It is just before midnight and an 18-year-old girl is sitting in the gutter after her high school formal after-party.
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The end-of-year celebration at a house in Auburn in Sydney’s west has been shut down. The teen, from a Catholic school on the north shore, is eager for a lift home after several hours’ drinking.

A car, with a man in his 30s behind the wheel, pulls up beside her and sparks up conversation.

The teen will later tell police the next thing she recalls is being in the passenger seat of his car and feeling the overwhelming effects of alcohol as they weaved through the streets of western Sydney.

It was the beginning of a nightmare 24 hours for the school student, who was allegedly kept captive, sexually assaulted repeatedly by three men and forced to smoke drugs.

The scale of the allegations can be revealed after a statement of facts was tendered in Penrith Local Court, where the accused, Ali Imrak, 37, and Ruhi Dagdanasar, 45, made a failed attempt for bail last week.

Another man involved in the alleged sex attack hasn’t been identified.

Four separate videos showing the alleged sexual assaults at a house in Glenwood were played during the bail hearing with the crown alleging the victim was so intoxicated she was incapable of giving consent.

According to the fact sheet, after getting into the man’s car outside the after party, the victim was driven to a two-storey house where Imrak and Dagdanasar were.

Feeling uneasy, the teen sent her friend a text stating “can you come and get me. I am scared. I am at these weird druggo guys house”.

She was allegedly pressured into drinking alcohol before Dagdanasar put a pipe up to her mouth and told her to smoke the white substance inside.

Over the next few hours she was allegedly sexually assaulted by three men despite being dizzy and unable to stand.

At one point, Dagdanasar allegedly commented that the victim was drooling and unable to lift her head while one of the other men was allegedly having sex with her.

She passed out and woke up to someone forcing her to have oral sex. The teen was allegedly led up to a bathroom and undressed while the unidentified man stood watching her, stating “you’re so f—ing gorgeous”.

The teen was allegedly made to have sex but “continued to fall over due to her level of intoxication”, according to the facts.

“(The teen) yelled out in pain saying no,” the court documents state.

“At this point the unknown accused moved away grabbed his clothes and said ‘you’re really fucking annoying me, you’re so frustrating’.”

When the teen moved down stairs she was assaulted again, with the men allegedly taking turns to have sex with her with Imrak remarking “you love it”.

After a few hours, it was just the teen and Dagdanasar left at the house as the alleged victim started to feel the effects of alcohol wearing off.

It was 5pm on November 10 – hours after she was found sitting in the gutter – when the teen texted her sister: “I got raped, I am still here I need to leave”.

Trying to remain calm, the girl convinced Dagdanasar to let her leave, according to the facts.

Walking her to the door, Dagdanasar let the teen outside, telling her: “You’re always welcome back here babe.”

In the rain in the middle of the night, the teen walked through the streets following directions from her sister on the phone until police met up with her.

The victim was left with bruising to her legs and knees and a tear to her tongue from the force of the assaults.

She told police she felt she had no choice but to be at the house and was forced to take drugs so she was in a limp state.

The court was closed while Dagdanasar and Imrak, charged with sex assault and deprivation of liberty, made bail applications last week but both were refused.

Outside court lawyer Elias Tabchouri said he had been instructed to defend the charges.

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Foreign minister Julie Bishop speaking at the opening of the Kimberley Process in Perth on Monday May 1, 2017.?? Photo: Supplied continues to assist in international prosecutions where the death penalty is an option, while underpinning its bid for a seat on the United Nation’s Human Rights Council with a call to abolish capital punishment worldwide.
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Newly released figures, obtained through freedom of information laws, show the n Federal Police have assisted in nearly 130 foreign investigations involving more than 400 people since 2015, where a successful prosecution could potentially lead to a death sentence.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop lobbied for ‘s election to the Human Rights Council for the 2018-20 term in New York this week, and has stated the worldwide abolition of the death penalty is one of ‘s goals.

But the AFP continues to assist foreign investigations where the death penalty could be handed down, refusing to co-operate in only nine of 129 cases it has been asked for information.

AFP approval rates for international assistance, mostly involving drug crime, have been steady since 2010. In 2015, 92 per cent of requests were, rising to 96 per cent in 2016. No other information, such as the countries requesting the information, or the cases involved, was given.

has used its opposition to the death penalty – and a call for a global abolition of the punitive measure used in nearly 60 countries – as a key argument for its inclusion on the UN Human Rights Council.

But this year, the government quietly rejected recommendations from a parliamentary committee which would have banned the AFP from sharing drug crime information with other countries unless provided with assurances the death penalty would not be applied, prompting fears of a repeat of the Bali nine heroin plot which saw ns Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran executed after tip-offs to Indonesian authorities.

The committee recommended ministerial approval be required for “high-risk” cases and the AFP refuse co-operation on drug trafficking cases unless assurances that the death penalty would not be sought, both of which were rejected by the government.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney-General’s department said the government “has and will continue to seek suitable assurances in appropriate cases where it is clear that the death penalty is likely to be imposed”.

But Emily Howie of the Human Rights Law Centre said was sending mixed messages.

“Global abolition of the death penalty is meant to be a core objective of ‘s Human Rights Council bid,” she said.

“But whilst the Foreign Minister spouts the right language to delegates in New York, the reality is that every week the AFP continues to share information that puts peoples’ lives at risk. If really opposes the death penalty, it must do so not just through the speeches of our ministers but through the actions of all n departments and agencies.

