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Brutal split kills MasterChef goal

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 20 Juli 2014 | 23.08

Ben is eliminated from Masterchef after his banana split failed to impress the judges. Courtesy: Channel Ten

Eliminated ... Ben MacDonald was the last Queenslander standing on MasterChef. Source: News Corp Australia

FINALS week is here and another hopeful has departed the MasterChef kitchen after a pressure test, leaving us with our Top 5.

This time it was Queensland contestant Ben MacDonald who bowed out after failing to nail the intricate dessert challenge set by guest chef alumni Darren Purchese, Christy Tania and Nick Palumbo.

MORE: Is this MasterChef's meanest dessert chef?

The three leading dessert chefs put their heads together to come up with their very own take on the classic banana split — and there was nothing traditional about this devishly difficult interpretation.

Deconstructing the dessert — the banana and coffee parfait is the brainchild of pastry pro Darren Purchese, Christy Tania is behind the smoked coconut and cinnamon foam, the amaretto cherry spheres and the almond pistachio nougatine, while ice cream king Nick Palumbo unveiled the spiced and roasted banana gelato with his 'peanutella' chocolate and peanut sauce to drizzle over the top. Phew.

Ben was up against Jamie and Laura in the pressure test and the three were given just two hours to prepare the dish.

But Ben, who hasn't struggled with the dessert challenges so far, said he went in full of confidence and cruised through the first few processes.

"I've had really good success with desserts in the challenges. I felt positive, it was going really well until halfway through," he told news.com.au.

"I hit a few hiccups but nothing that really derailed the train," the Brisbane-based IT consultant added.

Queensland Masterchef contestant Ben MacDonald is out of the competition. Source: News Corp Australia

But little errors began to pile up for the Queenslander. He curdled his custard for the parfait and was forced to start again. He then opted to cook his peanutella on a high heat to save time, causing the oil in the peanut butter to split and leaving him with nothing but an oily sauce. Disaster.

Ben's Masterchef dream is over. Source: Supplied

As the dishes were tasted, Jamie's dessert was the clear frontrunner and it looked like it could have gone either way between Laura and Ben. Fortunately for the talented teen, her peanutella sauce was a stand out and clinched the win, sending fellow contestant Ben home.

"It's definitely a reflection of this time in the competition, the smallest thing can send you home and everyone is a really good cook," he said after exiting the competition.

This just leaves Brent, Emelia, Jamie, Laura and Tracy to fight it out for the MasterChef 2014 title. But who's going to take it out?

The remaining five contestants will battle it out for the title. Source: Supplied

"It's going to come down to the challenges that get served up and who they suit and who has a bit of luck on their side on the day. The reality is you can't know everything, even if you practice your heart out."

MasterChef continues Monday night, 7.30pm on Ten.

Still in the race ... MasterChef contestant Jamie Fleming. Source: Channel 10


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

‘What if I hadn’t spoken to Gerard?’

Gerard Baden-Clay's mistress Toni McHugh breaks down as she denies having any influence on the murder of his wife, Alison Baden-Clay. Courtesy: 60 Minutes/Channel Nine

The woman Gerard Baden-Clay had an affair with, Toni McHugh believed that one day she would marry the man she loved. Courtesy: 60 Minutes

Toni McHugh has spoken about the last conversation she had with Gerard Baden-Clay before he reported his wife Allison missing. Picture: Sixty Minutes Source: Channel 9

Toni McHugh together with Gerard Baden-Clay. Picture: Sixty Minutes Source: Supplied

GERARD Baden-Clay's mistress pressured him to leave his wife the night he murdered Allison, but has denied the argument had fatal consequences.

Toni McHugh said she still wondered what would have happened had they not spoken that night.

In an emotional interview with Channel 9's 60 Minutes last night, for which Ms McHugh was reportedly paid more than $200,000, the "other woman" revealed she had argued with Baden-Clay about their relationship the night Allison was killed.

MISTRESS: 'He didn't murder for me'

MCHUGH: How much was she paid for that interview?

SHATTERED DREAMS: 'I wanted to be Mrs Baden-Clay'

She broke down when asked if the pressure had any influence on his brutal slaying of his wife.

"I would have ... no ... no ... no, just ... no," she said through tears.

"I have been patient with the man for years and years.

"I was probably pressuring myself and questioning my own intentions, feeling like I can't be going down this road again."

But she said when Baden-Clay told her the next morning Allison was missing she asked him if he had argued with his wife.

"I felt terrible. I felt there could have been repercussions," she said. "What if we hadn't have had that conversation?"

She said it was hard for her to accept there was a link between her affair and Allison's death.

Baden-Clay, 43, was last week sentenced to life imprisonment, with a 15-year non-parole period. He has lodged an appeal.

60 Minutes last night also played an interview with Melissa Romano, who repeated claims she made to The Courier-Mail last week that Baden-Clay had asked her to "kill my wife".

"I was waiting for the part that would make it make sense, but it didn't make sense," she said.

"He was very serious. He didn't proceed any more on it, he changed the subject."

