Police search Mulligans Flat for evidence in case of missing man Jean Policarpio | The Canberra Times


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Emergency services will search Mulligans Flat this weekend for fresh evidence after the disappearance of Jean Policarpio three years ago. He has not been seen since he left his family home in Bonner on September 26, 2017. ACT Policing and ACT State Emergency Service will undertake a large-scale search of Mulligans Flat Reserve this weekend and next weekend in a bid to uncover new evidence. The search area will encompass the nature reserve behind Bonner and Throsby towards the NSW border. Police say after a re-examination of the case the decision to undertake the search was made in the hope of finding fresh evidence. Jean’s family has been informed the search is taking place this weekend. Members of the public in the area are likely to see up to 50 people involved in the search between 7am and 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. It also expected to continue on September 26 and 27. The police investigation into Jean’s disappearance remains active. Anyone with information in relation to Jean’s whereabouts is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website. Please quote reference 6158285. Information can be provided anonymously.

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Environmental watchdog says it found ‘strong’ evidence oilsands tailings ponds are tainting groundwater


A North American environmental watchdog says it has found “scientifically valid evidence” that oilsands tailings ponds are contaminating groundwater sources.

The report was released today by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, an agency tasked with implementing an environmental side accord to the North American free trade pact.

“Based on the scientific tools used today, the current literature shows that there is strong scientifically valid evidence of oilsands processed water seepage into near-field groundwater around tailings ponds when compared with the first peer-reviewed evidence published in 2009,” says the report.

Tailings ponds, such as the ones used by oilsands mining operations north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, collect by-products from oilsands mining operations — a mixture of water, sand, residual bitumen and other hydrocarbons that the industry calls “processed” water.

Many of these byproducts are toxic and environmentalists have long warned of the risks of leaks from tailings ponds, while the residual oil that covers the ponds can trap migratory birds.

These massive ponds are bordered by outer walls of dirt built to hold back the tailings water — which, as the report notes, “is an acutely toxic substance containing, among other things, naphthenic acids and heavy metals.”

For years it’s been unclear whether pollutants detected in waterways near oilsands operations came directly from plant operations or from bitumen already in the soil.

Although tailings ponds may be leaking into groundwater, the commission found there is less evidence to suggest it’s seeping into surface water sources like the Athabasca River, which runs adjacent to one of the oldest oilsands tailings ponds.

“The literature shows that there is no evidence of dissolved bitumen-derived organics (natural or anthropogenic) being detectable in any water samples, although a major challenge to spotting any seepage is dilution in a very large river,” the report states.

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation launched its probe of tailings ponds after environmental groups, including Environmental Defence Canada, filled a submission in 2017 that accused the federal government of failing to enforce the federal Fisheries Act by not prosecuting oilsands producers over the “alleged leaking of deleterious substances.”

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation cannot issue binding rulings, but instead its reports the facts it finds.

“To me, the evidence is really clear,” said Dale Marshall, a program manager for Environment Defence. “It tells us that the federal government is not upholding its responsibility to protect human health and the environment.”

 



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Zachary Rolfe: police give evidence about firearms training


By KIERAN FINNANE

“Edged weapon equals gun”: two police officers gave evidence in the Alice Springs Local Court today that that is their training. When they are confronted by someone armed with an edged weapon, they are to draw their firearm.

This was day one in the committal proceedings for Zachary Rolfe, the police officer accused of the murder of Kumanjayi Walker in Yuendumu, a remote community north-west of Alice Springs, on Saturday 9 November last year.

Mr Rolfe intends pleading not guilty to the charge. He attended today’s hearing by video-link. He looked drawn, remaining impassive as the charge was read out. 

One of the witnesses were Constable First Class Breanna Bonney, who was with Mr Rolfe and the rest of their entire patrol group when they had planned to arrest Mr Walker in Alice Springs a day or two earlier. (It turned out that he was not in that location, Warlpiri Camp).

After the alleged shooting of Mr Walker in Yuendumu and after Mr Rolfe had been released from hospital where he was treated for a stab wound, Const Bonney and other officers gathered at his house.

“We all discussed that we’d all received the same use of force training, the basic principles, one of the main ones being that if we’re faced with an edged weapon we draw our firearm,” she said. 

