Monthly Archives: August 2019

Hayat Boumeddiene: fourth Paris terror suspect ‘on the run’

Wanted: Hayat Boumeddiene. Photo: TwitterParis attacks: how the Charlie Hebdo gunmen were tracked downParis attacks: Australians should not be cowed: Tony AbbottParis terror sieges: hostages survived by hiding
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A suspected accomplice to the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack is reportedly on the run after three terrorists were killed in police raids.

Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, is believed to be the wife or girlfriend of Amedy Coulibaly, a gunman who took hostages at a kosher grocery store in Paris’ inner east. Before he was killed in a police raid, Coulibaly claimed he had “synchronised” his attacks with the Kouachi brothers’ attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine.

Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers were all shot dead by police during separate raids on Friday.

There are unconfirmed reports that Boumeddiene took part in the grocery store siege in Paris.

French police issued an alert on Thursday for Boumeddiene as well as Coulibaly in connection with the murder of policewoman Clarrisa Jean-Philippe at Montrouge, a commune in the southern Parisian suburbs. Police said they were “likely armed and dangerous”. SECOND Appel à témoins #Fusillade#Montrouge Contacter le 0805 02 17 17. En savoir plus >>>http://t上海龙凤419/8c2UJGQQJypic.twitter上海龙凤419m/n5h5e6Yb1b — Préfecture de police (@prefpolice) January 9, 2015Le Mondepublished several old photos of Boumeddiene and Coulibaly, some of which show them firing a crossbow.

Boumeddiene and Coulibaly’s relationship dates back to 2010 when Coulibaly was in jail and she waited for her boyfriend to be released from prison, London’s The Telegraph reports. Coulibaly, a Frenchman of Senegalese descent from Juvisy in the Essonne area outside Paris, was part of the Buttes-Chaumont network that sought to recruit and send radicalised French youths to Iraq in the early 2000s.

The Kouachi brothers were also part of the network, based in Paris’ 19th arrondissement.  

One of 10 children and the only boy, Coulibaly became a delinquent at 17, and a repeat offender for petty thefts and drugs crimes, moving on to an armed bank robbery in September 2002 in Orleans, in the Loiret, before radicalising.

In 2013, he was sentenced to five years in prison for his involvement in a botched prison break-out of Smain Ali Belkacem, a former member of the Algerian Islamist group GIA and the author of a 1995 attack on the Paris transport system that killed eight people and wounded 117.

According to Le Monde, Coulibaly and Boumeddiene were already in a relationship in 2010, when he was arrested over the jailbreak attempt. She reportedly waited for her boyfriend to be released from prison this spring after four years in detention, and he lived with her after that in a Paris suburb.

With AFP, Le Monde, The Telegraph, London

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Gober, once-blind Sumatran orangutan ditches her son, stunning carers

Gober and her twins when they were just a few days old at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme quarantine centre in Medan. Photo: Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme
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Gober and her twins when they were just a few days old at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme quarantine centre in Medan. Photo: Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme

Gober and her twins when they were just a few days old at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme quarantine centre in Medan. Photo: Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme

Medan, Indonesia: The  keenly anticipated return to the wild of a formerly blind orangutan and her twins bred in captivity took an unexpectedly sad turn this week when the primate abandoned her son.

Gober, the Sumatran orangutan who saw her baby twins for the first time after a 90-minute operation by a top Indonesian ophthalmologist in 2012, captured the imagination of orangutan lovers worldwide.

Her triumphant return to the wild in the Indonesian province of Aceh with her twins Ginting and Ganteng on January 5 was hailed as a “freedom story”.

But the story had a bittersweet ending, when Gober stunned conservationists by deserting her son Ganteng within hours of their release.

“It was a shock. She barely tried to keep them (the twins) together,” Ian Singleton, the head of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, said.

