Rebels bikies mourn ‘brother’ shot dead

A heavily tattooed man shot dead in the driveway of a western Sydney home had bikie connections and had survived an earlier shooting.

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Michael Davey died from his injuries in Stafford Street, Kingswood, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, despite attempts by paramedics to save him.

Mr Davey, aged in his 30s, was believed to be a member of the Rebels Outlaw Motorcycle Gang.

Superintendent Greg Peters would not confirm the bikie links but said that Mr Davey was known to police.

The Sydney chapter of the Rebels offered condolences to his family.

“You will be truly missed brother you were one of a kind. May you ride in the Forever Chapter,” a post on a Facebook page said.

It’s believed the buffed Mr Davey escaped injuries last April during a shooting at a Sydney shopping centre.

Police were scouring Stafford Street in search of the weapon used in the killing, and other clues.

A large kitchen knife was found stabbed into the ground next to a tree in a grassy area near the red-brick home where the shooting occurred, just down the road from the unit block where Mr Davey lived.

Richard Stalling only moved into the home with his partner and four children two weeks ago and they are shocked by the killing just metres from their front door.

While some neighbours reported hearing five or six shots, Mr Stalling said he was woken by the flashing police lights and the sight of a body on his driveway.

“I’d say he ran to try and hide between my car and the fence to be honest and they’ve found him then and there,” he told AAP on Wednesday.

“I could see a body lying there … the victim didn’t scream out or anything it must have happened so quickly, it makes me feel bad because I could have rendered CPR.”

Mr Davey is believed to have been shot in the head and chest.

Friends have paid tribute to the father of one, known as “Micky”, or also as “Ruthless”.

“Rip Micky. You’ve been a massive part of my life and you’ll always be in my heart we were best friends,” his partner Sarah Gerrard wrote on Facebook.

“I’ll never forget the things you’ve done for me and taught me over the years.”

Other friends gathered at the scene expressed their shock at the killing.

“He was a really good guy. I know a lot of people may not think it because of what he was involved in but he was a really genuine guy, an amazing father,” Krystal Lenkova told reporters.

“He’s lived here for a few years so it’s all of a sudden. It’s a massive shock to everybody who knew him, he has a lot of friends.”

Police believe a vehicle was seen leaving the scene a short time after the shooting.

EgyptAir passengers flown to Cairo

Egyptian authorities have defended their security measures as the passengers from an EgyptAir jet returned home after being diverted to Cyprus by a hijacker wearing a dummy explosive belt.

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The flight’s 55 passengers and 15 crew arrived back in Cairo airport on a special flight about 9.30pm (0630 AEDT Wednesday). Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail was waiting to receive them.

The hijacked airliner was flown back separately by a fresh crew after technical and security checks, sources in the airport said.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi phoned Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to thank him for his country’s efforts to resolve the hijacking.

The Egyptian interior ministry issued video of the alleged hijacker, identified as Seif al-Din Mustafa, 57, passing through security checks at Alexandria’s Borg al-Arab airport prior to boarding the Tuesday morning flight to Cairo.

Mustafa and his carry-on baggage had both been subject to full security checks, but he later assembled the fake bomb from permitted personal belongings in the bag, the ministry said.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kassoulidis earlier said the hijacker had connected several mobile phone covers with cables, which he passed off as an explosive belt.

“We were suspicious but wanted to play it safe,” Kassoulidis told journalists at Larnaca airport after the man surrendered.

Mustafa released most of the passengers and crew not long after the plane landed but held seven as hostages before giving himself up hours later.

According to Cypriot state television, he initially demanded the release of detained female Egyptian opposition activists and requested asylum in Europe for himself.

He asked to speak with his Cypriot ex-wife, in a letter dropped out of an aeroplane window, which the Cypriot police subsequently translated from Arabic, the broadcaster said.

The airport surveillance video, which appeared to be partly cut, showed a person identified by a red circle undergoing a lengthy search, apparently at the entrance to the airport’s check-in area, and being dealt with by two separate officers.

In Egyptian airports, that initial search is usually a quick frisk with more thorough checks carried out at the departure gate.

The interior ministry did not say why Mustafa was apparently searched at length.

The video then showed Mustafa undergoing a quicker search at what appeared to be the departure gate. The ministry published what it said was the X-ray image of his carry-on bag.

Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy praised the crew of Flight 181, saying they had dealt with the situation professionally.

Speaking while the hostage situation was ongoing, Fathy had said that it was unclear whether the hijacker’s explosive belt was real but for the sake of the passengers’ safety it was necessary to act on the basis that it was genuine.

The interior ministry said Mustafa had a criminal record for forgery and was suspected in a number of fraud, theft and narcotics cases.

The incident comes at a sensitive time for Cairo, which is seeking to persuade Russia to lift a flight ban imposed after a Russian jet returning from the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh exploded, killing all 224 people on board.

The explosion was claimed by the Islamic State extremist group and led Russia to ban all direct flights to Egypt, a critical blow to the country’s beleaguered tourism sector, which has been largely reliant on Russian customers in recent years.

Australia fast bowler Starc back for West Indies tour

Starc broke his foot during the inaugural day-night test against New Zealand in Adelaide last November and missed the rest of Australia’s summer programme.

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He also used the enforced break to have surgery on an ankle injury that had been bothering him for the past year.

The 26-year-old began running slowly at the end of last month and had been gradually building his fitness and was named in the squad for the tournament on Wednesday.

“Mitchell has progressed very well in his rehab and the medical staff are confident he will be fit to play in this series,” chairman of selectors Rod Marsh said in a statement.

“It is extremely pleasing to have a bowler of his calibre back in the side.”

South Australia batsman Travis Head has also been called into the one-day squad for the first time after an impressive domestic season, which included making his Twenty20 international debut against India in Adelaide on January.

Head scored a double century for South Australia in the domestic one-day competition, a century in the Twenty20 competition and was named the first class Player of the Year after scoring 721 runs that included three centuries.

“Travis has put in some match-winning performances in all three formats of the game this summer,” Marsh said.

“He is an exciting young batsman with a bright future and if he gets his opportunity I have no doubt he will make the most of it.”

Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade has also returned to the one-day side after he was dumped for the World Twenty20 tournament in India for test keeper Peter Nevill.

Test off-spinner Nathan Lyon has also been given an opportunity to prove his credentials in the shorter forms of the game, with the 28-year-old having played just 10 one-day internationals in four years.

Leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who impressed in the World Twenty20 in India, has also been included to exploit the expected turning wickets in the Caribbean.

South Africa will also contest the triangular tournament that runs from June 3-26.

Australia: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner (vice-captain), George Bailey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O’Brien)

Showdown like an AFL final: Port captain

Port Adelaide captain Travis Boak sees no point playing down Saturday’s AFL grudge match against Adelaide.

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Boak said Port, winners in four of the past six against the Crows, embrace the hype of the home-town clashes and have three players lining up to replace injured Matt White (pectoral).

“Showdowns have always been like finals,” Boak told reporters on Wednesday.

“And finals footy is contested footy and really tight games. And I’m thinking it will be along the same path.”

Ex-Melbourne utility Jimmy Toumpas could debut for the club in Saturday’s Adelaide Oval fixture with Karl Amon and Aaron Young also in the frame.

Port banked a 33-point season-opening win against St Kilda despite ruckman Matthew Lobbe copping a touch-up from young Saint Tom Hickey, who had 57 hitouts and 20 disposals.

Lobbe’s ability to carry Port’s rucks given the suspension of Paddy Ryder is a talking point, but Boak said the tapman wasn’t listening.

“Lobbes is a pretty strong person so he doesn’t listen to too much outside talk,” Boak said.

“He loves that added pressure and that whole responsibility of being the only ruckman and taking control in the midfield.

“And he’s one that if he is struggling he will let us know. And he’s certainly not in that space.”

Lobbe on Saturday resumes his rivalry with Adelaide’s Sam Jacobs, the Showdown medal winner in 2014 and 2012.

“He’s ready to take on the challenge,” Boak said.

“He’s more excited than ever to take on one of the best ruckmen in the league in Sammy Jacobs so we’re certainly backing him in for that.”

Virgin Australia’s ownership in spotlight

Virgin Australia’s ownership is under the spotlight after the airline’s biggest shareholder, Air New Zealand, flagged a full or partial sale of its 26 per cent stake.