Meanwhile, in interviews with Channel 7's Sunday Night program, Allison's friends and family revealed the terrifying ways in which Baden-Clay tried to control her life.

"He used to have baby monitors in the house in reverse so he could hear everything that was happening within the house," Alison's cousin Jodie Dann said.

"She didn't have access to a credit card or a lot of money ... so there certainly seemed to be financial abuse there and psychological abuse there."

A former employee anonymously said that Baden-Clay would hug the women in the office and once asked her if she had ever had a threesome.

Originally published as 'What if I hadn't spoken to Gerard?'
23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

MH17 bodies must be respected: PM

Hard days ahead ... Tony Abbot attends a mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney for the crash victims. Source: News Corp Australia

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott says Australia will do everything in its power to ensure the bodies of 37 Australians killed on Flight MH17 are respected and justice is done.

Mr Abbott attended a national security committee of cabinet meeting on Sunday evening after images emerged of the crash site in eastern Ukraine being "absolutely trampled".

HORROR: Victims moved into refrigerated trains

COVER UP: Bodies moved as Aussie death toll rises

HELL ON EARTH: Horror of MH17's final resting place

FINAL ROLE: Last hours of MH17's 'flying mothers'

LOCALS SPEAK: 'Birds falling from the sky'

He told 60 Minutes the discussion at the meeting was dominated by concerns to ensure the bodies were treated with respect and taken to a place where a proper investigation could be carried out. "We owe it to the dead, all the dead, we owe it to the families, all the families to do everything in our power to respect the bodies, to find the truth and to ensure justice is done," Mr Abbott told 60 Minutes.

Chaos ... people leave the scene of the crash as emergency personnel remove the bodies of passengers. Source: Getty Images

He said Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was in New York prosecuting Australia's case before the Security Council for an immediate securing of the site, proper treatment of the bodies and a full and fair investigation.

Ms Bishop will stay in New York "for as long as needs be," Mr Abbott said.

He said an investigation needed access to the debris, the black box and any person who can shed light on the crash.

His comments come as Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine say they have recovered objects which appear to be the black boxes of the downed airliner and are willing to hand them over to international investigators.

Answers? ... An image believed to show a black box flight recorder being removed from the crash site. Picture: Twitter Source: Supplied

"Jet parts resembling the black boxes were discovered at the crash site," said Alexander Borodai, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic on Sunday, adding that they would be handed over to "international experts if they arrive".

Probe ... Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has flown to New York to consult security experts. Source: AFP

The rebel's admission came as US Secretary of State John Kerry accused them of being behind the outrage.

US President Obama had earlier said the rebels could not have carried out the attack without Moscow's support but, in an interview with CNN, Mr Kerry went further, accusing Russia directly of handing over the missile system that was used to shoot down the plane.

"It's pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia in the hands of separatists," Mr Kerry told CNN, saying that a sophisticated SA-11 system had been used in Thursday's crash.

"We know with confidence, with confidence that the Ukrainians did not have such a system anywhere near the vicinity at that point in time. So it obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists."

In the 60 Minutes interview Mr Abbott said he was seeking a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin to call for Russia's assistance in repatriating the bodies from eastern Ukraine.

"If he wants to be a friend of Australia, if he wants to be a friend of decency and humanity all assistance that he might be able to offer would be deeply appreciated at this time," Mr Abbott said.

"We are consulting with our friends, we are consulting with our allies because frankly it is simply unacceptable to see what is happening on this site given that 298 innocent people have been murdered," Mr Abbott said.

"We will consult with our friends and allies to ensure that no steps are neglected that can bring the bodies to a place where they will be treated with respect, proper investigations can be carried out and truth can be done."

No backing down ... a separatist fighter speaks to reporters at the scene of the crash. Source: Getty Images

Russia has agreed to an investigation, amid mounting scepticism about its willingness to co-operate with the international community.

Earlier, Mr Abbott said he held fears of continued interference at the site.

"My fear is that Russia will say the right thing, but that on the ground interference with the site, interference with investigators, interference with the dignified treatment of bodies will continue," he told ABC Television on Sunday morning.

Following the national security committee of cabinet meeting Mr Abbott said if he was able to speak with the Russian president he would put the case for common decency but other options were being considered.

So much sadness ... local women visit the site where the cockpit of MH17 crashed. Source: Getty Images

"We are looking at all the options, we are in discussion with our friends because what is happening at the moment is simply unacceptable, it is intolerable," Mr Abbott said.

"There are 37 people who called Australia home who were scattered over the fields of the eastern Ukraine, they deserve respect and dignity, their families deserve justice and it is our duty to do what we humanly can to bring that about."

Britain, France and Germany have warned Russia it could face further EU sanctions if it doesn't press pro-Kremlin separatists in Ukraine to allow unfettered access to the crash site of flight MH17.

David Cameron, Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel held separate phone calls to discuss the situation in eastern Ukraine days after a Malaysia Airlines jet crashed, killing 298 people on board after what is believed to have been a strike by a surface-to-air missile.

