DIY renovators under hammer with new rules

EXCLUSIVEHOME OWNERS wishing to supervise or do their own renovations will be forced to pay hundreds more dollars for a building permit and complete a 700-page course because the NSW government is ”overreacting” to health and safety concerns.From September, owner-builders will have to complete the course to get an owner-builder permit from the Office of Fair Trading for all jobs valued at $12,000 and over.The current threshold is $5000 but the course takes only a few hours and costs between $100 and $200. A permit application is $148.Experienced renovators and course providers argue the size and additional assessment criteria in the new compliance course will significantly increase the cost of a permit.They are also angry the government is introducing more red tape for renovators when it has deregulated other parts of the industry.Dominic Ogburn, of ABE Education, offers an online course that takes renovators about four hours to complete. He expects the new course to cost up to $600 and take at least two days.”It’s quite onerous, particularly for smaller projects which make up the vast majority [of renovations] … It will put many owner-builders off.”He said the state government had ”overreacted” to the number of deaths on owner-builder worksites.”If the problem … was inadequate occupational health and safety training then an easy solution would have been a requirement to undertake an OHS course.”A spokesman for WorkCover NSW said there had been three owner-builder deaths in 2008 and one last year.Brian Seidler, the Master Builders Association NSW’s executive director, welcomed the tougher regulations. ”If you look at the statistics that show collapses of verandahs, nearly 70 per cent of them have been constructed by owner-builders or ‘weekend warriors’,” he said.Fair Trading Minister Virginia Judge said the new course was ”essential to make training more rigorous and ensure the safety of both owner-builders and subcontractors”.”Compliance operations have found that many owner-builders are unaware of their obligations to their subcontractors and for the worksite,” she said.Kevin McAndrew, an owner-builder and former construction teacher from Cronulla, said the courses should be tailored to people’s knowledge and experience.”Are they trying to make it hard for people? I don’t think they are going to cover more that’s going to help people. The course is about occupational health and safety and the pitfalls in contracting,” he said.”They’re training people to be builders, they’re not training people to be tradesmen.”[Previously] you just went to the Office of Fair Trading and showed your plans and they were stamped, but with the rise of occupational health and safety I can see why there’s been a call for some kind of training.”Mr Ogburn said it took his business seven months and more than $8000 to become a registered training organisation, a requirement to teach the new course.
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Red Shirt activists vow to continue their fight by going ‘underground’

CHIANG MAI: On a wall of the Red Coffee Corner cafe in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, a photo of the fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has pride of place next to pictures of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Che Guevara.The proprietor, Jakapan Borirak, 40, a Thaksin-aligned Red Shirt activist, said he and others were going ”underground” following more than 80 deaths during two months of anti-government protests.The famous revolutionaries on display never became rich. However, Thaksin rose from a Thai police lieutenant-colonel to build a multibillion-dollar telecommunications fortune. He went on to become prime minister in 2001, only to be ousted in a 2006 military coup.In power, he helped improve life for the poor, but acquired an appalling record on human rights abuses, not least through thousands of extrajudicial killings.Now in a propaganda battle for hearts and minds, historical analogies are being strategically cited. Mr Jakapan said persecution of Red Shirts was akin to a massacre of leftist students in October 1976. At least 46 unarmed students were killed, some lynched from lamp posts and bodies set ablaze, after militias, police and soldiers clashed with them at Thammasat University in Bangkok. They had been conducting a peaceful protest over attempts to bring army strongman Field Marshall Thanom Kittikachorn back to power.Mr Jakapan said similar ”dark forces” to those behind the Thammasat violence were working against Thaksin. He did not specify which forces he was referring to. However, on the Red Shirt rally stage in Bangkok other speakers used the same term to refer to advisers to the Palace in Thailand, specifically the country’s Privy Council.Thaksin this week also personally raised what happened at Thammasat University in 1976, though critics say it was self-serving cherry-picking from history given the way he cracked down on dissent when in power.”The demonstrators were labelled communists,” Thaksin said on Twitter. ”In May 2010 they are called terrorists.”An arrest warrant for Thaksin on terrorism charges was issued by the Thai Criminal Court this week.Mr Jakapan, in an interview with the Herald at his coffee shop, said in other democracies, royalty did not interfere in politics and this should also be