Woman forcibly removed off plane after telling staff she had dog allergy

US police have physically removed a woman from a Southwest Airlines plane after she told staff she had a life-threatening pet allergy, in the latest passenger scuffle to be captured on video and magnified on social media.

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After she told the crew she was severely allergic to animals – there were two dogs on board – the woman was ordered to disembark because she could not show a medical certificate needed to stay.

The unnamed woman refused to leave the Baltimore-to-Los Angeles flight and the crew called police.

“Our policy states that a customer (without a medical certificate) may be denied boarding if they report a life-threatening allergic reaction and cannot travel safely with an animal on board,” Southwest Airlines said in a statement.

“Our flight crew made repeated attempts to explain the situation to the customer, however, she refused to deplane and law enforcement became involved.”

Passenger and film producer Bill Dumas recorded the ensuing struggle between the woman and officers and posted it online.

Footage of woman forcibly removed from South West flight.Bill Dumas

The scene was reminiscent of an April incident in which security officers yanked a 69-year-old man out of his seat and dragged him off a United Express flight in Chicago, sparking a public outcry.

Southwest immediately apologised for the Tuesday night incident: “We are disheartened by the way this situation unfolded and the customer’s removal by local law enforcement officers,” spokesman Chris Mainz said.

The incident began quietly near the back of the plane, passengers said, as Southwest employees talked to the woman.

Mainz said the airline offered to re-book her on a flight the next day but she declined.

In the video, a police officer pushes her from behind while another pulls her from in front.

“What are you doing?” she says.

“I will walk off. Don’t touch me!”

“All right, let’s walk. Let’s walk,” one of the officers answers.

The airline declined to give the passenger’s name. She could be heard identifying herself as a professor.

She told officers she needed to get to Los Angeles because her father was having surgery the next day.

Southwest does not notify passengers ahead of time about animals on board.

“In most cases, we can separate the animal from customer with an allergy,” Mainz said.

“The onus is on the customer to tell us what their needs are.”

Right-wing protesters storm a Melbourne council over Australia Day decision

Moreland City, in inner north Melbourne, became the third Victorian council to stop referring to January 26 as Australia Day this month, but was the target of angry protests inside council chambers.

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Several protesters were filmed storming a council meeting with Australian flags, wearing morphsuits, holding signs and waving giant inflatable hands.

Council members were visibly surprised and one member was forced to cover his ears when activists started to chant into megaphones.Activists stormed Moreland City Council after it changed Australia Day.AAP

Council members were eventually forced to file out of the room due to the protests.

One activist said Moreland Council did not want to hear the truth and asked the camera: “We are being called Nazis because we are Australian are we?”

The video was posted to activist group Patriot Blue’s Facebook page.

“Yesterday was a day of resistance against those who so wish to change our culture and country,” the caption from Patriot Blue read.

“This is Moreland City Council receiving a reaction for committing treason against the Australian people, the very people they are meant to serve.

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“Australia Day has always been and will always be on the 26th of January.”

Deputy Mayor Cr Samantha Ratnam said Moreland City Council remained proudly resolute on its decision.

“We got on with the business of governing the city and hearing from our community and ratepayers,” Cr Ratnam told SBS World News in a statement.

“The behavior of the intruders last night demonstrates that they do not know how to conduct a constructive political dialogue.”

Greens Councillor Natalie Abboud took to Facebook claiming she was proud of how Moreland Council reacted.

“I’m so proud of Moreland City Council and all the people who form the part of my community who are in the gallery tonight,” she rote on Wednesday night.

“Men in Lycra won’t stop us from hearing community submissions to the Draft Local Law tonight.

“I hope I never have to see a professor with his hands over his ears again. Thank you all for your bravery and patience.”

Japan PM Abe calls October election

Japan’s lower house has been dissolved for an expected snap October 22 election being called by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he seeks to confirm his mandate in the face a rising challenge from a popular new conservative party.

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Abe, a conservative who returned to power in 2012, hopes a boost in his voter support in recent months will help his Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition maintain a simple majority.

It currently holds a two-thirds majority.

A number of opposition MPs boycotted the session at which the lower house was dissolved on Thursday in protest at Abe calling the election and creating a potential political vacuum when tensions are high with North Korea.

“This will be a tough battle but it’s all about how we will protect Japan, and the lives and peaceful existence of the Japanese people,” Abe told MPs.

Popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s new Party of Hope, only formally launched on Wednesday, has upended the election outlook after she announced she would lead the group herself.

Koike, a former LDP MP and defence minister, said she would not stand for a seat herself but speculation she will persists.

A survey by the Mainichi newspaper showed 18 per cent of voters plan to vote for Koike’s party compared with 29 per cent for Abe’s ruling LDP.

