‘Fear’ descends on Sydney’s homeless camp

Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and NSW Social Housing Minister Pru Goward urged Sydney City Lord Mayor Clover Moore to resolve the issue at crisis talks on Friday.


But Ms Moore said the camp won’t be dismantled until she’s assured there’s a long-term housing solution for the residents.


Mr Fuller said he wanted a resolution by the end of the weekend. A NSW Police spokeswoman told AAP, as of Saturday night, there were still no official plans to enter the camp.

Regardless, Mr Fuller’s alluded-to deadline had triggered a wave of fear among the tent city’s approximately 60 residents, spokesman Lanz Priestly said.

“What the powers-that-be have done is put fear into one of the most marginalised groups in Australian society,” he told AAP.

“There is a fear in the camp that something is going to happen, whether it’s the police, state or local governments.”

Early morning raid ‘opportune time’

Mr Priestly said an early morning raid, before the journalists watching the camp begin their morning shift on Sunday, would be the opportune time for authorities to forcibly uproot the camp.

But he felt it was unlikely the police would be the ones to take that tactic, given their history of treating the campers with courtesy.

“The police are cognisant enough to know people have nowhere else to go,” he said.

“This (camp) reduces other areas of crime “But we know police at (local command level) are happy to co-operate. They came through a full three days beforehand to tell us their operational plan the last time they moved us.”

Homeless shelters are scattered throughout Martin Place in Sydney’s Central Business District.AAP

Dubbed the Mayor of Martin Place, Mr Priestly said camp organisers had an obligation to continue to provide safety, shelter, food and support to the residents, regardless of the talks going on behind closed doors.

“Touch wood someone will consult with us at some point along the line,” he said.

“They haven’t so far.”

Mr Priestly is concerned about the few lines of dialogue which have emerged from the discussions so far.

“I laughed when they started to call it a protest – protesters go home,” he said.

“But changing the narrative, getting people on board with the idea of this being a protest makes it political.

“They can be seen to smash a protest, they can’t be seen smashing a community of homeless people.”

There are reports temporary housing has been offered to those living in the camp but a resident told AAP many had refused because there was no guarantee of long term accommodation.

How Twitter reacted to Bolt defeat


“Bolt looked sluggish in the SF.


Carried it into final and got turned over. Gatlin silenced the whole stadium. Love it when an upset happens.” – Controverisial footballer Joey Barton enjoyed seeing Gatlin race to victory.

“Bolt the Goat” – Grime artist Stormzy still thinks the Jamaican is the greatest sprinter of all time.

“Leaves a sour taste in the mouth but #Bolt won’t be remembered for tonight. Total game changer. #legend” – Ex-footballer Michael Owen hails Bolt’s legacy.

“#BOLT IS ALWAYS A LEGEND” – Olympic gymnastics champion Max Whitlock remains a huge fan.

“Couldnt have been a worse result. Can deal with Bolt losing but not to a cheat #thedarksideofsport” – Former British swimmer turned pundit Karen Pickering was disappointed with the result.

“It’s tough to take for many but this is why we love sport… sometimes it kicks you in the gut. Wonderfully unpredictable #Bolt #London2017” – BBC Sport presenter Dan Walker enjoyed the drama.

“Gutted for Bolt – legend & GOAT. Hurts that a 2x drug cheat beats him in his farewell – fairytale not to be. Bolt has kept athletics alive.” – former Scotland rugby player Rory Lawson.

“Emotional….not because Usain lost..but that’s it…no more individual running….gutted he is going…we will miss you @usainbolt G.O.A.T” – Olympic 400m medallist Katharine Merry was sad to see Bolt run his last individual race.

“I can’t wait for Usain Bolt to nail Gatlin on the last leg of the 4×100! – Paralympics GB swimmer Ryan Crouch is hoping for one final twist in the tale.

Suspect arrested as details emerge of British model’s abduction in Italy

The unidentified 20-year-old was injected in the arm with the tranquiliser ketamine after going to what was a fake photo shoot at a venue near Milan’s central station on July 11.


Her kidnapper and an accomplice allegedly stripped, photographed and bound the woman before driving her in the boot of a car from Milan to a country house in the tiny village of Borgial in the northwestern region of Piedmont.

Lukasz Pawel Herba, 30, has been charged with orchestrating the kidnapping and given a version of events which the prosecutor in charge of the case described as barely credible.


