Yellen sees little threat to stability

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says she doesn’t see a need for the Fed to start raising interest rates to defuse the risk that extremely low rates could destabilise the financial system.

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Yellen said she does see “pockets” of increased risk-taking, but argued those threats could be addressed through greater use of regulatory tools.

Many of those tools, such as higher capital standards for banks, were put in place after the 2008 financial crisis, which triggered the Great Recession.

In her remarks on Wednesday at a conference sponsored by the International Monetary Fund, Yellen disputed criticism that the Fed had contributed to the 2008 crisis by keeping rates too low earlier in the decade.

She acknowledged that financial stability risks “escalated to a dangerous level in the mid-2000s” and that policy-makers, including herself, overlooked the vulnerabilities in the financial system that would make the subsequent decline in home prices so destabilising.

“Policy-makers failed to anticipate that the reversal of the house price bubble would trigger the most significant financial crisis in the United States since the Great Depression,” Yellen said.

She said the government has made progress since then in closing the regulatory gaps that allowed the financial crisis to erupt.

Yellen spoke one day after the Dow Jones industrial average set a record for the stock market.

Some critics of Fed policies have warned that the central bank could be setting the stage for another dangerous bubble by keeping rates so low for so long.

But in her speech, Yellen said she didn’t see dangerous excesses in the financial system.

She said that there were isolated areas of increased risk taking but that those could be dealt with through regulatory changes rather than by raising rates.

Snowboarder’s body found in woods

The body of a ski resort worker who did not return home from a snowboarding session has been found in a wooded area without trails.

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Perisher in the NSW Snowy Mountains contacted police about 10.50pm (AEST) on Wednesday after the 25-year-old man failed to show up for work.

Searchers found his body about 11.30pm.

Queanbeyan Acting Inspector Graeme Bailey told AAP the man was found in an ungroomed area near Guthega Creek in the NSW Snowy Mountains.

Perisher mountain operations staff abandoned trails and walked through wooded areas to find the man, he said.

Perisher chief executive Peter Brulisauer said it was a sad day.

“Our condolences go out to the young man’s family and friends during this difficult time,” he said in a statement.

The man’s name has not been released.

An autopsy will carried out and initial investigations are focusing on whether he fell while snowboarding.

It’s the second death at an eastern Australian ski resort in a little more than a week.

A seven-year-old boy, Haadi Akhtar, died after being buried by snow that came loose from his lodge at Mt Buller in Victoria.

He was found nearly two hours after he went missing, just 40 metres from where he was last seen.

The latest death also comes only hours after a 21-year-old man was found at Perisher with serious head injuries. He was transferred to Canberra Hospital.

After a slow start to the season, Australian snowfields have received a massive dumping of snow since last weekend.

Blizzards last week dumped 80cm in 24 hours in some parts of the Snowy Mountains.

A Sri Lankan asylum seeker’s worst nightmare on the high seas

Allegations that Australian authorities have intercepted at least two Tamil boats and handed them over to the Sri Lankan navy after only brief telephone interviews are extremely troubling.

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Until now, the Australian government has neither confirmed nor denied these allegations – giving the now long-tired excuse of secrecy around all operational matters concerning border security. 

If Tamils are being handed over to the Sri Lankan armed forces, then the Australian government may well end up with blood on its hands. Sri Lanka has a long and well known record of repression and abuses by its security forces. The UN has implicated the Sri Lankan armed forces in war crimes during the 27-year conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Human Rights Watch has also documented the Sri Lankan authorities’ use of torture and rape against people suspected of links to the LTTE after the conflict, including those returned as failed asylum seekers from countries such as Australia.

