Tempers fray after Mexico earthquake

Tempers frayed in Mexico City as the search for survivors amidst twisted rubble of collapsed buildings began to wind down three days after the country’s most deadly earthquake in a generation.

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The 7.1 magnitude quake levelled 52 buildings in the sprawling Mexican capital at lunchtime on Tuesday, leaving thousands homeless and close to 300 people dead. Apartment blocks, offices, a school and a textile factory were among the structures that were destroyed.

Across the city, thousands of rescue workers and special teams using sniffer dogs and heat sensors combed wreckage, while the massive outpouring of support from volunteers sparked global praise for Mexico’s spirit.

Efforts were not fast enough, though, for some family members waiting outside an office building that collapsed in the fashionable Roma neighbourhood.

As storm clouds gathered over the city, families worried that rain could slow the pace of rescue efforts.

Protesters held signs addressed to President Enrique Pena Nieto and Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera.

“Mancera and EPN: We demand results” read one sign. “They are still alive. Don’t kill them” and “We don’t want machines” read others, referring to rumours that the military would use bulldozers to hasten removal of rubble deemed unlikely to harbour survivors.

Many sites had already been cleared of rubble by Friday afternoon and chances were dimming of finding anyone else alive.

US rescue workers went to work Friday in the collapsed office building, looking for six people who were still missing.

Mexican soldiers and volunteers, supported by teams from as far afield as Israel and Japan, have so far rescued at least 60 people from the ruins in Mexico City and surrounding towns.

For many the search was highly personal.

Firefighter Teresa Ramirez Flores, 40, was helping search an office building in Mexico City’s Roma neighbourhood where her cousin Carolina Muniz, a 43-year-old accountant, was on the second floor when the building collapsed.

“We want to be superheroes so that our country doesn’t suffer,” she said at a site where volunteers brought a wheelbarrow filled with candy for the rescue teams.

After three days though, rescuers were finding more dead bodies than survivors and frustration was increasingly evident.

Luis Ruiz, a 39-year old carpenter, complained that the police would not let him enter the ruins where his sister and two of her children were buried in the rubble. “I felt powerless to be unable to get my family, unable to do anything,” he said.

Across the city of 20 million people, many whose dwellings had become uninhabitable sought a place to call home, raising the spectre of a housing shortage. Senior officials said there could be 20,000 badly damaged homes in the states of Morelos and Puebla.

A space agency: Australia’s final frontier

Australia’s lack of a co-ordinated approach to the multibillion-dollar space industry will come into sharp focus as global leaders in the sector come together in Adelaide.

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The latest plans to have humans leave the earth, including the concept of villages on the moon and the colonisation of Mars, will be part of the discussion at the 68th International Astronautical Congress which has attracted about 3500 delegates.

But an overarching theme will be the potential and growing value of the $330 billion space industry and just how to manage and develop current and emerging commercial opportunities.

The heads of the world’s leading space agencies will take part in a forum that will ask what should take the lead in such circumstances, business or science.

The debate comes amid growing criticism that there is no Australian space agency to ensure local companies can share in the spoils and also properly contribute in developments that are far more wide reaching and far more immediate than travelling to distant planets.

Without a space industry, and more particularly space data, there would be no smartphones, no GPS in cars, no internet, no movie streaming or the like.

The banking, finance and agriculture sectors would be severely affected as would weather forecasting.

Possibly most significantly, the defence force would be critically impacted with the loss of communications and intelligence.

The Australian space sector already has an annual revenue of more than $3 billion and employs up to 11,500 people.

But it captures just 0.8 per cent of the global space economy.

A commitment to establish a national space agency could help grow that five-fold to around four per cent in 20 years, according to the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA)

The federal government has launched a review of the nation’s space capabilities, and there’s speculation the government will make an announcement to set up an agency at this week’s congress.

Industry Minister Arthur Sinodinos said recently it was hoped the review would also lead to new businesses and new jobs by building on the country’s existing strengths and finding new areas where it could be world-beating.

But he said it was also important to consider the best way to bring the policy together.

“Is it through a space agency, a national space office, and what does that mean in practice?” he said.

The South Australian government has no doubts and is leading the charge for a space agency, even threatening to go it alone or with the co-operation of the ACT and the Northern Territory.

