving in mailboxes earlier in the week.

The ‘Rabbit Plan’: Venezuela wants people to breed and eat bunnies to beat the food crisis

The “Rabbit Plan” is an effort by the government of President Nicolas Maduro to boost food availability.

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Authorities have also taught citizens to plant food on roofs and balconies of their homes.

Maduro’s adversaries dismiss such ideas as nonsensical, insisting the real problem is a failed model of oil-financed socialism that was unable to survive after crude markets collapsed.

“There is a cultural problem because we have been taught that rabbits are cute pets,” Urban Agriculture Minister Freddy Bernal said during a televised broadcast with Maduro this week. “A rabbit is not a pet; it’s two and a half kilos  of meat that is high in protein, with no cholesterol.”

Maduro’s critics lampooned the idea.

“Are you serious?” asked Henrique Capriles, a state governor and two-time opposition presidential candidate in a video to response to Bernal. “ … You want people to start raising rabbits to solve the problem of hunger in our country?”

Rabbit consumption is common in Europe and to lesser extent in the United States. The animals are more efficient than pigs and cattle in converting protein into edible meat, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

But raising rabbits in significant quantities in contemporary Venezuela would be difficult.

The country’s constant shortages, resulting from stringent price and currency controls, would probably leave the would-be rabbit industry struggling to find materials ranging from feed to metal and wire for breeding cages.

Maduro says the country is a victim of an “economic war” led by adversaries and fueled by recent sanctions imposed by the administration of US President Donald Trump.

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Politicians in court over citizenship saga

The citizenship saga which has engulfed Australian politics will return to the High Court in Canberra.

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Chief Justice Susan Kiefel is presiding over a directions hearing on Friday ahead of a full court hearing in October.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and fellow Nationals MPs Matt Canavan and Fiona Nash are among the seven MPs who could face disqualification from parliament.

Former Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters will also have their eligibility tested, although they resigned after learning they were New Zealand and Canadian citizens respectively.

South Australian senator Nick Xenophon and One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts round out the seven MPs who will face a full court hearing from October 10.

Senator Xenophon has confirmed he is a British overseas citizen by descent, as his father was born in Cyprus when it was still a colony.

He remains confident he has a very good legal team and a strong case.

“We’re in uncharted waters here,” he told ABC radio.

“I had no idea that I had some obscure form of British citizenship.”

Senator Xenophon joked he was thinking of cooking some octopus and lamb on a spit on the High Court forecourt ahead of the October hearing.

“I’m not sure whether my barristers would appreciate that.”

Queensland senator Roberts faces questions over whether his UK citizenship was renounced before he nominated for election.

Under section 44 of the constitution a person is incapable of being elected to the parliament if they are a “citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power”.

While Senator Canavan has stepped aside as Resources Minister after learning he was an Italian citizen, Mr Joyce and Senator Joyce have remained in cabinet.

Labor have attacked the Nationals leader and deputy leader for staying in their roles, arguing any decisions they make as ministers could be challenged in court if they are found to be ineligible.

Mr Joyce is a New Zealand citizen by descent, while Senator Nash has been advised by the UK Home Office she has British citizenship through her Scottish father.

Heart disease the biggest killer worldwide

Heart disease and tobacco ranked with conflict and violence among the world’s biggest killers last year, while poor diets and mental disorders caused people the greatest ill health, a large international study has found.

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The Global Burden of Disease study, published on Friday in The Lancet medical journal, found that while life expectancy is increasing, so too are the years people live in poor health. The proportion of life spent being ill is higher in poor countries than in wealthy ones.

“Death is a powerful motivator, both for individuals and for countries, to address diseases that have been killing us at high rates. But we’ve been much less motivated to address issues leading to illnesses,” said Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which led the study.

He said a “triad of troubles” – obesity, conflict, and mental illness – is emerging as a “stubborn and persistent barrier to active and vigorous lifestyles”.

The IHME-led study, involving more than 2500 researchers in around 130 countries, found that in 2016, poor diet was associated with nearly one in five deaths worldwide. Tobacco smoking killed 7.1 million people.

Diets low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds, fish oils and high in salt were the most common risk factors, contributing to cases of obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol.

