• Russia and Turkey agree to create demilitarised zone around Idlib

    The presidents of Russia and Turkey have agreed to establish a demilitarised zone separating rebels and Government forces in Syria’s Idlib province. At a summit in the Russian resort city of Sochi on Monday (local time), Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared the province a demilitarised zone, in an attempt to halt the Syrian Government’s attacks on the region, which is currently held by rebel forces. As part of ... ► Read more

  • US imposes further $200 billion tariffs on Chinese imports

    United States President Donald Trump has followed through on his threat to impose a second tranche of tariffs on Chinese imports, this time applying 10% tariffs on about US $200 billion worth of products. In announcing the new tariffs, President Trump warned China against taking retaliatory action against US industry, threatening that the US “will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately US $267 billion of additional imports.” Collection of the 10% tariffs ... ► Read more

  • MH17: Dutch to look at new evidence provided by Russia

    Dutch prosecutors investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have said they will analyse all information provided by Russia, after the Russian Ministry of Defence (MOD) released a report that claims the missile that hit the plane was fired by pro-Kiev forces. Speaking to reporters on Monday (local time), General Nikolay Parshin showed a number of documents which appeared to identify the Buk missile. According to General Parshin, the Russian MOD used serial numbers ... ► Read more

  • Typhoon Mangkhut strikes southern China

    Typhoon Mangkhut hit mainland China at 5:00 pm (local time) on Sunday afternoon (local time), causing landslides that authorities fear have buried dozens of people. The storm has left death and destruction in its wake, with 64 people dead after it crossed the Phillipines, a toll that is expected to rise as rescue workers attempt to locate those still missing, likely buried beneath the 51 landslides in the north of the country. 😲😭TYPHOON mankhut Aujourdui ... ► Read more

  • Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault accuser reveals her identity

    A woman accusing US President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault has identified herself. Christine Blasey Ford told The Washington Post Mr Kavanaugh had pinned her to a bed and tried to undress her when they were both teenagers, allegations the Supreme Court nominee denied when they first surfaced last week. Both Mr Kavanaugh and Dr Ford are now expected to speak with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to ... ► Read more

  • Police: no Novichok link to ill Salisbury diners

    There is “nothing to suggest that Novichok” was the cause of two people falling ill at a restuarant in the Wiltshire city of Salisbury, according to UK authorities. Police declared a major incident after a middle-aged man and woman became ill at Prezzo in High Street on Sunday evening. Surrounding streets were cordoned off “due to recent events” in the city, but restrictions have now been lifted and Police say they are no longer treating ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 9 – 15 September 2018

    Malcolm Turnbull urges Liberal colleagues to refer Dutton to High Court Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he is urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other Liberal Party colleagues to refer Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to the High Court to clear up questions about his eligibility. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Roman Quaedvlieg demands Dutton withdraw “disgusting” grooming comment Former Australian Border Force Commission Roman Quaedvlieg has demanded that Home Affairs ... ► Read more

  • Man killed and several injured in Massachusetts gas explosions

    A man has been killed and at least 10 people injured after a series of gas explosions and fires affected some 40 homes and business in three Massachusetts towns on Thursday (local time). Eighteen-year-old Leonel Rondon was inside a car in the town of Lawrence when a chimney fell on the vehicle. Mr Rondon was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he later died. Authorities believe an issue with gas service caused several explosions in ... ► Read more

  • Skripal poisoning suspects speak on Russian state TV

    Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the two men identified by the British Government as suspects in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March, have spoken to Russian broadcaster RT, claiming they travelled to the UK simply as tourists. In the interview with RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, the pair confirmed that they are the men in the images released by UK authorities last week and said they travelled to Salisbury — the location of the attack ... ► Read more

  • Putin: Skripal poisoning suspects ‘civilians, not criminals’

    The two men identified by British investigators as suspects in the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March are civilians and not members of the Russia’s military intelligence service, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The UK Government last week named the suspects as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, and claimed they were from Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), which the Kremlin has dismissed as lies and provocation. Speaking at the ... ► Read more

  • Australian Special Forces deployed to PNG for APEC meeting

    Australia has deployed special forces soldiers to Papua New Guinea (PNG) as part of the effort to secure Port Moresby ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit scheduled for November. Concerns that local military and police personnel are inadequate are behind the deployment. World leaders including United States Vice President Mike Pence, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison are expected to attend the two-day summit. “We ... ► Read more

  • Leaders agree to closer ties between China and Russia

    Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Tuesday, agreeing to bolster ties between their countries to counterbalance the United States’ economic power. The leaders have now met three times in 2018, which President Xi told President Putin reflects the “uniqueness and distinction” of the countries’ relationship, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. “Both nations have to oppose unilateralism and trade protectionism, ... ► Read more

  • “Spare no effort” to protect civilians in Idlib, UN Secretary-General says

    United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called on Russia, Iran and Turkey to “spare no effort to find solutions that protect civilians” in the rebel-held Syrian city of Idlib. Mr Guterres said it was “absolutely essential” to avoid full-scale conflict in Idlib province, which “would unleash a humanitarian nightmare unlike any seen in the blood-soaked Syrian conflict.” Idlib is the last major rebel-held stronghold in Syria and home to some 3.5 million people, at least ... ► Read more