Given such evidence of torture of returnees, it was always peculiar that Australia used the Orwellian “enhanced screening” procedure for Sri Lankans arriving by boat – essentially a fast-tracked deportation procedure after a cursory interview.  Now, it appears such interviews may be occurring by teleconference from the boats. This practice, without access to due process and access to lawyers, is unlawful in light of Australia’s obligations under international law.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) maintains that identification and processing of asylum seekers is “most appropriately carried out on dry land.” The agency notes that shipboard processing often fails to meet procedural standards for determining refugee status, including the failure to provide adequate access to interpreters, ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of interviews, access to counsel, and lack of appeal. In addition to these considerations, people who have been interdicted often are dehydrated, exhausted, traumatized, and fearful of authorities; they are usually in no condition to articulate refugee claims.

If Australia is transferring asylum seekers into the hands of the Sri Lankan navy without adequately reviewing their claim this amounts to refoulement – sending someone back to a country where their life or freedom may be threatened or where they would face a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

Australia may want to protect its borders, but it should not risk being complicit in torture by sending Tamil asylum seekers back to Sri Lanka without a proper process to assess the legitimacy of their claims. Australian authorities need to come clean about what is happening at sea and give asylum seekers all the rights they are entitled to under international law.

Elaine Pearson is the Australia Director at Human Rights Watch.

Seven wins Olympic broadcast deal

The Olympics are returning to the Seven Network.

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed on Monday it had awarded Seven the Australian broadcast rights for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and Tokyo in 2020.

Kerry Stokes’ network also will broadcast the Winter Games in PyeongChang in 2018 and the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing in 2014.

Seven has acquired broadcast rights on all media platforms.

The last Olympics Seven broadcast was the 2008 Beijing Games after the Nine Network and Foxtel jointly paid $A122 million for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Ten covered the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Seven reportedly paid less than $A200 million for the rights after Ten and Nine dropped out of the bidding.

“Seven has a lot of experience in broadcasting major sports events, and first broadcast an Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.

“We are delighted that we will work with Seven until at least 2020.

“The IOC enjoys long term partnerships and this agreement is something of a homecoming between us and Seven.

“Seven has made a concrete commitment to help promote the Olympic Movement and the Olympic values, not only during each edition of the games, but all year round, and this was an important consideration in our decision making.”

Mr Stokes said he was delighted with the deal.

“The Olympic movement and Seven have enjoyed a long and deep partnership since the Games in Melbourne,” he said.

“We are looking forward celebrating our five decades association with the Olympics in Rio and to taking this partnership to a new level over the coming decade.”

Australian IOC vice-president John Coates, a member of the IOC’s TV Rights and New Media Commission, welcomed Seven back.

“We’ve had a long relationship with Seven, which last covered the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and we are happy to welcome them back to the Olympic team,” he said.

Australian couple speak out about baby Gammy

The Bunbury couple have faced intense media pressure since the story of the surrogacy broke, alleging that they abandoned the baby boy, who has Down Syndrome and was born with a hole in his heart.

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Surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua said the couple took Gammy’s twin sister after she was born but left Gammy behind.

But in a statement to the Bunbury Mail through a family friend, the couple say the allegations are lies.

 

The family friend said the birth was planned to take place in a major hospital, but the surrogacy agreement was voided when Ms Chanbua went a smaller hospital.

The change in venue also meant that the couple had no legal right to the babies, the family friend said.

“This has been absolutely devastating for them, they are on the edge,” the family friend said.

The friend said the babies were born two weeks prematurely and the couple were not told that Gammy had Down Sydndrome, instead being informed that he would not survive.

“All this happened when Thailand was in a military lockdown and very difficult to get around,” the friend said.

“The biological parents were heartbroken that they couldn’t take their boy with them and never wanted to give him up, but to stay would risk them losing their daughter also.

“They prayed for Gammy to survive but were told by doctors that he was too sick, not because of the Down syndrome but because of his heart and lung conditions and infection.”

The letter comes amid reports from Channel Nine that the Australian father has served time in prison for an indecent act involving a child.

 

Government to overhaul anti-terrorism laws with tough new legislation

Civil libertarians question proposed terror changes

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also announced it will be an offence to travel to a battle region overseas without a valid reason.

