Aust Silk Road accused faces life in jail

by admin on January 30th, 2019

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Former Queensland prison employee Peter Nash is locked up in a New York jail accused of conspiring to sell large quantities of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine through the black-market internet bazaar, Silk Road.

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Nash, 41, was extradited from Australia to the US last week and faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in the American jail system if convicted.

He is being held in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center ahead of an expected appearance in a Manhattan federal court this week.

“Silk Road was used by several thousand drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to well over a 100,000 buyers,” the indictment against Nash and two co-accused.

New York’s top federal prosecutor, Preet Bharara, announced a year ago the unsealing of the indictment against Brisbane-based Nash and the two other alleged site administrators, Virginia’s Andrew Jones, 25, and Ireland’s Gary Davis, 26.

Silk Road’s alleged San Francisco-based owner and operator, Ross Ulbricht, known by the alias Dread Pirate Roberts, was arrested on October 1, 2013.

Nash, a former behavioural scientist at Queensland’s Wacol Prison, was allegedly known on the site by aliases “Batman73” and “Samesamebutdifferent”.

He was the primary moderator on the Silk Road site, sent Ulbricht a “weekly report” of his work and was paid between $US50,000 and $US75,000 a year, according to prosecutors.

As well as selling drugs and other illicit items, the Silk Road site provided the platform for the sale of computer hacking software, including “password stealers, keyloggers and remote access tools”.

Nash is charged with narcotics conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, if convicted.

He is also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking and one count of money laundering conspiracy.

They carry maximum sentences of five and 20 years’ prison respectively.

Silk Road allegedly operated via the “deep web”, an area of the internet off limits to standard search engines, and involved a Tor hidden service designed to allow users to browse and buy items anonymously.

US authorities shut the site down in 2013 when Ulbricht was arrested and another, known as Silk Road 2.0, came online soon after, but was also closed by authorities.

Indigenous military course pushing would-be recruits to their limits

by admin on January 30th, 2019

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A new course aimed at young would-be service men and women is strengthening links between Australia’s indigenous and military communities.

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Demand for the Defence Indigenous pre-recruitment course was at an all-time high, and bringing increasingly positive results.

The latest intake of 34 was in their final stages of the six-week course at the Cerberus Naval base south of Melbourne.

For warrant officer Colin Watego, who was largely responsible for the implementation of the course, it was about changing lives.

“It is designed to really take our young people out of their comfort zone; it tests them in many, many areas,” he said.

“We test them for their emotional stability and their leadership skills.”

Warrant Officer Watego had been in the Army for 40 years, and was an Aboriginal elder from the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales.

He said the course was a wonderful reflection of the symbiotic relationship between Indigenous Australians and the nation’s military.

“It provides opportunities. There is no limit to what can be achieved in a structured environment like the defence force – it’s a continuation of learning and self-development,” he said.

“You come from a community or family into a much bigger community or family.”

Not all those who graduate from the course will enter the military or public service, but it offers insight into what’s required.

Those who wish to pursue the military furtherwere eligible to sit the next phase of recruitment which included an aptitude test.

As for the latest class, they endured confronting bush exercises, minimal sleep and an unexpected mud-run which Warrant Officer Watego said they handled well.

“Congratulations each and every one of you,” he told them at the end of the course.

“I’m very proud, I’m very proud, mob.”

Pope pleas for no anti-Christian violence

by admin on January 30th, 2019

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Pope Francis and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I have issued a rare joint plea against anti-Christian violence, saying the world cannot stand by and allow “a Middle East without Christians”.

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Winding up a historic three-day visit to Turkey, Francis also urged Muslim leaders worldwide to “clearly” condemn terrorism carried out in the name of Islam.

He said he had told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that “it would be wonderful if all the Muslim leaders of the world – political, religious and academic – spoke up clearly and condemned” violence which damages Islam.

“That would help the majority of Muslims if that came from the mouths of these political, religious and academic leaders. We all have need of a global condemnation,” he told reporters aboard the plane taking him back to Rome.

On the final day of his first visit to Turkey, Francis also urged an end to the millennium-old schism between the Orthodox and Catholic churches and said this was even more urgent due to the violence against Christians by IS extremists.

The trip of the pope to Istanbul – once the capital of the Christian Byzantine world and formerly known as Constantinople – has been marked by his overtures to Muslims and other Christian confessions.

In a joint statement, Bartholomew and the leader of the world’s Roman Catholics said they could not let Christianity be driven out of the region.

“We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus there for 2,000 years,” the church leaders said.

They said the “terrible situation” of Christians calls “for an appropriate response on the part of the international community”.

The Church leaders also called on parties involved in the Ukraine conflict “to pursue the path of dialogue and of respect for international law”.

