North Korea to extradite plot culprits

Pyongyang will seek the extradition of anyone involved in what it says was a CIA-backed plot to kill leader Kim Jung Un last month with a biochemical poison.

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Vice foreign minister Han Song Ryol called a meeting of diplomats in Pyongyang on Thursday to outline the North’s claim the CIA and South Korea’s intelligence agency coerced a North Korean man into joining in the assassination plot, which the North’s Ministry of State Security suggested was thwarted last month.

The North’s state media have been running stories about the conspiracy since last week.

The security ministry has vowed to “ferret out” anyone involved in what it says was an act of “state-sponsored terrorism”.

Han took that a step further on Thursday with the extradition statement, though the North has yet to name any foreign or North Korean suspects abroad.

“According to our law, the Central Public Prosecutor’s Office of the DPRK will use all available methods to start to work to demand the handover of the criminals involved, so as to punish the organisers, conspirators and followers of this terrible state-sponsored terrorism,” he said.

The only person it has named – and only by the ubiquitous surname “Kim” – is a North Korean resident of Pyongyang who it says worked for a time in the Russian Far East.

State media said he was involved in the timber industry in Khabarovsk, which is one of the primary places North Koreans can go overseas to work.

He was allegedly contacted there by foreign agents who bribed, brainwashed and cajoled him into participating in the elaborate plot.

“These terrorists plotted and planned in detail for the use of biochemical substances including radioactive and poisonous substances as the means of assassination,” Han said, reading from a prepared statement.

“These biochemical substances were to be provided with the assistance of the CIA … while the South Korean Intelligence Service was going to provide necessary support and funding for this attempt at assassination on our supreme leader.”

‘Completely out of step’: Abortion to remain a crime in NSW after reform bill fails

Abortion will remain a crime in NSW after members of the Legislative Council voted down a Greens bill aimed at overturning the 100-year-old law.

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Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi’s Abortion Law Reform Bill was defeated 25 to 14 in the state parliament’s upper house.

The bill received support from eight Labor MLCs and all five Greens MLCs, as well as Animal Justice Party MLC Mark Pearson.

Public members in the gallery shouted “shame” as the result of the conscience vote was announced in the Legislative Council.

“I am disappointed that the NSW Legislative Council has voted to keep abortion a Crime in NSW,” Dr Faruqi said.

“[The] position that is completely out of step with modern medical practice, community expectation, and laws in almost all other states.”

The law would have repealed sections of the Crimes Act, provided a 150-metre protester exclusion zone around abortion service providers, and required doctors providing medical advice to tell their patients if they had personal objections to the procedure.

The proposal provided no gestational limits on when the procedure could be performed.

A Greens spokeswoman told SBS World News the law was modeled on the ACT’s legal framework.

NSW and Queensland are the only two Australian states which outlaw abortion.

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The Australian Medical Association believes NSW abortion laws need to be reviewed, but said it was concerned about the breadth of the Greens’ bill.

“We agree it is time to review the law in NSW and therefore recommends that the matter should be referred to the Law Reform Commission for serious consideration if progress is to be made,” AMA state president Brad Frankum said in a statement.

When introducing the bill, Dr Faruqi said she wanted to give certainty and remove the procedure from the “grey zone” in which it currently sits.

“This uncertainty results in difficulties with access and cost, especially in regional and rural New South Wales,” she said. 

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While supporters have been dismayed by the bill’s failure, it is a decision which been welcomed by anti-abortion activists.

Mark Makowiecki, NSW State Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, says he was quietly confident it would be defeated.

“It’s a victory for women and unborn children,” he said.

“The bill is the most extreme we’ve seen so far.”

The group says that removing gestational limits could lead to women being pressured into getting terminations.

Women’s rights groups, such as White Ribbon, worry that criminalisation allows women to be pressured into pregnancy or staying in abusive relationships.

Dr Faruqi accused the Australian Christian Lobby of a scare campaign over the proposed law.