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“Over the last couple of months every Australian has been shocked at the evidence on the internet of Australians participating in terrorist activities in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere,” he said in Canberra on Tuesday.

“What we are now acutely conscious of is the danger posed back here in Australia, by people returning to Australia who have been radicalised and militarised by the experience of working with terrorist organisations overseas.”

Mr Abbott said the terrorist threat was as high as it had ever been.

Attorney-General George Brandis said new anti-terrorism laws would be brought to the parliament in the Spring sittings.

Talks will continue with telecommunications companies on the long-term storage of metadata which can be accessed by intelligence agencies to investigate terrorists.

The legislation sits alongside the extra $630 million of funds earmarked to boost counter-terrorism work by the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), AFP, ASIO and Customs and Border Protection.

Legislation to avoid ‘home-grown terrorists’

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said preventing Australian citizens from becoming involved in terrorist activities was one of Australia’s highest national security priorities.

“We are deeply concerned this security challenge will mean that Australian citizens fighting in these conflicts overseas will return to this country as hardened home-grown terrorists who may use the experiences and skills they have gained to carry out attacks in this country,” she said.

Before the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, there were 30 Australians involved with extremists – 25 of whom returned to Australia and two-thirds of whom became involved in terrorist activities.

“Five times that number are now of interest, fighting overseas or becoming involved,” Ms Bishop said.

Mr Abbott said the “ordinary range” of security monitors would provide a safeguard for innocent Australians returning from designated locations.

But the biggest protection would come in the form of negotiations with the Labor opposition, which had traditionally offered bipartisan support on security issues, he said.

“Democracy in the end is the most important safeguard when it comes to any of these things,” he said.

“We will need to get (Labor) onside, we will need to liaise with them and other members of the parliament to get the legislation through.”

Mr Abbott said the extra funding would come from the budget.

“I know we are under a lot of budget pressure but the community won’t thank us if we skimp unreasonably in the area of national security,” Mr Abbott said.

Racial Discrimination Act changes ‘off the table’

Mr Abbott said he still believed the Racial Discrimination Act needed to be changed.

“But I want the communities of our country to be our friend, not our critic,” he said.

“I want to work with the communities of our country as `Team Australia’ here.

“The government’s perfectly reasonable attempt to amend Section 18C has become a complication we just don’t need and we won’t proceed with.”

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said Labor would take up the offer of a briefing on the measures from the government.

But he also said Mr Abbott had used the cover of the new counter-terrorism measures to suddenly drop the controversial changes to section 18C of the discrimination act promoted by Senator Brandis.

PROPOSED CHANGES:

The laws would:

broaden the listing criteria for terrorist organisations to ensure advocacy of terrorist acts includes the promotion and encouragement of terrorismmake it easier to arrest terrorists by lowering the threshold for arrest without warrant for terrorism offencesextend ASIO’s questioning and detention powers beyond July 2016 when they were scheduled to expireextend Australian Federal Police (AFP) stop, search and seizure powers in relation to terrorist acts and offences beyond December 2015make it easier to prosecute foreign fighters make it an offence to participate in terrorist trainingenable ASIO to request the suspension of an Australian passport or foreign passport for a dual national.

Publish analysis of projects: NBN audit

An independent audit has damned Labor’s rollout of the national broadband network (NBN) and recommends all major infrastructure projects be subject to a published cost-benefit analysis.

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The review by former Productivity Commission head Bill Scales is highly critical of the NBN project, saying the Rudd cabinet gave only “perfunctory” consideration to the $43 billion second stage of its development.

The government-commissioned audit found that while the $4.7 billion NBN Mark I was “in general conducted appropriately from a public policy perspective”, Mark II was “rushed, chaotic and inadequate”.

The Scales review found the second stage, introduced in 2009, was given only 11 weeks consideration by the government.

No business case or cost-benefit analysis was done for the project, which has since been marked by delays and cost blowouts.

The company set up to deliver the project, NBN Co, was not “fit for purpose”, Mr Scales said.

