At least six people killed in Myanmar demonstrations as police open fire on pro-democracy protesters


At least six people were killed as Myanmar security forces fired on pro-democracy protesters Wednesday, after the junta hit half a dozen detained journalists, including an Associated Press photographer, with criminal charges.

The country has been in chaos since 1 February when the military launched a coup and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, ending Myanmar’s decade-long experiment with democracy and sparking daily mass protests.

International pressure is mounting – Western powers have repeatedly hit the generals with sanctions – and Britain has called for a United Nations Security Council meeting on Friday.

But the junta has ignored the global condemnation, responding to the uprising with escalating force, and security forces used lethal force on demonstrators again on Wednesday.

Four people were shot dead during a protest in a city in central Myanmar, according to medics who spoke to AFP by phone.

Another two demonstrators died about two hours’ drive away in Mandalay, the nation’s second biggest city, medics told AFP.

One of the victims in Mandalay was shot in the head and the other in the chest, according to a doctor, who asked not to be named.

A protest in the central city of Myingyan also turned violent, as security forces confronted protesters in hard hats crouching behind red home-made shields emblazoned with the three-finger salute — a symbol of resistance for the anti-coup movement.

“They fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and live rounds,” a volunteer medic on the scene told AFP, adding that at least 10 people were injured.

At least six people were killed as Myanmar security forces fired on pro-democracy protesters.

AFP

Demonstrations also continued across Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, on Wednesday, with protesters using makeshift tyre and barbed wire barricades to block major roads and slow the police.

In downtown Pansodan Road, near the famed Sule pagoda intersection, protesters pasted print-outs of junta leader Min Aung Hlaing’s face on the ground — a tactic aimed at slowing down security forces who will avoid standing on the portraits.

In another San Chaung township, which has been the site of intense clashes in recent days, tear gas and fire extinguisher clouds filled the streets as riot police confronted protesters.

Sunday was the bloodiest day since the military takeover, with the UN saying at least 18 protesters were killed across the country.

Wednesday’s violence came after the foreign ministers of Southeast Asian nations – including Myanmar’s junta representative Wunna Maung Lwin – discussed the crisis at a virtual meeting.

After the talks Indonesia’s Retno Marsudi expressed frustration over the junta’s lack of cooperation.

Singapore – which is Myanmar’s largest investor – condemned the authorities’ use of lethal force, with Premier Lee Hsien Loong telling the BBC that it was “unacceptable”.

Journalists charged

AP photographer Thein Zaw, 32, was arrested on Saturday as he covered a demonstration in Myanmar’s commercial hub Yangon, his lawyer told AFP on Wednesday.

Thein Zw and five other Myanmar journalists had been charged under a law against “causing fear, spreading false news or agitating directly or indirectly a government employee”, according to the lawyer, Tin Zar Oo.

The junta amended the law last month, to increase the maximum sentence from two years to three years in jail.

“Ko Thein Zaw was simply reporting in line with press freedom law — he wasn’t protesting, he was just doing his work, the lawyer, Tin Zar Oo, said, adding that all six were being held at Insein prison in Yangon.

The other five journalists are from Myanmar Now, Myanmar Photo Agency, 7Day News, Zee Kwet Online news and a freelancer, according to AP.

AP’s vice-president of international news Ian Philips called for Thein Zaw’s immediate release.

“Independent journalists must be allowed to freely and safely report the news without fear of retribution,” he said.

Thein Zw and five other Myanmar journalists had been charged.

Thein Zw and five other Myanmar journalists had been charged.

NurPhoto

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group, more than 1,200 people have been arrested since the coup, with about 900 still behind bars or facing charges.

But the real number is likely far higher – state-run media reported that on Sunday alone more than 1,300 people were arrested.

AAPP says that 34 journalists are among those detained, with 15 released so far.

The most recent confirmed arrest came Monday, when a Myanmar journalist with broadcasting service Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) live-streamed a late-night raid on his home.

The footage – posted on DVB’s Facebook page – appeared to show loud bangs outside his apartment building as he pleaded with authorities not to shoot.

