Jewish community welcomes Netanyahu at Bondi Synagogue on controversial visit

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken warmly of his country’s relationship with Australia on a visit to the Central Synagogue in Bondi Junction on Wednesday evening.

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It comes after a day spent fielding questions over the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.

“There’s no better friend for the state of Israel,” Mr Netanyahu said of Mr Turnbull as the pair appeared before a 2000-strong Jewish congregation.

“But he’s had some standard bearers before him. John Howard and Tony Abbott.”

Both former prime ministers were seated just behind Mr Netanyahu in the synagogue and received huge applause from the congregation, which included NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, prominent lawyer Mark Leibler, retail billionaire Solomon Lew and Jeanne Pratt, widow of the late industrialist Richard Pratt.

Such adulation is harder to come by back at home for Mr Netanyahu, whose Likud party has been slipping in the opinion polls while he remains under police investigation into claims he wrongly accepted gifts from billionaires.

Mr Netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing, has also faced months of criticism over Israel’s rapid expansion of settlements on Palestinian-owned land in the West Bank – a move condemned by the United Nations.

Mr Turnbull spent much of the day defending Israel against the UN’s criticism.

Facing the congregation at his “local shul” – as he calls the synagogue in the heart of his Wentworth electorate – Mr Turnbull said Australia disassociated itself from the UN resolution because it attributed fault only to the state of Israel.

Mr Netanyahu said while he knew Israel was “much maligned” in the UN, he saluted Mr Turnbull for “standing up for Israel”.

“You refused to accept this hypocrisy,” he said.

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The Israeli leader sparked huge applause for speaking out about the need to “battle against those who seek to demonise Jews”, referring to a resurgence in anti-semitism in many parts of the world.

“It is something we need to fight together,” he said.

“I think this is important in Europe. It’s important in America. It’s very important that President Trump took a strong stand against anti-semitism.”

Mr Netanyahu left his crowd with an invitation.

“I want all of you to come to Israel. I want you to visit your friends and your families, I want you to walk the streets of the old city in Jerusalem and the Golan.

“We are part of you, you are part of us.”

Earlier, just hours after landing in Sydney for an historic four-day visit, Mr Netanyahu slammed suggestions by Bob Hawke and Kevin Rudd for wanting Australia to join 137 other countries in giving diplomatic recognition to an independent Palestine.

“What kind of state will it be that they are advocating?” Mr Netanyahu asked during a press conference at Kirribilli House after holding bilateral talks with his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday.

“A state that calls for Israel’s destruction? A state whose territory will be used immediately for radical Islam?”

Landed in Sydney for 1st-ever visit of an Israeli PM to Australia. Thanks for the warm welcome. I’m far from Israel, but feel at home. 🇮🇱🇦🇺 pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/qmUEuSKcJO

— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) February 21, 2017

The calls from Mr Hawke and Mr Rudd – both strong supporters of Israel and backed by former foreign ministers Gareth Evans and Bob Carr – are largely driven by concerns Israel’s expansion of Jewish settlements on land it occupies on the West Bank is damaging the prospects of peace with Palestinians.

The United Nations last December branded Israel’s settlements illegal under international law.

Australia at the time was a lone voice in defending Israel and accused the UN of being “one-sided”.

“Australia has been courageously willing to puncture UN hypocrisy more than once,” Mr Netanyahu said.

“The UN is capable of many absurdities and I think it’s important that you have straightforward and clear-eyed countries like Australia that often bring it back to earth,” he said after meeting Mr Turnbull.

Welcome to Australia Bibi & Sara! @netanyahu pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/ZoL8JqSzmb

— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) February 22, 2017

Mr Turnbull said he still believed that to be the case and that Australia still hopes a two-state solution with Israelis and the Palestinians living alongside each other can be achieved.

Referring to the Israeli leader’ by his nickname Bibi, Mr Turnbull suggested the circumstances could be right for both sides to restart peace talks, which last stalled in 2014.

One of the major sticking points in establishing independent states has been the Palestinians’ refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

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Mr Netanyahu said recognition was mandatory along with Israel having security control of all territories.