The study found that deaths from firearms, conflict and terrorism have increased globally, and that non-communicable, or chronic, diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes caused 72 per cent of all deaths worldwide.

Heart disease was the leading cause of premature death in most regions and killed 9.48 million people globally in 2016.

Mental illness was found to have a heavy toll on individuals and societies, with 1.1 billion people living with psychological or psychiatric disorders and substance abuse problems in 2016.

Major depressive disorders ranked in the top 10 causes of ill health in all but four countries worldwide.

The GBD is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation global health charity and gives data estimates on some 330 diseases, causes of death and injuries in 195 countries and territories.

After 70 years, monument honours Australian peacekeepers

A new memorial pays tribute to thousands who have dedicated their lives to peacekeeping missions — one of whom has inspired a refugee to follow in their footsteps.

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Since 1947, over 80,000 Australians have served in humanitarian and peacekeeping operations around the world.

Now, that achievement has been marked with a new memorial in Canberra honouring all of those who served.

It has taken 12 years and numerous volunteers, veterans and supporters to create the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial.

It features two large, black, polished-concrete monoliths separated by a passageway, as well as a courtyard of reflection.

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove says the memorial is a tribute from all Australians.

“Today, we dedicate this memorial to our peacekeepers, to those who have served the nation, who have served mankind, to those who continue to serve, to those who have given their lives to this most noble of causes. This is their memorial and our nation’s tribute to them.”

Private Theogene Ngamije was one of dozens attending the ceremony to mark 70 years since Australian peacekeeping missions began.

Paying his respects, Private Ngamije said his life was changed 23 years ago by an Australian peacekeeper in a Rwandan refugee camp.

“There were bombings going on, and everyone was running everywhere. So … he gave me a biscuit and a patch of AMC, and he just took me to a safe place, myself and other kids. It was amazing. So when I got into Australia, I just wanted to step in his foot(steps) and serve as a soldier as well.”

Private Ngamije says the kindness came when he needed it most.

Former aid worker David Savage was wounded in Afghanistan when a child detonated a suicide bomb near his vehicle.

Mr Savage says the new memorial is about creating awareness within the community of the work actually involved in peacekeeping operations.

“I think it’s important to raise awareness in the community so that children, schoolkids, know the role of the military and the police and civilian contributions to peacekeeping, (so) that they don’t just go to war and fight battles, that they go unarmed to different conflicts and stand between the different warring factions to save people and to help bring peace, or to keep the peace, so that people can have a much better life.”

 

Checkup Medical Column for Sept 15

A weekly round-up of news affecting your health.

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EMBRYO TRANSFER

Couples undergoing IVF may have a better chance of having a baby if frozen embryos are used within about a month of their creation in the lab.

Researchers from Monash University and the University of Melbourne found that delaying the embryo transfer was associated with lower rates of pregnancy and live births.

They studied about 5000 women who had embryos transferred within 25 and 35 days and compared their outcomes with those who had 50-70 days of IVF stimulation cycle and embryo freeze.

Women who had a 25-35 days gap between embryo freeze and transfer had pregnancy rates of 33.2 per cent compared to 26.8 per cent of those with a gap of 50-70 days.

Live birth rates also improved from 21.5 per cent in the 50-70 days group, to 27.5 per cent in the 25-35 days group.

The researchers say while the study published in The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology is the largest of its kind, more trials are needed.

FACE MASKS

People wanting to protect themselves from being infected with the flu are better off wearing small respirators covering their nose and mouth than medical masks, researchers have found.

Masks are recommended in hospital infection control guidelines worldwide as the best way to protect health workers from infections spread by droplets, such as influenza.

University of NSW researchers put the recommendation to the test by examining data from two large randomised controlled trials involving 3591 people who either wore surgical masks or N95 respirators in Beijing.

They found the respirators provided superior protection for droplet-transmitted infections.

“Respirators are designed to provide respiratory protection through filtration and fit, and properly fitted respirators provide better protection compared to medical masks,” said their study, published in Wiley Online Library.

STROKE TREATMENT

Australian brain researchers are hopeful trials showing how experimental drugs can help reduce brain damage in rats and mice after a stroke may help develop future treatments for people.

The trials were carried out after Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health researchers discovered that a protein which plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease progression is also involved in stroke.