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In a surprise move, Air NZ said it is considering its shareholding in Virgin as management focus on the Kiwi airline’s growth opportunities.

Air NZ chairman Tony Carter said on Wednesday the carrier doesn’t want a large minority equity position in Virgin as it focuses on its own prospects.

The airline’s 26 per cent stake in Virgin is worth around $342.5 million, based on Tuesday’s closing share price.

Air NZ chief executive Christopher Luxon said his company supports Virgin’s transformation from a budget carrier to a diversified airline group over the past five years under boss John Borghetti’s stewardship.

But as Virgin embarks on the next phase of optimising its balance sheet and capital structure, Air NZ will undertake a review of its investment, including possible alternative uses of capital.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership on the Tasman alliance, providing customers of both airlines with the most comprehensive trans-Tasman network,” Mr Luxon said in a statement.

As a result of Air NZ’s review, Mr Luxon is resigning from Virgin’s board, effective immediately.

Virgin acknowledged Air NZ’s announcement and said it will continue its transformation and its capital structure review, announced on March 21, aimed at improving profitability.

Last week, Virgin tapped its four biggest shareholders for a $425 million loan.

Etihad Airways is Virgin Australia’s second biggest shareholder with a 24 per cent stake. Singapore Airlines holds the third biggest stake, at 15.6 per cent, while Virgin Group has a 10 per cent shareholding.

Virgin shares dropped 3.5 cents to 34 cents, valuing the company around $1.2 billion.

The airline posted a net profit of $45.7 million in the half year to December – a major turnaround from $53.1 million net loss 12 months earlier.

The result included a $33.8 million benefit from lower oil prices, partially offset by a $19.2 million impact from the Bali volcanic flight disruptions in November.

Virgin said in February it expects to see a similar gain from further oil price falls in the second half of fiscal 2016. Mr Borghetti flagged an annual profit but stopped short of providing specific guidance.

Air NZ has retained investment banks First NZ Capital and Credit Suisse to advise on its Virgin shareholding options.

Tim Peake takes questions from space

Living in space is “out of this world”, according to Tim Peake – but the British astronaut still misses the green, green grass of home.

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Speaking on Tuesday in his first live TV interview from the International Space Station, Peake spoke of his sense of wonder every time he gazes out from the space station’s “cupola” observation dome

“You know, the whole experience has been out of this world, from the moment I first saw planet Earth through my Soyuz window just after we’d been inserted into orbit.

“I have to say every time I go to the cupola and look out – that’s the most out of this world moment. It’s always different, whether it’s a moon setting or a sunrise – the magnificent views.”

Asked if there was anything he missed, apart from friends and family, he said: “That’s something I’ve thought about recently.

“It is the fresh air, of course, and being out of doors, but it’s also the colour green .. we don’t have the colour green on the space station.”

In the interview broadcast on Sky News, the astronaut spent 20 minutes answering questions emailed and tweeted by fans on Earth, as well as members of an audience at the National Space Centre in Leicester.

One surprise turned out to be the maddening way things get lost in microgravity.

“I’ve certainly lost a few things; thankfully most of them I’ve found again, but it’s very easy to put things down and to turn around and then they’re not there .. Everything floats away. So Velcro is everywhere on the space station to try to keep control of things.”

Peake, who has completed three of his scheduled six months in space, was speaking with a large Union Jack behind him.

Presenter Jane posed a “tougher” question, whether Peake thought the huge cost of the International Space Station could be justified.

“I absolutely do think it’s worth it. Not forgetting that up here it’s not one country that’s involved in this, it’s multiple countries.

“The space industry in the UK alone is one of the fastest growing sectors. So it’s worth it for so many different reasons.”

Country cabinet deferred over death

A country cabinet meeting planned for South Australia’s indigenous lands will be rescheduled to give locals time to grieve over the death of outback nurse Gayle Woodford.

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The SA cabinet was due to meet in the state’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in early May but the APY executive board has asked for the event to be deferred.

“We respect the APY executive board’s request. Given the impact of Ms Woodford’s death on many people, it is important to give APY communities time to grieve,” Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kyam Maher said.

Ms Woodford was found buried in a shallow grave on Saturday after going missing from her Fregon home, on the APY Lands, early on Thursday.

Mimili man Dudley Davey, 34, has been charged with her murder.

