New faces, fringe hopefuls get Sheffield Shield boost


The COVID complexities of the Australian summer could deliver a lifeline to fringe Test players and bolters alike, with selectors set to unleash a super-sized squad to take on India.

In one of the strangest and most complicated selection periods in history, coach Justin Langer is expected to be given a squad of around 18 players when the selection panel announces its group to contest the four-Test series against India.

Typically, the first Test squad of the summer is a 13-man affair, while last year Australia took a monster 17-man squad to England for the Ashes. But they could go even bigger when the Test squad is announced, likely in mid-November.

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That will open the door for faces old and new to push their case in the coming Sheffield Shield rounds.

There were initially fears that players, once selected in Test bubble, would be locked in there.

However with restrictions easing around the country, there’s now some hope – depending on what state the players are from – there could be some flexibility to allow fringe players to return to BBL sides.

Cricket Australia is conscious of the mental strain bubble life places on players, and one of its unfortunate drawbacks was laid bare in England when Nathan Lyon went away for seven weeks, including two weeks in quarantine, but didn’t play a single game.

THE LOCKS

Of the 11 who played in Australia’s most recent Test match, the 279-run thrashing of New Zealand at the SCG in January, at least seven are assured of retaining their place in the best XI.

Captain Tim Paine, elite batsmen Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and David Warner, and bowlers Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are all assured of playing big roles this summer – as is fellow paceman Josh Hazlewood, who missed the SCG Test with a hamstring injury.

Opening batsman Joe Burns and middle order men Matthew Wade and Travis Head will all be confident of squad selection, but their first-team spots remain the most under threat from the chasing pack.

IN THE SQUAD… IN THE TEAM?

Head is seemingly never far from being on the chopping block, but the gritty left-hander firmed up his place in Australia’s best outfit with a timely century against Tasmania on Thursday.

Wade, meanwhile, missed the opening two rounds of the Shield to be with his family ahead of a long summer of quarantine bubbles but will get a chance to push his case when he returns to the bubble to face Victoria next week.

Victorian paceman James Pattinson is another certainty to make an extended squad but, like Queensland’s Michael Neser, will likely find himself behind the NSW trio of Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc on game day.

THE NEW FACES

West Australia youngster Cameron Green has rocketed into the frame for a Test debut following a stunning 197 against a NSW attack boasting Lyon, former Test quick Trent Copeland and Sean Abbott.

Green, regarded as the most promising all-round prospect in the country, has been unable to bowl since succumbing to stress fractures in his back for the second time last summer.

He’s eyeing a returning to bowling in the coming weeks, but is mounting a serious case of being selected purely as a batsman – putting pressure on the likes of Wade and Head at the selection table, with Mitchell Marsh still sidelined through injury.

Victorian dynamo Will Pucovski has been on the cusp of a Test debut in the past, and could easily push his name into discussions for inclusion, while leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson helped bowl Queensland to victory against Tasmania last week.

THE FRINGE HOPEFULS

Picking a squad of 18 would not just give a chance for some new faces – it could breathe life into the careers of some forgotten Test players.

NSW veteran Moises Henriques put his hand up by crushing 167 against Western Australia, his 11th first class century, this week.

Former Test spinner Ashton Agar hit his third first-class century last week, against, South Australia, and coupled it with a five-wicket haul.

Despite falling down the pecking order after a shambles of an Ashes in England last year, Marcus Harris is just 28 years old and a strong start with Victoria would give selectors something to think about.

Fellow Victorians Nic Maddinson and Marcus Stoinis, as well as Queensland captain Usman Khawaja, would also benefit from runs in the next month.



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Rugby Australia boss Rob Clarke backs Gary Ella’s call to boost Indigenous pathways


Three years ago in the same building, Beale took part in an impromptu corroboree but this time sent a video message from Paris.

The First Nations jersey has been worn three times – against New Zealand in 2017 in Brisbane, against England in 2018 at Twickenham, and against Uruguay at the World Cup last year – but there are no Indigenous representatives in this year’s Wallabies squad.

It begs the question: who will become the 15th Indigenous player to don a Wallabies jersey? Whoever it is will follow in the footsteps of legends Lloyd McDermott, the Ella Brothers and Andrew Walker.

“[Andy] Muirhead from the Brumbies is playing quite well at the moment … he’s one that comes to mind,” Ella said. “I think he was pretty unlucky to miss the squad.

“On the jersey it has the 14 big circles and that represents the 14 players. We want more [Indigenous] Wallabies playing so we can get a new design with a couple more circles on it as well. We want about 20 of those in the next couple of years.”

While rugby league and Australian rules football churn out Indigenous stars with comparative ease, rugby is under-represented. Ella, while acknowledging improvements had been made, wants to see more stars of tomorrow nurtured.