Concerns have been mounting that the separatists are blocking access to key evidence and to the bodies of the passengers, scores of which were moved from the crash site to a train on Sunday.

"They... agreed that the EU must reconsider its approach to Russia and that foreign ministers should be ready to impose further sanctions on Russia when they meet on Tuesday," a Downing Street spokesman said in a statement on Sunday, adding that Cameron was due to speak to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin later.

A French presidency statement after the calls similarly warned that "consequences" would be drawn at Tuesday's meeting "if Russia does not immediately take the necessary measures".

It said the three leaders had agreed to call on Putin to pressure the rebels into allowing rescuers and investigators "free and total access to the site of the MH17 flight disaster to accomplish their mission".

"Russia must understand that resolving the Ukrainian crisis is more than ever an imperative after this tragedy which has outraged the entire world," it added.


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

‘Proof’ rebel link to MH17 tragedy

Tony Abbott has warned that it may be weeks before the bodies of MH17 victims are returned to Australia.

A masked armed separatist militant poses for a photographer near the site of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane Source: AFP

UKRAINE'S security service claims it has "compelling evidence'' Russian-backed rebels are behind the MH17 disaster which killed 298 people, including 37 Australian citizens and permanent residents.

The Prime Minister's office has confirmed an additional resident from Western Australia was on MH17, taking the death toll to 37 residents and citizens.

Ukraine's emergency services claim separatist rebels have taken away all the 196 bodies that workers recovered from the Malaysian Airlines plane crash site to an unknown location.

The Associated Press is reporting that the rebels put bagged bodies onto trucks at the crash site before driving them away on Saturday.

Dozens of bodies from the crash site were then loaded onto refrigerated rail carriages.

The train — which has five refrigerated carriages carrying the corpses — has departed from a station close to the main crash site and is reportedly heading for rebel stronghold Donetsk, according to the Associated Press.

Monitors from European security body Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe inspected the carriages at Torez station, Russian news agency Ria Novosti reports.

The monitors were quoting them as saying a total of 198 bodies were on board — presumably recovered from across the vast crash site.

Nataliya Khuruzhaya, a duty officer at the train station in Torez, 15 kilometres from the crash site, said she saw emergency workers loading bodies Sunday into five sealed, refrigerated train cars.

She said the train was scheduled to head to the town of Ilovaysk, 35 kilometres further east toward the Russian border, but no instructions had been given about when it would leave or any possible destinations beyond Ilovaysk.

Russian news agencies said the bodies were heading to the rebel stronghold of Donetsk. Ukrainian officials say they expect to have the bodies eventually delivered to government-held city of Kharkiv, but it's unclear if the rebels will agree to do so.

The pro-Russian rebels who had been guarding the main impact site also appeared to have left, with about a dozen stretchers, paper masks and plastic gloves abandoned at the site.

The poles marking locations where bodies had been found in the field had also been removed.

The Associated Press is reporting that the rebels put bagged bodies onto trucks at the crash site before driving them away on Saturday.

Meanwhile, "Novorossiya" - a pro-Russian rebel has tweeted the black boxes belonging to Malaysian airliner MH17 had been brought to Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

On Sunday, AP journalists saw no bodies at the crash site and emergency workers were searching the sprawling area only for body parts.

Ukrainian spokeswoman Nataliya Bystro said that the emergency workers had been labouring under duress and were forced to give the bodies to the armed rebels.

"Where they took the bodies - we don't know," Bystro told The Associated Press.

Earlier, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Ukraine crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was "absolutely chaotic", and he feared interference with the evidence would continue.

The doomed flight was shot down on Friday by a surface-to-air missile over a part of Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists.

MORE: AUSSIE VICTIMS LOST ON MH17

PUTIN UNDER PRESSURE TO TAKE ACTION

The United States has confirmed that Russia supplied sophisticated missile launchers to separatists in eastern Ukraine and that attempts were made to move them back across the Russian border after the Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down.

Reported in The Washington Post , a US official said: "We do believe they were trying to move back into Russia at least three Buk [missile launch] systems". U.S. intelligence was "starting to get indications ... a little more than a week ago" that the Russian launchers had been moved into Ukraine.

The US official's comments were made under a condition of anonymity and compound the claims of the Security Service of Ukraine to have conclusive proof that the Boeing 777 aircraft was shot down with the use of Buk antimissile system which had been transferred, along with its crew, from Russia to Ukraine.

Counter-intelligence chief at the SSU, Vitaly Nayda, said: "The SSU conducts investigative actions and receives irrefutable evidence that Russian citizens were involved in the act of terrorism."

Mr Nayda said the evidence had been already forwarded to all their international partners.

The SSU directly cooperates with the Dutch police and law enforcers from other states whose citizens were victims of the disaster.

Journalists were shown pictures of what Mr Nayda said were photos of three Buk missile systems on the road towards the Russian border hours after MH17 was shot down.

A BUK missile system similar to the one thought to be responsible for bringing down MH17 Source: Supplied

However the images could not be independently verified by international agencies.

Mr Nayda alleged intelligence had identified a launch point in the district controlled by terrorists and the Russian military.