Swiss voters reject migration cap proposal

by admin on January 30th, 2019

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Results published by a handful of the country’s 26 cantons, including Geneva, showed voters flatly rejecting the so-called Ecopop initiative, as well as bids to scrap special tax breaks for rich foreigners living but not working in Switzerland, and on forcing the central bank to increase its gold reserves.

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Estimates by polling agency gfs.bern, published by public broadcaster RTS, indicated that a full 74 percent of voters nationwide said “no” to Ecopop, which aimed to dramatically cut immigration to preserve the Alpine nation’s idyllic landscape.

Twenty-six percent were seen voting in favour, according to those estimates.

A full 78 percent had meanwhile voted down the so-called Gold initiative, which would force the Swiss National Bank to boost its gold reserves to at least 20 percent of its holdings, nearly three times more than today’s level of seven percent, that estimate indicated.

Only 22 percent of voters were believed to have approved that move.

And 60 percent of voters were believed to have turned down the bid to ditch the special tax breaks handed to wealthy foreign residents, who today can choose to be levied on their spending rather than income.

Only 40 percent were seen voting in favour, according to gfs.bern.

In Geneva, which is home to the most beneficiaries in Switzerland of those special tax-breaks, nearly 69 percent voted against the initiative and to thus keep the current system in place, according to results based on 95 percent of votes.

Switzerland counts 5,729 millionaires and billionaires with foreign passports, who together pay around one billion Swiss francs ($1.04 billion, 830 million euros) in taxes annually.

Abbott backs down on allowances in defence ‘Fair Pay War’

by admin on January 30th, 2019

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed that the government will not go through with the proposed changes to defence allowances.

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Speaking to media on Monday, Mr Abbott confirmed that the restoration of allowances would come out of the existing defence budget. 

Discretionary leave, food and motor vehicle allowances will be restored, but the initial pay offer of 1.5 per cent remains, he said.

“While we would like to pay our ADF personnel more, we simply can’t give what we do not have,” he said.

Mr Abbott was due to meet with Senator Jacqui Lambie over the pay deal on Monday, but the meetiong has been postponed.

“We haven’t been able to meet all of her requests,” he said.

Senator Lambie, whose criticism of the deal sparked her public split from the Palmer United Party, said she would not be satisfied with “any result short of a total victory in the ADF Fair Pay War”.

Speaking to media on Monday, she said she was “very disappointed” over the postponed meeting.

“It’s another slap in the face,” she said.

‘I did have a meeting with the devil himself’

Senator Lambie also met with the leader of her former party on Sunday night.

She confirmed she met with Clive Palmer in Canberra to secure his support for her push on defence pay, telling journalists she was keen to keep up communication.

“I did have a meeting with the devil himself,” she said.

“But I won’t be selling my soul.”

In a statement issued on Sunday, Senator Lambie said her negotiations would be “all or nothing”.

“I’m not going to take any prisoners,” she said.

“It’s time to empty the magazine, fix bayonets and charge. Our Diggers have done a magnificent job for Australia and deserve a fair wage rise, which keeps track with inflation and returns all their holidays and allowances.”

‘It’s time to empty the magazine, fix bayonets and charge’

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has also put pressure on Mr Abbott over negotiations, calling the Government’s initial offer – which sits below inflation – shameful.

Mr Shorten said Mr Abbott has “until the end of the day” to address criticism.

“The deadline for the Prime Minister to write to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal is December 1,” he said.

“Funding for a fair pay deal for our service men and women is already in the budget… Our service men and women shouldn’t have to fight the Abbott Government for decent pay and conditions.”

Aust skipper tells of race wreck ordeal

by admin on January 30th, 2019

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Australian skipper Chris Nicholson says the decision to tell crew to abandon their Volvo Ocean Race yacht was the toughest of his life.

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Nicholson spoke from a remote Indian Ocean island, north-east of Mauritius, early on Monday after being ‘shipwrecked’ there when their Danish-backed yacht, Team Vestas Wind, ran aground on a nearby reef.

Two-time Olympian Nicholson, 45, took the decision shortly before daybreak on Sunday to abandon the vessel and lead the nine-strong crew through knee-deep water to a rock where they waited for the coastguard rescue boat which picked them up.

The area is popular with tourists for shark spotting and Nicholson’s team made their way in pitch darkness.

The $A10 million boat is believed to be a near write-off and still lies stranded high up the reef having struck it at 19 knots.

“We’re essentially shipwrecked,” Nicholson told AAP early on Monday.

“My major concerns are obviously for the well-being of my crew, and also everyone who may actually have felt for them last night as well.

“I’ve been making lots of calls on the sat-phone through the night.”

