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Port Macquarie MP Now a NSW Liberal

NSW MP Leslie Williams says she is now a member of the Liberal Party after quitting the Nationals over the recent drama surrounding the states koala protection policy. “I was advised late last night that I am now a member of the Liberal Party,” the Port Macquarie MP told ABC News Breakfast on Sept 21. “Ive had many welcoming texts … and I can assure my community that nothing is going to change. Im going to continue to work hard and continue to make sure that they get what they deserve.” Williams said people in her north coast electorate were “very angry” about Nationals leader John Barilaros recent threat to the Berejiklian government to take his MPs to the cross bench over changes to the states koala protection laws, which he described as a “nail in the coffin for farmers”. Port Macquarie has a koala hospital that treats hundreds of koalas every year and also is a big tourist attraction. “I made it very clear to the deputy premier that I would not be supporting that action becaus..

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JobKeeper Recipients May Be Eligible for a Partial JobSeeker Payment.

People anxious about having JobKeeper payments reduced or withdrawn are being urged to check their eligibility for the dole. JobKeeper wage subsidies are being cut in two steps from September 28. Payments for full-time staff are being slashed from $1500 to $1200 per fortnight, while people who usually worked less than 20 hours a week before the coronavirus pandemic will receive $750 every two weeks. Social Services Minister Anne Ruston encouraged anyone concerned about having their income reduced to investigate JobSeeker unemployment benefits. “We have temporarily put arrangements in place so that our social security safety net is not just for people who have lost their jobs,” Senator Ruston said on Sept 21. “It is able to provide a cushion for people who have had or fear their hours or income will be reduced.” JobKeeper recipients on $1200 per fortnight may be eligible for a partial JobSeeker payment, lifting their total income to $1476. People receiving JobKeeper at the part-t..

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Victoria Has Two Virus Deaths, 11 New Cases

Victoria has had two COVID-19 deaths, taking the state toll to 763 and the national figure to 851. There were only 11 new cases as Melbournes 14-day case average dropped to 34.4, while the regional figure came in at 1.6. This is the lowest daily COVID-19 case number since June 16, when it was nine – before the start of the states second wave. The 14-day average for cases with an unknown source is down to 47 for Melbourne and there have been none in regional Victoria. The decline in case numbers is a “cause for great optimism and positivity right across metropolitan Melbourne”, Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sept 20 after 14 cases were reported. “That is proof positive beyond any question that this strategy is working,” he said. Melbournes daily average is well below the target of 50 to lift some virus restrictions later this month. Andrews said the path towards easing rules was being constantly reviewed. “Theres no good opening up too early. Theres no good letting our frustrati..

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Turkey May Resume Talks With Greece, Warns Against EU Sanctions

ISTANBUL—Turkey and Greece might soon resume talks over their contested Mediterranean claims, according to Turkeys presidential spokesman, who cautioned European Union leaders meeting this week that warnings of sanctions against Ankara wont help the situation. The NATO members and their neighbors have been locked in a bitter dispute over the extent of their continental shelves in the eastern Mediterranean. Tensions flared in August when Turkey sent a vessel to survey for gas and oil in contested waters. European Union member Greece condemned the move as illegal and pressed, along with Cyprus, for a strong response from EU leaders when they meet on Sept. 24. Ankara withdrew the Oruc Reis vessel Sept. 13. It described the move as a routine maintenance stop but later said it opened up the chance for diplomacy to reduce tensions with Athens. “At this point, the climate has become much more suitable for negotiations to begin,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told Dogan News Agency ..

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Belarus Mass Rallies, Police Data Leak Keep Pressure on Lukashenko

MINSK, Belarus—More than 100,000 Belarusians marched through the capital Minsk on Sept. 20 in the sixth straight weekend of protests against President Alexander Lukashenko, keeping pressure on the veteran leader to quit. Many walked in a vast column that stretched several miles, decked out in red-and-white opposition colors and chanting “go away,” as helmeted riot police patrolled the streets with water canons on hand, a witness said. Several protesters were dragged away from the crowd by security forces. In the city center, riot police rhythmically beat their shields as a warning, while several people threw glass bottles at them. Videos shared by local media outlets showed security forces in helmets or masks hauling protesters off the streets in simultaneous protests in other cities. The Eastern European country was plunged into turmoil following a presidential election in August that Lukashenko says he won by a landslide but the opposition says was rigged. In power for 26 years, ..

