‘No fly zone’ at night for Badgerys: ALP

Labor wants to ban night flights over western Sydney suburbs as part of its Badgerys Creek airport plan if the party wins power, but the government says the idea has not been thought through.

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Announcing the policy in the crucial federal election battleground on Thursday, Opposition transport spokesman Anthony Albanese said the plan would eliminate airport noise but still allow 24-hour access.

Flights between 11am and 6am would be forced to take off and land to the southwest of the airport over unpopulated areas.

“No single community should suffer from airport noise beyond what is necessary,” Mr Albanese told reporters on Thursday.

However the federal government has flagged concerns about Labor’s plans to restrict aircraft to specific flight paths or runways during high winds or rain.

Transport Minister Darren Chester said he’d received expert advice that forcing aircraft to land or take off with a tailwind up to the recommended limit was irresponsible.

“Locking in one runway option only for night operations at Western Sydney Airport is reckless in terms of safety and the economic benefits for Sydney and Australia,” he said in a statement to AAP.

“Labor put the Western Sydney Airport in the too hard basket for six years and is now making it up as it goes along.”

But Mr Albanese said advances in technology had made it possible for planes to land into the wind.

He said flight restrictions similar to what Labor proposed were in place at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith airport and could easily be incorporated at Badgerys Creek.

Daylight air traffic noise would also be dispersed under Labor’s plan.

“So, no noise at night but significantly as well, a commitment to ensure that there’s no concentration of aircraft noise during the day, either.”

Mr Albanese said the proposed night flight paths had factored in urban sprawl, with the population expected to boom along the growth corridor.

India heat wave: more than 100 feared dead

More than 100 people are feared dead in India in an early-summer heat wave which forced schools to close and halted outdoor work like construction, government officials said.

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Neighbouring Pakistan, which suffered its hottest spell in decades last year, plans to open 500 response centres to provide shelter and cold water to people if a heat-wave warning is issued, a government official said. No heat deaths have yet been reported.

India’s hottest months are May and June, but some states have already registered temperatures in excess of 40C, forcing authorities to take emergency steps.

In the southern Indian state of Telangana, 45 people have died from heat exposure, and another 17 in Andhra Pradesh, officials said. Some 43 were believed to have died in neighbouring Odisha, although an official there said each of the deaths was being investigated.

Y.K. Reddy, a director at the Indian Meteorological Department, said Telangana has recorded its highest April temperatures since at least 2006.

Reddy said there were worries the death toll in Telangana could rise and his department was issuing heat-wave warnings to advise people to stay indoors.

Schools in Telangana were shut last week two weeks before their summer holidays. As an emergency measure, Odisha has ordered schools to remain closed until April 26 and banned construction work during the hottest times of day.

Some small-scale businesses were already suffering.

“I am closing my shop before noon because it is too hot,” said Tulu Sahu, a small grocery seller in Bhubaneshwar city in Odisha. “You cannot stay in the shop.”

Pakistan, where extreme heat killed more than 1000 people during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan last year, has started gearing up to tackle any sudden rise of patients who report heat-related illnesses.

Bank document proves Nine payment: lawyer

A document that appears to show a direct payment of $A69,000 from the Nine Network to the company engaged to snatch two Australian children from their Lebanese father has been released to AAP by a Beirut lawyer.

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Dated January 22, 2016, the “payment detail report” generated by ANZ bank notes the fee drawn from the network’s account is for “investigation into my missing child.”

If genuine, the document verifies claims by the head of the child recovery team, Adam Whittington, that he was paid directly by Nine to come to Beirut and take the children of Australian mother Sally Faulkner from their Lebanese father.

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“This is the first instalment of two payments that were given to my client by Channel 9,” lawyer Joe Karam told AAP.

Nine has refused to comment on claims it paid the child recovery company CARI directly and has since launched an internal investigation into the story and the legal mess four of its staff are facing.

