‘Made in Britain, dropped on children’: Ad criticises arms sales to Yemen

The sleek ad, set to the music of British composer Edward Elgar, is a play on Britain’s ‘engineering might’.

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“Sleek and fast unstoppable machine” the film begins, shot in the style of a slick car commercial, which then pans out to reveal a laser-guided bomb – one of the weapons reportedly used in airstrikes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen.

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The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition, which runs from Tuesday, is held every two years in London.

“For me, as a proud Brit, this is completely unacceptable,” said Dominic West, a British actor who has appeared in U.S. thriller series “The Wire” and voices the short film.

0:00 Dominic West: Stop bombing children Share Dominic West: Stop bombing children

“We are providing aid to Yemen, but also selling weapons which are being used in a country where children are being bombed and starved,” West said in a statement.

War crimes

It comes as Human Rights Watch accuses the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes over a series of air strikes which killed 26 children in Yemen in June.

“The attacks, which struck four family homes and a grocery, in one case killing 14 members of the same family, caused indiscriminate loss of civilian life in violation of the laws of war. Such attacks carried out deliberately or recklessly are war crimes,” the New York-based HRW said.

Men uncover the body of a girl under the rubble of a house destroyed by a Saudi-led airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, July 2, 2015AP

Saudi Arabia leads an Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after Iran-backed Huthi rebels forced him into exile. 

HRW is urging the United Nations Human Rights Council, which is currently in session, to return the coalition to its yearly “list of shame” for violations against children in war.

Saudi investigation clears itself

Meanwhile a panel set up by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen to investigate civilian casualties found a series of deadly air strikes largely justified on Tuesday, citing the presence of armed militiamen at the homes, schools and clinics that were targeted.

The Joint Incidents Assessment Team said it had discovered mistakes in only three of 15 incidents it reviewed, and maintained the coalition had acted in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Young students sit in a former classroom at their local school in Saada City. Students now attend lessons in UNICEF tents.Getty

The coalition has been repeatedly criticised for civilian casualties. Human Rights Watch accused it on Tuesday of war crimes, saying air strikes that hit family homes and a grocery store were carried out either deliberately or recklessly, causing indiscriminate loss of civilian lives.

“Until the moment of preparing this report, we have not found serious intentional violations in Yemen” said Mansour Ahmed al-Mansour, legal advisor for the Joint Assessment Team.

0:00 Saudi coalition investigates own air strikes, clears itself Share Saudi coalition investigates own air strikes, clears itself

“The presence of innocent civilian victims in the war is because of mistaken bombardment and the presence of mistakes, this exists and we have previously said that.”

UN blacklist

The UN blacklisted the coalition after concluding in a report released one year ago that it had been responsible for the majority of children’s deaths in Yemen.

But in an embarrassing climbdown, the world body then announced that the coalition would be removed from the list.

The then UN chief Ban Ki-moon admitted at the time that the decision was influenced by threats from Saudi Arabia and its allies to cut off funding to UN aid programmes.

Saudi Arabia holds a seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council, re-elected in October last year in a vote sharply criticised by rights groups.

Drownings up over previous year for young and old

Australia’s waterways have proven particularly hazardous for people over the past year.

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Royal Life Saving’s annual National Drowning Report reveals a 38 per cent increase in the number of drowning deaths among children under age 5 as the total overall grew to 291.

Many drownings occurred in places largely overlooked — rivers first, followed by beaches — and improperly supervised or fenced home swimming pools remain a major concern.

Health Minister Greg Hunt, announcing a review into the country’s water-safety strategy, says the report is sobering.

“There has to be more education. There has to be better-targeted education. That’s about swimming, it’s about where to swim, and it’s about vigilance and taking care of others. I’m announcing that we will review our water-safety actions with the Australian government, the states and the volunteer sector. It’s simply something we have to do. Many times in this place, it’s too easy to look the other way or to gloss over something. There’s no glossing over 291 deaths.”

Australians aged 75 years and over also accounted for a spike in numbers, with 36 drownings.

The principal research associate with Life Saving Victoria, Dr Bernadette Matthews, says older people may not realise their levels of fitness have declined.

She also points out the hidden dangers some medications pose, such as increasing the risk of falling.