“The fact remains that if the Bali nine case were to happen again tomorrow, there is nothing to stop the AFP from doing exactly the same thing.

“Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran learned from their mistakes, we owe it to them to learn from ours.”

Researcher Sarah Gill, who has studied ‘s response to the death penalty, said neither legislation, or the guidelines the AFP follow when asked for co-operation “present much of an obstacle to information sharing”.

“The question we need to ask is: are we serious about human rights or aren’t we? Capital punishment is a core human rights issue, and we ought to have a consistent approach, including in relation to law enforcement co-operation, if we think this really matters,” she said.

Under the guidelines, a senior AFP official can sign off on requests from overseas before detention, arrest, charge or conviction. After an individual has been arrested, detained, charged or convicted, requests for information must have ministerial approval.

Police-to-police assistance can include everything from providing personal information like dates or birth or criminal records to wider co-operation in investigations. Some of the data includes foreign citizens.

Philip Ruddock, who served as attorney-general in the Howard government and is now ‘s special human rights envoy, led calls for a ban on sharing information in prosecutions where the death penalty could be handed down as a sentence following the executions of Chan and Sukumaran in 2015.

The Coalition said those recommendations were impractical because foreign law enforcement partners could not provide such assurances and it would be “inappropriate” to undertakings from prosecutors.

It is believed there are 12 ns sitting on death rows across the world, mostly for drug crimes.

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Bayleigh McIntosh from Sydney’s east knows the risk if her child car restraint isn’t buckled snug and tight: “If you are in crash you will fall out a window,” the five-year-old said.
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Properly secured and in the right child car seat for her age, a child like Bayleigh is the safest occupant in the car, said pediatric surgeon Susan Adams, director of surgery with The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network.

Yet Dr Adams has treated children who were severely injured in “horrific preventable crashes” with broken necks, backs and internal injuries because of errors in how they were restrained.

Experts say the number of potentially fatal mistakes in how child restraints are fitted or installed hasn’t improved, becoming an “intractable problem” threatening the lives of children.

A 2010 study of 503 children from newborn to the age of 12 found half of all restraints had errors in how they were used. Some had up to seven errors each, ranging from failing to buckle the child in to slackness in the belts and sashes. Most often parents weren’t aware they had made a mistake.

Now, a new study has found the error rate is even worse, with nearly all parents struggling to understand manufacturers instructions and manuals.

Researchers from Neuroscience Research (NeuRA)watched as parents read manuals and then attempted to correctly fit and install a child-sized mannequin in a rear-facing restraint.

They found 90 per cent made at least one mistake. Many made several. Yet after many rounds of revisions using suggestions from parents, the level of errors dropped to 10 per cent.

“Everyone is seeing this intractable problem of incorrect use,” said Dr Julie Brown, a senior research fellow with NeuRA.

Researchers around the world were witnessing a similar level of mistakes.

“What we’ve been doing over past decades has made no difference to correct use,” Dr Brown said. “It’s a longstanding problem, and nothing has really changed.”

Nearly all n children now wear the right restraint for their age, following the introduction of national laws in 2009 and 2010. Car crashes remain a leading cause of death and disabling injuries among children, but the fatality rate for child passengers has dropped from 70 to 40 a year in recent years.

Since January, 11 children under 16 have died on NSW roads alone, including a young child who died when a car rolled over late on Friday in the Hunter Valley. In 2016, nearly 1000 NSW children under 16 – many passengers in vehicles – were seriously injured in collisions.

A properly-installed and fitted child restraint stops a child moving in a crash, by attaching them to the vehicle’s rigid structure. It ensures the force of an impact hits the strongest parts of the body more likely to recover, like bones, instead of internal organs and the brain which may never heal properly.

Mistakes occur in three ways:

In what could be music to the ears of anyone who has struggled to install a car seat, Dr Brown and her colleague Professor Lynne Bilston are asking parents for advice.

“Instead of a group of experts sitting around, we are actually talking to parents, and parents and consumers are driving the direction of our research,” Dr Brown said.

“We are trying to ensure information supplied with child restraints is comprehensible, and to improve restraint design so they’re actually difficult to use incorrectly,” Dr Brown said.

They are conducting three different projects: a naturalistic study where 700 families will have videos installed in their cars to see what really happens; focus groups asking parents for feedback; and laboratory studies that watch adults install car seats and then try to improve the design.

Professor Bilston said the research had shown it was possible to develop instructions and manuals that reduced dangerous mistakes. But sometimes it took seven iterations – for each type of restraint – before users could install them with 90 per cent accuracy.

“We keep going until they can be understood,” she said.

The key was breaking instructions into simple and numbered steps, and providing clear diagrams.

In focus groups of more than 40 women, users found images unrealistic and uninformative.

Others wanted prompts to remind others looking after children to do the right thing: “Have a big sign saying ‘fasten me tight.”

Another suggested linking warnings to specific risks such as “your child is going to have a punctured spleen or something if this [strap is twisted]”.

Dr Adams said the uptake of the new restraints had been good, but much more energy needed to be devoted to making them easier to use. “Parents want to do the right thing, but they need support to do that,” she said.

The impact of these crashes was “awful because it is so sudden. One day your life is going on in one direction, and if you had your time over you would do something different,” she said.

Bayleigh’s mother had taught her to sit still: “I don’t wiggle around!” she said. Older children may unbuckle restraints, or ask to sit in the front. The current recommendation is that children 12 and under should sit in the rear seat.

