Etihad Airways to end flights to Tehran in January

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Filed on December 19, 2017 | Last updated on December 19, 2017 at 07.28 pm

The airline has asked affected passengers to switch to an alternative travel date between December 25 and January 23, or be refunded.

Etihad Airways will scrap flights to Tehran on January 24, the latest route to be dropped as the Abu Dhabi airline pursues a strategy review.

The airline launched the review in 2016 that has also seen it sell or step away from investments in foreign carriers.

Etihad’s five weekly flights to Iran’s capital will be reduced to two a week between December 25 and January 23, before it suspends the route entirely on January 24, an airline spokeswoman said.

She declined to say why the route was being suspended, but said in a statement that affected passengers could switch to an alternative travel date between December 25 and January 23, or be refunded.

Since launching the strategy review, Etihad has said it would cut flights to San Francisco and Dallas-Fort Worth in the US.

The airline has regretted for inconvenience caused to passengers with existing bookings.

Passengers holding bookings for travel up to January 23 and affected by the schedule change will be re-booked with an alternative travel date (subject to availability) or offered the choice of a full refund.

Passengers with bookings from January 24 will be offered a full refund.

Britain’s top defence buyer Tony Douglas will join Etihad next month as its new group chief executive, as the airline rethinks its rapid expansion strategy.

Two of Etihad’s major foreign investments, Air Berlin and Italy’s Alitalia, filed for administration this year.

Douglas, who joins Etihad from Britain’s Ministry of Defence, has previously served as chief executive of Abu Dhabi’s airport company.

Etihad has made few details public about its strategy review, which since being launched has seen the departure of its James Hogan, its group chief executive who led the airline for a decade.

(with inputs from Ashwani Kumar)


Source  :  The Khaleej Times

Teen pleads guilty to raping, bashing elderly Perth woman

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A 15-year-old Perth boy has pleaded guilty to raping, bashing and robbing an elderly Waikiki woman aged in her 80s.

The boy entered the woman’s house on October 13 and sexually penetrated her three times during the home invasion.

Appearing in Perth Children’s Court on Tuesday via video link from Banksia Hill Detention Centre, the boy slouched in his chair at times biting his nails as his eight charges were read to him.

He admitted to entering the elderly woman’s home, indecently and unlawfully assaulting her, raping her, using violence to obtain money and doing bodily harm to her.

Prosecutors recommended the boy be sentenced by the Children’s Court president due to the “very serious” nature of the charges.

 He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at a later date, pending the completion of a neuropsychological report.


Source  : WA Today

WACA curator Matt Page was taken to hospital after being knocked over by covers

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DECEMBER 19 2017 – 3:52PM

Justin Chadwick

The WACA pitch debacle was a big headache for curator Matt Page – literally.

Page was taken to hospital with concussion on Monday after being wiped out by his own pitch coverings during the recently-concluded Ashes Test in Perth.

In video footage that has since gone viral, Page was standing to the side of the wicket when a big gust of wind blew away the huge centre square covering.

As it became airborne, he took a step towards it in a bid to stop it from blowing away.

Rain and a wet pitch delayed play on Monday.

But he instantly realised he was no match for the giant tarpaulin, and was violently bowled over by it.

England captain Joe Root was also near the pitch at the time, and hid behind burly umpire Paul Wilson to avoid being cleaned up.

WACA chief executive Christina Matthews revealed Page had to be taken to hospital later that day.

AFP investigating itself after details of arrest accidentally broadcast

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 Rachel Clun

 The Australian Federal Police is investigating itself after details of an operation to arrest an alleged North Korean agent were accidentally broadcast on social media.

AFP officers arrested a 59-year-old Sydney man on Sunday and charged him, alleging he had tried to arrange the sale of North Korean missile parts.

But days before the man’s arrest, the AFP’s media team broadcast a minute-long discussion on live-video streaming app Periscope of how they would manage media surrounding the event.

The Periscope clip was recorded by The West Australian – whose report included details on the timing of the arrest, and whether Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull or opposition leader Bill Shorten would need to be briefed.

In the audio, an officer was heard saying AFP officers were “not going in all guns blazing, it’s only half-a-dozen people and a forensic van”.

Another AFP officer can be heard saying they needed to take into account what politicians would need to know.

