Grandmother’s hope for answers: Inquest set to start into one of WA’s most baffling cases

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 Phil Hickey

Answers. All Cathy McDougall and her family want are answers. For 10 years, they’ve had very little.

It was over a decade ago that Ms McDougall’s grand-daughter Leela vanished without a trace, along with her mother Chantelle and two other men.

Leela was just five-and-a-half years-old when she and her mother, Tony Popic and Simon Kadwell, disappeared from the picturesque WA town of Nannup in July 2007.

They left behind wallets, credit cards and dirty plates on the table at their Roberts Road property, about 11 kilometres south of the Nannup town-site.

A note reportedly left at the home said they were moving to Brazil. They have never been seen or heard from since.

Ten years on, a coronial inquest into their baffling disappearance will begin in Busselton next Wednesday.
The three day inquest is expected to focus heavily on Kadwell’s links to a bizarre and disturbing underground cult.

Kadwell – who was was also Leela’s father and Chantelle’s partner – was reportedly linked to a cult based on a doomsday book called Servers of the Divine Plan, which called on “servers” to take up their positions on Earth before the world’s imminent end and rebirth.

It has also emerged in recent years Kadwell’s real name was in fact Gary Felton.

He, Chantelle and Leela lived in a small weatherboard house, while Popic lived in his own caravan parked adjacent to the house.

Ms McDougall, who lives in Victoria, told WAtoday she hoped the three day inquest would finally give her and her family some answers as to what happened.

She will fly into WA next week with her husband Jim to listen in on the hearing.

The last time Ms McDougall saw her daughter and grand-daughter was in May 2007 at their Nannup home, shortly before they disappeared.

Ms McDougall recalled how several visitors came to the home during her stay and how a package arrived at the house, which she thought might have been Leela’s passport.

“When I was there in May they had visitors and they did not have visitors very often, so I reckon someone must know something,” she said.

“While I was there a package came and that was apparently Leela’s passport.

“I could not quite hear, but Gary came in and Chantelle asked ‘what was the package’ and he said ‘oh its Leela’s passport.’

“That’s what it sounded like to me…he took it and he put it away.

“I started to think that was a bit strange.

“I was very worried because everything seemed a bit out of the ordinary.”

Earlier this year an age enhanced photograph of Leela – who would be 16 now – was one of six images put together by forensic artists from the United States National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

The image was released as part of International Missing Children’s Day.

“She (Leela) loved to dance around and play jokes and do all sorts of funny things,” Ms McDougall said.

“Her mother was like that when she was little.”

A fresh appeal on the case was made by police in 2013 through a Channel 10 television program.

In the program, detectives revealed how a man calling himself Tony Popic checked into the Underground Backpackers in Northbridge on July 15, 2007.

The next day, the same man is believed to have caught a train from Perth to Kalgoorlie.

Its understood the Missing Persons Unit within WA Police has been handling the case file recently.

Ms McDougall said although she had not been subpoenaed at this stage to give evidence at the inquest, she hoped to read a statement which she had written.

“There’s got to be someone who knows something,” she said.

“We are just hoping someone knows some clue, that can perhaps lead to another clue.”

Source  :  WA Today

Senator Katy Gallagher’s 2015 citizenship declaration to face ACT Assembly inquiry

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An ACT Legislative Assembly committee will investigate Labor Senator Katy Gallagher’s 2015 declaration stating that she was not a foreign citizen.

The inquiry is expected to investigate the Assembly’s two past nominations for Senate casual vacancies, including Senator Gallagher’s nomination, as part of a territory response to the widening citizenship crisis engulfing the federal parliament.

It follows an Opposition push for twin inquiries – one into the administrative process and a second “privileges” probe into Senator Gallagher’s nomination.

Greens leader Shane Rattenbury, who holds the balance of power in the Assembly, would not back a specific probe into Senator Gallagher’s nomination.

But he is expected to table an amendment on Thursday, to be backed by the Labor government and Liberal opposition, for a wider inquiry into the nominations process, the scope of which would take in Senator Gallagher’s nomination.