But what about discharging the firearm? she was asked.

“If they continue to threaten us with the firearm or advance on us … with an edged weapon, then we discharge our firearm.”

The other witness was the dog handler Senior Constable First Class Adam Donaldson, who also said his training was “It’s always firearm for an edged weapon.”

Critical to the evidence today was an incident on 6 November at Yuendumu when Mr Walker confronted with an axe two police officers attempting to arrest him. The two officers were permanent staff at Yuendumu, Senior Constable First Class Christopher Hand and Senior Constable Lanyan Smith.

Const Hand, we learned, is the partner of Sergeant Julie Frost, the officer in charge at Yuendumu on the night of the alleged fatal shooting

Body-worn footage of the axe incident was shown to the court. We saw one officer knocking on a closed door inside a house at Yuendumu. We later learned that this house is occupied by Mr Walker’s grandparents and his partner. The knock was quiet; it was repeated. The door opened and a young woman was standing there, Mr Walker’s partner.

We later heard evidence from Sgt Frost that the young woman had “obstructed [the officers’] entry into the bedroom” and that this had given Mr Walker time to “retrieve an axe that he hidden under his mattress”.

A seeming violent scuffle followed. There was screaming and the body-worn camera was moving in every direction. Sgt Frost said Mr Walker “came at [Const Hand] with the axe”. There was no discernible speech from the police officers. One of them then began to run.

We heard evidence that he gave chase to Mr Walker who ran off to the community’s men’s area.

The threat to Const Hand on 6 November and his relationship with Sgt Frost meant that they both would have a conflict of interest in being involved in the subsequent planned arrest of Mr Walker.

Sgt Frost told the court that after the axe incident she requested resources from Alice Springs, an IRT (Immediate Response Team) and, she insisted, a dog unit, “because I know that they don’t like dogs”. She wanted to be able to use the dog as a “bargaining chip” in future dealings with Mr Walker, to persuade him to surrender or they would get the dog unit out again.

The dog and handler, Const Donaldson, and the IRT team duly arrived at Yuendumu on the Saturday afternoon.

Sgt Frost tasked them with high visibility policing in the community – in response to a series of break-ins including at the nurses quarters (not the clinic), causing the nurses to evacuate the community. She also wanted them to cover call-outs so that she, Const Hand and Const Felix Alafeio, another permanent staffer at Yuendumu, could all get an uninterrupted sleep as they had been up all of the previous night.

The arrest was supposed to take place at around 5.30 on Sunday morning, when the community was quiet with everyone in bed.

The court has not yet heard evidence from the IRT team about what made them decide to move earlier, but Sgt Frost had told them that if they came across Mr walker, then by all means arrest him.

There was varying evidence of Mr Walkers’ “predisposition to violence”, as defence counsel put it.

Const Donaldson gave evidence that the dog unit is usually deployed for more significant or violent targets. He knew of the axe incident and when he saw the footage he thought the incident was  “extremely dangerous and I was surprised no one was hurt”. Yet he said there was no discussion with the IRT that Mr Walker was a “high risk target”, nor of what might be done if he became violent or had weapons. It would be a “fairly standard deployment”, he told the court.

Sgt Frost did not regard him as a “danger to the community” but agreed that he was “violent and dangerous towards police when they went to arrest him”. She was prepared to allow him to attend a family member’s funeral on the Saturday, partly out of “respect”, knowing “funerals to Aboriginal people are particularly important.”

She thought he was more interested in escaping than attacking police, so she was not “really concerned” about approaching him herself, although she would always “kit up” just in case.

She had visited his grandparents, to tell them how dangerous the axe incident had been, that he “could have got my members killed”, that he himself could have been killed as a consequence of the attack, and to get them to persuade him to hand himself in after the funeral.

She had no intel that he was involved in the break-ins to the nurses quarters; on the contrary, when fingerprints were lifted, they were very small, suggesting a young child was involved.

She agreed that he had a history of domestic violence towards his partner.

She agreed he had access to weapons, but she did not believe he had access to a firearm.

She had flagged him in the PROMIS system as dangerous and violent.

The hearing continues.