“We just need to recognise that the PM will be standing up at some time on Sunday to talk about Bennelong [by-election], as will Shorten.”

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration :  Matt Goldin

According to the newspaper, the broadcast remained on the AFP Periscope page until they notified media officers it was still there.

An AFP spokesman confirmed part of an office conversation was accidentally broadcast via their Periscope account on Wednesday, December 13.

“The incident occurred when testing a piece of social media broadcasting equipment,” the spokesman said.

“Steps have been taken to ensure such incidents will not occur again.

“The matter has been referred to the AFP’s Security area for review. As such, no further comment will be made at this time.”

At the time of the arrest on Sunday, AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said the case was an Australian first.

He said the AFP allege the man had been acting “to serve some higher patriotic purpose” to raise funds for North Korea, and could have raised tens of millions of dollars if successful.

“This case is like nothing we have ever seen on Australian soil,” Assistant Commissioner Gaughan said.

The man, named as Chan Han Choi, is understood to have been born in South Korea but has lived in Australia for three decades as a naturalised citizen.

He was charged with offences relating to being a broker and economic agent for the North Korean regime, including two under Australia’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act 1995.

The man is expected to appear in Central Local Court next week.


Source  :  WA Today

Father arrested for attempting to murder his newborn

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By Nader Al-Enizi

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

TABUK — A father was arrested for attempting to murder his newborn son on Monday in public in Dhibaa Governorate.

A father snuck into Al-Muwailih School’s courtyard with his newborn son and a blade in his hand. He laid down his son on the courtyard’s floor raising his blade to slaughter him. The man yelled out that he will slaughter his son as that is what his inner voice was telling him to do.

The teachers, students and staff at the school were horrified by the sight they were witnessing and immediately and tactfully interfered to save the newborn.

Tabuk Police Director Maj. Gen. Mohammad Al-Tamimi said the incident was reported to the police and the police immediately responded taking in the newborn and giving him back to his mother. The father was arrested and is being analyzed for any mental illnesses.

“The father has been previously arrested and he was diagnosed with mental issues. Emir of Tabuk Prince Fahd Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz supervised the incident and ordered a full sociological and psychological report of the state of the entire family of the newborn,” said Al-Tamimi.

The school’s principal Wael Al-Aqbi said that the school was guarded and sealed but the father snuck through one of the corners that was under construction.

“I told the teachers and staff to try to pull him away from the newborn while I report the incident to the police. They surrounded him throwing their shumagh and igaal at him. The father started to get dizzy and lost consciousness. That allowed the teachers to immediately snatch the baby away to secure him from his the father. We gave the newborn to his uncle,” said Al-Aqbi.

Lawyer Ibrahim Al-Basha said the father is subject to a month to a year of imprisonment. He added that the father is a direct threat to the child when he should be his protector. The father should lose custody of the child.


Source  :  Saudi Gazette

Improving citizens’ living standards a priority

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Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, affirmed that improving the living standard of citizens is at the heart of the government’s efforts to diversify the economy and achieve financial stability through stimulus packages to the private sector and generating more jobs for Saudis.

In a press statement following the announcement of the state budget for the fiscal year 2018, the Crown Prince said the allocation in the budget for public spending amounted to more than SR1.1 trillion.

“The announcement about the largest government spending program in the history of the Kingdom is a strong indication of the success of our efforts in improving public financial management, despite the decline in oil prices.”

Crown Prince Muhammad said the economic reform programs under Vision 2030 are beginning to achieve tangible results. Approximately 50 percent of this year’s budget will be financed from non-oil sources of income.

He stressed that the 2018 expansionary budget included a comprehensive set of new development initiatives aimed at achieving financial and economic stability.

“Vision 2030 is to stimulate the main economic sectors, thus generating employment opportunities, improving basic services to citizens and developing infrastructure projects,” the Crown Prince said.

He pointed out that the expenditure of the public bodies in the country has been coordinated to achieve the development goals for the coming fiscal year.

“Expenditure will come from three main sources. Expenditure from the budget will reach SR978 billion. In addition, SR50 billion from development funds under the National Development Fund. The third source of capital is investment spending within the Kingdom from the Public Investment Fund (PIF) to fund its new and existing projects. The fund will reach SR83 billion in the next fiscal year, increasing total public expenditure to more than SR1.1 trillion in 2018.