We’re gradually introducing the game to more Aboriginal communities around Australia.

Gary Ella

“One of the things we do need is to run more programs, we need to target a few more programs,” Ella said. “It was always very difficult to get into the rugby community but that’s been broken down quite a bit.

“We’ve had a good relationship which is getting stronger each year with Rugby Australia. We’re gradually introducing the game to more Aboriginal communities around Australia. Now they’re seeing rugby offers just as much [as league].”

RA invested heavily in its ‘Dream Big Time’ program last year, when scouts went to all parts of the country to unearth Indigenous talent. Clarke and RA chairman Hamish McLennan conceded more could be done.

“It’s critically important and I think we can do a lot better as Gary said,” Clarke said. “There’s a lot of work we’ve done to try and harness the extreme talent that exists out there for sport among the Indigenous community and rugby needs to do a better job and we’ll do that with additional programs in the coming years.”

McLennan added: “It shows we’ve got to open up more player pathways for Indigenous rugby players. What it also says is we’re very committed to an inclusive culture and very proud of our Aboriginal Indigenous heritage and we’re going to promote it proudly.”

Meanwhile, Haylett-Petty was asked whether the Wallabies would discuss dropping a knee for the Bledisloe match, in a sign of solidarity against racially motivated violence around the world.

“I obviously can’t speak for everyone but I think it would be a great show of support … we’d definitely consider it,” he said.

Haylett-Petty, who is hoping to be available for the Wallabies’ next match, agreed Australian rugby “needs more Kurtley Beales”.

“So many talented athletes, we see them dominating AFL and NRL, and I think it’d be great to see more and more come through and wear the Wallabies jersey,” he said.

The jersey will also be worn against Argentina on December 5 at Bankwest Stadium and Ella is expecting plenty of mates to come out of the woodwork for both Test weeks.

“A lot of my Indigenous mates get really excited about it. All I cop all week is, ‘when are you going to get me a jersey?’” Ella said.

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“The jersey is special. Every time it’s put on, a lot of the people I talk to, their eyes light up. We like to think rugby is now being more inclusive than it’s ever been and possibly as much as any other sport that is being played in Australia.”

Rugby Championship fixtures

October 31: Australia v New Zealand at ANZ Stadium (Indigenous jersey will be worn)
November 7: Australia v New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium
November 14: New Zealand v Argentina at Bankwest Stadium
November 21: Argentina v Australia at McDonald Jones Stadium
November 28: Argentina v New Zealand at McDonald Jones Stadium
December 5: Australia v Argentina at Bankwest Stadium (Indigenous jersey will be worn)

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Netflix misses estimates for new subscribers as pandemic boost slows


Netflix had warned investors that a sudden surge in new sign-ups would fade in the latter half of the year as COVID-19 restrictions eased.

During the quarter, Netflix released “Emily in Paris”, “Enola Holmes” and “The Devil All the Time.”

The streaming video pioneer is trying to win new customers and fend off competition as viewers embrace online entertainment. The pandemic sparked new interest in the service as people around the world were told to stay home, movie theatres went dark and sports leagues cancelled live games.

Netflix acknowledged that competition was increasing as studios across Hollywood from Walt Disney Co to AT&T Inc’s WarnerMedia have restructured to compete more directly for video subscribers.

“Competition for consumers’ time and engagement remains vibrant,” Netflix said in a letter to shareholders.

In recent months, major sports resumed play and nascent streaming services, including AT&T’s HBO Max and Comcast Corp’s Peacock, offered audiences new options.

Netflix said its results reflected the fact that it saw such a big surge in customers early in the pandemic.

“We continue to view quarter-to-quarter fluctuations in paid net adds as not that meaningful in the context of the long run adoption of internet entertainment, which we believe is still early and should provide us with many years of strong future growth as we continue to improve our service,” the company said.

“Emily in Paris” was one of Netflix’s original productions during the quarter.

Revenue rose 22.7 per cent to $US6.44 billion in the third quarter, edging past estimates of $US6.38 billion.

Net income rose to $US790 million, or $US1.74 per share, in the quarter from $US665.2 million, or $1.47 per share, a year earlier.

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High-tech cameras, safer fire trucks and hundreds of new volunteers to boost SA’s firefighting capacity


New trucks that can better shelter firefighters trapped in a firestorm, as well as high-tech cameras and hundreds of new volunteers, are set to boost South Australia’s defences ahead of the next summer bushfire season.

The Montacute Country Fire Service station, in the Adelaide Hills, this week received a new dual-cab fire truck, capable of more effectively sheltering firefighters trapped in a blaze.

It is one of 25 new trucks to be delivered to South Australian CFS stations this year.

Thermal-imaging cameras capable of detecting missing people and alerting crews to hidden fire dangers will be delivered to each of the state’s country fire stations.