  • Letter: Kim Jong-un suggests second meeting with Trump

    North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-un has written to US President Donald Trump suggesting the two hold a second meeting. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the receipt of the letter in a news conference and described it as “very warm” and “very positive”, but said it would not be released to the public without the consent of the North Korean leader. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Trump received a "very warm" ... ► Read more

  • Mike Pence says he would take lie detector test over NYT op-ed

    US Vice President Mike Pence says he would take a lie detector test “in a heartbeat” to prove he did not write an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times last week claiming the existence of a “resistance” movement within the Trump Administration. Mr Pence dismissed the theory he was the author of the article because it includes the word “lodestar” — a word he uses often — as an effort to “distract attention” from the Trump Administration’s achievements, ... ► Read more

  • Saipov defence cites Trump tweets in argument against death penalty

    The defence team of accused “bike path terrorist” Sayfullo Saipov has argued that tweets from US President Donald Trump and the President’s criticisms of the Department of Justice would make it impossible for Attorney-General Jeff Sessions to fairly and impartially seek the death penalty. Mr Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, is accused of driving a rented pickup truck into cyclists and runners in Lower Manhattan, New York City, killing eight people and injuring 11 others ... ► Read more

  • Indian Supreme Court decriminalises consensual gay sex

    The Supreme Court of India decriminalised consensual gay sex in a unanimous decision delivered in New Delhi on Thursday afternoon (local time). A five-judge bench determined that section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which punishes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” with up to life imprisonment, shall no longer apply to homosexual activity. “Any discrimination on the basis of one‘s sexual orientation would entail a violation ... ► Read more

  • Skripal poisoning: UK names Russian nationals as suspects

    British investigators have named two Russian nationals as suspects in the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March. UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday (local time) the men, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, are believed to be officers of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). She said the poisoning was “not a rogue operation” and was “almost certainly” approved at a senior level of the Russian ... ► Read more

  • 90 elephant carcasses found in Botswana with tusks hacked off

    Ninety elephant carcasses have been found in Botswana with their tusks hacked off, a charity announced on Tuesday. Elephants Without Borders, a charitable organisation dedicated to conserving wildlife and natural resources, said that the grim discovery of nearly 100 elephant carcasses, which took place through an aerial survey over several weeks, is believed to be one of Africa’s worst mass poaching sprees. “We started flying the survey on July 10, and we have counted 90 ... ► Read more

  • At least eight dead in central Japan as Typhoon Jebi makes landfall

    Typhoon Jebi struck the central Japanese cities of Kobe and Osaka on Tuesday. At least eight deaths have been reported and more than 150 people injured, as Japan responds to the most intense tropical storm to hit the country in 25 years. The typhoon made its first landfall in Tokushima Prefecture around noon (Japanese standard time), before crossing the Osaka Bay and making landfall at Kobe around 2:00pm, and passing northwards over Hyogo Prefecture into ... ► Read more

  • Trump criticises Attorney-General for indicting Republican congressmen before mid-term elections

    United States President Donald Trump has publicly criticised Attorney-General Jeff Sessions and suggested that the Department of Justice has jeopardised Republican hopes for the upcoming mid-term elections by indicting two Republican congressmen. The President tweeted: “Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not ... ► Read more

  • Ukraine: Tens of thousands gather for rebel leader’s funeral

    Tens of thousands gathered in the Ukrainian rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Sunday (local time) to mourn the death of separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko. Mr Zakharchenko and his bodyguard were killed after a bomb detonated at a coffee shop in Donetsk, injuring 12 other people. He was the most prominent figure in the separatist movement to be killed in the Ukraine conflict, which started in 2014 as a result of widespread civil unrest in the ... ► Read more

  • Report says “worst fears” surpassed in Nauru detention centre

    A report co-authored by the Refugee Council of Australia and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre released on Monday details escalating levels of abuse, trauma, and desperation in Australia’s offshore detention centre in Nauru. According to the report, the situation for the 900 people detained on Nauru (including 109 children) has surpassed the “worst fears” of advocates when the policy of offshore detention was reinstated in 2012. Around 50 overseas medical requests have been actively blocked ... ► Read more

  • EU and UK clash over Brexit negotiations

    Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, “strongly” opposes key parts of the British Government’s proposals for a future trade deal between the United Kingdom and the EU. Mr Barnier’s comments follow an article penned by British Prime Minister Theresa May and published in The Sunday Telegraph, in which the Prime Minister insisted she will not make compromises on the Government’s plan to leave the EU that are against the “national interest”. Included in ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 26 August–1 September 2018

    Coalition suffers worst opinion poll result in a decade An opinion poll conducted by Newspoll indicates the Coalition’s primary vote has fallen to 33%, the lowest since Brendan Nelson was opposition leader in 2008. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Three dead and 13 injured in shooting at video game tournament in Florida Three people have been killed and 13 injured after a gunman opened fire at an online video game tournament being live-streamed ... ► Read more

  • New study: women are becoming increasingly drawn to right-wing populist parties

    A new study has shown that women are becoming increasingly drawn to right-wing populist parties, often showing more radicalism than men. According to the study conducted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), which is affiliated with Germany’s centre-left Social Democratic Party, the number of women drawn to right-wing populist parties is increasing. The report examined right-wing populist voters in Germany, France, Greece, Poland, Sweden and Hungary. Elisa Gutchse, who edited the FES study, argued that ... ► Read more

