Moving Australia Day: brave or futile?

Australia Day is intended as a day to unite the nation but, for many in the Indigenous community, it is a day of protest and mourning.

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A growing number of councils across the country are beginning to dump their planned Australia Day celebrations in sympathy with those emotions.

Two Melbourne councils, Darebin and Yarra, have voted to drop their celebrations on January 26.

Related’Stimulate a discussion’

Hobart City Council says it is considering the move, and Fremantle Council in Western Australia already is delaying its celebrations.

The co-chairman of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, Rod Little, says he and the Congress admire the councils for what they have done.

“The Congress has commended those councils, the Fremantle City Council and others. And I think it’s brave of those councils to stimulate a discussion that needs to be had, because we are an evolving society,” said Mr Little.

In Melbourne, long-time Indigenous activist Robbie Thorpe says simply changing the date will not resolve tensions, but having Australia Day on January 26 is – he believes – inappropriate.

“It’s offensive and insulting and denies us our humanity, our human rights, our dignity. You know, we’ve seen our country destroyed in a very short space of time,” said Mr Thorpe.

More division

But there are others with a different view.

Former president of the Darug Tribal Aboriginal Corporation in western Sydney, Gordon Workman, says changing the date for Australia Day celebrations will only create more division in the country.

“A push to change Australia Day is pushing a wedge between white and Indigenous Aborigines of this country. That’s all it is, nothing more, nothing else,” said Mr Workman.

“I mean, the past is the past here. Nobody can go back and change it. But we can change what’s coming, and that’s what we should be focusing on, not a day.”

In response to the moves to shift Australia Day celebrations, the Federal Government has stripped two councils of the power to hold citizenship ceremonies.

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Body found in Copenhagen is missing journalist Kim Wall, Danish police say

Authorities believe the journalist died aboard an inventor’s homemade submarine.

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“The DNA of the torso matches that of Kim Wall,” Copenhagen police announced on Twitter.

In a grisly case that has gripped public imagination, Danish inventor Peter Madsen has been accused of the negligent manslaughter of 30-year-old Kim Wall as she interviewed him aboard his 60-foot (18-metre) submarine on August 10.

She had been missing since then.

The female torso, with the head and limbs deliberately cut off, was found on Monday in Koge Bay, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Copenhagen.

Copenhagen homicide chief Jens Moller Jensen told a news conference there were injuries to the torso which appeared to suggest that air had been forced out of it.

He also said the torso had been attached to a metal object which was likely intended to weigh it down.

Police are still searching for the remaining body parts.

The cause of death was still unknown, Jensen added.

”I would like to express my deepest sympathy with Kim Wall’s family [to] whom we had to give the definitive news last night that we now have a DNA match between Kim Wall and the torso found,” he said.

”Naturally, the DNA match is a relatively large break through in the investigation which will now continue until we have built all possible information in the case.”

Swedish journalist Kim Wall was onboard a private submarine ‘UC3 Nautilus’ owned by Peter Madsen. The submarine sank on 11 August.AAP

Blood in the submarine

Police also said they had found her blood inside the submarine.

“We secured a hairbrush and a toothbrush to confirm her DNA. We found blood in the submarine and it was a match,” Jensen said.

Wall, a freelance journalist who had reported for The Guardian and The New York Times, has not been seen since boarding Madsen’s submarine on August 10.

She had met with Madsen to interview him for a feature story she was writing.

Madsen, 46, and Wall were seen on board the vessel by several people in waters off Copenhagen the evening of August 10.

Photos of the two emerged online standing next to each other in the sub’s tower. Wearing an orange fleece and with her long auburn hair tied in a topknot, she appeared to be smiling.

Her boyfriend reported her missing a day later. The same day, Madsen was rescued from waters between Denmark and Sweden shortly before his submarine sank.

Madsen, whose website describes him as an “inventepreneur”, initially told authorities he dropped Wall off on an island late on the evening of August 10.

But he changed his story several days later when he appeared in court, saying Wall had died in an accident on board and that he dumped the body at sea at an undefined location in Koge Bay.

‘Endless sorrow’

Police have since said they believe Madsen, 46, “deliberately” sank the sub. It was brought to the surface and searched, but found to be empty.

Madsen has been in custody since August 12 suspected of negligent manslaughter, but Jensen said Wednesday the formal charge could change following the latest developments. He will remain in custody until September 5.

A graduate of Columbia School of Journalism, Wall was based between New York and China.

Her friends have described her as “invincible”, “ambitious” and as “seeing something good in everyone”, according to Swedish media reports.

“It is with endless sorrow and dismay that we have received the news that the remains of our daughter and sister have been found,” Wall’s mother Ingrid wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

Wall had covered news about earthquake-hit areas in Haiti, Idi Amin’s torture chambers in Uganda and minefields in Sri Lanka.

“She gave voice to the weak, to the vulnerable and marginalised people,” her mother wrote. 

“That voice would have been needed much, much longer. But now that will not be so.”

