Couple held captive by gun-toting robbers

A man and woman were tied up for two hours while burglars ransacked their home in Melbourne’s south-east early this morning, police say.
Nanjing Night Net

One of the men was armed with a gun and the other with a bar during the terrifying home invasion in Clayton South just after 5am.

Police said the thieves were wearing balaclavas when they broke into the house and woke the couple, aged in their 60s, and demanded cash from them.

They then assaulted the pair and bound them up while they ransacked the house.

Police estimate the man and woman were tied up for about two hours before the woman managed to free herself and run to a neighbouring house where she alerted her son.

The men are believed to have stolen jewellery before fleeing west along Lanark Street.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said the violent robbery was not linked to another one three hours earlier in Essendon, when two masked men confronted a couple in their home.

The first offender is described as male with a slim build, approximately 185 centimetres tall, and was wearing dark clothing.

The second offender is described as male with a solid build, approximately 170 centimetres tall, and was wearing a black T-shirt and black track pants.

Anyone with information about the robbery has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers南京夜网.au

Stadium blasts put heat on Games security

NEW DELHI: India’s top internal security official says twin bomb blasts outside an Indian Premier League match involving Australians shows local police may have become complacent about security at the tournament and that tighter security will be needed at this year’s Commonwealth Games.G.K. Pillai, India’s Home Secretary, told the Herald the blasts targeting spectators at Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday ”means we have to be far more vigilant” during the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October.Two makeshift bombs went off outside the venue for the match between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians, injuring at least 17 people, including several policemen. An unexploded bomb was defused at a stadium gate and on Sunday another crude unexploded device was found near a statue of Mahatma Gandhi not far from the stadium.The IPL has been played amid tight security following recent terrorist attacks in India, including a bomb blast in Pune in February that killed 17 people, including five foreigners. ”This is about the 50th [Indian Premier League] cricket match we’ve had in the past two months and I think maybe they just got a little complacent,” Pillai said.Australian all-rounder Cameron White was a member of the Bangalore side playing at the stadium and Simon Taufel was one of the match umpires. Several other international stars, including former England captain, Kevin Pietersen, were also playing.In February, a Pakistan-based Islamic terrorist group with links to al-Qaeda reportedly threatened attacks on both the IPL and the Commonwealth Games. However, Pillai said security would ”be in order” for the Delhi Games and the Bangalore blasts had not increased government concerns for the event.”We are still quite confident that such an incident won’t happen [at the Games],” he said.Pillai said that providing security during the Games would be less challenging than the Indian Premier League which has been played over a six-week period in multiple cities across India.”It is much easier, it is in one city and over a few days, and everyone will be on high alert for that short period of time, so it’s much easier than something that goes on for 40-50 days. That alertness doesn’t always last for such a long time,” he said.Pillai runs the powerful Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, which is responsible for providing internal security in India. The ministry has been deeply involved in security arrangements for the Games. The low-intensity blasts outside the Bangalore stadium appeared to be an attempt to create panic and fear, rather than cause a large death toll. ”It is too early to tell who was responsible,” Pillai said. ”We don’t know what was the purpose behind this.”Police managed to control the large crowds outside the stadium following the blasts, and the match, attended by about 40,000 fans, was only delayed by an hour. ”Nobody panicked,” Pillai said. ”Within the stadium the security was perfect, this just happened outside the stadium where somebody must have just left something there and gone away.” The Bangalore blasts came soon after the US State Department warned in its latest advisory of ”ongoing security concerns” in India. ”The US government continues to receive information that terrorist groups may be planning attacks in India,” it said.
Nanjing Night Net

