Hong Kong woman facing firearms charge after being arrested carrying stun gun shaped like a cigarette lighter




A woman is to appear in a Hong Kong court on Friday charged with firearms offences after being arrested carrying a stun gun shaped like a cigarette lighter.The 41-year-old is expected to appear in West Kowloon Court after being charged with possession of firearms without a licence, according to police.She was among three people detained in separate instances in Sham Shui Po between October and December last year.Police said the woman was arrested in October after the stun gun was found in her…

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Northern Territory national parks Litchfield and Nitmiluk to charge fees for tourists


Interstate and international visitors to the Northern Territory will have to come with deeper pockets from 2022, as the NT Government confirms its plan to expand national park entry fees.

Some of the Territory’s most popular spots, like Litchfield National Park near Darwin and Nitmiluk National Park outside of Katherine, are slated to be among those soon requiring a paid entry permit.

An NT Government spokeswoman said park fees in the Territory had not increased for the past 20 years.

“Fees provide funds for improvements to our parks and reserves,” she said.

Previously, all NT Government-run national parks have had free entry for all visitors. However, the Territory’s two biggest federally-run tourism drawcards, Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Parks, already have paid permit systems in place.

A spokeswoman for Parks Minister Selena Uibo said NT locals would be exempt from having to pay for short trips to the parks.

The NT Government flagged the possibility of fees for national park entry in 2019, amid a raft of measures being discussed to help repair its debt-ravaged budget.

Mixed reaction from industry

The head of the Top End’s tourism peak body said he feared new national park fees could further burden the region’s fragile industry, which is already struggling to adjust to day-by-day changes to hot spots and border closures.

Tourism officials want any entry fee revenue to be dedicated to park upkeep.(AAP: Doug Conway)

Tourism Top End chief executive Glen Hingley said the fees would be “yet another impediment that’s put on businesses that makes their business unviable in these uncertain times”.

Mr Hingley said there had been no consultation so far, and no information from government on the proposed fees or when they could be introduced.

Tourism operator Rob Wood, who runs Ethical Adventures, a tour guide company in Litchfield, said he wasn’t concerned about losing business as long as the fees were kept reasonable.

“In principle, I definitely agree with user-paid price entry and anything they can do to add funds to managing national parks,” Mr Wood said.

He said it could even enhance the park if the funds were dedicated to conservation and management.

Interstate tourists say they’ll pay

Victorian tourist Jack Collins and a group of his friends were enjoying Buley Waterhole in Litchfield National Park on Saturday, and he said he’d be happy to pay to return to the park

“I’d 100 per cent come here, tell my family about it, happy to pay to come here,” Mr Collins said.

Terrina Fernando, who has moved to the Territory from Sydney, felt the same way.

“I’m from Sydney and all our national parks have parking fees and that sort of park-use fees, so its not something that’s unusual for me,” she said.

Rob Wood
Tourism operator Rob Wood said asking non-locals to pay to visit parks wouldn’t negatively impact his businesses.(ABC News: Sowaibah Hanifie)

But Territory man Jesse James said he was worried a fee to access previously open parks would restrict those who couldn’t afford to pay.

“[My friends] wouldn’t come as much, no way, they don’t have jobs, they couldn’t afford,” Mr James said.

The spokeswoman for Ms Uibo said changes to park passes wouldn’t happen this year, but flagged that they would be included in the 2021 budget, due around November.

She said the government was also considering an online booking system, while price changes to camping and multi-day walking trips are also being reviewed.

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Top Waterwomen Charge Big-Wave Season in Hawaii


Until you’ve seen big-wave surfing up close, it’s hard to understand just how massive and intimidating these waves really are. Towering walls of water loom on the horizon, getting larger and larger until they finally break in a thundering explosion of whitewater. It’s one of those things that if you’ve seen it and felt it, most people quickly realize they don’t want to be apart of it.

Any human that decides to paddle themselves past the point of no return and leap to their feet is doing an incredible job of fear management. The reward for successfully riding one of these waves is an unrivaled adrenaline rush, the risk is a vicious wipeout that can easily cause serious injury or even death.