He claimed two movers each with a Buk missile launcher crossed the Russian border in Luhansk region on July 18 -hours after the disaster- and shortly after that three movers: one of them empty, another carrying a launcher with four missiles and the latter allegedly with a control unit, crossed the state border, The New York Times reported.

Mr Nayda said Russia attempted to suppress evidence of its involvement, but did not provide further details.

The allegation of a cover-up, both in hiding the weapons after the missile was fired, and hindering investigators from gathering evidence at the crash scene, is fuelling an already heated political and diplomatic environment.

A man blocks access to the scene of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 as emergency personnel remove the bodies of passengers. Source: Getty Images

The SSU claims come as intelligence chiefs in the US reportedly received multiple reports suggesting Russia provided separatists in eastern Ukraine with anti-aircraft systems and other military equipment.

Fox News said President Obama had been given the reports at Camp David, where he is spending the weekend, that also show the systems were "smuggled" back to Russia after the missile strike.

The revelations follows widespread outrage that three days after the tragedy decomposing bodies are still lying in the open while heavily-armed rebels refuse to co-operate with authorities.

At the same time pressure is continuing to build on Russian President Vladmir Putin to support an international investigation.

There are also growing calls for him to be barred from attending the G20 summit in Brisbane later this year if he fails to do so.

Anger is also growing towards the Russian leader who many blame for supplying the rebels with the sophisticated surface to air missiles reportedly used to bring the plane down.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has led international calls for Russia to assist the investigation into the tragedy while Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has flown to New York to spearhead a campaign for an independent, UN-backed inquiry.

Protesters in Sydney yesterday demanded the Russian President Vladmir Putin not be allowed into Australia for the G20 meeting in November. Source: News Corp Australia

A woman looks at debris from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which landed in a field of sunflowers in Ukraine. Source: Getty Images

Mr Abbott told the ABC this morning: "There are (37) people who call Australia home who have been snuffed out. This is an horrific crime".

He could not be specific when the victims could be returned home because, "not all the bodies will be intact".

At the same time there appeared to be no one in charge at the crash site with investigators twice turned away.

The Prime Minister said it wasn't clear where the bodies that had been removed from the site had been taken.

The tragedy would have touched every Australian, he said.

"You look at the faces of the dead and they're your neighbours, they're your friends, they could be your kids because let's face it, we are a people who like to travel and my own daughters flew on MH17 some months ago on their way home from Europe. So this is a tragedy which touches us deeply," he told ABC's Insiders program.

It has also emerged that he hasn't spoken directly to Putin or other senior figures in the Russian Government, aside from the Russian Trade Minister in Sydney for a G20 meeting.

His message was "crystal clear".

"Russian-controlled territory, Russian-backed rebels, quite likely a Russian-supplied weapon: Russia can't wash its hands of this."

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has spoken to Putin in what he described as an "intense" conversation.

"He has one last chance to show he means to help."

An airline envelope in a sunflower field near the MH17 crash site Source: Supplied

The G20 trade meeting went ahead as scheduled despite the escalating diplomatic crisis and angry scenes outside when protesters took to the streets to demand Putin not be allowed entry into Australia.

Signs with the words "Stop Putin" were waved around outside building the G20 meeting was being held in.

Mr Abbott indicated yesterday Putin's attendance hinged largely on how events unfolded over the next few days.

"Australia is a self-respecting country ... Visitors to this country are people who have done the right thing by this country."

Among the Australian victims are 25-year-old Jack O'Brien from NSW, who had been on his way home from a seven week European holiday and a Queensland man, Howard Horder, who quipped that he was flying with Malaysia Airlines and only needed a one-way ticket.

This morning Mr Abbott was joined by the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove at a special mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney to honour the MH17 victims.

Australia's political leaders have all been united in their condemnation of the attack and called on Putin to explain Russia's role.

A truck carrying the bodies of some of the passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 leaves the scene of the crash. Source: Getty Images

Labor leader Bill Shorten declared the Opposition would fully support Putin being barred from the event and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said he would not be welcome in his state if he did not fully co-operate.

The tension is not only due to the fact Russian-backed militants in rebel-controlled Ukraine are blamed for the atrocity but the appalling conditions at the crash site.

Investigators have been frustrated at the lack of access to the site which is being guarded by rebels, who argue they are providing security.

Russia denies it has any control over the rebels but there are reports that the bodies are being taken away to Russian-controlled hospitals. It's still unclear where the post-mortem's will be carried out.

Passenger's belongings are strewn throughout the wreckage. Source: AFP

'LOOTING' AT CRASH SCENE, BODIES 'DRAGGED' AWAY

But many bodies lay in fields where they landed unprotected from the elements.

One local described the grim scene.

"There are things everywhere, body parts, there is a laptop over there open and appears to be intact, plastic whisky bottles and I see a little blue backpack with Australians coins, silver ones they have "20" written on them and some pattern, I think they are Australian.

"I see an Australian power plug too, I know what they look like and a lot of children's toys are everywhere."

More than 80 children were killed on MH17.