“If Israel is not there to ensure security, then that state very quickly will become another bastion of radical Islam,” he said.

“Other than that, I want the Palestinians to be able to govern themselves and to have all the freedoms to do so, but not the freedom to destroy the Jewish state.”

The Israeli leader and his wife Sara arrived in Sydney from Singapore on Wednesday morning, accompanied by a large business delegation to help develop trade and security ties with Australia.

His first official port of call in Sydney was the governor-general’s official residence Admiralty House, where he arrived by boat under police escort for talks with Sir Peter Cosgrove and Mr Turnbull.

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“We feel we are in the friendliest country possible,” Mr Netanyahu told Mr Turnbull as they sat down for talks on security, trade and the Middle East.

Mr Netanyahu paid tribute to the Light Horse Brigade’s liberation of Beersheba during World War I and Australia’s help in creating the Jewish state in 1947.

He later joined Mr Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at business luncheon, saying Israel was keen to develop an innovation partnership with Australia.

At the lunch, Mr Turnbull said Australia “deplored” the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which he said was designed “to delegitimise the Jewish state”.

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Climate change harms ocean hot spots:study

Six ocean hot spots that teem with the biggest mix of species are also getting hit hardest by global warming and industrial fishing, a study has found.

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An international study published in the journal Science Advances looked at 2100 species of fish, seabirds, marine mammals and even plankton to calculate Earth’s hot spots of marine biodiversity.

It also found overfishing and warming temperatures were hurting the lush life in these areas.

“In those hot spots, the changes are already happening,” says study co-author Andre Chiaradia, a senior scientist and penguin expert at the Phillip Island Nature Parks in Australia.

“They are the most at risk,” he said.

Researchers found the liveliest ocean hot spot also happens to be where the science of evolution sprouted: the Pacific Ocean off the central South American coast.

Other hot spots include the the southwestern Pacific off Australia’s southern and eastern coast, southwestern Atlantic Ocean off Argentina; the western Indian Ocean off the African coast; the central western Pacific Ocean surrounding Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines and the Oceania region of the Pacific around the international date line.

Four of the six hot spots are in the Pacific; all are either in the southern hemisphere or just north of the equator.

“What makes this biodiversity? It’s the isolation,” Chiardia said.

“On land, we have kangaroos and weird animals like the platypus. And in the ocean it’s not different.”

Penguins, which are near the top of the food chain, were a good example of the impact of changing water temperatures and currents, Chiardia said.

Warm El Nino waters have decimated Galapagos penguins and the population of southern African penguins had dropped by about 90 per cent in just 20 years.

Leaks, not Russia ties, worry Republicans

Rank-and-file Republicans are more concerned about leaks of conversations between Trump advisers and the Russian government than they are about the conversations themselves, according to a new opinion poll.

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The Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted between February 16 and February 20, shows US President Donald Trump has shifted opinions within a party where national security has been a top issue since the Cold War, the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato says.

“Republicans have now put a higher priority on their partisan identification and support for their current leader than principles they have had for many decades,” Sabato said.

“We live in such a polarised era.”

The poll asked people to pick one of two statements that was “the most concerning to you”.

The first statement cited “reports that Trump advisers were in repeated contact with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election”.

The second cited “US intelligence agents leaking details of conversations between Trump advisers and the Russian government to reporters”.

Overall, 43 per cent of Americans said they were most concerned about reports of the contacts with Russia.

Another 39 per cent said they were concerned about the leaks and 19 per cent said they did not know.

However, people who identified with the Republican Party appeared to be much more troubled by the leaks.

About 57 per cent said the leaks were the bigger concern, while 23 per cent said it was the Russian contacts, and another 20 per cent did not know.

Trump asked his national security adviser Michael Flynn to resign in February after reports he had discussed US sanctions with a Russian diplomat while Barack Obama was still president.

Yet, while the media focused on the contacts with Russia, Trump blamed Flynn’s departure on “criminal” leaks.

“The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?” Trump said in a tweet.

‘Reckless conduct’: Government reacts strongly to North Korea nuclear test

Australia wants North Korea to pay a significant price for its latest nuclear weapons test.

