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March 2020

Issam Alam to stay in gaol while NSW considers next step in Terrorism High Risk Offenders (THRO) Act

On 26 March 2020 the Supreme Court dismissed the State’s application to have Issam Alam placed on a three year Extended Supervision Order under the Terrorism High Risk Offenders (THRO) Act.

I'm told Department of Communities and Justice is obtaining advice on the prospects for a successful appeal.  It now has until 26 May to get that done.

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This story followed the Court's decision 4 days ago.

A violent offender who tattooed Islamic State on his arm has won his fight to go unchecked upon his release from prison later this year, even though a judge says he's a "dangerous menace" who's likely to reoffend.
The State of NSW on Thursday failed in its Supreme Court bid to have Issam Alam placed on a three-year supervision order under the Terrorism High Risk Offenders (THRO) Act when he is let out of jail.
Justice Helen Wilson said Alam, who has been in custody for most of the last decade and has a long criminal history, is "highly likely" to reoffend and posed a risk to the community.
However, it couldn't be proven that he was probable to commit a terrorism offence, she said, and dismissed the state's application.
"Whilst I think it is highly likely that the defendant will continue to engage in criminal conduct when released to the community, to the jeopardy of others, I am not able to conclude that he may pose an unacceptable risk to the community by engaging in the commission of a serious terrorism offence," Justice Wilson said.
NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman said he was seeking advice and considering appealing the decision.
"NSW makes no apology for having the toughest post-sentence detention and supervision laws in Australia," he said.
The State Parole Authority is scheduled to consider Alam's release on parole next week.
His two-year sentence for leading police on a car pursuit, a string of driving offences and assaulting a prison officer, will expire on May 26 when he must be let out.
The state's case was based on Alam's long criminal history and what it said were his links to Islamic State and violent extremist ideologies.
Alam disavowed having links to terrorism despite having "Da'ish" or "Daesh" - a name used to commonly refer to Islamic State - tattooed on his right forearm in Arabic script.
He told a psychologist he got the tattoo "after a dare from a friend" and had since altered the D to an R so it no longer had the same meaning.
In December 2018, police received a photograph of Alam with a raised index finger - a gesture known as "tawhid" or "oneness of God" - which has been co-opted by violent jihadists.
He is also a known friend of terrorist Talal Alameddin, who is serving a 14-year sentence for providing the gun used to kill NSW Police employee Curtis Cheng.
However, Alam stated they were just friends and had never discussed ideology or politics.
The court heard details of the western Sydney man's lengthy criminal history which included being jailed in 2010 after his fourth conviction for driving while disqualified.
He was also sent to prison for the same offence on another three occasions in 2016 and 2017.
He received further jail terms for firearm offences in 2012, assault in 2013 and stalking and intimidation charges in 2016.
Four months later, he had his sentence extended for three counts of common assault for throwing milk cartons full of human waste on custodial officers.
While locked up, he was accused of threatening to rape and behead a female corrections staff member after he was one of several inmates who discovered her address.
Justice Wilson said Alam was "highly likely to commit crime, and even violent crime, if released from prison without a regime of close supervision."
She also described him as a "dangerous menace" to police and prison authorities and his ability to acquire firearms was "deeply troubling, and presents as a significant cause for concern".
However, she said it wasn't able to be proven that he was a high risk of committing a terrorism offence.
 

 


Message from Tony Abbott about con-artists using his name in online scam

 
 
There are some really vicious people using my name to perpetrate fraud at this difficult time.

If you come across anything like this, please report it if you can, and then disregard it.

I am in no way associated with these schemes and products.

You can learn more about protecting yourself from scams by visiting the Australian Government's website: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/
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Malaysia tightens up its Movement Control Order over citizens and business

This was sent to me by readers JM and RB, Australians and readers living in Malaysia

 

Our Movement Control Order increasing:


Second phase - Movement Control Order
Press conference by Ismail Sabri 30 March 2020

New opening hours starting from 1 April 2020
1. All hypermarkets and supermarkets only 8am to 8pm
2. Eateries operating hours for packed food 8am to 8pm
3. Food delivery services 8am to 8pm
4. Petrol stations 8am to 8pm
5. Public transport 6am-10am, 5pm-10pm
6. ZTransportation of essential goods* i.e. food supplies etc 7pm-7am (encouraged)
7. Ehailing and taxis 6am-10pm
8. Price of face masks controlled at rm1.50 per piece
9. Roadblocks to be increased to 114 toll plazas nationwide
10. 828 arrested yesterday for MCO offences
11. 67,774 police/army personnel involved to increase when necessary
12. More measures to come in the coming days


Study! COVID-19 affects men/women more than all other genders combined

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BALTIMORE, MD—A new study by Johns Hopkins University found that the novel coronavirus is impacting men and women more than all the other genders combined.