Ms Faulkner and the 60 Minutes team, including journalist Tara Brown, were arrested soon after the botched recovery operation and spent nearly two weeks in jail before being released on bail on Wednesday after intensive legal negotiations.

The 60 Minutes team flew out of Lebanon soon after, but Ms Faulkner remains in the country, desperate to see her children, Lahela, 5 and Noah, 3, before she returns to Australia.

As part of the deal to convince her estranged husband Ali Elamine to drop the charges against her and the Australian journalists, Faulkner gave up custody of her children and will be only allowed to see them in Lebanon or a third country, not in Australia.

Norway violated human rights of mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, judge rules

Norway violated mass killer Anders Behring Breivik’s human rights by keeping him in a “completely locked world” after being sentenced for killing 77 people in twin attacks in 2011, a court has ruled.

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Wednesday’s ruling, which took many by surprise, found that the killer had been subjected to strip searches, had been woken up hourly by guards for long periods and that the authorities had done little to alleviate the impact of his isolation.

Breivik killed eight people in a bomb attack in Oslo in July 2011 before attacking a youth meeting of the Labour Party on an island to the northwest of the capital, killing 69 people.

He took Norwegian authorities to court in March, accusing them of exposing him to inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Breivik protested his isolation from other inmates and from outsiders who are not professionals.

“The prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment represents a fundamental value in a democratic society. This applies no matter what – also in the treatment of terrorists and killers,” judge Helen Andenaes Sekulic said in her ruling.

The verdict said the Norwegian state had broken Article 3 of the convention, pointing to the fact that Breivik is spending 22 to 23 hours a day alone in his cell.

The ruling, however, said the Norwegian state had not violated Breivik’s right to a private and family life.

It said strict censorship of his letters was “in line with the law”.

Breivik wants to exchange letters with outsiders, including several far-right extremists.

The state must pay Breivik’s legal fees of some 331,000 Norwegian crowns ($A52,090), the judge ruled.

Breivik’s lawyer Oeystein Storrvik declined to say what Breivik’s reaction was to the ruling but his client would not appeal the part of the verdict that ruled against him..

Lawyers representing the state said they would consider whether to appeal.

The justice minister, Anders Anundsen, whose ministry was being sued by Breivik, did not say whether the verdict would be appealed.

Women bombers kill 8 at Nigeria camp

Two female suicide bombers have killed at least eight people at a camp for people displaced by the jihadist Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria.

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The bombings happened around 8am local time on Wednesday in the town of Banki on the edge of Borno state, near the border with Cameroon. An attack in February on an internally displaced persons camp, also in Borno, killed 60 people.

Details of Wednesday’s attack were slow to emerge as Banki is remote and largely disconnected from mobile phone networks.

The state of Borno is where Boko Haram began their insurgency seven years ago. The group wants to create a state adhering to strict sharia law.

“Two female suicide bombers who were initially thought to be IDPs blew themselves up in the camp,” said Khalid Aji, a member of a grassroots community security group based in Konduga, a Borno district nearly 100km from Banki.

“The first one occurred at about 8am and the second followed few minutes later. Eight people died and 12 were wounded,” he added.

Aji said members of his organisation in Banki who helped to evacuate victims gave him details of the attack.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.

A senior Nigeria Customs Service official, who asked not to be named, also said eight people were killed but put the number of wounded at 15.

Banki, which is around 120km from the state capital Maiduguri, was seized by Boko Haram in 2013 but Nigerian troops drove the militant group out of the town early last year.

Boko Haram once controlled an area roughly the size of Belgium in northeast Nigeria, but in early 2014 they were pushed out by Nigerian troops aided by soldiers from neighbouring countries.

The jihadist group has since stepped up cross-border attacks and carried out suicide bombings in markets, bus stations and places of worship.

Nine launches review into 60 Minutes saga

Nine Network has launched a review into the botched 60 Minutes Lebanon story that resulted in four of its staff being jailed for a fortnight on kidnapping charges.

