Sydney’s storms cause chaos across city
A blaze broke out early Thursday morning at Woollahra Public School after lightning hit a copper dome on top of a bell tower. The fire was extinguished quickly by firefighters but the heritage building sustained smoke and water damage. Since Wednesday afternoon the SES has responded to 414 requests for emergency assistance. On Wednesday night, two people were reported to have been struck by lightning and an electrical sub-station in Pyrmont caught fire, sending black smoke billowing over the region. The Bureau of Meteorology is expecting thunderstorms across most of the state again this afternoon.
Australia and China set to increase military links in 2015
Following annual talks in China, Australia and Beijing have agreed on a program of enhanced military cooperation set for early next year. In a statement, Defence Force Chief Marshal Mark Binskin said Australia was committed to working with China on “strategic dialogue, service engagement, practical cooperation activities, personnel exchanges and training and education opportunities.”
Crime down but ice detection up
Major crime has gone down across the state over the past two years, according to the latest quarterly report from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR). All major crime incidents, such as assaults, robberies and shootings, had decreased or stabilised in the 24 months to September this year. But a 26 per cent growth in the use and possession of amphetamines was a matter of concern, according to BOCSAR. NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione attributed this increase to the Police Force’s proactive focus on ice use and supply. “We are going to continue this effort because this drug is a fast-track journey to a very dark place of death and suffering,” he said.
Iranian forces bomb ISIS targets in Iraq
The Pentagon has reported that Iranian air forces have launched several air strikes on Islamic State separatist targets in Iraq. Iran, however, has denied responsibility for the air strikes, the first attacks in the Diyala region of Iraq since June. Senior Iranian officials said Iran had never launched air strikes against ISIS and that any cooperation with America against ISIS was out of the question. Meanwhile, Reuters quotes Iraqi sources as saying a women who was detained by Lebanese authorities is not the wife of Islamic State’d leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as reported yesterday. Further investigation had shown she was the sister of a man jailed over bombings in southern Iraq.
Interest rates to reach record low
Interest rates are likely to be cut to an unprecedented level in March next year following economic growth of just 2.7 per cent for 2014, reported in the September quarter national accounts. As the Australian dollar plummeted below 84 US cents for the first time since 2010, Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey stressed the importance of getting key budgetary savings measures passed in parliament, saying Australians’ living standards would otherwise slip. His comments follow moves by the Senate to reject savings measures, including the $7 GP co-payment and university fee deregulation.
New York police officer not to be charged over death of black male
A grand jury has decided not to charge a white New York City police officer over the death of a black man Eric Garner. Garner died after officer Daniel Pantaleo allegedly placed him in a chokehold during an arrest in July. The decision not to charge Pantaleo sparked widespread protests by US rights activists and citizens already outraged by a decision last week to not charge another police officer over the shooting death of a black teenager in Ferguson. Dozens of protestors were reported arrested in New York City overnight.
Grand Theft Auto 5 removed from stores due to violence against women
Australian retail chain Target has removed controversial and violent game Grand Theft Auto from its 300 stores across the country. Target’s general manager of corporate affairs, Jim Cooper, said the move came after customer feedback and concern about the game’s contents. The game allows gamers to attack women, as well as have sex with prostitutes and then rob and kill them. The Australian Classification Board has given the game an R rating. Target Australia stated it would not withdraw other games or movies with the same certificate.
Immigrants death in Germany highlights multicultural issues
Large crowds attended memorial services across Germany yesterday to honour a Turkish student whose murder last week has highlighted ongoing cultural conflicts in the country over immigration. A chilling video posted to Facebook showed Tugce Albayrak being struck down after going to the aid of two young girls who were being harassed by a man. Albayrak died last week after her parents decided to turn off her life support. – Compiled from web sources by Rebecca Hopper and Dan Stringer
Top photo supplied by Amber Broughton.