 

Photos: Top, Ned Jampijinpa Hargreaves of the Warlpiri Parumpurru (Justice) Committee addresses the crowd gathered on the courthouse lawns; very few family members came into the court today. None attended by video-link at Yuendumu, so the link was closed. Police officers there reported very few people in the community. Above: Young Anyupa Butcher, also of the committee, left, attempts to calm agitated family members. She got on the microphone to remind the crowd they were there for “one reason only – to show solidarity with Kumanjayi Walker”.

 

Last updated 1 September 2020, 7.28pm.



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FactCheck: more evidence that Covid-19 risks are very low for children – Channel 4 News


Many children in England and Wales are heading back to school next week. Schools have already reopened in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

There are lingering doubts among parents about the danger of coronavirus infection, despite evidence that children are at lower risk of serious illness and death.

This week a major new study has added to our knowledge of Covid-19 outcomes in children. The authors say it should reassure parents. Let’s take a look.

New study

The British Medical Journal has just published a large study of people hospitalised with the coronavirus in 260 hospitals in England, Wales and Scotland.

Out of nearly 70,000 people treated in those hospitals between 17 January and 3 July 2020, 651 (just under 1 per cent) were under-19s with confirmed coronavirus.

Of those 651 children and teenagers, 116 needed critical care and six died.

All six deaths were among children and young people with serious underlying health conditions. Three were newborn babies “with severe comorbidities/illness—very premature, complex congenital cardiac anomaly, and bacterial sepsis”.

Three were aged 15 to 18, two with “profound neurodisability with pre-existing respiratory compromise” and a third whose immune system had been suppressed by chemotherapy.

The six deaths were about 1 per cent of all children hospitalised – “strikingly low” compared to a case fatality rate of 27 per cent for people of all ages over the same time period, the authors said.

There were no deaths among previously healthy children.

Absolute risk

As with the adult population, black children were over-represented in the cohort of children taken to hospital with coronavirus, and black ethnicity was associated with increased odds of being admitted to critical care.

Also in keeping with the adult population, obese children and those with certain severe underlying illnesses were more likely to need critical care.

But while there are differences in the relative risks for different groups of children, the absolute risk of any child becoming critically ill or dying from Covid-19 remains extremely low. How low?

The Office for National Statistics recorded 11 deaths of children of children and teenagers aged 19 and under due to Covid-19 in England and Wales from March to June this year. We don’t know how many had underlying conditions.

There are around 14 million people of that age in England and Wales, which suggests the chance of any child or teen catching Covid-19 and dying from it are currently more remote than one in a million.

Multi-inflammatory syndrome

Some 52 children in the study were identified as having symptoms used by the World Health Organization to identify MIS-C, an inflammatory syndrome doctors first identified in April.

This worrying syndrome can see children develop symptoms in many different parts of the body. Thankfully, cases are rare and there were no deaths among the children diagnosed with MIS-C in this study.

What about the risk to adults?

All of this fits what we previously knew about Covid from evidence collected in the UK and around the world: children are likely to have a mild or asymptomatic form of the illness, and are much less likely to become seriously ill and die.

But questions remain about how likely children are to infect others with the virus, even if they are not showing any symptoms.

A Public Health England report published last week showed that outbreaks of coronavirus in schools have been rare so far, and that staff members were more likely to have infected each other than to have caught the disease from children.

Pupils were more likely to have picked up the infection at home, from a parent, than from classmates.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says: “Currently available evidence indicates that children are not the primary drivers of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to adults in the school setting.”



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Tests on Russian dissident Alexei Navalny show evidence of poisoning, German hospital says


Tests conducted on Russian dissident Alexei Navalny at a German hospital indicate that he was poisoned, but doctors say they do not believe his life at immediate risk.
The Charité hospital said in a statement that the team of doctors who have been examining Navalny since he was flown from Siberia and admitted Saturday have found the presence of “cholinesterase inhibitors” in his system.

Cholinesterase inhibitors are a broad range of substances that are found in several drugs, but also pesticides and nerve agents. However, doctors at Charite said at the moment the specific substance to which Navalny was exposed is not yet known.

Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny. (Associated Press)

“The patient is in an intensive care unit and is still in an induced coma. His health is serious but there is currently no acute danger to his life,” the hospital said in a statement.

Navalny remained in critical but stable condition at the Berlin hospital, with special protection details on hand to ensure his safety, German officials said.