Control freak Whincup too good again

HAMILTON: Given he’s dominated V8 Supercars for more than two years, it was no surprise Jamie Whincup took total control of the Hamilton 400 event yesterday. But the manner of his sixth victory in eight championship races this season still left the TeamVodafone driver beaming and his rivals reeling.Whincup made it a perfect two from two there and was in a league of his own on the 3.4-kilometre NZ street circuit, finishing almost seven seconds – a country mile in V8 Supercars – clear of Holden Racing Team driver Garth Tander. The defending champion passed pole-sitter Tander in the 10th of 59 laps.”It’s right up there,” Whincup replied when asked how yesterday’s victory stacked up against his previous 37 career wins. ”The car was as good as it has ever felt, it was really nice to drive. I just had to keep the thing straight and when the car’s that quick you don’t have to drive it hard and that, of course, saves the tyres. It [the win] was right up there.”Tander was forced to give up on chasing Whincup and merely ensure he finished best of the rest, with Fujitsu Racing driver Michael Caruso coming in a distant third.The 2007 champion, who is the only man to win a championship race this year aside from Whincup, admitted there’s little he can do to stop his Holden rival at the moment.”I’ve followed Jamie around a little bit this year now,” Tander said.The next round is at Queensland Raceway from April 30 to May 2.AAP
Nanjing Night Net

NSW still nation’s basket case, say analysts

THE NSW economy continues to be the worst-performing in the nation and the government must urgently introduce initiatives to stimulate growth in housing construction, business investment and jobs, analysts say.The latest State of the States report, published today by CommSec, ranks NSW last or second last in key economic indicators such as home-building starts, construction work, unemployment, retail spending and economic growth.The ACT topped the scoreboard, with economic growth in the December 2009 quarter 28 per cent above its decade-average level of output, thanks to solid housing and commercial construction, and high public service employment. NSW needed to follow the example of the ACT and urgently release large tracts of land for housing, the chief economist at CommSec, Craig James, said.New construction would create jobs not only in the building industry, but would have a knock-on effect in trades, real estate, finance and conveyancing.”In the ACT the economy is being driven forward because when more housing is required, the government just releases more land onto the market and the economy cranks over – it’s as simple as that,” Mr James said.The report tried to determine how each state and territory was performing by comparing recent trend measures of growth with each jurisdiction’s average level over the past decade.NSW ranked last with economic activity just 13 per cent above its 10-year average and higher than normal unemployment.Dwelling starts were 24 per cent below the decade average compared with the ACT, which recorded a staggering 85 per cent above the decade average. Queensland was the only other state to record a negative performance in home-building.However, residential construction is picking up, with dwelling starts in the December quarter 22 per cent higher than a year ago, the strongest growth in seven years.A spokesman for the Treasurer, Eric Roozendaal, said residential building approvals were 66 per cent higher in February than a year earlier.He said the most up-to-date figures showed the NSW economy grew at 3.9 per cent in the first half of this financial year – faster than any other state.”This … shows the $380 billion NSW economy leads the nation,” he said.However, the shadow treasurer, Mike Baird, said NSW was trying to hide its poor showing by pointing to isolated data or one-off improvements. ”What we are seeing are the results of NSW Labor scorching the economy for many years,” Mr Baird said.
Nanjing Night Net

Swan talks up GST windfall for states

CONSUMPTION spending is set to rebound after last year’s economic slowdown, generating a $13 billion boost to GST tax collections over the next five years, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, revealed yesterday.The federal government told its state counterparts last week that Treasury was now forecasting that the GST would raise $255.5 billion over the five years from 2009-10 to 2013-14, an increase of $13 billion, or 5 per cent, over its last forecasts in November.The government will not release its economic forecasts until it hands down the budget next month but the boost to GST revenues implies that Treasury now expects consumption spending on items covered by the tax to rise by at least 8 per cent in nominal terms in 2010-11.That is a sharp increase from the 3.5 per cent Treasury was forecasting when it released its midyear budget update in November.In his weekly economic note, Mr Swan said the boost to GST revenues was coming because the government’s economic stimulus measures had ”kept customers coming through the doors of businesses and boosted confidence, which has supported a more sustained pick-up in consumption”.”That means another $2 to $3 billion more funding we will provide to the states each year as part of the dividend of keeping our economy growing through the global recession.”The federal government collects the GST but passes all of the revenue to state governments.Mr Swan played down the impact of the economic recovery on the government’s bottom line, saying that the main sources of federal revenue were not bouncing back as strongly as the GST.”The weakness in business profits and income growth, and the accumulated losses that built up during the downturn, mean that there is a significant lag between the rebound in the real economy and the recovery in Commonwealth revenues like company tax, capital gains tax and personal income tax,” Mr Swan said.In a separate interview on Channel Nine, Mr Swan said the government would seek to bring the budget into surplus as quickly as possible rather than splashing out with electorally popular new spending measures in the May 11 budget.”This won’t be a typical pre-election budget, the likes of which [former prime minister] John Howard used to deliver,” he said. ”This budget will be underpinned by strict fiscal discipline.”The Treasurer also called for a ”mature” discussion of tax reform when the government released the tax review it commissioned from the Treasury secretary, Ken Henry.
Nanjing Night Net