“People often think that it’s typically young people, but we do see a number of adults over the age of 75 years drowning, and so it was quite concerning to see a 38 per cent increase in older adults drowning nationally. And so that highlights the need for all Australians to be aware of the increased drowning risk associated with pre-existing medical conditions and the impacts of medications and dangers of swimming alone.”

The report is the first to look at both drownings and near-drownings.

The Society estimates close to 700 people were hospitalised after such incidents, with many non-fatal cases requiring ongoing medical treatment.

Dr Matthews says the drowning victims are not the only ones affected.

“So there can be long-term brain damage. There’s also the ongoing trauma to the families and everyone involved in such an incident. So we really thought that it’s important to broaden the picture of drowning to show that there are multiple effects on many different people in our community.”

The changing make-up of Australian society provides a unique challenge.

The national manager of research and policy with the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia, Amy Peden, says people from overseas account for over 30 per cent of drownings.

In the past 12 months, 20 international tourists drowned in Australian waterways, almost all of them from European or Asian countries.

And Ms Peden says new migrants can lack an understanding of water safety.

“People who’ve migrated to Australia might have come as asylum seekers, refugees. They have other priorities when they resettle in Australia — learning the language, getting a job, getting into school, learning their way around. So water safety’s not often a priority. But we are working with those communities, because we want them to enjoy our waterways as well.”

 

Thousands need shelter, healthcare in Caribbean after Irma: UN

After its passage through the Caribbean and Florida, Irma has left at least 40 people dead, according to local authorities.

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In an overview of the situation, the WHO described a dire health situation on the hardest-hit islands, after many hospitals and health clinics were completely or partially destroyed.

In addition to the work needed to rebuild health care facilities, “there is obviously the issue of evacuating patients who cannot be treated in functioning hospitals,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva.

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Islands that have suffered heavy devastation also desperately need a fresh influx of medical staff to replace local healthcare workers, who have been working around the clock even as many have been hit personally by the storm, he said.

The overview also included data from the UN humanitarian agency showing that a full 17,000 people in the eastern Caribbean desperately needed shelter. 

Here is an overview of the situation, according to WHO: 

Anguilla: the hospital is offering reduced services, and critically ill patients are being transferred to other Caribbean countries. There is significant damage to the water supply and 90 percent of the electricity infrastructure has been damaged.Antigua and Barbuda: Two shelters are functioning in Antigua and are housing 305 people. The hospital in Barbuda suffered significant damage is not functioning at all.Bahamas: More than 1,000 people were evacuated from Family Islands before the storm hit.British Virgin Islands: The hospital was severely damaged but continues to offer emergency services.Turks and Caicos islands: were particularly hard-hit, with 80-90 percent of households damaged on South Caicos, where plans are underway to evacuate 2,000 people. Seventy percent of houses on Providenciales were damaged, as were 50 percent on Grand Turk, where the hospital suffered significant damage. The governor of Grand Turk has declared the island a disaster area.Cuba: The government has reported that 10 people died in the storm, and two million were evacuated to shelters and the houses of neighbours or relatives. Hospitals in six cities and town, including in Havana, have suffered damage.Haiti: Authorities have reported one fatality, one person missing and five injured. There are currently 67 shelters housing nearly 1,500 people.Puerto Rico: Three deaths have been reported, while 154 people are being housed in shelters and nearly half a million are without electricity, and some 154,000 without drinking water. Six hospitals have no electricity.Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy: All hospital services have been moved from Saint Martin, where the hospital was damaged. Hospital services have resumed in Saint Barthelemy. French President Emmanuel Macron said during a visit to the Caribbean that 11 people have been killed.Sint Maarten: Forty percent of houses were severely damaged, and 5,000 people need shelter. The hospital has been damaged and is working at 30 percent capacity. Four out of 12 pharmacies have been damaged, and most doctors are not working. Four people have lost their lives.United States: The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that 586 shelters are housing 192,000 people in Florida and 92 shelters are housing more than 7,000 people in Georgia. Nearly six million people are without power. In Florida, 46 hospitals have been closed and 204 other healthcare facilities have been evacuated.US Virgin Islands: Four people have been confirmed dead and 376 are in shelters. FEMA reported that 55,000 people were without electricity and 341,000 without drinking water. One hospital in Saint Thomas has been evacuated and closed.