The Crown Prince stressed that the government will do all it can to promote economic growth and improve the standard of living of citizens.

Spending of PIF for the coming year will lead to more economic development and create more job opportunities for citizens and help the private sector to open new fields of investment.

“The budget includes earmarked allocations for the provision of more residential products, and will support connecting 700,000 homes with fiber optic network to provide telecommunications services to help citizens get more services through high-speed Internet.


Source  :  Saudi Gazette

SR978 billion budget unveiled

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Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Tuesday unveiled the general budget for the fiscal year of 2018 at the special Council of Ministers session at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh.

Addressing the Cabinet, King Salman said the budget, which is the largest in the Kingdom’s history, focused on continuation of the Kingdom’s growth through diversification of its economic base.

The budget projects a historic spending of SR978 billion, an increase of 5.6 percent compared to the allocation of SR926 in the last budget.

According to data from the Ministry of Finance, the expected revenues during the next year is estimated at SR783 billion, compared to the revenues of SR696 billion in 2017, an increase of 12.5 percent.

There will be a 15 percent reduction in deficit, reaching SR195 billion in 2018 compared to SR230 billion in the current year.

The revenues from taxes on goods and services are expected to reach SR85 billion in 2018 while spending on the Citizen’s Account will be SR2.5 billion per month.

There will be a gradual imposition of levy on energy and water charges.

Expatriate worker fees will remain on their previously announced upward path without any adjustment.

Public spending in 2018 will include public budget spending as well as spending by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and other development funds.

The total spending of PIF and other development funds would reach SR133 billion in 2018.

Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, said the largest state budget in the Kingdom’s history is evidence of success despite low oil prices.


Source  :  Saudi Gazette

Mayor accused of sexually harassing woman says he’ll sue her, husband

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Tatsuya Hashimoto, the 63-year-old mayor of Awara city in Fukui Prefecture, who has been accused of sexually harassing a married woman, including kissing, hugging and licking her toes, said Monday that he plans on suing the woman and her husband over attempted extortion, local media reported.

Hashimoto revealed his intention at a press conference at Awara City Hall.

According to sources, Hashimoto plans on filing a suit against the woman and her husband in response to the couple’s request for financial compensation for Hashimoto’s alleged sexual assault which partially took place in his office at City Hall in 2013.

Hashimoto first met the woman at an event organized by the city in March 2013. He reportedly kissed her on their way back from the event, while the two were sharing a car. A few months later, Hashimoto invited the woman to meet him in his office, where he repeatedly embraced and kissed her lips and feet, and licked her toes, Japanese media reported.

The woman told her husband what happened and in August, the couple reportedly met with the mayor in person and requested 50 million yen from him in compensation for his actions. The couple are said to have also told Hashimoto that if he didn’t pay, they would leak the case to the media. Hashimoto never paid the money.

The case came to light earlier this month when Hashimoto held a press conference on December 12 during which he admitted to all the accusations against him, but stated that he believed the city hall affair had been consensual.

“There is no excuse for my actions,” Hashimoto told reporters. “There were inappropriate actions on my side and some of these actions took place at City Hall. I deeply regret (these actions) and profoundly apologize.

“I had the feeling that she liked me,” he added.

Despite apologizing to the public and the woman in person and after having sent a handwritten letter to her, the mayor continues to insist that he believes that he never acted against the woman’s will.

“I am still embarrassed; it was a frivolous act. But I thought it was consensual,” the mayor told Fukui Shimbun.

The woman told Fukui Shimbun on Dec 14 she never gave her consent to the mayor and that she was “never fond of him.”

© Japan Today

Source  :  Japan Today

Japan hangs 2 inmates; first executions since July

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Japan hanged two death-row inmates Tuesday morning, including a 44-year-old man who killed four people when he was a minor, the Justice Ministry said.

Teruhiko Seki became the second inmate to be hanged for a crime committed as a minor in the first such execution in 20 years, after Norio Nagayama, who killed four people when he was 19, was executed in 1997.

Seki was 19 when he killed a 42-year-old corporate executive, his wife, 36, their 4-year-old daughter and the executive’s 83-year-old mother, while injuring the only survivor, a daughter who was 15, in 1992. He also stole 340,000 yen from their house in Chiba Prefecture.