  • Syria and Russia to ‘wipe out terrorists’ in Idlib

    The Syrian and Russian governments have signalled an all-out offensive to retake the last rebel-held Syrian province may be launched in the near future. Speaking at a joint press conference with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the majority of Syria had been “freed of terrorists”, save for Idlib, a northeastern province bordering Turkey, according to Al Jazeera. “What we need to do now is to wipe out those terrorist groups which ... ► Read more

  • Aus. Government threatens to deny whistleblower Chelsea Manning a visa

    The Australian Government has threatened tour organisers with a visa denial for convicted classified document leaker Chelsea Manning ahead of her upcoming tour. Think Inc., the tour organisers, announced on Thursday that it had received a notice of intention from the Government to deny Chelsea Manning entry to Australia for her speaking tour which is scheduled to start in Sydney on Sunday. The group is now calling on Ms Manning’s supporters to lobby new Immigration Minister ... ► Read more

  • Scott Morrison to finalise Indonesia free trade deal

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison will leave for Indonesia on Thursday to conclude free trade talks with President Joko Widodo. Mr Morrison said the talks in Jakarta will focus on enhancing economic and security ties between the two G20 nations. “Our close collaboration across economic, security and strategic domains makes both countries stronger, safer and more prosperous,” Prime Minister Morrison said. “I look forward to working with Indonesia’s President to lay the foundation for the next ... ► Read more

  • Russia will become first country in Europe to introduce driverless taxis

    Russia will become the first country in Europe and Eurasia to introduce driverless taxis. Russian tech giant Yandex announced the launch of Europe’s first driverless taxi, which will hit the road in Innopolis, a tech-focused town that is also known as ‘Russian Silicon Valley’. A driverless car prototype was released by Yandex last year, which is designed to operate under the companies’ taxi service. While companies across the globe have been competing against each other ... ► Read more

  • Shoigu: Russia to hold ‘unprecedented’ war games

    Russia will next month hold the biggest war games since 1981, according to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. The Defence Minister said in a statement that the Vostok 2018 military exercises, which will also include the Chinese and Mongolian armies, will involve almost 300,000 troops, more than 1000 military aircraft, two of Russia’s naval fleets, and all its airborne units. Mr Shoigu said the drills “are on an unprecedented scale, both in terms of the area ... ► Read more

  • ‘Do not despair of our present difficulties’: Read John McCain’s farewell letter

    A farewell letter from renowned American Senator John McCain has been made public following his death on Saturday (local time). Read the letter below as released by his office: “My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans, “Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to ... ► Read more

  • Three dead and 13 injured in shooting at video game tournament in Florida

    Three people have been killed and 13 injured after a gunman opened fire at an online video game tournament being live-streamed from a mall in Florida at 1:34pm on Sunday afternoon (local time). According to authorities, three people, including the gunman, died at the shooting in the Jacksonville Landing, a mall in downtown Jacksonville near the St Johns River. Eleven others were wounded by gunfire but are in a non-critical condition, and two others were ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 19 August – 25 August 2018

    Scott Morrison wins leadership spill Scott Morrison has won Friday’s Liberal leadership spill, clearing the way for him to become Australia’s 30th Prime Minister. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Government instability in the wake of leadership challenge Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition government was rocked by turmoil following Tuesday’s unsuccessful leadership challenge by former Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Trump warns American economy would crash if he ... ► Read more

  • Trump warns American economy would crash if he was impeached

    United States President Donald Trump has warned that any attempt to impeach him could result in the crash of the American economy. The President made the claim as the White House struggles to manage the fallout after Mr Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, entered into a plea deal on behalf of Mr Trump’s former campaign chairperson, Paul Manafort, who was convicted of financial offences this week. The President, who is incensed at Michael Cohen’s ... ► Read more

  • Kalashnikov takes on Tesla with new electric concept car

    Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov unveiled on Thursday (local time) a new electric concept “supercar” it says will rival Elon Musk’s Tesla. Based on the body of the Soviet-era Izh hatchback, Kalshnikov’s CV-1 has a 90 kilowatt hour battery which offers a range of 350 kilometers. The vehicle can accelerate from 0 kph to 100 kph in six seconds, according to the arms company. Kalashnikov spokesperson Sofia Ivanova told Russia’s RBC that the CV-1 would compete directly “with ... ► Read more

  • German foreign minister calls for independent payments system from US

    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has called for the creation of a new electronic payments system independent of the United States to ensure the survival of the nuclear deal between Iran and the West, which the US withdrew from in May this year. Mr Maas told Handelsblatt that Europe should not allow the US to “act over our heads or at our expense.” “For that reason it’s essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing ... ► Read more

  • #MeToo: Asia Argento made a deal to pay off sexual assault accuser

    Actress and filmmaker Asia Argento, who was one of the first people to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of rape, made a deal with a younger actor who accused her of sexual assault. The New York Times reported on Sunday that it was only months after she made the allegation against Mr Weinsten, that she paid actor and musician, Jimmy Bennett, $US380,000 ($520,000) to settle a sexual assault complaint filed by Mr Bennett, who was only ... ► Read more