"There is a little monkey, black and white, which was a children toy and nearby by burning black things, still smoking. Several of them. I didn't realise until after but they were burning children' bodies. It is terribly sad."

Security spokesman Andriy Lysenko accused the separatists of destroying evidence and taking remnants of the plane to Russia.

Speaking through a translator, he said rebels had forced international observers to leave the site so they could remove almost 40 bodies to Donetsk.

A masked armed separatist militant poses for a photographer near the crash site Source: AFP

"According to the information we have that was done in order to find in the bodies of victims parts of missile which shot down the plane.

He said bandits had "taken valuables from bodies and used credit cards of victims of the tragedy".

He confirmed there was on Friday "an appalling case of dragging away a number of bodies, just on a lorry".

"For me it's going beyond any sort of moral value and consideration."

In response to the claims credit cards had been looted from victims, the Dutch Banking Association issued a statement saying next-of-kin would not have to pay costs.

Observers have told of bodies being placed in body bags and left on the side of the road. But in many cases the bags haven't been zipped up and the bodies, in some cases stripped of clothes, are still exposed to the elements.

On the sides of the road and throughout the field where the plane crashed are piles of belongings belonging to the victims.

A Dutch novel, womens' underwear, hairbrushes, celebrity magazines, a smashed Macbook laptop and duty free alcohol are some of the items that appear to have been rifled through. Although whether it's by the rebel guards, or the locals who can walk freely around the wreckage, is unclear.

The atmosphere at the crash site is sombre and tense. Some of the rebel guards became agitated as journalists tried to access the makeshift emergency headquarters and fired off warning shots, The Wall Street Journal said. But there is no cordon around the bodies, or the plane, which is now the world's largest crime scene.

Many of them, who blame Ukraine for shooting down the plane, are furious the world is focused on the MH17 tragedy and not their ongoing dispute with Ukraine.

"Do you consider this a tragedy, what happened here? Why do you think this is a tragedy, because your compatriots, peaceful civilians, died?" said a rebel security official at the site.

"Then I have one other question for you: What about the city of Slovyansk, about Kramatorsk?" he said, referring to local cities where fighting has been severe.

"That wasn't a tragedy when the civilian population was destroyed? Little children. That's not a tragedy?"

Ukrainian rescue workers collect bodies of victims at the site of the MH17 crash Source: Supplied

Ukraine's deputy prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman, said 100 rescue workers were on site but under the control of 800 to 900 heavily-armed gunmen.

"Rescue teams have to follow their orders under the guns," he said.

"We ask them give the bodies of innocent people to us. Those bodies should be delivered to their families, to their countries. This is the issue number one for us."

Mr Groysman said when victims' relatives arrived in Kiev they would be put up in hotels. A centre has been established at the international airport to provide next of kin with visas.

Wreckage from the MH17 flight is scattered among a sunflower field. Source: Supplied

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Source: AFP

Mr Groysman said his government had a plane ready to deliver investigators to the crash site but "we didn't receive a guarantee from the Russian Federation as to the security of people who will work on the site".

The country's Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said the Ukrainian government had been talking to the "terrorists", often via videoconference calls, to try and secure unhindered access.

"Unfortunately it was extremely difficult yesterday and it's difficult today," he said.

"What we need now is international pressure also on Russia, because Russia has influence on these terrorists to provide clear and unhindered access to the place of the crash."


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

ATM fee-for-all: $5 to withdraw cash

Cash grab: ATMs are becoming more expensive. Source: News Corp Australia

CONSUMERS are being slugged $5 to withdraw cash and $3.50 to check their balance in the great ATM fee-for-all.

Incredibly, these might not even be the biggest charges. Other data indicates fees of as much as $10 are being imposed.

The $5 cash machine fee has emerged from a confidential study for the industry, obtained by News Corp. The study, by Payments Consulting Network, surveys nearly 27,000 ATMs across the country.

Over it ... consumers are sick of being slugged with banking fees. Source: News Corp Australia

The locations of the ATMs charging $5 are not revealed in the study and the authors refused to comment. It is known that the ATMs are not operated by any bank. They are run by independent deployers.

Independents' ATMs are most commonly found in pubs and service stations. The $3.50 balance inquiry charge was also levied by an independent.

"ATM fees are way out of proportion to the cost of providing the service, especially charging consumers for simply checking their bank balance," said Matt Levey, head of campaigns at consumer group Choice.

Not good enough ... the scale of fees are further evidence of the failure of reforms introduced by the Reserve Bank of Australia Source: HeraldSun

Data from another source suggests ATM fees could be as high as $10, although News Corp has been unable to locate the offending cash machine. The data shows the actual charges imposed on hundreds of thousands of Australians, revealing scores of ATMs are imposing fees of at least $4.

The standard fee to use the largest network of independent ATMs was increased to $2.80 from $2.50 last year. A rival operator yesterday told News Corp it plans to follow suit in a matter of months.

The scale of fees — and northward trend — are further evidence of the failure of reforms introduced by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Five years ago the RBA brought in a "direct charge" model it said would "lower the cost of ATM services". But that hasn't happened.

