Trump condemns white nationalists over Charlottesville violence

Donald Trump was widely criticised for at first blaming the violence in Charlottesville on “many sides”.

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But the US president has succumbed to pressure, taking a stronger stance against right-wing extremists.

“Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our creator. We are equal under the law.”

Tensions remain high in Charlottesville following the seemingly deliberate and deadly car attack that killed one, and injured 19.

The car’s driver, James Alex Fields Junior, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Appearing in court via video link, the 20-year-old was denied a bond, and granted legal aid.

Outside, two white nationalists, who refused to give their names, angrily blamed police for the violence.

“We had a permit for this event and had every right to be here. The police department did absolutely nothing to enforce a legal permit. We defended ourselves. We brought helmets and shields, while the enemy brought improvised flamethrowers, while they brought bleach, while they brought paint, while they brought sticks and they brought knives. The nationalist community defended ourselves against thugs in a battle that was brought by this city, that wanted a bloodbath.”

Those comments caused tensions to flare up again.

Charlottesville Police Chief, Al Thomas, says the nationalist group ignored the police’s safety plan.

“We had a plan to bring them in at the rear of the park. They had agreed to cooperate with the plan. Unfortunately they did not follow the plan. They began entering at different locations, in and around the park, and we had to quickly alter our plans to facilitate that process. We were hoping for a peaceful event. We had asked leaders from both sides to engage in a non-violent demonstration.”

The US national security adviser has labelled the car attack “domestic terrorism”.

The United Nations has also weighed in.

Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the secretary general, reinforced the UN’s stance against racism and bigotry.

“We believe that there must be no place in our societies for the violent racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and discrimination that we’ve seen in Charlottesville, Virginia, that we’ve seen in recent days. Obviously we condemn any of the violence that affected the civilians and we express our condolences to the family and loved ones of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to all those who were injured.”

Heather Heyer was killed as she delivered a speech against the white nationalists.

Two state troopers monitoring from the sky were also killed when their helicopter crashed.

Police Chief Thomas offered an honest response when asked if he had any regrets about how the rallies were handled.

“I certainly have regrets. We lost three lives this weekend. A local citizen and two fellow officers. We certainly have regrets. It was a tragic, tragic, weekend.”

 

 

Commonwealth Bank announces leadership changes

Despite delivering shareholder wealth during his tenure, Ian Narev has been at the helm of a number of scandals.

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Only last week Ian Narev told SBS World News he’s still the right man for the job.

“I’ve got a lot of energy to bring not only to the challenges immediatly relating to the Austrac claim but also the other challenges and opportunties that we have and I’m very committed to it and the board has the same view.”

But the board has now confirmed Ian Narev willl retire by the end of the 2018 financial year.

The 50 year-old has managed to lift Commonwealth Bank’s share price by nearly 65 per cent since he took the top job at the end of 2011.

But he’s been under pressure since Australia’s financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC [oz-track], accused the bank of breaching money laundering and terrorism financing laws.

“We know our responsibility to work with Austrac and the Federal Police on stopping crime. We’ve said we’ve made mistakes here. We’ll work our way through the specifics of the claim but the starting point has to be, we take these seriously, we take the partnership seriously. We’ve made mistakes. We need to respond accordingly.”

Last week Austrac launched civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court, accusing the bank of systemic failure.

The bank is also being investigated by the corporate regulator, *ASIC, over its response to allegations it had violated money laundering and terrorism financing laws and breached the Corporations Act.

ASIC says it should have been alerted by Australia’s largest bank in 2015, when it first learnt of a problem in its cash deposit machines that led to the money laundering case filed last week by AUSTRAC.

Judith Fox, from the Australian Shareholders Association, says the board appears to have taken some action.

“The board has stepped up to the plate on this one. Early on when this first arose, they cut short-term bonuses they took a haircut themselves, which is extraordinarily rare. And we all said, okay what other accountability measures are you going to put in place? And now we’ve seen them. The clawback mechanisim is really more about the board saying we actually recognise that accountability has to be taken at that very senior level, it’s not even that you were necessarily involved but if you are at the senior level of an organisation, you are accountable for what happens on your watch.”

One of the biggest changes has been Mr Narev’s salary.

The bank’s annual report reveals his $12.3 million remuneration was cut to just under $9 million for the 2016 financial year after the board cut long-term bonus payments.

In the financial year to June 2017 he was paid $5.5 million.

Michael McCarthy, from stockbrokers CMC Markets, says while Ian Narev’s tenure as the bank’s head will be seen favourably, many will now be relieved.

“From the point of view of the Bank’s board, this draws a line under the recent Austrac affair. They’ve taken decisive action, the CEO’s leaving and that will be seen as good news not just by shareholders but also in Canberra.”

 

 

Santos takes $US690m hit due to oil prices

Oil and gas producer Santos will book an impairment charge of $US690 million ($A877 million) in its half-year results due next week after lowering its oil price forecasts.