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The federal government is upping pressure on countries such as China to cut economic ties with Pyongyang following the powerful test of an advanced hydrogen bomb over the weekend.

China is hosting an economic conference this week – involving Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa – which President Xi Jinping sees as a demonstration of its international leadership.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, August 29, 2017.AAP

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says if China was to cut oil supplies to the rogue nation it would be unprecedented and would have a significant impact on North Korea.

“This is exponentially a more powerful test than we have seen in the past. It would be North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, we are still varifying if it was a hydrogen bomb, or what type of nuclear device, but nevertheless these tests are in direct defiance of the United Nations Security Council,” she told the Seven Network on Monday.

“We have to bring unprecedented pressure to bear because North Korea will have to pay a significant price for this latest nuclear test.”

0:00 Bishop warns North Korea after nuclear test Share Bishop warns North Korea after nuclear test

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A shallow, 6.3-magnitude earthquake shook North Korea on Sunday with Pyongyang later confirming it had successfully tested a bomb that possessed “great destructive power”.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull believes China is best placed to bring that pressure to bear, saying the latest test is a direct affront to Beijing.

“The Chinese are frustrated and dismayed by North Korea’s conduct, but China has the greatest leverage, and with the greatest leverage comes the greatest responsibility,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks during the WA Liberal State Conference in Perth on Saturday, September 2, 2017.AAP

“Right at that moment, Kim Jong Un has chosen to affront China, to defy China, and this calls for a strong Chinese response.”

Mr Turnbull released a joint statement earlier with Ms Bishop and Defence Minister Marise Payne claiming North Korea’s conduct was reckless.

“North Korea’s reckless conduct poses a grave danger to global peace and security,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in the statement.

The government says the UN Security Council should urgently consider further action against North Korea.

It has asked the council’s five permanent members and the international community to apply the maximum possible pressure to the “dangerous pariah regime”.

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“Now is the time for strengthened resolve by all members of the international community,” Mr Turnbull said.

The opposition joined the condemnation, describing it as a “provocative and extremely dangerous act”.

“North Korea’s repeated defiance of international law and UN Security Council resolutions is unacceptable,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said in a statement.

“All countries must fully implement UN Sanctions as agreed by the UN Security Council.”

Xenophon, Nash referred to the High Court over dual citizenship

Cabinet minister Fiona Nash’s eligibility to sit in parliament has been referred to the High Court because of her dual-citizenship.

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It was revealed in August she held British citizenship which under the constitution disqualifies anyone from being elected to parliament.

Attorney-General George Brandis on Monday said the government’s view was that Senator Nash was not ineligible to sit.

Crossbench senator Nick Xenophon has also been referred to the court following revelations he was a British citizen by descent.

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Senator Xenophon said he renounced any potential rights to citizenship of Greece or Cyprus before running for parliament in 2007, but it came to his attention in August that he may have British citizenship.

“I have always considered that I am only an Australian citizen,” Senator Xenophon told parliament, insisting he had since renounced any British citizenship.

Senator Brandis said the government supported Senator Xenophon’s referral to the court but was of the view that he was not disqualified.

“Senator Xenophon’s case illustrates how silly this has become,” he said.

Labor frontbencher Katy Gallagher also sought to clarify her position on Monday, following media speculation she held Ecuadorian citizenship.

Senator Gallagher said despite her mother having been born in the South American country, she had never received an Ecuadorian birth certificate and was never an Ecuadorian citizen.

She had since sought legal advice from two experts to confirm earlier legal advice that she too had never been an Ecuadorian citizen.

She had also renounced any entitlement to British citizenship through her father, she said.

“I am not a citizen of Ecuador, I am not a citizen of the United Kingdom. I am eligible to serve in this parliament,” she said.

Seven parliamentarians have now been referred to the High Court over holding dual citizenship, including Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, former cabinet minister Matt Canavan, One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts and two former Greens senators.

Meanwhile, a failed attempt by Pauline Hanson to establish an audit of the citizenship of all senators has been described as a “desperate stunt”.

The One Nation leader disrupted Senate business on Monday morning after the chamber rejected her plan, insisting the public had lost confidence in politicians.

