Reddit user sorry for Trump-CNN clip

A Reddit user has apologised for a doctored video in which US President Donald Trump assaults a man whose head is replaced with the CNN logo, saying the video is “a prank, nothing more”.

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“The meme was created purely as satire. It was not meant to be a call to violence against CNN or any other news affiliation,” user HanAssholeSolo said on Tuesday in a 700-word post on the US-based discussion website.

The user claimed credit for making an initial version of the video.

“I had no idea anyone would take it and put sound to it and then have it put up on the President’s Twitter feed,” the user said.

The user also apologised other for other posts “that were racist, bigoted, and anti-Semitic”.

A post shared on social media believed to be from the same user showed a collection of CNN personality photos, each highlighted with the Star of David, with the words: “Something strange about CNN … can’t quite put my finger on it.”

“I am in no way this kind of person. I love and accept people of all walks of life and have done so for my entire life,” the user wrote in the apology note, saying the actions were “trolling … to get a reaction”.

The user asked others who trolled to “consider your words and actions” and said he or she would no longer post “hurtful or hateful things in jest online”.

Trump’s retweeted the video on Sunday with the hashtags “#FraudNewsCNN” and “#FNN”.

The president has branded the media as “the enemy of the American people”, taking particular aim at CNN.

CNN accused Trump of engaging in “juvenile behaviour far below the dignity of his office”.

Hospitals pull back on antibiotic use

Antibiotic use in Australian hospitals has taken a dip, with medical experts saying the move will help in the fight against superbugs.

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The amount of antibiotics given to hospital patients to treat infections or reduce the risk of them developing fell by more than seven per cent between 2011 and 2015, a report released by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care shows.

The report by the National Antimicrobial Utilisation Surveillance Program found that 916.4 daily doses of antibiotics were given to patients for every 1,000 occupied bed days in hospital in 2015 – a two per cent drop on the previous year and 7.6 per cent lower than in 2011.

The commission’s senior medical advisor Professor John Turnidge said the report indicates hospitals have taken steps to ensure that more patients receive the most appropriate antibiotic treatment.

“Appropriate use of antibiotics will help considerably in slowing the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Australians are among the biggest users of antibiotics in the world despite experts here and around the globe warning that excessive or unnecessary use helps more bacteria become resistant to the drugs.

The report found Australia has a higher use of antibiotics in hospitals than Sweden and the Netherlands.

Twenty antibacterials, including amoxicillin and azithromycin, accounted for 93 per cent of antibiotics used in Australian hospitals in 2015.

The use of “highly reserved” antibacterials considered to be the last line of defence when treating bacterial infections was found to be low.

The World Health Organisation has called the rise of antibiotic resistance a global crisis.

Many common infections including pneumonia have become harder to treat because the over-use of antibiotics has made them ineffective at fighting certain types of bacteria.

Last month, an emergency summit of 300 infectious diseases experts called for a national body to be set up in Australia to co-ordinate the fight against the spread of superbugs, which they described as a major patient safety issue.

They want a central authority to co-ordinate areas such as infection control, surveillance and the use of antibiotics.

‘We need to talk about sex’: Robot experts on the growing market for ‘sex tech’

Move over blow-up dolls, the sex robots are here.

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Artificial intelligence is making its way into the global sex market, bringing with it a revolution in robotic “sex tech” designed to offer sexual gratification with a near-human touch.

In a report on the growing market in sex robots, the Foundation for Responsible Robotics says rapidly advancing technologies have already led to the creation of “android love dolls” capable of performing 50 automated sexual positions.

They can be customised down to their shape and hair colour and can cost between $US5000 and $US15,000 ($A6566 to $A19,698).

The increasingly lifelike robots raise complex issues that should be considered by policymakers and the public, the report says, including whether use of such devices should be encouraged in sexual therapy clinics, for sex offenders or for people with disabilities.

Noel Sharkey, a professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield in Britain, says it is difficult to predict how far or fast the market will grow or what its effect on societies might be.

“Will these robotic dolls be niche? Or will they change societal norms and become widespread?,” he asked at a news briefing on Tuesday.

“How would (sex with a robot) equate to a truly human intimate relationship?”

The report looks at some of the most contentious issues, asking academics, members of the public and the sex industry for their views on whether, for example, sex robots might be helpful in reducing sexual crimes.

It found “major disagreement” on this question, with some arguing that having sex with a robot would reduce attackers’ desires to harm fellow humans, and others arguing that allowing people to live out their darkest fantasies with robots would have a pernicious effect on societal norms.