Tough line on immigration hurts Labor

THE government’s harder stand on asylum seekers has the approval of most voters but has cost Labor supporters among its own base and enabled the Coalition to close the gap dramatically, the latest Herald/Nielsen poll shows.The poll also reveals a dramatic rise in voters concerned about immigration levels and population projections, with levels of concern higher than they were at the height of the Tampa crisis in 2001.The government’s decision 10 days ago to suspend for three and six months respectively the processing of Sri Lankans and Afghans who arrive by boat is backed by 58 per cent of voters.But Labor’s primary vote has fallen 3 percentage points in a month to 39 per cent.It all flowed to the Greens, whose support jumped from 9 per cent to 12 per cent. The Coalition’s primary vote was steady at 42 per cent, its first lead on primary votes since September 2008 when Malcolm Turnbull became leader.The loss of primary support left Labor clinging to the narrowest of leads on a two-party-preferred basis over the Coalition – 51 per cent to 49 per cent. The gap was last this narrow in June 2006.The Nielsen pollster John Stirton said it could be argued that ”the Rudd government’s new stance on asylum seekers has not won over one Coalition voter but has lost Labor votes to the Greens. There are other issues in play, of course, but it would appear that this is an important one for Green voters.”The poll coincides with the announcement yesterday that the mothballed Curtin detention centre near Derby, in remote Western Australia, will reopen to house those arrivals whose processing is suspended.This drew an angry response from the Greens and refugee groups, who said the government was embracing the ”desert detention mentality” of the Howard government.The Herald poll, taken from Thursday evening to Saturday night, sampled 1400 voters. It confirmed that immigration and population were hot issues.More than half, or 54 per cent, felt immigration levels were too high. This was an increase of 11 points since November. Also, 6 per cent felt levels were too low and 38 per cent felt they were about right, down from 43 per cent in November.Concern over immigration is much greater than in August and September of 2001 when the Howard government was milking the asylum seeker issue in the lead-up to that year’s election.Back then, 41 per cent felt immigration levels were too high, 10 per cent felt they were too low and 41 per cent felt they were about right.Now there is also concern about the Treasury estimate that the population, at present 22 million, will reach 36 million by 2050. Of those polled, 51 per cent felt it was too many people, 27 per cent said it was just right, and only 2 per cent felt it was too few.Since the release of the population projection, the opposition has been seeking to link illegal immigration with population growth.When the Treasury released its estimate, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, initially embraced it, saying he welcomed a ”big Australia”. The government has since shunned the number as a target and appointed Tony Burke as the Population Minister to develop a strategy.
Nanjing Night Net

Asylum seekers vow to resist move

SRI LANKAN asylum seekers in Merak say they will not disembark the vessel that has been their home for six months if Indonesian authorities try to move them today to an Australian-funded detention centre at Tanjung Pinang, or continue to refuse to tell them where they are to be taken.Officials are preparing to move the Tamils to end an impasse that began when the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, asked the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to intercept their vessel en route to Christmas Island.Two hundred and fifty four people were on board.One has died, another returned to Sri Lanka, a dozen or so have left voluntarily and 40-odd escaped. About 140 remain on the boat while about 40 others are staying in separate accommodation near Merak port.
Nanjing Night Net