Only a large and established telecommunications company could have rolled out the project in the allotted time.

The audit recommended all taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects worth more than $1 billion be subject to an independent cost benefit analysis, which should be released for public consultation.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has been charged with overhauling the NBN, said the multibillion-dollar infrastructure project was “an extraordinary leap into the unknown”.

“It was just a ramshackle, reckless excursion which has cost the nation tens of billions of dollars,” he told Sky News.

It was already coalition policy to have a cost-benefit analysis for projects worth more than $100 million, Mr Turnbull said.

He agreed there was a good case for making them public, “so the public understand what the government is doing with their money”.

The coalition has promised to rein in spending on the NBN, which under Labor relied on expensive fibre-to-the-premises technology.

It plans to introduce a mix of technologies, including fibre-to-the-node and fixed wireless.

Labor dismissed the Scales audit as a political attack on the NBN, saying it proved the government is not committed to broadband.

“We will create a digital divide in this country where a few people will have access to the best and fastest internet … and the rest of Australians will get second-rate helpings from the Abbott government,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said.

World Bank pledges millions to Ebola fight

The World Bank has pledged $US200 million to help contain the deadly Ebola virus sowing panic across west Africa, as Nigerian authorities say a doctor in Lagos has contracted the disease, the second case in the sprawling city.

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The confirmation that a fourth doctor in the region had developed Ebola came on Monday as fear and anger about the dead being left unburied in Liberia’s capital Monrovia brought protesters into the streets there.

Meanwhile, Sierra Leone’s president said the regional epidemic threatened the “very essence” of the nation.

The World Bank said on Monday that it would provide up to $US200 million ($A216.39 million) to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to help the west African nations contain the deadly outbreak.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, himself an expert on infectious diseases, said he has been monitoring the spread of the virus and was “deeply saddened” at how it was contributing to the breakdown of “already weak health systems in the three countries”.

The funding will help provide medical supplies, pay healthcare staff and take care of other priorities to contain the epidemic and try to prevent future outbreaks, the World Bank said.

The bank made the announcement as African leaders, including 35 presidents, are visiting Washington for a US-Africa summit.

The death toll from the Ebola outbreak on Monday reached 887 after 61 more fatalities were recorded, according to the World Health Organisation.

The latest doctor to be infected had attended to Patrick Sawyer, who worked for Liberia’s finance ministry and contracted the virus from his sister before travelling to Lagos for a meeting of west African officials.

Nigeria’s Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu told journalists that 70 other people believed to have come into contact with Sawyer, who has also died, were being monitored.

Of the eight now in quarantine, three show “symptomatic” signs of the disease, he said.

More worrying still were reports from Liberia that victims’ corpses were being dumped or abandoned. Protesters, who blocked major roads in the capital on Monday, claimed the government is leaving the bodies of victims to rot in the streets or in their homes.

The Liberian government had warned against touching the dead or anyone ill with Ebola-like symptoms, which include fever, vomiting, severe headaches and muscular pain and, in the final stages, profuse bleeding.

“Four people died in this community. Because the government says that we should not touch bodies, no one has gone to bury them,” said Kamara Fofana, 56, a protester in the Monrovia suburb of Douala. “We have been calling the ministry of health hotline to no avail.”

Deputy health minister Tolbert Nyensuah said the government was doing its best to collect bodies as quickly as possible.

In neighbouring Sierra Leone, President Ernest Bai Koroma called for the nation to unite to counter the threat posed by the outbreak. “This is a collective fight. The very essence of our nation is at stake,” he said in a televised address.

Streets in the capital Freetown were empty on Monday as people observed an emergency “stay at home day” called by the authorities to help them reorganise their fight against epidemic.

Sierra Leone has the most confirmed cases of any nation – 574 – including 252 deaths since the virus spread from neighbouring Guinea in May.

President Koroma, who declared a state of emergency last week, urged families to ensure that victims were reported to health authorities.