Berlin police and federal agents were posted at the downtown Charité hospital where the 44-year-old is undergoing treatment following his arrival in Germany after Chancellor Angela Merkel personally offered the country’s assistance.

“It was obvious that after his arrival, protective precautions had to be taken,” Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters. “After all, this is a patient who, with a certain degree of probability, was poisoned.”

A general view of Charite Hospital where Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is being treated in Berlin, Germany. (Getty)

He wouldn’t comment on Navalny’s condition, but earlier in the day, Dirk Wiese, the German government’s coordinator for Eastern European affairs, told public broadcaster ZDF he was “currently critical, but stable.”

“He is now receiving the best possible treatment,” Wiese said.

Russian doctors have said, however, that tests have shown no traces of poison in his system. The Kremlin hasn’t yet commented on the allegation.

Navalny’s team last week submitted a request in Russia to launch a criminal probe, but as of Monday, Russia’s Investigative Committee still has not opened a case, Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said.

Ilya Yashin, an opposition politician in Moscow and a close ally of Navalny, in a video statement Monday urged Russia’s law enforcement to investigate “an attempt at a life of a public figure” and to look into the possible involvement of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It is Putin who benefits from these endless assaults,” Yashin said.

US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan said the Navalny case would on the agenda for Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun’s visit to Russia that begins Tuesday.

“With Alexei Navalny in a hospital in Berlin, our dialogue with Russia must include reemphasising the importance of free speech and civil society,” he told reporters.

If Navalny is found to have been poisoned “that would represent a crucial moment in Russia,” he said.

“The Russian people deserve to see that anybody who would have been involved in a matter like that be held accountable.”

Navalny was flown to Germany on Saturday from Siberia after much wrangling over whether he was was stable enough to be transported.

After his arrival, hospital spokeswoman Manuela Zingl said he would be undergoing extensive diagnostic tests and that doctors wouldn’t comment on his illness or treatment until they were able to evaluate the results.

On Sunday, Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, and aide Leonid Volkov visited the Russian opposition leader in the hospital, but didn’t speak to reporters.

Navalny, a politician and corruption investigator who is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on Thursday and was taken to the hospital in the city of Omsk after the plane made an emergency landing.

Russian doctors on Monday said two laboratories found no poisonous substances in his system.

“If we had found poisoning confirmed by something, it would have been much easier for us,” said Anatoly Kalinichecnko, deputy chief doctor of the Omsk Ambulance Hospital No.1, where Navalny was treated.

“But we received a final conclusion from two laboratories that no toxic chemicals that can be considered poisons or by-products of poisons, were found.”

The hospital’s chief doctor, Alexander Murakhovsky, rejected allegations made by Navalny’s team that doctors in Omsk had been acting in coordination with Russia’s security services.

“We were treating the patient, and we saved him,” Murakhovsky said Monday. “There wasn’t and couldn’t be any influence on the patient’s treatment.”

He wasn’t able to identify men in plainclothes spotted in the hospital last week who the politician’s allies said were law enforcement and security service agents.

This Monday, July 29, 2019 handout photo released by navalny.com shows Alexei Navalny, Russia's most prominent opposition figure, sitting on a bed in a hospital, in Moscow, Russia. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was discharged from a hospital Monday even though his physician raised suspicions of a possible poisoning after he suffered facial swelling and a rash while in jail
This Monday, July 29, 2019 handout photo released by navalny.com shows Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, sitting on a bed in a hospital, in Moscow, Russia. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was discharged from a hospital Monday even though his physician raised suspicions of a possible poisoning after he suffered facial swelling and a rash while in jail (AP)

“I can’t say who they were,” Murakhovsky said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week he didn’t know anything about security service operatives being present at the hospital.

“We in the presidential administration can hardly be interested in who is present in the office of a chief doctor in a hospital in Omsk,” Peskov said on Friday.

Like many other opposition politicians in Russia, Navalny has been frequently detained by law enforcement and harassed by pro-Kremlin groups. In 2017, he was attacked by several men who threw antiseptic in his face, damaging an eye.

Last year, Navalny was rushed to a hospital from jail where he was serving a sentence on charges of violating protest regulations. His team also suspected poisoning then. Doctors said he had a severe allergic reaction and sent him back to detention the following day.