Disappointment and anger obvious

ANGER and disappointment marked the faces of the first asylum seekers to be moved from Christmas Island to Darwin and Port Augusta.Immigration detention centre staff roused the men and boys at 3am yesterday to take them in a bus to Christmas Island’s airport.”Just one hour sleep. They say, ‘Come, go pack, come and nothing’,” a distressed Iraqi, Hadi Trad Al-Fadhll, said, holding up his identification document showing his date of birth, country of origin, and the number of the boat on which he arrived.The Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, said the men going to Darwin were on a ”positive visa pathway” but the asylum seekers themselves did not know a visa was pending.After a five-hour wait at the airport, the plane Mr Fadhll was meant to board with 129 others was cancelled. One man who tried to rush out and protest was tackled to the ground by several guards, one of whom clamped the man down over his throat. Others held down his legs.The Herald was initially told the man had fainted. He struggled on his back under the guards’ restraint before a van took him away. Federal police arrived 10 minutes later.Ignoring the commotion, asylum seekers still in the airport waiting room sprawled on plastic chairs. A few made hungry gestures, patting their stomachs and others tried to sleep sitting up.Another attempt to fly the men out will be made today, pending a plane part and good weather.Mr Fadhll will fly to Darwin with 59 others from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, as well as a few men who are stateless. They will wait out the rest of their visa processing at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre.Until now, the centre has housed a handful of illegal fishermen from Indonesia.
Nanjing Night Net

Dumped at Heathrow, deportee died of overdose, Coroner rules

A DEPRESSED father with known drug and alcohol problems died from a heroin overdose two days after Australia deported him to Britain and left him at Heathrow Airport with a cash allowance of about $700 in his pocket, a British coronial inquiry has found.Scottish-born Andrew Moore, 43, had lived in Australia for 32 years, but had never become a citizen, when the government removed him last October for failing the Migration Act’s character test after he served a sentence for manslaughter.Mr Moore’s family in Australia, including a teenage son, and supporters had pleaded for him to be allowed to stay due to severe physical and mental illness. The family says the government failed him, and legal and migration experts say it could have prevented his death, but the Immigration Minister and his department deny any responsibility.Mr Moore’s government-appointed doctor, Ed Morgan, provided him with an open letter to British doctors warning that he was at risk of relapsing into alcohol, heroin and benzodiazepine abuse.”He has expressed fears that in a new country with limited support he will again be likely to relapse,” Dr Morgan wrote. ”Having known Andrew for many years I … feel drug and alcohol support is paramount to his ongoing care.”In a statement, Mr Moore’s family expressed their ”disappointment at the failure of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to put in place sufficient support networks for Andrew on his deportation to the United Kingdom. This is particularly given that Andrew had lived most of his life in Australia and was being deported to a country that he had no existing connection to.”The government does not owe a duty of care to non-citizens, but the family’s lawyer, Natasha Andrew, said: ”It begs the question, where the department has been put on notice of a detainee’s significant physical and psychological illnesses, as was the case with Andrew Moore, whether deporting an individual in these circumstances amounts effectively to an additional layer of punishment beyond any ever sanctioned by our judicial process.”The London policeman who investigated the death, Detective Constable Matthew Porter, concluded that Mr Moore had used the cash allowance to buy heroin, the inquest at London’s Southwark Coroner’s Court heard.Assistant Deputy Coroner Fiona Wilcox found the cause of death was ”dependent abuse of drugs”. She did not rule out suicide given Mr Moore had been depressed, but left the question open because there was no evidence of his state of mind at the time of his death.The Australian government booked accommodation and a drug and alcohol appointment for Mr Moore, but the inquest was unable to confirm whether he used either service before dying in the hallway of a South London apartment block two days after being escorted to Britain by a doctor, two federal police officers and an immigration official.The coroner noted removal happened despite representations from Mr Moore’s parents.Greg Barns, a director of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, said a government welfare worker should have accompanied Mr Moore in London to ensure he used the appropriate services.”[The death] could arguably have been avoided if the Australian government had not been so determined to apply the law inflexibly,” Mr Barns said.Michael Grewcock, a lecturer at the University of NSW and an expert on character-test deportations, said that, notwithstanding the coroner’s finding, ”the Australian government still bears a moral responsibility for what happened”.”It was known Andrew Moore was seriously ill and that he had a history of substance abuse. It was entirely predictable that having been abandoned at Heathrow without any meaningful social support that he would be a risk to himself or others. He was, to all intents and purposes, Australian and his risk should have been addressed here via the parole system and the welfare services generally available to ex-prisoners”.A spokesman for the Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, referred questions about responsibility to the department.A department spokesman said: ”The coroner’s findings do not alter the department’s earlier position that Mr Moore had no lawful right to remain in Australia. He was assessed by a medical professional as fit to fly, he had an appropriate treatment plan in place and the department had made contact with relevant UK authorities about his ongoing care”.
Nanjing Night Net

