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Australia to join anti-IS force

A member of Australia's Air Force carries out checks on a Super Hornet fighter jet - 11 August 2014The 600-strong force will include up to eight Super Hornet fighter jets, PM Abbott says

Australia says it is sending 600 troops to the Middle East ahead of possible combat operations against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the deployment, initially to the United Arab Emirates, was in response to a specific US request.

Nearly 40 countries, including 10 Arab states, have signed up to a US-led plan to tackle the extremist group.

France is hosting a regional security summit on Monday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris late on Saturday after a four-day tour of the Middle East trying to drum up support for action against IS.

Last week, US President Barack Obama presented a strategy to fight the group in both Iraq and Syria.

Speaking on Sunday, Prime Minister Abbott said Iraq had made it clear that it would “very much welcome” a military contribution to restore security.



US Secretary of State John Kerry with Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry and Egyptian President Sisi

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Barbara Plett-Usher says Egypt and the US are united against a common threat

He said the force, which will also include up to eight Super Hornet fighter jets, was part of “an international coalition” not simply an “American-Australian operation”.

Mr Abbott said no decision had yet been taken to commit the forces, which will begin deploying next week, to combat action.

The announcement comes two days after Australia raised its terrorism threat level from medium to high.

Security officials are thought to be concerned by the growing number of Australians “working with, connected to or inspired by” Islamist groups, Mr Abbott said on Friday.

Islamic State is now in control of large parts of Iraq and Syria and the CIA estimates that the group could have as many as 30,000 fighters in the region.

Members of a Shia militia launch rockets towards Islamic State fighters during heavy fighting near Tikrit in northern Iraq - 12 September 2014Iraqi forces are fighting alongside Kurdish fighters and Shia militias against Islamic State in northern Iraq

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference in Cairo, Egypt - 13 September 2014John Kerry has managed to secure the support of 10 Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar

US air strikes have targeted IS in Iraq in recent weeks and President Obama has vowed to “hunt down” the group after it beheaded two American journalists.

Late on Saturday a video was also released appearing to show the beheading of UK hostage David Haines.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

America seeks to emerge as a Hollywood-style hero battling a crisis of its own making”

End Quote
Admiral Ali Shamkhani
Senior Iranian official

On Monday, French President Francois Hollande will welcome diplomats from up to 20 countries for a conference on Iraqi security.

The talks come ahead of a UN Security Council meeting next week and a heads of state meeting at the UN General Assembly later this month.

Iran unimpressed

One country not attending is Iran, which voiced its unhappiness at not being on the “selective guest list” by dismissing the talks as “just for show”.

“What would interest Iran is a real fight against terrorism in the region and around the world, not this selective one,” deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told state television.

On Friday, Mr Kerry said the US would not be seeking the involvement of Iran in its coalition because of its “engagement in Syria and elsewhere”.

Iran has backed the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, while the US and several European and Gulf countries have supported the rebel factions fighting to overthrow him.

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar west of Mosul, line up to receive food at a refugee camp - 13 September 2014The violence in Iraq in recent months is thought to have displaced an estimated 1.2 million people

The US stance was attacked in Iran, with one senior official accusing the US of playing a “central role” in “arming and training terrorist groups to topple the legal Syrian government”.

“In taking a big jump ahead of international bodies, America seeks to emerge as a Hollywood-style hero battling a crisis of its own making,” Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told state news agency IRNA.

In recent months IS has expanded from its stronghold in eastern Syria and seized control of more towns, cities, army bases and weaponry in Iraq.

The US has already carried out more than 150 air strikes in northern Iraq. It has also sent hundreds of military advisers to assist Iraqi government and Kurdish forces, but has ruled out sending ground troops.

Graphic of US air strikes on Iraq and Islamic State attacks

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29195689#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Australia to join anti-IS force

A member of Australia's Air Force carries out checks on a Super Hornet fighter jet - 11 August 2014The 600-strong force will include up to eight Super Hornet fighter jets, PM Abbott says

Australia says it is sending 600 troops to the Middle East ahead of possible combat operations against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the deployment, initially to the United Arab Emirates, was in response to a specific US request.

Nearly 40 countries, including 10 Arab states, have signed up to a US-led plan to tackle the extremist group.

France is hosting a regional security summit on Monday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris late on Saturday after a four-day tour of the Middle East trying to drum up support for action against IS.

Last week, US President Barack Obama presented a strategy to fight the group in both Iraq and Syria.

Speaking on Sunday, Prime Minister Abbott said Iraq had made it clear that it would “very much welcome” a military contribution to restore security.



US Secretary of State John Kerry with Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry and Egyptian President Sisi

Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

Barbara Plett-Usher says Egypt and the US are united against a common threat

He said the force, which will also include up to eight Super Hornet fighter jets, was part of “an international coalition” not simply an “American-Australian operation”.

Mr Abbott said no decision had yet been taken to commit the forces, which will begin deploying next week, to combat action.

The announcement comes two days after Australia raised its terrorism threat level from medium to high.

Security officials are thought to be concerned by the growing number of Australians “working with, connected to or inspired by” Islamist groups, Mr Abbott said on Friday.

Islamic State is now in control of large parts of Iraq and Syria and the CIA estimates that the group could have as many as 30,000 fighters in the region.

Members of a Shia militia launch rockets towards Islamic State fighters during heavy fighting near Tikrit in northern Iraq - 12 September 2014Iraqi forces are fighting alongside Kurdish fighters and Shia militias against Islamic State in northern Iraq

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference in Cairo, Egypt - 13 September 2014John Kerry has managed to secure the support of 10 Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar

US air strikes have targeted IS in Iraq in recent weeks and President Obama has vowed to “hunt down” the group after it beheaded two American journalists.

Late on Saturday a video was also released appearing to show the beheading of UK hostage David Haines.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

America seeks to emerge as a Hollywood-style hero battling a crisis of its own making”

End Quote
Admiral Ali Shamkhani
Senior Iranian official

On Monday, French President Francois Hollande will welcome diplomats from up to 20 countries for a conference on Iraqi security.

The talks come ahead of a UN Security Council meeting next week and a heads of state meeting at the UN General Assembly later this month.

Iran unimpressed

One country not attending is Iran, which voiced its unhappiness at not being on the “selective guest list” by dismissing the talks as “just for show”.

“What would interest Iran is a real fight against terrorism in the region and around the world, not this selective one,” deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told state television.

On Friday, Mr Kerry said the US would not be seeking the involvement of Iran in its coalition because of its “engagement in Syria and elsewhere”.

Iran has backed the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, while the US and several European and Gulf countries have supported the rebel factions fighting to overthrow him.

