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Colorado cinema shooter jailed for life

Colorado cinema shooter James Holmes has been formally sentenced to life in prison without parole.


The sentencing on Wednesday came more than three years after he carefully planned and executed a merciless attack on hundreds of defenceless moviegoers who were watching a midnight Batman premiere.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. had no other sentencing option after a jury earlier this month did not unanimously agree that Holmes should get the death penalty.

The judge issued his sentence after two days of testimony from survivors of the attack, including emergency workers who responded to the shooting.

Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others in the ambush on July 20, 2012. He was convicted of first-degree murder and 140 counts of attempted first-degree murder, as well as an explosives charge.

Colorado prisons officials will determine where Holmes will be incarcerated after an evaluation that includes his mental health.

Holmes, who has been diagnosed with varying forms of schizophrenia, could wind up in the corrections department’s mental hospital, the 250-bed San Carlos Correctional Facility in Pueblo.

He also could be transferred to an out-of-state prison.

Holmes moved from California to Colorado in 2011 and entered a prestigious postgraduate neuroscience program at the University of Colorado.

He dropped out after a year, by which time, he was well into planning the attack and stockpiling ammunition.

In July, the jury rejected Holmes’ insanity plea, finding he knew right from wrong, but couldn’t unanimously agree on the death penalty.

Prosecutors subsequently said one juror refused to sentence Holmes to death, apparently swayed by defence arguments that he suffered mental illness.

To the end, Holmes’ lawyers blamed the massacre on his schizophrenia and psychotic delusions.


Aust to deepen US defence ties

Australia is seeking to broaden and deepen its defence relationship with the United States.


Defence Minister Kevin Andrews, in a speech on Thursday, cited enhanced ability for Australian and US military forces to work together, more joint exercises and the maintenance of high levels of mission readiness.

Both nations were now examining a range of practical options to boost naval cooperation, on top of the training of US Marines in Australia’s north and training visits by the US Air Force, he said.

In a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Canberra, Mr Andrews said the upcoming white paper would set out the future for a defence force that was potent, agile and ready to respond.

The white paper, the top level Defence planning document, is set to be released in October.

“Through this white paper, the government will seek to broaden and deepen our Alliance with the United States, recognising that the US Alliance will remain fundamental to our security and defence planning and the highest priority for our international cooperation,” Mr Andrews said.

Australia recognised the tangible steps the US had taken to rebalance its strategic interests to the Indo-Pacific region, he said.

That included modernising and enhancing alliances with regional nations, such as updating the partnership with a more outward looking Japan.

Mr Andrews said US force posture initiatives presented a unique opportunity to enhance military interoperability, exercise joint capabilities and “demonstrate our mutual resolve in maintaining force readiness under the Alliance.”

Another possible move is expanding cooperation through the Australia-US Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty, an agreement finalised in 2013 which makes it easier for Australia to access US defence technology.

More than 50 Australian companies are now approved under this agreement.

“Now is the time to move to the next phase of implementation and look at opportunities to enhance the operation of the Treaty,” Mr Andrews said.


Republic not likely any time soon: Abbott

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has shut the door on Australia becoming a republic any time soon.


The staunch monarchist also revealed Joe Hockey did not discuss beforehand the treasurer’s decision to jointly lead a cross-party parliamentary group that will push for a plebiscite on the republic within five years.

“We’ve got, I suppose, bigger things on our minds most of the time,” Mr Abbott said on Thursday.

But he denied it was deliberate, suggesting the matter had been “sprung” on Mr Hockey by Australian Republican Movement chairman Peter FitzSimons, who revealed the republic push during a National Press Club address on Wednesday.

Mr Abbott said the treasurer was entitled to be involved in a parliamentary “friendship group” but warned change wasn’t likely in the near future.

“I don’t think anything is going to change on this issue any time soon,” he told the Seven Network.

He also dismissed the argument that becoming a republic was about making Australia more mature.