Labor’s Doug Cameron slammed the move as a desperate stunt to cover for the fact there were doubts about the eligibility of her own senator, Malcolm Roberts.

Diamonds punished by New Zealand’s Mes

Bailey Mes’s value to New Zealand netball isn’t limited to her undoubted talents in the shooting circle and Australia’s Diamonds have seen that firsthand.

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Better known in the black dress as a goal shoot, Mes stepped up in Sunday’s 57-47 quad series win over Australia with a stand-out performance at goal attack.

She sunk 17 from 18 attempts, backing up Te Paea Selby-Rickit’s 35 from 41, but it was the 28-year-old’s work further up the court which proved a game-changer for New Zealand.

Not only did she work endlessly as a midcourt link into the circle, she was outstanding in generating turnover ball further up the court with a superb defensive effort.

Australian coach Lisa Alexander admitted her team didn’t cope well with Mes at goal attack, where she’s only played four quarters in the black dress, most recently in 2014.

“Bailey Mes in that centre third made a hell of a difference,” Alexander said.

“Because of her athleticism, I think she actually provided two points to the zone that haven’t been there before.

“We didn’t respect her enough, we threw into her hands deep into our defensive third, and that’s just unacceptable.”

Mes’s stunning performance gives Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby a new range of options when veteran Maria Tutaia returns from bereavement leave.

“Bailey did a hell of a lot of work up court on attack, and particularly on defence,” Southby said.”We’ve always known that she’s a really strong defender, and to pick up three intercepts was fantastic.”

Australia next face New Zealand in the four-match Constellation Cup series beginning in Auckland on October 5.

Malthouse, Harvey want AFL finals bye gone

AFL greats Mick Malthouse and Brent Harvey have joined Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson in calling for the league to scrap the pre-finals bye.

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This is the second year the AFL has had the week off between round 23 and the opening week of the finals.

It was introduced to stop finals-bound teams resting large groups of players in round 23.

The Western Bulldogs exploited the bye week superbly last year, becoming the first time in nine years to win the premiership from outside the top four.

Malthouse, a three-time premiership coach at West Coast and Collingwood, said at Monday’s launch of the finals series that there are other solutions.

The AFL announced Malthouse as presenter of the Jock McHale Medal to the premiership coach, while Harvey, the games record holder, is the premiership cup ambassador.

It was already known that controversial former Essendon coach James Hird will present the Norm Smith Medal to the player voted best afield in the grand final.

“I wouldn’t have the bye – the thing I would have, the last round of the year should be played identically, all over the country, the same time,” Malthouse said.

“So no club is aware, outside of the information you get at quarter-time and three-quarter time by your coaches, ‘listen, we need to step on the accelerator, because over in Adelaide they’re three goals in front’.

“By having a bye, you really do rob the top-four sides of any advantage.

“I know they have the double chance, but I’m not 100 per cent sure the sides that win this weekend will like having another week off – it’s quite drawn out.”

Malthouse does not agree with the rationale for having the bye.

“I’m a bit confused why we have (it) – if it’s because of Fremantle’s last game a couple of years ago where two thirds of the side were rested, action could have been taken then and that would have eliminated any sort of problems,” he said.

Harvey, a 1999 North Melbourne premiership player, retired at the end of last season.

“The fact that teams who finish outside that top four can rest players and prepare for the finals, probably in a way they couldn’t do a few years ago, it disadvantages the top four,” he said.

“For me, my whole career was based around continuity – with training and playing.

“One week off, you’re advantaged because your body probably needs that rest.

“But you don’t need a rest two weeks after you’ve already had a bye.”

Clarkson, a four-time premiership coach at Hawthorn, said last month the post-round 23 bye should be scrapped because it affects the integrity of the finals system.

Hanson burqa stunt ‘no security risk’ but Senate president still orders dress code review

The review was sparked by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson wearing a black burqa into the Senate chamber in August.

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The garment completely concealed her face.

Senator Hanson said her stunt exposed a security flaw at Parliament House. 

But Senate president Stephen Parry stressed security was not the reason for the review. 