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar west of Mosul, line up to receive food at a refugee camp - 13 September 2014The violence in Iraq in recent months is thought to have displaced an estimated 1.2 million people

The US stance was attacked in Iran, with one senior official accusing the US of playing a “central role” in “arming and training terrorist groups to topple the legal Syrian government”.

“In taking a big jump ahead of international bodies, America seeks to emerge as a Hollywood-style hero battling a crisis of its own making,” Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told state news agency IRNA.

In recent months IS has expanded from its stronghold in eastern Syria and seized control of more towns, cities, army bases and weaponry in Iraq.

The US has already carried out more than 150 air strikes in northern Iraq. It has also sent hundreds of military advisers to assist Iraqi government and Kurdish forces, but has ruled out sending ground troops.

Graphic of US air strikes on Iraq and Islamic State attacks

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29195689#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Australia to join anti-IS force

A member of Australia's Air Force carries out checks on a Super Hornet fighter jet - 11 August 2014The 600-strong force will include up to eight Super Hornet fighter jets, PM Abbott says

Australia says it is sending 600 troops to the Middle East ahead of possible combat operations against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the deployment, initially to the United Arab Emirates, was in response to a specific US request.

Nearly 40 countries, including 10 Arab states, have signed up to a US-led plan to tackle the extremist group.

France is hosting a regional security summit on Monday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris late on Saturday after a four-day tour of the Middle East trying to drum up support for action against IS.

Last week, US President Barack Obama presented a strategy to fight the group in both Iraq and Syria.

Speaking on Sunday, Prime Minister Abbott said Iraq had made it clear that it would “very much welcome” a military contribution to restore security.



US Secretary of State John Kerry with Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry and Egyptian President Sisi

Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

Barbara Plett-Usher says Egypt and the US are united against a common threat

He said the force, which will also include up to eight Super Hornet fighter jets, was part of “an international coalition” not simply an “American-Australian operation”.

Mr Abbott said no decision had yet been taken to commit the forces, which will begin deploying next week, to combat action.

The announcement comes two days after Australia raised its terrorism threat level from medium to high.

Security officials are thought to be concerned by the growing number of Australians “working with, connected to or inspired by” Islamist groups, Mr Abbott said on Friday.

Islamic State is now in control of large parts of Iraq and Syria and the CIA estimates that the group could have as many as 30,000 fighters in the region.

Members of a Shia militia launch rockets towards Islamic State fighters during heavy fighting near Tikrit in northern Iraq - 12 September 2014Iraqi forces are fighting alongside Kurdish fighters and Shia militias against Islamic State in northern Iraq

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference in Cairo, Egypt - 13 September 2014John Kerry has managed to secure the support of 10 Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar

US air strikes have targeted IS in Iraq in recent weeks and President Obama has vowed to “hunt down” the group after it beheaded two American journalists.

Late on Saturday a video was also released appearing to show the beheading of UK hostage David Haines.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

America seeks to emerge as a Hollywood-style hero battling a crisis of its own making”

End Quote
Admiral Ali Shamkhani
Senior Iranian official

On Monday, French President Francois Hollande will welcome diplomats from up to 20 countries for a conference on Iraqi security.

The talks come ahead of a UN Security Council meeting next week and a heads of state meeting at the UN General Assembly later this month.

Iran unimpressed

One country not attending is Iran, which voiced its unhappiness at not being on the “selective guest list” by dismissing the talks as “just for show”.

“What would interest Iran is a real fight against terrorism in the region and around the world, not this selective one,” deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told state television.

On Friday, Mr Kerry said the US would not be seeking the involvement of Iran in its coalition because of its “engagement in Syria and elsewhere”.

Iran has backed the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, while the US and several European and Gulf countries have supported the rebel factions fighting to overthrow him.

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar west of Mosul, line up to receive food at a refugee camp - 13 September 2014The violence in Iraq in recent months is thought to have displaced an estimated 1.2 million people

The US stance was attacked in Iran, with one senior official accusing the US of playing a “central role” in “arming and training terrorist groups to topple the legal Syrian government”.

“In taking a big jump ahead of international bodies, America seeks to emerge as a Hollywood-style hero battling a crisis of its own making,” Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told state news agency IRNA.

In recent months IS has expanded from its stronghold in eastern Syria and seized control of more towns, cities, army bases and weaponry in Iraq.

The US has already carried out more than 150 air strikes in northern Iraq. It has also sent hundreds of military advisers to assist Iraqi government and Kurdish forces, but has ruled out sending ground troops.

Graphic of US air strikes on Iraq and Islamic State attacks

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29195689#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Northern Ireland’s politician Ian Paisley dies

Belfast, Northern Ireland (CNN) — Northern Ireland’s former first minister and former Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley has died, his wife, Eileen, said in a statement Friday. He was 88.

Paisley, a Protestant preacher, was a key figure in ending three decades of conflict in Northern Ireland, making peace in the end after leading Protestants against compromise with Roman Catholics for years.

“My beloved husband, Ian, entered his eternal rest this morning,” his wife’s statement said.

“Although ours is the grand hope of reunion, naturally as a family we are heartbroken. We loved him and he adored us, and our earthly lives are forever changed.”

Paisley made his name as a hard-line pro-British politician during the Northern Ireland conflict and was leader of the Democratic Unionist Party for almost 40 years.

Click through to see people who passed away in 2014.Click through to see people who passed away in 2014.

Northern Ireland's former first minister and former Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley has died, his wife, Eileen, said in a statement on Friday, September 12. He was 88Northern Ireland’s former first minister and former Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley has died, his wife, Eileen, said in a statement on Friday, September 12. He was 88

Richard Kiel, the actor best known for playing the James Bond villain Jaws, died on Wednesday, September 10, at a California hospital, St. Agnes Medical Center spokeswoman Kelley Sanchez said. He was 74.Richard Kiel, the actor best known for playing the James Bond villain “Jaws,” died on Wednesday, September 10, at a California hospital, St. Agnes Medical Center spokeswoman Kelley Sanchez said. He was 74.

Joan Rivers, the sassy comedian whose gossipy can we talk persona catapulted her into a career as a headlining talk-show host, best-selling author and red-carpet maven, died September 4. She was 81. Joan Rivers, the sassy comedian whose gossipy “can we talk” persona catapulted her into a career as a headlining talk-show host, best-selling author and red-carpet maven, died September 4. She was 81.

Jimi Jamison, lead singer of the 1980s rock band Survivor, died at the age of 63, it was announced September 2.Jimi Jamison, lead singer of the 1980s rock band Survivor, died at the age of 63, it was announced September 2.

Acclaimed actor-director Richard Attenborough died on August 24, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported, citing his son. Attenborough was 90.Acclaimed actor-director Richard Attenborough died on August 24, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported, citing his son. Attenborough was 90.