Ms Woodford worked in the local health clinic and community leaders say her death has left “many people hurting”.

It has also sparked an online petition calling for changes to ensure no nurses have to work solo, which has attracted more than 105,000 signatures.

Many other nurses have come forward with their own stories of being threatened, abused and attacked while working in remote communities.

Louise Johnston, who worked in the same area as Mrs Woodford a few years ago, said she felt unsafe, unsupported, overworked and unappreciated.

Racial and physical abuse, and verbal threats were normal, she said.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation state secretary Elizabeth Dabars said it had long lobbied for an end to single nurse posts.

“It’s absolutely an abomination that it’s taken another tragedy to bring attention to this important issue,” she said.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said the state government would reflect on the circumstances of Ms Woodford’s death and pledged not to put the issue aside.

The safety of remote nurses may also be discussed at Friday’s Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra.

Looming double dissolution hurts sentiment

Threats of the first double dissolution election in almost 30 years are rattling consumers.

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The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index fell 1.3 per cent in the week ending March 27, with levels edging lower in the past fortnight following recent highs.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s move to bring the budget forward as part of a likely early election on July 2 was behind the slump, the survey shows.

ANZ’s head of Australian economics, Felicity Emmett, says greater uncertainty in the lead-up to an election can weigh on confidence, and Australia hasn’t had a double dissolution election since 1987.

“Moreover, the government’s decision to bring forward the Commonwealth budget is likely to put the issue of strained public finances firmly at the front of consumers’ minds,” she said.

Overall sentiment was dragged down by views about the 12-month economic outlook, which dropped 5 per cent.

And while respondents’ views towards the economic outlook have picked up in the past six weeks, they remain well below their long-run average, the report showed.

Meanwhile, consumers’ perceptions of their current finances dipped 4.1 per cent.

CommSec chief economist Craig James says consumers had a bad week, with politics dominating the airwaves and the local currency dipping 1.5 US cents.

“Still, Aussies are still more confident than a year ago and positive on their future finances and the longer-term outlook for the economy,” he said.

Respondents’ views towards the economic outlook in the next five years rose 2.3 per cent, and views of future finances edged 0.6 per cent higher.

ANZ said consumers’ opinions about their personal finances have been on an upward trend since October.

Mr James said conditions for consumers are good, with inflation and petrol prices low, interest rates stable and the jobless rate easing.

Moriarty gives back as first Indigenous Socceroo

John Moriarty was the first Indigenous player ever selected to wear the green and gold of Australia in football, or soccer.

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But he has gone on to do much more, with his life and his experiences.

These days, the man now best known for painting two Qantas jets with Aboriginal motifs as the founder of Balarinji Design Studio runs an organisation called John Moriarty Football.

It is a best practice football program for primary school age Indigenous boys and girls that, this week, took 12 children from remote Northern Territory communities to Sydney.

And when Australia’s men’s soccer team lined up on the field before Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifier against Jordan, the 12 joined them on the pitch.

For Moriarty, it was a chance to give back for the opportunities he had in football.

“It changed my life, playing football. I was able to travel, meet and experience things that I had never been able to do before, and it’s no different for these kids here. They will take it on board.

Most of them had never flown in a plane before, let alone visited the big city.

Each of them, like John Moriarty Football graduate Shadeene Evans, had chosen to pursue football over any other sport.

“Yeah, maybe basketball if football wasn’t an option. But, yeah, I chose the round ball.”

But the acting chairman of Professional Footballers Australia, Craig Foster, says Moriarty’s foundation is about more than simply finding children with special talent.

“It’s not a fly-in and fly-out program for just talent identification, which you see for many other sports. This program of John Moriarty’s is about changing the lives and the destinies of Indigenous kids in remote communities. And to do that, you have to work every day.”

Socceroos defender Jade North was raised in an Aboriginal housing commission in the coastal New South Wales town of Taree as a young boy.

Now, as an Indigenous player who has travelled the world through football, he says he fully understands how the program and the sport can help a child overcome social struggles.

“It’s given me a life that I never thought I’d have. And I just have to look back to what I could have been if I didn’t choose the path of being a footballer.”

The Socceroos players pledged $90,000 of their match fees from Tuesday night’s game towards the John Moriarty Foundation.

Football Federation Australia committed to another $20,000.

