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.”

 

Apple in dark on how FBI hacked iPhone

The FBI’s announcement that it mysteriously hacked into an iPhone is a public setback for Apple, as consumers suddenly discover they can’t keep their most personal information safe.

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Meanwhile, Apple remains in the dark about how to restore the security of its flagship product.

The US government said it was able to break into an iPhone used by a gunman in a mass shooting in California, but it didn’t say how. That puzzled Apple software engineers – and outside experts – about how the FBI broke the digital locks on the phone without Apple’s help. It also complicated Apple’s job repairing flaws that jeopardise its software.

The Justice Department’s announcement that it was dropping a legal fight to compel Apple to help it access the phone also took away any obvious legal avenues Apple might have used to learn how the FBI did it.

The Justice Department declined through a spokeswoman to comment on Tuesday.

A few clues have emerged. A senior law enforcement official told The Associated Press that the FBI managed to defeat an Apple security feature that threatened to delete the phone’s contents if the FBI failed to enter the correct passcode combination after 10 tries. That allowed the government to repeatedly and continuously test passcodes in what’s known as a brute-force attack until the right code is entered and the phone is unlocked.

It wasn’t clear how the FBI dealt with a related Apple security feature that introduces increasing time delays between guesses. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

FBI director James Comey has said with those features removed, the FBI could break into the phone in 26 minutes.

The FBI hacked into the iPhone used by gunman Syed Rizwan Farook, who died with his wife Tashfeen Malik in a gun battle with police after they killed 14 people in December in San Bernardino.

The iPhone, issued to Farook by his employer, the county health department, was found in a vehicle the day after the shooting.

The FBI is reviewing information from the iPhone, and it is unclear whether anything useful can be found.

Apple said in a statement on Monday that the legal case to force its co-operation “should never have been brought”, and it promised to increase the security of its products.

Trans perspective – let’s get visible

Visibility is an important factor in creating and increasing connection for anyone who may feel like they are “the only one” undergoing a particular experience.

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This certainly includes trans and gender diverse (TGD) people who, despite increasing public discussion can still feel the opposite of connected, namely, isolated.

Since 2009, March 31 each year has been marked as International Transgender Day of Visibility. The brainchild of Rachel Crandall, a day to focus on the positive aspects of TGD is certainly just one way to achieve greater visibility. It needs noting that this day is separate to Trans Day of Remembrance, which is November 20. While that day it is important and will sadly always need to be noted, it does raise an issue in that it doesn’t clearly acknowledge those TGD people who are alive, nor does it acknowledge the amazing positive achievements, contributions and perspectives of TGD people.

TGD visibility is necessary at all levels. Starting at the grass roots, it can still be difficult to start the journey to being authentic regarding one’s gender identity. This can be tougher for those regional and rural areas compared to metropolitan areas (this is also possible with outer vs inner metropolitan). Tougher for younger people who may face unsupportive home and/or school environments, for trans people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and even for seniors feeling depleted after seeing a lifetime largely overshadowed by negative attitudes.

Having visible role models gives a boost to those people struggling to be themselves. Anecdotal evidence from a few years ago: when Paige Phoenix appeared on Australia’s X-Factor and Chaz Bono on the US version of ‘Dancing with the Stars’, calls to support services skyrocketed with people thinking “wow, if they can be themselves, maybe I can too.” Isolated TGD people saw other TGD people publicly being themselves with contentment and confidence. This was especially important as in these situations, Chaz and Paige, two trans men (recorded female at birth and identifying as male) provided visibility for a part of the TGD population that generally is less visible than trans women.

It’s important that visibility exists across society overall for reasons of policy formulation and inclusiveness. While increasingly Australia has seen greater positivity towards TGD people and issues (acknowledging strongly there is still a long way to go), often people making decisions “don’t know what they don’t know.” When TGD perspectives are put on the table, they can then incorporate those ideas into a decision, be aware of the broader issues in the future for other decisions and perhaps alert others in their organisation or area of expertise as well. The ripples of visibility need to keep spreading.

Most of all, visibility that discusses what TGD people can offer when able to be themselves and given opportunities is a winner for everyone. Society wins, the economy wins, TGD people, their families and partners win – and humanity wins. So let’s increase TGD visibility today and every day, and keep racking up the wins, gains and victories that result from just being plain visible.

Sally Goldner is Executive Director of Transgender Victoria.

Rolling airport strikes not welcome: govt

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has stepped up his calls for unions to suspend rolling strikes at airports, saying the terrorism threat since the Brussels attacks has not passed.

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The Community and Public Sector Union members have resumed rolling strikes at international airports around the country a week after industrial action planned for Easter was called off in the wake of the Brussels terror attacks.

Border Force officers are on strike and quarantine officers are imposing work bans, which is adding to delays.

Union national secretary Nadine Flood insists national security will not be jeopardised because officers involved had always been exempt from striking.

But Mr Dutton is unconvinced.

