TIME Australia

Abuses at Nauru Detention Center Prompts Australian Senate to Advise Moving Families

Protesters hold placards at the 'Stand up for Refugees' rally held in central Sydney
David Gray—Reuters Protesters hold placards at the 'Stand up for Refugees' rally held in central Sydney Oct. 11, 2014

"The government should develop a plan for the removal of children"

Asylum seekers who were transferred to a processing center on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru after arriving in Australia as refugees may be moved again due to endemic sexual assault, rape and child abuse.

An Australian senate committee report published Monday recommends the government relocate children and families from the island after finding conditions not “appropriate or safe” for detainees due to a raft of serious allegations.

“The government should develop a plan,” the committee wrote in its latest report, “for the removal of children from the Nauru [Regional Processing Center, or RPC] as soon as possible, with their families where they have them.”

It also wrote that the center should “move towards becoming a more open, lower security living arrangement,” and asked for continued legal review and additional reports by Dec. 31, 2016.

Once home to a thriving phosphate mine, Nauru is now awash with refugee accommodation made from white vinyl marquees. More than 2,000 people have been transferred to the center since 2012 as Australia implemented a new harsh immigration policy based on three pillars: Turning or towing back boats at sea; forcing asylum seekers to live in offshore detention facilities in Nauru and Papua New Guinea; and a blanket ban on “boat people” being resettled in Australia.

Human-rights groups condemned the policy and serious allegations quickly emerged, including allegations of horrific abuses in the Forgotten Children report by the Australian Human Rights Commission in November 2014 and in the Moss Review in February 2015.

In response to these allegations and the committees’ recommendations, dissenting senators denied full responsibility for the detainees’ situation, writing, “Nauru owns and administers the Nauru Regional Processing Center, under Nauruan Law.”

This position was supported by the secretary of Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Michael Pezzullo.

“The government of Nauru operates the RPC, assess asylum claims and, where persons are found to be in need of protection, arranges settlement,” Pezzullo told a June 9 public hearing.

A previous resettlement plan that sought to move detainees from Nauru to Cambodia fell apart on Monday when Cambodian officials said they would no longer accept any refugees. The Southeast Asian nation had agreed to receive unlimited number of the asylum seekers in exchange for $28.5 million in development aid from Australia. Only four people were ever transferred.

TIME Cambodia

Has Australia’s Plan to Resettle Asylum Seekers in Cambodia Already Ended in Failure?

A man rides a motorcycle past a house that is used to temporarily house asylum seekers sent from a South Pacific detention centre, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia August 31, 2015.
Pring Samrang—Reuters A man rides a motorcycle past a house that is used to temporarily house asylum seekers sent from a South Pacific detention centre, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia August 31, 2015.

Just four people have been resettled under the plan

Cambodia said Monday that the country had no plans to accept any more refugees living on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru.

Just four detainees—an Iranian couple, a Rohingya man from Burma (formally known as Myanmar) and another Iranian man—have moved to the Southeast Asian nation under a $39 million controversial deal with Canberra, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. The group were transferred in June and are reportedly living in villas in the capital Phnom Penh.

“We don’t have any plans to import more refugees from Nauru to Cambodia,” Interior Ministry spokesperson Khieu Sopheak told local paper the Cambodia Daily. “I think the less we receive the better.”

Australian immigration officials also failed to sign any more Nauru detainees up for the resettlement program in June, July and August.

However, speaking to reporters in Sydney, Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop denied the pact had collapsed, saying Cambodia was committed to the resettlement deal, reports Reuters.

Under the pact, which was signed last September, Cambodia is meant to accept an unlimited number of the asylum seekers currently being held on Nauru in exchange for $28.5 million in development aid from Australia. A further $11 million was to be used for healthcare, housing, education and training for the new arrivals.

Human rights groups and opposition leaders in Cambodia and Australia have slammed the deal for sending vulnerable people to an impoverished country that itself has a long history of abuses against asylum seekers.

Australia has repeatedly vowed that no asylum seeker trying to reach its shores by boat would ever be resettled in the country. Instead, such arrivals are sent to offshore processing camps on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

[SMH]

TIME Music

Tyler, the Creator Says He’s Banned From Entering the U.K.

Tyler, The Creator performs live on Day Three of the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival on Aug. 2, 2015 in Montreal.
Emma McIntyre—Getty Images Tyler, the Creator performs live on Day Three of the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival on Aug. 2, 2015, in Montreal

He canceled four performances on Monday

Rapper Tyler, the Creator says he’s been banned from entering the U.K. because of lyrics from his 2009 album, Bastard.

The rapper, born Tyler Gregory Okonma, canceled four performances in the country on Monday, cryptically blaming it at the time on “circumstances” that were “beyond my control.”

Okonma has been criticized for the violent, often homophobic nature of his music, with one writer accusing the artist of “rape and murder fantasies graphic enough to send the vomit rising along with the bile.”