The grounding happened on Saturday as Nicholson and his crew were making good progress in fifth spot in the 5200 nautical mile second leg from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.

Nicholson said abandoning his boat had been a very painful choice.

“When you talk about the tough decisions you have to make in life, I have to say that was number one for me, and it’s one of those ones where, okay, we hit the rocks and we had massive damage.

“The immediate concern was just for people to be able to hang on to the boat and buy time until the situation got better.

“But the situation did not get better. I can’t begin to describe how hard it was literally just to hang on. We had to spend seven-eight hours trying to hang on till daylight.”

Nicholson said he’d practised escaping the boat 15-20 times with the crew “without thinking we’d have to do it”.

“And then towards daylight, like two hours just before daylight, the (keel) bulb broke off and the boat leaned over heavily. While that was happening, I made the decision that we were getting off,” he said.

Nicholson plans to survey his boat with shore crew manager, fellow Australian Neil Cox, before working out how to extricate her.

One of Vestas’ rival boats, Team Alvimedica, navigated by Queenslander Will Oxley, quit racing and sped to be within rescuing distance of Team Vestas Wind.

In the end, the offer of help was not needed.

“They were incredibly appreciative of the role we played,” said Oxley.

“But they didn’t want to disrupt our lives any more so they sent us on our way.”

Police unleash waves of pepper spray and batons on Hong Kong protesters

by admin on January 30th, 2019

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Police have unleashed pepper spray and baton charges at students who have tried to storm Hong Kong’s government headquarters, as tensions soared in the third month of pro-democracy protests.

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With morning rush hour underway on Monday, fresh scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators at the main Admiralty protest site.

Tearful protesters were forced from the government site and roads were cleared for traffic, but government offices remained closed with the de facto parliament suspended.

Emotions continued to run high with clashes between police and protesters at a shopping arcade near the Admiralty site, with at least one person taken away on a stretcher.

In chaotic scenes overnight, hundreds of protesters wearing helmets and wielding umbrellas spilled into a major road outside the office of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying as police tried to beat them back with batons and pepper spray.

“I want true democracy!” protesters yelled. “Surround the headquarters. Paralyse the government.”

Protesters have been staging mass sit-ins in Hong Kong since late September, demanding free leadership elections for the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

China’s communist authorities insist candidates for the 2017 vote must be vetted by a loyalist committee, which the protesters say will ensure the election of a pro-Beijing stooge.

Police said they had made 40 arrests overnight and 11 officers had been injured.

Several protesters were injured in the overnight clashes. One was seen led away by police with a bloodied face, while others were tended to by first-aid volunteers after being fired at with pepper spray.

Protesters wore builders’ hard hats and used umbrellas – which have come to symbolise the pro-democracy movement – to shield themselves from the pepper spray.

Police had to dodge helmets and bottles that were lobbed through the air. One officer was carted into the back of an ambulance on a stretcher.

Social media companies must simplify terms

by admin on January 30th, 2019

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Social media companies must simplify the conditions of using their services because they are so impenetrable that “no reasonable person” can be expected to understand them.

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That’s the feeling of MPs who sit on Britain’s parliamentary science and technology committee.

Complicated terms and conditions that allow firms like Facebook access to a wealth of personal information and even control a user’s phone are drafted for use in American court rooms, according to the committee.

It wants to see new guidelines that commit websites and apps to explaining clearly how they use personal data, saying that laws will be needed if companies fail to comply.

The committee has pointed to terms for Facebook Messenger’s mobile app, which is used by more than 200,000 million people a month.

It says that, under the current terms, Facebook can gain direct access to a user’s mobile or tablet, including to take pictures or make videos, at any time without explicit confirmation from the owner.

MPs also pointed to criticism of the company earlier this year after it carried out a psychological experiment that recorded users’ moods as news feeds on the social network were manipulated.

“Let’s face it, most people click yes to terms and conditions contracts without reading them, because they are often laughably long and written in the kind of legalese you need a law degree from the USA to understand,” Committee chair Andrew Miller said.

Miller says he’s sure most social media developers will be happy to sign up to new guidelines on “clear communication and informed consent” that the committee is asking the British government to draw up.

eReaders aren’t destroying reading 鈥?they’re just changing it

by admin on January 30th, 2019

filed under 苏州半永久

By Ryan Spencer, University of Canberra

The closure of traditional bookstores indicates that paper book sales are in decline.

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It is easy to feel as though this will discourage children from engaging with texts and make them more reluctant to read widely and often. However, eReading devices such as Kindles, Kobo and apps downloaded to smartphones are providing new ways for children to develop as successful readers.