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Victoria records 179 COVID-19 cases, first security guard to give evidence as hotel quarantine inquiry continues, Australia death toll at 472


“I knew they were not the best and I had to keep my eyes on them,” he wrote in his witness statement for Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry.

He told the inquiry he found the two or three guards “very casual in the way they worked” in their previous job together.

“So I was relieved when those guards were no longer at the Crowne. But as I said … they’d just moved over to the Pan-Pacific [hotel],” said the supervisor, whose identity is being withheld.

Part of his job was to “keep an eye on the professionalism of the guards on your floors”.

“And to let the shift supervisor know whether or not you thought someone was coughing, whether when you went on their floor you caught them on their phones or off their post. So you would just report that back to the shift supervisor [top level of management in the hotels].”

Poor reports would sometimes result in those guards having their shifts taken away, the supervisor said.

Security guards and hotel workers who contracted COVID-19 at Melbourne’s quarantine hotels spread it into the community, sparking Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus.



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Zachary Rolfe: What evidence will be relevant in his defence and in the case against him?


By KIERAN FINNANE

What permission did police have to enter the premises in Yuendumu where Kumanjayi Walker was on the night of 9 November 2019, when he was allegedly fatally shot by Constable Zachary Rolfe?

What knowledge did police have of Kumanjayi Walker being predisposed to violence?

Who gave the officers permission to enter the premises?

What powers were they relying on for entry? And what was their plan?

What briefings had they had – for instance on the likelihood of Kumanjayi Walker resisting arrest and deploying a weapon?

These are some of the topics that defence counsel will seek to cover in the cross-examination of witnesses in the upcoming committal hearing of the case.

Mr Rolfe is pleading not guilty to the charge of murder.

His committal in the Local Court is a preliminary hearing of evidence upon which the court will base its decision on whether that evidence is sufficient to allow the matter should proceed to trial in the Supreme Court.

Mr Rolfe, decorated for bravery in 2019 (above), attended by phone last Friday’s hearing by Judge John Birch of argument between defence and prosecution counsel over the relevance of the topics and of the cross-examination of specific witnesses in relation to them.

Relevant to whether Kumanjayi Walker was predisposed to violence, argued defence counsel, David Edwardson QC, would be evidence around an incident on 6 November, when the deceased confronted with an axe other officers attempting to arrest him.

What was the extent of Mr Rolfe’s knowledge of this incident on the night of the fatal shooting?

For the prosecution, Philip Strickland SC accepted that these topics were relevant but had arguments about the extent to which certain witnesses could give evidence on them.  Hearsay evidence, for instance, would not be admissible at trial. Witnesses would have to have direct knowledge of events and briefings.

“Highly relevant”, argued Mr Edwardson, would be the evidence of the police officer who briefed Mr Rolfe about approaching Kumanjayi Walker on 9 November. What was her understanding, for instance, of what was expected of a police officer confronted by a person wielding a “blade” as, he said, was the case that night?

Mr Strickland objected to the relevance of this line of questioning of this particular witness.

There were no doctors or nurses in the community on the fateful night, as they had evacuated following the earlier “ransacking” of the clinic. Was Kumanjayi Walker involved in that earlier incident? If so, that could be relevant to his “state of mind” in seeking to avoid arrest on 9 November, argued Mr Edwardson.

Mr Strickland, however, said “intelligence” received on that topic by the officer briefing Mr Rolfe would again only be hearsay and not admissible at trial. It amounted to a “fishing expedition”, he argued, and in any case his involvement in the clinic incident would not be relevant at trial.

Mr Edwardson, however, countered that the defence was entitled to explore the issue, about which the present brief provides no information.

There was significant difference of opinion about expert evidence from medical doctors on the potential of serious or fatal injury being caused by a pair of scissors. Could scissors, for instance, have potentially cut the carotid artery? Part of that evidence would go to the mobility of the right arm of the deceased at the time of the scissors being wielded.

Mr Strickland objected that the witnesses do not have “specialised knowledge” of the underlying facts of the incident. To have an “expert opinion” on the matter they would have to know whether Kumanjayi Walker’s arm was “pinned down” by the third party (the second police officer present). That was a factual matter for the (eventual) jury to determine.