On the issue of “meaningful” relationships, the report says that with current AI technology, and even in the foreseeable future, no human-to-robot feelings will ever be mutual.

“The best robots could do is fake it,” it said.

“Robots cannot feel love.”

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Australians detained on Christmas Island ‘by mistake’

The government has admitted two Australian citizens were sent to the detention facility on Christmas Island within recent months by mistake.

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According to a statement from the Department of Immigration and Border protection, the pair had their visas cancelled under section 501 of the Migration Act.

Under the Act, non-citizens visas will be automatically cancelled if they have received a prison sentence of at least 12 months within Australia, or have been found guilty of a crime involving the sexual abuse of a child.

The department adds that “after it was identified that each individual held dual Australian citizenship, arrangements were immediately made for their release from immigration detention”.

The Guardian Australia is reporting the men, born in New Zealand, hold dual Australian citizenship.

Principal solicitor of the National Justice Project, Professor George Newhouse, said it’s “a shocking state of affairs”.

“We have a situation where Australian citizens can be wrongfully detained on the whim, on the decision of a bureaucrat or a government minister,” he said.

Professor Newhouse said he believes the reasons these cases occur is because the system is “unaccountable”, where “you don’t need to be taken before a judge or a court” for visa decisions.

“Mistakes happen when you cut corners and you take away due process,” he said.

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Australian citizen Cornelia Rau was held by authorities for 10 months from 2004-2005, later receiving more than $2 million in compensation.

Prior to this, in 2001, Vivian Solon was wrongfully deported to the Philippines, with Australian authorities believing she was an illegal immigrant. Despite the government realising its error in 2003, it did not come to light until 2005.

A 2005 inquiry conducted by former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer found the department breached its own guidelines regarding dealing with detainees, and slammed its treatment of Ms Rau as “demonstrably inadequate”.

More than 200 cases of alleged wrongful deportation were referred to the then-Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone for review.

But Professor Newhouse said things have changed since the investigation.

“The government’s policies have just got harder, and they’ve eroded the protections recommended by Mick Palmer,” he said, accusing the Australian Border Force of having a so-called “cowboy culture”.

According to the Australian Financial Review, current Border Force head, Roman Quaedvlieg, is on extended leave after an external investigation over his personal behaviour.

The government recently proposed reforms to citizenship, including changing the English language test and introducing a “values” test.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who already has the power to veto decisions on visas by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, also wants his powers extended further.

Professor Newhouse said the minister wants to be “judge, jury and executioner”.

He warned that the situation could get worse.

“We live in a country where Australian citizens can be taken prisoner by their own government, when they’ve committed no offence, and done nothing wrong,” he said.

– with wires

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AFL players who face mental health battles

RECENT EXAMPLES OF AFL PLAYERS FIGHTING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES:

PRESENT PLAYERS

TOM BOYD, 21: Eight months after starring in the Western Bulldogs’ grand final win, the big-money forward was on Wednesday granted a leave of absence to treat clinical depression.

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He revealed he has been managing the illness for an extended time.

TRAVIS CLOKE, 30: Boyd’s teammate announced in June he is taking time away from the sport to deal with mental health issues, with coach Luke Beveridge saying Cloke hadn’t been enjoying the game. He is likely to return in the reserves this weekend.

ALEX FASOLO, 25: The Collingwood forward took a short break to manage depression, missing their round 11 match this year.

LANCE FRANKLIN, 30: The Sydney star forward withdrew from the 2015 finals due to a serious mental health issue. He returned to the field the following year, kicking 81 goals.

PAST PLAYERS

MITCH CLARK, 29: The key Demons forward stepped away from the AFL in April 2014 after a string of injuries, also revealing he had depression. He returned to play for Geelong for two seasons but was delisted in 2016.

BARRY HALL, 40: The ex-Sydney premiership captain Barry Hall revealed in April he had faced mental challenges in the months after retirement.

COURTENAY DEMPSEY, 29: The ex-Essendon defender revealed in May he felt “like a piece of meat” when he was delisted by the Bombers, with his depression adding to the devastation over 12 teammates’ doping bans.

SIMON HOGAN, 28: The ex-Geelong player revealed his struggle with depression in 2014 to educate younger players about mental illness.

CHAD FLETCHER, 37: Ex-West Coast Eagles midfielder Chad Fletcher revealed “dark clouds” hovered over him during his All-Australian year in 2004.

WAYNE SCHWASS, 48: The North Melbourne and Sydney great, who endured mental health problems in retirement, now advocates for mental health awareness.

NATHAN THOMPSON, 39: The ex-Kangaroos player spoke publicly in 2004 about his experience of depression. He’s since become an ambassador for mental health agency beyondblue to raise awareness of its prevalence.