Six hundred new volunteers have also been recruited to join the firefighting effort this coming bushfire season.

The new equipment is part of a $97.5 million spend by the South Australian Government in response to the Keelty Report into the last bushfire season.

Former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty’s report found there needed to be a significant financial investment to properly equip brigades for the 2020-21 season.

New trucks to protect trapped firefighters

SA Country Fire Service chief officer Mark Jones said he was pleased to see what he described as “modern trucks” coming into the fleet.

“Getting rid of those single cab [vehicles] will be a major step forward,” he said.

“This is a significant investment in the safety of the citizens of South Australia and of our firefighters.”

This new fire truck is among 25 to be delivered to Country Fire Service stations around South Australia.(ABC News)

He said there were more than 800 fire trucks in South Australia.

Replacing all single-cab trucks with dual-cabs would make volunteers safer on the fire ground, he said.

Montacute CFS captain Steve Golding said he was extremely pleased to receive the new truck ahead of this year’s season.

He said it featured breathing equipment that would protect firefighters against noxious fumes and it also included better pumps, more water outlets and greater capacity to hold water.

“It’s a significant advantage from what we previously had,” he said.

Thermal-imaging cameras to detect hidden dangers, missing people

Mr Golding said the new thermal-imaging camera delivered to his station would help detect hidden hot spots and prevent spot fires.

He said his firefighters had to scramble following the Cudlee Creek bushfire last year because they did not have the equipment to detect hidden smouldering matter.

“We were at Cudlee Creek eight days after the fire broke out,” he recalled.

A man in a CFS hat and uniform in front of a fire truck (centre) with another man in a collared shirt.
Montacute Country Fire Service captain Steve Golding (centre) said thermal-imaging cameras would have helped in the aftermath of the Cudlee Creek bushfire.(ABC News)

“Come the afternoon when it heated up and the wind came up, and suddenly there’s all these spot fires everywhere.

“If we’d had a camera it would have been much easier.”

CFS chief officer Jones said the cameras were also useful because they could detect missing people in buildings.

Governments ‘failed to implement previous recommendations’

A key observation from the Keelty Report was that South Australian governments had failed to implement recommendations from successive reviews into bushfires in the state.

“This review notes that there have been many previous reviews and inquiries into bushfires in South Australia [but] not all the recommendations accepted by government have been audited for implementation,” it reads.

An aerial view of grey and greenish smoke from a bushfire on Kangaroo Island
Bushfires raged across Kangaroo Island for weeks in December and January.(Instagram: Trent Lawson/tmanadventure)

Emergency Services Minister Vincent Tarzia said the Marshall Government was working quickly address Mr Keelty’s recommendations.

He said the Government had learned from the devastation of the 2019-20 bushfire season.

“The Keelty Review was completed, and actions taken immediately, so we can better manage bushfires and the impact they have on our communities,” Mr Tarzia said.

“The Marshall Liberal Government’s action plan is already equipping South Australia with state-of-the-art equipment and resources in preparation for future fire threats.”

He added that the Government was hoping to establish a “permanent, paid resource” on Kangaroo Island which was ravaged by bushfires over December and January “hopefully this bushfire season”.



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Blair approves request to boost RCMP presence as Nova Scotia lobster fishery dispute escalates


Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has greenlighted a request for additional RCMP support in Nova Scotia amid criticism that Ottawa has not done enough to protect community members embroiled in a bitter conflict over a First Nations lobster harvest in that province. 

“Policing in Nova Scotia is within provincial jurisdiction,” Blair said in a statement released Saturday. “I have now approved a request from Nova Scotia’s Attorney General to enhance the presence of contracted RCMP resources as needed in that jurisdiction in order to keep the peace.”

The minister added that Nova Scotia RCMP had “increased their police presence in the affected area each day.”

His office told CBC News the request was approved on Friday and that the number of officers sent to the region will be determined by the province and its RCMP.

RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Joyce would not provide specific numbers to CBC News, but said officers from local detachments, members from across Nova Scotia and officers with special training from Prince Edward Island were on the scene.

The announcement comes after a fire levelled a lobster pound in Middle West Pubnico, N.S., Saturday morning. 

Nova Scotia RCMP have deemed the blaze suspicious and said a man is in hospital with life-threatening injuries. Joyce said the injured individual is an “adult male who is considered a person of interest.” 

The scene Saturday morning after a lobster pound burned to the ground in Middle West Pubnico, N.S., overnight, severely injuring one man. The RCMP are investigating the matter. (Taryn Grant/CBC)

The fire broke out at one of two facilities in the province’s southwest region that were targeted by commercial fishermen on Tuesday protesting the “moderate livelihood” fishery launched by Sipekne’katik First Nation last month

The fishery is operating outside the federally mandated commercial season, causing many commercial lobster fishermen to worry about its impact on lobster conservation. 