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Throw-aways a deadly diet for birds


CELIA Furt has been “horrified” by the cast-offs being thrown to seagulls at Hastings.

While on one of her regular trips “to say hi to the pelicans” near the boat ramp, Ms Furt’s attention was drawn to a group of seagulls feeding in the grass.

She discovered they were eating loaves of mouldy bread.

“People still think that feeding seagulls, pigeons and other birds, is good for them. They think that they are feeding them but, instead, they are killing them,” Ms Furt said.

“If they want to feed birds, they must only feed them what’s right for them, what they can digest and it’s not human food waste.

Human bread is poison to any bird, as they cannot digest it, it stays in their throats and crops and they die horribly.”

Ms Furt filled two rubbish bags with the 10 mouldy loaves.

A photographer, Ms Furt also took pictures of the seagulls and crows “fighting for a hamburger cover” outside the towns McDonalds outlet.

Again, she felt compelled to pick up the rubbish that was not suitable food for birds.

Ms Furt hopes her pictures and story will make people realise “that feeding the birds with human food is bad for them … we need to be a lot more careful about what we do with rubbish”.

First published in the Western Port News – 24 February 2021

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Victorian coronavirus rulebreakers warned as Melbourne woman charged with attacking police officer over mask


A growing group of anti-maskers have been “baiting” and antagonising Victorian police, and in one instance smashed the head of a female officer into concrete until she was concussed, authorities say.

Police said two female police officers approached a 38-year-old woman, who was not wearing a face covering, in the Frankston area on Monday night.

After questioning the woman about why she was not wearing one, police allege she pushed one officer and struck the other in the head.

“After a confrontation and being assaulted by that woman, those police officers went to ground and there was a scuffle,” Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said.

“During that scuffle, this 38-year-old woman smashed the head of the [26-year-old] policewoman several times into a concrete area on the ground.”

Police said the constable was taken to Frankston Hospital with “significant head injuries”.

The woman’s alleged assault left the young police officer with a concussion and a missing clump of hair, Police Association of Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt said.

“The offender had a clump of our member’s hair in her hands and said to our member ‘what’s it like to have your hair in my hands’ or words to that effect,” he said.

“That’s just horrible conduct — it’s not human-like to be quite honest.”

Police have charged the alleged attacker with nine offences, including two counts of assaulting an emergency worker and one count of recklessly causing injury.

She had no previous criminal history and was granted bail to appear before the Frankston Magistrates’ Court on March 31, 2021.

Details of the alleged attack were revealed as Victoria announced there would be more police and Army resources and new fines targeting people who did not self-isolate when directed.

A new $4,659 on-the-spot fine will apply for people who breach self-isolation orders, but “particularly selfish behaviour” and repeated breaches can now attract a $20,000 penalty, Premier Daniel Andrews said.

An additional 250 police officers will also join the roughly 1,500 personnel who are already working on enforcing restrictions around Victoria.

Mr Gatt said he did not know why the 38-year-old’s alleged response to being questioned was so strong.

But he said it was just one example of people refusing to comply with restrictions and antagonising police.

“This was a particularly violent occurrence but our members have been stood up by smartarses around the state for five minutes of fame in front of a camera,” he said.

“Frontline police and emergency service workers shouldn’t have to go through this.

“We should be holding them in the highest of regards and supporting them as they keep us safe — not dragging them to the ground and smashing their head into the concrete.”

Chief Commissioner Patton said in the past week police had seen a trend of people calling themselves “sovereign citizens” who “don’t think the law applies to them”.

“We’ve seen them at checkpoints baiting police, not providing a name and address,” he said.

“On at least four occasions in the last week, we’ve had to smash the windows of cars and pull people out to provide details because they weren’t adhering to the Chief Health Officer’s guidelines, they weren’t providing their name and address.”

Commissioner Patton said the groups were small “but nonetheless concerning”.

“People have to absolutely understand there are consequences for your actions and if you’re not doing the right thing, we will not hesitate to issue infringements, to arrest you, to detain you where it’s appropriate,” he said.