Australian readers seeking support and information about depression can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Nahan expects Barnett to retire this year

West Australian opposition leader Mike Nahan expects former premier Colin Barnett to retire from politics this year but believes he first wants to ensure his legacy is not trashed.

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Dr Nahan has not spoken to Mr Barnett about it, but believes WA’s second longest-serving post-war premier wants to see the September budget handed down.

“I expect him, in his own good time, to leave this year but it’s his choice,” Dr Nahan told ABC radio on Wednesday.

“He was an extremely dominant leader for a long period of time … it was his show.

“I think he’s going to wait around for the budget to see what happens. He does have a legacy that he wants to comment on, I’m sure.”

Dr Nahan said he trusted the former premier, who he had known for 30 years, and said Mr Barnett had recently helped him put together the WA Liberals GST submission to the Productivity Commission.

Mr Barnett has so far remained tight-lipped about his future.

If he does exit politics, it will spark a by-election in his safe seat in coastal Cottesloe.

Dr Nahan also spoke candidly about the Liberal party’s March election loss, saying he knew defeat was coming but did not know the swing would be so big, with Labor winning 41 of the 59 seats.

He said there was nothing more local members could have done and while he did not take the defeat personally, it was hard to lose so many colleagues.

The 67-year-old former treasurer said he was committed to four more years, describing himself as “the leader, not the boss”.

“I’m actually quite good for this post (as opposition leader) because I’m very, very experienced in the transition to government,” he said.

“I was a commentator forever, I was a former bureaucrat, so nothing that comes across our observations for comment is new to me.”

Trump’s options limited on North Korea

WHAT OPTIONS DOES THE US HAVE FOR CRACKING DOWN ON NORTH KOREA?

US President Donald Trump has talked tough over North Korea’s missile tests but his options appear limited.

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Most options fall into four categories.

ECONOMIC SANCTIONS

North Korea is already among the most heavily sanctioned nations, facing numerous strictures to limit its ability to conduct commerce, take part in international finance and trade in weapons and other contraband.

Despite those measures, “most analysts agree that US and multilateral sanctions have not prevented North Korea from advancing its fledgling nuclear weapons capability,” a US Congressional Research Service report says.

Trump is reportedly focusing his North Korea strategy for now on tougher sanctions, possibly including an oil embargo, banning its airline, intercepting cargo ships and punishing Chinese banks doing business with Pyongyang.

COVERT ACTION

The US, with help from Israel, temporarily set back Iran’s nuclear program via a computer virus called Stuxnet, which destroyed thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

The US tried, but failed, to deploy a version of Stuxnet to attack North Korea’s nuclear weapons program in 2009 and 2010.

Another approach would be to use cyber attacks to disable North Korean missiles during or shortly after their launch.

The high failure rate of the North’s missile tests has prompted speculation the US is already doing so.

DIPLOMACY

The Trump administration has said it is open to diplomatic negotiations with North Korea but only under the right conditions, with the focus on “denuclearisation”.

There have been no official negotiations for seven years.

While China has responded to previous North Korean tests of suspected ICBM technology by agreeing to tougher UN sanctions, it emphasised on Tuesday its call for a return to talks with North Korea.

Under Beijing’s plan, North Korea would suspend its ballistic missile program in return for a moratorium on large-scale military exercises by the US and South Korea.

MILITARY FORCE

Military options available to Trump range from a sea blockade aimed at enforcing sanctions to cruise missile strikes on nuclear and missile facilities to a broader campaign aimed at overthrowing leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea has threatened to “ruthlessly ravage” the US if Washington attacks.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has warned the consequences of any military action would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale”, while Trump national security adviser HR McMaster has indicated force is a last resort.

EU rules tackle multinationals’ tax dodges

The European Parliament has passed a directive requiring big multinationals to report tax and financial data separately in all countries where they operate in a bid to tackle tax avoidance and profit shifting to countries with lower taxes.

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The new rules are part of a wider overhaul of tax regulation spurred by the so-called Panama Papers and other revelations of widespread tax avoidance by companies and wealthy individuals.

They do, however, still need approval from the EU member states in coming months, and would then have to be enacted into national law in each country within a year.

EU countries lose between 50 and 70 billion euros in revenues every year because of tax avoidance, the vice president of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, told lawmakers.

The new measure would require firms with activities in the EU and an annual turnover of at least 750 million euros ($A1.15 billion) to disclose data such as profits, revenues, taxes paid and number of employees for each country where they operate.

Currently, multinationals disclose their operations in one consolidated report.

