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.

Dick Smith to launch $1 million ad campaign to slash immigration

Entrepreneur Dick Smith is launching a $1 million advertising blitz to convince Australians of the hazards of overpopulation, and why the company tax rate should be drastically hiked.

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The ads will start rolling out from tomorrow across TVs and will feature the voice artist behind the 1980s ‘Grim Reaper’ ads warning Australians about AIDS.

“It’s a frightening ad that shows what’s going to happen if we have endless population growth – it’s going to destroy Australia as we know it today,” Mr Smith told ABC radio on Monday.

But the businessman said he was angry at having to spend so much on the anti-immigration ads, saying the money should be going to charities instead of wealthy TV station owners.

0:00 Dick Smith launches TV ad Share Dick Smith launches TV ad

He argues politicians have failed to properly take into account the risks associated with immigration, warning Australia risked having a population of 100 million, with 30 million of them “incredibly poor”.

“Every single Australian family has a population plan – they don’t have 20 children, they have the number of children they can give a good life to,” he said.

“But our politicians have no equivalent for the country.”

He also wants to raise the company tax rate back to 45 per cent and wants the tax details of the wealthiest publicly released.

“The trickle-down effect is a complete lie, the wealthy become wealthier the poor poorer.”

Mr Smith has labelled migration policies as “a giant Ponzi scheme” but denies it’s racist.

“It’s nothing to do with racism,” he said.

“The arrivals that are coming in are basically wealthy. I’ve got friends that are coming in from South Africa, UK, from China; they’ve come in with a lot of money.

“They buy a house instantly – that basically will mean our children and grandchildren won’t have jobs.”

Dr Emma Campbell, the director of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA), said she had not seen the campaign, which goes to air Tuesday, but was disappointed by the premise.

“I think it is sad someone would draw on an argument of fear and hatred when overwhelmingly we are a country that celebrates migration,” she said.

Dr Campbell also addressed the economic imperative of welcoming skilled migrants to the country.

“These migrants become our aged care workers, they are doctors, IT specialists and contribute hugely to the tax pool… we are a culture enriched by new arrivals and our future depends on them.”

0:00 Census 2016: Are we losing our religion? Share Census 2016: Are we losing our religion?

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Trump condemns ‘evil’ racism, KKK and neo-Nazi ‘thugs’

Trump had taken heat from Democrats and Republicans alike for his response to Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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A woman was killed and 19 others injured when a suspected Nazi sympathizer plowed his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters after a violent rally by neo-Nazis and white supremacists over the removal of a Confederate statue.

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After meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and new FBI Director Christopher Wray, Trump got tough.

“Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America,” Trump said in nationally televised remarks from the White House, where he travelled early Monday to meet with his top law enforcement aides.

“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,” he said.

“To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered.”

In an appearance Saturday at his golf resort in New Jersey, Trump had faulted “many sides” for the violence but made no specific mention of the white extremists involved in the melee, some of whom wore Trump hats and T-shirts.

Earlier Monday, Sessions said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program that the car attack “does meet the definition of domestic terrorism.”

White nationalist demonstrators clash with a counter demonstrator at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. AAP

“You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation towards the most serious charges that can be brought because this is unequivocally an unacceptable, evil attack,” he told ABC.

The Justice Department has launched a civil rights inquiry in connection with the incident, and the driver, a 20-year-old Ohio man who was said to have had a history of neo-Nazi beliefs, has been charged with second-degree murder.

On Monday, a judge denied bail for the suspected attacker, James Fields. 

Backlash mounts 

After a weekend of criticism of Trump from both sides of the political aisle, a prominent African-American businessman quit a presidential advisory body Monday to protest what he deemed an insufficient response.

“Our country’s strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs,” Ken Frazier, chief executive of Merck Pharmaceutical, said in announcing his resignation from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council.

“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Frazier said. 

pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/a1PNQZism5

— Merck (@Merck) August 14, 2017

“As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

Trump was quick to lash out at Frazier’s move.

“Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!” the president said on Twitter. 

‘Dangerous fringe groups’  

On Sunday, the White House and top administration officials strove to defend the president.

“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred,” the White House said in a statement.

“Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”

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On a visit to Colombia, Vice President Mike Pence said: “These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms.” 

Pence also defended Trump, saying the president “clearly and unambiguously condemned the bigotry, violence and hatred” on display in Charlottesville.

The Charlottesville mayor, Michael Signer, a Democrat, however laid much of the blame for the violence directly at the president’s feet, saying on CBS that Trump had created an atmosphere of “coarseness, cynicism (and) bullying.”

Of the 19 people injured on Saturday, 10 remained hospitalized in good condition and nine had been released, the University of Virginia Health System said.

1.No matter what @potus says now-first instincts always revealing; his was to look into the camera and say “many sides”-that cant be erased.

— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) August 14, 2017

Two state police officers involved in the law enforcement deployment for the rally also died Saturday in a helicopter crash.

Trump faced criticism during last year’s presidential campaign for failing to quickly reject a vow of support from a former Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke, though he eventually did so. Duke attended Saturday’s rally.

