This week we’ll quiz you on words of the year, medications of the year, movies of the year and more — hope you’ve been paying attention! Test yourself and your memory here.
This week we’ll quiz you on words of the year, medications of the year, movies of the year and more — hope you’ve been paying attention! Test yourself and your memory here.
Staff across three Tasmanian government departments have been accused of raping children in their care in a series of shocking allegations that date back to at least the 1970s.
The allegations, some of which were described by state government MPs as “monstrous”, “abhorrent” and “reprehensible”, have not yet led to a Commission of Inquiry despite calls from Labor, the Greens, lawyers and the nurses’ union.
A Commission of Inquiry would provide some protections for participants similar to those allowed in the Supreme Court, and would have the power to compel witnesses, apply for warrants in relation to evidence, order the Crown to pay legal costs and hold public hearings.
Instead, the Government has announced three separate inquiries: one apiece into the Education and Health Departments, and another into allegations of misconduct at the Ashley Youth Detention Centre.
The inquiries into the departments have been criticised as narrow in scope and there is no guarantee the findings will be released in full.
There is no information on the investigation into Ashley.
The Tasmanian government’s Child and Youth Wellbeing Framework defines child wellbeing as being loved and safe, being healthy, having material basics, learning, having a positive sense of culture and identity, and being healthy and participating.
There are serious questions about whether Tasmania is meeting the needs of its most vulnerable young people.
The state’s Education Department was recently found to have knowingly moved jailed paedophile Darrel George Harington — accused of shocking crimes across much of his 30-year career — between Hobart schools.
The same agency shifted former priest Anthony LeClerc between north-west Tasmanian schools amid growing complaints about his conduct, including that he took a class to the pool for “nude swimming” and photographed his students in the shower.
Only this year, News Corp’s Hobart masthead The Mercury also revealed an Education Department employee had impregnated a Year Nine student while teaching in the 1980s.
In August, Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff announced an inquiry into the policies and procedures of his department.
“I want to make sure we are doing absolutely everything possible to protect children and to provide some comfort and, if possible, closure to survivors of child sexual abuse,” Mr Rockliff said.
The issues were later revealed to extend to the state’s public health system.
Australian Community Media newspaper The Examiner was first to report that a Launceston General Hospital paediatric nurse was facing charges of child sexual abuse late last year.
James Geoffrey Griffin took his life soon after the allegations surfaced. His alleged crimes are now the subject of freelance journalist Camille Bianchi’s podcast, The Nurse.
The coronial findings into Griffin’s death reveal he stood accused of sexually abusing five girls in allegations dating back to the 1980s and the he was in possession of “a significant amount” of child exploitation material, including some he had generated.
He had also allegedly bragged online about drugging young girls to sedate and sexually abuse them.
Griffin was also involved with the Ashley Youth Detention Centre, had worked at the University of Tasmania and on the Spirit of Tasmania and was a volunteer at the Northern Tasmanian Netball Association.
The registered nurse lost his registration to work with children in July last year. Health Minister Sarah Courtney told parliament she was alerted to the situation on the same day.
An independent investigation into the allegations was not announced until October — more than a year later — apparently after more detail was made public.
“I categorically refute any assertion that I would sit on this type of information,” Ms Courtney told parliament on November 12, amid jeers from Labor.
“This information, and what has become apparent, is appalling.”
The latest revelations fall under the department of Communities Tasmania.
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor told Parliament that staff had been stood down while under investigation for serious allegations, including rape.
Human Services Minister Roger Jaensch later confirmed via media release that three staff had been stood down after facing historical allegations.
Neither Mr Jaensch nor Communities Tasmania responded to questions from the ABC about when they were alerted to the allegations, but lawyer Sebastian Buscemi said he had referred allegations relating to five staff members to the department and the state’s Children’s Commissioner about three months ago.
“There’s one member of staff who I’m aware raped a child that was known to management in the late 90s who remained at the centre up until potentially recently,” he said.
He said the alleged incidents had a “catastrophic” impact on his clients’ lives.
“A lot of the people who ended up in Ashley and were subjected to these abuses were in there for extremely minor offending, often on remand, never got sentenced afterwards,” Mr Buscemi said.
“As you can imagine, it’s led to a terrible life, substance abuse and in and out of Risdon (prison) afterwards.”
Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff said the Government would “do all we can” to address the issues, but the Government has not committed to a Commission of Inquiry — Tasmania’s version of a Royal Commission.
Separately, survivors of alleged abuse are involved in two separate class actions: one against the Education Department, and another related to the Ashley Youth Detention Centre.
It is, by any metric, a shocking series of allegations across decades, departments and governments.
At this point, many questions remain outstanding:
Three separate inquiries — narrow in scope — seem unlikely to get to the bottom of these issues.
Armenia and Azerbaijan traded accusations of new attacks on Saturday in breach of a ceasefire deal to end nearly two weeks of heavy fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The two sides agreed to implement the ceasefire from noon (0800 GMT) Saturday, after 11 hours of talks in Moscow, but it took only minutes after the deadline for their forces to claim new attacks.
An ethnic Armenian enclave of Azerbaijan, Karabakh broke from the country’s control in a war in the 1990s that killed some 30,000 people.
Its separatist government is strongly backed by Armenia, which like Azerbaijan gained independence with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, and Baku accuses Yerevan of occupying the region.
The heaviest clashes since the war erupted on September 27, with more than 450 people reported dead, thousands forced to flee their homes and fears the fighting could escalate into a devastating all-out conflict.
Armenian defence ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said that “in disregard of the previously declared humanitarian ceasefire” Azerbaijani forces had launched an attack on the frontline at 12:05 pm.
Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said Armenian forces had also carried out attacks on the frontline and were shelling two populated areas.
“Armenia is blatantly violating the ceasefire regime,” the ministry said in a statement.
The two sides also accused each other of attacks just before the ceasefire deadline.
Karabakh’s ombudsman Artak Beglaryan said missiles had been fired at the region’s main city Stepanakert while Azerbaijan said at least five populated districts were under heavy shelling.
An AFP journalist in Stepanakert reported hearing blasts in the city before the ceasefire took effect, but it was calmer after noon, with isolated explosions in the distance.
Some residents were venturing out of their homes after days of taking shelter from shelling, rocket fire and drone attacks, but there was little hope the ceasefire would take hold for long.
“I lived for nearly 20 years in Azerbaijan, these people hate us,” Vladimir Barseghyan, 64, told AFP in a workshop making uniforms for fighters at the front. “We don’t believe in a ceasefire, they just want to gain some time.”
In Barda, an Azerbaijani town about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the conflict zone, many residents who spoke to AFP were against the ceasefire and in favour of Baku pressing on with its campaign to restore its control of Karabakh.
“We don’t want a ceasefire. They should leave our lands,” said Zemfira Mammadova, a 71-year-old retiree.
“They should get out, and let our people live a normal life. We have nothing to do with them and they should stay away from us.”
The ceasefire deal had been announced after talks between the two countries’ top diplomats mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
He said the truce had been agreed “on humanitarian grounds” and would allow for exchanges of prisoners and bodies.
Lavrov also said that Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to “substantive negotiations” on resolving the dispute over Karabakh, with France, Russia and the United States continuing as longtime mediators.
France on Saturday called for the ceasefire to be strictly respected “in order to create the conditions for a permanent cessation of hostilities.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin also spoke with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, which borders both Armenia and Azerbaijan, about Moscow’s mediation efforts, the Kremlin said.
Karabakh’s declaration of independence has not been recognised by any country — even Armenia — and the international community regards it as part of Azerbaijan.
The return of fighting has stoked fears of a full-blown war embroiling Turkey, which strongly backs Azerbaijan, and Russia, which has a military treaty with Armenia.
Turkey said Saturday that the ceasefire agreement was an important first step but that Armenia had a “last chance” to withdraw from Karabakh.
Since the conflict restarted both sides have accused the other of shelling areas populated by civilians and thousands of people have been displaced by the clashes.
Stepanakert is dotted with damaged buildings and unexploded ordnance following days of shelling. AFP journalists have also witnessed destruction in villages in Azerbaijan near the front line.
More than 50 civilians have been confirmed killed on both sides and the Armenians have acknowledged over 400 military deaths, while Azerbaijan has not admitted to any fatalities among its troops.
A letter obtained by the ABC shows Australia Post is reviewing its pricing structure for regional customers, after a Darling Downs business owner fought a 20 to 40 per cent increase in parcel prices.
The owner of the business, which manufactures roll bars, raised concerns after his new contract, issued in June, included large increases in the cost of posting parcels to his country customers.