“I think one of the problems with the republican push is that it seems to … suggest there’s some lack of maturity, some lack of independence in our system,” Mr Abbott told the Nine Network.

“(I) don’t believe that most Australians think that’s the case.”

Mr Hockey isn’t the only prominent coalition frontbencher supporting a republic.

Malcolm Turnbull, as chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, went head to head with Mr Abbott during the 1999 referendum on the issue.

Another cabinet minister, Christopher Pyne, supports a popularly-elected head of state with the same powers as the existing governor-general, subject to clear protections and parameters around that power.

He doesn’t think any model where parliament chooses the head of state will get up after being defeated in 1999.

Parliament’s two most senior Nationals – Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce – believe there is more important work to do than promote the republican cause.

“I’m sure that Joe’s got strong reasons but I want to focus on the job we’re doing,” Mr Joyce told ABC Radio.

But LNP backbencher Ewen Jones came to Mr Hockey’s defence, insisting he could be treasurer and be involved in the campaign for a republic at the same time.

“It won’t take away from the importance of the economy,” he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has also backed a republic.

Labor MP Stephen Jones backed calls for a non-binding plebiscite on the issue, to avoid repeating the mistake of 1999 where people who supported a republic voted against it because they didn’t like the model.

“We need to bring Australians along with us,” he told Sky News.

Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne said there was no point putting the matter to a vote again unless there was a change of monarch.

But he supported Mr Hockey being part of a fresh push for a republic, telling the National Press Club on Thursday: “We have to get away from this idea that just because someone has a different view it requires a totally over-the-top response.”


Arthur reportedly set to sue Parramatta

Parramatta’s off-field woes have taken a new turn with coach Brad Arthur reported to be considering legal action against the NRL club.


According to Fairfax Media, Arthur and his management are looking at their options after the Eels allegedly reneged on a signed contract to extend and upgrade his existing deal.

The club announced it had re-signed Arthur until 2017 in November, but it was to terms less lucrative than those originally agreed to with chairman Steve Sharp.

The report said Arthur raised the issue of the discrepancy and the matter came to a head in February where he demanded a new contract be delivered amid fears he would walk out on the club.

Star signing Kieran Foran, who joins the club for the 2016 season, has a clause in his contract that offers him a get-out clause should Arthur leave the club.

It’s understood Arthur wants the matter resolved amicably out of court and has left it in the hands of his manager Chris Orr who believes he may have no other choice to ensure his client isn’t left out of pocket.

NSW centre Will Hopoate has already taken Supreme Court action against Parramatta after they allegedly failed to honour a contract extension he was offered, and signed, earlier this year.

The new deal guarantees Hopoate a salary of $570,000 on the salary cap, plus a marquee allowance of $100,000 and third-party arrangements if they can be negotiated.

The Eels are baulking at paying the hefty price after Hopoate’s form dropped, but the 23-year-old’s management believes the contract is binding.

Parramatta are also facing being docked four points next season with the NRL investigating the club over salary cap breaches.


Victorian Premier slams NSW Government over Gayby Baby ‘rubbish’

Daniel Andrews has lashed out at the NSW Government after it banned a high school viewing of the award winning film Gayby Baby.


Burwood Girls High School had arranged for students to watch the documentary, directed by former student Maya Newell, on Friday morning but the Department of Education stepped in to stop the school being screened during school hours.

Initial reports stated that some parents had complained, but the Department later confirmed to The Guardian that none were received.

Took the family to see #GaybyBaby. Love is the most important thing in any family. All kids need to know that. 杭州桑拿网,杭州夜生活,/C8arz19bjG

— Daniel Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) August 27, 2015

In a passionate Facebook post, Mr Andrews said the ban was “cruel rubbish” and endorsed the film, which his family saw recently.

“I’m getting really sick of this stuff,” he said.

“Gayby Baby is an award-winning Australian documentary about same-sex parents who are raising beautiful families… Apparently the NSW Government thinks it’s all too confusing and distressing a subject for high school students.

