Evaluation backs safety of 4-in-1 vaccine

A comprehensive evaluation of the four-in-one combination vaccine given to Australian toddlers – designed to protect against measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox – has backed its safety.

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Known as the MMRV vaccine, it was one of two new combination vaccines added to the immunisation schedule in 2013, reducing the number of injections babies needed.

The change meant that a second dose of the measles-containing vaccine (MCV) was given to children at 18 months as opposed to four years.

“We know that children need two doses,” said Professor Kristine Macartney at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

However there were concerns, raised out of the US, that the MMRV vaccine given to very young children was linked to a greater risk of fever and febrile seizures.

A University of Sydney study, published in journal JAMA Pediatrics, evaluated the way the vaccine is used in Australia.

It found no increase in febrile seizures associated with this second dose given at 18 months.

Researchers at the University of Sydney examined all children who presented to pediatric hospitals across the country with a febrile convulsion, then looked at what vaccines they had received.

“Children were at no particular risk of having seizures after having the vaccine,” Professor Macartney told AAP.

The expert in pediatric infectious diseases says the findings should ease parent concerns that the vaccine does not overwhelm the child’s immune system.

Measles is one of the most infectious diseases and the MMRV vaccine now means children have well above 95 per cent protection by the age of two.

“For every case of measles if you had an un-immunised population you would see about 15 more cases just from that one case, so highly contagious,” said Professor Macartney.

“Although we have eliminated the virus from this country in terms of what we call endemic continuous circulation, we are constantly getting importations of people with measles, so we need vaccine coverage for measles as close to 100 per cent as we can possibly get so that its blocked from spreading in the community,” she said.

New appeal in Warneke murder investigation

West Australian detectives investigating the murder of Joshua Warneke in Broome in February 2010 are seeking the public’s help to identify a vehicle spotted near where his body was found and the driver.

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Detectives have received new information about a white Toyota 79 Series Land Cruiser two-door, tray-top utility with a “BUNDY” novelty number plate and car flag poles on either side of the frame behind the cab.

Acting Detective Superintendent Pete Branchi said the ute drove along Short Street into Old Broome Road around the time of Mr Warneke’s death early on February 26, 2010.

“Despite all the publicity about this case since 2010, the driver of the LandCruiser has never come forward, so we are appealing for public assistance to identify the vehicle, its driver and any other occupants,” he said.

“Investigators believe the occupant, or occupants, of the LandCruiser saw Josh on Old Broome Road around the time of his death.”

Mr Warneke was seen about 2.45am walking at the intersection of Old Broome Road and Short Street, heading towards Roebuck Estate where he lived.

Just before 3pm, a taxi driver travelling on Old Broome Road spotted the 21-year-old lying on the side of the road.

The state government is offering a $250,000 reward for information about the murder, as well as recommending a pardon in some circumstances for anyone not directly involved in the death.

The relaunched investigation into Mr Warneke’s murder began in April after 25-year-old Aboriginal man Gene Gibson, who is from the remote desert community of Kiwirrkurra and is cognitively impaired, had his conviction for manslaughter quashed, having already spent almost five years behind bars.

Earlier this week, Attorney-General John Quigley told an estimates hearing an ex-gratia application for Mr Gibson was progressing.

Mr Gibson’s lawyers previously indicated they would seek $2.5 million in damages.

Kim slams Trump’s new sanctions on North Korea’s trading partners

At the end of his four-day visit to the United Nations, President Donald Trump announced an expansion of US sanctions on North Korea.

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He signed a new executive order designed to cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

“Foreign banks will face a clear choice: do business with the United States or facilitate trade with the lawless regime in North Korea – and they won’t have so much trade. This new order provides us with powerful new tools, but I want to be clear, this order targets only one country and that country is North Korea.”

Mr Trump said China’s Central Bank had instructed other Chinese banks to stop doing business with North Korea’s government.

He’s thanked China’s President Xi Jinping for what he called a “bold” and “unexpected move”.

“I am very proud to tell you that, as you may have just heard moments ago, China – their central bank – has told their other banks — that’s a massive banking system — to immediately stop doing business with North Korea.”

China is yet to confirm the policy.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says his department has been authorised to target firms and financial institutions conducting business with North Korea.

“Foreign financial institutions are now on notice that, going forward, they can choose to do business with the United States or with North Korea – but not both. This new executive order enables Treasury to freeze assets of anyone conducting significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea.”

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says she supports the tougher sanctions.

“I certainly welcome this announcement. Australia is of the view that we must put maximum economic pressure on North Korea to ensure that it is compelled to return to the negotiating table.”

In a rare speech on camera, President Kim Jong-un has reportedly called Donald Trump’s UN speech “a declaration of war” and branded the US president “mentally deranged”.