A revised contract has now been offered to QuadBar managing director David Robertson, but he said it still cost more to send parcels to regional customers.
“I’m more concerned about the whole concept that rural people are paying double what people in the city are paying for the same thing, particularly when the city areas are Brisbane out to Ipswich — even Toowoomba is considered remote.”
He said the vast majority of his customers were based in regional areas, which many competitors would not service.
“I’m pretty much restricted to Australia Post,” he said.
“We don’t pay double for our [other services like] phone calls.
“We are prepared to pay a little more for our parcels — but not double.”
A letter from Australia Post to member for Maranoa and Deputy Nationals Leader David Littleproud confirmed it would review its overall pricing structure.
“My commitment to you [Mr Littleproud] is to keep you informed of this review as we design clearer, simpler offers for all of our commercial customers.”
But in its official statement to the ABC, an Australia Post spokesperson said it was not possible to comment on a contract customer’s specific situation and maintained it provided competitive pricing.
“We understand the unique challenges and pressures faced by regional and rural communities,” the spokesperson said.
“There are no widespread pricing changes for regional customers.”
Mr Littleproud accused Australia Post of being “tricky” with its use of “corporate jargon”.
“They have now subsequently had to admit that not only were they doing this individual over, but they’ve been doing regional Australia over,” he said
“Australia Post [have now] admitted that they had increased the costs around 32 per cent for regional Australians and around 13.5 per cent for metropolitan Australians.
Mr Littleproud said in the interests of transparency, Australia Post should “open up the books” and show how its pricing model was achieved.
“I acknowledge there’ll be increases in the cost of them delivering the service to Australians, but because it is a universal service it should be broadly shared across all Australians,” he said.
“Taking money out of the pockets of small businesses takes away jobs and job opportunities for the future for regional Australians, and that’s why this had to be sorted and sorted quickly.”
PARIS — Paris’ former Deputy Mayor Christophe Girard on Monday denied accusations made in a New York Times investigation by a man who says Girard sexually abused him as a teenager.
“Christophe Girard denies these denunciations and facts with the utmost firmness,” his lawyer Delphine Meillet told AFP, saying she would take legal action for “slanderous denunciation” against the American publication.
In the story published on Sunday, 46-year-old Aniss Hmaïd said Girard abused him first when he was 16, and then again over the following years, in exchange for jobs at his personal home and at the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house.
“He took advantage of my youth, of my young age and everything for his sexual pleasures,” Hmaïd said. “It ruined my life, in fact.’’
The accusations come less than a month after Girard had to step down over his long-standing ties to Gabriel Matzneff, a French writer who is under investigation for child rape and promoting pedophilia.
In July, a group of feminist activists gathered in front of Paris city hall to demand Girard’s resignation.
The Matzneff case shook the French political and cultural worlds, which stand accused of backing a man who publicly spoke of his pedophile behavior. Girard was backed by many in French politics after he eventually had to resign in late July. At the time, Girard himself wasn’t accused of sexual misconduct.
“I’m disgusted,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted then. “In what democracy do we live where the law is trampled underfoot by rumour, confusion and suspicion? My full support for my friend Christophe Girard.”
A historical figure on the Parisian culture scene, Girard was questioned last March as part of the investigation into Matzneff, whom he had supported during his career.
“As the facts denounced are prescribed, the accuser’s word against the word of the accused is left to the discretion of the court of opinion, where all too often a presumption of guilt in sexual offenses has taken precedence over the presumption of innocence,” Girard’s lawyer said of the latest accusations.
Former Australia coach Michael Cheika has hit back at accusations from ex-selector Michael O’Connor that the Wallabies’ 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign “was always going to end in tears”.
Dual-code international O’Connor claimed the tournament in Japan was doomed to fail due to confusion over Cheika’s game plan and poor training standards within the playing group.
Australia lost to Wales in the group stage before exiting the World Cup in the quarter-finals with a 40-16 thrashing by England, their equal worst finish at the tournament.
But, speaking to Rugby Australia’s official website, Cheika said O’Connor was rarely at training and that he was disappointed by his former colleague going public with his comments.
“Since the whole thing finished … I’ve not slagged anyone, not spoken poorly of any other person inside the organisation and I don’t want to,” Cheika said.
“At a certain point sometimes where the line is crossed on what the truth is you have to stand up and say, ‘This is not right and that person shouldn’t be talking like that’.”