In the past week the state government also announced the establishment of the nation’s first dedicated centre to grow the local space economy.

“Many people think space is about astronauts and rockets,” Premier Jay Weatherill said, echoing the thoughts of many in the industry.

“It’s so much more than that, it has become part of our everyday lives from our daily weather forecasts to using our mobile phones.”

“As an industry, space is growing at more than three times the world annual GDP.

“The potential is enormous and opportunities abundant.”

In a recent white paper the SIAA described a national space program, to be implemented by an internationally-recognised space agency, as critical in any national strategy for the transition of the Australian economy.

“It is impossible to imagine a prosperous high-tech future for Australia that does not include a government plan for the accelerated development of our space industry,” the association said.

And if that’s not enough, Australia’s only astronaut Andy Thomas is also on board.

He said the idea of a national agency was a “no-brainer”, and only partisan politics was getting in the way.

“It is time to make a space agency here in Australia which can decide national policy, strategies and help develop the infrastructure for space,” Mr Thomas said.

“Because space is the modern form of infrastructure. It is as important to this country as railways were in the early development.”

Plibersek urges for an Australian economy ‘that works for everyone’

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek says Australian society is less equal than it’s ever been in the past 75 years.

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Ms Plibersek will deliver the annual Light on the Hill speech, honouring former prime minister Ben Chifley, in the NSW regional city of Bathurst on Saturday night.

After 25 years of continuous economic growth, there are still 2.9 million people living below the poverty line and 1.8 million either unemployed or underemployed.

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“Australians are working harder than ever, but they are not getting ahead,” Ms Plibersek will say.

Low wages and insecure work mean lower aggregate demand, leading to weaker overall economic growth.

“People who are worried about paying the electricity bill, or whether they will have a job next week, don’t buy that coffee on the way to work.

“They don’t take the kids to the movies on Friday night.

“They keep their money in their pockets, they don’t create work for others.”

Ms Plibersek called for a national plan for “inclusive prosperity”.

“We need a new growth story, a new plan for inclusive prosperity, a new way to deliver an economy that works for everyone.”

She compared the leadership styles of Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull, saying the Labor leader was “someone who has dedicated his life to standing up for ordinary Australians”.

“Ben Chifley was a plain speaker – so let me put it bluntly: Give me a union leader over an investment banker any day.”

Chifley was born in Bathurst on September 22, 1885.

0:00 Equality Rights Alliance reacts to Budget 2017 Share Equality Rights Alliance reacts to Budget 2017

A new twist for popular 800 Words actor

TV show 800 Words has such a solid narrative spine, the work feels far from backbreaking, according to actor Rick Donald who has returned for the family drama’s third season.

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Donald plays Woody, a laid-back Aussie surfer and the right-hand man to Erik Thomson’s character George Turner, with whom he’s formed an indelible bond on and off the small screen.

“We have a really good rapport now, I think he knows what I’m going to do before I even do it,” Donald said.

“We always try to find a way to make a scene a little bit funnier or if we’re having an argument, make it a bit harsher or put a little more of a dig in.”

The cast spend seven months of each year living on set in New Zealand, a tradition that began in 2015 for season one of the Logie-nominated series.

“It’s just like going back to a second home,” Donald said.

“It’s so beautiful over there, we’re pretty spoilt with the locations that we shoot in, it makes going to work pretty fun.”

In the fictional coastal town of Weld, newspaper columnist and widower George (Thomson) relocates from Sydney with his children Shay (Melina Vidler) and Arlo (Benson Jack Anthony).

Enter Woody, the comedy to their tragedy.

“He’s incredibly gullible and he’s just an extreme lover of life. If he’s got his surfboard and food in his stomach, that’s all he needs,” Donald said.

“I know a lot of people kind of like Woody – the type of guy that will just walk into your house, grab a beer from the fridge and put his feet up and get away with it.”

This year, however, marks a dramatic shift in Woody’s narrative arc.

He shocked audiences in episode two when he revealed to George he can’t wed his fiancee Tracey (Emma Leonard) because he’s already married.

“There’s a lot more baggage that we understand now. If you see any of the other two seasons, Woody’s just kind of a funny goofball but this time we get to see a bit of his heart.”

* 800 Words, Seven Network, Tuesday 8.45pm

Crows ready to fly in AFL grand final hype

Adelaide’s players and coaching staff are at the extremes when it comes to AFL grand-final experience.