Lisa Keay from the George Institute for Global Health, said parents needed to introduce hard rules early and stick to them.

“You may think it is quite safe because you are just going down the street,” said Professor Keay, a deputy director of the Injury Division at The George Institute,

“But there is a risk always. Even a low speed crash can cause injury.

“You have to be inflexible: it is like you don’t let kids eat poisons.”

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Baywatch, the 90s television classic made popular for depicting tanned and toned impossibly good-looking lifeguards bouncing down the beach in slow-motion wearing nothing but red swimwear.
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And while the movie reboot’s standout star, Alex Daddario, 31, said she knew what she was getting into when she signed up for a spot alongside Zac Efron, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kelly Rohrbach, she admitted there were times when she felt self-conscious being so scantily-clad. She even auditioned in a bikini.

“[I didn’t feel] totally objectified but it was uncomfortable for sure because you have to suck your stomach in all of the time,” Daddario told Fairfax Media on the red carpet of Baywatch’s n premiere in Sydney this week.

“You’re in a bikini, so you can’t just relax. It’s tough. You have to pay closer attention to what you look like because you know that there are cameras around.”

Her rumoured real-life beau, Efron, who spends most of the movie topless and slathered in oil, said he felt like a piece of meat.

“I absolutely felt objectified, but that was the whole point. My character was objectified in every terrible way and he deserves to be,” the High School Musical alumni explained on the Sydney red carpet.

Daddario exercised five days a week with Efron’s personal trainer, Patrick Murphy, to achieve her chiselled look.

She joked that now the movie is over she can “let herself go a little” and “pay less attention” to what she eats.

Efron, who delayed the start time of the screening for over an hour as he took selfies with screaming fans, described as his second home.

“I’ve been coming here for a long time, since my HSM days and everyone is so warm and inviting. I’ve made good friends here and I come here in my own time,” he said.

“I really do love it.”

Baywatch is in cinemas on June 1.

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The marriage breakup between Lindy Klim and her estranged husband Michael Klim has turned hostile.
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The Balinese princess, 39, is hoping for a speedy resolution in the split from the Olympic gold medallist, 39, so she can “move on” and marry new beau, Adam Ellis.

“Hopefully [a resolution] will all happen soon. I am ready for that to be over. It’s not a good thing to go through. We are just getting through it,” Lindy told Fairfax Media at the Bec & Bridge show at David Jones’ On Seven during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week .

She denied that relations between the pair, who officially split in February last year, were amicable, adding: “It is what it is. It is very difficult.”

The pair were married for 10 years, first meeting on a Myer catwalk in 2005. They have three children together – Stella, 11, Rocco, nine, and Frankie, five.

The retired swimmer, who won six Olympic medals during his glittering career, has also moved on with fashion designer, Desiree Deravi, but has said he has no plans to marry any time soon.

Meanwhile Lindy can’t wait to say “I do” to the British property developer, with whom she went public just a few weeks after the high-profile break-up and got engaged in October last year.

They have yet to decide on a location, or Bali, or a date, but she is hoping to lock down the beginning of next year: “So we can start the year off fresh. It will be exciting,” she said.

“I have so much to organise first though, but everything will sort itself out in the end. I am excited and the kids are happy, so all is good,” she said.

What she could confirm was her wedding dress designer, her “good friend” Toni Maticevski and how many ensemble changes she is planning on the big day: “Three … but I’ll see how I go,” she laughed. A post shared by LINDY KLIM (@lindyklim) on May 16, 2017 at 2:59am PDT

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Open days a blazing success | photos Holly Syla at the Lambton Fire Station open day.
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Lambton Fire Station open day.

Firefighter Chris Baggs at Lambton Fire Station open day.

Cooper and Jonte Glynn at Lambton Fire Station open day.

Cooper and Jonte Glynn at Lambton Fire Station open day.

Cooper and Jonte Glynn at Lambton Fire Station open day.

Cooper and Jonte Glynn, 10-month-old Finn Thompson and Alex Thompson at the Lambton Fire Station open day.

Cooper and Jonte Glynn, 10-month-old Finn Thompson and Alex Thompson at the Lambton Fire Station open day.

Lambton Fire Station open day .Alex Thompson gets kitted up by firefighter Shane Murray.

Lambton Fire Station open day. Two-year-old Mason Overton with John Williams from the Community Fire Unit.

Ethan Truitt at Lambton Fire Station open day.

Theo Sykes at Lambton Fire Station open day.

Firefighter Mick Mifsud at Lambton Fire Station open day.

Firefighters Mick Mifsud and Chris Baggs at Lambton Fire Station open day.

Firefighter Mick Mifsud at Lambton Fire Station open day.

Firefighters Mick Mifsud and Chris Baggs at Lambton Fire Station open day.

Firefighter Chris Baggs and Mick Mifsud at Lambton Fire Station open day.

WELCOME: Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters Isabel Rios and Sam Jenkins at the Raymond Terrace station. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

AWARENESS: Cessnock firefighters Jamie Chapple and Ben Allen with a poster promoting the theme of this year’s open day. Picture: Krystal Sellars

WELCOME: Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters Isabel Rios and Sam Jenkins at the Raymond Terrace station. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

WELCOME: Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters Isabel Rios and Sam Jenkins at the Raymond Terrace station. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Fire & Rescue NSW Scone station opens its doors

TweetFacebook Lambton Fire Station open day They donned fire hats, met their heroes in the fleshand for the lucky ones, even got behind the wheel of the truck.