Levels of the protein, named tau, were found to drop following a stroke, and spark a build-up of iron in cells. That build up can then start killing off brain cells.

The researchers used five experimental drugs designed to stop the build up of iron in older rats and mice which had endured a stroke, and found they reduced brain damage by half.

The animals functioned significantly better on tests of motor coordination and cognitive performance, said the researchers, whose work was published in Molecular Psychiatry.

PREVENTING BLINDNESS

New artificial intelligence software could soon help speed up the process of testing people with diabetes for a condition that can cause blindness.

The technology was developed by the CSIRO so GPs can test people for diabetic retinopathy, which affects one in three people with diabetes and can cause them to go blind if left untreated.

The software has been trialled in Perth, where 187 diabetic patients had high resolution images of their eyes analysed for signs of diabetic retinopathy. The images were also analysed by an ophthalmologist.

The software was found to be as effective as the specialist in detecting signs of diabetic retinopathy and grading its severity.

“Patients at risk of this condition would usually be referred to a specialist for screening, waiting six weeks or more – now it can potentially be done in a single 30-minute visit to a GP,” CSIRO Professor Yogi Kanagasingam said.

The software has been licensed by TeleMedC, which plans to install it at 20 GP clinics in Western Australia before rolling it out across Australia.

FOOT CONTROL

Researchers in Queensland are trialling a foot control device to see if it can help improve the walking ability of young people with cerebral palsy.

Problems with foot control can affect and reduce independence for people with cerebral palsy.

Researchers from the University of Queensland have developed new equipment and a training program they want to trial among 15 to 25 year olds who are diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy and can walk independently, with or without an aid.

Paricipants will receive six weeks of supervised training including assessments on foot control during walking and while performing tasks in the custom-designed ankle device.

“The device has been designed to teach the brain to use muscles at the right time with the right amount of force in a progressive manner,” researcher Shari O’Brien said.

To participate, email [email protected]苏州美甲课程, or call 0451 297 485.

‘Unfathomable’: Eight die in Florida nursing home after Hurricane Irma

The nursing home deaths brought the total number of storm-related fatalities in Florida to 20 and illustrated the urgency of restoring electricity to millions of people across the southern state.

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Around 115 residents of the retirement home in Hollywood, north of Miami, were immediately evacuated after a nearby hospital began receiving patients suffering from heat-related problems.

“It’s a sad event,” Hollywood police chief Tomas Sanchez told a news conference. “We believe at this time they (the deaths) may be related to the loss of power in the storm.”

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Governor Rick Scott said he was “absolutely heartbroken” to learn of the deaths of the elderly retirees.

“I am going to aggressively demand answers on how this tragic event took place,” Scott said in a statement. “Although the details of these reported deaths are still under investigation, this situation is unfathomable.”

The governor said he has ordered a probe by state authorities.

“If they find that anyone wasn’t acting in the best interests of their patients, we will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

Sanchez, the police chief, said a criminal investigation had been launched.

0:00 Daughter of nursing home patient who died in Florida speaks of her grief Share Daughter of nursing home patient who died in Florida speaks of her grief

Dr. Randy Katz, medical director of the emergency department at Memorial Regional Hospital, said the hospital began receiving patients early on Wednesday.

“(We) quickly identified some issues inside the facility with fire rescue and immediately evacuated the building,” Katz said.

He said most of the patients admitted to the hospital have been treated for respiratory distress, dehydration and heat-related issues.

Florida officials have made restoring electricity to the millions who have lost power a priority and tens of thousands of utility company workers, many from out of state, are engaged in the huge effort.

Heartbreak for some returnees

Florida residents who evacuated ahead of the storm were facing lengthy traffic jams, meanwhile, as they returned to check out their homes after days in shelters or with friends or family.

Irma, which made landfall Sunday morning in the Florida Keys as a Category Four hurricane, had triggered orders for more than six million people to flee to safety, one of the biggest evacuations in US history.

Some residents of the Keys were met with scenes of devastation on Tuesday after police lifted roadblocks and began allowing people to return to the string of islands off Florida’s southern coast.

At least a quarter of the homes in the Keys were destroyed, according to federal emergency management officials, and 65 percent suffered some damage.