Teachers are embracing these features in their classrooms to provide engaging and useful reading experiences. Many of these ideas can be easily adapted at home in order to excite and support children to read more often.

When it comes to using an eReader with children, engagement is the key benefit. Many kids see the use of any form of technology for reading as fun 鈥?worlds away from the boring home readers that frequently get sent home with students. Make sure that you capitalise on this enthusiasm by encouraging your kids to read frequently.

eReaders come with a variety of features that are useful for assisting reading development. Have fun exploring these features and playing around with the devices with your children. They鈥檒l be only too happy to show you how to use these items of technology proficiently.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Change the size of the font

Many struggling and reluctant readers are turned off reading many books due to their physical size, both in the number of pages and the small print. They therefore choose books that are below their instructional reading level and don鈥檛 face the normal reading challenges that they would when reading more advanced texts.

By using the accessibility features on an eReader, such as adjustable font sizes, the book suddenly seems less scary and easier to read. The effect of the physical size of the book is also diminished, as this is nowhere near as apparent as when as child holds a heavy, long book in their hands.

Use the screen reader and word look-up functions

 

Don鈥檛 know a word? Look it up. Flickr/Albertizeme, CC BY

Many eReading devices are equipped with features that are of great assistance to struggling readers. These include text-to-voice capability and word look-up and dictionary functions. Text-to-voice or screen reading features are perfect for a young reader who requires assistance when reading an unknown or difficult text.

Research has shown that struggling readers benefit when they are unsure of the text and listen to a portion of the text read aloud to fill in the gaps in their own understanding. This is also great for older children who don鈥檛 want to read with their parents, as they can access most books independently.

Explore the variety of different books

The number of eBooks available and the devices to access them on is growing as publishers and booksellers embrace the concept of reading in this way. This larger variety of books is available in different and frequently more engaging forms, including comics, magazines and newspapers, alongside traditional novels.

Free eReader apps, such as Amazon鈥檚 Kindle and Kobo, allow children to quickly download books and sample free chapters or a number of pages to see if the book piques their interest. More and more public and school libraries also facilitate the lending of eBooks, which makes them accessible for little or no cost.

eReaders enable private reading

When you are reading from an eReader, no-one else can see what you are reading. Not only are these devices useful for adults when sneaking a few pages of Fifty Shades of Grey on the bus, but they are also of great use to support a reader to access a suitable text that they can manage but wouldn鈥檛 normally be seen reading.

Many older reluctant readers can鈥檛 access the books that their peers are reading, due to the size of the text, the density of the print or the complexity of the words.

The advantage of the eReader for the older reader is that they can read a text in private, something that they may have been reluctant to pick up in front of their peers for fear of it not being 鈥渃ool鈥? As a result, students choose what they want to read based on their own opinions and ability.

Encourage your kids to be authors

Children who are successful in reading and writing are those with a great understanding of reading and how authors work in their craft. Being able to publish their own writing and transfer it to an eReader allows children to cement these skills.

By crafting their own content, kids are always interested in reading what they have produced. You might like to construct a joint holiday diary on your next vacation and upload it to your eReader. Not only is this working to develop your children鈥檚 literacy skills, it is also a perfect way to share and preserve treasured memories.

Have fun with eReading technology and encourage your children to do the same in order to encourage, strengthen and celebrate their literacy practices.

 

Encourage your kids to write. Shutterstock

 

Ryan Spencer does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Mayor vows to rebuild Ferguson after riots

by admin on January 30th, 2019

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The mayor of the US city at the centre of a deadly police shooting that sparked repeated nights of racially charged unrest has pledged to rebuild.

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Looting erupted and businesses were set ablaze in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson after a grand jury said white police officer Darren Wilson would face no criminal case in the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black.

Sporadic protests continued across the US on Sunday.

“We are recommitted to rebuilding the city and to once again becoming a thriving community for economic development and residential stability,” Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said at a news conference.

“We are working hard with local and regional partners to re establish resources available,” he added.

The decision not to charge Wilson in connection with the August 9 shooting of Brown touched off days of sporadic violence in Ferguson, as well as demonstrations in several major cities across the US. Ferguson was also hit by violent unrest in the weeks after the shooting.

Protesters have shot at police, robbed locally owned stores and set cars and buildings ablaze. A church attended by Brown’s family was burned down.

Residents are furious the grand jury declined to charge Wilson. Grand juries typically refer cases to trial.

The decision revived long-standing questions about how police, especially white officers, interact with African Americans – questions raised again after last week’s shooting in Cleveland of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

Wilson has resigned from the Ferguson police department, citing fears for the safety of local residents and fellow police officers.

Knowles said Wilson, 28, did not receive any severance package when he resigned and would not get any further pay or benefits.