“It’s not something we want to be doing, but it is what we will do and it has been occurring in the past week.”

The Premier said the attack on the officer in Frankston was “fundamentally disgusting”

“Police are out there, putting themselves in harm’s way, they run towards the danger when the rest of us wouldn’t.”

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Instacart valuation more than doubles to $39 billion with latest funding round



FILE PHOTO: Instacart employee Eric Cohn, 34, searches for an item for a delivery order in a Safeway grocery store while wearing a respirator mask to help protect himself and slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Tucson, Arizona, U.S., April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

March 2, 2021

(Reuters) – Instacart has more than doubled its valuation in less than six months to $39 billion with a $265 million fundraising round from existing investors, as the grocery delivery company benefits from a surge in online orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The San Francisco start-up, whose transaction volumes surged sixfold last year as doorstep delivery boomed during lockdowns, said on Tuesday it plans to use part of the new funds to increase its corporate headcount by an estimated 50% in 2021.

The company was valued at $17.8 billion in November following the closing of a previous funding round. That same month, Reuters reported Instacart had picked Goldman Sachs Group Inc to lead its initial public offering at around a $30 billion valuation.

Its latest cash injection comes just a few months after California backed a ballot proposal that upheld the status of app-based delivery drivers as independent contractors- a major boost for the likes of Instacart and Uber Technologies Inc, which rely on people to work independently and not as employees.

The new funding round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, D1 Capital Partners, Fidelity Management & Research Co and T. Rowe Price Associates.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)



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Under-fire Finch rises to keep series alive



Aaron Finch has wasted no time repaying selector George Bailey’s faith, reminding the world why he is certain to lead Australia’s quest to win its first Twenty20 crown in India this year.

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Anni Hagber: Flux


Anni Hagber: Flux

Anni Hagber: FluxAnni Hagber: Flux

Flux explores processes of unpredictable change and abstraction which work as independent co-collaborators alongside myself as the artist and the materials utilised.

Combining traditional ceramic materials and waste steel and glass through the ceramic firing process these works challenge notions of waste and capture the dynamic and autonomous interactions between the materials and their environment.


❊ When & Where ❊

Date/s: Friday 26th March 2021 – Saturday 17th April 2021

Times: Thursday and Friday 11 am – 6 pm Saturday and Sunday 12 pm-5 pm

❊ Venue ❊

 Alternating Current Art Space  Events 6
Events
⊜ 248 High Street Windsor | Map

Alternating Current Art Space248 High Street, Windsor, , 3181

✆ Event: | Venue: 03 9525 2459

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❊ Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update ❊

As Victoria takes action to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), events may be cancelled at short notice. Please confirm details before making plans | Disclaimer


❊ Web Links ❊

Anni Hagber: Flux


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Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium curator Mark Rigby retires but stargazing will never end


Throughout his career under the cosmic skydome at Mount Coot-Tha, Mr Rigby presented about 15,000 shows, inspiring an estimated audience of 1 million people.

Dubbed the “Star Man” by his colleagues, Mr Rigby said in later years his attention had turned towards Earth.

“I must say that over those 36 years, as we’ve looked out, towards the end I’m looking more back, towards our own planet and the need to look after it,” he said.

“But we still don’t know if this is the only one with life, so that’s the big question.”

That “big question” — whether intelligent life exists elsewhere — has driven Mr Rigby’s commitment to science education.

“It’s more important than ever now, especially in the context of our planet,” he said.

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Rockets fired on United States Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq in suspected retaliatory attack


At least 10 rockets have been launched towards a military base in western Iraq that hosts United States, coalition and Iraqi forces, according to US officials.

It’s not immediately known if there were any casualties.

The rockets struck Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province at 7:20am local time on Wednesday, US military spokesperson Colonel Wayne Marotto said, adding that investigations were continuing.

The Iraqi military released a statement saying the attack did not cause significant losses and that security forces had found the launch pad used for the missiles.

It was the first attack since the US struck Iran-aligned militia targets along the Iraq-Syria border last week.

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The US strike along the border had been in response to a spate of rocket attacks that targeted the American presence, including one that killed a coalition contractor from the Philippines outside the Irbil airport.