the case in the Thailand. ”That is one of the things that should be included in peace talks,” he said.Mr Jakapan said it was possible an anti-government Red Shirt insurgency would develop and employ tactics like that of Islamic militants in southern Thailand, where thousands have died in recent years.”It could happen because before the north and north-east people did not understand why southern people were killing each other,” he said. ”Now they are saying they understand why.”Chiang Mai’s faded, 1960s-style Grand Warorot Hotel was quiet yesterday, in contrast to nightly Red Shirt gatherings before the government’s May 19 crackdown. The owner, Sairung Wattanapongkhu, who helped finance a Red Shirt radio station accused of inciting violence, and now closed, was not in Chiang Mai, a sole visible staff member said.The rallies outside the hotel never attracted more than a few hundred people, putting the lie to suggestions that Chiang Mai is hotbed of grassroots pro-Thaksin ire. But there has been intermittent strife.Last November, 60-year-old Settha Chiamkitwattana was pulled from a pick-up truck, beaten – and had an arm chopped off with multiple blows from a machete – before he was shot dead. A 200-strong mob had been looking for his son, Therdtsak, who was running a Chiang Mai community radio station openly critical of the Red Shirts.Last month – on April 8 – a court in Chiang Mai convicted five men for the crime and sentenced them to 20 years’ imprisonment. But one, Niyom Lueangcharoen, described as the security chief of a Red Shirt group, ”Love Chiang Mai 2008”, skipped bail.Witnesses report seeing him on stage at the Red Shirt rally in Bangkok where he was treated like a hero.Love Chiang Mai 2008 says it has 60,000 registered members. But one of the group’s leaders recently referred to an ”invisible force” of militants she claimed were under nobody’s direct control. Given the government’s willingness to lay terrorism charges against Red Shirt leaders, that claimed ”invisible force” may be attributed with carrying out militant acts to come.
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Incumbents suffer in US primaries

WASHINGTON: Republicans have chosen two millionaire businesswomen to lead them in key election battles in California, America’s most populous state, which has been pushed near to bankruptcy by the recession.The former chief executive of eBay, Meg Whitman, won her party’s endorsement to run for governor, while Carly Fiorina, who headed the computer firm Hewlett Packard for six years, will battle for a Senate seat in November’s mid-term elections.Other women also emerged victorious in primary contests conducted in 12 states on Tuesday, including Senator Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas, who beat dire predictions by fending off a union-backed campaign to oust her in favour of a more liberal Democrat.Acknowledging the widespread backlash against sitting members of Congress, Senator Lincoln told voters: ”I’ve heard your message. It’s loud and clear: that Washington needs to work for us, for us in Arkansas.”Incumbents in both parties could not take much solace from Senator Lincoln’s victory, however. In South Carolina, Representative Bob Inglis, a veteran Republican, was forced into a run-off election after finishing a distant second in the battle to hold on to his seat. And the Republican Governor of Nevada, Jim Gibbons, lost his party’s endorsement.The primaries coincided with a vote by Californians for landmark constitutional reform, changing the way candidates are selected for local, state and federal office.Tuesday’s primary results were cast amid deep voter distrust of Washington, making for treacherous times for incumbent members of Congress and boding badly for Democrats, whose majority in the House of Representatives could be under serious challenge.”Both parties are having civil wars with their Washington establishments,” said Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist. “You are seeing it on the Republican side; you’re seeing it on the Democratic side. The reality is, regardless of what party you are in, if you’re an incumbent and it looks like the Washington establishment is backing you, you’re in trouble. It’s the wrong place to be this year.”Centrist candidates generally have been under the gun, with the Tea Party movement continuing to influence outcomes, helping the campaigns of conservative Republicans.In Nevada a former state assembly member, Sharron Angle, a Tea Party favourite, won the Republican nomination to challenge the Senate majority leader, the Democrat Harry Reid.Ms Fiorina, a cancer survivor, also found favour from the Tea Party pin-up Sarah Palin, who endorsed her candidacy for the Senate race in California. She will face the three-term senator Barbara Boxer, who has enjoyed the support of the President, Barack Obama, on the campaign trail in recent weeks.Ms Whitman, who as chief executive took the online commerce site eBay from an internet start-up to a company with $US8 billion ($9.7 billion) of annual revenues, will take on the former Democrat governor Jerry Brown for the right to succeed the retiring Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.In South Carolina, Nikki Haley, another Republican beneficiary of Sarah Palin’s endorsement, moved closer to becoming the state’s first female governor.Ms Haley endured a bruising campaign, including accusations of infidelity, to set herself up for a run-off against Gresham Barrett, a four-term Republican congressman.”We had the kitchen sink thrown at us,” Ms Haley said. ”We are a state of great people. We are a state of dirty politics.”with agencies