The Mi’kmaw, who were storing their catches at the facilities, say they are exercising their treaty right to earn a moderate livelihood from fishing, a right affirmed by a 1999 Supreme Court ruling. 

WATCH | Violence over lobster fisheries a disgrace: Indigenous services minister:

Indigenous services minister Marc Miller says urgent response is needed with Mi’kmaw fishermen under attack. 8:29

“When Canadians see events like these, rightfully they act with disgust and they expect those in positions of authority to act, and that is what Minister Blair has done,” Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller told CBC News. 

Miller reiterated that nation-to-nation talks are ongoing behind closed doors and said federal conversations with the commercial fishing industry will also need to happen.

Sipekne’katik chief: ‘Maybe it’s time for the military’

Sipekne’katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack said in a statement late Saturday that he is “grateful” in response to Blair’s announcement. 

“While I believe some of the damage, destruction, racist behaviour, harassment and intimidation could have been addressed much earlier as we had repeatedly requested a greater police presence to protect our people and operations, we remain thankful for any and all support we receive.”

Earlier on Saturday, Sack had called on Ottawa to beef up the number of officers in the area.

WATCH | Chief Mike Sack ‘at a loss’ after fire destroys N.S. lobster facility:

Sipekne’katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack says commercial fishermen are being ‘badly influenced’ amid ongoing lobster harvest dispute. 3:18

“We’re not told numbers in general, but very understaffed. Like, 300 commercial fishermen on the wharf, 40 or 50 of us [and] 12 officers,” Sack said during a news conference Saturday. “Maybe it’s time for the military to come in and assist.”

Sack has been increasingly critical of the federal government’s failure to intervene in the conflict.

“You know, they’re sitting in their office, safe as can be, saying we need safety out here. Send enforcement down. Like, do your job. Protect Canadians. We’re all Canadians. Come here, protect us and don’t just tweet about it,” he said Thursday. 

In a tweet, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde said his office had contacted the RCMP and the federal government “to express First Nations’ deep concern” in the wake of the blaze.

Investigations into week’s incidents ongoing

The RCMP’s response to the week’s events — which included an assault on Chief Sack on Wednesday — initially came under fire for failing to arrest those responsible for the violence.

“We are expecting the RCMP and police services to do their jobs and keep people safe,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

“I think there’s been some concern that that hasn’t been done well enough and that’s certainly something we will be looking at very closely.”

On Saturday, a Digby County, N.S., man was charged and arrested in relation to the assault.  

Investigations continue into Tuesday’s lobster pound raids, which left vehicles vandalized and facilities damaged.

Joyce defended the force’s efforts to keep the peace rather than carry out arrests, telling CBC News Saturday that officers simply “did what they were trained to do in a position of being severely outnumbered.”

Blair said investigative teams are currently gathering evidence “to support any additional criminal charges necessary” and said provincial authorities will release further details as they become available.





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Seasonal worker boost to offer some relief to WA growers, but is it too late for this year’s harvest?


The West Australian Government has announced its horticultural industry will be able to access more foreign workers to relieve labour shortages, including around 300 Vanuatu workers picking mangoes in the Northern Territory.

Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the new measures would allow growers to access the Federal Government’s Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme, subject to strict conditions to protect the health and safety of the WA community.

Minister MacTiernan said initially the focus would be on recruiting ni-Vanuatu workers that have already quarantined in the Howard Springs facility near Darwin.

“When they are finished doing their tasks in the Northern Territory, mainly picking mangoes, we will welcome them to come into Western Australia,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“This will go some way to filling the labour shortage for this season’s harvest, but it is not a panacea.

“Our growers will still require thousands of local workers to get the harvest off and will need to demonstrate that they cannot fill their labour requirements locally.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, WA growers employed around 1,000 Seasonal Worker Program workers, with the majority of remaining harvest jobs filled by working holiday makers.

WA Agriculture Minister said the new measures should help relieve labour shortages.(ABC Rural: Lydia Burton)

‘Wander Out Yonder’ campaign falls short

Last month, the State Government launched the Work and Wander Out Yonder campaign and related worker incentives scheme to encourage West Australians to help fill labour gaps across regional WA.

Ms MacTiernan admitted the efforts and programs put in place until now had not been sufficient to solve the worker shortage problem facing the state’s fruit and vegetable growers.

She said that only 58 people had submitted a claim for the travel and accommodation assistance on offer to encourage West Australians to wander out yonder and take a job in regional WA.

A lady leaning against pole
Ms MacTiernan admitted the programs in place had not been sufficient to solve the worker shortage problem.(ABC Rural: Courtney Fowler)

“Our campaign has drawn real interest from local jobseekers and our priority will remain local workers,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“With backpackers unable to come to Australia due to the Federal Government’s international border closures, allowing growers to access the Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme will help to ensure we can fill critical labour shortages in our primary industries.”