Hundreds of people –including plenty ofwide-eyed youngsters – flocked to fire stations across the Hunter on Saturday, for Fire and Rescue’s popular annual open day.

Newcastle duty commanderinspector Jeff Macpherson said it was a chance to encourage kids withdreams of becoming a firefighter, regardless of their gender.

“I’m hoping the girls and young women are starting to think along those lines so it’s not just the men,” he said.

“It’s a job that can be done just as well by women as men. We have an entry test that everyone has to pass, but it’s not unattainable.”

Two-year-old Holly Syla attended the open day at Lambton Fire Station for the birthday party of a family friend.

“It was a great idea, the kids all loved it,” her father Jet said. “She’s still wearing the fire hat that she got.”

‘Keep looking when cooking’was the theme of this year’s open day, with almost half of all house fires starting in the kitchen.

Inspector Macpherson said it was important people didn’t leave cooking unattended, even if it was just for a few moments.

“A lot of fires start when people put some food on to start cooking and then they get distracted and walk away to do something else,” he said.

“Also in the cooler months we have issues with heaters. Another message we have is to keep everything a metre from the heater. Don’t have the heater close to bedding or anything flammable like curtains.

“And certainly don’t hang clothes over the heaters.”

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More than 300 passengers stranded in Los Angeles airport after their Qantas flight to Melbourne was aborted on Saturday night were supplied a pillow and a blanket and told to sleep in the terminal during their 12-hour wait.
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The wife of a Melbourne man on board the plane said only a third of the flight’s 500 passengers were offered a hotel room.

The others were given a blanket, a pillow and food vouchers and told to get some sleep while they waited for a replacement flight.

Shauna Lye, wife of Melbourne lawyer James Alsop, said Qantas staff had told passengers there was a shortage of available hotel rooms in LA.

“He said there was about 500 people on board and they weren’t able to accommodate everyone,” Ms Lye told Fairfax Media.

Qantas confirmed only 120 hotel rooms were made available to passengers.

A spokesman said only 20 people chose to take up the offer, with the majority preferring to remain at the airport.

Ms Lye said her husband, a lawyer in the US for business, was apprehensive about getting back on board to return home.

“I think it was a bit nerve-racking for him,” Ms Lye said.

Flight QF94 from Los Angeles to Melbourne was forced to turn around two hours after take-off when sparks were seen coming from an engine.

The A380 had been due in Melbourne on Sunday morning, but the pilot was forced to turn the flight around mid-air after one of four engines on board failed.

It arrived back at LAX about 3am local time.

The n Transport Safety Bureau had little information about the flight, spokesman Michael Walker said, and planned to gather further detail before deciding whether an investigation was warranted.

Qantas confirmed the incident, saying pilots followed standard procedure in shutting down the engine and turning the flight around.

It is understood one of the engines overheated, but did not catch fire. Loud noises may have been the sound of the engine being shut down.

“The pilots followed standard procedure, shut down the engine, and the flight landed normally in LA at around 3am local time on Saturday.

Engineers are inspecting the aircraft,” Qantas spokesman Thomas Woodward said. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},’#pez_iframe_149′);

“A replacement flight departed LA at around 2.30pm on Saturday, so we’ll have the passengers home soon.”

The replacement flight is also in an A380, and is expected to land in Melbourne about 10pm on Sunday. [email protected] Flight94 to Melb returned to LAX with sparks coming from an engine & now being inspected. pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/ASAwtK4aE2??? Rob D (@robbie_b_d) May 20, [email protected] Hi Geoffrey QF94 has been diverted back to LAX due to operational reasons. Sam??? Qantas (@Qantas) May 20, 2017

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WILL TRIES KICK-START BRUMBIES’ ATTACK?
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The Brumbies spent most of the game banging their head against a defensive brick wall, much like they had done in the past four losses in a row.

It was largely due to their own faults as they lacked a spark of creativity to fool the Southern Kings.

The knock on the Brumbies is that they are too predictable in attack, allowing opposition teams to move up quickly in defence and engage in a physical war.

The Brumbies are trying to change the perception but a lack of confidence from a six-week winning drought affected their ability to make inroads.

That changed with two kicks to catch out the Kings’ defence in the second half in Port Elizabeth. First it was a flying Aidan Toua who scored and then Tom Banks who got the ball down inches inside the the field of play.

Kicking to score won’t be the answer to the Brumbies’ woes, but it may break down the brick wall they’ve been running into and give the players the belief they can score tries after ending a 230-minute drought.

WHEN YOU’RE DOWN ON LUCK..

Everything seems to go against you, and that’s the way things started for the Brumbies against the Kings.

Flying winger Makazole Mapimpi kicked the ball behind the Brumbies and went toe-to-toe with Tom Banks in a foot-race to the try-line to regather.

Banks fell behind and then simultaneously knocked the ball backwards and appeared to start to wrap his arm around Mapimpi.

Referee Jaco Peyper deemed that Banks had tackled Mapimpi early, despite the Brumbies fullback knocking the ball away before he touched Mapimpi.

The result was an early bullet to the Brumbies, with Peyper sending Banks to the sin bin and awarding a penalty try in just the fourth minute.

It was the second week in a row a decision in the first five minutes had gone against them and changed the momentum of the game.