0:00 Business magnate Richard Branson’s Necker Island hit by Hurricane Irma Share Business magnate Richard Branson’s Necker Island hit by Hurricane Irma

Analysis: Key features of Apple’s new iPhones

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus both support wireless charging for the first time, as well as improved cameras and processors, while the X is the company’s first edge-to-edge screen and facial recognition technology.

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Key features of Apple’s new smartphones

iPhone 8 and 8 PlusBoth devices feature glass rears for the first time, while wireless charging capabilities have also been added.The two phones are both dust and water resistant, and feature 12-megapixel rear cameras.The dimensions of both are familiar – the 8 has a 4.7-inch screen and the 8 Plus a 5.5-inch display.In the case of the 8 Plus these are dual cameras, and also feature a new technology called Portrait Lighting for the first time.This uses machine learning technology to improve lighting on faces seen in portrait photography.The 8 and 8 Plus also house the new A11 bionic chip, which improves processing time and efficiency.The iPhone 8 will start at $1079, and the 8 Plus will start at $1229. Both can be ordered from September 15 and will be available on September 22.

Related readingiPhone XThe special edition version of the iPhone, the X is a complete re-design of Apple’s phone.It has the first edge-to-edge display, the first iPhone to use an OLED screen and the first Super Retina display.The 5.8-inch screen fills most of the front panel, and as a result the traditional home button is gone from the X. Instead users can swipe upwards to unlock the device and leave apps.The ID fingerprint scanner found in the home button has been replaced by Face ID, facial recognition technology that scans a user’s face to unlock the device.It works in daylight and at night.The technology is also at work in Animoji, new animated emoji that users can animate using their own face, changing the expressions of the characters on screen, and sending them in messages.The dual real cameras on the X – both 12-megapixel also both feature optical image stabilisation for the first time.It is available in two colours – space grey and silver.It will sell for $1579 in Australia and can be ordered from October 27 and will be available from November 3.

Inequality always around us, says senator

Even as Australia faces its highest levels of inequality in the better part of a century, a crossbench senator denies it exists at all.

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An ACTU report has found the proportion of workers on the minimum wage is up from 15.2 per cent in 2010 to 23.9 per cent in 2016.

Australia was at risk of becoming a society of working poor unless people were given a pay rise, the trade union body warns.

The report says the top 10 richest Australians have more than $77 billion between them, while workers share of national income is at its lowest level in more than 50 years.

“Very unfairly, we have unequal amounts of hair,” bald-headed Senator David Leyonhjelm told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

“Inequality is all around us … I support equality of opportunity. I certainly don’t support equality of outcomes.”

Labor senator Sam Dastyari conceded the hair joke was very good but he argued a sense of inequality and unfairness in Australia continued to grow.

It hit young people especially hard when it came to jobs and housing affordability.

“It’s not only the gap that’s grown between those who are incredibly rich and everyone else,” Senator Dastyari told reporters.

“You have a generational gap now or a generation of young Australians who are starting to have to accept they’re not going to get the same deal their parents got and we cannot let that happen as a society.”

Labor senator Doug Cameron said rising inequality was caused by continuous attacks on the trade union movement, making it difficult for workers to get wage increases.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus called on the Turnbull government to ensure companies and individuals paid their fair share of tax and stop targeting unions.

“Pay rises are at record lows, workers are getting a record low share of national income, jobs are being casualised, penalty rates cut and wage theft is a business model,” Ms McManus said.

Xenophon group won’t support Greens, Labor push to strike-off citizenship reforms

NXT plans to vote against the citizenship crackdown when it comes to a vote in the Senate unless fundamental aspects of the bill are changed.

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But SBS World News understands that the party will not take the extra step of voting to get rid of the bill from the Senate altogether.

Greens senator Nick McKim said removing the bill would help “thousands of people whose lives are on hold move on”. The controversial reforms would introduce a tougher English language test for would-be citizens, and lengthen the waiting time on permanent residency to four years.

Without the NXT votes, the motion will fall short, despite having the support of the Opposition.

“Labor has for months now been calling on the government to withdraw the bill. This resolution would do that,” Labor’s citizenship spokesman Tony Burke told SBS World News.