 

Rio to buy back another $US2.5b of shares

Mining giant Rio Tinto will return proceeds from the recent $US2.

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7 billion sale of its NSW coal operations to shareholders through a share buyback.

The company on Friday announced an additional share buyback of $US2.5 billion ($A3.2 billion), comprising of an off-market buyback worth $US560 million for the Australian-listed shares and another $US1.9 billion allocation to its existing on-market buyback program for London-listed shares.

Chief executive Jean Sebastien Jacques said the move demonstrated Rio’s commitment to delivering superior value and to returning cash to shareholders.

“Shareholder returns of this scale are made possible by maintaining the strongest balance sheet in the sector and a disciplined capital allocation process,” he said.

Rio shareholders in June backed a $US2.69 billion bid by China’s Yancoal to buy Rio’s Coal & Allied Industries that included majority stakes in the Hunter Valley Operations and the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine, and a 36.5 per cent interest in the Newcastle Port coal export terminal.

The sale marked Rio Tinto’s near exit from thermal coal assets, which it does not consider a core business.

The fresh share buyback comes on top of two buyback programs worth $US500 million and $US1 billion that were announced earlier in 2017.

The mining giant in August announced a record interim dividend after its underlying half-year profit more than doubled due to stronger commodity prices.

On Friday, Rio said the off-market buyback of its Australian shares will be completed in 2017, while the buyback of London-listed shares will start on December 27 and end no later than December 2018.

Rio Tinto’s Australian-listed shares have risen more than third in value over the past 12 months.

The stock closed at $65.50 on Thursday.

Anti-espionage laws head to parliament

New laws to deal with espionage and foreign interference will be brought to parliament by the end of the year.

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Attorney-General George Brandis is putting the finishing touches to the laws, which were initiated in May just before media reports of Chinese Communist Party influence over the Liberal and Labor parties.

“It’s the government’s expectation to introduce a bill before the end of this year,” Senator Brandis told Sky News on Friday.

A Four Corners-Fairfax investigation in June named two billionaires that domestic intelligence agency ASIO identified as having links to the Chinese Communist Party.

Between them, Chau Chak Wing and Huang Xiangmo donated $6.7 million to the major parties.

Senator Brandis is understood to have been briefed by US security officials on the operation of America’s Foreign Agents Registration Act, which could provide a model for the Australian laws.

The US laws, which began in 1938, require people acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to disclose on a website their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as their activities, receipts and spending.

Penalties for breaching the US laws range from $5000 to five years in jail.

Intelligence agency ASIO’s last annual report said Australia was a target of espionage and foreign interference because of its alliance with the US and the desire by foreign interests to gain insights into the country’s positions on international diplomatic, economic and military issues.

There was also foreign interest in Australia’s energy and mineral resources, innovations in science and technology and “a desire to shape the actions of decision-makers and public opinion”.

As well, ASIO has warned of “malicious insiders” – both self-motivated and recruited – who threaten to sabotage computer systems, use information to facilitate attacks or leak information to harm Australia’s national security.

The government is also considering laws to ban donations from foreign citizens and entities to political parties, associated entities and third parties.

Davison banking on Bathurst happy memories

After a tough year and with his own future up in the air, Supercars star Will Davison is banking on some happy memories to turn his team’s fortunes around at Bathurst next month.

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Tekno Autosports celebrated a remarkable Bathurst 1000 win 12 months ago but since that time things haven’t gone to plan for the Queensland-based team.

Davison is yet to achieve a podium finish in 2017 and finds himself languishing 13th on the championship ladder.

Team owner and co-driver Jonathon Webb’s role in a horror smash that destroyed rookie Todd Hazelwood’s Holden during Saturday’s qualifying races ruined the pair’s Sandown 500 weekend, leaving them starting at the back of the grid before an eventual mid-pack finish.

Davison says while times have been tough since last year’s Bathurst glory, he’s hoping the sight of the famous Mount Panorama circuit will be enough to bring morale back up within the garage.

“That’s all we can do is go there with our heads held high as the reigning winners,” the two-time Bathurst winner told AAP.

“Go there determined and focused to forget what has happened in the rest of the year, know that we’re better than the pieces of paper say and just hope we can get it all together.

“It’s a real, cool, special place.”

Davison said while Webb’s Saturday mishap at Sandown had been disappointing, the pair were determined to avoid similar hiccups in their Bathurst defence.

“I know he’ll be going to Bathurst pretty focused, he’s obviously pretty disappointed with last Saturday,” the out-of-contract Davison said.

“I know he’ll be going there pretty determined to be at his best.

“Let’s hope we all lift and rise to the occasion when it counts.”

Cycling fundraiser a deeply personal journey for Adam Goodes

Adam Goodes has climbed to the top of Australian sport.