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Time travel as a daily routine

Karen Bennett is a ”super commuter” – one of those people the international group Sustainable Cities identifies as willing to travel up to four hours a day between work and home.Her daily trip between Wyong on the central coast and North Sydney takes an average of 105 minutes each way, and despite the long haul she faces the journey with good humour. ”I’ve got a lot of train buddies, people I only see on board,” she said. ”You know their families and their holidays. We are a community.”But she also calculates she spends more than 90 working days a year in transit. ”That’s a lot of time on a train. We choose to live here, we accept that, but in the 21st century it shouldn’t take this long.”Ms Bennett represents a growing class of commuters who for financial or lifestyle reasons are living in the regions on the metropolitan fringes.The NSW government’s Household Travel Survey, released in August, shows that in 2007 (the most recent available data) central coast commuters notched up 2.071 million kilometres in rail travel on an average weekday. In outer-western Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, the figure was 1.222 million kilometres, in the Illawarra it was 911,000, and in the south-west it was 1.150 million. Clearly, there is an appetite for train travel to the furthest reaches of Sydney.A recent online poll by the Herald found 59.6 per cent of people ”would … be prepared to live farther from Sydney’s CBD if access to public transport was better”.The Department of Transport and Infrastructure recently began its latest household travel survey, going door to door interviewing residents about their travel patterns and preferences.Experts say they expect the results of this round of surveying to confirm a trend.”Right around the country we saw [from 2004] a decline in per capita car use and an increase in demand for public transport,” said Dr Garry Glazebrook, an urban planner and academic at the University of Technology, Sydney. ”I think we could expect to see a further drop in car use as we get figures from 2008 and 2009.”Commuting to and from work is the fourth most common reason for travel, registering 16 per cent of trips, behind recreational travel on 22 per cent, driving other people on 18 per cent and equal to shopping, also 16 per cent. But commuting accounts for more than 27 per cent of all kilometres travelled in Sydney.A report released earlier this year, Moving People, compiled by the Australasian Railway Association, the Bus Industry Confederation and the International Association of Public Transport as part of a campaign to win more federal investment, confirmed that in every mainland capital, car use had climbed between 1999 and 2004 then, almost uniformly, fallen, although less so in Sydney.But trips for work and pleasure are also getting longer.”The average time a Sydney resident spends travelling per weekday has increased from 79 minutes in 1999 to 81 minutes in 2007,” the survey finds.”The work trip represents a large and growing component of this time, increasing from 31 to 34 minutes over the same period.”In spite of the additional time spent in transit, the survey confirms the plentiful anecdotal evidence about why people are moving to public transport. Almost half of commuters are overcoming parking problems; 28 per cent believe it is quicker; 27 per cent think it is cheaper; 17 per cent report it is ”less stressful”; and 14 per cent say it offers time to read and relax.For Karen Bennett, the journey up the North Shore line, then past the picturesque Hawkesbury River and Brisbane Waters, has its compensation.”It’s my time to wind down,” she said. ”I used to do the drive from Crows Nest to home and by the time I got in, I was so tense and cranky that I had no time to relax because I would have to start getting ready for bed.”Camaraderie the best part of riding the railsThe alarm clock in Karen Bennett’s house is set for 4.10am onweekdays ut, after 12 years of train commuting between Wyong and NorthSydney, she doesn’t really need it – her body clock is well and trulyset.Ms Bennett spends one hour and 45 minutes each morning and eveningriding the rails, one of the ”super commuters” who, for economicnecessity or lifestyle reasons, live far from work.In good weather, she will ride her motor scooter for 10 minutes toWyong station to make the 5.45am train, but she likes to arrive up to30 minutes early to nab a good seat. ”You’d be surprised how many ofus there are on the station at 5am,” she says.Ms Bennett is usually at her desk at an information technology firm by7.35am – serious commuting has taught her to be specific about times -and takes the 4.53pm home each night, arriving at 6.45 pm.She says she loves the camaraderie of the train trip, which for thefirst 30 to 45 minutes involves passengers napping, before people rouseto swap stories and, as they near work, make an early start on emailusing laptops. On the return trip, some work, others watch DVDs; shereads.But she resents the time it takes to cover the distance – pointing