It was also revealed the State Government was in discussions with the NT and Federal governments to bring an additional 400 seasonal workers from Vanuatu and Timor Leste into the country, and use the Howard Springs facility as a quarantine base for workers travelling across to WA.

Ms MacTiernan said she was confident some Vanuatu workers working in the Territory would be available to WA as early as the end of October or early November.

She also flagged the possibility of bringing in additional seasonal workers next year should the initiative prove successful.

Under fire for ‘slow response’

Shadow agriculture spokesman Steve Thomas welcomed the announcement but slammed the State Government for being “too slow” to act.

He said the WA agricultural industry still needed around 7,000 workers across the upcoming horticultural and grain harvests.

“Farmers have been worried about where they’re going to get their workers from. They have been ploughing some of their crops back in, they have not planned as they would have done previously.

“All of those reflect a lower economy because this Government was too proud to acknowledge the simple reality that we needed these workers in Western Australia.”

Dr Thomas called on the Government to work with the Commonwealth to bring workers into WA as soon as possible.

Up in the Kimberley, Ord Valley farmer David Menzel said the new measures to bring in seasonal workers was too late for the majority of horticultural crops in the region like pumpkins and melons, which had mostly been picked.

David Menzel leaning on a tractor wheel at his farm in Kununurra.
Ord farmer David Menzel said the news had come in time for growers making critical decision around next year’s planting schedule.(ABC Rural: Tom Edwards)

Mr Menzel, who is also the president of the Shire of Wyndham and East Kimberley, said mango growers who had just started picking in the Kimberley could possibly benefit.

But he said that would be dependent on the mango harvest across the border finishing up with enough time to get workers across to pick and pack in Kununurra over the next couple of weeks.

Announcement offers growers some relief

However, Mr Menzel said the news had come in time for growers making critical decision around next year’s planting schedule.

A group of seasonal workers in a field.
In recent years, farmers in the Ord Irrigation Scheme had relied heavily on workers from Timor Leste.(ABC Rural: Tom Edwards)

“It’s probably a little bit late for here … but what’s done is done,” he said.

“This gives us a great boost of confidence that we would be able to access those workers that we’ve had a relationship over many years, particularly in the Ord.”

Mr Menzel said in recent years, farmers in the Ord Irrigation Scheme had relied heavily on workers from Timor Leste who were more “reliable” and “motivated” than the backpacker workforce.

WA Strawberry Association President Neil Handasyde said the announcement was really good news for growers in the southern part of the state, but came too late for struggling farmers around Perth.

A man crouches in a strawberry field
Neil Handasyde said the move would not fix labor shortages but it would offer some relief.(ABC News: Mark Bennett)

“So it’s not going to help those guys at all, but it certainly will help the October through to March-April areas [like] Pemberton, Mt Barker, Albany, Manjimup.”

Mr Handasyde, who grows strawberries in Albany, said the move would not fix labor shortages but it would offer some relief.

“There’s more to do, but it’s a really good step,” he said.

Pleas for assistance ‘fell on deaf ears’

The Nationals WA leader Mia Davies said the State Government’s response to the labor shortage crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic had been inadequate.

Ms Davies said she had raised the prospect of workforce shortages as early as March with the Agriculture Minister, encouraging the Government to put plans in place to stem the loss of interstate and international workers.

“WA families need to realise their higher grocery costs at Christmas are a direct result of the Labor Government sitting on their hands for the last seven months while our primary industries scream out for support to access more workers.”

A woman is standing in a field picking a berry
The changes allow for greater movement of critical agricultural workers from interstate — subject to usual isolation and quarantine requirements.(ABC Rural: Eden Hynninen)

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will place a five-person team within the WA Police Force to help manage the new measures that will see NT seasonal workers travel to WA farms in the coming weeks.

The State Government said it would also allow for greater movement of critical agricultural workers from interstate — subject to usual isolation and quarantine requirements.

The Work and Wander Out Yonder campaign will continue to roll out and will ramp up activities in November to encourage university students and school leavers into the industry ahead of the summer holidays.



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With militias on the rise, states boost vigilance


With the arrest of 13 people charged with a domestic-terrorism conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Americans are watching the rule of law put to severe new tests. The rise of private militia groups in recent decades – including a group involved in the Michigan plot – is coinciding with broader political unrest.

Armed and politically engaged civilians are showing up on America’s streets in a year of protests, pandemic, and an already divisive election campaign. States are starting to step up their watch. Oregon police say they have begun to check gun permits at rallies. Michigan has a hotline for poll workers, so law enforcement can respond if poll watchers show up armed.