 

All safe after hijacked Egypt plane lands in Cyprus

More details are emerging about the man who hijacked EgyptAir flight MS181 apparently using a fake suicide belt.

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All passengers and crew onboard were eventually released unharmed after the plane was forced to land at Larnaca airport in Cyprus.

Cypriot officials are describing the alleged hijacker, 59-year-old Seif Eldin Mustafa, as “psychologically unstable.”

He was allegedly responsible for hijacking the EgyptAir plane that was en route from Alexandria to Cairo in Egypt and diverting it to Larnaca airport in Cyprus.

Egypt says the pilot had informed authorities he was being threatened by a passenger claiming to be wearing a suicide explosives belt.

In the early stage of developments, Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy told a news conference authorities were taking the situation very seriously.

“The reality is that we have a hijacker on board a plane, we’re not sure whether what he has is a true bomb or threat to the aircraft, but we are dealing with it as a real threat, because we cannot take any risk except dealing with it as a serious situation.”

The flight was carrying more than 60 people, including passengers from Egypt, the United States and Britain.

All but seven were released shortly after the plane touched down in Larnaca and as negotiations began with the hijacker.

Conflicting information originally emerged over his identity, with some naming him as Egyptian national Dr Ibrahim Samaha.

The real Dr Ibrahim Samaha, who was, in fact, a passenger onboard the flight, has told the BBC what happened.

(Translated) “We didn’t know what was going on. We got aboard the plane, and we were surprised that the crew took our passports, which is unusual for a domestic flight. After a while, we realised that the altitude was getting higher. Then we knew we were heading to Cyprus. At first, the crew told us there was a problem with the plane. Only later, we knew it was hijacked.”

The alleged motives for the hijacker were also conflicting in the early stages, with officials saying he kept asking for “many things.”

Witnesses reported he had thrown a letter written in Arabic onto the tarmac asking to see his Cypriot ex-wife and that he had demanded the release of female prisoners in Egypt.

In a press conference at the start of the incident, Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades did rule out fears it was a terrorist attack.

“We are doing our utmost in order for everyone to be released and safe and to bring an end to this unprecedented … in any case, it’s not something which has to do with terrorism. You know what I mean?”

But passenger Farah Al-Dubani says the ordeal felt like an act of terror to all onboard.

She has described the emotional and psychological trauma she went through.

“It was the moment when I knew that we’d been hijacked and I was — we were — above the sea, you know. I felt like he’ll either bomb the plane, or he’ll just demand that we land in the sea, or we’ll just keep on flying until there’s no fuel. So I just had several scenarios on my mind, trying to figure out what can happen. I was trying to make peace with it. It was a horrifying moment. I couldn’t believe it. At first, I thought it was like an April Fools’ joke or whatever, it cannot be real. And I think, like most of the passengers, everyone thought that there was no (good) end.”

After a stand-off that lasted six hours, Seif Eldin Mustafa finally surrendered to police and was arrested.

His suicide belt was revealed to be fake, made out of iPhone cases tied together with cloth.

The Egyptian Interior Affairs Ministry says Mr Mustafa is an ex-convict, having served time for crimes related to fraud.

Egypt’s prime minister, Sherif Ismail, says an in-depth investigation will be conducted.

(Translated) “The hijacker, at one point, demanded to meet with one of the EU representatives. And at another point, he demanded that the plane leave to another airport. In general, there was no one specific demand. He is an Egyptian, and, obviously, there will be a thorough investigation with the hijacker to find out the reasons behind such an act.”

Another plane landed at Larnaca airport hours after the siege ended to take the passengers back to Egypt.

But the incident is another blow to the country’s tourism industry.

It has faced questions over air security since the bombing of a Russian Metrojet airliner in Sinai province in October that killed all 224 people onboard.

Prime Minister Ismail has given assurances that procedures were rigorous in the latest incident.

(Translated)”We conduct strict and very accurate measures in our airports and seaports. We folllow up on all fronts. I hope that all will go well with the continuous follow-up work and development with the new equipment we have.”

Aviation security analyst Matthew Finn says there are some scenarios which will always be difficult to prepare for.

“It reminds us to look at aviation security more holistically. There are vulnerabilities in the system. It’s not a total-security environment. There remain risks.”