Abe’s personal ratings have risen to about 50 per cent from about 30 per cent in July, partly on the back of his leadership during the North Korea crisis.

The emergence of Koike’s party, which she describes as pro-reform and conservative, has thrown the main opposition Democratic Party into turmoil.

The Democrats are struggling with defections and single-digit ratings and now appear in danger of being absorbed by the Party of Hope.

Leppitsch relishes his weird AFL dream

Justin Leppitsch is sure he’s having an incredibly weird dream.

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Mixed in with the horse and the midget, he’s sacked from coaching Brisbane and returns to Richmond, who promptly make the AFL grand final.

It’s so crazy, it cannot possibly be real.

But 12 months after his barren time at the Lions ended in failure, that’s exactly what has happened.

“It’s like I had this weird dream last night, I couldn’t believe it. Everything happens — good, bad, the whole lot,” Leppitsch said.

“A horse walks in, something strange happens, a midget with a chip hat walks in, all this strange stuff.

“And you walk away going ‘how did I just go from last year to this year?'”

The Lions sacked Leppitsch after three seasons where they finished no higher than 15th.

But Richmond coach Damien Hardwick was soon on the phone, asking the three-time Brisbane premiership defender to return to Punt Rd.

Leppitsch had worked under Hardwick at Richmond before taking the Brisbane job.

“A lot of emotions have gone into the last 12 months for me, good and bad,” he said.

“So it’s a hard one to even quantify.

“(Whenever) you get to grand final week, you’re very thankful and I’m just happy Damien asked me to come back last year and be a part of this.”

Leppitsch is Richmond’s forward coach and has received a lot of plaudits for the effectiveness of their unusual set-up in attack.

Rather than a couple of tall targets, it is Jack Riewoldt and then their mosquito fleet of small forwards, who rely on intense pressure to generate goals.

But Leppitsch said it is due to a number of personnel including fellow assistant Blake Caracella, who joined Richmond from a successful stint at Geelong.

Despite the pain of last year’s sacking, Leppitsch said it has worked out for the best.

“It’s probably better for everyone … sometimes that’s a good thing,” he said.

“You never want to leave a job, you never want to get booted from a job, no-one wants that.

“But I’ve enjoyed every moment of it, so how can you complain when you sit here right now?”

Saudi Arabia to let women drive but here’s what they still can’t do

Rights groups have welcomed King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia’s decree to allow women in the country to drive.

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The decree ordered a committee be set up to help implement the change according to “established legal regulations”.

The decree is expected to be implemented by June 2018.

However, even if the bill is passed, women are still confronted with significant barriers to participating fully in Saudi Arabian society.

The guardianship system

In Saudi Arabia, every woman has a male guardian, either their father, brother, husband or son, who are given the authority to make decisions on her behalf.

In 2009, Saudi Arabia accepted a recommendation by UN member states to end its guardianship system, but it did not follow through with its commitment. In 2013 it again agreed to abolish the system after its Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council.   

In April 2017, King Salman issued an order that women should not be denied government services because they did not have approval from a male guardian “unless there is a regulatory obligation for this request”, it is yet to be enforced.

The order, reviewed by Human Rights Watch, required government agencies to submit a list of procedures that require approval by a male guardian, suggesting they might be reviewed to give women greater freedom.

If the order is enforced, women would have greater access to public education. For example, male guardians would no longer be required to approve the enrolments of women into public universities.

But Amnesty International said in its statement, “we also need to see a whole range of discriminatory laws and practices swept away in Saudi Arabia, including the guardianship system.”

Human Rights Watch, which monitors the restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia, says the guardianship system prevents women from the following rights.

RELATEDEffects of guardianship system

Healthcare

Women must get permission from their guardian to access healthcare.

Education

Saudi women must gain approval from their guardian to enrol into public universities.

Travelling abroad

Saudi Arabian women are prevented from travelling abroad unless they have gained approval from their male guardian. This includes travelling abroad on a government scholarship.

Having a passport

Saudi Arabian women are not able to obtain a passport without the approval of their male guardian.

Getting married

Women must get the consent of their male guardian to marry.

Leaving Prison

Even if they have finished their sentence, women must have their guardian’s permission before they can leave jail.

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Conducting transactions

Human Rights Watch says women often have trouble managing property, such as renting, or filing for legal assistance unless a male is with them.

Sports

According to Human Rights Watch World Report 2017, as of July 2016, most public schools in the country did not provide physical education for females.

Women were forbidden from participating in national tournament or state-run sports leagues.

However, the country is making progress towards greater rights in sports. In August 2016, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Sports announced it would open a female department. That same month four women represented Saudi Arabia in the Rio Olympics.