The medical doctors therefore could offer opinion evidence, rather than give expert testimony on this topic, he argued.

However, Mr Edwardson said one of the medical doctors, a burns and trauma surgeon with military experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, had viewed the body-worn camera footage of the incident.  His evidence would thus be more than opinion.

Judge Birch will make his determination on the issues this Thursday, 20 August at 9am.

He extended Mr Rolfe’s bail to 1 September, the first day of the committal hearing, and gave him  permission to attend from Canberra by audio-visual link.

The primary reason for this, said Judge Birch is the biosecurity concern (the Covid-19 pandemic) that all of Australia faces. He did not expound on what the secondary reason might be.

Mr Edwardson and Mr Strickland, today appearing from Adelaide and Sydney respectively , will appear in person in Alice Springs for the committal.

Meanwhile, the Warlpiri Parumpurru (Justice) Committee have appealed to  the community to gather outside the court on the first day of the committal “in solidarity, support and love for one another”, as Kumanjayi Walker’s cousin Samara Fernandez-Brown (above) put it in a video callout on their social media. 

She asked Aboriginal organisations in particular to lend support to Yuendumu families wanting to come into Alice Springs.

She did not comment on Mr Rolfe being allowed to appear at the committal by video link.

 



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CNN Claims, Without Evidence, Trump ‘Promoted’ Kamala Harris Birther Theory


CNN claimed on Sunday that President Donald Trump had “promote[d]” the “birther lie” that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) might be ineligible for the vice presidency because her parents may not have been citizens when she was born in Oakland, California, in 1964.

CNN provided no evidence to support its claim. It accused Trump of promoting the theory because he “would not definitively say whether Harris met the requirements” during a Friday press briefing.

Here is the relevant exchange from that press briefing (with the White House transcript):

Q There are claims circulating on social media that Kamala Harris is not eligible to be — to run for Vice President because she was an “anchor baby,” I quote. Do you or can you definitively say whether or not Kamala Harris is eligible — legal — and meets the legal requirements to run as Vice President?

THE PRESIDENT: So, I just heard that. I heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements. And, by the way, the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer. I have no idea if that’s right. I would’ve — I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for Vice President.

Q (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: But that’s a very serious — you’re saying that — they’re saying that she doesn’t qualify because she wasn’t born in this country?

Q She was.

Q No, she was born in this country, but her parents did not — the claims say that her parents did not receive their permanent residence at that time.

THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I don’t know about it. I just heard about it. I’ll take a look.

The president said he had “no idea” whether it was right and that he “assumed” Democrats had “checked that out.”

Reporters asked about the issue again at a press briefing the next day — and the response was the same (from the White House transcript):

Q On the campaign: Will you say now that Kamala Harris is eligible to run and be Vice President or President, based on being born in Oakland, California?

THE PRESIDENT: So, I have nothing to do with that. I read something about it. And I will say that he is a brilliant lawyer that — I guess he wrote an article about it. So I know nothing about it, but it’s not something that bothers me.

Q But, sir, when you do that, it creates doubt.

THE PRESIDENT: Why do you say that? I just don’t know about it, but it’s not something that we will be pursuing.

Q But you do know it, sir. You do —

THE PRESIDENT: Let me put it differently.

Q Mr. President, you know.

THE PRESIDENT: Let me be —

Q You can simply clear this up.

THE PRESIDENT: Let me put it differently. Don’t tell me what I know. (Laughter.) Let me put it differently. Let me put it differently: To me, it doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t know about it. I read one quick article. The lawyer happens to be a brilliant lawyer, as you probably know. He wrote an article saying there could be a problem. It’s not something that I’m going to be pursuing.

Q Is she eligible, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I just told you, I have not gone into it in great detail. If she’s got a problem, you would have thought that she would —

Q It’s not that hard, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: — have been vetted.

Q It’s not that hard.

THE PRESIDENT: You would have thought that she would have been vetted by Sleepy Joe.

The president said he knew “nothing about it,” and went even further, saying that it was something he would not be “pursuing.” CNN spun that by reporting that the president “did not dismiss the conspiracy theories as false.”

Thus far, it would appear to be the media, and not Trump, promoting the Kamala Harris “birther” theory. The theory first appeared in an op-ed by professor John Eastman in Newsweek, for which the publication issued an apology on Saturday.