  • Kerala’s devastating floods kill more than 350 people

    India’s southernmost state of Kerala is in crisis as torrential floods continue, seeing at least 350 people killed and about 800,000 displaced. The floods, which started on August 8, have ripped through the state, creating landslides, destroying houses, bridges and roads, and trapping thousands. Footage from flood-affected areas have shown the devastation that has thus far ruined around 10,000 km of road, making evacuations and transport of supplies even harder. Spokesperson for Oxfam India Basab ... ► Read more

  • ‘If they have their dollars, we have our God’: Erdogan doubles down on rift with US

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has doubled down on the detention of an American pastor which sparked diplomatic fallout with the US, saying Ankara will not bow before those who set up their “own order by exploiting the world” and make Turkey their “strategic target”. “They were not able to make us collapse and they will never be,” Mr Erdogan told supporters on Saturday (local time). “If they have their dollars, we have our God.” While ... ► Read more

  • Omarosa Manigault-Newman releases recording of Lara Trump offering $15,000-a-month job

    Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a former White House communications aide, has released another secret recording on Thursday that she says backs her claim that President Trump’s daughter-in-law had offered her a $15,000-a-month salary in exchange for her silence about her time as a White House adviser. The audio, which was aired during an interview on MSNBC, is the latest in a trickle of recordings that Ms Manigault-Newman has made public to build credibility for Unhinged, her tell-all ... ► Read more

  • Pompeo announces Iran Action Group

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Thursday (local time) the launch of a new Iran policy team following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from multinational nuclear deal with Tehran. The Iran Action Group (IAG), headed by State Department director Brian Hook, aims to develop strategies to combat “the Iranian threat”. Mr Hook, as the IAG Special Representative for Iran, told reporters the group’s focus will be on monitoring the effect of Iranian policy on ... ► Read more

  • Aretha Franklin dies at age 76

    Aretha Franklin’s family have confirmed the legendary R&B singer has died at age 76. Ms Franklin died at 9:50 am (local time) on Thursday in her Detroit home, surrounded by family and friends, according to a statement released by Ms Franklin’s longtime publicist Gwendolyn Quinn on behalf of the singer’s family. The “official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr Philip Phillips of Karmanos ... ► Read more

  • New Zealand passes law banning foreign non-residents from buying houses

    The New Zealand Parliament yesterday passed the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill 2018, which bans many non-resident foreigners from buying existing housing, as part of the Labour Government’s election promise to tackle housing affordability. During the election campaign last September, now-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pledged to stem rising house prices and reduce growing homelessness, partly by banning foreign buyers. Associate Finance Minister David Parker, who introduced the bill in December last year, described the bill’s passing ... ► Read more

  • 48 dead in Kabul education centre suicide bombing

    A suicide bombing at an education centre in Kabul has killed 48 people and left 67 injured, according to Afghan officials. Police say a suicide bomber entered the centre while tuition was taking place and detonated his bomb belt at about 4:00 pm (local time) on Wednesday afternoon. “We can confirm the attack was caused by a suicide bomber on foot,” police spokesperson Hashmat Stanikzai said. “The bomber detonated himself inside the education centre.” Many ... ► Read more

  • Donald Trump revokes former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance

    US President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he has revoked former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance. The decision by Mr Trump is an unprecedented use of presidential authority. “I have a unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information, including by controlling access to it. Today, in fulfilling that responsibility, I have decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency,” Trump said in a statement ... ► Read more

  • Man arrested on suspicion of terror offences after Westminster car crash

    The driver of a Ford Fiesta that was involved in a collision in front of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster yesterday morning (local time) has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences and is being held in a south London police station, according to Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu. At 7:37am the vehicle collided with cyclists and pedestrians, resulting in the hospitalisation of two people with non-life threatening injuries. The man was alone ... ► Read more

  • Italian bridge collapses leaving dozens dead

    At least 30 people have died and many others injured after a major motorway bridge collapsed in the Italian city of Genoa, prompting a huge rescue effort and an investigation into the cause of the collapse. What exactly caused the Morandi Bridge to fall down remains unknown, however the event has caused broad speculation. Early during the aftermath of the incident, authorities were working on the theory that there was structural weakness in the span ... ► Read more

  • Former White House aide releases secret recordings with Donald Trump

    Former Apprentice contestant and White House communication aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman has released a recording of a conversation with US President Donald Trump after she was fired. John Kelly, Mr Trump’s White House Chief of Staff, fired Ms Manigault-Newman last December from her position as director of communications for the White House’s Office of Public Liaison, in a tense meeting that she secretly recorded. After the meeting, she spoke privately with Mr Trump who seemed unaware that she ... ► Read more

  • Canada-Saudi row: what exactly happened?