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British-based trio complete ultimate trophy swim across Lake Geneva

Three amateur swimmers — two in their late forties and one in his early sixties — are the latest to have completed a 70-kilometre (43.

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5 miles) relay swim across Lake Geneva, one of Europe’s largest lakes.

The British-based trio, who took it in turns to swim two-hour legs, completed the non-stop swim on Tuesday in 32 hours and seven minutes.

“At night it was very, very difficult. It was dark and, you have to swim with lights, lights on your head, lights on your backside and lights on the boats,” said Dirk Gewert, a 62-year-old German research scientist who works in the pharmaceuticals industry in Britain.

“You don’t see things very well and also the wind starts coming up and it was very choppy, so it was going up and down, and it was really hard.

“Then, when sun rises, it gets calmer, then it gets better … but swimming for 10 hours overall is, is a lot. It hurts.”

The relay began at the Chateau de Chillon, a medieval fortress at the eastern end of the lake, and finished in Geneva itself.

The record time the swim has been completed in stands at around 23 hours. Local regulations required that for the swim to go ahead, it needed two coast guards on standby, a fully equipped escort boat, two pilots and two official observers, including a fully trained lifeguard.

“I think the sport is more about the mental aspect than it is about the swimming,” said Nicola Naunton, another member of the team. The 47-year-old, who works in the financial services industry, said she was a couch potato until three years ago.

“My shoulders are fine, they don’t hurt at all, but my mind is quite tired and I think we all had to support each other.”

Peter Whitehead, a 48-year-old bank worker in London, completed the team.

“Some people climb mountains, other people jump out of air planes and go sky diving, we just go swimming,” he said. “Everyone has their element of madness.”

(Additional reporting by Cecile Mantovani; Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Susan Fenton)

Samsung reveals Galaxy Note 8

Samsung Electronics wants to wipe the slate clean with the launching of a new Galaxy Note 8 phablet, hoping features such as dual rear cameras and its biggest-ever screen will extinguish memories of its fire-prone predecessor.

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The world’s largest smartphone maker by market share has put safety at the centre of a phone-cum-tablet that is likely to compete for pre-holiday season sales with a widely expected 10th anniversary iPhone from US rival Apple.

The unveiling on Wednesday comes five months after the release of the Galaxy S8 smartphone.

Analysts said brisk sales of that device indicate recovery in Samsung’s standing, after battery fires prompted the October withdrawal of the Galaxy Note 7 just two months into sales at an opportunity cost of $US5.48 billion ($A6.94 billion).

The fires briefly lost Samsung its number one rank, showed data from researcher Counterpoint. It has since regained ground, with Strategy Analytics putting its April-June share at 22 per cent – more than Apple and China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd combined.

Cumulative sales of the S8 and S8+, released in the period, were 15 per cent over those of the S7, Samsung said in July.

Samsung’s Note series usually sport bigger screens than the S series and come equipped with a removable stylus. The trademark curved screen of the latest incarnation measures 6.3 inches corner to corner, a mere 0.1 inch bigger than the S8+.

The South Korean firm has been a principle driver of growth in handsets with 6 inch-plus screens, a category which Strategy Analytics expects to grow 10 times faster than the overall market next year.

Samsung has also installed dual rear cameras on a handset for the first time, adding the Note 8 to a trend which promises improved photographic control and picture quality.

Other features include security technology, such as facial recognition and fingerprint and iris scanning, and artificial intelligence in the form of Samsung’s Bixby voice-command assistant.

The Note 8 will be sold from mid-September, Samsung said, without elaborating on place or price.

‘Something special’ coming from Wallabies

He won’t be part of it for much longer but Sean McMahon reckons there is “something special” brewing in the current crop of Wallabies.

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The 23-year-old is playing in what will be his last Bledisloe Cup series for several years, ahead of his impending shift to Japanese rugby on a two-season deal.

It is shaping as a bittersweet move for the dynamic back-rower because of what he is leaving behind.

Echoing remarks from skills coach Mick Byrne earlier in the week that Australia is treading the same path of improvement as the All Blacks did a decade ago, McMahon said he was convinced the team will soon emerge from the current doom and gloom a vastly better side.

“There’s a different vibe in this team at the moment which hasn’t been there for a little while so it’s going to be exciting to see what we can put out this weekend and in the coming months,” McMahon told AAP.

“I am going to be heading offshore but right now I’m just focusing on being part of this group and trying to make (that happen).

“Down the track and hopefully starting with this weekend we can start to show the Australian public and the rest of the world that there is something special here, and we’re working hard to find it.”

It was hard to find much evidence in last weekend’s Bledisloe Cup opener, as the Wallabies were trounced by an awe-inspiring first-half performance from the All Blacks, who tore apart their defensive structures at will.

But McMahon said the second half of the match, which saw Australia pile on 28 unanswered points, was cause for genuine hope in Saturday’s second Test at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.

“An aggressive start’s what’s needed, straight from the kick-off,” he said.

“This week we’re putting a real big focus on getting that confidence and connection with each other in defence and really making sure we have that down pat, because the score on the weekend was a result of poor defensive reads and missed tackles.”