“Any person entering Parliament House is not permitted through the security screening areas unless that person is clearly identified,” Senator Parry said on Monday morning. 

“If it was not clear who the person was, then I would have requested that the person be removed.”

There are currently no dress code rules under the Senate’s Standing Orders.

“I have today written to the Procedure Committee asking that it considers whether this practice should be modified,” Senator Parry said.

Senator Parry also asked the committee to consider giving the president the power to remove senators if they breach the chamber rules.

The power would be similar to that already held by the Speaker in the House of Representatives.

“I must say from a personal perspective I am disappointed that the Senate will be asked to consider implementing rules, rather than rely upon the personal discretion and good judgement of all Senators,” the president said.

Pauline Hanson said she was “not surprised” her burqa stunt had triggered a review.

“I don’t believe anyone should walk into that chamber at any time with a burqa or full facial covering at all,” she told reporters at Parliament House.

Senator Hanson has repeatedly said the incident was a security concern.

She said Senate security guards never checked her face by asking her to lift the veil on the burqa as she entered the chamber.

But Stephen Parry said a Parliament House guard was asked to escort her from her office to the chamber, on her office’s request. Her identity was checked when she first entered the House, and then vouched for at the chamber entrance by her colleague Senator Brian Burston.

“I want it clearly known that at no point was the integrity of the security of Parliament House ever placed at risk by Senator Hanson, or for that matter or any other person,” Senator Parry said.

Pauline Hanson also questioned whether dress code rules should extend beyond face coverings.

“I don’t believe a hat should be worn, as it is by one member in the chamber … [Labor senator Pat] Dodson,” she said.

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Analysis: What Kim Jong-un may be trying to prove

North Korea has put on an extraordinary two-part show of its nuclear ambitions, releasing photos of leader Kim Jong Un next to what it described as a hydrogen bomb for an intercontinental ballistic missile, then actually detonating a device in its sixth and by far most powerful nuclear test to date.

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The underground test, a major nose-thumb at Washington, Beijing and all of the North’s neighbours, follows an intense few months that have seen Kim launching missiles at record clip and in ways that are much more provocative than usual.

It was almost certainly intended to get under the skin of one man in particular: President Donald Trump, whose first salvo back, in a tweet, was: “North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States.”

Here’s a closer look at what the North did Sunday, and some of the possible reasons why.

Related readingThe morning teaser

Bright and early, North Korea’s state media started posting photos of Kim visiting the country’s Nuclear Weapons Institute to see what state media described as “a signal turn in nuclear weaponisation.”

A front-page story in the ruling-party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, carried photos of Kim watching a shiny, peanut-shaped device it said was a hydrogen bomb designed to be mounted into the North’s new “Hwasong-14” intercontinental ballistic missile. The North’s official news agency, KCNA, also released the photos, which were clearly intended to be seen by a global audience.

Whether the North can make a nuclear warhead small and light enough to put on top of a long-range missile has long been a matter of heated debate among foreign experts. This was clearly an attempt to address those doubts. The North in July had demonstrated for the first time that it has – or is very close to having – an operational ICBM, though experts still believe it could at best reach Chicago and will probably require another year or two to perfect.

The photos created a stir among missile and nuclear weapons experts on Twitter, with the general consensus being that the design appeared to look about right for a sophisticated thermonuclear warhead. The peanut shape is created by two rounded “stages” within the device that give it an extra boost and a far higher yield than simpler nuclear bombs.

The state media reports stressed that the bomb was made with domestic parts and workmanship, suggesting that more could be made without outside experts or imports.

Related readingBiggest blast yet

Before North Korea watchers had a chance to digest the photos, seismographs recorded a big tremor around 12.30 pm North Korea time.

Ground motion is a great indicator of an underground nuclear test, and sometimes the only one. The power of the blast, its location at the North’s nuclear testing site and the shallow epicentre left little doubt.

North Korea has repeatedly stated that it will continue to pursue nuclear weapons and long-range missiles capable of reaching the US because it sees that strategy as its only protection against what it believes is a hostile superpower bent on regime change or possibly outright invasion.