“This bill is far from radical. It is backed by everyone from RANZCOG, the peak body for obstetricians and gynaecologists, to the NSW Civil Liberties Council, to White Ribbon, the Public Health Association, and the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, and many others,” she said.

“This bill does not change current medical practice on late-term pregnancy termination and to suggest otherwise is misinformed.”

Although unlawful, the procedure remains accessible for many in NSW through a number of legal loopholes.

Mr Makowiecki said the ACL would be keen to see further adjustments to the current law, and would like to see other states with laws closer to NSW and Queensland.

“I think the laws in Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT aren’t sufficient protection for women,” he said.

“The Victorian laws are quite egregious, it’s something we like to be repealed.”

– With AAP

SBS News Investigation: Sex selection through abortion in Australia

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Port train in Shanghai for Suns AFL clash

Everyone take a deep breath – Shanghai should work this Sunday as an AFL venue.

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After concerns about air pollution, possible sandstorms and the tyranny of distance, Port Adelaide had their first training session on Thursday at Jiangwan Stadium ahead of the historic match.

Port players raved about the turf quality, putting it on a par with the MCG.

While it is hot, conditions have not been oppressive.

The Shanghai air quality on Thursday was no worse than a muggy summer day in Melbourne or Sydney.

Port coach Ken Hinkley said regardless of the unusual circumstances, instinct would take over for the players once the ball was bounced.

“It will be okay – it will be fine,” Hinkley said when asked about the ground dimensions.

“It’s not dissimilar, once the boys get out there and play.

“That’s the thing we forget sometimes – once the boys get out and the ball’s bounced, they’re just playing footy and it doesn’t matter where they play.

“It’s a great opportunity to be in Shanghai to play this time.”

The AFL has converted a large field that usually holds several soccer pitches into the playing venue.

The two squat grandstands on either wing are very 1960s-era Communist architecture – the party bosses would not look out of place on the balcony, acknowledging a mass military parade.

Gold Coast arrived early on Thursday morning, with a two-hour delay on the Singapore Airport tarmac meaning their trip from door to door nearly took a full day.

But co-captain Steven May said they were determined to make the game a success – something the team had started talking about immediately after the weekend’s win over Geelong.

“That’s what we preached with the group – we’re going over to a different country and we have to embrace it, rather than have that negative mindset,” May said.

“The boys were fantastic last night when the (flight) delay came – it was our first little test and they were super.

“We have a really good, young, emerging group who, after a couple of wins, are starting to get some belief.”

Like their Port opponents, the Suns’ players also had lessons last week on the basic do’s and don’ts of Chinese society.

May said they were told: “a few things that are touchy subjects over here, that probably in Australia, they wouldn’t be.

“I can’t really remember … as long as I don’t talk about them, it’s alright.”

They were also reminded that the Chinese regard red as a lucky colour.

“We’re happy with that,” May said.

His coach Rodney Eade was quoted widely after a Sunday radio interview, with comments about air quality and the lack of business-class travel for his players.

But on Thursday, Eade said the international experiment was “great – it’s fantastic.

“There are no complaints, no concerns – like Port, we’ve had this on the radar.

“We’ve done our preparation accordingly.”

Sharobeem’s ICAC jewellery gift claims rejected by ministers

Former Australian of the Year state finalist Eman Sharobeem used charity funds to buy gifts for federal and state politicians, a Sydney corruption inquiry has been told.

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Sharobeem on Thursday told the Independent Commission Against Corruption she used money from the Immigrant Women’s Health Service to pay for gifts worth $12,500 for both guests and politicians.

She said she purchased gifts for NSW ministers Victor Dominello and Pru Goward and federal ministers Michaelia Cash, Marise Payne and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.

Sharobeem is accused of rorting more than half a million dollars while she was in charge of two publicly funded health services in Sydney to pay for personal holidays, jewellery and luxury goods.

In a statement Mr Dominello denied accepting a gift.

“I recall being offered a watch, but I absolutely refused to accept the gift. I have no recollection of receiving a tie or any other gifts.”