Don Pardo, the man whose voice introduced the cast of NBC's Saturday Night Live for decades, died at the age of 96, the network announced August 19.Don Pardo, the man whose voice introduced the cast of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” for decades, died at the age of 96, the network announced August 19.

Skateboarding legend Jay Adams died of a heart attack August 14 while vacationing in Mexico with his wife. He was 53.Skateboarding legend Jay Adams died of a heart attack August 14 while vacationing in Mexico with his wife. He was 53.

Ed Nelson, best known for playing a doctor in the 1960s nighttime soap opera Peyton Place, died on August 13, his family said. He was 85. Ed Nelson, best known for playing a doctor in the 1960s nighttime soap opera “Peyton Place,” died on August 13, his family said. He was 85.

Actress Arlene Martel, whom Star Trek fans knew as Spock's bride-to-be, died in a Los Angeles hospital August 12 after complications from a heart attack, her son said. Martel was 78.Actress Arlene Martel, whom “Star Trek” fans knew as Spock’s bride-to-be, died in a Los Angeles hospital August 12 after complications from a heart attack, her son said. Martel was 78.

Actress Lauren Bacall, the husky-voiced Hollywood icon known for her sultry sensuality, died on August 12. She was 89.Actress Lauren Bacall, the husky-voiced Hollywood icon known for her sultry sensuality, died on August 12. She was 89.

Actor and comedian Robin Williams died at his Northern California home on August 11. Williams apparently took his own life, law enforcement officials said. He was 63.Actor and comedian Robin Williams died at his Northern California home on August 11. Williams apparently took his own life, law enforcement officials said. He was 63.

Actor Charles Keating, who had been fighting lung cancer for several years, died on August 8, his son Sean Keating said. Charles Keating was known for his role of villain Carl Hutchins on the daytime drama Another World. He was 72.Actor Charles Keating, who had been fighting lung cancer for several years, died on August 8, his son Sean Keating said. Charles Keating was known for his role of villain Carl Hutchins on the daytime drama “Another World.” He was 72.

JJ Murphy, an actor who was set to join the Game of Thrones cast, died August 8, his agent said. He was 86. JJ Murphy, an actor who was set to join the “Game of Thrones” cast, died August 8, his agent said. He was 86.

James Brady, the former White House press secretary who was severely wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, has died, the White House said on August 4. He was 73. Later in the week, authorities told CNN they are investigating it as a homicide.James Brady, the former White House press secretary who was severely wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, has died, the White House said on August 4. He was 73. Later in the week, authorities told CNN they are investigating it as a homicide.

Theodore Dutch Van Kirk, the last crewman of the U.S. plane that dropped the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, died of natural causes on July 28, according to his daughter Vicki Triplett. He was 93.Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, the last crewman of the U.S. plane that dropped the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, died of natural causes on July 28, according to his daughter Vicki Triplett. He was 93.

James Shigeta, a prolific and pioneering Asian-American actor whose 50-year career included the movies Die Hard and Flower Drum Song, died in his sleep in Los Angeles on July 28, his agent said. He was 81.James Shigeta, a prolific and pioneering Asian-American actor whose 50-year career included the movies “Die Hard” and “Flower Drum Song,” died in his sleep in Los Angeles on July 28, his agent said. He was 81.

Skye McCole Bartusiak, who played Mel Gibson's youngest daughter in The Patriot, died July 19, at her home in Houston, her mother said Sunday. She was 21. While investigators didn't immediately determine a cause of death, Bartusiak had been suffering from epileptic seizures, according to her mother.Skye McCole Bartusiak, who played Mel Gibson’s youngest daughter in “The Patriot,” died July 19, at her home in Houston, her mother said Sunday. She was 21. While investigators didn’t immediately determine a cause of death, Bartusiak had been suffering from epileptic seizures, according to her mother.

James Garner, the understated, wisecracking everyman actor who enjoyed multigenerational success on both the small and big screens, died of natural causes on July 19. He was 86.James Garner, the understated, wisecracking everyman actor who enjoyed multigenerational success on both the small and big screens, died of natural causes on July 19. He was 86.

Broadway legend Elaine Stritch died July 17. According to her longtime friend Julie Keyes, Stritch died at her home in Birmingham, Michigan, surrounded by her family. She was 89 years old.Broadway legend Elaine Stritch died July 17. According to her longtime friend Julie Keyes, Stritch died at her home in Birmingham, Michigan, surrounded by her family. She was 89 years old.

Blues guitarist and singer Johnny Winter died July 16 in a Swiss hotel room, his representative said. He was 70.Blues guitarist and singer Johnny Winter died July 16 in a Swiss hotel room, his representative said. He was 70.

Nadine Gordimer, a South African author who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, died on July 13, according to her family. She was 90.Nadine Gordimer, a South African author who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, died on July 13, according to her family. She was 90.

Renowned conductor Lorin Maazel died from complications of pneumonia on July 13, according to his family. He was 84.Renowned conductor Lorin Maazel died from complications of pneumonia on July 13, according to his family. He was 84.

Grammy-winning jazz bassist Charlie Haden, whose music career spanned seven decades and several genres, died July 11, according to his publicist. He was 76.Grammy-winning jazz bassist Charlie Haden, whose music career spanned seven decades and several genres, died July 11, according to his publicist. He was 76.

Drummer Tommy Ramone, the last living original member of the pioneering punk band The Ramones, died on July 11, according to the band's Facebook page. He was 65.Drummer Tommy Ramone, the last living original member of the pioneering punk band The Ramones, died on July 11, according to the band’s Facebook page. He was 65.

Eileen Ford, who founded the Ford Model Agency 70 years ago, died July 9 at the age of 92, the company said.Eileen Ford, who founded the Ford Model Agency 70 years ago, died July 9 at the age of 92, the company said.

Richard Percy Jones, the actor who gave Pinocchio his voice in the 1940 Disney movie, died at his California home on July 8. He was 87.Richard Percy Jones, the actor who gave Pinocchio his voice in the 1940 Disney movie, died at his California home on July 8. He was 87.

David Legeno, known for playing Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter movies, was found dead July 6, by hikers in a remote desert location in Death Valley, California. He was 50. It appears that Legeno died of heat-related issues, but the Inyo County Coroner will determine the final cause of death, read a press release from the Inyo County Sheriff's Department. There are no signs of foul play.David Legeno, known for playing Fenrir Greyback in the “Harry Potter” movies, was found dead July 6, by hikers in a remote desert location in Death Valley, California. He was 50. “It appears that Legeno died of heat-related issues, but the Inyo County Coroner will determine the final cause of death,” read a press release from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department. “There are no signs of foul play.”