“They couldn’t be more wrong.”

Mr Andrews said children and teenagers need to know that there are “lots of different kinds of families”.

“This isn’t just about what young people might think of the movie, I’m also worried about what they might think of themselves,” he said.

“Young people who are same-sex attracted often lead a quietly difficult life and they deserve our full support. If you want to talk about things that confuse and distress young people, let’s talk about telling thousands upon thousands of them that they aren’t ‘normal’.

“If any young person is hurt by all this, please know that I stand with you. I’m on your side. So is the Victorian Government.”

His comments follow those by federal Liberal MP Christopher Pyne, who told the National Press Club on Thursday that he had changed his position to support marriage equality due to the children of same-sex couples.

Mr Pyne said these children “deserve legal certainty.”

Related Reading

The now cancelled viewing of the film had been organised as part of Wear It Purple Day, an annual event promoting understanding of young LGBTI Australians.

The diversity event was cofounded by another former student of the school.

The school’s prefects also expressed their support for diversity in the wake of the ban.

Posted on a Facebook called Students of Burwood Girls, the students stated that “we pride ourselves on our support of diversity – in whatever form it takes”.

“When it is considered that the LGBTIQ community has the highest rates of suicide of any population in Australia and experience significantly higher rates of mental health issues, we consider our support to be just one small step in creating better understanding in the community,” it read.

“We are proud of the leadership our school shows in supporting all views and the right for all people to be accepted.”

Post by Daniel Andrews on Wednesday, 26 August 2015.


CONMEBOL refuses to confirm 2016 Copa America in U.S.

The 2016 cup was scheduled to be staged in the U.


S. with 10 teams from CONMEBOL and six from CONCACAF, the North, Central American and Caribbean federation.

But a wide-reaching investigation into corruption inside FIFA appears to have cast doubt on the plans.

“We want to do it,” CONMEBOL president Juan Angel Napout said after a meeting of executives in Paraguay on Wednesday.

“The 100 years are important and we have to celebrate. (The Copa) is on the official FIFA calendar and that is valued very highly.

“Originally, we want to keep going with what we’ve done, keep going with CONCACAF but we understand the moment they are going through and we are not going to force anyone to do anything,” Napout said.

“What I can assure you is that the 100 years will be celebrated and that is going to be on the pitch.”

CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb, who was a key player in organising the joint tournament, was arrested in May, along with Eugenio Figueredo and Nicolas Leoz, both of whom are ex-presidents of CONMEBOL.

They are three of nine ex-FIFA officials and five corporate executives indicted for racketeering, conspiracy and corruption by the U.S. Department of Justice in May.

The indictment made reference to several alleged bribes paid in connection to the hosting of the centenary tournament.

Napout said he would meet with CONCACAF officials on Thursday or Friday to further discuss joint plans.

Officials from the two confederations announced in May 2014 that the competition would be held in the U.S. over three weeks in June.

The Copa America first took place in 1916 and is the world’s oldest international football tournament.

It is usually played every four years, with the last tournament held in Chile this tear and the next regular one due to be held in Brazil in 2019.

Some 24 U.S. cities bid to host matches in the centenary version.

CONCACAF officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Daniela Desantis, Writing by Andrew Downie, editing by Ed Osmond)


Chelsea, City seek to restore home advantage

Of the 30 matches played in the opening three rounds, only six have resulted in home wins, with more than twice as many going the way of the visitors, while the other 11 have been drawn.


Even at such an early stage of the campaign, leaders City are one of just three teams with a 100 per cent home record – Swansea City and Liverpool being the others – though each have played just one home match so far.

Having beaten champions Chelsea 3-0 in their only game at the Etihad Stadium, City will be confident of seeing off Watford for their fourth successive win of the campaign, although Quique Flores’ promoted side are unbeaten in the league, having drawn all three matches.