Okonma’s manager, Christian Clancy, posted a statement on his Tumblr, saying the British Home Department had sent a letter banning his client for three to five years based on work that “encourages violence and intolerance of homosexuality.” Clancy accused the British government of censorship and inconsistency, pointing out that Okonma had visited the country several times over the past few years.

Earlier this summer, Okonma tweeted about being banned from Australia, but it turned out a feminist-advocacy group, Collective Shout, had campaigned to keep him out of the country, and that the rapper and his touring company canceled the Australian stop. Australia’s Immigration Department confirmed at the time that his visa application was being examined but said that no final decision had been made.

On Wednesday, Okonma tweeted his confusion about the situation.

TIME Australia

Tourist Rescued Thanks to SOS Message in Sand

He wandered through the bush and got lost

A British man trying to take a shortcut through the bush back to his camp soon found himself lost in Jardine National Park in north Queensland, Australia, and was only rescued after he wrote for help in the sand.

The man, Geoff Keys, wrote on his blog that he realized he was lost after going for a long swim. “And here is where I made one of the stupidest decisions ever. Instead of turning round and swimming back upstream I decided to take to the bush and cut across to the track. It was nearly dark. I had no shoes. What was I thinking of? Well, I was convinced the track was nearby and walking back would have been easier than swimming. So I took a bearing off the setting sun and the rising moon and headed north, back the way I’d come.”

After he continued to wander lost into the night, Keys realized that he would have stop for the night. After the sun rose, Keys heard the sound of a distant helicopter and sent out an SOS message, writing “HELP 2807” in the sand. The helicopter, which had been searching for him after his friends reported him missing, spotted his sign and Keys was rescued.

Keys also wrote on his blog, “It’s safe to say that I’m very grateful to everyone involved in my rescue. Their skill and professionalism is incredible. I feel stupid but lucky,” before reassuring his friends and family that he wouldn’t try a similar shortcut again.

[ITV]

TIME World

This Professor Will Live as David Bowie for a Yearlong Study

He’s even going so far as to mimic Bowie’s diet, which at one point solely consisted of red peppers and milk

There’s a fine line between flattery and academia, and Will Brooker is straddling it.

The Kingston University professor of film and cultural studies has embarked on a yearlong study of legendary musician David Bowie to try to understand the mind frame Bowie was in during his formative music years.

“The idea is to inhabit Bowie’s head space at points in his life and career to understand his work from an original angle,” Brooker says, via Kingston’s website, “while retaining a critical and objective perspective at the same time — a kind of split persona perhaps.”

His dedication is impressive: Brooker consumes only the books and films Bowie would have during particular periods leading up albums. He’s even going so far as to mimic Bowie’s diet, which at one point solely consisted of red peppers and milk.

“If you’re reading some science fiction and books about magic, you can kind of get into Bowie’s head,” Brooker says. “You can see it’s sometimes quite a strange place, a dangerous place, a place you wouldn’t want to live too long.”

The only more ambitious thing the professor could have undertaken would be to extend the length of his research to five years for a timely tie-in to Bowie’s forthcoming reissued discography.

Learn more about the Brooker’s study at Kingston’s website, and watch a brief interview with the professor on Australia’s ABC Radio about the endeavor.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME Bizarre

Watch This Crazed Koala Race After a Quad Bike and Terrify the Driver

Because Australia

Koalas may seem cuddly and cute, but this one was sure as hell determined to chase down a fast-moving quad bike.

In a video she posted on Facebook on Saturday, Australian dairy farmer Ebony Churchill is seen riding her four-wheeler to go herd cows. She recognizes a koala she’s seen on her farm before, thinking little of it. But a peaceful sighting quickly becomes a desperate race, as the little koala starts to run after her vehicle.

“He was in love with me and I rejected him so he chased me,” Churchill told the Advertiser, Adelaide’s local paper, jokingly.

But Churchill quickly realized it was no laughing matter. Deakin University wildlife and conservation biologist Desley Whisson told Mashable that koalas can be quite dangerous. “Make sure that there is another object between you and the koala so that it can’t climb you. The claws are nasty,” she said.

As shown in the video, Churchill eventually stopped the vehicle and climbed off for this exact reason. “The more I sped up, the faster he got … I didn’t want to have him grabbing at my leg as I was on the bike,” she told the Advertiser.

Once she got off, the video shows the koala gripping onto one of the tires. Eventually, she told the Advertiser, he climbed off and walked away, but only after she’d made sure to get far away and herd her cows by foot instead.

TIME Surfing

Surfer and Shark-Attack Survivor Mick Fanning Ditches Yellow Board Over Safety Fears

Billabong Pro Teahupoo
Kelly Cestari—World Surf League/Getty Images Mick Fanning of Australia won his first heat back in competition at the Billabong Pro Tahiti after his shark encounter in South Africa four weeks ago in Teahupo'o, French Polynesia, on August 15, 2015.