Rosemary Murphy, an Emmy Award-winning actress known for her roles in the movie To Kill a Mockingbird as well as TV soap operas All My Children and Another World, died July 5 at the age of 89. The New York Times cited cancer as the cause of death.Rosemary Murphy, an Emmy Award-winning actress known for her roles in the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird” as well as TV soap operas “All My Children” and “Another World,” died July 5 at the age of 89. The New York Times cited cancer as the cause of death.

Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, the subject of the book and upcoming film Unbroken, died July 2 after a recent battle with pneumonia. The 97-year-old peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, according to a statement.Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, the subject of the book and upcoming film “Unbroken,” died July 2 after a recent battle with pneumonia. The 97-year-old peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, according to a statement.

Walter Dean Myers, a beloved author of children's books, died on July 1 following a brief illness, according to the Children's Book Council.Walter Dean Myers, a beloved author of children’s books, died on July 1 following a brief illness, according to the Children’s Book Council.

Paul Mazursky, a five-time Oscar nominee who directed and wrote such films as Bob  Carol  Ted  Alice, An Unmarried Woman and Down and Out in Beverly Hills, died at the age of 84, his agent said July 1.Paul Mazursky, a five-time Oscar nominee who directed and wrote such films as “Bob Carol Ted Alice,” “An Unmarried Woman” and “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” died at the age of 84, his agent said July 1.

Actor Meshach Taylor died June 28 at his Los Angeles-area home, his agent, Dede Binder, said. He was 67. Taylor had fought a terminal illness and faded markedly in recent days, Binder said. His wife, children, grandchildren and mother surrounded him as he passed away.Actor Meshach Taylor died June 28 at his Los Angeles-area home, his agent, Dede Binder, said. He was 67. Taylor had fought a terminal illness and faded markedly in recent days, Binder said. His wife, children, grandchildren and mother surrounded him as he passed away.

Legendary soul singer Bobby Womack died June 27, according to Womack's publicist. He was 70. Legendary soul singer Bobby Womack died June 27, according to Womack’s publicist. He was 70.

Character actor Eli Wallach, seen here in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, died on June 24, according to a family member who did not want to be named. Wallach was 98.Character actor Eli Wallach, seen here in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” died on June 24, according to a family member who did not want to be named. Wallach was 98.

Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died June 16 at the age of 54, according to a release from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Gwynn, who had 3,141 hits in 20 seasons with the San Diego Padres, had cancer.Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died June 16 at the age of 54, according to a release from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Gwynn, who had 3,141 hits in 20 seasons with the San Diego Padres, had cancer.

Radio personality Casey Kasem died June 15. He was 82 and had been hospitalized in Washington state for two weeks.Radio personality Casey Kasem died June 15. He was 82 and had been hospitalized in Washington state for two weeks.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll died June 13. He had suffered from Alzheimer's and heart disease. He was 82. Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll died June 13. He had suffered from Alzheimer’s and heart disease. He was 82.

Ruby Dee, an award-winning actress whose seven-decade career included triumphs on stage and screen, died June 12. She was 91.Ruby Dee, an award-winning actress whose seven-decade career included triumphs on stage and screen, died June 12. She was 91.

Former baseball star Bob Welch passed away on June 9 after suffering a heart attack, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 57.Former baseball star Bob Welch passed away on June 9 after suffering a heart attack, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 57.

British actor and comedian Rik Mayall, who appeared in the TV series Blackadder, died June 9 at the age of 56, his agent said. The cause of death was not immediately reported.British actor and comedian Rik Mayall, who appeared in the TV series “Blackadder,” died June 9 at the age of 56, his agent said. The cause of death was not immediately reported.

Chester Nez, the last of the original Navajo code talkers credited with creating an unbreakable code used during World War II, died June 5 at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Navajo Nation President said. Nez was 93.Chester Nez, the last of the original Navajo code talkers credited with creating an unbreakable code used during World War II, died June 5 at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Navajo Nation President said. Nez was 93.

Ann B. Davis, who played Alice the maid on The Brady Bunch, died from a subdural hematoma on June 1. She was 88.Ann B. Davis, who played Alice the maid on “The Brady Bunch,” died from a subdural hematoma on June 1. She was 88.

Maya Angelou, a renowned poet, novelist and actress, died at the age of 86, her literary agent said on May 28. Angelou was also a professor, singer and dancer whose work spanned several generations.Maya Angelou, a renowned poet, novelist and actress, died at the age of 86, her literary agent said on May 28. Angelou was also a professor, singer and dancer whose work spanned several generations.

Australian racing legend Jack Brabham died on May 19, according to Brabham's son David. Brabham, 88, was a three-time Formula One world champion.Australian racing legend Jack Brabham died on May 19, according to Brabham’s son David. Brabham, 88, was a three-time Formula One world champion.

Malik Bendjelloul, the Oscar-winning director of Searching for Sugar Man, died suddenly on May 13, police said. He was 36.Malik Bendjelloul, the Oscar-winning director of “Searching for Sugar Man,” died suddenly on May 13, police said. He was 36.

H.R. Giger, the Swiss surrealist artist whose works of sexual-industrial imagery and design of the eponymous creature in the Alien movies were known around the world, died on May 12. He was 74.H.R. Giger, the Swiss surrealist artist whose works of sexual-industrial imagery and design of the eponymous creature in the “Alien” movies were known around the world, died on May 12. He was 74.

Former professional tennis player Elena Baltacha died at the age of 30 after losing her battle with liver cancer on May 4. Before retiring in November, she had reached a career high of 49th in the world rankings.Former professional tennis player Elena Baltacha died at the age of 30 after losing her battle with liver cancer on May 4. Before retiring in November, she had reached a career high of 49th in the world rankings.

Al Feldstein, who guided Mad magazine for almost three decades as its editor, died on April 29, according to a Montana funeral home. He was 88.Al Feldstein, who guided Mad magazine for almost three decades as its editor, died on April 29, according to a Montana funeral home. He was 88.

Oscar-nominated British actor Bob Hoskins, known for roles in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Mona Lisa, died April 29 at age 71, his publicist said.Oscar-nominated British actor Bob Hoskins, known for roles in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Mona Lisa,” died April 29 at age 71, his publicist said.

Hall of Fame basketball coach John Dr. Jack Ramsay, who became a television analyst years after winning a league championship with the Portland Trail Blazers, died on April 28, according to his longtime employer ESPN. Ramsay was 89.Hall of Fame basketball coach John “Dr. Jack” Ramsay, who became a television analyst years after winning a league championship with the Portland Trail Blazers, died on April 28, according to his longtime employer ESPN. Ramsay was 89.

Former Barcelona soccer coach Tito Vilanova, who had been battling cancer, died at the age of 45, the club announced April 25.Former Barcelona soccer coach Tito Vilanova, who had been battling cancer, died at the age of 45, the club announced April 25.