The Assembly has only filled two such casual vacancies since self-government, Senator Gallagher’s nomination in 2015 and former Liberal Senator Gary Humphries’ in 2003.

A copy of the amendment shows the inquiry would be largely administrative in nature, focussing on the Assembly’s process for nominations, given the constitutional crisis facing the federal parliament.

It will also consider such processes in other jurisdictions, whether the two nominations may be considered “in hindsight to be unsound” and what improvements could be made to the Assembly’s process.

Senator Gallagher, a former ACT chief minister, renounced any entitlement to British citizenship just before the 2016 election, acting on advice from Labor officials as she nominated for re-election.

But it is unclear whether she was eligible to fill a casual vacancy from March 2015 until she was elected in her own right in 2016, as her father was a British citizen.

Earlier this month, former Home Office lawyer Phillip Gamble said she likely would have acquired British nationality by operation of law at her birth.

Senator Gallagher has refused to say when moves to renounce entitlement to UK dual citizenship were officially confirmed by British authorities.

But she has said she was advised that submitting a renunciation ahead of the 2016 election, on April 20 last year, meant she had taken “all reasonable steps to renounce any entitlement to British citizenship”.

The inquiry will report back to the Assembly in March next year.


Source  :  The Canberra Times

Brindabella Christian College board sacks principal, warns of devil’s actions

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The board of Brindabella Christian College has suddenly sacked the school’s principal and warned parents “the devil has his sights on Christian education” as the federal government prepares to legislate for same-sex marriage.

Ousted principal Bruce Handley has taken the school’s board to the Fair Work Commission after being booted early this month.

His firing came after a four-page statement was sent to Brindabella parents in September urging a “no” vote in the same-sex marriage survey.

Although Mr Handley’s name appeared at the end of the letter, his wife later distanced the family from the document, writing on social media it did not represent her or her husband’s views as “we believe Christians can vote ‘yes'”.

Many parents later contacted The Canberra Times to say they believed Mr Handley did not write the letter.

“The decision came without warning and while I was waiting for the Fair Work Commission to deal with an application for an order to stop bullying that I had filed,” Mr Handley said this week.

Board chairman Greg Zwajgenberg, who was in America when the letter was sent, said its contents were written by Christian Education Australia but endorsed and distributed by Mr Handley.

He would not be drawn on why Mr Handley had lost his job but said it was unrelated to same-sex marriage legislation.

Former Brindabella Christian College principal Bruce Handley.

Former Brindabella Christian College principal Bruce Handley. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

To parents, Mr Zwajgenberg wrote: ” … the board of the college has now terminated Mr Bruce Handley’s three-year contract one year early, as a component of Bruce’s second yearly review.

“Bruce will not be returning to the college in 2018.

“This week we will be advertising nationally for a new dynamic, solid Christian principal to lead the college for the foreseeable future and we will keep everyone informed of our progress.”

Mr Handley, an experienced teacher who has held leadership roles in schools throughout Australia and overseas, said it was “obviously a very upsetting time for me and my family”.

“There are new proceedings that have now been commenced against the college and that’s probably as much as I’d like to say at this time,” he said.

A number of parents have pulled their children from Brindabella Christian School since the “no” letter was sent. Two families Fairfax Media spoke with said their children had been subjected to lectures on the same-sex marriage survey and felt alienated after expressing dissenting views.

A letter sent by Mr Zwajgenberg this week confirmed one family’s decision to remove their children from the school. The memo asked the school community to keep Brindabella Christian College in its prayers as the devil circled on Christian schools.

“There is a perfect storm coming for Christian education in Australia by way of differing views on clarifications with respect to religious freedoms and the devil has his sights set on Christian education through changing legislation and secular attitudes,” Mr Zwajgenberg’s letter said.

One parent removing their children from the school said: “We had hoped that a Christian education would involve actively demonstrating love and support for all members of the community.

“The letter sent yesterday showed that the chairman of the board feels Christian education is more about alienating outsiders who are viewed as a threat.”