Some divers call the color "yum yum yellow" for its ability to attract sharks

Australian surfer Mick Fanning—who made headlines around the world last month after he fended off a shark attack in South Africa’s Jeffreys Bay on live television—was back in competition for the first time since that incident this weekend, but without his trusty yellow surfboard.

After hearing that some divers called the color of his old board “yum yum yellow” because it is thought to attract sharks, Fanning opted to swap his yellow board for blue and black one, Australian news portal news.com.au reports.

“To tell you the truth, I didn’t know exactly what was going to go through my head,” Fanning said in a videoblog entry posted online, describing the mild nerves he experienced before his return to competition. But after winning his first heat at Teahupo’o, French Polynesia, he said it felt “just like any other game day really.”

With a successful return behind him, Fanning now wants to focus on winning his fourth world championship. “There’s been so much hype about the incident in J-Bay and so much media attention,” Fanning told news.com.au. “And I just want to move on.”

[news.com.au]

TIME Australia

Australian Fisherman Removes Fishing Line From Whale’s Mouth

Good Samaritan to the rescue

An Australian fisherman says he had a close encounter with a whale when it apparently came looking for help.

Ivan Iskenderian was fishing with some friends in Middle Harbour, Sydney, when he spotted a whale in trouble swimming next to his boat, according to Seven Network, an Australian television network.

“It was lifting its head up and it had a bit of plastic bag and some fishing line on its head,” Iskenderian told the network.

Iskenderian said the whale just swam up next to him and his friends.

“I sorta just reached out, (the whale) sorta wanted me to grab…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Australia

Aussie Doctor Suggests People Consider the Diets of Holocaust Victims If They Want to Lose Weight

70th Anniversary Of The Liberation Of The Dachau Concentration Camp
Joerg Koch—Getty Images The central memorial of the former Dachau concentration camp site, seen on May 1, 2015 in Dachau, Germany.

Well known medic makes the remarks on live TV

A prominent Australian doctor has suggested that obese or overweight people could ponder victims of the Nazi Holocaust and the harsh dietary regimes they were forced to follow.

Dr. Ric Gordon, who appears regularly as a medical expert on morning show Today made the program’s host visibly uncomfortable when he remarked during the live Wednesday broadcast that “There were no overweight people in the concentration camps.”

He was attempting to support his view that ultimately diet and not exercise is responsible for weight loss.

“Now, they weren’t exercising a lot, they just weren’t eating,” Gordon added.

According to an educational website run by the London Jewish Cultural Centre, diets in the Nazi-run camps consisted of imitation coffee or tea for breakfast, “watery soup” for lunch and 300 grams of bread for dinner, together with “a tiny piece of sausage, or margarine, marmalade or cheese.”

Far from not “exercising a lot,” many prisoners were forced to do tough manual labor in slave-like conditions.

The site says: “The lack of food, poor diet and hard labor caused the prisoners to suffer from starvation sickness. They lost weight and muscle tissue and many thousands died. Others became too weak to work and were then murdered in the gas chambers.”

Today host Karl Stefanovic distanced himself from Gordon on set, saying “Righto, see you very soon” before addressing the audience with “He said it, not me.”

TIME Australia

An Australian Senator Says Many Gay Men Don’t Want to Marry, Because Dolce And Gabbana

G20 Labour And Employment Ministerial Meeting Opens In Melbourne
Graham Denholm—Getty Images Australian Minister for Employment, Senator Eric Abetz opens the G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting on September 10, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia

Opposition to gay marriage remains strong in Australia's ruling coalition

An Australian federal Senator, Eric Abetz, has cited unmarried gay fashion moguls Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana—who had a romantic relationship as well as a business one—as examples of his belief that not all gay men want to marry.

The Australian Financial Review said he made the remarks during a closed meeting of lawmakers from the ruling conservative coalition on Tuesday, called to halt a same-sex marriage vote in the country’s Parliament.

According to an unnamed source cited by the Review, Abetz declared “Lots of homosexuals don’t want to get married, Dolce and Gabbana never got married.”

A spokesman from the senator’s office told TIME that he would not confirm the senator’s exact words because the meeting was private, but added: “We have not denied that the Minister said during the meeting that not all members of the gay community believe in marriage and that many have the same view as Dolce and Gabbana in relation to this.”

The spokesman stressed that the senator did not say that all gay men did not want to get married, only that “not all” gay men “have the same view on this question.”

In a March interview with CNN, Dolce said: “The beauty of the world is freedom…We love gay couple. We are gay. We love gay couple. We love gay adoption. We love everything.”

Opposition to gay marriage remains strong in Australia’s ruling coalition. Earlier this year, agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce argued that same-sex marriage would hurt cattle exports.

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