Country singer Kevin Sharp died from complications due to cancer on April 19, his mother told CNN. He was 43.Country singer Kevin Sharp died from “complications due to cancer” on April 19, his mother told CNN. He was 43.

Rubin Hurricane Carter, the middleweight boxing contender who was wrongly convicted of a triple murder in New Jersey in the 1960s, died April 20 at the age of 76, according to Win Wahrer, the director of client services for the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the middleweight boxing contender who was wrongly convicted of a triple murder in New Jersey in the 1960s, died April 20 at the age of 76, according to Win Wahrer, the director of client services for the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the influential, Nobel Prize-winning author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, passed away on April 17, his family and officials said. He was 87.Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the influential, Nobel Prize-winning author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera,” passed away on April 17, his family and officials said. He was 87.

Jose Luis Cheo Feliciano, a giant of salsa music and a Puerto Rican legend, died in a car crash April 18 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to police. He was 78.Jose Luis “Cheo” Feliciano, a giant of salsa music and a Puerto Rican legend, died in a car crash April 18 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to police. He was 78.

Days after being inducted into World Wrestling Entertainment's Hall of Fame, WWE superstar Ultimate Warrior died April 8. Born James Hellwig, he legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993. He was 54.Days after being inducted into World Wrestling Entertainment’s Hall of Fame, WWE superstar Ultimate Warrior died April 8. Born James Hellwig, he legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993. He was 54.

Comedian John Pinette, 50, was found dead in a Pittsburgh hotel room on April 5. Pinette died of natural causes stemming from a medical history he was being treated for, the medical examiner's spokesman said. An autopsy will not be done because his personal doctor signed the death certificate.Comedian John Pinette, 50, was found dead in a Pittsburgh hotel room on April 5. Pinette died of natural causes stemming from “a medical history he was being treated for,” the medical examiner’s spokesman said. An autopsy will not be done because his personal doctor signed the death certificate.

Mickey Rooney, who started as a child star in vaudeville and went on to star in hundreds of movies and TV shows, died April 6 at the age of 93. Mickey Rooney, who started as a child star in vaudeville and went on to star in hundreds of movies and TV shows, died April 6 at the age of 93.

DJ Frankie Knuckles, a legendary producer, remixer and house music pioneer, died March 31 at the age of 59.DJ Frankie Knuckles, a legendary producer, remixer and house music pioneer, died March 31 at the age of 59.

Kate O'Mara, the British actress best known for playing Joan Collins' sister on the 1980s show Dynasty, died March 30. She was 74.Kate O’Mara, the British actress best known for playing Joan Collins’ sister on the 1980s show “Dynasty,” died March 30. She was 74.

Ralph C. Wilson Jr., the founder and longtime owner of the NFL's Buffalo Bills, died at age 95, the team announced March 25.Ralph C. Wilson Jr., the founder and longtime owner of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, died at age 95, the team announced March 25.

Gwar lead singer Dave Brockie died March 23 at the age of 50, his manager said. The heavy-metal group formed in 1984, billing itself as Earth's only openly extraterrestrial rock band. Brockie performed in the persona of Oderus Urungus.Gwar lead singer Dave Brockie died March 23 at the age of 50, his manager said. The heavy-metal group formed in 1984, billing itself as “Earth’s only openly extraterrestrial rock band.” Brockie performed in the persona of Oderus Urungus.

James Rebhorn, whose acting resume includes a long list of character roles in major films and TV shows, died March 21, his representative said. Rebhorn was 65.James Rebhorn, whose acting resume includes a long list of character roles in major films and TV shows, died March 21, his representative said. Rebhorn was 65.

L'Wren Scott, a noted fashion designer and girlfriend of musician Mick Jagger, was found dead of an apparent suicide March 17, according to a law enforcement official. She was 49.L’Wren Scott, a noted fashion designer and girlfriend of musician Mick Jagger, was found dead of an apparent suicide March 17, according to a law enforcement official. She was 49.

Drummer Scott Asheton, who co-founded and played drums for the influential proto-punk band The Stooges, died March 15. He was 64.Drummer Scott Asheton, who co-founded and played drums for the influential proto-punk band The Stooges, died March 15. He was 64.

Comedian David Brenner, a regular on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show, died after a battle with cancer, a family spokesman said March 15. He was 78.Comedian David Brenner, a regular on Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show,” died after a battle with cancer, a family spokesman said March 15. He was 78.

Actress Sheila MacRae, who portrayed Alice Kramden in a 1960s revival of The Honeymooners on The Jackie Gleason Show, died on March 6, according to her family. She was 92. Actress Sheila MacRae, who portrayed Alice Kramden in a 1960s revival of “The Honeymooners” on “The Jackie Gleason Show,” died on March 6, according to her family. She was 92.

Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia, seen here in 2006, died February 25 of an apparent heart attack. He was 66. De Lucia transformed the folk art of flamenco music into a more vibrant modern sound.Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia, seen here in 2006, died February 25 of an apparent heart attack. He was 66. De Lucia transformed the folk art of flamenco music into a more vibrant modern sound.

Actor, writer and director Harold Ramis, seen here on the far left with fellow Ghostbusters Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, died at his Chicago-area home on February 24. He was 69. Other popular Ramis films include Stripes, Groundhog Day and Analyze This.Actor, writer and director Harold Ramis, seen here on the far left with fellow “Ghostbusters” Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, died at his Chicago-area home on February 24. He was 69. Other popular Ramis films include “Stripes,” “Groundhog Day” and “Analyze This.”

Maria von Trapp, seen here posing with a photo of her family, was the last of the singing siblings immortalized in the movie The Sound of Music. She died February 18 of natural causes at her Vermont home, according to her family. She was 99.Maria von Trapp, seen here posing with a photo of her family, was the last of the singing siblings immortalized in the movie “The Sound of Music.” She died February 18 of natural causes at her Vermont home, according to her family. She was 99.

Journalist Garrick Utley died at age 74 following a long battle with cancer, his wife of 40 years said in February. Utley worked for CNN after his 30-year career at NBC News.Journalist Garrick Utley died at age 74 following a long battle with cancer, his wife of 40 years said in February. Utley worked for CNN after his 30-year career at NBC News.

Devo guitarist Bob Casale, known by fans as Bob 2, died February 17, his brother and band mate announced. Casale was 61.Devo guitarist Bob Casale, known by fans as “Bob 2,” died February 17, his brother and band mate announced. Casale was 61.