“The threat hasn’t passed within a couple of days following the Brussels attack,” Mr Dutton told ABC Radio.

“These rolling strikes aren’t welcome and I hope that they come to an end sooner than later.”

Ms Flood said workers were striking as a last resort, as part of a two-year negotiating battle with the federal government over pay and work conditions.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull thanked airport workers for delaying the strikes at his request following the Brussels attacks, but echoed his minister in urging unions to resolve the dispute.

He assured travellers counter-terrorism services at airports were provided by the Australian Federal Police, which had planned for the strikes.

“Nonetheless, these are vital services and … I am encouraging, asking and urging (the union) to resolve its industrial dispute by negotiation,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

AFFECTED AIRPORTS

* Sydney International Airport (5am-1pm, 4pm-midnight)

* Perth Airport (3am-11am, 4pm-midnight)

* Adelaide Airport (5am-1pm, 4pm-midnight)

* Brisbane International Airport (midnight-1am)

* Cairns International Airport (4am-midday, 5pm-midnight)

* Townsville Airport (4pm-midnight)

* Darwin Airport (2am-10am, 1pm-9pm)

Swans to persist with youth movement

Sydney coach John Longmire will continue backing his exciting young brigade despite welcoming back his oldest player for Sunday’s AFL clash with Carlton.

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Longmire says premiership-winning defender Ted Richards is the “logical choice” to replace injured recruit Michael Talia for the Etihad Stadium clash after recovering from a nagging calf strain that sidelined the 33-year-old for the entire pre-season.

But he has no plans to overhaul his starting line-up after a youthful Swans outfit featuring Callum Mills, George Hewett and Tom Papley destroyed Collingwood by 80 points in a one-sided season opener last Saturday.

Longmire will stick with all three youngsters when he names his side on Thursday, believing they will only get better after being exposed to the AFL pressure-cooker for the first time at the SCG.

“All three brought something different to the table,” the coach said on Wednesday.

“Most of all, all three of them brought enthusiasm … and that enthusiasm spreads amongst the older players.”

Papley was the biggest surprise, booting three goals on debut and impressing Longmire with his forward-line pressure.

“Georgie Hewett’s been waiting in the wings for a couple of years and he’s built up his strength and his ability to play for four quarters,” said Longmire.

“He had seven tackles; all effective, and he’s got great composure with the ball.

“Callum Mills played mainly half-back – a little bit on the wing – and he’s hard at the ball, he’s a quality ball user, a good player.”

Longmire, though, knows he has some decisions to make in the coming weeks as veterans Jarrad McVeigh (hamstring) and Ben McGlynn (calf) also return to the mix.

“But we’ll address them when we need to,” he said.

The Swans will be up against a rejuvenated Blues outfit and Longmire knows it’d be dangerous to underestimate them after they ran Richmond close in the season opener, only to go down by nine points.

“Carlton, we know what they can do. We played them a couple of weeks ago; they were terrific. Their performance last week was fantastic,” he said.

“They’ve got a real system, some good young players. I’m sure they’re going to surprise a few teams this year so we need to prepare for their best – and we will.”

Longmire also confirmed big guns Lance Franklin and Dan Hannebery as certain starters after copping knocks against Collingwood.

Choice calls for national guidelines on free-range egg production

Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said the guidelines should be in place where eggs are only considered free-range if farmers run no more than 1500 hens per hectare, which complies with CSIRO guidelines.

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He said larger egg retailers have ‘free-range’ labeling on their packaging, despite running around 10,000 hens per hectare.

The national free range standard issue is expected to be debated at a meeting of state and federal consumer affairs ministers on Thursday.  

“There is a divide in the industry, you have got genuine free-range farmers who invested in the infrastructure to run free-range farms and they want nationally enforceable standard that aligns with the CSIRO recommendation for free-range, which is 1500 birds per hectare,” Mr Godfrey said.

“The birds should have plenty of room to move inside and out, to have higher animal welfare standards as well.”

Free-range egg producer Vesna Peko-Luketic runs fewer than 750 chooks per hectare on her farm west of Melbourne.

“It’s either free-range or it’s not,” she said, explaining that her production is the maximum stocking density recommended by the Free Range Farmers Association of Victoria.

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“That is the number we can control and still maintain pasture and we can avoid soil contamination at that number.”

But, it’s a guide-only as there’s currently no enforceable stocking density standard in Australia for producers to qualify as free-range.

The body lobbying on behalf of the egg industry, Egg Farmers Australia, has said it has it’s own number in mind.

“We believe one bird per square metre or 10,000 birds per hectare is the maximum limit ,” said Egg Farmers Australia spokesman, Brian Ahmed.

The absence of a national free-range standard has consumer advocates alleging some large producers and retailers are duping shoppers.

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Mr Ahmed said the industry is in favour of displaying stocking density on cartons in order to avoid confusion, and the industry man not have to wait long.