Chelsea, undefeated at home in winning the title last season, suffered an opening-day setback at Stamford Bridge this time when goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was sent off and Swansea City held them to a 2-2 draw.

Last weekend captain John Terry was dismissed at West Bromwich Albion, so he will miss the London derby with fifth-placed Crystal Palace.

Swansea won their only home game to date, against Newcastle, but now face a tougher task with a visit on Sunday from Manchester United, who must hope there is no hangover from Wednesday’s Champions League qualifying rout of Bruges.

Liverpool will be confident of beating West Ham, whose dreadful record at Anfield suggests their supporters should save the train fare — the Londoners have not won there since 1963, 42 games ago.

Arsenal’s form exemplifies the unusual trend of home and away results. They go to Newcastle in the early Saturday match after failing to score in two games at the Emirates but having won their only game on the road.

Equally unexpected is the fact that Bournemouth and unbeaten Leicester City, both widely regarded as relegation material, have belied expectations ahead of their meeting on the south coast.

West Brom manager Tony Pulis returns to one of his old clubs, Stoke City, for a meeting of two teams that have yet to win.

Like West Ham at Liverpool, it is a trip that bottom-of-the-table Albion do not relish – a victory there in 2012 was their first for 30 years.

The other teams hoping to improve the overall ratio of home wins this term are Aston Villa against Sunderland, Tottenham Hostpur versus Everton and, on Sunday, Southampton against Norwich City.

(Editing by Ken Ferris and Neville Dalton)


Nauru firm making a ‘positive difference’

The company operating Australia’s offshore detention centres insists it is “making a positive difference” to asylum seekers despite widespread reports of rapes and assaults.


Transfield Services, which runs detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, on Thursday said it was putting an “enhanced focus” on reducing its social and governance risk.

But Chief executive Graeme Hunt denied there were serious issues to address, adding that Transfield had been criticised unfairly and without proper supporting evidence regarding human rights abuses.

“Perhaps what we haven’t been clear about is what we actually do as a business,” Mr Hunt told AAP.

“Our people, particularly those in immigration contracts, are doing a tremendous job in challenging circumstances, and there’s no doubt our involvement is making a positive difference to the asylum seekers. That’s recognised by the asylum seekers themselves.”

A Senate Select Committee has been investigating allegations of physical and sexual assaults at the detention centre on Nauru, and Transfield last week defended the integrity of the evidence it has provided to the inquiry.

Mr Hunt, who is also managing director, said anger directed at Transfield was misguided.

“As a publicly listed corporate, we are a target for people who would like to attack the offshore processing policy … notwithstanding the fact that policy has been issued and implemented by two successive governments of different political persuasion, remains supported by both major parties and, so far as I can tell, the vast majority of the Australian people,” he said.

Mr Hunt said it was not Transfield’s position to support or oppose the policy.

“It is our position to execute the services we’re contracted to,” he said.

Super fund HESTA cited evidence of human rights violations when it dropped its three per cent holding in the company earlier this month, and other funds have reportedly done the same.

“While we are available for those conversations, some of those organisations have not reached out to us for our views,” Mr Hunt said.


US television team fatally shot on air

There were gunshots – screaming – then this:


“Ok, not sure what happened there.


We will of course, let you know as soon as we find out what those sounds were from.”


A stunned news anchor, apparently unsure how to explain what had just unfolded in front of thousands of TV viewers.


A reporter and cameraman were shot dead at close range in Virginia during an interview on breakfast television for US station WDBJ7.


The victims were 24 year-old reporter Alison Parker and 27 year-old cameraman, Adam Ward.


WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks has described what happened.


“They were doing a routine interview, you saw Alison on camera with the person she was interviewing, you heard several shots fired, Alison screamed and started running away. By that time, we believe, Adam was already shot and Alison was shot as she ran away.”


The person being interviewed, Vicky Gardner, was also shot and is recovering in hospital.


Some hours after the shooting, County Sheriff Bill Overton confirmed the gunman was dead.