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The Crows’ list this season features no players who have played off for an AFL flag.

But there will be plenty of advice close at hand if the Adelaide players want to ask about the week ahead.

Coach Don Pyke is a two-time West Coast premiership player and his assistants also are loaded with experience at the business end of the season.

Ryan O’Keefe, who coaches the Crows’ SANFL team, is a two-time Sydney premiership player.

James Podsiadly won a flag in his playing days at Geelong and Scott Camporeale did the same at Carlton.

“These guys have been to the big dance, so I’m sure some guys will pick their brains,” said Crows forward Tom Lynch.

“But at the same time, everyone is different … we’ll be ready to go.”

Lynch also dismissed their lack of grand-final experience as a potential factor.

“You don’t just win grand finals on the day – it’s the whole year, the whole journey,” he said.

“We’ve built the brand to get us to this point.

“You don’t just fall into ‘grannies’.”

Likewise, Lynch does not expect their lack of games at the MCG will count against them.

The Crows have played at the ground three times a year for the past three seasons, for six wins and a draw.

“There are four goalposts at each end and we feel like the brand we play, the footy we play, stands up in finals,” he said.

What is definitely in Adelaide’s favour is that they are proven performers in front of a big crowd.

Friday night’s preliminary final win over Geelong featured a record Adelaide Oval crowd of 53,817.

Commentators at the top of the western stand felt the floor shaking, such was the noise at the final siren.

“It was electric – we’re so lucky that we get to play in front of 50,000, or near capacity, every single week at the oval,” Lynch said.

“That definitely was a good experience for the boys … last night, it was louder than I’ve ever heard it.”

Julie Bishop slams North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un in UN speech

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has used her address to the United Nations General Assembly to call out North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, and keep up pressure on China and Russia to enforce sanctions on the rogue nation.

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Ms Bishop’s harsh words on Friday in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile ambitions came after Mr Kim described US President Donald Trump as a “mentally deranged US dotard” and his foreign minister suggested the regime could test a nuclear weapon over the Pacific Ocean.

Mr Trump responded on Twitter by saying Mr Kim was “obviously a madman”.

Ms Bishop said North Korea has challenged, undermined and ignored the authority of the UN Security Council and she called on the council’s five permanent members – China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and the United States – to ensure sanctions against the regime are enforced.

0:00 North Korea threatens a powerful hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Share North Korea threatens a powerful hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific

“It is crucial that all United Nations member states and especially the permanent five, who have a particular responsibility, strictly implement these sanctions to compel North Korea to abandon its illegal programs,” Ms Bishop told the General Assembly in New York.

“The authority of the council must be defended and upheld.

“Australia will play our part in helping to resolve this crisis.”

Ms Bishop said Australia would consider strengthening its sanctions on North Korea if the regime continued its flagrant disregard for the international community and the Security Council.

The UN’s 193 member states each have an opportunity to address the General Assembly this week, with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho scheduled to speak later on Friday (11.30am Saturday AEST).

Outside the UN, he told reporters North Korea could react to Mr Trump’s stiff new sanctions and personal barbs at Mr Kim with “the strongest hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean”.

0:00 North Korea may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean Share North Korea may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean

Ms Bishop also used her speech to talk up Australia’s bid for a 2018-2020 seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

Australia would help empower women, girls and indigenous groups to reach their full potential if elected.

“Australia is proud to be home to the world’s oldest continuous culture and will strive to advance the human rights of indigenous peoples around the globe,” she said.

Ms Bishop, who has led Australia’s delegation at this week’s General Assembly after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull chose not to make the trip, made special mention of the “inspiring work” of Australian businessman and philanthropist Andrew Forrest, his wife Nicola and daughter Grace with their anti-slavery Walk Free Foundation.

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What’s a dotard anyway? Kim insults Trump

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has confused a lot of English-speakers – though this time not about what he intends with his nuclear programme.

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Responding to US President Donald Trump’s bellicose warning to Pyongyang in his first speech to the United Nations on Tuesday, Kim on Friday called Trump a “dotard” – at least in a translation by the state news agency KCNA.

The obscure word is old – late Middle English, or around the 14th century – and means senile old person, someone in their dotage.