Speaking on Wednesday after the Senate passed a bill in favour of same-sex marriage, Mr Zwajgenberg said Brindabella’s position on religious freedoms and same-sex marriage was well-known.

“Our position has always been very clear on Christian teaching and freedoms of religion, so from our particular perspective there’s nothing more to add other than Merry Christmas.”


Source  :  The Canberra Times

94.4% Saudis satisfied with Crown Prince

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Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — An overwhelming 94.4 percent of Saudis are satisfied with the performance of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, according to a poll conducted by the SMT Studies Center, an independent center for the study of new developments and events in the Middle East region and Arab countries.

Some 92 percent of people surveyed approve the decision of his appointment as the Crown Prince, thinking it will further empower the youth.

Some 88 percent view him as someone with great leadership capabilities.

The poll was conducted through face-to-face interviews with participants, who included an equal number of men and women aged 18 years and above from various regions of the Kingdom.

The poll, which has an error margin of only 3 percent, was conducted between Nov. 18 and 22. Most of the participants — 91.75 percent —are supportive of the decisions taken to empower women and the rights given to them.

In September hundreds of women were allowed to enter a sports stadium in Riyadh in a one-off event to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s National Day.

The authorities also announced that it will allow women into sports stadiums from next year.

The announcement is in line with Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman’s social and economic reforms, including the historic decision to allow women to drive from next June.

Some 95.25 percent of the participants in the SMT Studies Center poll view the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 as very important and the best way for substantial economic reforms.

The Vision aims to make the Saudi economy one of the most powerful in the world.

Some 97.5 percent of the participants supported the recent anti-corruption decisions.

Earlier this month, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman issued a royal decree forming a supreme committee headed by the Crown Prince to tackle corruption in public finance.

The Committee identifies offenses, crimes, persons and entities involved in cases of public corruption.

An overwhelming 99 percent of the people surveyed by the SMT Studies Center agree that internal stability should take precedence over the education and health sectors.

Some 80.25 percent of the participants support the recent public sector changes, including the formation of the General Entertainment Authority.

A total of 98 percent of the participants support the Crown Prince’s decision to expose and fight potential threats such as Iran and terrorist organizations.


Source  :  Saudi Gazette

Saudi Arabia name Juan Antonio Pizzi as coach

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Riyadh: Former Chile boss Juan Antonio Pizzi was named as Saudi Arabia’s head coach on Tuesday, after Edgardo Bauza’s removal last week.

Pizzi will lead Saudi Arabia at the FIFA World Cup 2018, having resigned as Chile coach after failing to take the two-time defending Copa America champions to Russia.

Pizzi, an  Argentinian, takes over a Saudi team that Dutchman Bert van Marwijk led to  World Cup qualification before leaving in September. Bauza, another Argentinian, took over but his short stay was ended last week.

Former Barcelona striker Pizzi, 49, coached Chile to the 2016 Copa America title and also coached Valencia between 2013-14.

“We wanted Pizzi because of his achievements in the past and his ambitions for the future,” Saudi Arabian Football Federation President Abdel bin Mohammed Ezzat said in a statement.

“We will do all we can to support him during preparations for the World Cup.”

Pizzi will represent Saudi Arabia at the World Cup draw in Moscow on Friday, as the West Asian nation prepare for a first Finals appearance since 2006.

Saudi Arabia, whose best World Cup effort came with a run to the last 16 on their tournament debut in 1994, booked their ticket for Russia by finishing second to Japan in Group B of the Asian Qualifiers.

Source: AFP

Bauza removed as Saudi Arabia coach

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Riyadh: After just five matches in charge of the Saudi Arabia national team, the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) has announced that head coach Edgardo Bauza has been sacked.

The Argentinian replaced Bert van Marwijk just over two months ago, but the SAFF has decided to go in a different direction, having undergone a period of evaluation on Bauza’s time with the team.

Bauza’s short stint in charge of the Saudis included a 2-0 victory over Latvia and a 5-2 win over Jamaica, but also defeats to Ghana (3-0), Portugal (3-0) and Bulgaria (1-0); the last two during FIFA’s latest international fixtures window.

