EDITORIAL: Why does metadata matter?

AUSTRALIA’S two major political parties can’t usually agree on very much, but they both support the imposition of a new regime of data retention that promises to make George Orwell’s famous ‘‘Big Brother’’ seem ill-informed by comparison.
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In the name of making Australians safer, the government and opposition are shepherding into existence an expensive program of state surveillance, forcing communications service providers to store and make available huge volumes of detail about every citizen’s activities.

And while the authorities insist that what’s being kept is only ‘‘metadata’’, the definitions involved are so vague and unclear that it seems nobody is quite sure precisely what metadata is going to mean and include.

What seems certain is that metadata includes information about a person’s location, when they contact which other people and why, what they search for, what they want, plus information about their physical health and financial status.

A former general counsel with the United States’ National Security Agency, Stewart Baker, famously said in 2013 that “metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content”.

If the agencies demanding this information, now and in future, were guaranteed to be competent, benign and non-corrupt, then many people might – if they had any kind of choice – nervously agree to the imposition of the mass surveillance regime.

Sadly, however, history is littered with instances where members of agencies and organisations wielding the power that knowledge brings have been incompetent, malign and corrupt – sometimes all at once.

History also furnishes numerous cases where powers granted for good reasons have come to be abused.

One particularly concerning aspect of the mass surveillance program is the extent to which future governments or agencies, intent on suppressing criticism or concealing information, might use stored metadata to identify and punish whistleblowers.

Even as things now stand, many whistleblowers whose actions are clearly seen to be principled and beneficial to the community suffer for their trouble.

Just knowing how hard it will be to avoid being identified will probably dissuade many would-be whistleblowers from warning the public about injustice and wrongdoing.

And it seems that shouldering these risks will come at a price, with some internet service providers suggesting households may have to pay an extra $60 to $130 a year to cover the cost of being spied on by the government.

The benefits of the scheme seem unclear, but the risks and potential downsides are not so difficult to spot.

Irish tourist Barry Lyttle accused of attack on brother Patrick tries to negotiate with prosecutors for lesser charge

Patrick Lyttle, right, arrives in court this month to support his brother Barry, left. Photo: Paul BibbyAn Irish tourist accused of punching his brother in Kings Cross this year is trying to negotiate a lesser charge in the hope that he will soon be able to return home with his family.
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Barry Lyttle’s lawyer told the Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday that he was in “negotiations” with the Director of Public Prosecutions and was hoping the matter could be “resolved” soon so that the family could return home.

Barry Lyttle, 33, is facing a charge of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm over the incident on January 3, in which he allegedly punched his brother Patrick on the head in Kings Cross following a minor disagreement.

Patrick Lyttle, 31, was placed on life support at St Vincent’s Hospital and spent a week in a coma before making a sudden improvement in mid-January.

He has since spoken out publicly in support of his brother and asked for the charges against him to be dropped.

Speaking after a brief court appearance on Thursday, Barry’s lawyer, Chris Watson, said he had been in discussions with prosecutors about replacing the grievous bodily harm charge with one that could be dealt with in the Local Court rather than the District Court.

Such a charge would, by definition, be less serious, and could mean that Barry might receive a punishment that did not involve full-time custody.

Crucial to whether prosecutors will agree to a lesser charge is a medical report, which the defence hopes will show that Patrick has not suffered any permanent injuries as a result of the alleged attack.

The court heard on Thursday that prosecutors had now received this report, but that they might require more evidence before being convinced that Patrick had made a full recovery.

“We’re just waiting for the DPP evidence which shows that Patrick’s recovered fully,” Mr Watson said outside court.

“We put the proposition [of a different charge] to the DPP, they have to consider it. They’ve been waiting for medical assessment. Once they have that, they can make a decision.”

Barry said he and his family were hoping for the matter to be resolved quickly.

“I just think that there’s a lot to be done in the next three weeks and we’re hoping that this can all be over soon because Dad needs to get home,” he said.

Patrick, who accompanied his brother to court along with their father, said he was not suffering any ongoing effects from the incident.

