Showing posts with label australian news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label australian news. Show all posts

Friday, December 30, 2011

Siege at Sydney's Chinese Consulate ends with one charged, another in hospital

Chinese consulate siege
Chinese consulate siege
A MAN has been charged and another remains in hospital under police guard after a robbery and armed confrontation outside a Chinese consulate in Sydney's inner west.

The pair allegedly burst into a hotel in Missenden Road, Camperdown, armed with a gun and a hammer at 1.30am (AEST) on Friday.

Police confirmed the men confronted staff and demanded cash.

One of the men, aged 32, was arrested as he left the venue. But his alleged accomplice, 27, fled from a side door and was chased by police into a nearby laneway, police say.

There, he allegedly exchanged gunshots with police before climbing a razor wire fence into the Chinese consulate in Dunblane St, injuring himself in the process.

Police arrested the man just after 7am, after a five-hour operation which closed surrounding streets.

He was taken to the nearby Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where on Friday night he remained under police guard and was being treated for serious cuts to his arms and legs.

The 32-year-old was charged with robbery in company and being carried in conveyance taken without consent.
He is due to appear at Parramatta Bail Court today.

A critical incident investigation team will conduct an investigation into the operation, Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch said.

''During the course of that pursuit shots were fired,'' he told reporters outside Newtown Police Station.

''How many shots were fired and who fired them is still a matter for investigation.''

Camperdown resident Michelle Brown, an ABC journalist, said she was woken by the sound of gunfire that she at first thought was fireworks.

''I was woken by two loud bangs,'' she told ABC Radio.

''There was a pause and then another two loud bangs.''

News by Heralsun

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Where are they now? The Vancouver riot Kissing Couple

kissing picture
Kissing Couple
On June 15, 2011, Vancouver burned. The riots that followed Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final turned parts of the British Columbia city into chaotic scenes of looting, arson, violence and clashes with overwhelmed police.

It was there, amidst the anarchy, Alex Thomas fell to the ground and was too frightened to move. It was there that Scott Jones, her Australian-born boyfriend of six months, climbed on top of her and kissed her to comfort her as riot police marched around them.

Photographer Richard Lam preserved that moment in the most iconic image from the riots, one that became an instant sensation around the world and was recently named Esquire magazine's Photo of the Year.

It was a singular, beautiful moment — which is something Jones has had to explain to the couple's fans since they became The Kissing Couple of the Vancouver Riot.

"Just about everyone has asked us to recreate the photo," said Jones, speaking from Australia this week to Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy. "It was just in the moment. It would be just so cheesy for us to do it again. Why couldn't someone else do it again in all the riots going on around the world?"

Today, Jones and Thomas share a flat in Melbourne, having relocated there during the summer. "We had always planned to move," he said. "The picture was taken about three days before we planned to leave Vancouver. We were going to holiday in California for three weeks and then leave for Australia."

It was in California that they began to reclaim their anonymity, following a whirlwind of media attention after their identities were revealed. The photo ended up on Jones' Facebook page, after a friend recognized him and tagged him in the image. His sister saw the connection and contacted the media. Jones' father, a motivational speaker, publicized that his son was indeed part of the "kissing couple."

At first, Jones and Thomas were reluctant to say anything about the moment. "We weren't sure if we should say anything," he said.

The couple spoke with Lam before going public; finally, they decided to meet the press to clear up some of the misconceptions being passed around about them and their kiss.

"All of these stories started coming out … people were just making stuff up. Like I wasn't really her boyfriend, stuff like that," Jones said.

There were also claims that they had staged the kiss. "I know where that came from, because apparently there had been another photo that was staged," said Jones. "But once we came out with the story, and there was video footage … it was a little hard to fake. But people were so adamant."

They did a slew of print, radio and television appearances, including a satellite linkup with the "Today" show on NBC. They were instant celebrities, hiring a manager named Max Markson to handle media requests and explore any financial windfall from their accidental fame.

"Then we went to California. And we were anonymous again," said Jones.

After California, the couple moved to Australia, where they were met with more media attention. "Everybody who knew us had seen the picture and recognized me," recalled Jones. "We didn't know if it was going to carry on, or if Max had anything in store for us."

The local fame lasted only a few weeks; today, Scott Jones and Alex Thomas are random citizens, albeit ones with an extraordinary tale. The couple plans to return to North America at some point, as Jones would love to visit New York City and Thomas has family back in Canada.

Thomas, who graduated with a degree in environmental engineering from the University of Guelph in Ontario, is doing water management work for Yarra Valley Water. Jones said he's managing a bar called The Green Room located in Back of Chapel. He's yet to have a patron stagger up to him and give him grief for the kissing photo. In fact, it rarely happened this year.

"We had one random guy who came up to us in San Diego who saw us on TV. And then a lady in the airport," he said.

His standup comedy career is dormant at the moment, although he shares some comedic thoughts, videos and images on his Facebook page — where he jokingly refers to himself as the "Riot Romeo."

Didn't their surreal adventure last summer provide ample material?

"I think looking back on it, it might be a funny situation. But it wasn't a particularly funny moment," he said.