The storm also cut off power, water and sewage to the islands, which are home to some 70,000 people.

“Bad, it’s real bad,” Keys resident Bryan Holley told NBC News.

“It’s gonna take months, maybe years to get this cleaned up,” said Holley, who ignored orders to evacuate and braved the storm on Cudjoe Key.

President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, were to visit Florida to survey the damage on Thursday.

Macron pledges relief fund

French President Emmanuel Macron was visiting the Caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy on Wednesday, a day after travelling to the French-Dutch island of Saint Martin.

France, Britain and the Netherlands have come in for criticism for the pace of relief efforts for their overseas territories ravaged by the storm.

Islanders have complained of a breakdown in law and order and widespread shortages of food, water and electricity.

Touring Saint Martin, Macron was at times jeered by people waiting for aid supplies or hoping to catch flights for France in order to escape the devastation across the island.

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Macron pledged on Saint Barthelemy, population 9,000, that an emergency relief fund for victims would be operational by Monday.

Hurricane Irma caused extensive damage in the French and Dutch overseas territories as well as the British and US Virgin Islands.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was visiting the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla on Wednesday and pledged “absolute commitment” to Britons there.

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His visit came as British Prime Minister Theresa May announced an extra £25 million ($33.2 million, 27.2 million euros) in aid for Caribbean territories devastated by Hurricane Irma.

A day earlier Johnson visited Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, and met with some of the nearly 1,000 British military personnel sent to bolster relief efforts and security.

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands has also toured Sint Maarten, the Dutch section of the island shared with France, meeting residents on Saba island, and was set to travel to Sint Eustatius, which suffered severe damage.

Turnbull marks two years as prime minister

Malcolm Turnbull has avoided both triumphalism and magnanimity in acknowledging his two years as prime minister.

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He’s now Australia’s 19th longest-serving prime minister – past arch rival Tony Abbott but short of Labor contemporaries Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd.

Constrained by simmering tensions inside the coalition over energy policy and same-sex marriage, a business-like Mr Turnbull rattled off his re-elected government’s achievements of the past year on Friday.

The “occasionally satirised” jobs and growth mantra of his 2016 election campaign was now an outcome, he said, with 325,000 new jobs and signs of a sluggish economy – but not wage growth – on the mend.

The government had delivered tax cuts to companies with an annual turnover of up to $50 million and Australians earning more than $80,000.

Then there was historic education reform: transparent, universal, consistent needs-based federal funding for Australian schools.

“It has never, ever been done before, ” Mr Turnbull told Sky News, taking a shot at previous Labor governments for only genuflecting in that direction.

The new message for voters is a government focused on opportunity, security and fairness.

But two of his predecessors are threatening to inflame internal tensions that have plagued Mr Turnbull’s government since he toppled Mr Abbott in 2015.

John Howard – the Liberal Party’s second-longest serving prime minister – this week made a none-too-subtle intervention in the same-sex marriage debate, accusing the government of “washing its hands” of any responsibility to protect parental rights, free speech and religious freedoms.

It was an abrogation of responsibility and disingenuous for the government not to address the legitimate concerns of Australians about the legal protections needed to accompany same-sex marriage, he said.

Mr Turnbull couldn’t resist a not-so-gentle rejoinder while acknowledging “John’s wisdom is always welcome”.

But the former prime minister, despite his concerns, hadn’t bothered to make a submission to a Senate inquiry which considered what religious protections should be included in a bill legalising same-sex marriage.

Then there’s Tony Abbott, who this week was re-writing what Australia actually agreed to when it signed up to the Paris climate agreement in 2015.

As prime minister, Mr Abbott made a “definite commitment” to a 26 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, and aim for 28 per cent.

This week that target was “aspirational”.

“It was what we would do if we could,” he said, noting the agreement wasn’t binding.

Not in fact the case, Mr Turnbull said.

“It was a real commitment and as Tony said at the time, Australia is one of those nations that when it makes commitments it keeps them,” he said.

On an issue that refuses to go away – the holding of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island and Nauru – Mr Turnbull described himself as a compassionate man.

That compassion, however, was limited to resettling them in a third country and not allowing people smugglers to put people’s lives at risk and having families die at sea.

“We have to be absolutely resolute,” said a like-minded prime minister.