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In 372 games for the Sydney Swans the South Australian marked the most fearsome opponents AFL had to offer.

The now retired star says his sporting achievements are put in perspective by the stalking presence of depression.

“It is dark and it is scary for those people that face it and they need to know there are people that can help,” he said.

Speaking exclusively to SBS World News on the roadside in Western Australia, Goodes reveals depression and mental health trauma is something he has seen those close to him battle with.

“Too many family members committed suicide. My wife’s mother when she was 14 which was really sad. Cousins, family members all because of mental health problems,” he said.

Goodes is one of 65 riders shining a spotlight on mental health, a number which has an obvious symmetry to the 65,000 people who attempt suicide each year.

The staggering country-wide impact inspiring the former Swan to cycle from Perth to Broome to raise funds for the mental health charity Black Dog Institute.

The group has already raised $290,000 and has opened dialogue about depression in their “Tour X Oz” adventure.

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“This is about doing something positive. About raising awareness, about raising the profile. Especially for us men, Indigenous men and Indigenous community members, that it is okay to talk about our feelings. It is okay to not feel good about yourself as long as you talk about it,” says Goodes.

The Senior Research Fellow at UNSW and the Black Dog Institute, Dr Simon Rosenbaum, is also cycling to Broome and believes exercise is a realistic treatment pathway.

“There is a lot of evidence around the benefits of exercise and physical activity in improving mental health and mental well being. It can be an important part of treatment for people living with mental illness,” says Dr Rosenbaum.

“The challenge is trying to help people that are living with mental illness to actually get active. An event like this can help provide inspiration to those that are struggling to get more active.”

Cycling fundraiser a deeply personal journey for Former Australian of the Year Adam Goodes.SBS

SBS’s Tour de France host Mike Tomalaris has covered 22 editions of the world’s most famous cycling race. Riding for the second time in The Tour X Oz and for the first time alongside Adam Goodes has been immensely rewarding.

“It is very satisfying to know that we can make a difference through cycling. A lot of these people taking part in Tour X Oz are into the activity of cycling and through the growth of the sport in Australia and around the world they can do events like this.

They can jump on a bike for hours on end every day for eight days and in the process visit communities in remote parts of Australia and promote awareness of mental health issues,” says Tomalaris.

“It is a real eye opener. You get to see parts of Australia you have never seen before and chances are will never see again. And the beauty of it all is you can do it on two wheels.”

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Bernardi criticism backfires as school surpasses fundraising target for ‘dress day’

More than $180,000 has been raised by a school in Adelaide’s south after Australian Conservative Senator Cory Bernardi tweeted its fundraising campaign was “absurd gender morphing”.

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Craigburn primary school principal Paul Luke says the school had set out to raise $900 for girls in Africa by allowing students, both male and female, to come wearing a dress for one day, but after Senator Bernardi’s public criticisms of the move the school had raised $180,000 as of Friday morning.

Mr Luke said the feedback of the school’s decision had been positive and the publicity should focus on the cause of supporting the education of girls in Africa not gender issues.

One school in SA now has ‘wear a dress day’. This gender morphing is really getting absurd #auspol南京桑拿,南京SPA,/399EoSQxYz

— Cory Bernardi (@corybernardi) September 20, 2017

Following the Senator’s tweet, the Do It In A Dress campaign gathered momentum.

The original goal to raise enough funds to educate three girls in Africa has been blown out of the water. As it stands, the $180,000 raised will help educate 622 African girls.

Comedian and actor Josh Thomas donated $2,000 for the cause and helped promote the fundraiser on Twitter.

He has been regularly tweeting his support for the “tiny heroes” of Craigburn Primary School, congratulating them on reaching $180,000.

“THEY WERE TRYING TO RAISE $900. What a bunch of tiny heroes,” he tweeted.

“Hey cuties. The #DoItInADress fundraiser is now over $180000,’ he added.

They’re 5X their fundraising goal now. This is the first night in a while I will log of twitter feeling joyous. 南京桑拿,南京SPA,/aDcziX8qVZ 南京桑拿,南京SPA,/ZMPbLnzCaF

— Josh Thomas 🌈 (@JoshThomas87) September 20, 2017Hey cuties. The #DoItInADress fundraiser is now over $180000.

— Josh Thomas 🌈 (@JoshThomas87) September 22, 2017

The Do It In A Dress campaign looks at raising money for young females in Africa who are denied an education.

The challenge encourages groups to don a dress to raise money for the education of young girls in Africa.

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Monster’s death to spark aggro croc battle

The shooting death of a 5.

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2m crocodile has created a void in a central Queensland river that could result in younger males becoming more aggressive as they battle for dominance, wildlife officers say.

Police and the state government are investigating after the reptile was found with a bullet in its head in the Fitzroy River, near Rockhampton, on Thursday.