According to the study, 100% of coronavirus cases have affected men and women and not a single other gender.

"It's incredible - we've found this virus is far more likely to affect biological males and biological females than any other biological gender," said Head of Gender Research Dr. Benji Charmin. "We thought the data had to be flawed, but we checked again and again, and sure enough, this thing is aggressively going after men and women and ignoring the other genders entirely."

He shrugged. "It's just science."

Progressives quickly applauded the virus for not attacking any of the other genders and only focusing on traditional, outdated, binary genders.

"Finally, a virus that ignores the demiboys, dragonkin, and those who identify as tater tots," said one activist in Portland. "It's about time the tables were turned. Thanks, COVID-19!" He then headed over to his local Communist cafe to lick a doorknob -- "just my little way of showing my gratitude."

 


Details of the Morrison Government's $1500 per fortnight Coronavirus wage subsidy - for 6 million workers

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The Morrison Government will provide a historic wage subsidy to around 6 million workers who will receive a flat payment of $1,500 per fortnight through their employer, before tax.

The $130 billion JobKeeper payment will help keep Australians in jobs as tackle the significant economic impact from the coronavirus.

The payment will be open to eligible businesses that receive a significant financial hit caused by the coronavirus.

The payment will provide the equivalent of around 70 per cent of the national median wage.

For workers in the accommodation, hospitality and retail sectors it will equate to a full median replacement wage.

The payment will ensure eligible employers and employees stay connected while some businesses move into hibernation. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the JobKeeper payment would bring the Government’s total economic support for the economy to $320 billion or 16.4 per cent of GDP.

“We will give millions of eligible businesses and their workers a lifeline to not only get through this crisis, but bounce back together on the other side,” the Prime Minister said. 

“This is about keeping the connection between the employer and the employee and keeping people in their jobs even though the business they work for may go into hibernation and close down for six months.

“When the economy comes back, these businesses will be able to start again and their workforce will be ready to go because they will remain attached to the business through our JobKeeper payment.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the country was about to go through one of the toughest times in its history.

“Businesses will close and people will lose their jobs. That is why we have doubled the welfare safety net,” the Treasurer said.

“However, today we are going even further. Australians know that their government has their back.

“That is why we are delivering an historic $130 billion JobKeeper payment to support businesses and to help Australians in a job.

“This will keep Australian workers connected with their employer and provide hope and more certainty during these difficult and challenging times.”

JobKeeper Payment

The JobKeeper Payment is a subsidy to businesses, which will keep more Australians in jobs through the course of the coronavirus outbreak. 

The payment will be paid to employers, for up to six months, for each eligible employee that was on their books on 1 March 2020 and is retained or continues to be engaged by that employer. 

Where a business has stood down employees since 1 March, the payment will help them maintain connection with their employees.

Employers will receive a payment of $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee. Every eligible employee must receive at least $1,500 per fortnight from this business, before tax.

The program will commence today, 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by eligible businesses in the first week of May as monthly arrears from the Australian Taxation Office. Eligible businesses can begin distributing the JobKeeper payment immediately and will be reimbursed from the first week of May. 

The Government will provide updates on further business cashflow support in coming days. 

Eligible employers will be those with annual turnover of less than $1 billion who self-assess that have a reduction in revenue of 30 per cent or more, since 1 March 2020 over a minimum one-month period. 

Employers with an annual turnover of $1 billion or more would be required to demonstrate a reduction in revenue of 50 per cent or more to be eligible. Businesses subject to the Major Bank Levy will not be eligible. 

Eligible employers include businesses structured through companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders. Not for profit entities, including charities, will also be eligible.

Full time and part time employees, including stood down employees, would be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment.  Where a casual employee has been with their employer for at least the previous 12 months they will also be eligible for the Payment.  An employee will only be eligible to receive this payment from one employer. 