Detectives are unclear as to whether Herba was serious about auctioning his victim or if it was simply a threat intended to extort 300,000 euros in Bitcoin from the model’s agent and family.

No one took part in the online auction, so it was unclear if Herba had the necessary contacts to organise such an operation of was something of a fantasist, according to the police.

“Fantasist or not, what is clear is that he is a very dangerous man who drugged his victim as soon as she was kidnapped and put her inside a large travel bag in the boot of a car,” Milan deputy prosecutor Paolo Storari told a press conference.

“His version of events is barely credible but clearly he does not deny that he was with her for the time she was missing,” Storari said.

On July 17, for reasons that are not clear, Herba drove the woman back to Milan and released her close to the British Consulate, where he was arrested.

He had told the model that he could not go on holding her because she was a mother of a young child and such abductions were prohibited by “Black Death”, a nefarious web-based group he claimed to belong to.

Police said they were not sure if the group actually existed.


Brazilian troops storm Rio’s slums to catch gang leaders

Thousands of Brazilian army troops raided Rio de Janeiro slums in a pre-dawn crackdown on crime gangs Saturday, leaving parts of the city looking like a war zone on the first anniversary of the opening of the Olympic Games.


Five favelas were targeted by around 1,300 police and 3,600 troops in a sweep starting at 4am (0700 GMT), the Rio state security service said in a statement.

Their main goal was to stop gangs behind a surge in brazen robberies of commercial trucks, with arrest warrants issued for 40 people. Rio state authorities say there were 10,000 cases of cargo theft last year.

By late afternoon, 23 people had been arrested and three killed “in confrontations,” Rio state security chief Robert Sa said. Twenty-one vehicles, weapons, drugs and goods stolen from trucks were impounded.

But the decision to flood some of Rio’s most dangerous streets with heavily armed soldiers also reflected fears that nearly bankrupt post-Olympic Rio is spinning out of control. The troops were part of 8,500 deployed to the city last month in a tacit acknowledgement that cash-strapped police have lost the ability to cope.

In Lins favela – one of the many little-regulated, and often gang-plagued communities of working class Brazilians that rise on the city’s forest-clad hills – soldiers took positions at every crossroads and outside many alleyways.

Troops, backed by camouflaged armored personnel carriers, stood guard with fingers on the triggers of assault rifles. Units of soldiers and SWAT police also roamed the streets in open Jeeps and SUVs, pointing their weapons out of car windows.

Everyone entering and leaving the favela, in northern Rio, was subjected to an identity check and search, with men required to lift their shirts. One man was questioned at length about a scar on his stomach and another man’s bag was searched only to find he was carrying a large Bible.

The orderly deployment and impressive firepower reassured some. At a time of political and economic turmoil in Brazil, the military is regularly cited as Brazil’s most trusted institution.

“They bring security to us all. There’s so much robbery, so much shooting. With the soldiers, people here feel safer,” said Luiza, a resident of Lins, who like most others was too afraid to be fully identified.

Others, however, were upset at suddenly having to live in the middle of what resembled military rule.

“There’s an atmosphere of tension and fear,” said Vanuza Barroso da Silva, 23, who was leaving Lins to go to her job at a supermarket.

“They treat us as if we’re trash,” her father Roberto, 46, said after going through the search.

Officials said the other favelas targeted were Camarista Meier, Morros de Sao Joao and Engenho Novo in the north and Covanca in the west.

Armed forces of the Brazilian Federal Highway Police take position during an operation against organised crime in Rio de Janeiro.EFE

‘They abandoned us’

The crackdown came a year to the day after President Michel Temer opened the Olympics in a lavish ceremony at the Maracana football stadium, which is close to Lins favela.

Rio was the first South American city to host the Games and although the event passed off smoothly, a mixture of corruption scandals, near collapse in the state budget and crime has combined into a serious hangover for what should be one of Brazil’s richest regions.

In the first half of this year Rio tallied 3,457 homicides, the highest level of violence since 2009 and 15 percent more than during the same period in 2016.

People are killed daily in shootouts between rival gangs competing for control of the favelas or from police action. The shootings, often involving high-powered rifles, also lead to numerous deaths and injuries from stray bullets.

Since the beginning of the year 93 police officers have been killed in Rio state, while units complain of not having enough funds for fuel or even toilet paper.