outthat early 20th-century steam trains from Newcastle travelled fasterthan today’s services – and the way she has had to ask her employer forflexible work hours to accommodate the train timetable.”The solution to every problem on the railways seems to be to slow thetrains down, either for safety or to fix a timetable problem,” shesays. ”They have built so much leeway into the timetable so they canalways say they’re on time.”’The T-Way gives me the chance to avoid CityRail’Loui Pham is one of those rare people in western Sydney who managesto get around contentedly without a car, despite a long journey eachmorning and evening.The outgoing secretary of The Hive, the student union at the Universityof Western Sydney, commutes daily between her home in Cabramatta andthe university’s campus near Rydalmere using her bicycle and two buses.Most mornings she cycles for 30 minutes to the Bonnyrigg stop on theT-Way, a mostly bus-only corridor between Liverpool and Campbelltown,leaving her bike in the care of a friend who lives near Bonnyrigg Plaza.In peak hour she might wait five to 10 minutes for a bus, and thenspends up to 30 minutes in transit to the Parramatta interchange, atthe rail station, before waiting another five to 10 minutes for a busto the Rydalmere campus.Ms Pham says driving in peak hour would take her more than an hour.The journey has made her a convert to T-Ways. Sydney has threetransitways – Liverpool-Parramatta, Parramatta-Rouse Hill andBlacktown-Parklea – but she would like to see more, right acrosswestern and south-western Sydney.”The T-Way also gives me the chance to avoid CityRail,” Ms Pham says.”Everyone I know has had a bad experience with CityRail. There has notbeen enough investment in the system and in the maintenance of ageing trains.”Cheap as chips and an easy trip – no sweatRALPH VAN DIJK became a scooter commuter three months ago when he lost his licence and needed another way to get from his home in Mosman to his job at a radio advertising company in Pyrmont.He spent $800 on an electric model and lowered the gearing, which cut the top speed but means it can carry his lofty frame up the hill when he gets off the ferry on his way home.His commuting takes about 40 minutes door to door, with only 12-14 minutes spent getting from Circular Quay to Pyrmont, including the run along the crowded footpath in George Street, which he said could ”be a bit sticky”.While he turned to the scooter from necessity, he likes it so much he plans to stick with it.”I am seeing bits of Sydney I have never explored before, riding along the little bays around Mosman, thinking this is what everyone should be on,” Mr van Dijk said.He did think about a bicycle but prefers the scooter because it’s easier to zip around, and he can get to work without needing a shower. ”I ride straight into the office … with this I can just step on and off.”He also likes the fact that he’s not obliged to wear a helmet although he concedes that one might have been handy whenhe came off one night after hitting a gutter.He usually sees about three other electric scooter riders each week and reckons there could soon be more because of the advantages that go beyond the purely practical .”I get envious looks from my kids’ friends.”Matthew Moore
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New safe seat turns into a Wright stuff-up for LNP

SCOTT DRISCOLL, a colourful Queensland business figure and Liberal National Party supporter, is contemplating a crack at federal politics.Since Hajnal Ban, the LNP candidate for the newly created federal seat of Wright, was disendorsed, Mr Driscoll is considering a run for preselection. Also likely to run is Cameron Thompson, a Liberal MP in the Howard government who lost his seat to Labor at the last election.Mr Driscoll, a controversial and opinionated character, established a small business lobby group, the Retailers Association. It was a bitter critic of the Rudd government and angered the more objective industry group, the National Retailers Association.The latter and other similar lobbies accused Mr Driscoll of exaggerating his membership and acting as a front for the Coalition. Legal action was threatened.Mr Driscoll changed the name of his organisation to the United Retail Federation and continued to act as an industry lobbyist.Ms Ban, a local councillor who rose through the ranks of the National Party before it merged with the Queensland Liberals, was disendorsed this week after complaints were raised about the finances of an elderly man for whom she had power of attorney.She may attempt to run again.Her disendorsement and the subsequent bad press upset the LNP which has all but counted Wright as being in the bag for the Coalition.With the federal election set to be a cliffhanger, the Coalition has made mistakes with candidates in marginal seats in NSW and Queensland.It has had to conduct another preselection in the marginal Labor seat of Dobell, on the central coast, after the candidate withdrew. And in Queensland, the LNP chose a 19-year-old to try to wrest the marginal seat of Longman back from Labor.The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, will spend the rest of the week in Queensland.There is an awareness that a small number of marginals could decide the election and that poor candidate choice by the Liberals in key seats in the South Australian election in March proved costly.