O’Connor, who was recently released from his Rugby Australia contract due to financial constraints, was part of a selection panel foisted upon former coach Cheika last year following a 2018 season in which the Wallabies won only four of 13 Tests.
The former international told the Sydney Morning Herald a number of players were unconvinced by Cheika’s attacking game plan.
“When you look back on it, what was it?” O’Connor said.
“That new attacking style he was going to bring to the Wallabies, it was so secretive and he had to play players out of Super (Rugby) commitments and fly them to Brisbane and educate them.
“I don’t know. It was almost like a scam.”
O’Connor also criticised the players for failing to stand up to their coach and tell him their concerns.
“It was one of the failings from that campaign; players who clearly weren’t sold on the style of play either didn’t voice their concern or were afraid of ramifications,” he said.
“Disturbing” standards at training underlined the malaise, he added. “I’ve never ever seen as much dropped ball from a national team … If you’re going to drop it training, you’re going to drop it in a game,” O’Connor said. “It was always going to end in tears.”
Former Wallabies skills coach Mick Byrne disputed O’Connor’s claims the players weren’t strong enough to stand up to Cheika, telling the Sydney Morning Herald the selector was “not really qualified to make those comments”.
Byrne said he had arguments with Cheika “all the time about a number of things” but the team was committed to the plan in place for the World Cup, and criticised O’Connor for questioning the team’s skill level in Japan.
“If people read that article and think we were just putting up with dropped balls and training was a farce and a joke, well that’s not the way it was,” Byrne said.
“It’s a 15-man game. You can’t just have forwards hitting it up, those days are gone unfortunately for the old diehards. It’s not rugby league.
“I didn’t understand the reason for the article and saying that stuff. I don’t understand why he (O’Connor) wanted to say that.”
Celestin stated that she had witnessed similarly disparaging comments about the hair of a black model the brand had hired.
The statements from Bourgeois and Celestin came after the brand shared an official response to the Black Lives Matter movement condemning racism “of all kinds”.
A source close to the fashion label said that the document shared by Diet Prada is an old and outdated version and had been replaced approximately 12 months ago specifically because of its lack of scope when it comes to racial diversity. However, Sydney-based founders Nicky and Simone Zimmermann declined to comment when asked why it was only recently that they felt the need to address the lack of diversity in their guidelines.
A former Australian-based Zimmermann employee, who requested to remain anonymous, said that while she never saw or heard of similar instances experienced by those working in the American arm, there was a strict guideline on how to present yourself while working for the brand.
“It was definitely in our contracts we had to dress a certain way and look a specific way when we came to work because we were representing the brand,” she said.
In recent years, the company has made a concerted effort to increase the diversity of models in its fashion shows. Jamaican model Tami Williams, India’s Pooja Mor and Sudanese-Australian Akiima have all walked in Zimmermann’s most recent runways.
In 2016, US private equity firm General Atlantic, which was an early investor in tech giants including Slack, Facebook and Alibaba, took a minority stake in Zimmermann for an undisclosed amount, in order to support the label’s expansion into the American market.
Fashion and beauty brands are increasingly being called out for making public statements of support for marginalised groups that clash with the real-life experiences of people from those communities.
Model and transgender activist Munroe Bergdorf called out cosmetics giant L’Oreal after the company showed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Bergdorf had been fired from L’Oreal in 2017 after she spoke out against violent demonstrations by white extremists in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Andrew Alexander, chief executive and and co-owner of famed The Second City improv theatre, says he is stepping down after a former performer levelled accusations of racism against the comedy institution.
In a lengthy letter posted on the company’s website, Alexander said he “failed to create an anti-racist environment wherein artists of colour might thrive. I am so deeply and inexpressibly sorry.”
He vowed that he will be replaced by a person of colour.
“The Second City cannot begin to call itself anti-racist. That is one of the great failures of my life,” Alexander said in his statement.
“On stage, we dealt with the absurdity of the equal opportunity narrative that society uses to oppress BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of colour]. We dealt with the double standard that rationalizes violence against people of colour. We dealt with the cynicism of the liberal pact with capitalism. Offstage, it’s been a different story.”
The originally Chicago- and Toronto-based Second City was an early training ground for Saturday Night Live players including John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner and Chris Redd, among other comedy stars such as Keegan Michael-Key. The company also produced the SCTV television series in the 1970s and ’80s.