John Henson, the son of Jim Henson who is perhaps most notable for his portrayal of Sweetums on The Muppets, died after a sudden, massive heart attack, his family's company said on February 15. John Henson, the son of Jim Henson who is perhaps most notable for his portrayal of Sweetums on “The Muppets,” died after a “sudden, massive heart attack,” his family’s company said on February 15.

Veteran actor Ralph Waite died at 85 on February 13, according to an accountant for the Waite family and a church where the actor was a regular member. Waite was best known for his role as John Walton Sr. on 'The Waltons.Veteran actor Ralph Waite died at 85 on February 13, according to an accountant for the Waite family and a church where the actor was a regular member. Waite was best known for his role as John Walton Sr. on ‘The Waltons.”

Sid Caesar, whose clever, anarchic comedy on such programs as Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour helped define the 1950s Golden Age of Television, died on February 12. He was 91.Sid Caesar, whose clever, anarchic comedy on such programs as “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour” helped define the 1950s “Golden Age of Television,” died on February 12. He was 91.

Hollywood child star Shirley Temple, who became diplomat Shirley Temple Black, died February 10 at her Woodside, California, home. She was 85.Hollywood child star Shirley Temple, who became diplomat Shirley Temple Black, died February 10 at her Woodside, California, home. She was 85.

Joan Mondale, the wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, died on February 3, according to a statement from the family's church.Joan Mondale, the wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, died on February 3, according to a statement from the family’s church.

Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment of an apparent drug overdose, law enforcement sources said February 2.Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment of an apparent drug overdose, law enforcement sources said February 2.

Maximilian Schell died on February 1 in a Austrian hospital with his wife by his side, his agent Patricia Baumbauer said. He was 83. Schell was nominated for an Oscar three times. He won in 1962 for Judgment at Nuremberg.Maximilian Schell died on February 1 in a Austrian hospital with his wife by his side, his agent Patricia Baumbauer said. He was 83. Schell was nominated for an Oscar three times. He won in 1962 for “Judgment at Nuremberg.”

Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, known for classics such as Where Have All the Flowers Gone and If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song), died of natural causes in New York on January 27, his grandson told CNN. He was 94.Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, known for classics such as “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song),” died of natural causes in New York on January 27, his grandson told CNN. He was 94.

Ruth Robinson Duccini, who played one of the Munchkins in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, died on January 16. She was 95. Ruth Robinson Duccini, who played one of the Munchkins in the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz,” died on January 16. She was 95.

Former Playboy centerfold Cassandra Lynn Hensley was found dead at a friend's home in Los Angeles, the coroner there said on January 17. Hensley was 34. Her cause of death was not immediately known.Former Playboy centerfold Cassandra Lynn Hensley was found dead at a friend’s home in Los Angeles, the coroner there said on January 17. Hensley was 34. Her cause of death was not immediately known.

Hiroo Onoda, center, salutes after handing over his military sword on Lubang Island in the Philippines in March 1974. Onoda, a former intelligence officer in the Japanese army, had remained on the island for nearly 30 years, refusing to believe his country had surrendered in World War II. He died at a Tokyo hospital on January 16. He was 91.Hiroo Onoda, center, salutes after handing over his military sword on Lubang Island in the Philippines in March 1974. Onoda, a former intelligence officer in the Japanese army, had remained on the island for nearly 30 years, refusing to believe his country had surrendered in World War II. He died at a Tokyo hospital on January 16. He was 91.

Russell Johnson, center, stands with Alan Hale Jr., left, and Bob Denver in an episode of Gilligan's Island in 1966. Johnson, who played the professor Roy Hinkley in the hit television show, passed away January 16 at his home in Washington state, according to his agent, Mike Eisenstadt. Johnson was 89.Russell Johnson, center, stands with Alan Hale Jr., left, and Bob Denver in an episode of “Gilligan’s Island” in 1966. Johnson, who played “the professor” Roy Hinkley in the hit television show, passed away January 16 at his home in Washington state, according to his agent, Mike Eisenstadt. Johnson was 89.

Ariel Sharon, whose half century as a military and political leader in Israel was marked with victories and controversies, died on January 11 after eight years in a coma, Israeli Army Radio reported. Sharon was 85.Ariel Sharon, whose half century as a military and political leader in Israel was marked with victories and controversies, died on January 11 after eight years in a coma, Israeli Army Radio reported. Sharon was 85.

Franklin McCain, seen center wearing glasses, one of the Greensboro Four, who made history for their 1960 sit-in at a Greensboro Woolworth's lunch counter, died on January 10 after a brief illness, according to his alma mater, North Carolina AT State University. Franklin McCain, seen center wearing glasses, one of the “Greensboro Four,” who made history for their 1960 sit-in at a Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter, died on January 10 after a brief illness, according to his alma mater, North Carolina AT State University.

Larry Speakes, who served as President Ronald Reagan's press secretary, died January 10 at his home in Cleveland, Mississippi, following a lengthy illness, according to Bolivar County Coroner Nate Brown. He was 74.Larry Speakes, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, died January 10 at his home in Cleveland, Mississippi, following a lengthy illness, according to Bolivar County Coroner Nate Brown. He was 74.

Poet Amiri Baraka, who lost his post as New Jersey's poet laureate because of a controversial poem about the 9/11 terror attacks, died on January 9, his agent said. Baraka was 79.Poet Amiri Baraka, who lost his post as New Jersey’s poet laureate because of a controversial poem about the 9/11 terror attacks, died on January 9, his agent said. Baraka was 79.

Sir Run Run Shaw, the media tycoon who helped bring Chinese martial arts films to an international audience, died at his home in Hong Kong on January 7 at age 106, the television station he founded said.Sir Run Run Shaw, the media tycoon who helped bring Chinese martial arts films to an international audience, died at his home in Hong Kong on January 7 at age 106, the television station he founded said.

Stage, TV and film actress Carmen Zapata, who founded the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts as a means of of introducing the rich and eloquent history of the diverse Hispanic culture to English-speaking audiences, died on January 5 at her Los Angeles home. She was 86.Stage, TV and film actress Carmen Zapata, who founded the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts as a means of of introducing “the rich and eloquent history of the diverse Hispanic culture to English-speaking audiences,” died on January 5 at her Los Angeles home. She was 86.

Portugal football legend Eusebio, who was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup, died from a heart attack on January 5 at age 71, said his former club, Benfica.Portugal football legend Eusebio, who was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup, died from a heart attack on January 5 at age 71, said his former club, Benfica.

Alicia Rhett, who had been one of the oldest surviving cast members of the classic film Gone With the Wind, died on January 3 in her longtime hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, a retirement community spokeswoman said. She was 98.Alicia Rhett, who had been one of the oldest surviving cast members of the classic film “Gone With the Wind,” died on January 3 in her longtime hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, a retirement community spokeswoman said. She was 98.