While top big-wave surfers like Kai Lenny, Grant Baker and Billy Kemper get a lot of the spotlight for their big-wave riding abilities, there’s another group of chargers that are finally beginning to get the attention they deserve.

Top waterwomen are getting a big platform this season to showcase their big-wave riding prowess thanks to Red Bull Magnitude. This big-wave video contest kicked off last month and will crown the waterwoman that performs the best throughout the entire Hawaiian winter big-wave season. Here’s a look back at the heaviest moments that went down in December, and with the giant swell coming in this weekend, this competition is far from over.


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Isotope to leade Black Soil Bloodstock’s Magic Millions charge


Former NRL player turned businessman Brian Siemsen has built a growing bloodstock empire which could net its biggest payday at the Magic Millions.

Brian Siemsen readily admits he had a “lucky” start to his dabbling in horse ownership, but it was some frank advice from his close mate Tony Gollan that sowed the seeds for what has become the emerging juggernaut of Black Soil Bloodstock.

Isotope is out to give the now-prominent black and white Black Soil colours their biggest success when she runs in Saturday’s $2 million Magic Millions Guineas.

Stakes winning mare Niedorp also runs for the team in the $1 million Fillies & Mares race.

Siemsen is a successful businessmen, having founded the company Claim Central Consolidated at the same time he was trying to carve out a career in the NRL with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

“One of the coaches in my last contract, I explained I had this business that was going well, there’s a two-year (NRL) contract, what should I do?” he said.

“He sort of indicated to me that maybe business is your go. You’re not that good at footy! But he gave me great advice and I finished rugby league in 2007.”

In 2012, Siemsen was selected as Ernst & Young’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year and he has overseen the global expansion of Claim Central into the US, South Africa, Italy and New Zealand.

“That’s still the main business, this (Black Soil Bloodstock) is a labour of love,” he said.

“You spend 18 hours a day for 20 years ­toiling and grinding in your core business and you need an outlet like this.”

Two of the first four horses Siemsen owned were Temple Of Boom and Spirit Of Boom – both Group 1 winners – but if he thought he had the Midas touch, his old footy buddy soon set him straight.

“Tony told me I’d had some luck, but that’s all it was,” Siemsen said.

“He said if I was going to do this commercially, I had a lot to learn. He said following him around for a week once a year wasn’t going to help me.

“That’s when he pushed me in the direction of Harry (McAlpine) and John (Foote).

“So I got together with H (McAlpine), I had a concept, he had a better concept.

“We want to change the narrative in the market that suggests racing is really expensive, you never win, all that sort of stuff.

“Having the right team that can mitigate all of those factors – (rather than) ‘let’s guess, not worry about X-rays’ and all the other stuff – has been a huge journey for me, because I was on that other side. Until you work with guys like Harry and John, you don’t realise how much there is to it.”

McAlpine is from the famous Darling Downs family that has for decades produced top-class horses from its Eureka Stud.

He had been with Inglis as an auctioneer and bloodstock consultant for five years before deciding to return home when Spirit Of Boom emerged as a stallion of national significance for Eureka.

“We boosted (Spirit Of Boom’s) fee from $10,000 to $50,000, the demand was so strong for him on what he’d done, so I came home and managed that and the exciting part is we got to pick the mares that would suit him best and this (year’s yearlings) is the result,” McAlpine said.

“Hopefully with the calibre of horse he has now – and they will race at the end of the year – we can take him to another level.”

Simultaneously, McAlpine helped mould Siemsen’s ambitious plans into a successful racing enterprise.

“The future view for us is to keep the focus on buying these elite fillies that can race at stakes level,” McAlpine said.

“We want to buy nice fillies with nice pages that if something goes wrong we can put them back through the ring (with residual value).

“We want to prove we can make a return on the strategy we are using.”

While Siemsen has been growing his bloodstock portfolio the past few years, it wasn’t until April 4 last year (the day Gollan’s father Darryl passed away) that the Black Soil colours were launched.

Since then, Black Soil horses have had 51 starts for 21 wins, headed by the black-type winners Isotope, Niedorp and The Actuary.