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Tax fears may be reason for gunman’s fatal rampage

LONDON: The gunman who carried out the Cumbria massacre was embroiled in a tax investigation into an undeclared £60,000 ($104,000) in his bank account and was facing serious financial difficulties, friends and colleagues have said.Detectives are working on the theory that Derrick Bird harboured grudges against several of his victims following disputes over money.Some of those killed in the early stages of his rampage had clashed with Bird in recent weeks, including his twin brother, David, and the family solicitor, Kevin Commons.However, Bird’s victims are thought to include bystanders he did not know.Bird shot and killed 12 people before taking his own life. Eleven other victims remain in hospital.The twins had had a rocky relationship since childhood. David’s family said that his downfall had been ”to try to help” his brother.However, the dispute is alleged to have escalated recently when David reported Derrick to the authorities for evading tax.A friend of the killer, Mark Cooper, said Bird had about £60,000 ($104,000) in undeclared and untaxed earnings in a bank account, which the tax authorities had discovered.”He was terrified he was going to go to prison,” Mr Cooper said.”It had been going on for six months but he only told me a fortnight ago. I had never seen him bothered about anything before.”Bird is understood to have been given details of his mother’s will last week, which was drawn up by David and Mr Commons.Mr Commons, who is believed to have been the first person to be killed on Wednesday, was shot in the driveway of his home.Bird then drove to his brother’s house and killed him while he was still in bed.Other victims include a real estate agent, Jamie Clark; a mother of two, Susan Hughes; a retired couple, James and Jennifer Jackson; and a part-time mole catcher, Isaac Dixon.Bird, a taxi driver, is thought to have fallen out with several work colleagues after they were accused of failing to follow rules when waiting for passengers. The drivers were also reported to have clashed during a recent holiday in Thailand after Bird paid a large amount of money to a Thai woman.At least two of the victims were employees at the Sellafield nuclear plant, where Bird worked until he was sacked and prosecuted for theft in 1990.Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Goulding, who is leading 100 detectives investigating the killings, said Bird appeared be have a motive for some of the murders but others were random.There were questions over the conduct of authorities after it emerged Bird had been granted two gun licences despite a conviction for theft. A former home secretary, Alan Johnson, said the government should consider introducing mental health checks for potential gun owners.However, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, said: ”Of course we should look at this issue but we should not leap to knee-jerk conclusions on what should be done on the regulatory front.”You can’t legislate to stop a switch flicking in someone’s head and this sort of dreadful action taking place.”Telegraph, London
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Mardi Gras looks to future

Criticism of this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has lead the organisation that produces it to launch a widespread consultation process on the future and objectives of the parade.After complaints about refusing parade entry to Animal Liberation and its over-commercialisation, the chief executive of New Mardi Gras, Michael Rolik, is encouraging debate on whom the parade is meant for, how it should be funded and how to create a more relevant, entertaining and engaging event.In an open letter in February, Mr Rolik said there was a discrepancy between some people’s view of what Mardi Gras should be about and the reality of the organisation’s constitution and business model.”Let’s look at its purpose, composition and funding and work towards a clear statement (or restatement) of our objectives and values,” he wrote. ”By doing this we’d go a long way to ensuring Mardi Gras’ relevance into the future.”Now New Mardi Gras is acting on his hopes, seeking views from the community.In just a week, the organisation has received hundreds of submissions and online comments to the six main topics: the purpose, participation, what’s working, what’s not, improvements and funding.Online debates have raged about issues including greater quality control of floats, the length and time of the parade and the need to keep issues such as politics and equality on the agenda.Mr Rolik said there had been consultation in the 33 years of the event, but not for some time.”It’s their event, but there’s no use just having a bitch; we actually do want constructive ideas and there’s a lot of great ideas out there,” he said.Submissions will be published online and in July there will a night of debate.www.mardigras.org.au/itsyourparade
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Australia accused of fudging emissions