Meanwhile, Kent Brantly, the US doctor infected with the virus, “seems to be improving”, the director of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control, where he is being treated in an isolation unit, said on Sunday.

A second American infected with the virus while working in Liberia was being flown back to the US on Tuesday.

The Christian missionary group SIM USA said Nancy Writebol, 60, was in a “serious but stable condition”.

A man was admitted to a New York City hospital on Monday with Ebola-like symptoms though odds were he was not infected, a hospital official said.

The patient, who was placed under strict isolation, had recently travelled to West Africa, said David Reich, president of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

Big guns back for table-topping NRL clash

Manly and South Sydney have both been significantly bolstered ahead of Friday’s top-of-the-table NRL showdown at the SCG with Sam Burgess, Ben Te’o, Jorge Taufua and Justin Horo all set to return from the sidelines.

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Rabbitohs enforcer Burgess has been named to play in what some are labelling as a potential grand final preview, after missing the side’s win over Newcastle on Sunday with a shoulder problem, while Ben Te’o returns from suspension.

Manly winger Jorge Taufua will play his first game in three weeks in the round-22 clash after recovering from an ankle injury while back-rower Justin Horo is back from suspension.

“Apart from Johnny Sutton, everyone is coming back,” stand-in Souths skipper Greg Inglis said at training on Tuesday.

Former NSW prop Tim Grant and club co-captain Kevin Kingston will return for injury-hit Penrith for Sunday’s trip to Wollongong to play St George Illawarra.

Out-of-favour Panthers duo Grant and Kingston have been added to a seven-man bench.

Out-of-sorts Canterbury have been boosted by the comebacks of Josh Morris and Aiden Tolman for Friday’s match against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.

Cronulla’s injury woes have been eased by the return of captain Paul Gallen (biceps) against the Warriors in Auckland on Sunday.

NSW Origin backrower Luke Lewis (hamstring), stand-in skipper Wade Graham (foot) and young winger Jacob Gagan (hamstring) have all been ruled out for the year following the side’s loss to Parramatta.

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson (groin) will miss a third straight week with Thomas Leuluai filling in, while Konrad Hurrell (groin) will be replaced by teenager Tuimoala Lolohea.

Canberra backline stars Edrick Lee (foot) and Jack Wighton (thumb) have both been cleared to return from long-term injuries against Parramatta in Darwin on Saturday night.

The Raiders were thumped 54-18 by the Warriors on Sunday with season-ending injuries to Shaun Fensom (anterior cruciate ligament), David Shillington (pectoral) and Kurt Baptiste (shoulder) compounding the embarrassing defeat.

Coach Ricky Stuart has shifted Brisbane-bound fullback Anthony Milford to five-eighth to replace Terry Campese (abdominal) with ex-Gold Coast back Jordan Rapana to play at No.1 in his first NRL game since 2008.

For the Eels, Kenny Edwards replaces back-rower David Gower.

Newcastle have received a boost with Jarrod Mullen (abdominal), Kade Snowden (concussion) and Akuila Uate (knee) all available when they take on Melbourne at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.

Mullen’s return has prompted Knights coach Wayne Bennett to push captain Kurt Gidley to fullback.

Wests Tigers Mick Potter has named Luke Brooks and Pat Richards for Saturday’s trip to Townsville to meet North Queensland, but both are unlikely to play.

Sydney Roosters hooker Jake Friend (hamstring) has been ruled out for up to a month and will be replaced by Heath L’Estrange in the starting side for Monday’s Allianz Stadium match-up with Gold Coast, with Mitchell Aubusson returning via the bench.

US firms plan $14b in Africa investments

US companies are planning $US14 billion ($A15.

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15 billion) worth of investments in Africa, a White House official says as Washington seeks to strengthen commercial ties during the historic US-Africa Leaders Summit.

With the United States seeking to counter the Chinese and European trade dominance in Africa, a White House official said the investments will span a range of industries, including construction, clean energy, banking and information technology.