    Canada and Saudi Arabia have had a severe diplomatic falling out and for two fairly major global players, there has been a considerably small amount of coverage. So what exactly caused the rapid deterioration in the relationship between one of the West’s most prominent countries and a major Middle Eastern power? The tweet Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland urged Saudi authorities to release civil rights activists facing up to 20 years imprisonment in a tweet ... ► Read more

  • Idris Elba fuels speculation that he may be the next James Bond

    Idris Elba has fueled speculation that he will be the next James Bond by posting a photo of himself on Twitter on Sunday night with the caption, “my name’s Elba, Idris Elba”. my name’s Elba, Idris Elba. — Idris Elba (@idriselba) August 12, 2018 Rumours around who will play the suave MI6 agent after Daniel Craig’s 12 year run as Mr Bond have continued to circle throughout the media and the internet. However, the rumour ... ► Read more

  • Syria: 39 killed in Idlib blast including 12 children

    An explosion at a weapons depot housed in a residential building in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province on Sunday (local time) has killed at least 39 people including a dozen children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The blast reportedly occurred in the northwest town of Sarmada near the Turkish border. The cause of the explosion, which resulted in the collapse of two buildings, remains unknown. SOHR said one of the five-storey residential buildings’ ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 5 August – 11 August 2018

    Pence unveils details on Space Force United States Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday (local time) unveiled details of how the Trump Administration will build the so-called Space Force which is set to become the sixth branch of the US military, saying the “time has come” to prepare for “the next battlefield.” See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Emma Husar will not recontest seat at next federal election Labor MP Emma Husar announced on ... ► Read more

  • Saudi airstrike hits school bus killing at least 29 children

    A Saudi-coalition airstrike on a market in the Houthi stronghold of Saada on Thursday (local time) has killed up to 29 children after a school bus was targeted in the attack, the Red Cross has reported. A spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition said the attack, which left dozens of civilians injured, was a “legitimate military action” against Houthi rebels and was carried out under the impression the targeted bus was carrying militants. The spokesperson also ... ► Read more

  • Source: Israel and Hamas reach ceasefire agreement amid escalating hostilities

    Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire agreement late on Thursday (local time) evening amid an intense 24-hour period of hostilities, according to a diplomatic source that had knowledge of the negotiations. The ceasefire was expected to go into effect at midnight, the source said. Egypt and the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process has backed the agreement, with both parties leading efforts toward the negotiations. Both have repeatedly called for peace ... ► Read more

  • Mike Pence: ‘We must have American dominance in space’

    .@VP Mike Pence announced today the #DoD will establish #SpaceForce as a sixth military branch by 2020. — U.S. Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) August 9, 2018 United States Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday (local time) unveiled details of how the Trump Administration will build the so-called Space Force which is set to become the sixth branch of the US military, saying the “time has come” to prepare for “the next battlefield.” US President Donald ... ► Read more

  • US announces fresh sanctions on Russia over Skripal poisoning

    The United States will impose new sanctions on Russia over the Kremlin’s alleged role in poisoning former Russian spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters on Wednesday (local time). Ms Nauert said the US had determined that Russia “has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law”, adding that the sanctions will come into effect around 22 August. By declaring Russia guilty, the US ... ► Read more

  • China matches US tariff hike

    China will respond in kind to the United States’ decision to impose 25% tariffs on USD $16 billion (AUD $22 billion) worth of Chinese imports, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced on Wednesday. The new tariffs will take effect from 23 August — the same day the US’ tariffs take effect — and will target products including fuel, steel, cars, bicycles, medical equipment, fish meal, wood waste, paper, and scrap metal. Both the US and ... ► Read more

  • Syrian President’s wife Asma al-Assad diagnosed with breast cancer

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer, Syria’s official state news agency reported on Wednesday (local time). Asma al-Assad, the British-born first lady of Syria, is currently being treated for early stage breast cancer at a military hospital in Damascus. The Syrian President tweeted a photo of him sitting along his wife as she received treatment, saying, “With strength and confidence and faith, lady Asma al-Assad starts the first stage of ... ► Read more

  • Rescue efforts continue after devastating earthquake in Indonesia

    Rescuers are pulling people alive from rubble in Indonesia’s Lombok two days after an earthquake devastated the island. Thousands have been left homeless in the worst-affected areas as they continue to wait for aid to arrive. Lombok was hit with an earthquake on Sunday night that reached a 7.0 reading on the Richter scale, causing chaos that left thousands of buildings and homes demolished, along with over 230 people seriously injured. One of the buildings ... ► Read more

  • Homeopathy all but eradicated from National Health Service in England

    Publicly-funded homeopathy is all but over in England, after Bristol’s Clinical Commissioning Group decided to cease providing homeopathic treatments under the National Health Service (NHS). Bristol was the last place in England to offer NHS-funded homeopathic treatment, and it will now be provided only in exceptional circumstances. Homeopathy uses treatments based on the idea that “like cures like” — that minute doses of natural substances that produce similar symptoms as an illness can be used ... ► Read more

  • Global trade war escalates as US threatens sanctions against trading with Iran and increases Chinese tariffs

    United States President Donald Trump has threatened to impose trade sanctions on countries that continue to trade with Iran, after the US reimposed sanctions on the Middle Eastern country this week. “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States,” President Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday (local time). “I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!” The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ... ► Read more

  • Canadian ambassador expelled as relations with Saudi Arabia rapidly deteriorate

    Canadian ambassador Denis Horak has been expelled from Saudi Arabia after Canada called for the release of human rights activists. Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists. — Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) August 3, 2018 Saudi Arabia has also frozen all trade with Canada and its state airline ... ► Read more