Brazilian Justice Minister Torquato Jardim said the damage done to criminal groups would be “greater than the mere numbers” of arrests and confiscations.

However, many favela residents fear that Saturday’s operation will be just one more in a long series of dramatic, but ultimately futile raids in neighborhoods ravaged by poverty, government neglect and deeply rooted gangs.

“You can hardly go out for a beer in northern Rio,” said Marta, 40, in Lins.

Asked whether she feared the gangs or the authorities more, she shrugged. “In either case it’s a minority that has weapons,” she said.

Barroso da Silva scoffed at the Rio authorities’ vows of tough action. “They abandoned us,” she said.


Iran’s Rouhani sworn in as tensions simmer over nuclear deal

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani warned the US against tearing up the nuclear deal as he was inaugurated for a second term Saturday, but he also faces challenges closer to home amid accusations he is rolling over to conservatives.


Rouhani met with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini before the ceremony and called for greater efforts to safeguard the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers in the face of new US sanctions.

“Iran will not be the first to violate the nuclear deal… but nor will it stay silent when the United States fails to respect its commitments,” he told the packed parliament hall.


“Iran has proved that it will respond to respect with respect, and to sanctions and threats with an appropriate response and with resistance,” he added.

Some of Iran’s older friends, including Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, also attended the ceremony which came two days after Rouhani was officially sworn in by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The emir of Qatar, which has fallen out with its Gulf allies in part over ties to Iran, was notably absent, despite attending Rouhani’s last inauguration in 2013.

He has already been barraged with criticism over indications that women would again be entirely absent and that his reformist allies would barely be represented.

Rouhani’s last government had three women among a large cohort of vice-presidents, but they lacked ministerial roles that would require approval by parliament.

“It was the reformists that allowed him to win the elections in 2013 and 2017… he must listen to those who supported him,” Rassoul Montajabnia of the reformist National Confidence party told the Arman newspaper.

Rouhani won a convincing victory over hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi in the May presidential election, vowing to continue rebuilding ties with the West and easing social restrictions at home.

That helped win over the reformists – whose candidates dropped out of the last two elections to ensure his victory.

“Rouhani created a lot of expectation and now there is a sense that he is retreating from his promises,” said Ali Shakourirad, head of the reformist People’s Unity Party.

The absence of women was down to pressure from religious conservatives behind the scenes, Shakourirad said.

“Rouhani didn’t want to make his task any more complicated than it already is,” he told AFP.

The final line-up is due to be announced in coming days, and must then be approved by parliament.

0:00 Iran warns: ‘If America breaches deal, so will we’ Share Iran warns: ‘If America breaches deal, so will we’

“The main ministers are very likely to stay in place,” said Henry Smith, Iran analyst with consultancy Control Risks.

“Rouhani will have a fairly smooth time getting parliament to approve his appointees. He’s been doing back and forth consultations with the necessary power centres – the parliament speaker, supreme leader, the Revolutionary Guards – and I don’t think you’ll see a significant change in economic or indeed social policy,” he added.

Despite his efforts to build backroom consensus, hardliners have given Rouhani a rough ride since his election, perhaps worried at the growing strength of the reformists.

The arrest of his brother on corruption charges was interpreted by some as a shot across the bow by the hardline judiciary.

Rouhani also triggered a war of words with the Revolutionary Guards after criticising their outsized role in the economy, although analysts say this is part of a cautious realignment of Iran’s policies to balance its security priorities with the need to attract investment.

“Rouhani has no interest in pushing the Revolutionary Guards totally out of the economy. It’s about creating enough space so Iran can get the foreign investment and technology it needs,” said Smith.

Investment has belatedly started to arrive in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal that eased sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme, notably through last month’s billion-dollar gas deal with France’s Total and China’s CNPC.

Billions more are needed to jump-start the stagnant economy and tackle a jobless rate of 12.7 per cent.

But with Washington imposing yet more sanctions this week, Iran’s re-engagement with the world remains largely stalled.

“The problem is Iran feels the need to react to these moves by the US, which just give the US fuel,” said Smith.

Mogherini held a meeting ahead of the inauguration with Zarif, who criticised European governments for their support of US calls for UN action in response to an Iranian satellite launch on July 27.

“This is the wrong path,” Zarif said.