Department of Environment southern wildlife operations director Michael Joyce said the remaining male crocodiles could act differently and become more hostile as they establish who will rule next.

5.2 metre salt water crocodile shot dead in Queensland.Twitter: Queensland Police

“They don’t necessarily become more aggressive with outsiders,” Mr Joyce told AAP on Friday.

“But we would expect people to be croc-wise in croc country and be extra vigilant.”

Mr Joyce says wildlife officers will monitor the river to see what transpires and who becomes the next dominant male.

“The whole thing could be over in 24 hours; at other times it could take months to see a slight move in the population,” he said.

5.2 metre salt water crocodile shot dead in Queensland.Twitter: Queensland Police

Locals are being urged to notify the department of any crocodiles spotted in the river and elsewhere across Queensland, even if they are seen regularly.

The monster reptile found on Thursday was taken to the nearby Koorana Crocodile Farm, where it will be buried once a necropsy is carried out.

Farm owner John Leaver says a 5m-long crocodile has not been caught in Queensland for 20 to 30 years.

“There may have been some others shot in the wild that we don’t know about, but from my recollection, over the past three decades this would be the largest,” he told AAP on Friday.

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Mr Leaver, who ran a crocodile removal service across the state for 20 years, said the largest reptile he ever caught was 4.95m in the late 1980s.

It is believed the 5.2m reptile had been dead for a few days before a member of the public spotted it floating and notified environmental officers.

Mr Joyce said it was estimated to be between 80 and 100 years old.

“It is on the larger end of the scale, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

“There are not a lot of crocodiles over 5m.”

Cassius, a male caught in the Northern Territory three decades ago, is recognised as the world’s largest crocodile in captivity.

He measures 5.48m and lives at a farm on Green Island in far north Queensland.

A 6.16m Philippino crocodile called Lolong previously held the record before it died in 2013.

Who pays for the UN and where does the money go?

The US President is not a renowned fan of the sprawling global network of UN organisations, calling the institution “weak and incompetent” during his campaign.

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But if his first speech as President to the UN General Assembly on September 19 took a more measured tone, he still complained that the United States “bears an unfair cost burden”, and called for major reform, including for other countries to pay more. 

“The United States is one of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 per cent of the entire budget and more,” Trump said.

In this case, a President who has been famously loose with facts, is correct.

Who pays for the UN?

Total revenue by government donor 2016SBS World News

The US is by far the biggest donor to the UN, in 2016 contributing some $10 billion of its $49 billion annual revenue. The next biggest donors were Germany ($3.4 billion) and the UK ($3 billion).

The permanent members of the Security Council that most often oppose American agendas in the UN, China ($1.3 billion) and Russia ($562 million), are ranked 6th and 15th respectively in terms of the magnitude of their contributions.

Australia was the UN’s 13th biggest national donor in 2016, contributing $748 million. 

Countries’ relative contributions are decided by a complex series of formulas for different aspects of the UN’s wide-ranging operations, which are supposed to broadly reflect each country’s capacity to pay. The payments, known as “assessed contributions”, are recalculated every few years to adjust for changing circumstances. 

There are also significant non-government donors like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which donated just under $300 million to the UN last year. 

RELATED READINGWhere is the money spent? 

Total revenue by UN Agency 2016SBS World News

The biggest drain on the UN budget is its peacekeeping operations, which cost $8.7 billion last year. There are currently 15 peacekeeping missions worldwide, and most of the soldiers involved are from African countries. The UN pays nations for their troops’ peacekeeping service meaning it can be quite lucrative for poor countries.

The World Food Programme had a budget of $5.9 billion last year, followed by the United Nations secretariat itself and the United Nations Development Programme at about $5 billion each.

Support for UN reform

Secretary-General António Guterres said 128 countries had pledged to back a 10-point plan for UN reform that would improve the member states’ “value for money”. 

“Our shared objective is a 21st century UN focused more on people and less on process, more on delivery and less on bureaucracy,” he said, following Trump’s speech on September 19.

“Value for money while advancing shared values – this is our common goal.”

Mr Guterres said the organisational problems of the UN kept him awake at night. “Fragmented structures. Byzantine procedures. Endless red tape,” he said.

UN structure and agencies 

The UN was formed by 51 countries in 1945 after the Second World War, with a global mission to promote peace and security.

Today it has 193 member states and runs programmes worldwide covering peace and security, climate change, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, gender equality, food production and more.

The main bureaucratic organs of the United Nations, headquartered in New York, are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat and the International Court of Justice.

The UN also runs several agencies to tackle specific issues including the UN Development Programme which works to eradicate poverty; UNICEF, the children’s fund; and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Some autonomous agencies under the UN such as the World Health Organisation and UNESCO (the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation) are also partly funded through contributions of member states. 

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