Tax-dodging schemes often hinge on the transfer of taxable profits from the higher-tax states where they are made to countries with lower taxation or none at all.

Tax-saving schemes used by Apple, Amazon, Google, Starbucks and other companies have raised public pressure for EU-wide rules to close these loopholes.

The original legislative proposal made by the European Commission required country-by-country disclosures only for operations in EU states and in tax havens, although there is no common EU list of such jurisdictions.

The European Parliament changed the proposed rules to extend the reporting requirement to all countries where firms operate.

To protect Europe’s competitiveness, the conservative and liberal groups in the EU legislature successfully pushed for companies to be allowed to apply for limited-period exemptions from disclosing information that is commercially sensitive.

But the bill does not specify what would be considered sensitive. The anti-corruption group Transparency International called the exemption a “massive loophole” that could undermine the new legislation, and another campaign group, Oxfam, said lawmakers were “bowing to big business”.

German conservative legislator Markus Ferber said the clause was necessary to prevent companies “handing away business secrets to the competition on a silver platter”.

Nauru fears detention exit economic hit

The federal government has promised Nauru it won’t cut and run, amid speculation the immigration detention centre may close and as progress inches towards sending refugees on the island to the US.

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Nauru President Baron Waqa met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney on Thursday as part of a four-day visit to Australia.

Nauru hosts an Australian government-funded asylum seeker immigration detention centre opened in 2012, which in late January was housing 286 men, 49 women and 45 children.

The poverty-stricken Pacific island’s economy and employment rates have become heavily dependent on the centre.

The United States has agreed to take an unspecified number of processed and security-checked refugees in limbo on the island.

“The Australian government has made commitments to make sure that we do not suffer a quick change in situation with the (detention centre) because that is definitely going to affect us economically,” Mr Waqa told Sky News.

He flagged the detention centre may be repurposed once it’s closed or other countries might be interested in sending asylum seekers for processing on Nauru in the future.

“The way we look after asylum seekers and refugees is best practice in the world,” Mr Waqa said.

He confirmed US Homeland Security officials were on Nauru and in Australia working on arrangements to resettle refugees in America.

Mr Waqa said he had not sought assurances from the Trump administration that the deal will go ahead.

“If the United States were serious about it, they would have pulled the plug a long time ago,” he said.

He could not provide a date on when refugees will leave the island.

Mr Waqa hinted he thought that those left behind might pose a risk to locals on the island.

But he played down allegations refugees and asylum seekers had been raped or physically assaulted on the island, saying the stories are often made up.

“I do not concern myself with police matters,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Turnbull said Nauru’s efforts were greatly appreciated.

“I want to thank you for the great co-operation that Nauru shows in working together with us to combat this scourge of people smuggling,” he told the president.

The two leaders also discussed Nauru’s economic development and environmental challenges.

Mr Waqa and his wife Louisa will visit Brisbane and Canberra after Sydney.

He will also meet with officials from the Asian Development Bank, opposition MPs and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey.

In Canberra on Friday, he’ll tour the Mount Majura Solar Farm and lay a wreath at the War Memorial.

Germany holds social media companies to account for hate speech

Germany has approved plans that could see Facebook and Twitter fined for failing to remove illegal content.

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The legislation is yet to pass German parliament, but it’s expected that step will be a formality.

Under the proposed legislation, social media companies could be fined up to 50 million euros ($70 million) if they don’t remove obviously criminal content within 24 hours of it being reported.

“With the laws which we present, we protect freedom of expression,” German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said.

“Namely, the freedom of those who are to be silenced by threats, disgrace, hate and incitement, which we cannot accept.”

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Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all ban hate speech, intimidation, and bullying.

But Mr Maas is keen for the outlets to be held accountable for any material which is published on their websites.

“The providers of social platforms are responsible if their platforms are being abused to spread hate crimes and fake news,” Mr Maas said.

“There should be as little room for criminal rabble-rousing on social networks as there is out on the street.”

Mr Maas cited a year-long study by the ministry which says Twitter only deletes one per cent of offending material within 24 hours of it appearing.

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Facebook’s stats are better: they remove 39 per cent of material, but YouTube’s figures stacked up the best – 90 per cent of content flagged by users is deleted.

Some in Australia would like to see Germany’s hard-line stance replicated.

“We need to start taking fake news and hate speech and social media seriously,” CEO of Online Hate Prevention Institute Dr Andre Oboler said.

“That sort of content should be illegal, it should be criminal, and we should stop it,” Dr Oboler said.

Twitter and Facebook are yet to comment on the German parliament’s decision.

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