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Chief executive Hugh Marks told staff it was an “enormous relief” to have reporter Tara Brown, producer Stephen Rice, cameraman Ben Williamson and sound recordist David Ballment on their way home after charges against them were dropped overnight.

But the crew and Nine should have never become “part of the story”, Mr Marks said in an email obtained by AAP.

The 60 Minutes crew spent 14 days behind bars after they were arrested filming mother Sally Faulkner’s attempt with a child recovery team to snatch her two children with estranged husband Ali Elamine off a busy Beirut street and take them to back to Brisbane.

The TV crew was released on bail overnight and left Lebanon on Thursday Australian time for Dubai ahead of making their final journey home.

“At no stage did anyone from Nine or 60 Minutes intend to act in any way that made them susceptible to charges that they breached the law or to become part of the story that is Sally’s story,” Mr Marks said.

“But we did become part of the story and we shouldn’t have.”

Former 60 Minutes executive producer Gerald Stone will head the review, alongside Nine executive David Hurley and the broadcaster’s in-house general counsel Rachel Launders.

The internal inquiry will “ascertain what went wrong and why our systems, designed to protect staff, failed to do so in this case”.

60 Minutes team begin to make their way home to Australia, with 9News’ Darren Wick. pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/TBhL4Qd4gD

— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) April 20, 2016

Since the crew and Ms Faulkner were arrested on April 7, Nine has been accused of violating ethical and legal codes, fielding unconfirmed speculation the station funded the kidnapping carried out by a professional child recovery agency.

Nine has declined to comment on reports it hired and paid professional kidnappers on Ms Faulkner’s behalf, or paid Mr Elamine compensation as part of the release deal brokered on Wednesday.

But in his email, Mr Marks reiterated no one from Nine had acted with the intention of falling foul of Lebanese law.

He praised the 60 Minutes crew and their families and thanked them for “the trust they placed in us to resolve events”.

“This has been an extraordinarily stressful time for the crew and for their families,” Mr Marks said.

“I want to very publicly acknowledge how much they have been through and thank them for their courage.”

He also thanked the federal government, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and consular officials in Lebanon for “working around the clock” to secure the TV crew’s release.

Under the Hague Convention, people who believe their children have been wrongfully removed from Australia or retained overseas may apply to have their children returned.

Australia and Lebanon do have a bilateral agreement that allows authorities to assist parents in resolving such disputes. It does not allow parents to apply to have their children, who they believe were wrongfully removed, to be returned to them.

Australia is party to the Hague child abduction convention, along with 83 countries worldwide.

Bikies, criminals make up some of 80 Australians named in Panama Papers

Serious criminals including bikie gang members are among the hundreds of Australians named in documents leaked from secretive Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, a Senate inquiry has heard.

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Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan has revealed about 80 of the 800 Australians being investigated following the Panama Papers leak match the Australian Crime Commission’s serious and organised crime intelligence database.

“These are not people with outstanding parking fines or traffic infringement notices,” he told a Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance on Thursday.

Mr Jordan said the Australian Taxation Office was cracking down on companies and individuals using tricks to try to stymie investigations, such as hiding behind legal professional privilege.

He revealed the ATO is working with the Federal Court to see how strategically-important cases can be fast-tracked through the court list.

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“When we’re basically stooged, gamed, everyone nods and grins and commits to do things and doesn’t deliver, we’re very much hardening our approaches,” he said.

He named ridesharing company Uber as one that made it difficult for the ATO to obtain information by holding documents in the Netherlands.

Mr Jordan said the ATO was still analysing the more than 11 million leaked documents to see whether any of the information matched existing intelligence and had attended emergency meetings with 35 countries in Paris last week to formalise an international approach to the revelations.

ATO officials told the hearing Australia was working with most countries to stamp out tax avoidance but some like Panama remain secrecy havens that won’t share information.