Singer Phil Everly, left -- one half of the groundbreaking, smooth-sounding, record-setting duo the Everly Brothers -- died on January 3, a hospital spokeswoman said. He was 74.Singer Phil Everly, left — one half of the groundbreaking, smooth-sounding, record-setting duo the Everly Brothers — died on January 3, a hospital spokeswoman said. He was 74.


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Photos: People we lost in 2014Photos: People we lost in 2014

During decades of seemingly irreversible conflict between Northern Ireland’s Protestant and Roman Catholic communities, Paisley was considered an uncompromising figure. The unrest in the province killed at least 3,600 people and injured 36,000 over the years.

To the surprise of many, Paisley agreed to share power with his former sworn enemy, Sinn Fein. Paisley was elected Northern Ireland’s first minister in 2007, with former Irish Republican Army commander Martin McGuinness as deputy first minister.

Political opponents, but friends

McGuinness said Friday that he had learned of Paisley’s death “with deep regret and sadness” despite their long political rivalry.

“Over a number of decades we were political opponents and held very different views on many, many issues, but the one thing we were absolutely united on was the principle that our people were better able to govern themselves than any British government.

“I want to pay tribute to and comment on the work he did in the latter days of his political life in building agreement and leading unionism into a new accommodation with republicans and nationalists.”

In the brief time they worked together as first and deputy first minister, a close working relationship developed that turned in a friendship, McGuinness said, “which despite our many differences lasted beyond his term in office.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron described Paisley as “one of the most forceful and instantly recognizable characters in British politics for nearly half a century,” adding that he would be greatly missed.

“Of course, Ian Paisley was a controversial figure for large parts of his career. Yet the contribution he made in his later years to political stability in Northern Ireland was huge,” he said.

“In particular, his decision to take his party into government with Sinn Fein in 2007 required great courage and leadership, for which everyone in these islands should be grateful.”

Irish PM: Divisive figure with legacy of peace

Northern Ireland’s current First Minister and Democratic Unionist Party leader Peter Robinson also paid tribute to his larger-than-life predecessor.

“Ian Paisley was one of the largest political figures in Northern Ireland and made a massive contribution, particularly to the process in which we are presently engaged,” he said.

“He had a personality we are hardly ever likely to see again.”

The Irish Republic’s Prime Minister, or Taoiseach, Enda Kenny said Paisley “was by any measure a major figure in the history of these islands,” as he sent his condolences to his family.

“I know that he treasured the peace and friendship that he had lived to see, and helped to build, between our traditions,” Kenny said.

“His devotion to his faith and to the Unionist people of Northern Ireland was deep and unshakeable. In time, history will come to a fuller judgment of his long career.

“And, while he was of course a divisive figure, his greatest legacy will be one of peace.”

People we’ve lost in 2014

Journalist Peter Taggart reported from Belfast, and Laura Smith-Spark wrote from London.


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Western Australia shark cull blocked

In this photo released by Sea Shepherd, a male tiger shark hangs tied up on a fishing boat off Moses Rock on the Western Australian coast, on Saturday, 22 Feb, 2014No great white sharks were among the 172 sharks caught during the trial cull earlier this year

Western Australia’s shark cull is to be halted after the state’s environmental regulator advised against it.

Earlier this year, baited traps known as drum lines were set up as a trial along seven beaches to catch sharks, after a series of fatal attacks.

But the policy was controversial, with critics arguing it could damage the marine ecosystem.

The regulator cited “a high degree of scientific uncertainty” about the impact on the white shark population.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it had weighed the potential impact of the plan against the need to maintain “the diversity, geographic distribution and viability” of marine life.

It made particular reference to the white shark, because it is listed as a “vulnerable” species.

Experts consulted by the EPA said there was “too much uncertainty in the available information and evidence about the south-western white shark population, population trends and the bycatch from commercial fisheries”.

“In view of these uncertainties, the EPA has adopted a cautious approach by recommending against the proposal,” EPA Chairman Dr Paul Vogel said.

The state government had sought to continue the programme each summer for three more years.

During the initial 13-week trial, from July to April 2014, more than 170 sharks were caught.

None were great white sharks, however, to whom most of the recent fatal attacks had been attributed.

State Premier Colin Barnett said he was disappointed at the decision but said an appeal was unlikely.

He said he believed beaches in Perth were safe but voiced concern about beaches in Western Australia’s south-west.

Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Friday, he suggested fisheries officers could be given powers to issue kill orders for large sharks lingering in popular swimming areas.

“I think if you have, I’d use the term rogue shark, a shark that stays in one area for repeated periods, I think we need to catch that shark and remove it,” he said.

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Shark attacks in Australia

  • New South Wales sees more attacks than any other state, followed by Queensland and Western Australia
  • The Northern Territory and Tasmania see the fewest attacks
  • Attacks in 2014: man killed at Byron Bay (Sept); woman killed at Tathra Beach, NSW (Apr); man killed off Goldsmith Beach, SA (Feb)
  • Attacks in 2013: man killed at Campbell’s Beach, NSW (Nov); man killed in Gracetown, WA (Nov)
  • Sept 2011-Jul 2012: five people killed off Western Australia’s beaches

Sources: Tarong.org.au, Australian media reports

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Australia raises terror threat level

Australian PM Tony Abbott in file image from 31 August 2014Mr Abbott warned of individuals with the “intent and capability” to mount attacks

Australia has raised its terrorism threat level from medium to high, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced.

The move comes in response to growing concern over the domestic impact of militant conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

Security officials were concerned by the growing number of Australians “working with, connected to or inspired by” Islamist groups, Mr Abbott said.

But he said that there was no specific intelligence regarding a planned attack.

“I want to stress that this does not mean that a terror attack is imminent. We have no specific intelligence of particular plots,” he told a press conference.

“What we do have is intelligence that there are people with the intent and capability to mount attacks here in Australia.”

Officials say dozens of Australians have gone to fight for jihadist groups such as Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (also known as the al-Nusra Front) in the Middle East.

They are worried about the impact of both returning fighters and supporters of these groups on domestic security.

Australian Federal Police outside the iQraa Islamic Centre in Underwood, a suburb of Brisbane, Australia, 10 September 2014Earlier this week police raided a Brisbane Islamic centre and arrested two men on terrorism charges

Iraqi security forces and civilians inspect the site of a suicide attack at a mosque in the Shorja market area in central BaghdadAustralian authorities said an 18-year-old Australian was behind a suicide attack in Baghdad in July

‘Elevated concern’

It is the first time Australia has moved from medium to high – the second-highest rank – since the threat level system was introduced in 2003.

“Medium” means an attack could occur. It is followed by “high”, which means an attack is likely and then extreme, meaning an attack is imminent or has occurred.