Other media outlets have made similar false claims about Trump promoting or “encourag[ing]” the idea that Harris is ineligible — and they have contrasted that supposed claim to Joe Biden’s supposedly more responsible leadership:

CNN added that Trump had “pushed similar conspiracies about former President Barack Obama.”

In 2012, Breitbart News exposed the fact that the claim Obama had been born in Kenya — which Breitbart News noted explicitly that we rejected — had been printed in a promotional pamphlet by his literary agent in 1991. Mainstream media sources picked up the story and reported that the mistake — which the agent ascribed to an error in fact-checking — was a “possible source of the so-called “birther” issue–or at least a potential cause of the rumors that have dogged President Barack Obama.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.





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Man charged with murdering Canberra Comanchero leader faces court as police conduct search for further evidence


A man accused of killing a Canberra bikie boss in front of hundreds of people at a popular nightspot last month has faced court charged with his murder.

Frederick Tuifua, 26, is accused of stabbing Canberra Comanchero commander Pitsoni Ulavalu in the neck during a brawl at Kokomo’s bar in the early hours of July 19.

The 48-year-old stumbled outside before he collapsed and died on the road. The brawl was captured on CCTV and recorded on mobile phones.

Mr Tuifua appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court via video link this morning facing a murder charge.

He did not apply for bail or enter a plea.

Osaiasi Kupu, 23, and Matthew Kupu, 22, also faced the Magistrates Court over their alleged role in the brawl inside the bar.

Both men have been charged with affray and neither applied for bail.

The trio were arrested on Tuesday night after they escorted a fourth man, who had multiple gunshot wounds, to the emergency department.

All three men are due to face court again later this month.

Police search underway in Braddon and Turner

Pitasoni Ulavalu wearing sunglasses and a leather jacket.
Pitasoni Ulavalu was the Comanchero Canberra commander.(Supplied: Facebook)

As the trio faced court, police and State Emergency Services workers were conducting a large-scale search in Haig Park.

In a statement, ACT Policing said searches in the suburbs of Braddon and Turner would continue “over the next few days”, in a bid to find additional evidence in relation to Mr Ulavalu’s murder.

“The investigation into the murder of Pitasoni Ulavalu remains ongoing and … detectives anticipate making further arrests,” an ACT Policing spokeswoman said.

ACT police’s criminal investigations boss Detective Superintendent Scott Moller said yesterday that the three men facing court had links to the Comanchero outlaw motorcycle gang.

“We’ve been looking at a group of men for some time and the opportunity at the hospital presented itself and he was arrested,” he said.

Chief Police Officer Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan said police were “also investigating” the incident that had led to the fourth man sustaining gunshot wounds.

“We don’t know much about the actual shooting,” Deputy Commissioner Gaughan said on Wednesday.

“He was brought in by three male persons … wanted for the affray at Kokomo’s a couple of weeks ago.”



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Crown says it did not have evidence linking junkets to drug syndicates


Crown Resorts’ chief legal officer has told a public inquiry he did not talk to law enforcement agencies or engage his own investigators to probe revelations that some of Crown’s “junket” partners were in bed with one of the world’s biggest drug trafficking syndicates.

Joshua Preston, who is responsible for legal and regulatory compliance, also told the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s inquiry into Crown on Thursday that he and the James Packer-backed casino giant were not aware of any information, including court documents, that proved those links when it dismissed them as being part of “deceitful campaign against Crown”.

There was a “substantial risk” of junkets being infiltrated by organised crime, the inquiry was told.Credit:Joe Armao

The powerful inquiry conducted by former Supreme Court Justice Patricia Bergin, SC, was triggered by revelations by The Age, the Herald and 60 Minutes in July last year that some of Crown’s junket partners, which bring wealthy Chinese gamblers to Australian casinos, had links to organised crime and money launderers. It will consider whether the group should keep the licence for its new $2.4 billion casino nearing completion at Sydney’s Barangaroo.

Counsel assisting the inquiry, Naomi Sharp, SC, questioned Mr Preston about what he did in light of the reports the some Crown junkets were linked to an international drug trafficking and money laundering syndicate known as “The Company”.



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