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Most of the impairments will be in the form of a writedown on the value of its giant Gladstone LNG project in Queensland, as well as its oil and gas assets in the Cooper Basin and some assets in Indonesia.

The Santos writedown follows a similar charge by rival Origin Energy, which last week flagged a $A1.2 billion hit to its full-year results through an impairment on its Australia Pacific LNG project, following a fall in future oil price assumptions.

Santos said a number of its assumptions, including oil prices, exchange rates, discount rates, production and costs, had changed since its last carrying value assessment as of December 31, 2016.

Key among these are lower forecast US dollar oil prices.

Santos now expects Brent oil prices to average $US50 a barrel in 2017, $US55 in 2018, $US60 in 2019 and about $US70 a barrel from 2021.

As a result, it will take a $US870 million ($A1.1 billion) non-cash, after-tax impairment on the Gladstone LNG project, and a further impairment of $US150 ($A191 million) million against some non-core assets in Indonesia.

The company said its Cooper Basin assets will also be impacted, but this would be more than offset by continued cost efficiencies and performance improvements from 2016 that have allowed increased drilling activity and production.

This will lead to a positive net write-back of about $US330 million ($A420 million) on the carrying value of the Cooper Basin.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Ben Wilson said the reduction of costs by Santos and the firming east coast gas price outlook, combined with Monday’s announcement of a supply agreement with Engie’s Pelican Point power plant, point to a positive implication for the Cooper Basin reserves.

Santos shares were down five cents, or 1.5 per cent, at $3.30 at 1140 AEST, in a stronger Australian market.

Deadpool star devastated by woman’s death

Ryan Reynolds says the cast and crew of the new Deadpool film are “heartbroken, shocked and devastated” after a female stuntwoman died in a motorcycle scene that went wrong during filming in Vancouver.

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“Today, we tragically lost a member of our crew while filming ‘Deadpool’,” Reynolds, a native of Vancouver, said in a message on his social media platforms.

Vancouver police confirmed the stuntwoman’s death on Monday on the set of 20th Century Fox’s superhero movie “Deadpool 2” but gave no further details and did not release her name.

Local media said the woman appeared to lose control of the motorbike, which drove off the set and through the window of a building across the street.

The film is a sequel to the 2016 R-rated comedy “Deadpool,” starring Reynolds as the foul-mouthed Marvel superhero Deadpool.

Movie studio 20th Century Fox, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., did not say whether production had been halted. Spokesman Dan Berger said the studio was “deeply saddened by the accident.”

Reynolds said the cast and crew were “heartbroken, shocked and devastated… but recognize nothing can come close to the grief and inexplicable pain her family and loved ones must feel in this moment. My heart pours out to them — along with each and every person she touched in this world.”

The “Deadpool 2” death came one month after a stuntman died on the Atlanta, Georgia set of AMC horror TV series “The Walking Dead.” John Bernecker, 33, died after hitting his head during a stunt where he fell from a height of six metres to a concrete floor.

Separately, Tom Cruise, known for doing most of his own stunts, appeared to have been injured on the London set of his upcoming spy action movie “Mission: Impossible 6.”

Video emerged on Monday on celebrity news website TMZ showing Cruise, 55, trying to jump onto the roof of a high-rise building and landing hard against its wall. Moments later Cruise, who was attached to a harness, limped off the set

Representatives for Cruise and movie studio Paramount Pictures did not respond to queries about the incident or the nature of the actor’s injury.

Don’t beat chest over North Korea: Shorten

Labor leader Bill Shorten has warned the threat to peace and stability posed by North Korea means now is not the time for making inflammatory statements like “joined at the hip”.

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week said Australia and the United States were “joined at the hip”, and pledged Australia would come to the aid of its ally if there was an attack by North Korea.

“It is the job of responsible nations and responsible leaders to urge the entire international community to make every effort to de-escalate this conflict – this is not the time for the beating of drums or chests,” Mr Shorten told the Labor caucus on Tuesday.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has been briefed on military’s plans to launch missiles into waters near Guam as part of an effort to create “enveloping fire” near the US military hub in the Pacific.

Kim said North Korea would conduct the planned missile launches if the “Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity” and that the US should “think reasonably and judge property” to avoid shame, the news agency said.

Lobbing missiles toward Guam would be a deeply provocative act. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the US will take out any missile seen to be heading for American soil and declared a North Korean attack could lead to war.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Australia continues to work with allies to put political, diplomatic and economic pressure on the reclusive state to change its behaviour.

Australia has designated 37 individual and 31 entities, which have been involved in North Korea’s weapons testing program, for travel bans and financial sanctions.

Ms Bishop welcomed news overnight that China was fully implementing United Nations Security Council resolutions that impose the toughest package of sanctions on North Korea to date.

“China has stated it is completely prohibiting the import from North Korea of coal, oil, iron ore,” she told reporters in Canberra.