“Orangutans are intelligent. I know just how co-dependent and emotional they are. It’s been amazingly traumatic for Ganteng and presumably his mother as well. It was her decision to leave him. The mothering instinct is really strong but in hindsight, seeing how difficult it was for Gober to travel around with Ginting, expecting her to do that with two of them was probably a little bit ambitious.”

Sumatran orangutans are a critically endangered species, with just 6000 to 7000 remaining in the wild.

In 2008 Gober was rescued from a pocket of forest in North Sumatra isolated from the main orangutan habitat by palm oil plantations.

Her blindness made her vulnerable to attacks from farmers whose crops she was raiding.

“Despite (it) being illegal to kill or capture an orangutan under Indonesian national law, orangutans are frequently deliberately killed in areas where the forests are being cleared,” Dr Singleton wrote in his blog.

It was believed at the time Gober would remain in captivity for the rest of her life because of her lack of sight.

Male and female orangutans are kept separate at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program’s quarantine centre to prevent pregnancies.

However, Gober was permitted to mate – and subsequently gave birth to twins – after an unusual exception was made in her case to ease the sadness of a life in captivity and darkness.

The twins’ father, Leuser, is also blind, after being shot at 62 times with an air rifle.

Not only are orangutan twins rare, but the pair are believed to be the first in the world to be born to parents who were both blind.

This year it was considered the twins, who are almost four, were old enough to look after themselves in the forest with Gober as their mentor, given that her sight has been restored.

The three were released in the Jantho rainforest on January 5.

However, Ganteng struggled to adapt to the forest and was forced to spend his first night of freedom wet and alone after being deserted by his mother and sister.

He was given food by conservation staff the following day and returned to an onsite cage.

“The last two days have been an emotional rollercoaster for all of us, but none more so than poor little Ganteng,” Dr Singleton wrote in his blog.

“I’ve spent the time racking my brains and my conscience trying to figure out if we’ve done the right thing trying to release all three of them together, or if we should have taken another option.”

However, he said the risk was too high to release the trio when the twins were younger because it was difficult for an orangutan to travel around in trees when both infants were clinging to her body all day.

“If we’d waited until they were older, there’s no guarantee it would have gone any better and Gober would have had to endure even more years in a cage, where she has never settled and has always been stressed.”

Dr Singleton said that despite the obvious disappointment, he still considered the release had been a success, given Gober and Ginting are free and Ganteng is safe. Ganteng is likely to be reunited with his mother and sister in coming years, although the team have not completely given up hope that Gober will return to look for him in the next week.

More than 50 orangutans have been released in Jantho, as part of a project reintroducing the primates to Aceh.

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Oh, yes, Mitt Romney mulls another presidential run

Last January Mitt Romney was asked if he would consider running for the White House again. “Oh, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. No, no, no.” he told The New York Times.
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That certainty appears to have receded.

“Everybody in here can go tell your friends that I’m considering a run,” he told a group of around 30 former donors at a recent function in Manhattan, Politico has reported.

The former Massachusetts governor lost the race for the Republican Party’s 2008 nomination to John McCain and the 2012 presidential election to Barack Obama.

It is understood his comments to donors were made some weeks ago, but that he held a meeting with donors in his former Manhattan campaign offices on Friday.

Without a clear frontrunner for the 2016 nomination Mr Romney has remained a favourite in polls of Republican voters.

As recently as December Mr Romney and Mr McCain topped a CNN poll as favoured candidates, while another from July last year found that if the election were held again he would now trounce Mr Obama.

Many of his supporters have argued that in the two years since the 2012 election, positions that Mr Romney took during the campaign turned out to be correct.

“I think about the campaign every single day, and what a shame it is who we have in the White House,” Spencer Zwick, who worked as Romney’s finance director and is a close friend to his family, told Buzzfeed last year. “I look at things happening and I say, you know what? Mitt was actually right when he talked about Russia, and he was actually right when he talked about how hard it was going to be to implement Obamacare, and he was actually right when he talked about the economy.”

Others have reported that this is the view held by Mr Romney and his wife Ann, who believe he would have been a better president than Mr Obama over the past two years.