The device that was detonated on Sunday is believed to have a much bigger yield than anything the North has demonstrated – possibly 70 kilotons according to Japan’s defense minister.

That’s far more than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima (15 kilotons) and Nagasaki (around 20).

0:00 Turnbull slams North Korea after nuclear test Share Turnbull slams North Korea after nuclear test

A curtain raiser 

Starting with the launches of two ICBMs in July that are believed to have the range to strike the US mainland, North Korea has been far more aggressive in its military activities over the past few months than usual.

It’s possible Kim Jong Un – feeling either threatened or emboldened by Trump – has decided to hurry to get that nuclear deterrent his country wants.

But tensions on the Korean Peninsula rise every year in the spring and late summer, when the US and South Korea hold annual military exercises.

North Korea has stated it is, at least in part, responding to Washington’s decision to hold the exercises, which ended last week. It has also protested a new round of sanctions recently approved by the UN and the repeated dispatch of B-1B bombers from the island of Guam to the skies of South Korea – a show of force from Washington to reassure allies in Seoul and Tokyo.

North Korea’s state media reported that Kim said the launch of an intermediate range missile over Japan just a week ago was a “curtain-raiser” for more activity ahead.

Sunday’s test would certainly fit that bill.

But it will almost certainly raise the curtain on something else – a tougher response, either in sanctions, diplomatic isolation or a bolstered US military presence – that Kim and his top lieutenants will have to take into consideration as well.

Tigers’ AFL drought concerns Malthouse

Mick Malthouse is worried about Richmond’s barren AFL finals record under Damien Hardwick and suspects it would nag at their coach.

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The Tigers have rallied superbly this year to reach the top four for the first time under Hardwick, after missing last season’s top eight.

There is a growing mood of excitement at Punt Rd, especially given last week’s re-signing of Dustin Martin.

But the Tigers also lost three-straight elimination finals before last year and have not won a game in September since 2001.

Malthouse, a three-time premiership coach and a player in Richmond’s last premiership team 37 years ago, said the lack of a finals win cannot be ignored.

“It’s a good question, because the easy answer is just to dismiss it and go ‘it’s no worries’,” he said.

“But I think it does hang over you.

“It will hang over Damien for a while, because he’s had the side in the finals and they haven’t won a finals match.

“He won’t lose sleep over it, he won’t be thinking of it as they’re running down the race, but I guess there’s a little nagging thing there.”

But Malthouse said there would be only one relief for the Tigers – and that will not come by beating Geelong in Friday’s qualifying final.

“It would be handy to win one … (but) there’s no relief winning a final, it’s a relief when you win a premiership,” he said.

Malthouse, who will present the Jock McHale medal to the premiership coach, admits to a soft spot for the Tigers ahead of the finals.

“Any club where you’ve bled and (had) broken bones and probably broken bones, you have a soft spot,” he said.

“Every club I’ve been to – and I know I’ve been to a lot of them – they’ve had a special place.

“But when you see a club like that, who have come from where they did last year, and the way they’ve played their footy this year, and they find themselves in the top four … it’s fantastic for the Tigers.

Malthouse would love to no longer be a member of Richmond’s “most recent” premiership team.

“I don’t go home and polish it every day (his player’s premiership medal), I will give you the tip – I don’t even know where it is,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter who wins, but if the Tigers win, it will be fantastic.”

Penrith can overcome Moylan saga: Wallace

Veteran Peter Wallace is adamant Penrith can overcome the speculation over captain Matt Moylan’s future which threatens to damage their NRL finals campaign.

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Moylan was set to meet with club general manager Phil Gould on Monday amid reports that he is unhappy and rival clubs are circling.

It’s bad timing for Penrith who are preparing for a sudden-death final against at Allianz Stadium Manly on Saturday.

Fronting the NRL finals launch in place of Moylan on Monday, Wallace denied the saga would affect their chances of reversing last Saturday’s defeat by the Sea Eagles.

“There’s never a good time but it just so happens to be now,” Wallace said.

“It’s not a distraction for us. I know the whole team’s excited about playing this week and they’re not going to let anything distract us. It’s got nothing to do with us.

“Matt and the club will sort that out and then move forward.”