Too much ... a national Galaxy Research poll found so-called "foreign" ATM charges are the most hated finance fee. Source: News Corp Australia

The majority of ATM operators on its watchlist are now extracting up to 67 per cent extra. None has cut fees.

Choice, the Consumer Action Law Centre and the Australia Institute have all called for an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

A national Galaxy Research poll released last week found so-called "foreign" ATM charges are the most hated finance fee. The research was produced for ING, which has announced it will pay ATM fees imposed on its customers by cash machine operators.

In the year to the end of April, Australians paid $627 million in foreign ATM fees. A foreign ATM is any machine not operated by a consumer's card issuer.


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

‘Big birds flying to us from the sky’

Tony Abbott has said it's not too late for Russia to cooperate with investigators of downed flight MH17.

Hideous ... flowers, candles and plush toys are left by electronic wreckage at the site of the crash. Source: AFP

AT AN orphanage on the outskirts of Donetsk in Ukraine's east last Thursday, 20 children chatted and joked as they enjoyed a late lunch in the garden, a canopy of trees offering some relief from the stifling temperatures in the scruffy institution's rooms.

Then a boom rang out in the skies overhead and for a moment they saw nothing. They remained quiet.

HORROR: Victims moved into refrigerated trains

COVER UP: Bodies moved as Aussie death toll rises

HELL ON EARTH: Horror of MH17's final resting place

FINAL ROLE: Last hours of MH17's 'flying mothers'

And then it rained human bodies and debris from Malaysian Airlines MH17.

"Big birds flying to us from the sky," one child recalled, thinking at that moment anything else was unimaginable.

Within moments bodies were strewn along their street with two in the garden of the small institution, one the body of a Malaysian boy aged in his early teens — not much older that those who moments earlier had been enjoying an outdoor summer lunch — and another of a woman.

Impossible operation ... a man blocks access to the scene of the crash of MH17. Source: Getty Images

She had no face, the ground impact erasing all features. Both were naked with the fall tearing away at their clothes.

In the home next door a man still strapped into his seat landed in a garden of an elderly grandmother. She thinks it was a man — there was nothing above the torso. Across rooftops things fell, books, bags, knives and forks then later a section of a cockpit landed across the road from the orphanage.

Eight bodies in total were found in that small area alone..

"It was almost biblical," a woman at the orphanage said.

"You think about their life these children, they have already encountered so much, some have fathers in jail others no parents, they hear shelling and bombings every day nearby and here they are in the garden when bodies and things fall. Can you imagine that? Of course they were upset but they were also upset because they were today to go to the Black Sea for a break to get away and the local train station is bombed and now they cannot go."

Grim task ... emergency workers carry the body of a victim at the crash site near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine. Source: AP

A teacher at the orphanage, Larissa Zvereva, breaks down in tears as she recounts the horror. She cannot speak.

The people, young and old, from the rural villages about Donetsk — the self proclaimed capital of the pro-Russian separatist forces — have been deeply affected by the death of the 298 passengers and crew from MH17.

These are battle-hardened people but they are in deep shock by the horror of what they have seen and smelt of recent days.

Photographs of people, strangers to them, but presumably holiday snaps from the 298 found on the streets and in fields were gathered in what is makeshift memorial on what the city declared a day of public mourning.

Chaos ... a truck carrying the bodies of some of the passengers of MH17 leaves the scene. Source: Getty Images

While some photographs were from the plane, others were photocopies of pictures from local newspapers including the young Maslin family from Australia, dutifully placed in plastic sleeves to protect from the elements. The images are surrounded by soft toys — a koalas here, pink rabbit there, some found, others bought by locals as a memorial to this tragedy's youngest victims.

Many of the bodies have been removed already, witnesses say up to 200, carried away by volunteers including coal miners from site nearby.

It's a duty that one said he did not want to perform but felt obligated to.

"The smell is really bad but the whole thing, this tragedy, is worse," he said.

The men and women were being directed by the local fire chief in blue overalls, carrying corpses on makeshift stretchers to a small bus.

Heartache ... flowers and toys are left at the site of the crash. Source: AFP

Further along the road, however, there were several plastic sheets over a hump. Underneath the plastic, locals said, were the remains of eight children all together.

"I cannot get that sight out of my head. They were all mangled and burnt," said one woman. "I'm not sure why they were not removed with the others and we don't know how it was that they were all together."

Despite the removal of most of the bodies the stench death in the area remains strong.

Temperatures in the largely agrarian area where the Boeing was downed have been in the high 20s for most of the week, hitting 30 degrees on Sunday. With intermittent light rain the bodies were in a stage of decomposition.

Some bodies have been taken to morgues in Dunetsk, which have been guarded by militia with Kalashnikovs. The guards refuse to confirm or deny that bodies from the flight are in the morgues. Some of the morgues are said to lack refrigeration.


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Sexvertising: Has advertising gone too far?