The decision comes a few days before the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Final Draw takes place in Moscow on December 1, where Saudi Arabia will be in Pot 4.

Van Marwijk helped the Green Falcons qualify for Russia 2018, which will be their fifth FIFA World Cup and first since Germany 2006.

Saudi Arabia will be attempting to surpass their greatest performance at the world finals, which came at USA 1994 when they reached the Round of 16, only to lose to Sweden 3-1.

The federation have not announced Bauza’s replacement.

Also seeking a replacement ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2018 for a head coach are Australia, after Ange Postecoglou announced his resignation on Wednesday.


Tokyo condos shutting doors on home-sharing lodging businesses

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By Hidetoshi Takada


With more foreign travelers keen on renting Japanese private homes amid an inbound tourist boom, residents in high-rise condominiums are doing the opposite of what one might expect: forbidding home-sharing services due to concerns about security and living conditions around their properties.

Daisuke Shimada, 54, leads a tenants’ association group that campaigns against residents or owners of condos using their homes as “minpaku,” or paid-for accommodation. He has been president of the building’s home owners association for eight years. Its members, all of whom are condo owners, have given home-sharing services the thumbs down.

“Having tight security is one the benefits of living here. We’re not prepared to deal with any trouble caused by unfamiliar visitors” from around the country or abroad, said Shimada, referring to the 44-story Apple Tower building whose amenities include hot spring baths in each apartment and stunning views of Tokyo Bay.

Residents of the condo located in the Shinonome area, which is one of several luxury buildings adjacent to the area that will host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, say they worry about noise and other trouble, such as visitors not complying with garbage disposal rules.

APA Community, a condo management firm, oversees about 30 housing complexes in the capital.

“Almost all of those under our management service in Tokyo have drawn up new regulations forbidding home-sharing and paid-for accommodations,” said Yuichiro Fujimoto, 36, in charge of management services at the Apple Tower. The firm checks home-sharing websites almost monthly to ensure Apple Tower apartments are not listed.

Some home owners associations in the neighboring Ariake district, where high-income individuals have purchased apartments as investment property, have taken similar measures to prohibit owners from renting out their properties for profits. They say they are wary of unfamiliar people staying in the properties.

The district is known for its iconic night-time harbor views, featuring Rainbow Bridge, which connects Tokyo with the artificial island of Odaiba, across Tokyo Bay.

Japan has seen an increase in demand for lodgings amid a surge in foreign visitors combined with a shortage of hotels and inns. The number of overseas visitors has grown by an average of 34 percent annually from 2011 to 2016. From January to October this year, it surpassed the record of over 24 million logged the previous year and the figure is expected to top the government target of 40 million in 2020.

Home-sharing service providers such as Airbnb Inc. and similar local businesses have played a key role in catering for this increasing demand for sheltering inbound tourists.

But having visitors stay in private housing without the permission of local authorities is illegal under Japan’s existing lodging business law, except in designated areas for minpaku accommodation approved by the central government.

However, the current legal framework has not prevented headaches for neighbors of housing units used to accommodate travelers.

According to a 2016 survey by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, 83.5 percent of private lodgings are run without authorization, or under the radar of local authorities. In more than half of the cases, local authorities are unable to contact housing owners or operators, another survey by the ministry showed.

Amid a suspicion of unlawful businesses, complaints by residents and public authorities, such as police and fire departments, to municipal governments nationwide ballooned to 10,849 in the year to March, up 1,413 from a year earlier, in line with widespread familiarity of the new business.

Rumi Yamazaki, sales promotion manager at a property investment consulting firm in Tokyo, said at a seminar for investors that gross revenue per square meter from private lodging businesses is 4.8 times higher than normally rented rooms.

In June this year, the Diet (Japan’s parliament) enacted a law that allows property owners across the country to rent out vacant homes or rooms to tourists for up to 180 days per year after notifying municipalities. The law will come into force next June.