  • Robert Redford announces retirement after latest film

    Robert Redford has announced that he will retire from acting after his latest film, The Old Man & the Gun.  On Monday (local time), the 81-year-old Oscar-winning actor confirmed that he will have his last on-screen performance, according to The New York Post. “Never say never, but I pretty well concluded that this would be it for me in terms of acting, and [I’ll] move towards retirement after this ’cause I’ve been doing it since ... ► Read more

  • Rouhani on new sanctions: US ‘psychological warfare’ illogical

    On Monday (local time), Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the United States’ plan to re-impose sanctions an attempt at “psychological warfare” that “doesn’t make sense”. During an interview on state television Mr Rouhani said: “If you’re an enemy and you stab the other person with a knife and then you say you want negotiations, then the first thing you have to do is remove the knife.” It is Mr Rouhani’s first response to US President Donald Trump’s ... ► Read more

  • Facebook, YouTube, Apple and Spotify ban Infowars content

    Facebook, YouTube, Apple and Spotify have blocked content from Infowars, a far-right online media outlet known for disseminating conspiracy theories. Owned by Alex Jones, Infowars has been widely criticised for promoting hate speech and publishing fake stories. The new restrictions imposed by the various platforms follow Google’s decision last month to delete four YouTube videos uploaded by Alex Jones onto his channel Infowars due to the intense scrutiny that tech companies are facing for their ... ► Read more

  • Venezuela: six arrested for drone explosions during President’s speech

    The Venezuelan Government says six people have been arrested following drone explosions during a speech by President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday evening (local time). According to Interior Minister Nestor Reverol, two drones packed with a kilogram of C-4 plastic explosive each, were flown toward the President as he spoke at a celebration of the 81st anniversary of the National Guard in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. Both drones were intended to detonate close to the ... ► Read more

  • Indonesia earthquake: death toll continues to rise

    The search for survivors of the deadly earthquake that hit Indonesia’s Bali and Lombok islands last night is still underway, with the death toll just hitting 91. Authorities expect more deaths will be confirmed as search efforts continue. The disaster comes only a week after another quake in the same region killed 16 people. The earthquake, which Australian tourists visiting Indonesia said felt like “a bomb had gone off”, hit at a depth of 10.5 ... ► Read more

  • Trump acknowledges son met with Russians for Clinton dirt

    US President Donald Trump has acknowledged his son, Donald Trump Jr, met with a group of Russians at Trump Tower to get information on Democrat rival Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. Referring to reports by US media that his son could be in legal strife over the meeting, in a tweet on Sunday (local time) Mr Trump called the reports “Fake News” and “a complete fabrication”,  adding that the meeting was “totally legal” ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 29 July – 4 August 2018

    Trump’s offer to meet with Rouhani rebuked on both sides US President Donald Trump’s offer to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been shot down both from within his own administration and senior figures in Iran. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Trump on Mueller investigation: “Stop this rigged witch hunt right now’ US President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to condemn special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in ... ► Read more

  • Apple now the first US company to reach $1 trillion in market value

    Apple is now the first US company in history to reach $US1 trillion ($1.4 trillion) in market value despite slowing sales, heavy regulation, and tariffs. The tech company hit the milestone early this morning when its stock crossed $207.05 per share at 11.48am (ET). While reaching the $1 trillion mark is an achievement that will not soon be forgotten, the tech market is volatile, according to OPMG’s Chief Editor, meaning that Apple may not stay ... ► Read more

  • Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa wins election

    President Emmerson Mnangagwa has won the Zimbabwean presidential election, according to the country’s electoral commission. Mr Mnangagwa secured 50.8% of the votes beating opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, who won 44.3%. The opposition has rejected the results, with the chairman of Mr Chamisa’s MDC Alliance saying the count could not be verified. By winning just scraping more than 50% of the vote, Mr Mnangagwa has avoided a second run-off election. Taking to Twitter, the President said ... ► Read more

  • Remains of ancient public library unearthed in Germany

    The remains of an ancient Roman public library that may have held up to 20,000 scrolls have been discovered in Cologne, western Germany. Dating to the second century AD, the walls were first uncovered in 2017 during an excavation on the grounds of a Protestant church in the city centre. Archaeologists were initially mystified by niches in the walls, but have now identified their purpose. “It took us some time to match up the parallels ... ► Read more

  • Australian scientists discover new anti-cancer drug without usual side-effects

    Scientists in Melbourne have discovered a new class of anti-cancer drug that lacks the usual side-effects of current cancer treatments. Published in the journal Nature, their research shows the class of drugs puts cancer cells permanently “to sleep”. The research was a joint effort by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, Cancer Therapeutics CRC, The University of Melbourne, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the CSIRO. Unlike conventional treatments such as ... ► Read more

  • Zimbabwe: troops open fire on rioters in capital

    Three people were killed in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare after troops opened fire on rioters on Wednesday, police say. Supporters of the opposition party MDC Alliance began rioting when it was announced that the government party, ZANU-PF, had won a majority of seats in the parliamentary election but that the results of the presidential election were not ready. State broadcaster ZBC reported that the Electoral Commission would announce the presidential results at 12:30 pm ... ► Read more

  • US sanctions Turkish officials over jailed pastor

    The United States Government has imposed sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers over the ongoing detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. Mr Brunson has been held in custody for almost two years over alleged links to political groups. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the US Government believes Mr Brunson is “a victim of unfair and unjust detention”, adding that the Government has “seen no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong.” ... ► Read more