Alexander’s announcement on Friday followed online criticism from Second City alumnus Dewayne Perkins, an actor, comedian and writer (Brooklyn Nine-Nine). Perkins said the company had refused to hold a benefit show for Black Lives Matter unless half of the proceeds also went to the Chicago Police Department, and it created obstacles for performers of colour.
His posts followed a Second City online message of support last week for Black Lives Matter.
In a tweet noting Alexander’s resignation, Perkins had a one-word comment: “Oop.”
The London-born Alexander said he is “fully removing myself from overseeing The Second City’s operations and policies and will divest myself from the company as it stands.”
Alexander’s ownership includes the Toronto location, a representative confirmed to CBC News on Monday. He purchased the Toronto location in 1974 from troupe co-founder Bernie Sahlins and became owner of the Chicago flagship in 1985.
A Second City statement Friday laid out steps the company planned to take regarding the hiring and training of artists of colour, along with diversifying its theatre audiences and making donations to fight oppression and support Black-owned businesses and schools. Second City also named Anthony LeBlanc, an artistic director with the company, as its interim executive producer.
The World Health Organization is considering a new mission to seek the source of the coronavirus in China, amid growing controversy over the origin of a pandemic that has killed more than a quarter of a million people.
“Without knowing where the animal origin is, it’s hard to prevent it from happening again,” Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist, said at a press briefing Wednesday. “There is discussion with our counterparts in China for a further mission, which would be more academic in focus, and really focus on looking at what happened at the beginning in terms of exposures with different animals,” she added.
Van Kerkhove in February participated in a previous mission to China, which concluded that the virus was zoonotic in origin. Bats appeared to be the “reservoir” for the virus, but an intermediate host could not be determined, the report said.
At a briefing on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying didn’t directly answer when asked if China would allow the WHO mission. She repeated that the origin of the virus needed to be determined by “scientists and professionals.”
“The Chinese government and the WHO have seen good communication,” Hua said. “We would like continue our cooperation to deal with the pandemic.”
Talk of a new mission comes as debate grows over the source of the outbreak, which was first identified in Wuhan, China, more than four months ago. U.S. President Donald Trump‘s administration has said the virus likely escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which runs a laboratory that studies dangerous pathogens. Some intelligence agencies are casting doubt on that theory, and China has repeatedly denied the claim.
The WHO has come under fire from Trump, who has moved to cut off funding to the Geneva-based United Nations agency, saying it was overly deferential to China as the virus spread in that country and beyond. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Wednesday asserted that China covered up the origins of the virus even as he eased off earlier claims of “enormous evidence” that the virus escaped from a Wuhan laboratory.
Pompeo repeated the U.S. allegation that China is still refusing to share virus samples or details about the start of the pandemic and on “patient zero,” the first victim. And he said other countries are starting to see it the U.S. way.
“Our truth-telling and calls for transparency aren’t about politics, it’s not about bullying, it’s not about blame,” Pompeo said. “It’s about the ongoing need to save American lives. This is an ongoing threat.”
On Wednesday, in response to calls from the likes of Australia and the European Union for investigations into how the previously unknown pathogen made the jump from animals to humans, China’s foreign ministry said Beijing would support a review about the origins of the virus at an “appropriate time.”
“We will continue supporting the WHO and support looking back and summarizing the experience at an appropriate time to support global health cooperation and so we can better deal with pandemics like this in the future,” Hua said. “What we oppose is the presumption of guilt under the pretext of an investigation, or using the epidemic for political purposes.”
Hua also dismissed Pompeo’s claims the virus escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan.
“Mr. Pompeo cannot present any evidence because he does not have any,” Hua said. “This matter should be handled by scientists and professionals instead of politicians out of their domestic political needs.”
China has come under fire over its early handling of the virus, which has pushed the global economy toward recession as it spreads around the world. Authorities had reprimanded doctors including Li Wenliang, who later passed away, for sharing warnings about the coronavirus infection risk in WeChat groups in late December.
President Xi Jinping called for reform of China’s disease control system at a meeting of the Politburo on Wednesday, an apparent acknowledgment of lapses in the nation’s response. The country’s top leaders agreed to boost epidemic monitoring and early-warning capabilities, revamp public health emergency laws and regulations and enhance the response to major epidemics, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
–With assistance from Claire Che and Sharon Chen.
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