AUSTRALIA has been accused of trying to cheat its way out of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by pushing for ”dishonest” forestry accounting loopholes at the latest round of UN climate talks.Along with Russia and the European Union, Australia is facing claims it is pushing to change rules so they could include offsets from planting trees but not count emissions created by land clearing.Developing countries and environmental groups at the two-week meeting in Bonn, Germany, said rich nations were attempting to give the impression that they were tackling climate change when in reality they would be undermining genuine cuts.The dispute centres on what year, or series of years, are chosen as a baseline to measure emissions from the land and forestry.The Climate Action Network, a coalition of more than 500 environment and development groups, said a proposed revision of the land use, land use change and forestry rules would falsely exaggerate emission reductions. ”It’s a disgraceful scandal. It would be disastrous for the climate,” said Sean Cadman, an Australian spokesman for the climate network.”This is a massive loophole. All rich countries except Switzerland are now trying to avoid the consequences of increasing the harvesting of forestry.”The deputy chief executive of the Climate Institute, Erwin Jackson, said Australia’s credibility was ”teetering on the edge of an abyss” after the government’s decision to delay emissions trading and the Coalition’s outright opposition to a scheme.”Obstinacy against reasonable calls for Australia to take responsibility for pollution from forestry is counterproductive and the government risks being perceived as trying to cook the books,” he said.A spokeswoman for the Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, said the government measured and reported emissions from forestry and the land in accordance with international rules and reported them clearly every year. ”Australia recognises that the world needs smarter treatment of human-caused emissions from the land sector,” she said.”We have been pursuing this internationally for a long time because an effective global agreement will need to include human-caused emissions from all sectors.”The climate network claims that loopholes could account for nearly 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, or nearly 5 per cent of the global total. Forest management is seen as key to the climate talks because it is the biggest source of carbon credits and potential mitigation.with Guardian News & Media
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Burma pursuing a nuclear program

WASHINGTON: Burma has begun secretly acquiring key components for a nuclear weapons program, including specialised equipment used to make uranium metal for nuclear bombs, according to a report that cites documents and photos from a Burmese army officer who recently fled the country.The smuggled evidence shows Burma’s military rulers taking concrete steps towards obtaining atomic weapons, according to an analysis co-written by an independent nuclear expert. But it also points to enormous gaps in their technical knowledge and suggests that the country is many years from developing an actual bomb.The analysis, commissioned by the dissident group Democratic Voice of Burma, concludes with ”high confidence” that Burma is seeking nuclear technology, and adds: ”This technology is only for nuclear weapons and not for civilian use or nuclear power.”The intent is clear, and that is a very disturbing matter for international agreements,” said the report, co-authored by Robert Kelley, a retired senior United Nations nuclear inspector.Hours before the report’s release, a US senator announced that he was cancelling a trip to Burma to await the details.”It is unclear whether these allegations have substantive merit,” said Senator James Webb, who chairs a Senate foreign relations panel on east Asia.”[But] until there is further clarification on these matters, I believe it would be unwise and potentially counterproductive for me to visit.”Last August the Herald reported that Burma was building a secret nuclear reactor and plutonium extraction facilities with North Korean help, based on evidence from defectors.The new analysis is based on documents and hundreds of photos smuggled out of the country by Sai Thein Win, a Burmese major who says he visited key installations and attended meetings at which the new technology was demonstrated.Among the images provided were technical drawings of a device known as a bomb-reduction vessel, which is chiefly used in the making of uranium metal for fuel rods and nuclear-weapons components. The defector also released a document purporting to show a government official ordering production of the device, as well as photos of the finished vessel.The Washington Post
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Action over Palm Island death

SIX officers must face disciplinary action over their roles in two investigations into the death of Cameron Doomadgee at the Palm Island watchhouse in 2004.Yesterday the Crime and Misconduct Commission handed down the findings of its review into the handling of Mr Domagee’s death and was scathing of the Queensland Police Commissioner, Bob Atkinson, and his leadership.However, the police union says the commission neglected its moral responsibility to take over investigations into the indigenous death in custody.Mr Doomadgee died from internal injuries after his arrest for drunkenness and a scuffle with the arresting officer, Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, who was later acquitted of manslaughter.The Queensland Police Union president, Ian Leavers, lambasted the commission and its chairman, former supreme court judge Martin Moynihan, attacking the organisation’s credibility and independence.Three days after Mr Doomadgee’s death, Mr Atkinson wrote to the commission asking it to handle the investigation, but nothing was done, Mr Leavers said.”This … letter indicated that due to the complexity, the racial issues and the seriousness of the matter … that the CMC should consider taking over the investigation, and nothing was done,” Mr Leavers said yesterday.”The CMC not only had the power, as well as the authority, but they had the moral obligation, too, of taking over this investigation.”The CMC has given the commissioner two weeks to say what action will be taken against the six officers – four involved in the first investigation and two others who carried out an internal review.Mr Doomadgee’s death on November 19, 2004, sparked riots and saw the local police station burnt to the ground, amid widespread local perceptions of a police cover-up.AAPArts – Page 20
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