There was a similar situation in the second half when Aidan Toua was tackled without the ball, but managed to pick it up and score a try. Peyper didn’t send the Kings player to the sin bin.

Banks made up for it in the end, scoring the match-sealing try in the 71st minute on almost the same blade of grass that he was penalised on in the first half.

KINGS SHY AWAY FROM PHYSICAL MAUL BATTLE

South African rugby is renowned for its love of the tough stuff, in particular using the lineout to set up a rolling maul.

But the Kings decided they didn’t want to engage in a battle of muscle in the second-half against the Brumbies, adopting the frowned-upon disengaging tactic to stop the maul.

For the uninitiated, disengaging is when a team opts to stand off the opposition at the lineout, thus not allowing the team with the ball to set up a maul.

Referee Peyper incorrectly ruled the Brumbies had transferred the ball back through the maul, despite Jordan Smiler holding it the same time.

Regardless of Peyper’s decision, the South African’s decision to use a style that has been slammed as “not in the spirit of the game” will raise eyebrows.

DE WET STEPS UP IN FRONT OF FAN CLUB

De Wet Roos’ days as an ACT Brumbies may be nearing their end as scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli edges closer to making a comeback from a knee injury.

But the South African-born recruit stepped up when it mattered most and with a massive fan club watching from the stands of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Roos’ father flew from to South Africa and then drove nine hours with his grandfather to just to get to the game to watch the Brumbies beat the Kings.

Roos was injected in the second half and didn’t disappoint, putting in a solid performance to ensure the Brumbies held on for a nine-point win.

Regular No. 9 Joe Powell has carried a heavy work load this year, and Roos could be a spark of energy against the Argentina Jaguares this weekend if called on.

It could also double as one of his last Super Rugby game with Cubelli set to return to action after the mid-year break for international rugby.

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A 21-year-old man has been charged with breaching an apprehended domestic violence order after the body of Hayley Mcclenahan-Ernst was found in a home near Penrith in the early hours of Sunday morning.
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Shortly after 12am on Sunday, police were called to a home on Derby Street, Kingswood, following concerns for the welfare of Ms Mcclenahan-Ernst.

NSW Ambulance paramedics also attended but the 21-year-old died at the scene. Her death is being treated as suspicious.

Max Spencer, who was in a relationship with Ms Mcclenahan-Ernst, has been charged with breaching an AVO.

He has been refused bail and will appear at Penrith Local Court on Monday.

Fairfax media understands it is a domestic violence incident.

It is understood that Ms Mcclenahan-Ernst was the mother of two young girls, aged two and one.

It is unclear what Mr Spencer’s relationship is with the two girls.

Superintendent Greg Peters said Mr Spencer was assisting police with their enquiries.

“He is co-operating with our interview … I believe they were in a relationship, I’m not sure if they were actually living together.

“The cause of death is unknown at this point in time,” Superintendent Peters said.

“We will no doubt wait until the body is conveyed to the Sydney mortuary, some time this morning, and then we have to wait for the results of a post mortem … At this stage I am unable to say what the injuries are.”

It is understood there were a number of people in the house when police were called. They are also assisting police with enquiries.

“I do know there were people at the house at that time.

“I know she had been out with her family – whether it was her family or his family – during the night, before they came back to the house,” Superintendent Peters said.

Police remain on the scene, where a crime scene has been established. /**/

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The Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney is embarking on a four-year program to genetically map native plants in NSW that it says will revolutionise land restoration.
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The project, dubbed Restore & Renew, will sequence the genetic data of the 200 most commonly used species in land regeneration from more than 5000 sites across NSW.

In what it says is a world first, the Botanic Garden team will build an interactive map of plant genetic diversity using its own information and distribution data from the Atlas of Living .

Project director Maurizio Rossetto said this will allow for targeted planting of species for optimum use in landcare projects.

“Everyone will benefit from these tools, from large-scale developers through to local bush regenerators and plant ecologists. This will lead to a higher standard of restoration, with more efficiency and for less money,” he said.

Dr Rossetto said the map will let practitioners know where to source suitable plant species for their site, display ideal habitat locations for each species, and provide future climatic models to plan for climate change.

The executive director of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kim Ellis, said government and industry have spent $6.8 billion on land restoration in since 1997.

And according to Dr Susan Prober at CSIRO, more than $US2 trillion ($2.7 trillion) a year is spent on land restoration globally.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Botanic Garden, Maria Atkinson, said management of land restoration has meant “billions have been spent on random success”.

Dr Rossetto told Fairfax Media: “Assessment of land restoration projects has been based on short political cycles. It has been measured by dollars spent and plants planted.”

Instead, he said, success needs to be based on systems to quantify what species have survived and the quality of that survival. That requires data.

Dr Prober is the principal research scientist at CSIRO Land and Water. She is not connected to the project.

She said: “Sequencing just one species is the equivalent of a PhD thesis, so working on 200 is a really big project.”

Dr Rossetto said: “The improved speed and capacity of today’s genetic technology has made it possible to study and use plant DNA data on a large scale.”

It is this large scale that the CSIRO’s Dr Prober said is novel about this project, that and “the fact they are putting the whole interactive infrastructure online”.

She said: “It’s crucial that land management strategies address climate change and look at variation within species, so if this project is addressing that it’s certainly worth doing”.

Land restoration projects are not just about clearing lantana along suburban creeks. They involve large-scale projects in mining, agriculture and forestry.