Although Shakespeare and Tolkien used it, the word is barely heard these days and Kim’s statement caused a Twitter storm of questions to Merriam-Webster dictionary about its meaning, while searches on Google also increased.

Merriam-Webster responded with a tweet, defining dotard as “a person in his or her dotage”, which is “a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness”, which quickly became the top trending post on Twitter on Friday, with more than 7400 retweets and 13,000 likes.

There were more than 100,000 mentions of the hashtag #dotard and 189,000 mentions of the word on Twitter on Friday, according to international social media analytics firm Talkwalker. On Google’s Ngram Viewer, which tracks the popularity of words over time, “dotard” was a word that peaked in the 18th century.

Many social media users also took to Twitter to deliver their best jokes.

“By making people look up the word #dotard, Kim Jong Un has done more for American education than Betsy DeVos,” wrote one user. DeVos is the US Secretary of Education.

Other Twitter influencers did not find the insult amusing.

“This hashtag is a disgrace: #DotardTrump,” tweeted LoConservative founder Kassy Dillon. “Whether you like him or not, Trump is your president & Kim Jong Un is a dictator & a murderer.”

And novelist Elnathan John said: “Am I the only one who doesn’t find this Trump-Jong Un war dance funny? Why are we all giggling at these two men who CAN destroy us? #dotard.”

Kevin Rudd, Julie Bishop joust in New York

Call it the Kevin and Julie show.

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In Manhattan on Friday, not far from the bright lights of Broadway and the boxing mecca of Madison Square Garden, Kevin Rudd and Julie Bishop put on a part comedy, part boxing show … sprinkled with some serious geopolitical talk.

Mr Rudd, the former Australian prime minister and foreign affairs minister, hosted Ms Bishop, Australia’s current foreign affairs minister, at an Asia Society event.

For about an hour the longtime political foes sat on stage in front of an audience.

Sometimes it was awkward.

Other times a bit frigid.

There were quite a few laughs and eye rolls.

“Julie and I have been sparring partners in the Australian parliament for a number of years in one form or another,” Mr Rudd, a Manhattan resident and president of Asia Society’s Policy Institute, told the audience at the start of the event.

Mr Rudd politely opened the conversation with a simple: “How’s the job going?”

Ms Bishop threw the first punch with her deadpan reply.

“Fabulous,” Ms Bishop answered.

Mr Rudd was a little taken aback.

It was as if he had been hit in the stomach.

“You didn’t take that very far did you?” Mr Rudd cautiously asked.

“How much more do you want me to say?” Ms Bishop countered.

“As much as you like?” Rudd, getting a little combative himself, replied.

“I know where you are going with this,” Ms Bishop, a little suspicious of her old rival, said.

“No you don’t,” he hit back.

“Oh yes I do. We’ve done this routine before,” Ms Bishop, winning the first round, said.

Ms Bishop has been in New York the past week at the United Nations General Assembly where North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, the Myanmar Rohingya refugee crisis, terrorism and other serious issues were debated.

Mr Rudd, perhaps adding to the awkwardness, had ambitions to be UN secretary-general but a year ago Ms Bishop’s boss, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, nixed that.

Mr Rudd and Ms Bishop did speak in detail about North Korea and Myanmar, but every now and then, mostly starting from an uppercut thrown by Ms Bishop, they jousted.

“It’ll be in my book,” Ms Bishop quipped after mentioning the first time she met Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi was in 1995.

Ms Bishop quickly then blurted out: “There’s no book”.

Mr Rudd jumped in.

“I’ve got one coming,” Mr Rudd said.

“Another one?” Bishop, deadpanning again, replied.

Round two to Ms Bishop.

Mr Rudd later handed Ms Bishop a new Asia Society report and politely asked if she would read it.

Ms Bishop, without a word, handed him a pen.

She wanted him to autograph it.

“OK,” Mr Rudd obliged.

“I’ll auction it at the next Liberal Party fundraiser,” Ms Bishop said.

“And get $5 for it,” Mr Rudd joked.

“Therese again?” Ms Bishop, referring to Mr Rudd’s successful businesswoman wife, said.

Mr Rudd signed the report.

“To Julie … kiss kiss kiss,” he said.

Round three Ms Bishop.

Mr Rudd did score some points when they jousted about their influence on the East Asia Summit and he brought up another former prime minister, John Howard.

