Family members arrested in UK bombing probe

      

The Libya counter-terrorism force detained the father, Ramadan  Abedi, outside his home in the Tripoli suburb of Ayn Zara on Wednesday afternoon.

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A witness said he was handcuffed by armed men who drove him away in two unmarked vehicles.

 

      

The force, known as Rada, detained the brother Hashem Abedi, who was born in 1997, on Tuesday evening on suspicion of links to Islamic State, spokesman Ahmed Bin Salem said. He did not give any details on the reasons why the father was arrested.

 

     

But Hashem Abedi had been in touch with Manchester Arena attacker Salman Abedi, Bin Salem said, and was suspected of planning to carry out an attack in the Libyan capital.

     

“We have evidence that he is involved in Daesh (Islamic State) with his brother. We have been following him for more than one month and a half,” Bin Salem said. “He was in contact with his brother and he knew about the attack.”

  

He said the younger brother had travelled from London to Tripoli on April 16.

     

Salman Abedi, 22, was born in Britain to Libyan parents. Britain’s interior minister said earlier that he had recently

returned from Libya and had likely not acted alone. His father lives in Tripoli.

Meanwhile, US entertainer Ariana Grande has suspended her Dangerous Woman tour following the attack on her Manchester show, which killed 22 people.

A spokesman for the 23-year-old announced the decision on Wednesday evening following widespread speculation that dates would be affected.

Grande’s next engagements were two nights at the O2 Arena in London on Thursday and Friday before heading to mainland Europe.

There has been no word on the six-date tour of Australia and New Zealand scheduled for September.

“We are deeply saddened by this senseless tragedy and our hearts and thoughts are with those impacted by this devastating incident,” promoters Live Nation said in a statement.

 

Aussie actor joins Depp, Bloom in Pirates

Former Home and Away soap star Brenton Thwaites has joked he had plastic surgery to look like English heart-throb Orlando Bloom before arriving on the Australian set of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

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Thwaites plays Henry Turner, the son of Bloom’s Captain Will Turner, in the fifth instalment of Disney’s action-adventure pirate franchise shot at Queensland’s Village Roadshow Studios and locations including Port Douglas, Moreton Bay and Tamborine Mountain.

“A lot of plastic surgery on that front,” Thwaites deadpanned when asked at a Los Angeles press conference how he prepared for the role.

“I went for plastic surgery and I said, ‘Make me look like Orlando Bloom’.”

The Cairns-born 27-year-old Thwaites holds his own in the star-studded cast headed by Johnny Depp and Oscar winners Geoffrey Rush and Javier Bardem.

Thwaites’ Turner teams up with Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow and Rush’s Captain Hector Barbossa to break a curse that has left his father marooned at the bottom of the ocean.

Thwaites said he was mesmerised by the way Depp was constantly going off script and adding extra layers to Sparrow.

“Even in the table read he’s searching for ideas and improvising and kind of going off script to search for new ideas,” he said.

Thwaites has become one of Hollywood’s top young actors after getting his start on Australian TV series Home and Away and SLiDE.

He starred opposite Angelina Jolie in Maleficent and Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges in The Giver.

Despite being cast as his son, Thwaites says he has never been compared to the hunky Bloom, who was briefly married to and has a son – Flynn – with Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr.

“No, I’d never been compared to Orlando Bloom,” Thwaites said.

“Mainly, young Australian actors that were on the TV show, Home and Away, which is a soap opera I did back in the day.

“Because, you know, Home and Away, they all kind of look the same don’t they?

“Beachy surfers … I had blonde hair.”

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales opens in Australia on Thursday (May 25).

Trump calls North Korea leader ‘madman’

In a call last month with the Philippines’ president, US President Donald Trump described North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un as a “madman with nuclear weapons” who could not be let on the loose, according to a leaked Philippine transcript of their call.

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Trump told Duterte in the April 29 call that the United States would “take care of North Korea,” and had a lot of firepower in the region, although it did not want to use it, according to a transcript of their conversation published by the Washington Post and the investigative news site The Intercept.

The document included a “confidential” cover sheet from the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

A senior US official said the Trump administration did not dispute the accuracy of the transcript and declined to comment further.

Trump requested Duterte’s help in impressing on China, North Korea’s neighbour and only major ally, the need for it to help rein in Kim, the transcript showed.

“We can’t let a madman with nuclear weapons let on the loose like that,” Trump said. “We have a lot of firepower, more than he has, times 20, but we don’t want to use it.”

The US president told Duterte that Washington had sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, comments likely to raise further questions about his handling of sensitive information after US officials said Trump discussed intelligence about Islamic State with Russian officials this month.

“We have two submarines – the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all,” Trump said.

The Philippines foreign ministry said earlier in a statement that it had no comment on news reports about the leaked transcript.

But it said that under Philippine law there was “criminal and civil liability attached to the hacking, unauthorised disclosure and use of illegally or inadvertently obtained confidential government documents.”

The ministry said it valued the need for transparency, but the release of some information could affect national security and regional stability. “As such, we appeal to the sense of responsibility and patriotism of all concerned,” it added.

North Korea has vowed to develop a nuclear-tipped missile that can strike the US mainland, presenting Trump with perhaps his biggest foreign policy challenge.

It has conducted dozens of missile launches and two nuclear bomb tests since the start of last year.

Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible and that all options are on the table, but his administration says it wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically with the aid of tougher sanctions.

Books, reading her passion; literacy her mission: Heiss

Anita Heiss is an Aboriginal author and improving Indigenous literacy is her mission.

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Books are her passion and reading her obsession.