Holders of mining leases are required to deposit a bond with the NSW government to cover the full cost of land rehabilitation. Last year, that fund was sitting above $2 billion.

Dr Rossetto said a user-friendly website and mobile application should be available by the end of the year that will give everyone access to location-based plant genetic information.

“This approach will provide information of genetic distribution across the landscape,” Dr Rossetto said. “Site regeneration requires genetic diversity.”

That online tool will allow land managers to plan for suitability of materials and present opportunities for nurseries and farmers to grow and stockpile appropriate plants for regeneration programs.

Restore & Renew has four years funding worth $2.5 million in addition to ongoing contributions from the Botanic Garden, giving a total budget of $4 million. Dr Rossetto said he hoped it would turn into a rolling program.

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Hostages are assisted from the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Martin Place in Sydney on Tuesday 16 December 2014. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew MearesFor 17 long hours in mid-December 2014, a group of otherwise ordinary Sydneysiders were forced to survive on their wits against an armed sociopath claiming to be holding them hostage in the name of Islamic State.
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For those trapped inside the Lindt Chocolate Cafe those hours felt like an eternity, as day dragged into night and their initial hopes of an early rescue faded.

As young waiter and part-time uni student Jarrod Morton-Hoffman later told the coroner, it was a case of “if no one was going to come and save us, we would have to save ourselves”.

Two of the 18, Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson, never made it out. The coroner’s report on their deaths will be handed down on Wednesday, and is expected to cast light, at last, on troubling questions about how police and other government agencies responded to gunman Man Haron Monis, in the lead-up to the siege and during the siege itself.

To study the statements of the 16 surviving hostages is to marvel at their many small, individual acts of heroism and quick-wittedness.

Morton-Hoffman, then just 19, would become a key figure in helping to manage the volatile environment inside the cafe, as Monis cycled through moods ranging from seeming near-rationality to repeated murderous threats.

Early in the piece, Morton-Hoffman and fellow cafe worker Joel Herat, 21, stashed box-cutters and scissors in their aprons, hoping for a chance to overpower Monis. It was a chance that never arrived. As Herat told the coroner later, “I thought maybe I could maim him or stab him and that could be a chance for people to get out”.

In the end he judged it too risky: “If I missed, there was a good chance he could kill someone then and there.”

A few hours into the Lindt cafe siege, Monis was outraged when three hostages – solicitor Stefan Balafoutis???, elderly but sprightly former tennis player John O’Brien??? and chef Paolo Vassallo??? – managed to break out at around 3.30 in the afternoon.

Convinced the police had somehow crept into the cafe to assist the escapees, Monis began threatening to shoot one of the remaining captives. It was Morton-Hoffman who took the lead in calming him down, leading Monis to declare afterwards, “Everyone thank Jarrod, I would have shot somebody”.

An hour-and-a-half later, the young man had another split-second decision to make. Unseen by Monis, two staff members who had been hiding under a table – Elly Chen and April Bae – managed to quietly unlock a side door and crawl out without being seen.

Morton-Hoffman saw them go – he helped shield the two girls by quietly moving a large free-standing sign so that it would obscure the gunman’s view of the side door.

But now he feared Monis would erupt again upon discovering that two more hostages had slipped away. So when the gunman ordered Morton-Hoffman to start reading him news bulletins off a phone, the young waiter decided to “edit” the readouts so it appeared only three had escaped. It was a “massive risk”, as he acknowledged to police later.

“I just started subbing in new numbers and stuff. And I was, like, changing every news story and there was heaps of them,” Morton-Hoffman told them. “It was really scary, because [if caught out lying] I was dead for sure but at the same time it had been so recent that we had made the deal that if anyone else ran, someone was going to die, I probably would have died anyway.”

When Monis eventually heard for himself that the media were reporting five escapes, the group quickly worked together to convince him the journalists were lying – an explanation that in his paranoid state he seemed prepared to accept.

“It was very very lucky, it was quick-thinking on everyone’s behalf” Morton-Hoffman recalled.

The group used a similar tactic later in the evening, when Monis latched onto a BBC report that police had surrounded the cafe.

“We’re going ‘no, no, they’re just making that up, how can they tell, they are in London’,” recalled another hostage, Louisa Hope, trapped in the cafe with her elderly mother Robin. “We’re trying to placate him and talk him down, and agree with him and all that kind of thing.”

As the hours wore on, Monis became increasingly angry that his key demand of being able to talk to then prime minister Tony Abbott was not being met. Again there were periodic threats to shoot somebody.

“I think it was Katrina [Dawson] who started to say, ‘When I get out of here I’m going to tell everybody exactly what Tony Abbott’s like’,” Hope said. “And then people [started joining in], ‘we don’t like him either’ … that group thing that was created, it was vital and really important and it worked.”

Morton-Hoffman and fellow Lindt staffer Fiona Ma, a 19-year-old dentistry student, were the two staff members Monis relied on most heavily to carry out his orders throughout the siege.

It was an extraordinary burden of responsibility resting on their young shoulders, with Morton-Hoffman later telling the coroner he was worried if he “screwed up someone would have died”.

Although seemingly compliant with the gunman’s wishes, both youngsters quietly used their roles to plot ways to ease the hostages’ plight.