Siemsen also has several breeding mares he shares in, one of which, Mexican Rose, has an American Pharoah colt due to be sold by Eureka on Thursday.

Black Soil has gradually grown to incorporate investors who want to race horses, but in a way that minimises the risk. The number topped 20 last year, with a minimum $25,000 buy in, but Siemsen and McAlpine want to grow it further. “If we had anywhere between 75-100 folks on a rotation, we would come to sales every year looking for those six or seven horses and an opportunity to compete in the bigger races,” Siemsen said.

Siemsen and McAlpine have known Gollan long before he became the state’s top trainer, through Eureka Stud and Siemsen living with the Gollan family for a time.

“I watched that kid from the time he couldn’t afford to get two horses to raising money, building relationships, training them, winning, going back and raising money, coming to the sales … I have watched that journey,” Siemsen said.

“Whatever you think you see now, he’s been in the trenches and he’s grinded it out.

“I’m super proud of him. I think he has done an exceptional job and he’s still that loveable rogue.”

So what would it mean to win a Magic Millions on Saturday with Gollan, McAlpine and the Black Soil family?

“One of the biggest criticisms Tony had of me when the Booms were racing is that I didn’t appreciate how hard it was to win a good race,” Siemsen admits.

“We were just spoilt. Now I understand. The adrenaline is unbelievable. There’s nothing like it.

“I set a plan three years ago and I said I want to be represented on Magic Millions day in three years.

“So through the good buying, the hard work and Tony doing his job, he’s put us there with two live chances.”

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Grandmother seeks to downgrade charge over toddler’s death in Sturt Highway crash, court told


A grandmother accused of causing the death of her two-year-old granddaughter in a car crash is seeking to downgrade the charge against her, the Adelaide Magistrates Court has heard.

Semaphore Park woman Valda Patricia Porter was driving along the Sturt Highway when her car hit a parked truck at the intersection with Job Road at Shea-Oak Log, north-east of Gawler, in July.

Her two-year-old granddaughter from Grange was one of the passengers in the car and was killed in the crash.

A six-year-old girl who was also a passenger in the car sustained serious injuries and was taken to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Ms Porter, 64, sustained serious injuries and had to be airlifted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Valda Patricia Porter appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates Court.(ABC News)

She was later charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

The court heard her lawyer and the prosecution were in negotiations over the charge.

Her lawyer said it was a “tragic” family incident, and he anticipated seeking the lesser charge of driving without due care for his client.

But prosecutors told the court they would proceed with the original charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

The matter will return to court in February.

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AFL 2021: Jordan De Goey indecent assault charge, court case, wants AFL interview with alleged victim, Collingwood Magpies


Collingwood player Jordan De Goey wants the AFL to hand over documents relating to its investigation into indecent assault claims against him, including an interview with the alleged victim.

The star forward is charged with indecent assault over an incident at Kew, in Melbourne’s leafy inner east, in June 2015.

His lawyer Tony Hargreaves told the court he wanted the AFL to hand over all material related to their internal investigation.

In particular, a recorded interview with the alleged victim was sought. It was conducted by the AFL’s head of integrity Tony Keane, Mr Hargreaves said.

Round 1
Jordan De Goey resumed training for the Magpies this month ahead of court appearances in relation to an alleged indecent assault in 2015. Picture: Daniel Pockett/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images



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Trump impeachment: Momentum to charge president for second time gains Republican support | US News


Democrat momentum behind the second impeachment of Donald Trump has gained senior Republican support.

Senator Pat Toomey said he believed the president had committed “impeachable offences” and that his role in the deadly Capitol riots by a violent mob of his supporters needed thorough investigation.

Mr Toomey also called for Mr Trump‘s resignation – the second Republican to do so since Wednesday’s violence.

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Donald Trump’s opponents in Boston promote impeachment against the US president

His comments came as investigators attempting to find out the identities of all those who stormed the building revealed that some off-duty police officers and firefighters may have been among them.

Police departments in Virginia and Washington state have placed officers on leave, while they examine whether they took part in unlawful acts while away from work.

And fire departments in Florida and New York City have reported to federal authorities allegations that some of their members may also have been present.

Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died when the protesters broke into the building as Congress met to certify the results of the presidential election.

The crowd surged to the domed symbol of American democracy following a rally near the White House, where the outgoing president repeated his false and unproven claims that the election was stolen from him – and urged his supporters to march in force toward the Capitol.

This is what has enraged even previously loyal Republicans like Mr Toomey – and fuelled momentum behind a bid to impeach the president for what would be an unprecedented second time.

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Officer crushed in door as mob storm Capitol

There are now 200 co-sponsors for the impeachment legislation that Democratic representative Ted Lieu plans to introduce on Monday.

But while Mr Toomey called for the president to step down, he stopped short of saying whether he would vote to remove him from office at the conclusion of a Senate trial.

He told Fox News: “I do think the president committed impeachable offences, but I don’t know what is going to land on the Senate floor, if anything.”

He said the president’s resignation is the “best path forward”, describing it as “the best way to get this person in the rear view mirror for us”.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has also called for Mr Trump’s resignation.

But Mr Toomey admitted he was not optimistic it would happen before his term ends.

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Schwarzenegger likens Capitol rioters to Nazis

Politicians plan to formally introduce articles of impeachment on Monday in the House of Representatives – exactly one week before Democrat Joe Biden becomes the 46th president at noon on 20 January.

If passed by the House, the articles would be transmitted to the Senate for a trial, with senators acting as jurors who would ultimately vote on whether to acquit or convict Mr Trump.

If convicted by a two-third majority, requiring a number of Republicans to vote with the Democrats, then he would be removed from office and succeeded by the vice president.

The president has few fellow Republicans speaking out in his defence, with the former governor of California – and Hollywood legend – Arnold Schwarzenegger among those to have condemned him.

He has become increasingly isolated, holed up in the White House as he has been abandoned in the aftermath of the riot by many aides, leading Republicans, and two Cabinet members – both of whom are women.

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NT Police charge man with murder in relation to fatal crash in carpark of Alice Springs Hospital



Northern Territory Police has charged a 49-year-old man with murder after he allegedly drove a car into and a killed a 46-year-old woman outside Alice Springs Hospital on Thursday.

NT Police said the man, who was arrested shortly after the incident, allegedly drove a green Ford Falcon into the woman at about 9:45pm on Thursday night.

NT Police said the woman was sitting on the footpath at the hospital carpark when she was fatally struck.

Hospital staff immediately transferred the woman to the emergency department, but she died a short time later.

A statement from NT Police said police allege the pair were known to each other.

The man has been remanded in custody to appear in Alice Springs Local Court on January 11.

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Boeing to pay $2.5 billion to settle 737 Max fraud charge


Boeing Co. agreed to pay $2.5 billion to settle criminal charges that it defrauded the U.S. government by concealing information about the ill-fated 737 Max that was involved in two fatal crashes.

The U.S. planemaker entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in the Northern District of Texas on Thursday, the Justice Department said in a press release.

“The tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world’s leading commercial airplane manufacturers,” Acting Assistant Attorney General David P. Burns of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a statement.

Boeing shares fell less than 1% to $211.26 after the close of regular trading in New York.

A design flaw in the Max helped lead to the two crashes within about five months in 2018 and 2019, killing 346 people. Several investigative reports have found that the company altered a flight control system, but didn’t fully explain the changes to Federal Aviation Administration inspectors.

“I firmly believe that entering into this resolution is the right thing for us to do — a step that appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations,” Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun said in a message to employees. “This resolution is a serious reminder to all of us of how critical our obligation of transparency to regulators is, and the consequences that our company can face if any one of us falls short of those expectations.”

The action is the latest to hit the planemaker’s bottom line. The company’s inability to deliver planes during the ground and cancellations of previous orders have cost the company billions of dollars.

Of the $2.5 billion, Boeing has already set aside $1.77 billion to reimburse airlines and other Max customers. The company said it expected to incur an additional $743.6 million charge for the fourth quarter of 2020, as it pays a $243.6 million penalty and $500 million in additional compensation for the families of the crash victims. Boeing is scheduled to report earnings for the quarter on Jan. 27.