The president has long had a following among white supremacist groups attracted to his nationalist rhetoric on immigration and other hot-button issues.

Labor MP denies Italian dual citizenship as Coalition threatens counter-action in court

One of the Labor MPs accused by the Turnbull government of holding a potential dual citizenship has rubbished the allegation, telling SBS World News he lost his Italian citizenship by default when he became an Australian in 1958.

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South Australian MP Tony Zappia was born in Italy in 1952 and won the federal seat of Makin in 2004.

The government has threatened it may refer at least four Labor MPs – including Mr Zappia – to the High Court, as the row over dual citizenship escalates.

“The Labor Party needs to produce the evidence or the government will obviously consider its options,” Mr Pyne said.

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Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce became the most high-profile politician to be embroiled in the scandal when news surfaced on Monday the Nationals leader is a New Zealand citizen.

If the High Court finds him invalidly elected, a by-election in Mr Joyce’s seat of New England could put the Turnbull Government’s one-seat majority at risk.

The government is now levelling allegations against a host of Labor members.

But Mr Zappia told SBS World News that he ceased being an Italian citizen on acquiring Australian citizenship in 1958.

Up until August 1992, Italian law did not allow dual citizenship, meaning Italian citizens who acquired another nationality lost their native citizenship status.

“The Italian Consul confirmed that is the case by letter dated July 2004, before my election to parliament,” Mr Zappia said.

“A copy of the Consulate letter has been provided to ALP national office.”

SBS World News has not seen the letter, but confirmed via the Italian consulate in Sydney that before 1992, Italians who became citizens of other nations automatically lost their Italian citizenship.

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The government has questioned whether Labor MPs Susan Lamb, Tony Zappia, Justine Keay and Maria Vamvakinou are all eligible to sit in the parliament under Section 44 of the Constitution, which prohibits parliamentarians from holding dual citizenship.

Media outlets are also reporting the government is examining Penny Wong, Tanya Plibersek and Anthony Albanese.

Mr Albanese said he had dealt with the allegation many times. “The circumstances of my birth is that I had a single parent, there is a single parent legally on my birth certificate,” he said on Monday.

Labor’s Tony Burke said the party was confident it did not have any dual citizens among its ranks, thanks to its detailed and “cumbersome” process for vetting the status of candidates.

“Before anyone’s allowed to nominate, we have to find the country of birth of their parents and of their grandparents. And whether their parents or grandparents, to their knowledge, had any foreign citizenship,” Mr Burke said.

“If the answer is yes to any of those, then a team of lawyers work with the candidate to make sure all the requirements of Section 44 have been met.”

Justine Keay, one of the other accused Labor MPs, has previously claimed she completed a form to renounce her UK citizenship May 23 last year.

She originally said she received a receipt in response on May 31 – just nine days before nominations for the 2016 federal election closed on June 9. But she later revised that timeline, saying she did not receive the reply confirming the renunciation until July 11, more than a week after the federal election.

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Susan Lamb told the ‘Sunshine Coast Daily’she had taken all reasonable steps to renounce her UK citizenship in the lead-up to last year’s election.

“As part of my nomination, I was advised that I may have been entitled to UK citizenship through my father, who is deceased,” she said.

“On 23 May 2016, I took all necessary steps to renounce by completing and sending the UK Home Office Form RN, ‘Declaration of Renunciation of British Citizenship’, and paying the requisite fee.”

“Australia Post confirmed the renunciation form was received by the UK Home Office in Liverpool on 25 May, 2016.”

“I was subsequently cleared to stand by the Labor Party, and nominated on 7 June 2016.”

Along with the Barnaby Joyce case, the High Court is considering the cases of two resigned Greens senators – Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters – as well as LNP Senator Matt Canavan and One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts, who are both remaining in their jobs until the cases have been heard.

SBS World News has contacted the office of Maria Vamvakinou, who is the first Greek-born woman elected to Australian parliament, for a response. 

 

Q&A: Former adviser to North Korea sheds light on country’s strategic intentions

In 1987 Michael Harrold was hired fresh out of university to be the English language adviser to North Korea’s then great leader Kim Il-sung.

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He became the first Briton to be employed by Pyongyang and one of the few westerners to have access to the country’s ruling elite.

He worked there for seven years, leaving with a unique insight into the inner workings of the North Korean government.

He spoke to SBS World News from Beijing where he now works as a senior editor at China’s state broadcaster CGTN.

What kind of global image do you think North Korea wants to project to the world?

“North Korea sees itself as the champion of anti-Americanism, a small country standing up to ‘US bullying’. I think it wants to project an image of a small, peace-loving country that has been obliged to resort to extreme measures in standing up for its rights – back against the wall and belt tightened in the face of overwhelming and unreasonable demands and pressure. David and Goliath – although that’s hardly a comparison they would use.”

During your time in North Korea, did you ever get a sense of the country’s international ambition?