“We had a fantastic relationship before this incident, and that has not changed since this incident,” he said of the relationship with his brother.

The matter will return to court on April 9.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Katherine YMCA faces ‘catastrophic’ closure

FUNDING FURY: YMCA Katherine staff Chantal Ober, Jim Vivian and Tammy Frean are furious the organisation has lost $1.1 million cut in federal funding.Thedoors of YMCA Katherine could be shut by July after more than $1.1 million in critical funding was slashed from the organisation’s bottom line earlier this month.
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As part of the federal government’s $860m Indigenous Advancement Strategy program, YMCA Katherine will only receive $250,000 over the next three years, an astounding cut of more than 80 per cent from its current funding level of $470,000 per year.

YMCA Katherine chief executive officer Jim Vivian told the Katherine Times that the announcement was a “slap in the face” for the organisation, which had been asked to submit a five-year, $8-million program expansion plan in 2014.

“It’s a feeling of total disbelief, because we were asked to submit a three- to five-year program on how we’d like to expand youth services, so we did,” he said.

“If we only get [the $250,000] we’re almost forced to shut down our youth and community section.

“It effectively shuts down the whole show.

“If we’ve got all this expertise and they want us to look at expanding, why are they cutting our funding?”

The announcement comes just four months after YMCA Katherine staff member Chantal Ober was named the 2014 Northern Territory Young Australian of the Year for her efforts in working with local youth and creating programs aimed at improving theirresilience and self-esteem.

“For Chantal to win her award and now not know if her job is safe, it’s a real slap in the face,” Mr Vivian said.

He has written to Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion to plead for the funding allocation to be reviewed, adding that he wanted the senator to visit Katherine to see for himself the specialist youth services the organisation provided.

“It will be catastrophic if we have to close,” Mr Viviansaid.

Team leader Tammy Frean said she was worried the closure of YMCA Katherine could cost at-risk youth their lives.

“We’re the only ones who do what we do in Katherine,” she explained.

“There’s not another organisation that we can just hand our caseload to.

“For some of these kids, us being open is a matter of life-and-death.”

While the IAS has been used as a political football in Canberra, Mr Vivian said Senator Scullion needed to understand what the human impact of the funding cuts would mean for the Katherine community.

“There’s no way we can survive with the funding they’ve offered,” he said.

“This is about the whole community, not just the YMCA.”

YMCA Katherine fast facts

IN ADDITION to its gymnasium, YMCA Katherine offers a diverse range of community services, including:

1. An adolescent sexual healthprogram in Katherine and Barunga.

2. Weekly youth nights for boys and girls that target specific issues identified by attendees.

3. On-call, after-hours support for youth, including suicide intervention

4. Supporting local youth withcorrectional orders and bail conditions.

5. An interactive education program on sexual assault and domestic violence.

6. Support youth as a responsible adult during police interviews.

ATO’s Chris Jordan says tax disclosure laws not intended for private companies

Tax commissioner Chris Jordan said private companies were just “thrown in” under disclosure laws targeting large companies’ earnings. Photo: Louie DouvisTax commissioner Chris Jordan said laws aimed at requiring the tax office to publish the tax information of large companies were originally intended to capture multinationals, not private companies.
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But Labor’s shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh said private companies were a target of the laws when introduced, suggesting it wasn’t appropriate for the commissioner to comment on policy intention.

The Coalition wants to remove about 700 private companies from laws, introduced under the former Labor government, requiring the Australian Taxation Office this year to publish the tax information of public and private companies with $100 million or more turnover.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has told Coalition party room members the government will wind back tax disclosure laws after complaints by private business owners that they could be kidnapped should tax information be made public and people realised how wealthy they were.

The issues were raised in a party room meeting by several Coalition MPs including Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Fairfax Media first reported the concerns raised with the government by private business owners over kidnapping and ransom demands because of the laws.

Asked about the rollback, Mr Jordan, speaking at the Tax Institute conference on Queensland’s Gold Coast, said “it’s clearly a matter for government”.