The plane, Boeing’s best-selling model, was grounded for 20 months while the FAA and regulators in other nations oversaw design changes to address problems revealed in investigations. The FAA lifted its grounding on Nov. 18, provided airlines completed a list of repairs and revamped pilot training.

A criminal investigation into how the plane was designed and approved began after the Oct. 29, 2018, crash off the coast of Indonesia of a Lion Air flight, but before the second accident near Addis Ababa.

“The misleading statements, half-truths, and omissions communicated by Boeing employees to the FAA impeded the government’s ability to ensure the safety of the flying public,” U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox for the Northern District of Texas said in a press release. “This case sends a clear message: The Department of Justice will hold manufacturers like Boeing accountable for defrauding regulators – especially in industries where the stakes are this high.”

More must-read stories from Fortune:

  • Democrats plan to use Senate win to pass $2,000 stimulus checks
  • Betting odds heavily favored Georgia’s GOP candidates, then suddenly collapsed. What went wrong?
  • COVID vaccine recipients may still be infectious. When will we know for sure?
  • The biggest conspiracy theories of 2020 (and why they won’t die)
  • A brief history of Bitcoin bubbles

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Joshua Wong arrested on new charge in Hong Kong crackdown


At least some of the others were released on bail late on Thursday from various police stations where they had been held. One, veteran activist and former politician Leung Kwok-hung, unfurled a banner that blasted the national security law as he left.

Benny Tai, a longtime activist, said upon his release that “Hong Kong is getting into a cold winter, with a wind blowing that’s very cold and very strong. But I believe that many Hong Kong people will find a way to walk against the wind”.

The activists are accused of taking part in an unofficial primary election last year that authorities say was part of a plan to paralyse the government and subvert state power.

The mass arrests were the largest move against Hong Kong’s democracy movement since Beijing imposed the law last June to quell dissent in the semi-autonomous territory following months of anti-government protests in 2019.

The primaries were held by the pro-democracy camp to determine the best candidates to field as they sought to gain a majority in Hong Kong’s legislature.

While most of those arrested were candidates in the primaries, Clancey was a treasurer for political organisation Power for Democracy, which was involved in the event.

The arrests drew condemnation from around the world.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was “appalled by the news of the arrest of an American citizen as part of this campaign of political repression”. He said the United States would not tolerate the arbitrary detention or harassment of its citizens and would explore further sanctions and restrictions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials and entities.

The legislative election that would have followed the unofficial primaries was postponed by a year by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who cited public health risks during the coronavirus pandemic.

The security law criminalises acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers to intervene in the city’s affairs. Serious offenders face up to life imprisonment.

Authorities pointed to a plan called “10 steps to mutual destruction” that allegedly indicate the primaries were part of a broader push to cause damage to both Hong Kong and mainland China.

The plan was published as an opinion piece in the Apple Daily newspaper by Tai, the veteran activist and a former law professor. He mapped out 10 steps from 2020 to 2022, including the pro-democracy bloc winning a legislative majority, intensifying protests, the forced resignation of Lam due to the budget bill being rejected twice, and international sanctions against China’s ruling Communist Party.

Liz Throssell, a spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, said the arrests indicate that “the offence of subversion under the National Security Law is indeed being used to detain individuals for exercising legitimate rights to participate in political and public life.”

Chinese mission spokesperson Liu Yuyin called Throssell’s remarks “unwarranted” and alleged that the 53 people arrested had sought to paralyse Hong Kong’s government.

Kurt Tong, the former US consul general in Hong Kong, saw the arrests as part of a methodical and escalating campaign to eradicate viable opposition politics both among the protesters and elected parties.

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“The national security law provides the legal foundation to do that,” said Tong, now a partner at The Asia Group consultancy in Washington DC.

China wants to preserve Hong Kong’s economic vibrancy and free market without what it views as political complications, he said. He didn’t predict a mass exodus by companies, saying the city retains its residual energy and dynamism, but warned there could be a measurable impact over time.

“China’s taking a big gamble by picking away at parts of the Hong Kong system that it doesn’t like,” he said. “It really risks damaging parts that it values.”

AP

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