“North Korea’s overriding international ambition – although they see it as a domestic one – was, and still is, reunification with South Korea. Korea’s division – and its perpetuation – is seen as a massive injustice. When I was there, reunification dominated the propaganda. Internationally, the country aspired to a leading role in the non-aligned movement and championed ‘south-south cooperation’ – essentially an economic arrangement among third-world countries.”

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Was there ever any mention of developing nuclear weapons during your time there?

“In those days the nuclear boot was very much on the other foot. The US deployed nuclear weapons in South Korea for many years, and apparently didn’t remove the last of them until 1991. It was North Korea that was calling for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and North-east Asia. I’m not sure when North Korea began developing a nuclear capability, but the programme gained considerable momentum under Kim Jong-il. In 1994, North Korea and the US signed an agreement on freezing the north’s development of nuclear power plants and replacing them with light water reactors, which could less easily produce weapons-grade materials. This agreement broke down in the early 2000s; North Korea, it is alleged, was already developing nuclear weapons by this point. Whether this is true or not, the weapons programme was certainly underway soon after.”

What do you think North Korea hopes to achieve by building up its arsenal?

“This programme has a dual purpose. First, it is an effective and relatively cheap military deterrent – a reliable means of defence for a country that sees itself under imminent threat of attack by the US. Second, it gets the world’s attention and puts North Korea in a strong position in possible talks with the rest of the world, principally the US, on diplomatic and economic issues. Personally, I believe that North Korea wants to be a full and respected member of the international community, trading and interacting freely with other countries. However, it also wants to maintain its unique political system. But meeting both desires is very hard to achieve. Becoming a nuclear power has now also become a source of national pride and national unity.”

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Do you think North Korea is serious about its threat to attack Guam?

“Guam is an interesting target. It would be a direct attack on the US, particularly focused on its military interests, and would probably be more acceptable domestically than an attack on the nearest US military presence to North Korea, which is in South Korea. That would cause casualties to ‘fellow countrymen’ and lead to intra-Korean conflict. The choice of Guam makes an attack plausible enough to make the rest of the world sit up and take notice. However, I don’t think it will happen. The North Korean leadership would be aware that the consequences would be too severe.”

If you could give Donald Trump any advice on North Korea, what would it be?

“It is time to talk. And for the US to be realistic. There can be no preconditions to talks. North Korea is not going to give up a nuclear capability it has spent so much time and money on developing, just for the chance of holding discussions that will probably lead to nothing, anyway. Moreover, North Korea’s leaders are fully aware of what has happened to other regimes that the US found unpalatable and were thought to be developing weapons of mass destruction – Iraq and Libya etc – and will therefore be extremely wary in their dealings with Washington. Trump has done little, through what he says, to reassure North Korea. Promises and threats no longer hold any water. Direct US-North Korea talks must be held at a high level, addressing the concerns of both sides – North Korea’s nuclear programme, the removal of UN sanctions, the normalisation of bilateral relations, the replacement of the Korean War armistice with a peace treaty, and so on.”

What do you think of Trump’s argument that China isn’t doing enough?

“I think it’s nonsense for Trump to expect China to solve the problem. I imagine China, much as it would like to see the Korea issue solved and would probably be pleased to help achieve that, sees the ‘North Korea problem’ as something created and perpetuated by the US. China had nothing to do with the original division of Korea and is probably annoyed by Trump’s suggestion that it clear up the mess. Also, North Korea’s long-standing demand is for talks with the US, which it sees as the cause of all its problems and so the only realistic agent of solving them. Therefore, it is unlikely to accept anyone – China included – as a proxy or intermediary.”

0:00 North Korea, the US and Guam explained Share North Korea, the US and Guam explained

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Abbott warns of ‘moral bullying’ ahead of same-sex marriage postal vote

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has warned against “moral bullying” ahead of a national postal vote on same-sex marriage.

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Mr Abbott also criticised advocates who are against the public vote and want a full fledged parliamentary solution for implying Australians can’t be trusted to “have a sensible debate and make a considered decision”.

The postal vote, due to be finalised by November pending the outcome of a High Court challenge, was announced last week by the federal government.

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The coalition had previously pushed a plebiscite, which was Mr Abbott’s own initiative and was taken to the last election by his successor Malcolm Turnbull.

“Last week, one very senior Labor senator attacked the prime minister for allegedly exposing her children to ‘hatred’ because of their family circumstances,” Mr Abbott wrote in The Australian on Tuesday.

“It is not homophobic to maintain that, ideally, children should have both a mother and a father.

“Yet I fear much moral bullying in the weeks to come – invariably from those demanding change.”

Mr Abbott also said it was “a pity the advocates of change haven’t finalised what they think are fair protections for freedom of religion and freedom of speech in an era of same-sex marriage because it’s hard to be sure about something without knowing exactly what it may entail”.

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Mr Abbott says voting no is not a criticism of one’s gay friends and family members or an “assertion that there’s only one right way to live your life or to express your love”.

Rather, he says, it will be “an affirmation that the things that matter should not lightly be changed and that marriage is different from other relationships”.

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