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US to Slap Sanctions on Over 2 Dozen Targets Tied to Iran Arms

WASHINGTON—The United States on Sept. 21 will sanction more than two dozen people and entities involved in Irans nuclear, missile, and conventional arms programs, a senior U.S. official said, putting teeth behind U.N. sanctions on Tehran that Washington argues have resumed despite the opposition of allies and adversaries. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said Iran could have enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by the end of the year and that Tehran has resumed long-range missile cooperation with nuclear-armed North Korea. He did not provide detailed evidence regarding either assertion. The new sanctions fit into U.S. President Donald Trumps effort to limit Irans regional influence and come a week after U.S.-brokered deals for the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to normalize ties with Israel, pacts that may coalesce a wider coalition against Iran while appealing to pro-Israel U.S. voters ahead of the Nov. 3 election. The new sanctions also put European allie..

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Prime Culpability: Petition Calls on Canada to Sanction Chinese Human Rights Violaters

A petition sponsored by Conservative MP James Bezan is urging the government to apply Canadas Sergei Magnitsky Law to sanction 14 Chinese human rights violators. The online petition names specific Chinese officials who “demonstrate prime culpability” in the human rights abuses committed against Falun Gong adherents in China. “For over 21 years, Chinas corrupt communist party officials have been orchestrating the torture and killing of large numbers of people who practise Falun Gong, especially for their vital organs for the profitable transplant industry in China on a massive scale,” the petition says. It calls on the federal government to “deploy all legal sanctions, including the freezing of assets and the barring of entry to Canada, against, but not limited to these perpetrating corrupt officials.” The petition also notes the current detainment in China of Canadian citizen Sun Qian, who has been sentenced to eight years in prison, as well as another eight Falun Gong practitioner..

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Woman Arrested at US-Canada Border Over Ricin Letter Sent to Trump

A Canadian woman was arrested on Sunday in connection with an incident in which an envelope containing the deadly poison ricin was sent to the White House, according to The Associated Press. Mike Niezgoda, public affairs officer at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that the arrest took place at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York. Canadian police on Monday are conducting an operation near Montreal airport in connection to the ricin-contaminated letter, the Quebec section of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in a statement on Twitter. “Our Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives team (CBRNE) is leading the operation. Police and fire teams from Longueuil are also on site. All necessary measures have been taken to ensure public safety,” the RCPM said. Two U.S. officials told The New York Times that the woman was armed with a firearm when she was arrested. A senior intelligence official told the publication th..

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In Brussels, Belarus Opposition Urges EU to Move on Sanctions

BRUSSELS—The main opposition leader of Belarus urged the European Union on Monday to approve sanctions on officials accused of rigging the presidential election last month, traveling to Brussels to tell the blocs foreign ministers to show courage. Despite a sixth straight weekend of mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko over the disputed Aug. 9 vote, the EU has yet to follow through on a threat to impose sanctions on a list of some 40 Belarusian officials. Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya attends a news conference, as she is in Brussels to meet European Union foreign ministers and EU lawmakers, in Brussels, on Sept. 21, 2020. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters) “EU leaders have reasons not to push sanctions but I asked them to be more brave,” Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to Lithuania after the election, told reporters after meeting foreign ministers. “Sanctions are important in our fight because its part of pressure that cou..

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EU Must Diversify Trade Ties, Develop Own Value Chains: German Economy Minister

BERLIN—The European Union must diversify its trade relations, become less dependent on Asian suppliers in certain areas such as medical precursors, and develop its own value chains within the 27-member bloc, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Reuters. “The coronavirus pandemic has taught us that Europe must stick together and diversify its trade relations,” Altmaier said in remarks cleared for publication on Friday. “That means that there must be no spanner in the works of the EUs internal market and that we have to ensure more resilient supply chains, the development of value chains within the EU, and more legal certainty in international trade.” As Germany currently holds the presidency of the European Union, Altmaier will host a meeting of fellow EU ministers responsible for trade on Monday, with a special focus on global supply chains and the future of the European steel industry. Altmaier, a close ally of center-right Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Europe should not t..

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