Morton-Hoffman slipped notes written on the back of business cards and a map of the cafe’s interior to police under the rear door. When night fell and Monis again started threatening to shoot a hostage because police had not turned off the lights in Martin Place as he’d wanted, Morton-Hoffman devised an elaborate explanation to convince Monis why it was a complex operation, which would take time.

And when the gunman wanted a cigarette but was afraid of setting off sprinklers in the cafe, Morton-Hoffman tried to persuade him to smoke inside the freezer. There he planned to lock the gunman inside, a plan unfortunately thwarted when someone else suggested Monis blow his smoke into a bottle.

Monis tasked Morton-Hoffman and Ma with escorting other hostages to the toilets in the rear of the cafe and fetching food and drink from the kitchens. Each time they traversed the cafe, the youngsters would quietly try to do a little more to clear a path for possible escape.

“During these times of ferrying people to the toilet, Fiona and I were slowly moving things out of the way of the side entrance to assist in possible later escape. We also told some others about the door being unlocked,” he explained.

“I spent a lot of time in the [male and female] bathrooms taking people up and down. It was a good place for people to feel safe for a little bit … if he started shooting, we’d have more of a chance up there.”

Meanwhile Ma had defied Monis’ demand that hostages pile all their phones on a table where he could see them. Keeping hers secretly tucked in her pocket, she would offer it to the others to use whenever they reached the relative safety of the bathrooms.

Hope would say of Ma later: “I mean my God, was that the foolishness of age or was she just brave, you know, to let people do that.”

Ma’s composure was all the more remarkable given that she’d passed up a chance to escape in the early afternoon, when the first group of three made a break for it.

Paolo Vassallo later told the coroner he’d tried to persuade Ma to join him but Ma had refused because, “I couldn’t leave people behind”.

She would later become the last person to escape the cafe before the police onslaught, managing to flee just two minutes before Monis executed cafe manager Johnson at 2.13am.

Morton-Hoffman escaped 10 minutes earlier, leading a group of five other hostages whom he and Herat had alerted to the fact that the side door remained unlocked.

There were other acts of bravery that night.

Johnson showed incredible composure as he had to make the first, long agonising call to emergency services at 9.44 that morning.

Counsel assisting the inquest, Jeremy Gormly, SC, would later remark on the “calmness and coolness with which he managed that call”.

Hope, suffering from multiple sclerosis, could have escaped in the group that left with Morton-Hoffman, but would not leave her mother, Robin, behind.

After witnessing Monis shoot Johnson, she lay on the floor with her hands above her head as police finally broke in. “I thought to myself this is as good as any position to die in,” she said later.

Hope, like many of the hostages, still carries the scars from that night. Shrapnel remains embedded in her body, and her left foot has still not property healed. Other hostages have been left nursing deep and long-lasting psychological trauma.

Vassallo spoke openly at the inquest about the survivor’s guilt he felt over not having “done more” before he fled the cafe in mid-afternoon.

But Gormly spoke for many when he stood before the coroner and said: “It is impossible for anyone who was not in the cafe to fully understand and relate to the situation [those people] endured ??? and guesswork to say how any of us would have behaved over those long drawn out and stressful hours.”

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The federal government’s recent decision to postpone drawing from the Future Fund to help finance its unfunded employee superannuation liabilities is welcome news for current and future members of its defined benefit funds.
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If the Future Fund, now standing at around $140 billion, continues to earn a higher return than the cost of federal borrowings, more money will be available to help fund future lump sum and pension payments when the burden of unfunded liabilities peaks around 2050.

Taxpayers facing higher annual tax bills to meet current annual defined benefit pension and lump sum payments of about $10 billion annually lose from this decision. Unfortunately for taxpayers also facing higher bills to fund the national disability insurance scheme, the outstanding unfunded super liabilities will continue to increase faster than the earnings of the Future Fund.

For some time now the official actuaries have considerably underestimated the accruing liabilities of the defined benefit pension funds. They have been caught out by faster than expected improvements in mortality rates, the introduction of the same sex partnership changes and the 1999 changes limiting the scope for cashing out superannuation benefits before retirement.

The estimates of future liabilities have also been artificially reduced by using a 6 per cent discount rate which is far higher than the bond rate previously used. For all these reasons, the decision to delay drawing down money from the Future Fund to help pay future benefits greatly helps federal defined benefit fund members.

At an individual level, the government’s future funding problems highlight just how valuable the retirement benefits on offer are. Previously, the federal government saved billions by allowing and even encouraging fund members to cash out their benefits as a lump sum on retirement or on changing jobs.

Now public servants are more aware of the value of their defined benefit entitlements and how they have become even more valuable because of improved longevity and the lower and more volatile investment returns on lump sum investments.

The government’s plan to save money when it changed pension benefits for new employees in 1990 by indexing their preserved employee benefits only for inflation has been largely negated by the increased value of taking preserved benefits as pensions in retirement. For example, at age 60, the preserved lump sums can be exchanged for an indexed pension yielding 9 per cent annually.

No private sector annuity or investment can match this and even higher returns from taking pension benefits at a later age. The government’s decision to delay accessing the Future Fund to help finance these benefits is thus reassuring news for recipients of these pension and their survivors. The money will be there to fund their pension benefits for as long as they live.

Daryl Dixon is the executive chairman of Dixon Advisory. [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.au

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It’s been an interesting week in media.
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I can barely take my eyes off the political events across the Pacific, where daily scoops from mainstream media are proving the worth of journalism over and over.