Nationwide, at least 40 bills and ordinances have been introduced to curb violent protests, though most of those have failed on free speech concerns. Yet all 50 states have bans on paramilitary groups, and authorities in many states are considering new efforts at enforcement.

“The Second Amendment does allow people to associate under arms, but not as a paramilitary unit that is unvetted and does not answer to civilian government,” says Brian Levin, an expert on extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “The statutes, in essence, prohibit impostering the National Guard.”

Savannah, Ga.; and Alexandria, Va.

Around the time that Sylvia Santana watched armed men pile into the Michigan Capitol in Lansing to protest pandemic restrictions in April, a plot to attack politicians involving at least one of those men, the FBI says, had begun to hatch.

Tempers were stretched. A seemingly fringe idea transformed into an operation.

Members of a self-constituted militia now envisioned themselves as constitutional law enforcers. They would kidnap and try Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on charges of treason. Or, as one said according to an FBI affidavit, they might just knock on her door and shoot her when she answers.

“This is where the Patriot shows up,” said a deciphered message cited in the affidavit. “Sacrifices his time, money blood sweat and tears.”

Thirteen men from two militia groups are now under arrest, charged with a domestic-terrorism conspiracy in which Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was mentioned as another target, the FBI confirmed on Tuesday. And onlookers like Ms. Santana see concerns that go beyond this one plot.

“Any threat [on duly elected officials] is a threat to all of us,” says Ms. Santana, a first-term Michigan state senator who says she was left shaken by the news.

Americans, in fact, are watching the rule of law put to severe new tests by the rise of armed and politically engaged civilians on America’s streets in a year of protests, pandemic, and an already divisive election campaign.

Some, like those arrested in the Michigan plot, are members of privately organized militia groups. Others are not. Either way, many experts see a slippery slope along the line from constitutionally protected rights such as gun ownership to political violence that could threaten the nation’s democratic framework.

“The Second Amendment does allow people to associate under arms, but not as a paramilitary unit that is unvetted and does not answer to civilian government,” says Brian Levin, an expert on extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “The statutes, in essence, prohibit impostering the National Guard.” 

“It’s unprecedented” in the U.S.

A recent parade of armed Americans flying flags from a pickup truck convoy in Portland “reminded me of the scenes of ISIS mobilizing in armored columns in Mosul,” says Javed Ali, a Michigan-based former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council. 

“And I thought, ‘Wow, this is the United States, and yet we’re seeing something that has the iconography of terrorism overseas.’ It’s unprecedented … and it’s a real sort of challenge: What is the line between protected activity for U.S. citizens and what’s the line into something that looks like terrorism?”

The search for answers is a difficult one, made even more so by a frustrating pandemic, a polarized electorate goosed by a president chosen in part to disrupt the status quo, and a massive trust deficit where over half of Americans now believe in debunked conspiracies, according to a new bipartisan survey.

Traditionally, a militia is a body of citizens who can be called on when needed as a supplement to formal military forces. Legal scholars widely say that when the U.S. Constitution refers to “well-regulated” militia, it means a group regulated by the state. And all 50 states ban paramilitary groups, though 36 allow open carry of firearms at protests. 

Amid lax oversight by law enforcement, private militia groups – untethered to the state but sometimes cultivating ties to local authorities – now have a presence across the nation in several hundred groups by some estimates. Growing since the 1990s, and expanding further after the election of Barack Obama as president during the Great Recession, these groups generally espouse firm views on individual liberty, and skepticism of big government.  

The armed groups aren’t necessarily anti-democratic, “because there are different definitions of democracy,” says Vasabjit Banerjee, a political scientist who studies rural insurgencies in developing countries like India, Mexico, and Colombia. “This idea that militias exist outside of normal politics is actually something that isn’t true.”

In fact, politicians may tacitly tolerate militia or other armed groups. President Donald Trump, when asked in a September debate if he would denounce white supremacists and militia groups, told one right-wing group merely to “stand back and stand by.” 

And, while not directed overtly at militias, presidential tweets such as “Liberate Michigan” or “Liberate Virginia” risk being interpreted as calls to action, some experts on extremism say.  

Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal/AP

Michigan Home Guard militia members stand at attention as the national anthem is sung during a Second Amendment march in Lansing, Michigan, on Sept. 17, 2020. Dozens gathered on the capitol lawn to rally in support of gun rights and to decry state actions designed to rein in the coronavirus pandemic – efforts that they say infringe upon their freedom.

Meanwhile, as protests rocked the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, amid controversy over a fatal shooting by police, some videos showed police voicing appreciation for a turnout of armed civilians – shortly before one of those civilians killed two people with his rifle.

The test for law enforcement

To Mr. Banerjee, ”the problem that always lies in the delegation [of power to armed auxiliaries] is that the control of the bus slips out of your hand.”