Mr Romney is a favoured candidate by many party establishment figures who fear that other popular figures – people like senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz – are too extreme or unconventional to win an election.

The wide field of presumed candidates is lead at present by Jeb Bush, the brother and son of former presidents and a former governor of Florida. His family name is considered as much a hindrance as a help in the race, given his brother’s unpopularity and reservations among many Americans about dynastic politics.

But Mr Bush is working fast to secure the support of many big Republicans donors, forcing others considering a run to enter the field sooner than they otherwise might have.

Though Mr Romney enjoys near universal name recognition as a result of his previous run and has been thoroughly vetted by the press and public, he would still need to overcome the flaws that dogged his candidacy in 2012.

During that race he never truly excited the base of the Republican Party and he proved unable to overcome the sense that he was a privileged multi-millionaire disconnected from middle class American life.

The next election will be fought largely over middle-class concerns. Though the American economy has significantly improved since 2012 the benefits of that recovery have flowed into the hands of the wealthiest Americans, while middle class wages and wealth had stagnated or dropped.

Mr Romney’s wealth was estimated at around $US250 million at the time of the last election, and his campaign was further damaged by the leaked recording of him telling wealthy donors that 47 per cent of American voters dependent on government hand-outs and would never vote for him.

“My job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” he said.

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Sydney Kings coach blames lack of concentration for poor season

Sydney Kings coach Damian Cotter needed just four words to sum up his team’s sitaution following Friday’s disappointing loss to Townsville: “We’re in a hole.”
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With the Kings facing a difficult six rounds to finish their NBL campaign, including five of their next six games away from home, Cotter was quick to shut down the suggestion that any of his players were just trying to get to the end of the season.

“I think we got ahead of ourselves,” Cotter said, “and then we’ve had injures that have been disruptive with our flow. But the guys have just got to give over to what we are now, where were at.

“There’s still a lot of basketball left in the season. We’ve got 10 games to go, and it’s very, very important we validate the club’s support and the fans support with the way we play. I don’t think for a moment that any of the guys are trying to skate the season, and we’ve just got to do a better job.”

But the Kings coach was unable to deny that concentration continues to be an issue for his team, who have now lost five of their past six games. Friday’s 98-89 loss to the Crocs added to the team’s recent woes. Cotter said his men were unable to maintain consistency at the defensive end.

“They did a good job keeping the court spaced and finding men, and we stopped playing defence consistently. I would say, without exaggeration, at least four times they hit a three in the last six seconds of the shot clock – and credit to them – but that’s just us, too. There was no urgency to contest shots, and we’ve got to do that.”

Forward Tom Garlepp, looking despondent in the press conference after the game, agreed with his coach and indicated confusion between players was a constant issue on the court.

“I thought having five guys communicate tonight was a problem, it’s certainly not a game plan thing,” Garlepp said. “It’s just smarts, smarts and talk, really it comes down to that. We’re a team that puts in effort every week, we always come back, that’s our thing. We’ve got to be smarter and we’ve got to lift in the communication.”

After a number of tight refereeing calls went against the Kings, Cotter was asked about whether the players felt hard done by.

“I don’t know whether we should have got more calls or not, but I do know this: we’ve got to be strong and we’ve got to stop playing for calls,” he said.

“We’ve got to have a more positive mindset: attack the rim and convert and look for three-point plays. For us, I felt we were allowing things we can’t control to distract us, and I feel we’ve got to regain that composure and focus and worry about what we’ve got in front of us.”

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Bendigo Spirit great Kristi Harrower leaves game she loves … but for how long?

Gone for the moment: Kristi Harrower. Photo: Mick Connolly
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Gone for the moment: Kristi Harrower. Photo: Mick Connolly

Gone for the moment: Kristi Harrower. Photo: Mick Connolly

For 32 years Kristi Harrower has woken up and played basketball. Now, having retired from the game aged 39, she will have to do something else.