  • Trump on Mueller investigation: ‘Stop this rigged witch hunt right now’

    US President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to condemn special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, calling for his Attorney-General Jeff Sessions to end the probe. Mr Trump said in a tweet Mr Sessions “should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further” and accused special counsel Mueller of being “totally conflicted”. ..This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff ... ► Read more

  • US State Dept. expects DPRK to denuclearise despite reports of new ICBMs

    The US State Department expects North Korea to follow through on its commitment to denuclearisation despite reports surfacing that Pyongyang is developing new missiles. “What we are going on is the commitment that Chairman Kim [Jong-un] made to our president, and that is the commitment to denuclearise. That is something that we certainly anticipate that he will hold up his end of the bargain,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters on Tuesday (local time). Ms ... ► Read more

  • Trump’s offer to meet with Rouhani rebuked on both sides

    US President Donald Trump’s offer to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been shot down both from within his own administration and senior figures in Iran. In a joint news conference with Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Mr Trump said that he would be willing to meet with the Iranian President. “I’ll meet with anybody,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with meeting.” When he was asked whether the meeting would include preconditions, he replied ... ► Read more

  • Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All Bill would cost $32.6 trillion, working paper claims

    A working paper published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University claims that US Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposed Medicare for All Bill (“M4A Bill”) would cost approximately USD $32.6 trillion over the first decade of implementation (2022–2031). According to the paper’s author, Charles Blahous, the “projected increase in federal healthcare commitments would equal approximately 10.7% of GDP in 2022, rising to nearly 12.7% of GDP in 2031 and further thereafter.” The increased costs would ... ► Read more

  • Australia and Japan join US Indo-Pacific infrastructure initiative

    Australia and Japan have formed a trilateral partnership with the United States to invest in infrastructure and development projects in the Indo-Pacific region, it was announced on Tuesday. The announcement follows months of talks regarding a joint scheme to respond to China’s Belt and Road Programme. Initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Belt and Road is a massive infrastructure investment programme across Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific, but has been criticised for spreading Chinese political influence ... ► Read more

  • Qatar bid team accused of sabotaging rival bids for 2022 FIFA World Cup

    Allegations of a “black-ops” campaign by Qatar’s bid team for the 2022 FIFA World Cup have sparked controversy as accusations of extensive sabotage emerge. The Qatar bid team is accused of using ex-CIA connections and public relations firms to run a fabricated propaganda campaign against rival US and Australian bid teams. The scandal emerged after a confidential source provided documents to The Times (UK), detailing how the Qatar bid team undermined support for hosting the ... ► Read more

  • Julie Bishop arrives in East Timor after five year diplomatic drought

    Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop arrived in East Timor on Sunday marking the first visit by an Australian government minister to the country in five years. Tensions between Australia and East Timor have now eased after a five year diplomatic drought. The rift between Canberra and Dili, East Timor’s capital, mostly resided in a bitter dispute over maritime boundaries. East Timor accused Australia of trying to steal a large supply of oil and gas that lies between the two ... ► Read more

  • NYT publisher to Trump: don’t call journalists enemies of the people

    New York Times (NYT) publisher A.G. Sulzberger has urged US President Donald Trump to cease labelling the media the “enemy of the people”, warning that it could “lead to violence” against journalists. Mr Sulzberger’s warning came after Mr Trump commented on their off-the-record meeting on 20 July on Twitter. The President initially said the meeting was “very good and interesting” but later accused the media of putting the lives of many at risk after Mr ... ► Read more

  • Trump willing to meet Iranian President Rouhani at any time and without conditions

    US President Donald Trump said on Monday (local time) that he is willing to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “anytime” and without preconditions, despite appearing to threaten the country with war just days earlier. “They want to meet, I’ll meet. Anytime they want,” President Trump said during a news conference at the White House. “It’s good for the country, good for them, good for us, and good for the world. No preconditions. If they want ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 22 – 28 July 2018

    Nine Network to takeover Fairfax Media The Nine Network will takeover Fairfax Media in a deal rumoured to be worth around $4 billion, Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood announced on Thursday morning. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Greece declares state of emergency as lethal wildfires rage near Athens Greece has declared a state of emergency after two separate wildfires raged through towns near its capital Athens, killing at least 20 people, injuring over 100 ... ► Read more

  • Facebook loses AUD$162 billion in historic market value plunge

    Social media giant Facebook has experienced a 19% drop in market value wiping out around USD$120 billion (AUD$162 billion), following a disappointing second-quarter earnings report. Investors reportedly took issue with sales and subscriber numbers, which was not helped by the company warning of a growth slowdown on Wednesday (local time). The plummet is Facebook’s largest single-day drop since it started trading publicly in 2012, and marks the worst drop in US stock-market history. Facebook’s market ... ► Read more

  • Over 200 Syrians killed in deadliest IS attacks

    Over 200 people have been killed in a spate of bombings claimed by fundamentalist terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS) in Syria’s southeast on Wednesday (local time). IS fighters were engaged in gunfire with Syrian Government forces just outside Sweida, a government-held city, when the blasts occured. IS factions have been pushed back into the country’s southeast since international forces joined the Syrian conflict in 2014, reducing the occupied areas, though not the carnage. “It’s the ... ► Read more