YouTube rap sensation isn’t taking TB lying down

SINCE Christiaan Van Vuuren was locked in quarantine with tuberculosis in December, he has become a wanted man. Women send him naked photographs, offering to keep him company at night, gay men swoon when he dances in his underwear and his YouTube hits have almost reached 1 million.That’s because Van Vuuren is the Fully Sick Rapper, the latest internet celebrity sensation.It started as a way to pass the time and entertain his mates after Van Vuuren was diagnosed with multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis and placed in quarantine at Sydney Hospital.Now, 110 days into his stay, his hospital-themed rap video parodies have circled the world and caught the eye of the World Health Organisation, which is using him to promote tuberculosis awareness.”At first there were a couple of really awkward moments with the nurses,” Van Vuuren says. ”One walked in and I had all these heart monitors strapped to my head.The nurse was like, ‘Are you ok?’ Another time I was caught dancing with a cape on. Now they give about five or six knocks before they even peer in.”The WHO’s Stop TB program asked Van Vuuren to make a video for World Tuberculosis Day last month and he hopes to continue promoting awareness of the infectious disease.”[Stop TB] told me that whether I know it or not, what I’m doing is actually really good for tuberculosis, letting people know it’s not just a Third World issue.”Less than 1000 cases of tuberculosis, which is a bacterial disease mainly affecting the lungs, are reported in Australia each year and only 1 per cent of those are multi-drug-resistant.Van Vuuren, a 27-year-old outdoor advertising sales rep from Sydney, contracted the potentially deadly disease during travels in South Africa.Doctors discovered a hole in his lung after he was rushed to hospital last year coughing up blood. He has remained in hospital ever since with no discharge date in sight as doctors find the right combination of drugs to successfully destroy the bacteria.”It has made my experience in here a lot lighter and taken the intensity away from the medical side of it,” says Van Vuuren, who is not the only unsuspecting person turning to YouTube to vent only to become a viral sensation overnight.The video-sharing site with a tagline ”broadcast yourself” continues to fuel bizarre celebrities such as Chris Crocker who, after posting an impassioned video called Leave Britney Alone that received 4 million hits in two days, was offered TV roles and promotional deals.A Canadian musician, David Carroll, became an international media sensation when he wrote and posted a song called United Breaks Guitars after United Airlines refused to compensate him for breaking his guitar. The Times reported that four days after the song’s release, the company’s share price plunged by 10 per cent. Jean Burgess, a senior research fellow at the Queensland University of Technology and author of YouTube: online video and participatory culture, calls it the ”network effect”.”Because of the sheer number of people who use YouTube and the large number of media channels that videos can pass through, it just takes a little scrubfire to start a massive bushfire,” she says.
Nanjing Night Net