But he said the laws were originally intended to capture overseas-based multinationals that were not paying tax on billions of dollars of sales in Australia, rather than private business owners.

“I think if you look at the history of the matter, it was really for multinational companies operating here, disclosing quite low revenue,” he said.

“I understand, and this mainly what I’ve read in the media, that there’s a lot of concerns about the private companies [being included] in these disclosures. [There are] personal reasons but also competitive reasons. People saying, well their [private companies’] margins might be looked at. If they’re a major supplier to some of the major retailers there might be pressure on them to reduce their prices.”

The laws, as they stand, require the ATO to publish the Australian business number, total income, taxable income and tax payable of public and private companies with $100 million or more turnover on the data.gov.au website. Business has been lobbying hard against the publication of such information, saying it could be “misleading”.

Introduced under the former Labor government, from July the laws will require the tax office to publish the tax details of thousands of private and public companies with more than $100 million turnover.

The ATO has already said that while the laws are meant to take hold in July, publication is not likely to take place until the end of the year, and that companies will have a chance to check their tax information before it goes live.

Several Coalition ministers including Treasurer Joe Hockey voted against Labor’s laws when in opposition.

“It started out as multinational companies [being forced] to disclose and in some cases to show how low [profits] were in terms of the Australian part of that,” Mr Jordan said. “Notwithstanding there might be billions of dollars of sales here.”

“That was the genesis of it and I suppose then it got widened to include Australian large corporates and got thrown in private companies as well.”

Mr Jordan said Labor had originally set the reporting threshold at more than $100 million, but it was lowered.

“There was a realisation that a lot of these multinational corporations you wouldn’t [be able to] catch them because their Australian sales were so low,” he said. “Hence the figure of $100 million was put there, but again it mainly focused on the multinationals.”

Mr Leigh said while he respected Mr Jordan’s administration of the tax office, “commentary about the Labor government’s policy intentions is best left to others”.

“Labor’s transparency measures were always intended to cover the largest corporate taxpayers, both public and private,” he said.

“We put the disclosure rules in place to improve transparency about the tax affairs of very large corporations doing business in Australia. There is a real and legitimate concern in the community that very big firms – both Australian-owned and multinational – are not paying their fair share.”

He said rolling back these laws means “shielding these companies from the kind of public scrutiny which helps tackle tax avoidance”.

Greens leader Christine Milne said this would just give a sign to the rich that they could dodge tax. “We need more transparency, not less. But the Abbott government is desperate to expand the protection racket that is tax havens for the wealthy in Australia.”

“Every which way you look, every time a tax matter comes up we see further moves to exempt or give leniency to the rich. The ATO is independent from the Treasurer’s office. They should be going hard, not facilitating leniency.”

Tax Institute chief executive Noel Rowland said the issue was a complex one, “any decisions made need to carefully consider issues of privacy and commercial arrangements”.

Second commissioner Andrew Mills said in an interview with Fairfax Media last year that ­companies needed to be open about their tax affairs to avoid damaging their reputation. “Sunlight is a great disinfectant,” he said.

The writer is currently a guest of the Tax Institute at its conference on the Gold Coast.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Riot squad sent to Villawood detention centre amid ongoing disturbance and property damage

A public order and riot squad van arrives at Villawood Detention Centre on Thursday. Photo: Daniel Munoz A public order and riot squad van arrives at Villawood Detention Centre on Thursday. Photo: Daniel Munoz
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A public order and riot squad van arrives at Villawood Detention Centre on Thursday. Photo: Daniel Munoz

A public order and riot squad van arrives at Villawood Detention Centre on Thursday. Photo: Daniel Munoz

The NSW riot squad is on standby outside Villawood Detention Centre after violent disturbances overnight and on Thursday.

A group of about eight detainees have destroyed property inside the centre and the situation remains unresolved, according to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and NSW Police.

A fire was lit inside a bin, filling an area of the centre with smoke.

Fairfax Media understands the group who instigated the disturbance are not asylum seekers.

They are held within the Blaxland maximum security wing of the centre.