Prior to this move, Sumitomo Realty & Development Co, the country’s largest supplier of condos and apartments, had included a ban on paid-for accommodation in a regulation draft for some condos and apartments it has sold since April 2015.

Some home owners associations at existing condos have also revised regulations on home-sharing, following proposals by Sumitomo’s housing management firm affiliate. Security appears to be a major source of concern.

“Security is supposed to be ensured by multiple measures at a condo. The home owners association assumes to know who lives there,” said Toshiya Suzuki, spokesman for Sumitomo. “Security systems will collapse internally if many unspecified persons are allowed to enter the property.”

Tokyo’s Koto Ward, which encompasses about 3,700 private housing buildings, including a number of high-rise condos in the Tokyo Bay area, opened a reception counter for condo regulation revisions in late September.

Similar moves have been seen in a majority of Tokyo’s 23 wards after the government proposed a revised prototype of the home owners associations’ regulations in late August, which aims to encourage measures to prevent trouble in the private accommodation business ahead of the new law’s enforcement next June.

Hideaki Umemura, head of the housing division at Koto Ward office, said, “Some locals tell us they recently have seen unfamiliar foreigners frequenting private housing buildings,” he said, adding that some have made requests to strictly ban minpaku in their buildings.

The Mizuho Research Institute said in its latest report that a hotel shortage in Japan would continue toward 2020, adding that Tokyo may face a serious shortfall around the Olympics and Paralympics.

But back at Apple Tower, for Shimada, peace of mind outweighs meeting the increasing accommodation demand — especially if home-sharing businesses are flouting regulations and buying properties only to reap profits.

“There is no guarantee that every single resident and owner will follow our regulations,” said Shimada. “Our owners association will issue an advisory to stop such practices first and prepare for lawsuits as a next step. With the central and local governments boosting minpaku business, we are concerned that professionals or entities in the private lodging business might launch their services by buying rooms here.”


Japan to face N Korea in politically charged soccer game

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By John Thys


Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic said Wednesday he would rely on local-based players at next month’s East Asian championships, where the hosts clash with North Korea in a politically charged opener.

Halilhodzic, who has one eye on next summer’s World Cup in Russia, has buried the hatchet with Kashima Antlers striker Mu Kanazaki after overlooking him since the player threw a tantrum in a J.League game more than a year ago.

Japan are set to lock horns with North Korea in Tokyo on December 9 against the backdrop of a string of missile launches — its latest came early on Wednesday — and its sixth nuclear test in September.

South Korea and China are also taking part in the four-team competition.

Kanazaki’s return to the international fold gives a welcome boost to a Japan side who lacked a cutting edge in front of goal during the 2018 Asian qualifiers. Midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake comes in after rejoining Cerezo Osaka following a spell in Europe.

Events on the pitch are likely to be overshadowed by politics given tensions between the competing nations, but Halilhodzic has demanded nothing less than victory from the Blue Samurai.

“We’re playing at home so our aim has to be to win the title,” the firebrand Franco-Bosnian told reporters.

“This is part of our preparations for next year, so we have to play with ambition.”

The biennial East Asian tournament was first held in 2003 when South Korea won the first of their three titles, a year after reaching the semifinals of the World Cup as co-hosts with Japan.

© 2017 AFP

Source  :  Japan Today

Sumo grand champion Harumafuji retires over assault

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Grand champion Harumafuji put an end to his 17-year sumo career on Wednesday after admitting to injuring a lower-ranked wrestler in an assault that has tarnished anew the image of Japan’s ancient sport, which has been rocked by a series of scandals over the years.

The Mongolian yokozuna — speaking next to his stablemaster Isegahama who could not hold back tears — said in a press conference held in Fukuoka he was retiring to take responsibility and avoid damaging the reputation of a top-ranked wrestler.

“I take responsibility as a yokozuna for injuring Takanoiwa and hereby announce my retirement. I offer my apologies to the Japanese people, the Japan Sumo Association and all those who supported me,” Harumafuji said before taking a long bow.

Harumafuji revealed that he was trying to fulfill his off-the-ring duty by teaching his junior disciple manners but he “took things a bit too far” when he hit the 27-year-old Takanoiwa.