The other executed inmate Kiyoshi Matsui, a 69-year-old former plumber, killed his girlfriend and her parents in Gunma Prefecture in 1994.

Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa ordered the executions, the first since July.

Both Seki and Matsui had submitted requests for retrials, according to the ministry.

“These crimes were very heinous and utterly deplorable for the victims and their families. The death penalties were finalized following adequate trials in the courts. I gave orders to execute them after careful consideration,” said Kamikawa in a press conference.

Japan’s capital punishment policy has drawn international criticism, while the Japan Federation of Bar Associations has called for it to be abolished by 2020, demanding lifetime imprisonment instead.

Nagayama’s case created the so-called Nagayama standards, which take into account factors such as the number of victims, brutality and social impact of the crimes. The standards have been used in determining whether to apply the death sentence in murder cases.

“A minor is less able to judge things than adults and easily affected by family and social circumstances. It is not appropriate to put responsibilities on individual minors and they should not be executed,” said Yuji Ogawara of the bar association in charge of abolition of the death penalty.

Debate on abolishing the death penalty remains sluggish in Japan, though most developed countries have already done away with it.

The bar association adopted a proposal stating for the first time that it will work to abolish capital punishment at a meeting in October 2016, but met strong opposition from lawyers who support victims of murder cases.

More than 100 lawyers across the country this year sent an open letter to the chairman of the association, insisting the adopted proposal would cause confusion among lawyer members as there are arguments both for and against it.

Hidemichi Morosawa, a former principal of Tokiwa University, said it is “not appropriate” to avoid the death penalty based on “an unscientific reason that young people can restore their lives.” Capital punishment is inevitable, considering victims’ feelings and the effects of the crimes on society, he said.

Kamikawa has been reluctant to change the policy. She said in a press conference on her inauguration as justice minister in August, “I would like to carefully and strictly deal (with executions) in line with laws and with respect for judgments of the courts.”

She ordered the execution of one inmate when she filled the position of justice minister for about a year from October 2014.

In July this year, Kamikawa’s predecessor Katsutoshi Kaneda gave orders to hang two male inmates.

Kyodo News had previously withheld the name of Teruhiko Seki as he was a minor when the crimes were committed but named him after his execution.


Source  :  Japan Today

Japan to spend $2 bil on land-based Aegis missile defense system

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Japan formally decided on Tuesday it would expand its ballistic missile defense system with U.S.-made ground-based Aegis radar stations and interceptors in response to a growing threat from North Korean rockets.

A proposal to build two Aegis Ashore batteries was approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet.

The sites without the missiles will likely cost at least $2 billion and are not likely to be operational until 2023 at the earliest, sources familiar with the plan told Reuters earlier.

“North Korea’s nuclear missile development poses a new level of threat to Japan and as we have done in the past we will ensure that we are able to defend ourselves with a drastic improvement in ballistic missile defense,” Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

The decision to acquire the ground version of the Aegis missile-defense system, which is already deployed on Japanese warships, was widely expected.

North Korea on Nov 29 tested a new, more powerful ballistic missile that it says can hit major U.S. cities including Washington, and fly over Japan’s current defence shield.

That rocket reached an altitude of more than 4,000 km (2,485 miles), well above the range of interceptor missiles on Japanese ships operating in the Sea of Japan.

North Korea says its weapons programs are necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

The new Aegis stations may not, however, come with a powerful radar, dubbed Spy-6, which is being developed by the United States.

Without it, Japan will not be able to fully utilise the extended range of a new interceptor missile, the SM-3 Block IIA, which cost about $30 million each.

A later upgrade, once the U.S. military has deployed Spy-6 on its ships around 2022, could prove a costly proposition for Japan as outlays on new equipment squeeze its military budget.

Initial funding will be ring-fenced in the next defense budget beginning in April, but no decision has been made on the radar, or the overall cost, or schedule, of the deployment, a Ministry of Defense official said at a press briefing.

Japan’s military planners also evaluated the U.S.-built THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system before deciding on Aegis Ashore.

Onodera said this month Japan would acquire medium-range cruise missiles it can launch from its F-15 and F-35 fighters at sites in North Korea, in a bid to deter any attack.

The purchase of what will become the longest-range munitions in Japan’s military arsenal is controversial because it renounced the right to wage war against other nations in its post-World War Two constitution.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.

Source  :  Japan Today