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NSW boy accidentally shot in face by mate

A 12-year-old boy is believed to have been shot in the face by his mate at a farm in southwestern NSW after a bullet ricocheted from a rifle and hit him.

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The boy had been visiting a friend’s home at Thuddungra near Young when his friend was asked to return a .22 rifle to the firearm safe.

It’s believed the gun then discharged, the bullet bouncing back to hit the unsuspecting boy in the face, police say.

Acting Superintendent Frank Brown from Cootamundra Local Area Command refused to rule out police laying charges over the incident, stressing that the police investigation was still in its early stages.

“We will thoroughly investigate the incident and if there is evidence to suggest prosecution should take place we will look at that,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“It’s very early stages at this point … the incident that’s occurred last night has been quite stressful to all persons involved and the priority at that time was the welfare of the young children and to seek medical attention.”

Supt Brown agreed the boy was lucky to be alive and warned the public to treat firearms as if they were loaded at all times.

The firearm responsible for the boy’s injuries was registered, he said.

The bullet hit the left side of the boy’s face and travelled through his shoulder, leaving behind two entry and exit wounds, Young NSW Ambulance Inspector Stephen Pollard told Fairfax Media on Thursday.

The boy was immediately driven from the Thuddungra farm to be met by paramedics who took him to a hospital nearly 20km away.

He was then airlifted to The Children’s Hospital in Sydney with non-life-threatening injuries for specialist care.

Supt Brown said police had attempted to make contact with the injured boy’s family but had so far been unsuccessful.

“It is suggested they’re tied up with the young boy,” he told reporters.

A crime scene was established at the property after the incident.

The boy is the second child to be shot in NSW in the past month after a three-year-old girl died in her western Sydney home last month after accidentally being shot with her father’s unregistered sawn-off shotgun.

A2 Milk, Wattle strengthen China position

Infant formula suppliers The A2 Milk Company and Wattle Health Australia have strengthened their regulatory position in the lucrative Chinese market.

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A2 Milk’s application to continue selling its infant formula products in China has been approved by China’s health regulator, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA).

Formula manufacturer Synlait Milk, which has been in partnership with A2 Milk since 2010, submitted the mandatory CFDA application in May.

All infant formula manufacturers must register brands and recipes with the CFDA for products to be imported into China from January 1, 2018.

Also, foreign manufacturers of infant formula products in China must register the canning facility used to blend and pack the products with the Certification and Accreditation Administration of People’s Republic of China (CNCA).

From January 1, 2018, all infant formula to be sold in China must be manufactured by a facility accredited by the CNCA, and each facility can only register up to three brands.

A2 Milk’s CFDA registration included tests on raw materials and finished products, certification of manufacturing standards, formulation assessment, and packaging changes,

Chief executive Geoffrey Babidge said the company’s multi-channel infant formula strategy in both Chinese-labelled products and English-labelled products had positioned A2 Milk well in the context of current regulatory requirements.

“We look forward to the continued expansion of our business in China following this announcement,” Mr Babidge said in a statement.

Wattle Health has completed its previously announced $5 million acquisition of a five per cent interest in Australian infant formula maker Blend & Pack, which is licensed by the CNCA to produce infant formula for China’s market.

Wattle Health said the acquisition ensures that its infant formula range will be the first brand nominated by Blend & Pack for CFDA approval.

CFDA approval will allow Wattle Health to sell infant formula in China in bricks-and-mortar stores and online after January 1, 2018.

Executive chairman Lazarus Karasavvidis said completing the Blend & Pack deal was a significant milestone for Wattle Health.

“Not only will it help us execute and grow brand awareness across our Australian channels, but we’re also in a much stronger position to obtain the necessary approvals to be able to service the Chinese market,” Mr Karasavvidis said.

A2 Milk shares were higher during Thursday’s sesssion but ended the day steady at $5.99, while Synlait Milk gained 49 cents, or 9.1 per cent, to $5.87 and Wattle Health added five cents, or 6.5 per cent, to 82.5 cents.

Family law review will consider whether court cases are too distressing for children

The Australian Law Reform Commission will undertake the most comprehensive review of the family law system since 1976, in a review announced by the Turnbull government on Thursday.

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Attorney-General George Brandis said the review was “necessary and long-overdue”.

The government has ordered the independent commission to undertake the review, beginning on October 1. It will be led by Professor Helen Rhoades.

“Australian families and their needs have significantly evolved since the 1970s,” Senator Brandis said in a statement.

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The review will examine the adversarial nature of family law cases – including divorce and custody disputes.