Other jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands communicate with Australia but are careful to ensure they do not hold much information.

Based on UK estimates, Australia could be losing at least $2 billion a year in tax revenue.

Mr Jordan said the information revealed by what has been described as the biggest data leak in history was “no surprise”, with the ATO having previously known about Mossack Fonseca.

The firm was not the only one of its kind, but it was impossible to know how many similar firms were operating worldwide.

He said the ATO had lost 4000 staff since 2013 – 18 per cent of its workforce – but insisted it had a strong kit bag to tackle the problem and would leave “no stone unturned”.

“There is no silver bullet here.

“There’s no piece of law we can do here that will cover this ability to get this information.”

ABC journalist Marian Wilkinson, who was part of the global investigative team that trawled through the documents, which revealed how the wealthy hide their money, said there could be more Australians involved than the 800 already under investigation.

Some Australian banks were also involved but the material on them was fragmented.

She said most were probably involved in legal activity, which raises questions about whether laws need to be tightened.

More Australians could be revealed when details of more than 200,000 companies named in the papers are uploaded next month.

The inquiry is due to hand down its report on Friday.

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Ecuador to hike taxes to fund rebuilding

Ecuador will temporarily increase some taxes, sell assets, and may issue new bonds on the international market to fund a multibillion-dollar reconstruction after a devastating magnitude-7.

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8 quake.

The death toll from Ecuador’s weekend earthquake neared 600 and rescue missions ebbed as the traumatised Andean nation braced itself for long and costly rebuilding.

“It’s hard to imagine the magnitude of the tragedy. Every time we visit a place, there are more problems,” a sombre President Rafael Correa said on Wednesday, fresh from touring the disaster zone.

The leader estimated the disaster had inflicted $US2 billion ($A2.57 billion) to $US3 billion of damage and could knock 2 to 3 percentage points off growth, meaning the economy will almost certainly shrink this year.

Lower oil revenue had already left the poor nation of 16 million people facing near-zero growth and lower investment.

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In addition to $US600 million ($A769.97 million) in credit from multilateral lenders, Correa, an economist, announced a raft of measures to help repair homes, roads and bridges along the devastated Pacific Coast.

In a nationally televised address later on Wednesday, Correa also announced the OPEC nation was poised to shed assets.

“The country has many assets thanks to investment over all these years and we will seek to sell some of them to overcome these difficult moments,” he said.

He also unveiled several short-term tax changes, including a 2-point increase in the Valued Added Tax for a year, as well as a “one-off 3 per cent additional contribution on profits” although the fine print was not immediately clear.

The VAT tax is currently 12 per cent.

Additionally, a one-off tax of 0.9 per cent will be imposed on people with wealth of more than $US1 million. Ecuadorians will also be asked to contribute one day of salary, calculated on a sliding scale based on income.

Briefly pausing talk of reconstruction and hindering rescuers, another quake of magnitude 6.2 shook the coast before dawn on Wednesday, terrifying survivors.

“You can’t imagine what a fright it was. ‘Not again!’ I thought,” said Maria Quinones in Pedernales town, which bore the brunt of Saturday’s disaster.

That quake, the worst in decades, killed 570 people, injured 7000 others, damaged nearly 2000 buildings, and forced more than 24,000 survivors to seek refuge in shelters, according to government tallies.

Four days on, some isolated communities struggled without water, power or transport, as torn-up roads stymied deliveries.

Along the coast, stadiums served as morgues and aid distribution centres.

“I’m waiting for medicines, diapers for my grandson, we’re lacking everything,” said Ruth Quiroz, 49, as she waited in an hour-long line in front of a makeshift pharmacy set up at the Pedernales stadium.

On a highway outside the town, some children sat holding placards saying: “Food, please.”

When a truck arrived to deliver water to the small town of San Jacinto, hungry residents surrounded the vehicle and hit it as they yelled: “We want food!”