All of that can put law enforcement in a bind as armed people have taken to the streets to protect buildings and confront other protesters, sometimes with lethal results. The Michigan plot also included threats to police officers. An elected Michigan sheriff, meanwhile, has appeared on stage with some of the alleged conspirators, and in recent days broached that they may have been seeking to use legitimate citizens-arrest powers in face of tyrannical leadership.

Acts of far-right domestic terrorism have waxed and waned, partly in sync with political tides, spiking around the 2008 election and again in 2016. Last year was among the most lethal since 1995, when the bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building was carried out by men who by some reports had ties to a Michigan militia. The bulk of last year’s 29 deaths by extremist violence are attributed to white supremacists, according to numbers from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

Violence this year includes what experts say is the first left-wing killing of a protester – in Oregon, in the wake of the truck convoy that troubled Mr. Ali.

“Today, we have a shift where extremists change their activities based on whether they think they are operating in some ways with some kind of relationship to the mainstream – or they’re in an insurgency against it,” says Mr. Levin. “We are in a new era.”

One militia member in Virginia

Many Americans who join militias see the groups as operating within the laws of the land – and in support of the rule of law. Early this year Paul Cangialosi joined the Nelson County Militia just outside Charlottesville, Virginia.

The militia, he says, is 70-strong and has weekly trainings that include first aid, firearm safety, wilderness survival, and military tactics. They often coordinate with other militias with similar goals.

Mr. Cangialosi looks no further than the Virginia Constitution for validation. It states that “a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free state.”

“We’re not trying to have some secret organization that plots to kidnap government officials or plots to overthrow anything,” says Mr. Cangialosi. “We’re behaving in a defensive fashion. Everything we train for is to defend our way of life, not to be aggressors.”

Shunning the anarchist tendencies that he observes in some militia-style groups, he says his focus is on individual liberty. ”I’m anti-intrusive government and I’m anti-big government and I’m anti-overstepping government.” 

But parsing whether such groups are bulwarks of American liberty or prospective domestic terrorists is part of the challenge for U.S. leaders and law enforcement, as the Michigan kidnap plot makes clear.

Mr. Cangialosi says the local sheriff doesn’t work with the Nelson County Militia directly, but they do keep in contact about weekly militia training and operations. They also exchange prayers for each other’s families.

For Mr. Cangialosi, the militiaman in Virginia, the Constitution makes the decision about whether government overreach translates to tyranny an individual one. 

Right now, “I don’t know what the line in the sand is for most people,” he says. “And I think everybody has to decide that for themselves. I think that’s one of the things that we all try to work through as a group.”

What states are doing

For Mary McCord, the former acting assistant attorney general for national security at the U.S. Department of Justice, the danger to democracy posed by militias is clear.

“A lot of these groups are running around on private property playing army on the weekend, so law enforcement hasn’t really turned their attention to that,” she says. But now, “even if militias aren’t plotting anything as sinister as a kidnapping of a governor, their heavily armed presence on the street without political accountability has had terrible results.”

States are starting to step up their watch. As Americans gird for a contentious and possibly disputed election, Oregon police say they have begun to check gun permits at rallies. In Michigan, Senator Santana is working to increase security at the capitol. The Michigan attorney general has also set up a hotline for poll workers, so law enforcement can respond if poll watchers show up armed.

Ms. McCord, now legal director for the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, appeared last week at a press conference in Philadelphia with District Attorney Larry Krasner to warn armed groups that any voter intimidation will be dealt with by law enforcement. She also recently spoke to the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association Convention on the issue.

Nationwide, at least 40 bills and ordinances have been introduced to curb violent protests, though most of those have failed on free speech concerns.  

And some politicians are calling for a tempering of a broader challenge – the militancy of public discourse. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah wrote this week, “The rabid attacks kindle conspiracy mongers who take the small and predictable step from intemperate word to dangerous action.”

Amid the growing vigilance, there are still some potential gray areas, legally, about militias. “No court has ever had to decide whether a group of armed individuals or three guys bearing firearms are doing it under the guise of self-defense or as an unlawful paramilitary organization,” Ms. McCord says. 

Still, she sees a shift away from apathy about the risk of armed insurgents in America.

“What [police] really should be doing is saying, ‘No, thank you. Your help is unlawful and don’t come here or we’re going to enforce the law.’ But I think law enforcement leaders are starting to get it and understand.”





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Terrestrial Energy Receives Canadian Government Funding for IMSR Generation IV Nuclear Plant Landmark investment represents major boost for Generation IV nuclear technology


OAKVILLE, Ontario, Oct. 15, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Hon. Navdeep Bains, today announced a $20 million investment in Terrestrial Energy to accelerate development of the company’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) power plant, creating significant environmental and economic benefits for Canada.