Wallace is currently deputising as skipper for an injured Moylan but believes the 26-year-old should remain the long-term captain, a role he was appointed to at the start of last season.

“Moyza’s the captain and there’s a lot of pressure that comes from being a captain. I think he’s handled it the best he can. It’s all a learning curve too when you first start,” Wallace said.

“Obviously I want him to stay. He’s an integral part of what we’re trying to do here. I’d love to see him stay but that’s obviously between Matt and the club and they’ll sort that out.”

Moylan’s fitness status for the Manly clash is also up in the air after he missed the team’s final two regular season games with a hamstring injury.

Rookie fullback Dylan Edwards too is racing the clock to overcome a knee injury, and Wallace wasn’t confident either player would prove their fitness in time for Sunday’s elimination final.

“I don’t expect them to play, (but) I’m hoping they will play,” Wallace said.

“They’re going to have to do some running this week and some fitness tests to see how they’re travelling and there’ll be a call made later in the week.

“Obviously we’d love to get them back but they’re going to have to do a bit of work before they prove their fitness.”

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is likely to be named at fullback after Dean Whare was switched out of the position midway through Saturday’s game at Lottoland.

North Korea at the tipping point: why we’ve just seen a gamechanger on the Korean peninsula

At the beginning of the northern summer, just three months ago, no one thought North Korea had a missile that could reach the United States.

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That all changed on July 4 when North Korea successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-14, which could travel as far as Alaska. Weeks later, they tested another Hwasong-14,  with a likely range as far as New York. They even released stamps to commemorate the occasion. 

A North Korean commemorative stamp released in July. KCNA

The same weapon could also reach Australia. It’s designed to carry a nuclear warhead.

Now Pyongyang has conducted what the Japanese and South Korean governments have confirmed was a sixth nuclear test, claiming it was a hydrogen bomb that can be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. 

If that is true, the risk calculations change completely.

No defence analysts expect the US to initiate a nuclear conflict with North Korea, although if Pyongyang made a nuclear strike at Korea, Japan, Guam or US bases in the region, that would certainly invite nuclear retaliation from the US.

But Pyongyang has also insisted that its nuclear capacity is only for retaliation or deterrence.

That’s why defence analysts think that Kim Jong-un is not actually insane, despite western opinions to the contrary. They think he is a rational actor, and the North’s frequent weapons tests are necessary steps in acquiring a nuclear deterrent against the US, because Kim believes that will give him his best chance of achieving his objectives.

Kim’s number one priority is the survival of his regime.

“Kim Jong-un is not a crazy man,” said Professor Sung-han Kim, Dean of the Graduate School of International Studies at Korea University in Seoul. “He knows that he will be dead if he triggers a war. He is thus obsessed with preserving his own regime by maximizing his leverage – through improving nuclear and ICBM capabilities – over the US in the future negotiations.”

The point is that once he has reliable nuclear weapons that could land on San Francisco within half an hour’s flight, Kim can make the US considerably less likely to launch a nuclear attack against him no matter what else he does, as well as give him more bargaining power at the table. 

0:00 The three latest Intercontinental Ballistic Missile tests by North Korea. Share The three latest Intercontinental Ballistic Missile tests by North Korea.

That’s because a military intervention designed to stop the North’s nukes program would be so catastrophic. The likelihood of success of a “limited” strike targeting the leadership is slim, with a whole range of unpredictable consequences. Even a conventional war on the Korean peninsula would likely see at least hundreds of thousands killed in a conflict that could last months and paralyse South Korea, a country of 50 million and the world’s 12th largest economy.

But not everyone agrees.

Asian security expert Dr Malcolm Davis from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra said “if we live with a nuclear North Korea they can build up their nuclear forces. … [In ten years] they would have perfected their ICBM and also their submarine-launched ballistic missiles which would give them what’s known as an assured second strike capability, that then makes it much more difficult to place pressure on North Korea in the future.”

A nuclear arms build up in North Korea would lead to a classic security dilemma, where other states respond in kind, producing a spiral toward open conflict even when no side actually wants it.