Scores of foreign aid workers and experts have arrived in the aftermath of Saturday’s disaster and about 14,000 security personnel have kept order, with only sporadic looting reported.

But rescuers were losing hope of finding anyone alive even as relatives of the missing begged them to keep looking.

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Discovery could stem spread of superbugs

A new discovery could stem the spread of deadly superbugs predicted to kill millions of people worldwide over the coming decades.

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A team of scientists in Ireland has found an agent that can be baked into everyday items like smartphones and door handles to combat the likes of MRSA and E. coli.

The nanotechnology has a 99.9 per cent kill rate of potentially lethal and drug-resistant bacteria, they say.

Lead scientist Professor Suresh C. Pillai, of Sligo Institute of Technology’s Nanotechnology Research Group, says the discovery is the culmination of 12 years’ work.

“This is a game changer,” he said.

“It’s absolutely wonderful to finally be at this stage.

“This breakthrough will change the whole fight against superbugs. It can effectively control the spread of bacteria.”

The findings were published on Thursday in the international journal Scientific Reports.

Last week the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne warned superbugs could become deadlier than cancer and are on course to kill 10 million people globally by 2050.

Speaking at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, he warned drug-resistant bugs could escalate into a global crisis costing 70 trillion.

Scientists have been in a race to find a way of preventing the spread of the bacteria which causes the superbugs.

The new discovery works by building or baking a water-based antimicrobial solution that kills micro-organisms or inhibits their growth into everyday products as they are being manufactured.

These could include anything made from glass, metallics and ceramics including computer or tablet screens, smartphones, ATMs, door handles, TVs, handrails, lifts, urinals, toilet seats, fridges, microwaves and ceramic floor or wall tiles.

Professor Pillai says the innovation will be of particular use in hospitals and medical facilities which are losing the battle against the spread of the killer superbugs.

“Every single person has a sea of bacteria on their hands,” he said.

“The mobile phone is the most contaminated personal item that we can have. Bacteria grows on the phone and can live there for up to five months.

“As it is contaminated with proteins from saliva and from the hand, it’s fertile land for bacteria and has been shown to carry 30 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.”

Indian city accuses media of ‘misquoting’ night club policy as short skirt ban

The administration of the northern Indian city of Chandigarh released a statement on Wednesday to “correct” media reports which claimed that a new policy would see clubs lose their operating licenses for hosting ‘scantily dressed’ women.

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The policy, titled Controlling of Places of Public Amusement 2016, states that clubs can have their operating certificates revoked if it had “any exhibition or advertisement, whether by way of posters or in the newspapers, photographs of scantily dressed women”.

Media outlets across India pointed to the lack of definition for the words “scantily dressed” and claimed that rights of citizens were being impeded.

People took to social media to voice their opposition.

To those asking women to ditch mini skirts, just so you know we’re fabulous with or without them. #Chandigarh pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/Pe86c41dsm

— MTV India (@MTVIndia) April 21, 2016Zeenat Aman: “Where are you going?”

Dharmendra: “Getting the hell out of Chandigarh” pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/2ZUhdoSnsK

— Akshar (@AksharPathak) April 20, 2016

The administration issued a statement on Wednesday condemning the media reports.

“Surprisingly, some of the newspapers and electronic media has misquoted, misinterpreted and distorted the facts related to this policy, especially with the section 6 of the policy,” it said.

“The news articles have distorted the whole policy by picking up words and phrases from different part of the Policy and have tried to create sensational news.

The statement went on to say the administration rejected any accusation that it’s acting as “moral policemen” and curbing the “right of the citizens”.

“The fact therein that nowhere in the policy it has been mentioned that females can’t wear skirts, while going to the places defined under the policy, as stated in the print and electronic media,” the statement said.

“The only motive of framing this policy is to provide conducive atmosphere for the guests visiting such places and to avoid any unlawful activities or any untoward incident.”