No one is thought to be injured.

There are up to 500 detainees at Villawood. Apart from asylum seekers there are people held pending deportation and others in dispute over visas.

A spokeswoman for NSW Police said the riot squad was at the scene as a precaution but officers would be guided by federal authorities if the stand-off progresses further.

Fire and Ambulance crews are also at the scene.

Mr Dutton said three detainees involved in the disturbance have been “extracted”. “They have been dealt with and put aside,” he said.

He said early advice to him suggested there are no injuries but property has been damaged.

The centre’s private operator, Serco Australia, is negotiating with the group, assisted by police. Mr Dutton said the government would act decisively if the situation progressed.

“They will be left not in two minds that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated in detention centres,” he said.

The flare-up comes a day after Customs officers conducted a search of the compound and reportedly seized syringes, drugs, drug pipes, smart phones and garden shears, which were all confiscated.

Customs officials searched the centre after a tip-off from Serco.

A spokeswoman for Mr Dutton said the situation was ongoing.

“Police and other services are at the centre assisting with managing the disturbances and as a contingency should they be required,” he said.

“The [Immigration] Department and Serco are working very closely with AFP and NSW Police onsite to manage the disturbance in [the Villawood Centre].

“At present the rest of the centre remains calm.”

In 2011, detainees caused $9 million damage to the centre when staff were pelted with roof tiles and an office building set alight. Piles of rubbish and wooden furniture were set on fire by members of a group of about 100 angry detainees.

Five asylum seekers who took part in the riot were given jail sentences of between 14 and 22 months.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Bali nine: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran’s latest appeal adjourned until next week

Presiding Judge Ujang Abdullah: Adjourned the appeal case of Bali Nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran till March 25th. Photo: Kate GeraghtyJakarta: Bali nine organisers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have had their latest appeal against the death penalty adjourned until next week so their lawyers can present evidence to support their argument.
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Lawyers for the duo are appealing against an earlier ruling that the State Administrative Court does not have the jurisdiction to rule on their case.

Presiding judge Ujang Abdullah adjourned the case until March 25 so the lawyers can present their evidence. They may also provide witnesses if they wish.

Lawyers presenting Indonesian President Joko Widodo will then respond on March 30.

Judge Ujang said the court would summarise the rulings on April 1 and deliver the verdict a couple of days later.

The adjournment comes as Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said the government was unlikely to execute the 10 drug felons on death row for weeks or even months as they await the outcome of their appeals.

“Actually [the executions] should have been carried out weeks ago but some of them have filed judicial review to the court,” Mr Kalla told the El Shinta radio station. “The attorney-general has to await the rulings . . . so that there would be no legal problem in the future.”

Attorney-General H.M. Prasetyo finally confirmed that the execution of all 10 drug felons had been postponed due to the ongoing legal processes.

“There are still ongoing legal processes. There are fresh legal processes that we have to [a]wait,” Mr Prasetyo said at the presidential palace in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Lawyers for Chan and Sukumaran are challenging Mr Joko’s rejection of their clemency pleas. They claim he did not assess their cases individually or take into account their rehabilitation as required by the law.

The appeal was thrown out by the Administrative Court last month on the grounds that the court did not have the power to rule on a presidential decree. However Chan and Sukumaran’s lawyers, led by prominent human rights advocate Todung Mulya Lubis, have appealed against this finding.

Lawyers representing the president said the Administrative Court did not have have jurisdiction over clemency pleas to the president. They said there was already a Supreme Court ruling that the president’s authority was unquestionable.

But a lawyer for the Bali nine pair, Leonard Aritonang, said they were not disputing that the president had the right to grant clemency.

“We know it is the President’s prerogative right as mandated in the constitution,” he said. “We didn’t dispute the president must grant or not grant the clemency pleas. But the President has a legal duty to fulfill. And he didn’t abide by it.”