In other words, if you let North Korea develop its nukes, South Korea and Japan will want them too. Then China would beef up its nuclear arsenal, which would invite a reaction from the US, Russia and India.

“So you have this potential for a much more dangerous nuclear scenario emerging globally as a result of learning to live with a nuclear North Korea,” Dr Davis said. “It may actually be better to try to remove that threat of a nuclear North now rather than letting it build up and having to deal with it when it’s much stronger later.”

Dr Davis said the best option left would be re-deploying US tactical nuclear forces in South Korea that were removed at the end of the Cold War, and strengthening missile defence systems, which is already underway. 

Under Kim Jong-un, missile tests have increased dramatically in frequency compared to his predecessors.SBS World News

Under Kim Jong-un, missile tests have increased dramatically in frequency compared to his predecessors. 

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop is putting her faith in the UN sanctions announced by the Security Council on August 5, which are supposed to be implemented by early September. 

The sanctions are the strongest ever – a ban on US$1 billion worth of exports for a country with total exports valued at US$3 billion last year – and it was significant that both Russia and China supported them. They are intended to pressure Kim to return to the negotiating table. But implementation has been problematic in the past, and the US President appeared sceptical of their value after the test on Sunday.

South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2017

Korea University’s Professor Sung-han Kim said public opinion in South Korea is turning against sanctions.

“More and more the South Korean people are frustrated with the effect of economic sanctions due to the lukewarm attitude of China. The voice of supporting South Korea going nuclear or redeploying US tactical nuclear weapons is getting stronger,” he told SBS News. 

Some who believe sanctions will fail again are advocating the so-called “freeze-freeze” model proposed by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in June and explained here in detail by Douglas Mo for the the Council on Foreign Relations.

In this model the US would suspend US-South Korean military exercises “in exchange for the suspension of North Korean missile development and testing.” China would monitor North Korea’s compliance and provide security assurances. 

But Dr Davis is sceptical, saying the North would not genuinely stop its nuclear weapons development.

“And in return for doing that the US has to back out of a key alliance relationship … South Korea would lose confidence in the US, Japan would lose confidence in the US ….Both China and Russia gain as a result of that … At the end of the day it’s rewarding North Korea for its bad behaviour. I don’t see it as credible option.”

A North Korean stamp commemorating the country’s second Hwasong-14 missile test in July 2017. KCNA

Professor Sung-Chull Kim from the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University and co-author of the 2017 book North Korea and Nuclear Weapons told SBS News that while there is strong support in the south for the US alliance, there is some frustration about the failure of a string of US presidents to take the problem seriously and find a way to get back to the negotiating table with Pyongyang.

“Mr Trump is not popular in Korea… but the issue is not personal popularity,” he said.

“There is a kind of cycle of expectation but frustration – a little hope of North Korea’s stepping forward for a talk with the US, [then] North Korea’s provocative tests, and the US [having] no apparent intention of talking.

“Gradually deterrence will become the only means to deal with North Korea’s nuclear [capacity], a situation that is against our hope and objective.”

 

Parliament hears tales of family violence

More than half the Australians who responded to a parliamentary call for experiences of family violence say they felt unsafe when they went to court.

长沙夜网

Fifty seven per cent of the more than 3800 respondents to the questionnaire created by a committee looking into a better family law system reported feeling unsafe during court appearances.

More than 80 per cent of respondents said they had been the target of family violence.

Many told of how the court they attended had no separate facilities for victims and how they felt unsafe.

Other anonymous responses revealed how women had to queue with their children in the same entrance as the perpetrator.

“Interacting with my ex-partner in court triggered post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms for me, there should be as minimal contact as possible,” was another of the responses released by the committee.

Other findings from the survey include:

* 78 per cent were not offered a safety plan regarding their court appearance.

* Almost 50 per cent of respondents had legal proceedings in more than one court.

* Of those, 82 per cent felt unsatisfied with the coordination between courts.

* Almost 70 per cent of respondents were women.

Committee chair and Liberal MP Sarah Henderson said they wanted to give people a voice.

“It is of course a great tragedy that so many Australians have experienced family violence,” she said on Monday.

The next hearing will be held on Tuesday.

National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.