A statement from the office of Ms Cash also denied the claim.

“Minister Cash has never received a gift from Ms Sharobeem.”

While Ms Goward acknowledged she was given gifts by the former CEO.

“My recollection is that the gifts were of a token kind and under the disclosure threshold,” Ms Goward said in a statement.

A statement on behalf of Ms Payne said: “Any allegation that Minister Payne received a gift of that nature from Ms Sharobeem is completely false.”

A statement from Senator Fierravanti-Wells said allegations that she “received gifts of that nature from CEO Emman Sharobeem are completely false”.

Sharobeem told Thursday’s hearing that any jewellery receipts charged to the Immigrant Women’s Health service were part of normal business and if she approved personal expenses it was by accident.

“I was consumed helping people,” she said.

Sharobeem was often visibly upset during questioning and said the inquiry had the wrong person.

“Who do you think I am, a rich person? I can’t even pay my lawyers,” she said.

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Sharobeem was shown several receipts that had been filed as expenses with the charity.

The top of the receipts which normally shows the business name had been cut off.

One invoice uncovered from Eternity Jewellers totalled $20,000 for an 18-carat gold diamond necklace and diamond studs earrings. It had the top of a credit card receipt only stapled to it.

A separate invoice missing a credit card receipt showed a purchase of an $8000 white gold diamond ring.

Sharobeem denied cutting the receipts saying she only ever removed the staples.

“Would I be that stupid to leave it like that,” Sharobeem told the inquiry.

She said she would simply empty her bag onto her desk and rely on her assistant to sort out which expenses were personal and which were for the charity.

Same-sex marriage plebiscite ‘back from the dead’

Despite a plebiscite on marriage equality being rejected by the Senate last year, this week’s Budget allocated $170 million to the divisive government policy.

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In Buget Paper No. 1, finance for the same-sex marriage plebiscite is listed as “unchanged”.

“The Australian Government remains committed to a plebiscite in relation to same-sex marriage, despite the Senate not supporting the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016,” the 2017-18 Budget states.

“To this end, the Australian Government will provide $170 million to conduct a same-sex marriage plebiscite as soon as the necessary legislation is enacted by the Parliament.”

The bill was introduced to Parliament in November 2016, but was blocked in the Senate when Labor, the Greens, Derryn Hinch and the Nick Xenophon Team voted to reject the bill 33 votes to 29.

Numbers aren’t changing: Senate said no to a plebisicite & yes to a parliament vote. Time for our MPs to make history & make people happy. 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/kGYqo90PmZ

— Alex Greenwich MP (@AlexGreenwich) May 10, 2017

Liberal party members at the time said rejection of the plebiscite would delay marriage equality in Australia by several years.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said this Budget “has brought the marriage equality plebiscite back from the dead”.

“Despite explicitly banking more than $100 million in savings for not proceeding with the marriage equality plebiscite in last year’s mid-year economic and fiscal update, $170 million in funding for the marriage equality plebiscite has reappeared in the 2017-18 Budget as a contingency measure,” she said.

She said the plebiscite was met with strong opposition from Labor and the Greens because it would cause unnecessary pain for the LGBTI community.

“The message to the government was clear – just get on with a free vote,” she said. “Don’t put LGBTI Australians through a painful, unnecessary and expensive plebiscite.

“Prime Minister Turnbull needs to explain why the government has made a screeching reversal on its funding allocation for a plebiscite – is he planning on proceeding with Peter Dutton’s ridiculous idea of a postal vote plebiscite?

“If not, why bring the funding back to the Budget?”

It is unclear whether the government plans to reintroduce the bill to parliament.

ICYMI Malcolm Turnbull hid a plebiscite for #marriageequality deep in the budget papers. I wanted to share this quick message with you. pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/bM6w4cBJIw

— Tanya Plibersek (@tanya_plibersek) May 10, 2017

READ MORETHE FEED (2016): Love & Marriage in Australia

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