The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Eclipse switching off solar panels to test Europe’s power grids

The eclipse will test the ability of utilities to keep the lights on as grid operators switch to other sources to make up for the lost solar power. Photo: [email protected]上海龙凤419m.au Solar panels provide about 40 per cent of Germany’s power on sunny days.
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The eclipse due to bring most of Europe into deep shadows on Friday morning will put an unprecedented strain on the electricity grid, which takes power from the world’s biggest concentration of solar panels. The moon will cross in front of the sun, blocking about 80 per cent of its light across Europe from 8 am to 11 am London time. In Germany, the eclipse will briefly turn off thousands of panels, which provide about 40 per cent of the nation’s power on the most sunny days. A drop of that magnitude will test the ability of utilities to keep the lights on as grid operators switch to usually idle natural-gas and coal plants to make up for the lost solar power. Success would inform nations from the US to China working to integrate more renewables into their supplies, while failure would add to pressure for higher investment in grid-control technology — and boost power prices in the process. “Managing this event on the world’s largest interconnected grid is an unprecedented challenge,” said Konstantin Staschus, secretary-general of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, or ENTSOE. The darkest part of the eclipse will tear across the north Atlantic Ocean past southern Iceland, the Faroe Islands and reach Norway’s Savalbard archipelago in the Arctic. Mainland Europe will see the sun partly obscured, with 87 per cent cover in London, 83 per cent in Denmark and about 25 per cent in Turkey. Plunging productionPrevious eclipses such as one in 1999 passed without affecting power markets because photovoltaics only took off around 2004. Germany, which has about 38 gigawatts of Europe’s 81 gigawatts of solar capacity, will see a 70 per cent slump in PV generation at about 10:40 am, according to the MeteoGroup forecaster. A gigawatt is about equal to the capacity of a nuclear reactor. There’ll be “good expected sunshine across the southern half of Germany,” Stephen Davenport, MeteoGroup’s senior energy meteorologist, said Tuesday. “Assuming cloud does not increase too quickly, then there will be a surge of about 14 to 15 gigawatts to a peak of about 19 to 20 gigawatts once the event is over.” Electricity markets will ripple from the effects of the eclipse all morning. Danske Commodities, a power broker, is increasing staff because consumption is hard to predict and may shift depending on “how many people go outside to look at it,” said Bo Palmgren, the company’s head of intraday trading. Blackout risk”When you have plants ramping up and down, there is the potential for outages,” Palmgren said Monday by phone from Aarhus, Denmark. “The hours before and after the eclipse will be interesting.” Swedish utility Vattenfall will seek to profit by selling output from power plants that normally aren’t competitive, including gas- and oil-fired generators that “cost several hundred euros per megawatt-hour to operate,” said Hartmuth Fenn, head of intraday market access and dispatch in Amsterdam. Italy has the region’s second-biggest solar market and will also be affected, although more of the sun will be visible at that latitude. Terna Rete Elettrica Nazionale, the nation’s grid operator, expects to lose about 7 gigawatts of the 19 gigawatts of available PV supplies. Linked grids

Failures in one region would have an impact everywhere else because of interconnections between 34 national grids in Europe, according to RTE, the French network operator. “If the loss of production is not immediately replaced by other forms of generation, it could pose a risk to the network and lead to power cuts,” RTE said on its website on Monday. European grid companies will organise for their control rooms to be in constant communication during the eclipse. They will use power reserves to balance their system and help others in the region. For this, they can rely on additional close to real-time data provided by the coordination initiatives like TSC in Munich and Coreso in Brussels, ENTSO-E said. “Not all incidents can be ruled out even in normal operational times,” ENTSOE’s Staschus said. Transmission system operators are “taking the event seriously but are confident that they will be able to manage it.” Germany’s four main grid companies have added staff and will stay in touch by live telephone conferences throughout the eclipse. They’ve also bought reserve power to prepare. “It’s not going to be a normal day,” said Regina Koenig, a spokeswoman for Transnet BW, the German company operating the network in Baden-Wuerttemberg, the state where carmakers Daimler and Porsche run their factories. Italian plan