The Greens will move to strike the Citizenship bill from the Senate notice paper so thousands of people whose lives are on hold can move on. pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/MUmXPnyPpl

— Nick McKim (@NickMcKim) September 12, 2017

The Nick Xenophon Team has said it will not support the citizenship reforms in their current form. It is opposed to the tougher English test.

“There needs to be a substantial rewriting of it,” Senator Xenophon told reporters last week. “We’ll continue to talk to the government.”

A government-chaired Senate inquiry into the changes last week recommended that the English testing level was too difficult. The language test “should not be so high as to disqualify from citizenship many Australians who, in the past, and with a more basic competency in the English language, have proven to be valuable members of the Australian community,” it read. 

The Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the government’s negotiations with the crossbench would continue.

Mr Dutton told Parliament on Tuesday that the government remains “absolutely determined to get these laws through”.

“This government will make sensible changes around citizenship laws so that it can support the vast majority of people who would do the right thing,” he told the chamber. 

“But we want to knock out those people who do not support Australian laws and who do not abide by the Australian way of life and integrate into the Australian community.”

Every Senator has the power to move a bill be struck from the notice paper. 

The Greens said they were frustrated the bill had been on the notice paper since last week, and was announced in April, but is yet to be debated by the Senate.

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Punishment for pedophiles ‘inadequate’

The federal government hopes tough new laws will prevent pedophiles avoiding jail or being released into the community without proper supervision.

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Fewer than two-thirds of child sex offenders have been handed prison sentences since 2012, most commonly for a minimum of six months, Justice Minister Michael Keenan has told parliament.

But legislation introduced on Wednesday proposes longer jail terms, mandatory minimum sentences, and stricter supervision.

“These measures send a clear message – this government will not tolerate such appalling and disgusting acts against children,” Mr Keenan told MPs.

“The government is increasingly concerned about the manifestly inadequate sentences which do not sufficiently reflect the harm suffered by victims of child sex abuse or protect the community from the risk of future harm.”

The draft laws also propose:

– Stopping courts from discounting sentences on the basis of good character, where this has been used to facilitate the crime

– Preventing children and other vulnerable witnesses from being cross-examined at committal proceedings

– New aggravated offences for abuse that involves subjecting the child to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or which causes a child’s death

– Making it illegal to groom third parties – such as parents or carers – for the purpose of procuring a child for sexual activity

– Criminalising the provision of websites that provide access to child abuse material online

– A presumption against bail for Commonwealth child sex offences that attract the highest maximum penalties

Cut small business tax to save jobs: CCI

The payroll tax hikes for big business announced in last week’s WA budget will cost 1,300 jobs but more than half of those could be saved through tax relief for smaller companies, the state’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry says.

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The tax hikes will affect businesses that employ more than 400,000 West Australians, it says.

The Labor government hopes to raise $435 million over four years along, with another $400 million through lifting goldmining royalties, to prop up the budget, which faces large deficits for years.

However, it will likely need the support of the Liberals to pass legislation, given the WA Nationals said this week they would block the measures targeting big business along with upper house conservative crossbenchers.

CCI chief economist Rick Newnham told a business breakfast in Perth on Wednesday the tax hikes would be bad for the economy.

“The money has to come from somewhere and the first place these businesses will be forced to look is wage freezes, job cuts and fewer working hours,” he said.

“You cannot quarantine this to one section of the business community.

“These costs will be passed on through the supply chain to small and medium businesses that are already struggling from the downturn in WA’s economy.”

To protect small and medium-size businesses, the chamber was calling for an increase in the payroll tax threshold of $100,000 from $850,000 to $950,00 to help offset the 1,300 jobs that will be lost.

Mr Newnham said CCI research found lifting the threshold by $100,000 would create nearly 900 jobs, with a $283 million economic benefit to the state.

The budget should have focused more on spending restraint, not increased taxes, he said.

Thousands protest Macron labour reforms in France

The day of strikes and rallies was seen as a key test for the young French leader as he stakes his presidency on overhauling the sluggish economy.

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Initial estimates indicated that turnout was low compared with other recent protests in France.

About 4,000 strikes and 180 protests were called by France’s biggest trade union, the CGT, with rail workers, students and civil servants urged to join the demonstrations against changes to the country’s rigid labour laws.

France’s interior ministry said 223,000 people joined marches nationwide, with 13 arrests made. The Communist-backed CGT, for its part, put the total at 400,000. 