“At approximately 1:30pm today the suspect from this incident, this shooting, died at Fairfax Nova Hospital in northern Virginia as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”


The suspect, 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan, was a former employee of the TV network.


As a reporter he had been known as Bryce Williams.


Posts on his Twitter and Facebook feeds indicate he had grievances with the station.


He also posted a video that appeared to show the attack filmed from his point-of-view, before his social media accounts were suspended.


Mr Marks says the station is still coming to terms with what happened.


“You know, you send people into war zones, you send people to dangerous situations and to riots and you worry they are going to get hurt. You send someone to do a story on tourism and this… um,.,. how can you ever expect something like this to happen? We are.. you know, we use all the words – senseless, devastated – those are all those news catch-words, but they all apply.”


The shooting has once again revitalised debate about gun violence in America.


Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says the shooting highlights the need for action, and she’s vowed to tackle the issue.


“It’s a very political, difficult issue in America. But I believe we are smart enough, we are compassionate enough, to figure out how to balance the legitimate Second Amendment rights with preventive measures and control measures so that whatever motivated this murderer who eventually took his own life, we will not see more deaths; needless, senseless deaths.”



Successes blossom in Vienna amid Europe’s migration crisis

At the reception desk at Magdas Hotel, tourists check in then take the elevator to their rooms.



It’s a hotel like hundreds of others in this tourist city – except for the staff who work here.


Until very recently they were asylum-seekers trying to get into Europe.


“I fled Afghanistan in 2009, arrived in Austria in 2010 and a year later I received my work permit and since then I’ve been working in Austria.”


24 year-old Ehsan Amim is making coffee and serving drinks in the bar.


He says he learnt to speak German on the street while waiting for his asylum application to be processed.


Only when he was finally assessed as a refugee could he get a job.


“There are lots of people who wait 10 years and haven’t got anything. Lots of refugees wait a long time – but it was great that I received it within two years.”


Magdas Hotel is owned by the Catholic aid agency, Caritas.


A former aged care home, when it became vacant Caritas turned it into a hotel with the aim of providing training and jobs for refugees.


Hotel spokeswoman Gabriela Sonnleitner says since Magdas opened earlier this year, guests have been pouring in.


“From all over the world, but mainly from Germany, England quite a lot⦠because we were on BBC and CNN and so I think because we’ve got lots of good media echo, lots of good stories.”


There are 20 refugees working at Magdas, representing sixteen nationalities.


Hotel Manager Sebastiaan de Vos says that diversity is paying dividends.


“It’s nice because we have so many cultures coming together, so many mentalities coming together, it’s another working experience. Those people bring a lot of working skills with them, for example Dynis at reception, he can talk seven languages and is just perfect for a receptionist.”


Hotel cook Segun Prince, from Nigeria, shows off his bright clean kitchen.


He says he became a refugee because he refused to take part in a tribal ritual and was threatened with death.


Finding his way to Austria and getting a job at Magdas has saved and changed his life.


“Wow that is so wonderful! I tell you this Magdas Hotel is.. I will never leave I love it so much it is so very beautiful. Even the guests come and eat and say very good food and everybody is laughing together, joking together, we are.. 28 language.. we talk together with Deutsch with English and we are just like brothers and sisters.”


Magdas Hotel is a success story – but what about the thousands of would-be migrants trying to get into Europe every day?


Barman Ehsan has been watching television coverage of the dramatic events on Europe’s borders.


“But I want to tell these people they shouldn’t come to Europe, it’s all over here. There are no more places for refugees, do you know what I mean? Many of them have problems but when they come here they have no papers and they will probably be deported⦠but I don’t want to talk about it.”


The name Magdas is actually a play on words.


In German Mag Das means “like that”.


But the refugees at Magdas don’t just like this hotel, they love it.


“I love my job. I want to keep working in hospitality, either here or somewhere else but I want to keep working in the hotel industry.”