Jones, who said he and Thomas don't have wedding plans yet, hopes the moment is a lasting one.

"It would be good if it's a photo everyone talks about. If the photo carries on. That would be quite special," he said.

"To me it's very hard to judge. There's nothing else really to compare it to. The photo means something different to everybody, so it's hard to say if it'll mean something in time."

News by Yahoo

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Military of China denounces U.S.-Australia defense upgrade

Geng Yansheng
Geng Yansheng,
(Reuters) - China's military denounced the United States and Australia on Wednesday for upgrading military ties, warning that such moves could erode trust and fan Cold War-era antagonism.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng made the warning about a plan unveiled in mid-November by U.S. President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to form a de facto base in north Australia for up to 2,500 U.S. Marines.

Geng's comments came on the same day Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd was reported as backing the formation of a security pact with India and the United States, another step that could fuel China's worries of being fenced in by wary neighbors.

"Military alliances are a product of history, but we believe any strengthening and expansion of military alliances is an expression of the Cold War mentality," Geng said in answer to a question about the U.S.-Australian announcement, according to a transcript on the ministry's website (

"This is not in keeping with the tide of the era of peace, development and cooperation and does not help to enhance mutual trust and cooperation between countries in the region, and could ultimately harm the common interests of all concerned," he said.

"We hope that the parties concerned will do more that is beneficial to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, and not the contrary."

But the Chinese spokesman indicated that Beijing was not shunning Washington. Chinese and U.S. defense officials, led by Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, will hold talks in Beijing next Wednesday, Geng told the briefing.

Earlier this month, Obama told Asia-Pacific leaders that the United States was "here to stay," announced the plans to set up the de facto military base in north Australia and chided China for trying to prevent discussion of its South China Sea territorial disputes at regional forums.

The Chinese Ministry of Defense is the public mouthpiece of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), but foreign reporters are not allowed to attend its briefings.


Although falling short of full-throated condemnation of the U.S.-Australian move, Geng's words were tougher than earlier reaction from China's Foreign Ministry, which said Washington and Canberra should focus on cooperating with Beijing.

Geng said the idea raised by U.S. and Australian officials of advancing "integrated air and sea combat" amounted to "trumpeting confrontation and sacrificing others' security for the sake of one's own security."

Chinese President Hu Jintao has made clear that he wants to avoid repeating the rifts that soured ties with Washington in the first half of 2011. Hu retires from power late next year, when the U.S. is focused on its presidential race, making China's leaders especially reluctant to risk distracting rows.

Beijing is also still licking its wounds from last year, when loud maritime disputes with Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and other neighbors fanned suspicions about China's intentions.

Chinese military officers have, however, sometimes taken a tougher stance on security worries than civilian officials.

Earlier this week, PLA Major General Luo Yuan, well-known for his hawkish views, warned that Obama's regional push showed that the United States wanted to encircle China.

The comments from Australian Foreign Minister Rudd could also magnify such fears among Chinese observers.

A new trilateral pact bringing in India into a U.S.-Australian security tent was worth exploring because "from little things big things grow," Kevin Rudd said in an interview with the Australian Financial Review newspaper.

"The response from the Indian government has really been quite positive," said Rudd.

The idea of an Australian, Indian and U.S. trilateral security dialogue, in part to counter China's rising might, has been pushed by a trio of think-tanks in all three countries, but has yet to be adopted by any government.

At a briefing in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not comment directly on Rudd's statement.

"China hopes that countries in the region will do more to promote regional peace, stability and development," Hong said in answer to a question about the proposal.

India's Foreign Ministry did not comment on Rudd's statement. But Indian analysts said Delhi was likely to be cool on the idea, partly out of reluctance to risk riling China.

"The Indian political establishment has always been wary of the idea of a military alliance," said Uday Bhaskar, the head of the National Maritime Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Sydney's Island Bar in full swing

Sydney, Australia
One of the best ways to kick off summer in Sydney might just be an outdoor barbecue in your best friend's backyard. Even better if that backyard has panoramic views of the city skyline and sunsets that most visitors to Sydney would pay a premium to see.

Island Bar, a trendy drinking oasis reached by ferry on the small, historic Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour, is back for its second season, and starting 1 December, will be open every day through 31 January.

The patio area, decked out with lawn chairs and an artificial grass lawn, is a stark contrast to the bar area, which is constructed from recycled shipping containers to honour the island’s shipbuilding and naval history. In the ample open-air seating, visitors can sip gourmet cocktails stirred up by mixologist Marco Faraone and dine on authentic Italian spuntini platters and wood-fired pizzas in Sydney's world-renowned summer weather. The new second floor Tropics Lounge overlooks the bar and water.

Island Bar is a perfect place to partake in the very Australian "Sunday Sesh", where locals spend the afternoon lazily hanging around with their best mates and a couple of jugs of Cold War Sgroppino -- a delightful mix of Russian Standard Vodka, lemon sorbet, Aperol and lemon juice. There’s also a tennis court nearby with the best backdrop in all of Sydney.

Visitors to Cockatoo Island before 11 December can stop by the Outpost Project, a street arts festival featuring more than 150 street artists from around the world. Along with perusing some visually stimulating art, drop by some of the pop-up bars and galleries tied to the festival before kicking back for the rest of the evening at Island Bar.