The announcement came on the second day of the summit, during which President Barack Obama and US business chieftains hope to deepen ties with their African counterparts.

While the United States remains the largest source of investment on the continent, it has been largely in the oil and gas sector.

China and Europe have built stronger positions in infrastructure, manufacturing and trade, with China’s trade with Africa more than double that of the United States.

Obama, former president Bill Clinton, other US officials and chief executives of top US companies hope to woo a gathering of some 45 African heads of state and government and African business chiefs in a day-long forum in Washington.

“This forum will intensify efforts to strengthen trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa and seek to create partnerships that will promote trade, accelerate job growth, and encourage investment,” the official said.

Africans criticise US businesses as bound too deeply to old stereotypes and too risk-averse to plunge into business with them, even though the continent is growing faster than any other region on the globe.

US officials especially want to win a large chunk of the business of electrifying Africa, building power generation plants and distribution facilities that will further enhance economic growth.

Washington also wants to ensure that US businesses get a big part of the pie of 350 million middle-class African consumers.

No details were provided on the composition or timing of the $US14 billion.

General Electric, which already has a formidable presence in Africa, said on Monday it was planning $US2 billion in new investments to build and assemble equipment for oil and other industries, as well as training in health and other sectors.

Labor’s NBN rollout slammed by auditor

Rushed, chaotic and inadequate: that’s how Labor’s NBN rollout has been described by the former head of the Productivity Commission.

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Bill Scales has found the Rudd cabinet gave only what he calls “perfunctory” consideration to the $ 43 billion second stage of the project.

 

His report says cabinet only spent 11 weeks setting up NBN Co, which Mr Scales describes as not “fit for purpose”.

 

Communications Minister at the time of Labor’s NBN roll out, Senator Stephen Conroy, has spoken out in defence on ABC Radio.

 

“Mr Scales isn’t aware of all of the evidence and all of the deliberations. There was an alternative position discussed, but Mr Scales is not aware of that because it was discussed in cabinet committees.”

 

The project has since been marked by delays and cost blowouts – things Mr Scales says could have been avoided if a business case or cost-benefit analysis was carried out.

 

His report recommends any large infrastructure projects included in election commitments be independently costed by the Productivity Commission or Infrastructure Australia, with full costs to be made public.

 

He also calls for public infrastructure projects worth over $1 billion to be subject to a public cost benefit analysis.

 

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull says it’s already Coalition policy to have a cost-benefit analysis for projects worth more than $100 million.

 

Senator Conroy is asking why the government is spending so much money commissioning six reports into Labor’s NBN.

 

“Why is Malcolm Turnbull spending $10 million of taxpayers’ money to attack the NBN? Because his policy is a dog. He’s failed to meet his own election commitment where he said he’d get 90 per cent of Australians with 25 meg speeds by 2016 – already abandoned.”

 

But Mr Turnbull says the reviews are valuable.

 

“It’s very important to learn from the mistakes of the past. The purpose for doing this audit is so that you have an independent, sober assessment of what happened, the mistakes that were made, and we learn from those mistakes and let’s hope we don’t make them again, because there is tens of billions wasted because of this.”

 

The Abbott government’s cost benefit analysis of the current broadband roll-out is due to be published within months.

AIDS conference delegates on why they’re seeking asylum in Australia

Some of the AIDS conference delegates who say they’re seeking asylum are from a country in East Africa which they don’t wish to identify.

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This man told SBS Radio’s Swahili program what life is like for him at home.

 

“What made me make this decision are the acts of brutality I was subjected to. When someone discriminates against you because of your sexuality or the origins of your ethnicity there comes a time where you have to say enough is enough. I have had acid thrown at me, I was stabbed on my head and private parts and despite my numerous reports to the police no action has been taken. I’ve tried relocating to other parts of the country for my own safety but I’ve met the same problems everywhere I’ve moved to.”

 

Another East African man who spoke to SBS Radio’s Swahili program says he’s faced discrimination because of his efforts to help young albino people.