Senator Brandis said he did not want to prejudice the outcomes of the review and would not offer his personal views.

‘There is certainly a body of opinion among family law practitioners that the adversarial mode in which family law proceedings are conducted is not the perfect model,” he told the ABC.

“It’s always better that disputes be resolved by mediation rather than by litigation, particularly though when they concern intimate relationships, people at a fraught and despairing time of their lives.”

The review will also consider how the system can better support families, reduce legal costs and resolve cases more quickly.

The Australian Law Council welcomed the wholesale review but warned that any meaningful, long-term reform needed significant funding.

 

President Fiona McLeod said resourcing had not kept up with the increase in the number and complexity of family law cases.

“The Law Council looks forward to contributing to this review, however we note that any significant recommendations for reform will not be able to be implemented without corresponding funding,” she said in a statement.

Labor also welcomed the review, but also called for “urgent action” before the review is completed.

“The government has still not announced any funding to facilitate an end to domestic violence survivors being cross-examined by their abusers in court,” Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said in a statement.

“None of these problems can afford to wait until the report’s due date in 2019.”

The ALRC has been given until March 31 in 2019 to report back.

Twitter in court over ‘venomous tweets’

An Australian firm has taken Twitter to court after confidential financial information was leaked in a series of “venomous tweets” by someone impersonating the firm’s CEO and another senior officer.

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The firm, which has a large number of partners, sought orders to stop Twitter publishing the offending material anywhere in the world and stop the unknown person operating any Twitter accounts.

The “barrage of tweets” between May and September became “increasingly bold and threatening” and “were clearly suggestive of a malicious intention to harm the plaintiff”, Justice Michael Pembroke said in his NSW Supreme Court judgment on Thursday.

While the identity of the author of the tweets is unknown, it’s “clear that he or she has access to some of the plaintiff’s financial records”, he said.

When the firm complained about the first tweets, Twitter removed the account but said it wouldn’t provide the identity and contact information of the user as per its privacy policy.

The “venomous tweets” continued in August but this time the twitter handle didn’t impersonate anyone, it “simply utilised a provocative descriptive noun”, Justice Pembroke said.

Again the firm complained but Twitter said the tweets didn’t violate its terms of service because there was no impersonation.

“This was clearly wrong,” Justice Pembroke said.

The firm made another complaint in early September following a further 17 tweets, but Twitter said they weren’t in violation of its private information policy.

When a fourth round of offending tweets appeared, stating “We are back up!”, the account was quickly shut down.

Legal proceedings started in September where interlocutory orders were made restraining the publication of “offending material” and suspending the relevant accounts behind the posts.

The firm also sought orders limiting future offending tweets and accounts.

Although Twitter didn’t appear at the final hearing, it submitted information via email that it is “not feasible to proactively monitor user content for offending material”, the judgment said.

Justice Pembroke said he does not consider it unreasonable or inappropriate to make orders for filtering or checking to ensure confidential information doesn’t get posted or is removed.

“The high profile and size of Twitter give me confidence in the utility of making the proposed orders,” Justice Pembroke said.

“Although Twitter publicly disclaims any responsibility for user content, the success of its business model depends in part on ensuring that the Twitter platform is not used by dishonest persons who seek to damage others.”

The orders were confidential but were “substantially in accordance with the orders sought by the plaintiff,” Justice Pembroke said.

Drought killed off Tasmanian tiger: study

Drought was to blame for the extinction of Tasmanian tigers from the Australian mainland, a new study by the University of Adelaide has found.

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Using DNA from fossil bones and museum specimens, the report says drought caused by the onset of El Nino weather patterns was the likely cause of the tiger’s demise.

“The ancient DNA tells us that the mainland extinction was rapid, and not the result of intrinsic factors such as inbreeding or loss of genetic diversity,” researcher Lauren White said.

Ms White said tigers lived in western regions of Australia right up to their extinction from the mainland around 3000 years ago.

The researcher said the reasons for the tiger’s disappearance but continuing survival in Tasmania until the 1930s had remained a scientific mystery.

Previous theories include the introduction of dingoes and an increased Indigenous population.

But professor Jeremy Austin, said both groups went through a population crash at the same time and with no dingoes in Tasmania at the time and minimal population, weather was the most likely cause.

“Tasmania would have been somewhat shielded from the warmer, drier climate because of its higher rainfall but it appears that this population was also affected by the El Nino event before starting to recover,” Mr Austin said.

The animal survived in Tasmania after European settlement but the local government offered a bounty for tigers claiming the animal was attacking sheep.

The last wild Tasmanian tiger was shot by a farmer in 1930 and the last in captivity died in 1936.

There have been numerous unconfirmed sighting ever since the animal was declared extinct.