In , a Senate inquiry into public interest journalism is under way, while two separate private equity firms have bid for Fairfax, the publisher of this newspaper and my employer. All this comes at a time of cost cutting at both Fairfax and our main local rival, News Corp.

Amid all that intrigue was some truly excellent news, as Crinkling News, ‘s national newspaper for kids, achieved its funding goal of $200,000 on crowdfunding site IndieGoGo.

I myself pledged $150 for a six-month subscription to Crinkling News for my six-year-old twins. The usual rate is $108 for six months, so the extra funds were a donation.

Crinkling News is a 16-page weekly newspaper aimed at seven to 14-year-olds. It also a website, but I’m keen to get my kids’ hands on the printed version.

It might seem counterintuitive to have a print newspaper for our digitally savvy Generation Z kids. After all, most Millennials (Gen Y) don’t even read the news in print, and plenty of Gen Xers prefer to get their news online, too.

But let’s face it, most kids already get enough screen time and don’t need to be encouraged to consume more. It’s too easy to bounce from a digital news app into a game or videos.

I love the idea of helping kids become informed about the world in an age-appropriate way and see tremendous value in an edited, curated product in this era of fake news and conspiracy theories.

I also love that Crinkling offers the opportunity to be a child reporter with help from professional editors.

At six, my pair are on the young side of the Crinkling audience, but I’m happy to give it a go now to make sure it’s still around in a year or two.

Crinkling already has tens of thousands of subscribers and a working business model but its seed funding was about to run out and it needed a bit longer to become fully sustainable. The crowdfunding campaign helped it both secure the money it needs and raise its profile.

Crinkling’s success demonstrates why I love crowdfunding. At its best, it democratises the financing of good ideas.

Crowdfunding has been around for about a decade – IndieGoGo launched in 2007, Kickstarter in 2009, n business Pozible in 2010, Start Some Good in 2011. There are other platforms, too.

Each site has its own flavour and rules but the basic premise is the same: a creator comes up with a project, pitches it to the public and and people have the opportunity to back it by pledging money.

There are also sites such as Patreon that let supporters pay a regular subscription to creators to sustain their work. Many artists, musicians, writers and independent journalists use Patreon.

But while crowdfunding is not new, people are continually finding creative ways to use it, and it continues to be mostly a force for good.

Sometimes it’s personal life funding, or creative projects or worthy causes. Other times, it’s commercial.

In the old days to get an idea off the ground you either needed to secure a government grant, or someone – either the owner or an investor – had to take on substantial financial risk.

Most creative or socially minded projects don’t have enough potential commercial return to attract investors, and creators themselves have limited means to take on unpaid work.

Usually projects are structured with rewards for different tiers of support – in my case with Crinkling News, it was the subscription to the paper.

The reward structure is key when it comes to commercial projects, because the rewards are usually the actual products.

Before crowdfunding, the general public still effectively voted on product ideas because in their role as consumers they either purchased the item or didn’t. But they couldn’t make that choice until after the producer had already taken on a whole lot of risk by manufacturing it.

Using crowdfunding as a pre-order channel is a more efficient way of deciding what gets made than the entrepreneur’s gut feeling. It’s effectively a real-world consumer focus group.

Often the project structure is all or nothing, meaning that if it’s not fully funded the money is returned to supporters and the creator gets nothing. This is designed to ensure the creator doesn’t become committed to doing something without having sufficient funding to follow through.

The problem with crowdfunding is it relies heavily on trust, and that’s risky if you are supporting the project mainly to get the promised reward.

It’s not like going shopping. Backing a crowdfunding project may not have the same legal status as pre-ordering a product directly through the company, and there have been some spectacular failures. One of the best known cases is ZionEyez (now Zeyez), which promised streaming HD video built-in to glasses for $US199 back in 2011.

As Forbes reports, it aimed to raise $US55,000 through Kickstarter, smashed its goal with $US343,415 in funds committed, but then struggled to deliver. Consumers who pre-ordered through the website eventually got a refund, but Kickstarter backers did not.

ASIC’s MoneySmart website advises that the main motivation for pledging funds should be to help the project succeed.

MoneySmart suggests that you read the terms and conditions of the crowdfunding site carefully, and check out the credentials of the project creator. For example, have they used crowdfunding before, have they been involved in successful projects in the past, and if so did they deliver the gift as promised?

Rewards or warm fuzzies are all very well, but the next frontier in crowdfunding is crowd-sourced equity funding, where backers get ownership in the company. It’s like venture capital for retail investors.

This already exists in many other countries, and in March the Senate passed legislation to enable it in .

Retail investors will from September be able to buy up to $10,000 of equity in their favourite business ideas. To begin with this will only be possible for unlisted public companies with annual turnover or gross assets of up to $25 million, and they’ll be limited to raising $5 million a year.

But the budget earlier this month contains proposals to open it up to proprietary companies, a structure used by the vast majority of n businesses.

As it’s a financial product, the regulation will be much more stringent than with rewards-based crowdfunding, with penalties for scammers. But investors need to remember that, even with the best intentions of founders, most new businesses fail.

The prospect of investing in a hot new start-up is an exciting one, but with greater potential rewards comes much higher risk.

Caitlin Fitzsimmons is the editor of Money and a regular columnist. She raised $US500 through Kickstarter in 2009 for a travel writing project, and is the happy supporter of many crowdfunding projects over the past decade. She has written extensively about crowdfunding and equity models in her previous role at BRW and AFR. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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