 

“I established a football team which comprised of 14-24 year old boys who are albino and their peers who were considered normal. My aim was to show the society that albinos are no different to others and when given a chance they too can be just as productive. I then took my team to the national parliament with an aim of educating the society further. Our visit to the national parliament received a lot of media coverage in the country.”

 

Albinos in East Africa face widespread persecution, and their body parts are used in witchcraft.

 

The asylum seeker says he was even asked to help obtain body parts.

 

“Shortly after I received some phone calls from some wealthy people in (the Tanzanian capital) Dar es Salaam, whom I won’t mention their names- they asked me to help them with the killing of albinos so their body organs can be sold and returned and they could become wealthier. I declined their proposal and reported the matter to the police who arrested them. However a few days later, I saw them walking freely and soon after I received some threatening phone calls from them, accusing me of reporting them and that they were going to deal with me accordingly.”

 

The crisis accommodation service, HomeGround, told SBS 19 delegates to the AIDS conference who are now claiming asylum have been placed in emergency housing in Melbourne.

 

It says it has been approached by community members offering to house the asylum seekers in their homes.

 

Pamela Curr, from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, is also working with some of the delegates.

 

She says many are at risk purely because they either are HIV-positive themselves, or work with people who are.

 

“These people arrived mainly from African countries. They came into the country on visas, lawful visas by air and what has happened is that many of them come from countries where to be working in the field of HIV or to be affected by HIV is a life threatening proposition. Not only from the illness, but also from the violence of governments in the countries in which they live.”

 

Pamela Curr says it’s not the first time that delegates to international events in Australia have stayed behind, to claim asylum.

 

 

“We have seen it in the past from a number of conferences and sporting events, the Homeless World Cup, there was a world religious day. We have seen this in the past and what happens is some people actually come to the conferences who may indeed be at risk and they may hope that they can seek asylum. But others come to the conference with the intention of returning home and then see the freedom and safety is intoxicating.”

 

The office of the Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, says it’s unable to comment on individual applications for asylum.

 

 

 

 

Doping ban broke cycling rules: Kreuziger

Czech cyclist Roman Kreuziger claims the UCI has broken its anti-doping rules by provisionally suspending him without a positive test.

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In a statement on his website on Tuesday, Kreuziger said he and his lawyers “strongly oppose the UCI decision” to impose a temporary ban on him racing.

“(The ban) has no basis in the UCI legislation, allowing imposition of a provisional suspension only in cases of a positive A sample, which is not Mr Kreuziger’s case,” the statement said.

“Other preliminary measures can only be imposed when there exists a risk that the results of a race might be affected by the alleged doping activity of the rider … and only after providing the rider an opportunity to deliver a written submission – which did not happen.”

Cycling’s governing body used blood analysis from 2011 and ’12 in Kreuziger’s biological passport to suspend the Tinkoff-Saxo rider on Saturday.

The temporary ban prevented him starting the Tour of Poland on Sunday.

“I’m not a cheat, and I have not committed any doping offence,” the insisted. “I am deeply frustrated by this current situation, which makes it impossible for me to do my job and ride my bike.”

Kreuziger had pledged on Sunday to ask the Court of Arbitration for Sport to lift the ban before the three-week Spanish Vuelta starts on August 23.

In June, Tinkoff-Saxo dropped Kreuziger from its Tour de France roster because of suspected discrepancies in his biological passport. With no disciplinary case open, it selected him for the stage races in Poland and Spain.

The UCI acknowledged on Saturday it had reacted to the team selections based on “the recent assertion of an anti-doping rule violation based on his athlete biological passport”.

The cycling body did not respond immediately to requests for comment on Tuesday.

In his latest statement, Kreuziger said he wished to explain the facts to avoid any misunderstandings.

The 28-year-old has three career top-10 finishes in the Tour de France and victories in the second-tier Tour of Romandie and Tour of Switzerland stage races. He also has a one-day classic victory in the 2013 Amstel Gold race.