American Apparel ad. Source: Supplied

IT'S not 1974. We don't live in an era in which lecherous male bosses with ridiculous mutton-chops can pinch their secretaries' bums at work without consequences. Benny Hill is not only off the idiot box, he's dead. As, you could be forgiven for thinking, is habitual sexism and the shameless intimidation of women by men in positions of power. Alas, 'fashion' didn't get the memo.

In June, when Dov Charney was finally ousted from American Apparel, the fashion company he founded in 1998, commentators suggested it was not because he has been repeatedly accused of sexually harassing his female employees and generally being a sleazebag, but because profits were down.

The subtext: you can get away with mostthings — even after former shop assistant Irene Morales sues you for $250 million for allegedly making her your "sex slave" for eight months — as long as you're bringing in the cash. To quote Forbes magazine, "When the company was profitable, or when it still seemed plausible that Charney could turn it around after years of heavy losses, these allegations were brushed aside, settled or fat-out denied. Now that the stock has plunged … the board has far less patience."

Morales settled out of court in 2011, but in June it emerged that a male employee pretending to be Morales had posted naked pictures of her on a blog, and that Charney knew but did nothing to stop it because it suited him (presumably because it made Morales look, to use one his favourite terms, like a "sl*t").

Ousted American Apparel founder Dov Charney. Source: Supplied

Around the same time, a video surfaced of Charney dancing naked in front of two (clothed) female employees. Weird, obviously; intimidating, unacceptable and all that; but the biggest problem I have with this story is, why was anyone surprised?

Charney and his team have been peddling sexism in plain sight for years. A 2006 class action against American Apparel brought by ex-employee Sylvia Hsu, who accuses an unnamed male colleague (not Charney) of sexual harassment, remains unresolved. In 2008, Saturday Night Live spoofed Charney's penchant for parading around the office in his underwear. In 2010, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found Charney had sexually discriminated against female staff.

Depicting women as sex objects is in the brand's DNA. Its ad campaigns regularly cast female models as pieces of meat, mostly topless (why bother with a shirt when you're advertising pants?), often with faces hidden (who looks at the fireplace when they're poking the fire?) and legs akimbo. Remember that ad for bodysuits — the one with the girl spreadeagled on a bed beneath the caption "Now open"? Did it make you cross? It did me.

Some people argue that these images are empowering; their un-airbrushed realism and porno postings simply reflect how modern girls see themselves, how they are and want to be — owning their own sexuality, hot and in control, and fine with it.

American Apparel is well known for its provocative advertising. Source: AP

But American Apparel sells its "fashionable basics" to both men and women (and children), so why aren't men treated the same way in its ads? When a man does appear, why must he be the clothed one, holding the near-naked woman's legs apart? What's liberated about that?

"But it's what the kids are into!" is the sort of thing I imagine Charney, 45, might say — "kids" being the operative word; Morales was 17 when, she says, her boss first started hitting on her. And is this really what the kids are into or is it — surely more likely — what the gross, middle-aged bloke in charge is into? In a recent op-ed piece in The New York Times, journalist Frank Bruni noted, "Boys will be boys and great men will be monsters, including to women. Too readily, we shrug."

The same week Charney proclaimed he wasn't going down without a fight (having borrowed $20 million to up his share of the company from 27 per cent to 43 per cent), Lady Gaga made headlines for the leaked music video for her upcoming track, Do What U Want. Can you guess from the title where this is going?

A still from the leaked music video from Lady Gaga. Source: YouTube

Directed by that beleaguered purveyor of designer smut, photographer Terry Richardson, 48, the video features Gaga on a hospital operating table. R. Kelly — the rapper who, in 2002, was indicted on child porn charges when a 13-year-old girl accused him of raping her and filming it — is cast as her twisted surgeon. This is one of his lines: "I'm putting you under, and when you wake up, you're going to be pregnant." Is it any wonder the cry of "an ad for rape!" went viral?

The whole scenario is 100 kinds of wrong, from Kelly's sinister-glam get-up (he's in black scrubs, dark glasses and a black glittery face mask) to Gaga's mastabatory writhing in response. What's her message for her Little Monsters (those ardent fans, so many of whom are underage girls)? That it's fun to be knocked out and interfered with? That guys should be able to "do what they want" with girls' bodies? That Richardson is a valuable cultural raconteur to be praised for making Miley Cyrus and her Wrecking Ball cool, rather than the man accused of groping models and worse?

Sky Ferreira, the LA-based singer and former fashion model, took to Facebook to defend Richardson, with whom she herself has worked "on many many many occasions" since she was 17. "I would like to say … from my OWN personal experience: I have never been forced or manipulated into anything," she wrote. "The media acting as if Terry Richardson manipulated Lady Gaga into making a video about getting touched by R. Kelly or whatever is a whole other

thing. [Gaga] is 28 year old woman & [sic] fully capable/aware of what she was doing."

Lady Gaga with Terry Richardson. Source: Splash News Australia

Fair point: what was Gaga thinking? For years, fashion people have been justifying Richardson's work as both popular and art. These are the excuses they make: slebs love him (see, for evidence, sittings by Rihanna, Miranda Kerr, even Barack Obama); it's just a bit of harmless, sexy fun; it has a sense of humour (see Richardson posing with a giant baguette coming out of jeans); it's collaborative art — didn't Lena Dunham pose for him? (She did, she has also said she regrets it.)