News by BBC

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Obama tells Asia U.S. "here to stay" as Pacific power

Barack Obama, U.S. President
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that the U.S. military would expand its role in the Asia-Pacific region, despite budget cuts, declaring America was "here to stay" as a Pacific power which would help shape the region's future.

China has voiced misgivings about Obama's announcement of fresh troop deployments to Australia and has longstanding fears that its growing power could be hobbled by U.S. influence. But Beijing has also stressed that conflict is in nobody's interest.

Obama addressed the Chinese unease, pledging to seek greater cooperation with Beijing.

The U.S. military, turning its focus away from Iraq and Afghanistan, would be more broadly distributed in Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, more flexible and help build regional capacity, Obama told the Australian parliament.

"As we end today's wars, I have directed my national security team to make our presence and missions in the Asia Pacific a top priority," Obama said in a major speech on Washington's vision for the Asia-Pacific region.

"As a result, reductions in U.S. defense spending will not -I repeat, will not - come at the expense of the Asia Pacific."

Obama was clear in acknowledging China's discomfort at what it sees as attempts by Washington to encircle it.

"We'll seek more opportunities for cooperation with Beijing, including greater communication between our militaries to promote understanding and avoid miscalculation," he said.

Nervous about China's growing clout, U.S. allies such as Japan and South Korea have sought assurances from the United States that it would be a strong counterweight in the region.

A first step in extending the U.S. military reach into Southeast Asia will see U.S. marines, naval ships and aircraft deployed to northern Australia from 2012.

China has questioned the new U.S. deployment, raising doubts whether strengthening such alliances helped the region pull together at a time of economic gloom.

Obama said the United States would seek to work with China to ensure economic prosperity and security in the region, but would speak candidly about issues such as human rights in China and raise security issue like the South China Sea.

China claims the South China Sea, a vital shipping route rich in oil, minerals and fishery resources. But Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei hold rivals claims to at least parts of the sea, sparking maritime stand-offs.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pointedly visited the Philippines on Wednesday, saying that no claimant should resort to intimidation to push its cause.

Obama also referred in his address to reforms undertaken by Myanmar's new civilian leaders, including the release of political prisoners. But he said they had to do more on human rights in order to secure better relations with Washington.

Rory Medcalf, security analyst at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, said Obama's speech marked a hardening of policy toward China, though he noted that the president was still reaching out to Beijing.

"I think we are seeing a firm stance from Obama. He spent the first year of his presidency trying very hard to engage with China, perhaps even to accommodate China," said Medcalf.

"I think he feels that he was rebuffed and that he was in effect taken advantage by China. So, there is a fundamental reorienting of American policy on display here."


The winding down of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has opened the door to greater U.S. attention to simmering tension over the South China Sea, a shipping lane for more than $5 trillion in annual trade that the United States wants to keep open.

Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday agreed to have 2,500 U.S. Marines operate out of a de facto base in the northern port of Darwin by 2016.

The United States has military bases and large forces in Japan and South Korea, but its presence in Southeast Asia was dramatically reduced in the early 1990s with the closure of bases at Clark Field and Subic Bay in the Philippines.

Deploying U.S. Marines, ships and aircraft in Darwin, only 820 km (500 miles) from Indonesia, will allow the United States to quickly reach into Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean to ensure secure major trade sea-lanes.

Obama cited increased U.S. naval ship visits and training in the Philippines and Singapore, working with Indonesia to fight piracy, partnering Thailand for disaster relief, and significantly, acknowledged India's role in region security.

Washington welcomed "India as it 'looks east' and plays a larger role as an Asian power.

"We'll have new opportunities to train with other allies and partners, from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean," he said.

Medcalf said: "It will be a landmark speech of Obama's presidency. It states unequivocally that the U.S. is squarely focusing its strategic attention on Asia. Its defining that Asia as including the Indian Ocean and India."

In a note to his domestic audience, Obama said the increased focus on Asia-Pacific was essential for America's economic future.

"As the world's fastest-growing region-and home to more than half the global economy-the Asia Pacific is critical to achieving my highest priority: creating jobs and opportunity for the American people," he said.

Obama will fly to Bali late on Thursday, where he will seek to underscore a focus on Asia by becoming the first U.S. president to participate in the security East Asia Summit.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rafters stars announce pregnancy

James Stewart and Jessica Marais
James Stewart and Jessica Marais
Packed To The Rafters stars James Stewart and Jessica Marais are expecting their first child.

The pair announced their news in a statement released by Marais's management company RGM on Tuesday.

"James Stewart and Jessica Marais announce they are expecting their first child," the statement said.

"The couple are excited and looking forward to this next phase in their lives."

No further details about the pregnancy were currently available.

Marais, 26, and Stewart, 36, became an off-screen item while playing an on-screen couple in the Seven hit drama series Packed To The Rafters.

Logie award-winning actress Marais quit the show and her role as Rachel Rafter in February to try her luck in Hollywood.

Stewart and Marais announced their engagement in October and have said they plan to wed next year.

News by ABC

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