“The big thing we did in office – I don’t think you ever praised me for this in office – is that we finally persuaded neighbours to bring in the US and Russia (to the EAS),” Mr Rudd said.

“I didn’t praise you for that?” Ms Bishop asked.

“No,” Mr Rudd replied.

“Did you praise us for getting into it in the first place in 2006?” Ms Bishop, looking for a knockout blow, said.

“Well, in 2006 some of us had to cajole your then prime minister John Howard to …,” Mr Rudd said before Ms Bishop cut him off.

Ms Bishop, despite being way ahead on points, requested a draw.

“Oh stop it,” she said.

“OK. This is a unity ticket.”

Europe welcomes Theresa May’s Brexit speech, but warily

Theresa May’s “constructive spirit” in her speech has won a cautious welcome from the EU, though the British prime minister’s address raised more questions than answers for some and they want more details next week.

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“The speech shows a willingness to move forward, as time is of the essence,” chief European Union negotiator Michel Barnier said in a lengthy statement, adding that May’s specially staged event on Friday in Renaissance Florence chimed with the spirit of Europe.

Echoing reactions from diplomats and officials involved in the negotiations who spoke privately to Reuters, Barnier said it was a “step forward” that May said British courts would protect EU citizens in Britain based directly on a new EU-UK treaty, not on British law, and would take future EU case law into account.

Theresa May’s Brexit vision is that we Leave the EU in name only. All areas of integration we have currently will be rebadged.

— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 22, 2017

But as with vaguer comments about the EU budget, in which May said the other 27 countries would not be left out of pocket over the EU financial cycle ending in December 2020, Barnier stressed that he wants to hear a “precise negotiating position” when he meets his British counterpart on Monday.

Similarly, he repeated the European position on refusing talks about what happens after Brexit until Britain makes “significant progress” in agreeing its divorce terms.

May for the first time spelled out her request for a transition period of about two years after Brexit in March 2019 during which Britain would stay in the EU’s single market.

Barnier reiterated that the other 27 could consider the request but again insisted that Britain could not keep all the benefits of EU membership while relinquishing obligations.

After @Theresa_May’s #FlorenceSpeech, and 15 months since the EU referendum, the Tories are still no clearer about their plan for Brexit. pic南京夜生活,/7ilFafOtzZ

— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) September 22, 2017

May’s supporters in Brussels talked up the significance of a speech the prime minister chose to deliver in Florence to underline a message of future close cooperation with European neighbours.

“We can only hope that the EU takes what the Prime Minister has said seriously, and sees that it is time to move forward,” said the pro-Brexit leader of her Conservative party in the European Parliament, Syed Kamall.

However, the German leader of the centre-right group in the EU legislature, an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, rammed home the scepticism felt toward Britain by some of Europe’s main powers: “In substance, May is bringing no more clarity to London’s positions. I am even more concerned now.”

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Carey says Hawkins needs more AFL support

AFL great Wayne Carey has defended Tom Hawkins after the Geelong key forward endured a barren finals series.

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Hawkins only kicked one goal per game in Geelong’s three finals and had minimal impact in Friday night’s season-ending loss to Adelaide.

There is speculation that Geelong will try to engineer a trade for the return of Gary Ablett and are also in the market for Jake Stringer.

They would be handy additions to the Cats attack and Carey says Hawkins could do with them.

“I tell you what he needs: he needs some support, because when he’s the only king pin up there then they’re so easy to defend,” Carey told Triple M.

“When he played his best footy he had Harry Taylor up there. He led to good positions so players had to engage Harry, therefore it gave him one-on-ones and space.

“He hasn’t had that all year and he didn’t have that last night.

“If you’re the only focal point it’s just so easy for defences to say ‘OK, we know where this is going’.”

Geelong changed their forward strategy after the qualifying final loss to Richmond, where Taylor played in attack and had a quiet night.

Taylor went back to defence for the semi-final against Sydney and Patrick Dangerfield was best afield, kicking four goals as their main marking forward.

They tried Dangerfield in attack again at the start of Friday night’s preliminary final, but it only last 14 minutes.

He had to return to the middle after the Crows made a strong start.

Carey said Hawkins was at his most dangerous when he played close to goal.

“He’s got to be taking contested marks, he’s a good mark,” Carey said.