I remember when Richardson's book, Terryworld, came out in 2004. I worked at an indie fashion mag at the time and we celebrated it lavishly across our pages. "Wow, check out Terry ejaculating in the model's face! Isn't he, like, so daring!" We thought it was cool because we were young and stupid, and because 'fashion' said it was cool, and because Richardson shot ads for Tom Ford and covers for i-D; his pictures were gritty, edgy, outrageous. And because there is no greater sin in fashion land than to be conventional, we pushed down that feeling that there was something not quite right here.

Do you know how many times since 2010, when model Jamie Peck told her story to The Gloss and The New York Post outed Richardson as "fashion's favourite pervert", I've heard that everyone knew about Uncle Terry's monstrous antics on set? Let's just say, plenty. If fashion and music are art (which they are), it's their job to encourage us to think differently, start conversations and keep culture on the move.

Is this acceptable in an ad? Source: Supplied

That's why a plain grey T-shirt is clothes not fashion, and why Gaga in body-distorting Comme des Garçons is art and not simply noise. It's also why American Apparel tries to be arty with its ad campaigns — because without them, its clothes are just commercial units. Why buy one plain shirt over another? Sex, obviously. If you don't believe in censorship (which, in general, I don't), artists — be they performers, designers or photographers — should be allowed to express themselves as they see fit, providing they're not hurting anyone. If you don't like it, don't look. If Gaga's up-for-it anaesthetised patient offends you, you may choose to ignore it — turn off the TV, close the browser, so the argument goes.

But the flip side is, the more we are bombarded with these misogynistic images in fashion and the media, the more normalised they become. We stop being shocked. And when that happens, a luxury brand such as Christian Louboutin can release an ad for stilettos featuring a pair of severed female legs in a gift box, as it did recently, and we just shrug and say, "Oh well, sh*t happens. I've seen worse. Nice shoes."

I don't want to censor Gaga, but I'm not buying her "ad for rape". And don't forget, it is for sale. As consumers, we have power. We don't have to support fashion's dated sexism and nasty, misogynist undercurrents; we can vote with our wallets. And we can express our distaste as part of pushing the culture forward. I don't find violence against women or institutionalised sex discrimination glamorous. It certainly doesn't inspire me to spend my money on the products it is associated with. How's that for a conversation starter?

Follow Clare on Twitter and Instagram.

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23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Aussie linked to al-Qaida arrested

Heightened tensions ... Lebanese army soldiers guard a street in the northern port city of Tripoli. Picture: Ibrahim Chalhoub Source: AFP

A LEBANESE-AUSTRALIAN cleric with links to al-Qaida has been arrested in Tripoli, while a wanted man with Swedish nationality has also been killed in a police raid in the northern capital.

The incidents on Sunday heightened tensions in the restive city, the frequent scene of deadly unrest linked to the war in neighbouring Syria.

Sunni cleric Hussam al-Sabbagh, wanted for "terrorist activity", was stopped at a checkpoint by soldiers acting on "several arrest warrants", the army said.

Angry supporters of Sabbagh, who was arrested along with a bodyguard, later exchanged fire with the army in the Sunni-majority district of Bab al-Tebbaheh, a security official said.

Sabbagh, a prominent backer of the armed revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is suspected of recruiting and sending fighters across the border.

Restive ... smoke billows from the site of clashes on the road leading to the airport in the Libyan capital Tripoli on July 20, 2014. PictureL Mahmud Turkia Source: AFP

The security official said he stands accused of "setting up an armed band and training terrorists", and of links to al-Qaeda and radical group Fatah al-Islam.

On Friday, a court sentenced to death two Palestinians for membership of Fatah al-Islam, which fought a deadly 2007 battle with the army in a refugee camp near Tripoli.

The Nahr al-Bared fighting killed 400 people, including 168 soldiers.

Hours after Sabbagh's arrest, police raided the Tripoli home of a suspect wanted in connection with a Beirut hotel bombing last month.

Death by grenade ... destruction at the apartment of Monzer Khaldoun al-Hassan, a dual Lebanese-Swedish national, in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli. Picture: Ibrahim Chalhoub Source: AFP

But as they moved in to arrest him, Monzer Khaldoun al-Hassan, a dual Lebanese-Swedish national, was killed by a grenade he was handling, a security source said.

Police suspected Hassan of having provided explosive belts to two Saudi suicide bombers who blew themselves up when police raided their Beirut hotel on June 25, the source said.

Hassan was holed up in a Tripoli apartment and resisted arrest, lobbing grenades at police and exchanging fire with them for around four hours.

"As security forces tried to enter the apartment, he was killed by one of the grenades he was handling," the source said, adding that two policemen were wounded.

He said an explosive belt was found in the suspect's apartment.

Hassan, 24, flew from Sweden to Lebanon seven months ago after two of his brothers were killed in Syria fighting alongside anti-Assad rebels.


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