Harumafuji is said to have struck the eighth-ranked maegashira during a drinking event at a restaurant-bar in the western Japan city of Tottori during a regional tour in late October.

It was initially reported he used a beer bottle, but informed sources said Harumafuji told Tottori police that he used his palms, fists and a karaoke machine remote control.

“I did it for his sake. I wanted to teach him courtesy and civility. I scolded him out of my obligation as a senior wrestler but I hurt him and the sumo association, the fans and my support group,” he said.

“I have never been told I have a drinking problem. This incident did not happen because I had had alcohol.”

Separate sources said Harumafuji was angered by Takanoiwa attempting to use his smartphone while being scolded for his behavior by yokozuna Hakuho, who was also at the scene.

Police have questioned Harumafuji on a voluntary basis as well as others, including Hakuho. Harumafuji could be referred to prosecutors by the end of the year on suspicion of assault, according to investigative sources.

The latest incident comes at a time when sumo was just regaining its popularity after a number of scandals.

In 2007, police arrested stablemaster Tokitsukaze and three wrestlers for beating 17-year-old Tokitaizan to death using a beer bottle, a wooden stick and a metal bat. The junior wrestler died from shock after suffering multiple injuries.

Three years later, Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu retired from the sport following allegations that he attacked a man outside a Tokyo nightclub in the middle of the New Year tournament.

In a separate scandal also in 2010, a mafia-linked gambling racket resulted in the dismissal of popular ozeki Kotomitsuki and the suspension of a slew of wrestlers at the Nagoya meet in July of that year.

Harumafuji said Takanoiwa came to apologize to him the day after the incident and the two shook hands, so he was surprised when he discovered it had turned into a scandal. Still, the 33-year-old did not make excuses and explained why he waited to speak out.

“As a yokozuna I did something I should not have. I hurt Takanoiwa. I wanted to wait till the end of the basho to make the announcement,” he said.

The JSA accepted his resignation letter filed by Isegahama Wednesday morning, and Harumafuji wrapped up the half hour press conference by reflecting on his successful career that came to a bitter end.

“Ever since I crossed the sea at the age of 16, oyakata (stablemaster) and okamisan (stablemaster’s wife) took me under their guidance and taught me not to get in people’s way. I will always remember that,” he said.

“I love the country of Japan and the people of Japan. I must say thank you, thank you, thank you. I love sumo. A sumo wrestler should not only be strong but one who touches people’s hearts by offering courage and hope through sumo.”

Meanwhile, Isegahama called the scandal a “mystery” and said he has never known his disciple to be one affected by alcohol.

“I don’t understand how this happened and it’s very regrettable. But what happened happened. We can’t blame anyone else but him (Harumafuji). I am truly sorry to the fans and members of the JSA. Please accept my deepest apologies,” Isegahama said.

Harumafuji, one of four wrestlers in the highest rank in the latest “banzuke” ranking list, does not have the option of retaining his membership in the JSA as a stablemaster as he does not have Japanese citizenship.

Takanoiwa missed the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament in Fukuoka that ended Sunday after being diagnosed with head injuries including a suspected fracture at the base of his skull and cerebrospinal fluid leak. He will also skip the winter regional tour that starts Dec. 3, the JSA said.

Harumafuji also withdrew from the tournament on the third day following media reports of the assault.

Since his professional debut in 2001 under the ring name Ama, Harumafuji, whose real name is Davaanyam Byambadorj, has won nine titles, his last coming at the autumn meet in September when he was the only yokozuna competing.

His record of 712 wins is the sixth-best by any makuuchi division wrestler to date.

Harumafuji was 86 kilograms (190 pounds) at the time of his first weigh-in as a 16-year-old, but he is now 137 kilograms (302 pounds), still one of the lightest in the sport’s top division.

In September 2012, he earned promotion to yokozuna, becoming the third consecutive Mongolian-born wrestler after Asashoryu and Hakuho to achieve the top rank.


Source  :  Japan Today