The protests were overwhelmingly peaceful despite isolated clashes between anarchists and police in Paris, where teargas was fired.

“It’s a first one and it looks like it’s a success,” the head of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, told reporters in Paris.

But disruption to rail networks, air traffic control and public services was limited.

“It doesn’t look like turnout is very high today,” political analyst Jerome Sainte-Marie from the polling group PollingVox told AFP, adding that Macron had the upper hand because the reforms were part of his election manifesto.

Attendance was being scrutinised as a measure of the resistance to Macron’s economic agenda, which is intended to help bring down stubbornly high unemployment.

The business-friendly leader wants to make France more attractive for both local companies and foreign investors who have long complained about restrictive labour laws and the power of trade unions.

The changes will give companies more flexibility in negotiating terms and conditions with their employees while reducing the costs of firing workers.

But the 39-year-old president antagonised his opponents last week when he described critics of his government’s efforts as “slackers, cynics and extremists”.

Protesters seized on the remark Tuesday, some daubing the word on banners and placards while others shouted

“Macron you’re screwed, the slackers are in the street.”

Retired economics researcher Evelyne Deurilla-Feer came dressed as a giant box of Kleenex, in protest at reforms she said would result in workers being tossed away like used tissues.  

“The labour code is supposed to protect employees, and what has Macron created? A code that protects entrepreneurs and businesses. It’s a real scandal,” she told AFP.

Divided unions

Deep splits in the trade union movement have made things easier for Macron.

While the CGT and its hardline allies are determined to obstruct the changes, other unions have signalled they are prepared to compromise and negotiate.

“We need to stop thinking that trade union action only makes sense when we demonstrate,” the head of the moderate CFDT, Laurent Berger, told Franceinfo radio.

The CFDT, the largest union in the private sector, and the leader of the usually fiery Force Ouvriere (FO) union both declined to join the strike action.

A separate protest on Tuesday by fairground operators swelled the numbers on the streets and their trucks blocked roads in Paris and other cities.

Macron is hoping to avoid a re-run of mass demonstrations against labour reforms last year that saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets against his Socialist predecessor Francois Hollande.

The new president — who has seen his approval ratings plummet since taking office in May — headed to the Caribbean on Tuesday to visit French islands hit by Hurricane Irma last week.

The CGT plans to follow Tuesday’s actions with a second protest day on September 21, while far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon and his France Unbowed movement have called rallies two days later.

“The political rallies might be bigger than the union ones,” commented Sainte-Marie from PollingVox.

Fast-tracked changes

Macron has angered unions by using executive orders to fast-track the changes.

They are to take effect this month even before being ratified by parliament, where Macron’s Republic on the Move party has a large majority.

The new law will give small company bosses in particular more freedom to negotiate working conditions directly with their employees rather than being subject to industry-wide agreements.

Compensation for unfair dismissal will be capped, while it will become easier for foreign-based companies to lay off staff in struggling French operations.

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Renewed hope for asthma sufferers

A healthy diet and regular exercise can significantly reduce asthma symptoms and improve quality of life for people with the condition, research suggests.

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Scientists in Italy compared the progress of asthma patients who were randomly assigned specific lifestyle-changing regimes or continued living as normal for a period of eight weeks.

At the end of the study those who took exercise classes three times a week and ate a healthy low-glycaemic index (GI) diet rich in protein, fruit and vegetables rated their asthma symptoms score 50 per cent lower than patients in the non-intervention control group.

Participants who only altered their exercise level or diet, but not both, reported a 30 per cent improvement in symptoms.

Louise Toennesen, from Bispebjerg University Hospital in Copenhagen, said: “People with asthma sometimes find exercise challenging and this can lead to an overall deterioration in their fitness.

“Our study suggests that non-obese asthma patients can safely take part in well-planned, high-intensity exercise. It also shows that exercise combined with a healthy diet can help patients control their asthma symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.

“Not all patients have good control over their symptoms and consequently can have a lower quality of life.

“Our research suggests that people with asthma should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet and to take part in physical activity.”

A low GI diet is one that releases sugar slowly into the blood and helps maintain a well-balanced metabolism.

Results from the study, which involved a total of 125 participants, were presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Milan.

The research did not show a clear improvement in lung function, but found that the diet and exercise combination improved symptom control and quality of life.