The Pentagon had said the strike was a “proportionate military response” taken after consulting coalition partners.

It stoked fears of a possible repeat of a series of tit-for-tat attacks that escalated last year, culminating in the US-directed strike that killed Iranian General Qassim Soleimani outside the Baghdad airport.

Wednesday’s attack comes two days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq, despite deteriorating security in some parts of the country.

The much anticipated trip will include the capital city of Baghdad, southern Iraq and the northern city of Irbil.

US troops in Iraq significantly decreased their presence in the country last year under the Trump administration.

The forces withdrew from several Iraqi based across the country to consolidate chiefly in Ain al-Asad and Baghad.

Frequent rocket attacks targeting the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the US Embassy, during President Donald Trump’s time in office frustrated the administration, leading to threats of embassy closure and escalatory strikes.

AP/Reuters

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Judge warns medevac refugees’ detention may be unlawful, orders evidence from Peter Dutton


A federal court judge has described Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s handling of some medevac refugee cases as disturbing and potentially unlawful, while his department says plans are in place to fly some detainees back to Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

A government solicitor today told the court a charter flight is set to return up to six refugees to Nauru within a fortnight, after cases were brought against the federal government by refugees who said they had not received the medical treatment for which they were brought to Australia.

The latest hearing comes as more than 20 refugees in Darwin and Brisbane were released on temporary bridging visas after up to a year in Australian hotels or immigration detention.

On Wednesday, the court heard several refugees who have asked to be returned to PNG and Nauru — from where lawyers say they would resume efforts for third-country resettlement — have been waiting for up to nine months.

Justice Geoffrey Flick questioned Mr Dutton’s handling of the refugees’ requests to be removed from Australia, saying the appeals seemed to “fall into a black hole” until court action was brought against the Commonwealth.

“What is disturbing me is a picture seems to be emerging that [the minister] is not taking any steps at all to give effect to a request made by someone in detention for removal until this court intervenes,” Justice Flick said.

Justice Flick said while he would hesitate to make a formal legal finding along those lines, “it seems to be emerging as a pattern.”

Refugee advocates in Darwin have protested against the indefinite detention of the medevac refugees.(

Sowaibah Hanifie, ABC News

)

Justice Flick issued orders for Mr Dutton to provide evidence of all medical treatment provided for the refugees and all steps taken to process requests for them to be removed from Australia.

Judge says government should consider possible compensation

Government solicitor Peter Macliver told the court a flight to Papua New Guinea was also being organised subject to information from the PNG government.

Justice Flick said there appeared to be little progress in organising a flight for another refugee who first sought to be returned to Papua New Guinea in June last year.

“It shouldn’t take the court to impress upon Mr Dutton the importance of complying with his statutory obligations,” he said.

Justice Flick also said the government should consider compensating the refugees for their time in detention, if evidence shows no steps were taken to provide the required medical treatment.

“If it were to be concluded, and on this I have no firm view at present, that these people have been detained without proper authority and for significant periods of time, I could only urge upon the minister to consider whether an ex gratia payment should be made to these applicants.”

Mr Dutton’s office has been contacted for comment.

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Sen. McConnell: Democrats are jamming us with COVID-19 relief


WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 06: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke to reporters on October 06, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 6:15 PM PT – Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is calling for fellow Republicans to block Joe Biden’s nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. On Tuesday, McConnell continued his attacks on Democrats for attempting to push the bill through Congress without Republican contribution.

He accused Democrats of taking advantage of the budget reconciliation process and trying to sidestep the Senate filibuster. McConnell also said they are trying to push proposals that are unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic.

“So, we’ll be fighting this in every way that we can. It is my hope that, in the end, Senate Republicans will unanimously oppose it just like House Republicans did,” McConnell stated. “I think it’s noteworthy to know we’re in the House. The only thing bipartisan about the proposal was the opposition to it.”

Senators are gearing up to vote on the package, which is expected to hit the Senate floor as early as this week.

MORE NEWS: Bipartisan Group Of Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Make Puerto Rico A State



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