Terna in Italy “has been working for more than a year on the safe management of this natural phenomenon and on ensuring the same level of supply as on any other working day,” said Antonio Carrano, head of the national control center. The actual impact of the eclipse is hard to predict as it would decrease with greater cloud coverage, said Eleanor O’Neil, a meteorologist at WSI Corp. “It can be tricky to calculate cloud amounts, even closer to the event,” O’Neil said by e-mail on March 13. Weather forecasts for Friday show mostly sunny skies in Berlin, Rome and Paris on the meteorological website Wetter.de. The eclipse will help Germany test its ability to absorb variable power supplies from renewable generators, which in the case of solar switch off at night and with wind don’t operate on calm days. By 2030, about half of Germany’s power will come from renewables, said Agora Energiewende, a research group. Grid operators have yet to make their biggest planned investments to cope with unsteady supplies. Glimpse into the future

“If today’s inflexible power system succeeds in managing the solar eclipse, then the power system of 2030 will easily manage comparable situations,” said Patrick Graichen, head of Agora. Utilities could prepare for that future by investing in energy storage, by encouraging customers to vary usage, and by offering pricing that better reflects actual supply and consumption, said Barry Fischer, a researcher and writer at Arlington, Virginia-based software company Opower, which is helping utilities manage demand. “The challenge posed by the eclipse resembles what is likely to be a more daily phenomenon, as Europe and other regions further expand their installed renewable capacity,” said Fischer. The eclipse, he said, is “a window into the future of power systems.”


The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Joint will be jumping at Rooty Hill RSL

The Big Joint in all its glory in Nimbin.NSW hippies descend on Sydney this Saturday hauling their giant inflatable joint to that holy shrine to beer and skittles, the Rooty Hill RSL.
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With major parties endorsing a trial of medicinal cannabis, the RSL is the setting for a medical cannabis seminar.

“We’ve been holding these gatherings in Nimbin town hall and been surprised by the turn out,” said the president of Nimbin’s HEMP Embassy,  Michael Balderstone.

It is Balderstone’s great regret that, in the first election that dope has been endorsed by straight politicians, his Australian HEMP Party forgot to register itself as a political party.

At any rate, two America drug campaigners, Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, will be at Rooty Hill to tell how legalisation of medical cannabis in Colorado and 23 other US states has afforded the drug a hitherto unknown respectability.

Other speakers include, doctors, patients and Crescent Head dope grower Tony Bower.

Mike Baird and Luke Foley have prior appointments but Greens’ John Kaye will attend. Organisers are charging a $10 entry to pay the RSL.

Balderstone said they planned on inflating the “Big Joint” outside Alan Jones 2GB studio on Friday to get the old radio rabble rouser on board. “The RSL venue made us think of how good pot is for post-traumatic stress disorder. Surely that’s right up Alan’s alley,” he said. House of a card

Peter Jones, the lead upper house candidate for the No Land Tax party, has emerged as a potential kingmaker should his prime donkey vote spot on the ballot paper give him the balance of power in NSW.

But Jones is no newcomer to the political game.

He was the wit behind a constant source of amusement for NSW politics tragics, the Fake Eddie Obeid Twitter account, but sadly it was suspended last January.

It appears to have been replaced by another, The Real Fake Eddie @HonEddieObeidAO, which Twitter explains is a “parody account run by Joe Tripodi”.

When asked if he was masquerading as Tripodi on Twitter, Jones reached for the Francis Urquhart dictum on House of Cards:  “You might very well think that; BUT FOR LEGAL REASONS I couldn’t possibly comment.”

Find out about your state seat using our election interactive: <a href="/interactive/2015/nsw-election/electorates/electorates.html?el=Mount_Druitt" _rte_href="/interactive/2015/nsw-election/electorates/electorates.html?el=Mount_Druitt">Key facts on NSW electorates</a>

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

ICAC witness Jeff McCloy makes $1 million donation to Vanuatu disaster appeal

Former Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy has donated $1m to the Vanuatu appeal. Photo: Darren PatemanVanuatu cyclone: Tanna’s homeless desperate for waterCyclone Pam: At least eight Australians missing in VanuatuJeff McCloy disputes corruption findings over developments in New South Wales
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The man who told a corruption inquiry he felt at times like a “walking ATM” for politicians has made a $1 million donation to the Vanuatu disaster appeal.