Mr Abbott said that while the move would not make a great difference to daily life, people could notice more security at airports, ports, military bases, government buildings and large public events.

Earlier this week, Australia’s top spy David Irvine said that the threat had been building over the past year and he had an “elevated level of concern”.

Officials say at least 60 Australians are believed to be fighting with jihadist groups in Syria and northern Iraq, and 15 Australians have been killed so far in these conflicts, including two suicide bombers.

About 100 more Australians are thought to be actively supporting these groups, they say.

In response, Australia has restricted citizens from travelling to certain areas to join militant groups, and is installing new counter-terrorism units and biometric screening at all international airports.

On Wednesday, police raided an Islamic centre in Queensland and arrested two men.

Both have been charged with offences linked to recruiting, facilitating and funding people to travel to Syria to engage in hostile activities.

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Australia make changes against Pumas

Australia have recalled hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau among three changes for Saturday’s Rugby Championship match against Argentina.

Polota-Nau, 29, has been brought in to help counter the Pumas’ driving forward play while Peter Betham and Ben McCalman also start.

Argentina have also made three changes with Juan Imhoff, Manuel Montero and rookie Matias Alemanno coming in.

The Wallabies have not lost to Argentina in eight Tests over 17 years.

Australia are third in the four-team championship with six points from three games, while Argentina are bottom with two points.

Australia:

Folau, Betham, Kuridrani, Toomua, Horne, Foley, Phipps, McCalman, Hooper (capt), Fardy, Simmons, Carter, Kepu, Polota-Nau, Slipper. Replacements: Hanson, Cowan, Alexander, Horwill, Higginbotham, Hodgson, White, Beale.

Argentina:

Tuculet, Imhoff, Bosch, Hernandez, Montero, Sanchez, Landajo, Senatore, Leguizamon, Lobbe, Alemanno, Galarza, Herrera, Creevy (capt), Ayerza. Replacements: Cortese, Postiglioni, Chaparro, Macome, Baez, Cubelli, De la Fuente, Amorosino.

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Australia police in explosives error

Passengers sit with their luggage while waiting to board a flight in the domestic terminal at Sydney Airport on Wednesday, 27 August, 2014The suitcase was given to a woman at Sydney Airport after her luggage was damaged on a flight

Australian police have apologised after leaving a device containing explosives in a bag at Sydney Airport for a month.

The device, which was hidden in a suitcase as part of a dog training exercise, contained 230g of plastic explosives, a police statement read.

The suitcase was given to a woman travelling through the airport on Tuesday afternoon after her bag was damaged during a flight, it said.

After discovering the training device, she took it to a police station.

Police officers evacuated the building as a safety precaution and traced the explosives back to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

Federal police said that the device – hidden in an unclaimed suitcase during a training exercise on 14 August – was not live.

“The AFP takes this error seriously and the canine instructor who inadvertently left this device behind has been identified and will be the subject of a formal Professional Standards Investigation,” Federal Police Sydney Airport Commander Wayne Buchhorn said.

“Although the travelling public was not in danger at any time, we regularly review our processes in this area, and we will do again in the light of this incident.”

He also thanked the woman, her family and New South Wales police “for their assistance”.

Sydney Airport is the only major airport serving Sydney and is the busiest in Australia. It welcomes up to 37 million passengers a year.

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Australia police raid Islamic centre

Australian Federal Police outside the iQraa Islamic Centre in Underwood, a suburb of Brisbane, Australia, 10 September 2014The centre is located in an area south of Brisbane, which is due to host the G20 summit in November

Police in Australia have raided an Islamic centre in Queensland, a day after the country’s spy chief said he was considering upgrading the terror threat level.

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences, reports said.

Authorities said the men were “involved in recruiting, facilitating, and funding people to travel to Syria to engage in hostile activities”.

Australia is working to stop people joining Middle East jihadist groups.

The two men, aged 21 and 31, were arrested at the iQraa Islamic Centre south of Brisbane.

Both would be charged with preparing for incursions into Syria, Australian reports said. The 21-year-old would be charged with recruiting fighters to join the conflict, while the 31-year-old would be charged with providing funds to militant group Jabhat al-Nusra.

The men were not suspected of planning attacks in Australia, a federal police spokesman said.

‘Harmless’

Witnesses said that police arrived early on Wednesday morning with a locksmith to access the centre, which sells books, gifts and clothing, according to Fairfax Media.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said police also raided a gym in the same area.

It reported that one of the centre’s founders is believed to be the brother of Abu Asma al Australi, who is suspected of being the first Australian suicide bomber to die in Syria.

But an iQraa employee denied that the Islamic centre and the two men were linked to terrorism.

He told ABC that the arrests happened because of the authorities’ “paranoia” and security concerns for the G20 summit, due to be held in Brisbane in November.

A customer also told the AAP that the two men were “born and bred” Australians and the centre is “harmless”.

Australian Federal Police stands outside the iQraa Islamic Centre in Underwood, a suburb of Brisbane, Australia, 10 September 2014.Federal police guarded the centre as it was being searched on Wednesday

This picture released by the Australia Prime Minister Office on 5 August 2014 shows Prime Minister Tony Abbott (centre) speaking at a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Attorney General George Brandis (right) in CanberraPM Tony Abbott (C) announced new travel restrictions to some conflict-hit areas in early August

Authorities have previously said that 100 or more people in Australia were “actively supporting” militant groups fighting in the Middle East.

The raid took place a day after the head of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation, David Irvine, said he was assessing whether to raise the threat level.

Australia has been at “medium” since the threat level system was introduced in 2003, according to the country’s national security website.

“Medium” means an attack could occur. It is followed by “high”, which means an attack is likely and is the second highest threat level.

Mr Irvine told the ABC that the threat had been building in Australia over the past year and he had an “elevated level of concern”.

He said this was due to “the numbers of people we are now having to be concerned about in Australia, because of the influence of Syria and Iraq on young Australians both in terms of going to those places to fight, but also in terms of what they are doing here in Australia with a potential intent to attack”.

Officials have said that at least 60 Australians are believed to be fighting with jihadist groups in Syria and northern Iraq, and 15 Australians have been killed so far from those conflicts including two suicide bombers.

Australia has moved to restrict citizens from travelling to certain areas to join militant groups, and is in the midst of installing counter-terrorism units and biometric screening at all international airports.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-29137910#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

VIDEO: Man dies in Australia shark attack

A 50-year-old man has been killed in a shark attack off a beach in Byron Bay, the most easterly point on the Australian mainland, officials say.

The man sustained severe injuries on his right leg at the popular tourist destination in New South Wales.

A swimmer brought him in to the beach but he was pronounced dead.

New South Wales Police closed the beach, and people are being warned to stay out of the water.

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