This is the first such investment from the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) announcing support for a Small Modular Reactor (SMR), and is directed to a developer of innovative Generation IV nuclear technology. The company’s IMSR power plant will provide high-efficiency on-grid electricity generation, and its high-temperature operation has many other industry uses, such as zero-carbon hydrogen production.  

“The Government of Canada supports the use of this innovative technology to help deliver cleaner energy sources and build on Canada’s global leadership in SMRs,” said Minister Bains. “By helping to bring these small reactors to market, we are supporting significant environmental and economic benefits, including generating energy with reduced emissions, highly skilled-job creation and Canadian intellectual property development.”

“SMRs are a game-changing technology with the potential to play a critical role in fighting climate change, and rebuilding our post COVID-19 economy,” said Hon. Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources. 

Terrestrial Energy welcomed the announcement, which will assist with its completion of a key pre-licencing milestone with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

“The Government of Canada is progressing with clear purpose to national deployment of SMRs, and it recognises the great industrial and environmental rewards from nuclear innovation today,” said Simon Irish, Chief Executive Officer, Terrestrial Energy. “We thank Ministers Bains and O’Regan for their vision, leadership, and partnership as we advance our program to deliver affordable and cost-competitive nuclear energy to Canadian industry and households using Generation IV reactor innovation.”

In accepting the investment, the company has committed to creating and maintaining 186 jobs and creating 52 CO-OP positions nationally. In addition, Terrestrial Energy is spending at least another $91.5 million in research and development.

As it proceeds toward commercial deployment of IMSR power plants before the end of this decade, Terrestrial Energy will draw on Canada’s world-class nuclear supply chain, potentially creating more than a thousand jobs nationally. It will also undertake gender equity and diversity initiatives, including increasing female representation in STEM fields.

The announcement comes just one week after Ontario Power Generation announced it will advance work with Terrestrial Energy and two other grid-scale SMR developers as part of the utility’s goal to deploy SMR technology.

About Terrestrial Energy

Terrestrial Energy is a developer of Generation IV advanced nuclear power plants that use the company’s proprietary Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) technology. IMSR technology represents true innovation in cost reduction, versatility, and functionality of nuclear power plants. They can provide safe, clean, reliable and cost-competitive energy for generating on-grid electric power and heat for industrial processes, such as hydrogen production, synthetic fuel production, natural resource extraction, and desalination. With IMSR technology, nuclear energy has many more industrial uses beyond on-grid electric power generation. IMSR technology offers an important pathway to deep decarbonization by displacing fossil fuel combustion across a broad industrial front. Using an innovative design based on proven and demonstrated molten salt reactor technology, the first IMSR power plants are expected to be in commercial operation by the late 2020s.

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Environment
Climate
Nuclear Energy
Molten Salt Reactor
Advanced Reactors
Small Modular Reactors

Contact: Brian Smith Terrestrial Energy Phone: +1 (416) 822-3130 Email: bsmith@the-lanes.ca Contact:  Jarret Adams Terrestrial Energy Phone: +1 (202) 815-9234  Email: jadams@fulloncom.com Website: www.terrestrialenergy.com E-mail: info@terrestrialenergy.com

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Budget’s boost to SME owners’ mental health


Tuesday night’s Federal Budget included a $4.26 million commitment to
rolling out a new mental health program for small-business owners – a timely
initiative in light of the fact that next week is World Mental Health Week.

Leading mental health organisation Beyond Blue will deliver the
NewAccess for Small Business service, that will give small-business owners access
to up to six free one-on-one telehealth sessions with specially trained mental
health coaches who will advise them on managing stress and anxiety.

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), Kate
Carnell, has welcomed the setting up of the service that is expected to be up
and running in early 2021.

“Mental health is proving to be the next big challenge to emerge from
the COVID crisis and it is particularly impacting the small-business
community,” Carnell said. “There has never been a tougher time to be in
business. Small-business owners are struggling to stay afloat and keep their
staff employed throughout this difficult period.

“Small-business loans are often secured against the family home, so if

they lose their business they could lose their home,” Carnell added. “It means
the stakes are incredibly high and that is understandably taking a huge toll on
small business owners’ mental health.”

The service will offer evidence based cognitive behavioural therapy, with
the coaches at the end of the phone line having experience themselves in working
in the small-business sector.

“NewAccess is a proven early intervention service with average
clinically-validated recovery rates of 70 per cent,” Carnell explained. “Importantly,
the program is designed to appeal to people who might not otherwise seek
support for their mental health, which we know applies to members of the small-business
community.

The Ombudsman announced that her office will work with Beyond Blue to
promote the scheme, and will help to connect small-business owners with the
service. It will also be integrated into the ASBFEO’s My Business Health web
portal.





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