Wealthy developer Jeff McCloy, the former mayor of Newcastle, kicked off the The Salvation Army’s relief efforts in cyclone-torn Vanuatu on Thursday with a donation he described as a “no-brainer”.

“Cyclone Pam has done untold damage to infrastructure in Vanuatu. With Australia being such a close neighbour, we need to do whatever we can to lend a hand,” Mr McCloy said.

“I’m personally committed to this task and I am calling on businesses, individuals, sporting groups and churches across the nation to get behind the Salvos’ Vanuatu Cyclone Pam Disaster Appeal by donating generously.”

Mr McCloy became famous for his largesse when admitted at the Independent Commission Against Corruption last year to giving envelopes containing $10,000 in cash to state Liberal candidates before the 2011 election.

As a property developer, he was prohibited from making political donations in NSW under laws which came into force on January 1, 2010.

“They all come to see me for money,” Mr McCloy said in the witness box. “I feel like a walking ATM some days.”

Mr McCloy launched a pre-emptive strike against the ICAC when he filed a High Court challenge to the political donations laws, seeking to have the ban on developer donations struck down on the basis it infringes the implied freedom of political communication in the Constitution.

The outcome of the case, which is due to be heard by full bench later this year, will affect the findings that can be made by the ICAC.

The Salvation Army’s Major Bruce Harmer said the Salvos were “extremely grateful to Mr McCloy for his significant donation to launch this appeal and for his ongoing support of the work of The Salvation Army”.

At least eight Australians have been missing in Vanuatu since the cyclone tore through the Pacific nation on Friday, claiming at least 24 lives.

“Tropical Cyclone Pam has caused extensive damage to communities in Vanuatu, especially those in more remote outlying Islands. Some have been forced to drink salt water in an attempt to remain hydrated whilst many have begun the long and costly process of putting their lives back together, one small step at a time with almost no support,” Major Bruce Harmer said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Why Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes aren’t talking

It seems a lot has changed since Tom Cruise declared his love for Katie Holmes while jumping on Oprah’s couch back in 2005.
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TMZ is reporting their relationship has reached a point of no communication.

“Our sources say there are bad feelings on both sides, and no desire on either Tom or Katie’s part to mend fences,” TMZ writes.

Not even matters regarding their eight-year-old daughter, Suri, could get the couple talking.

“They want nothing to do with each other to the point they don’t speak to one another, even about Suri,” a source told the site.

But the pair are said to have “intermediaries” who  they use for discussing their daughter.

The source claims Holmes is disappointed with 52-year-old Cruise’s  lack of involvement in Suri’s life, after the actor spent the past few months filming Mission Impossible 5 in London.

But TMZ’s “Tom sources” say Cruise will see Suri when he returns to LA on Thursday.

News of the tension comes after People reported Holmes was rumoured to be dating singer and actor Jamie Foxx, 47.

Apparently Cruise has some concerns with the influence Holmes’ boyfriends have on Suri.

“Multiple sources confirm the pair have been spending time together for well over a year – but it’s nothing serious,” People wrote.

“This is not some intense romance,” People’s source said.

“Jamie and Katie are friends and have been for a long time. They are two adults who are attractive and single, and so apparently conclusions will be drawn.”

The source added: “But contrary to those conclusions, they’re not about to run off and make some serious commitment.”

Though Holmes isn’t expected to take her relationship with Foxx to the next level, the Batman Begins actor told People she is “open to finding love again.”

Holmes and Cruise married in an Italian ceremony in 2006 and divorced in 2012.

Holmes’ new movie Mania Days premiered at SXSW last weekend.

After filming wrapped for the Mission Impossible sequel, the New York Post said Cruise’s next role will be in Mena, which tells the story of a “porky pilot” who trafficked drugs and guns.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.