The day after she made the announcement, Harrower opened up a Boost Juice franchise in Bendigo – the town in which she is hailed as a legend of the sport she loved.

The business is said to be going “gangbusters already”.

That, combined with the expected arrival of a new baby (the reason behind her decision to stop playing now rather that at the end of the WNBL season), is certain to keep her busy as she makes the adjustment to life after basketball.

But her father, Bendigo Spirit coach Bernie Harrower, hopes she doesn’t get too comfortable.

Women’s basketball needs Kristi Harrower.

“I’m hopeful she steps into coaching soon,” Bernie Harrower said this week. “She has a great basketball mind, as everyone knows, so she would make an excellent coach.

“I’m hoping that she follows in my footsteps and takes over from me at Bendigo when I’m finished.”

With the right foundation, Bernie Harrower thinks his daughter — arguably Australia’s greatest point guard — could be a future Opals head coach.

“You have to play with her or coach her to appreciate how well she sees the game,” he said. “She’s as good as I’ve ever seen in that regard because not only does she see everything that the other four players on her team are doing, she seems to know what the other five players on the opposition are doing. She has the whole court in her head.”

More than anything, it is that world-class knowledge and innate “feel” for the game that has made Harrower.

Her record speaks for itself. She represented the Opals in four Olympics — winning three silvers and a bronze — was part of Australia’s world championship gold medal team in Brazil in 2006 (when she showed she was arguably the best point guard in the world) and played more than 300 WNBL games, including three championships.

But these achievements are only the end result of an intense drive to succeed that only a 162-centimetre player in a game of giants could truly understand.

She was told by some as a junior she would never make it.

But there were supporters too, such as Spirit board member Ashley Donaldson, who was telling people when Harrower was a teenager that the girl would be something special.

“I remember when she was little, her parents used to run the canteen at the stadium, so it would be 10pm-10.30pm before they closed,” said Donaldson, who has been involved in Victorian basketball for decades. “Kristi was out there shooting, and eventually they’d have to say to her, ‘It’s 10.30pm, we have to go home.’ “

Her father never thought his daughter’s physical limitations would hold her back from reaping the rewards from all the hard work.

“She always wanted to win,” he said. “She was only five foot, three inches, but hard as nails.”

But not even he could have predicted Harrower would end up having a court named after her – as is likely with court one in the stadium at Bendigo.

Her legacy at the Spirit will run far deeper than that. The most common theme stringing through the tributes delivered since Harrower’s farewell press conference last week has been her willingness to sacrifice her own game to make those around her better; the essence of a “true” basketball team.

And that is a trademark Bernie Harrower hopes will remain at the Spirit.

“We want that to be a part of the culture here. When we recruit players to Bendigo, we recruit unselfish players,” he said. “We have won the past two WNBL championships despite not having the best talent. But pound for pound we’ve had the best team and Kristi has been central to that.”

Sunday’s WNBL clash against Adelaide will be the last time Harrower officially “suits up” for the Spirit. Her No.10 jersey will be retired and she will be presented to the crowd before the game with a bouquet of flowers.

Given the right circumstances, the coach is expecting to sub his veteran playmaker into the game for the final few minutes.

“We’ll send her into the game one last time and then call a sub late and let her walk off and hear it from the crowd,” he said. “Hopefully we get a big crowd there, and I think that would be a nice way for them to show their respects.”

Looking ahead, Bernie Harrower is under no illusions that the Spirit are losing an “irreplaceable” player. And that is probably why he and his daughter both had “mixed emotions” last week.

On the one hand, the Spirit are losing their floor general who, in the coach’s estimation, would have made Bendigo the “team to beat” in this season’s championship race.

“Now I think we come back to the pack a bit,” he said.

On the other hand, the Harrower family adds another team member, all going well: in a sense, it is grandfather or championship coach for Bernie Harrower.

“I still think both could happen. I’m hoping it will be a big year for the Harrower family,” he said.

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