“It’s my most intimate relationship at this point in time, let’s say that. The power there is for our people in terms of self-determination – we need to be able to read and write in the English language.”

She’s firmly in touch with her Indigenous heritage but also connects with her European background.

“So I’m a Wiradjuri woman, I’m a Williams from Brungal mission, Griffith, Tumut and Canberra, but I was born and raised in Gadigal country. My dad was Austrian, Heiss means hot, I’m never changing my surname.”

Anita Heiss is a celebrated author with many awards to her name.

She’s not the only star in the family.

Her younger brother, Mark Heiss, is a highly respected educator.

“I’m very proud of Anita. She’s been a great role model for me, she’s been the type of person that I want to be, and I look up to her, yeah she’s an inspiration to me. I’m an educator myself and she’s very big on educating our young people, in particular around literacy needs and language, and also around the *18C debate. That was something Anita was drawn into through no fault of her own but then decided to make a stand in a class action when injustice was being done for our people.”

Her hero is one of Australia’s most important Aboriginal literary voices.

“I always go back to Oodgeroo Noonuccal, who was formerly Kath Walker and changed her name in 1988 as a protest against the bicentenary. I have an original hard cover (edition) of “We Are Going”, which was the first book of Aboriginal poetry published, and the charter of Aboriginal rights, which is still relevant today.”

Just like her inspiration Anita Heiss is not afraid to speak out, which saw her take part in a landmark case involving freedom of speech and section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, over an article published by commentator Andrew Bolt.

“I would say as a blackfella the most important thing I’ve done was take Andrew Bolt to court with a group of other Indigenous people because winning that case was really about representing all those people who are persecuted in the media every day but have no comeback at all.”

The battle for equality is one she’s fought since childhood.

“I was socialised as a child by white people saying you’re an abo, boong, coon, chocolate drop, coco pop, telling me who I was, but in the next breath taking it away saying, ‘you’re only half-caste’. I grew up in a time where Australians believed they had the right to give you your identity but also take half of it away.”

Anita Heiss was born a year after the 1967 referendum.

She wants Constitutional recognition, but for her it’s not the final goal.

“As a writer I see this is where it starts, we write ourselves into the Constitution. That is the stepping stone to the treaty, that we all want.”

A parallel to her ambition as an author mirrors her ambition for the constitution.

“I want to write the great Australian novel! I would say that’s most Australian writers’ dream and the reality is the great Australian novel won’t be written if it doesn’t include Aboriginal people and place… if it doesn’t include our people and our place, it can’t be the great Australian novel. You can’t exclude us from that landscape.”

 

 

Iranian ambassador says Monis should have been stopped

Most Australians will remember Man Haron Monis as the gunman whose siege of Sydney’s Lindt Cafe 10 days before Christmas 2014 cost the lives of two innocent people.

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But years before that, Iranian authorities say, Monis had a reputation in Iran for being a cheat and financially corrupt.

In the aftermath of the New South Wales coroner’s report into the siege and deaths, Iranian ambassador Abdolhossein Vahaji has been sharply critical.

“You know, this person was not a normal person. He was not a religious person. He was carrying that uniform that the clergy people were using in order to fool society, to fool the people. He was mentally distorted, and he was psychologically at a problem.”

The Iranian government warned Australia about Monis as early as 2002, seeking the asylum seeker’s extradition to face fraud charges at home.

Interpol was informed, but, because Australia had no extradition agreement with Iran, no action was taken.

Mr Vahajil says what occurred at the Lindt Cafe did not need to happen.

“If … if … we could repatriate that person from Australia to Iran, under any circumstances, under any rules and regulations that we (encountered), if we could do that, I believe that this tragedy would be prevented.”

Australian Muslim communities watched the drama play out in horror, but also in despair.

One of those watching the backlash in some quarters was barrister and communities advocate Bilal Rauf.

“There was a sense of dread. There was a sense of dread because the immediate question as a Muslim and Australian was, ‘Will it be connected in some way with me, with Muslims generally, with Islam more broadly?’ And, sadly, it did come to be conveyed in that way. As it turned out, (people) had started professing and exclaiming anti-Islamic rhetoric, blaming Islam for the event, as being the cause for what had occurred, and that saddened me, it made me upset, it made me angry, that there were these people who were being opportunistic.”

Mr Rauf was just across the street in his high rise office when the siege unfolded.

He knew one of the victims, barrister Katrina Dawson, from university days.

At the memorial to lay flowers, he watched the anti-Islamic group Party for Freedom blaming his religion for the tragedy.

He says he confronted the protest leader and told him much of what he was saying had no basis in Islam and was wrong.

Concerns over a backlash against Muslims sparked the social media campaign I’ll ride with you from others supporting the communities.

The campaign’s founder, Tessa Kum, says she is still surprised by its success.

“The reaction to it was exponentially larger than I had anticipated, to say the least. I think, within an hour or so, it had spread all over Australia, and, a couple of hours after that, it had spread internationally.”

Tessa Kum says she, too, faced a backlash after the campaign but she has no regrets.

“(It was) a really beautiful thing to see how many people took it up and passed it on and shared it, so it was an incredibly loud message. That … that was really something amazing to watch.”

For most Australians, the tragedy is firmly etched in their memories.

Their reactions on the streets as the report comes down more than two years later were varied.

(First:) “I’m interested to see truth for those families who lost their … like Tori and the girl, the lawyer, yeah.”

(Second:) “Never forget that we’re just as vulnerable as the rest of the world, the danger and terrorism, and the dangers that affect the rest of the world. We’re not excluded just because of our geography.”

(Third:) “I mean, obviously, it was a one off event, in my opinion, so I don’t feel any threats whatsoever, no.”