  • ABC report claiming US ready to bomb Iran dismissed by PM

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that there is “no reason” to believe that US President Donald Trump is preparing to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, dismissing it as just “speculation”. An ABC report published on Friday claimed senior ministers within the Turnbull Government believed the US was prepared to bomb Iran as soon as next month and that Australia was providing intelligence on potential targets. The report cited a senior security source saying Australian defence ... ► Read more

  • Pakistan: more than 30 killed in election day bombing

    A suicide bombing in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, killed at least 31 people and left 35 wounded as Pakistani voters turned out for the country’s general election on Wednesday. There are concerns that the death toll could rise, as several of those injured are in a critical condition, said hospital official Dr Jaffar Kakar. Abdul Haleem, a witness waiting to cast his ballot, said a motorcycle drove into the crowd moments before the ... ► Read more

  • Israel shoots down Syrian fighter jet

    Israel has fired two US-made Patriot missiles at a Syrian Sukhoi fighter jet, intercepting the aircraft after it allegedly entered two kilometres into Israeli-controlled airspace, the Israeli military said on Tuesday. “It was shot down and it crashed … most likely in the southern part of the Syrian Golan Heights,” Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said. The fate of the pilot still unknown, however reports have circulated that he is now deceased. Israel and ... ► Read more

  • US Government will provide $12 billion in financial assistance to farmers affected by trade disputes

    United States Secretary of Agriculture Sunny Perdue announced in a press release on Tuesday (local time) that the Department of Agriculture will “authorise up to $12 billion in programs [to] assist agricultural producers to meet the costs of disrupted markets.” Mr Perdue said that the department “will take several actions to assist farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation”, referring to tariffs imposed by China and other markets. US President Donald Trump directed ... ► Read more

  • Kuwaiti Insta-influencer upset migrant workers allowed four days off a month

    Kuwaiti beauty blogger Sondos Alqattan has received criticism for her comments regarding the rights of Filipino migrants to have one day off a week. Kuwait’s new Kafala system provides one day off work a week for Filipino migrant workers, a change that sparked racist comments from the 27-year-old social media influencer. The system, which sponsors unskilled workers in much of the Middle East, has been under fire from the Human Rights Watch and the international ... ► Read more

  • Ivanka Trump shuts down her namesake clothing brand

    Ivanka Trump is officially closing down her namesake clothing brand due to her work in Washington. Ms Trump, daughter of US President Donald Trump, made the announcement on Tuesday along with a senior White House advisor, saying her “focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington” and called the company’s closure “the only fair outcome for my team and partners”. The company, which was based in New York’s Trump ... ► Read more

  • Nikki Haley: Russia ‘never going to be our friend’

    CBN NEWS — BillyNight✞rain (@BillyNightTrain) July 23, 2018 US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has said Washington does not trust Russia or its President Vladimir Putin, and that the Trump Administration “never will”. In an exclusive interview with CBN News, Ms Haley said: “First of all, we don’t trust Russia; we don’t trust Putin; we never will. They’re never going to be our friends. That’s just a fact.” The Ambassador went on to ... ► Read more

  • UK will not oppose death penalty if alleged IS members are extradited

    In a letter leaked to The Telegraph, Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he would not seek any assurance that American prosecutors will not seek the death penalty if two alleged Islamic State members are extradited to the United States. Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, of west London, were captured in Syria in January. In a statement on behalf of the Prime Minister, Downing Street said it is the “long-standing position of the government ... ► Read more

  • World Court orders provisional measures in UAE-Qatar expulsion dispute

    The International Court of Justice ordered provisional measures to prevent Qataris from being expelled from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday. Qatar alleges that on 5 June 2017 the UAE implemented a policy of expelling all Qataris from the country within 14 days and denying entry to all Qataris, and that this policy violates the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). In its order, the Court ruled that ... ► Read more

  • Greece declares state of emergency as lethal wildfires rage near Athens

    Intense wilfires on the national road Athens – Patras, Greece. July 23. Video: Giannis Labropoulos — Nepareizais (@Nepareizais) July 23, 2018 Greece has declared a state of emergency after two separate wildfires raged through towns near its capital Athens, killing at least 20 people, injuring over 100 and leaving many more missing. The fires, which have been dangerously fueled by heavy winds, have immersed the city in a blanket of heavy smoke, with the ... ► Read more

  • Toronto shooting: deaths rise to 3, suspect identified

    A 10-year-old girl wounded in the shooting in Canada’s largest city Toronto on Sunday evening (local time) has died, raising the number of deaths to three, including the gunman. The gunman, who has been identified as 29-year-old Faisal Hussain, opened fire on a busy street in Toronto in the heart of Greektown, north America’s largest Greek neighbourhood. The other victim killed in the rampage, an 18-year-old woman, has been confirmed as Reese Fallon. The youngest ... ► Read more

  • Trump considering revoking security clearances for critics

    US President Donald Trump is considering revoking security clearances for at least six former intelligence and law enforcement chiefs, the White House said on Monday (local time). Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters the six individuals had “politicised and in some cases monetised their public service” to make “baseless accusations” about Mr Trump. Those targeted include: James Comey — former FBI director Andrew McCabe — former FBI deputy director James Clapper — former Director of National Intelligence Susan Rice — ... ► Read more