Eligible employees include Australian residents, New Zealand citizens in Australia who hold a subclass 444 special category visa, and migrants who are eligible for JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance (Other). 

Self-employed individuals are also eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment.

Eligible businesses can apply for the payment online and are able to register their interest via ato.gov.au 

Income support partner pay income test

Over the next six months the Government is temporarily expanding access to income support payments and establishing a Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight.

JobSeeker Payment is subject to a partner income test, and today the Government is temporarily relaxing the partner income test to ensure that an eligible person can receive the JobSeeker Payment, and associated Coronavirus Supplement, providing their partner earns less than $3,068 per fortnight, around $79,762 per annum. 

The personal income test for individuals on JobSeeker Payment will still apply.

Every arm of government and industry is working to keep Australians in jobs and businesses in business, and to build a bridge to recovery on the other side. 

The Government will continue to do what it takes to ensure that Australia bounces back stronger. 


US FDA issues emergency Coronavirus approval for anti-malarial drugs championed by President Trump

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FDA issues emergency use authorization for donated hydroxychloroquine sulfate, chloroquine phosphate

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today accepted 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate donated by Sandoz, the Novartis generics and biosimilars division, and one million doses of chloroquine phosphate donated by Bayer Pharmaceuticals, for possible use in treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19 or for use in clinical trials. These and other companies may donate additional doses, and companies have ramped up production to provide additional supplies of the medication to the commercial market.

“President Trump is taking every possible step to protect Americans from the coronavirus and provide them with hope,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Scientists in America and around the world have identified multiple potential therapeutics for COVID-19, including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. The President’s bold leadership and the hard work of FDA and HHS’s Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response have succeeded in securing this large donation of medicine. We’ll continue working around the clock to get American patients access to therapeutics that may help them battle COVID-19, while building the evidence to evaluate which options are effective.”

HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) worked with colleagues within HHS, the companies, the Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security to secure the donated shipments. Given the importance of understanding the efficacy of these medications for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19, federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), are working together to plan clinical trials.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to BARDA to allow hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate products donated to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible.

The EUA requires that fact sheets that provide important information about using chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate in treating COVID-19 be made available to health care providers and patients, including the known risks and drug interactions.

The SNS, managed by ASPR, will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ship donated doses to states. The SNS does not regularly stock either drug.

Hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate are oral prescription drugs approved to treat malaria and other diseases. Although there are no currently approved treatments for COVID-19, both drugs have shown activity in laboratory studies against coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Anecdotal reports suggest that these drugs may offer some benefit in the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Clinical trials are needed to provide scientific evidence that these treatments are effective.

When the Secretary of Health and Human Services declares that issuance of an EUA is appropriate, the FDA has the regulatory emergency use authority to facilitate access to unapproved medical countermeasures or unapproved uses of approved medical countermeasures needed to prepare for and respond to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

An  EUA may be issued if the FDA determines that, among other criteria, the known and potential benefits of the product, when used to diagnose, prevent, or treat the identified disease or condition, outweigh the known and potential risks of the product, and there are no adequate, approved, available alternatives. Emergency access to a medical product under an EUA is separate from use of a medical product under an investigational drug application.

The FDA has issued an EUA for multiple diagnostics, for several other medical devices such as respiratory devices and a system for decontaminating them to allow for their reuse, and ventilators and ventilator equipment for the COVID-19 response. This is the first EUA for a drug related to the COVID-19 response.

Sandoz and Bayer are the latest companies stepping up to strengthen the U.S. response to COVID-19, and ASPR is working with additional companies willing to donate doses of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. Companies interested in donating goods or services should contact fema-nrcc-iagsupv@fema.dhs.gov or visit https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus/how-to-help.

Use of the donated medications is expected to help ease supply pressures for the drug, and the FDA is also working with manufacturers of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to increase production to ensure these drugs also remain available for patients dependent on them for treatment of malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Some states and retail pharmacies also have taken action to preserve the supply of these and other drugs for these patients.

In addition to accepting and distributing the donated medicines, HHS is funding clinical trials of two drugs, Kevzara (sarilumab) and remdesivir, and is supporting the earlier development of multiple potential therapeutic treatments, vaccines, and diagnostic tests for COVID-19.

HHS continues to seek partners for COVID-19 medical countermeasures, and offers multiple ways to submit proposals for potential products or technologies.

About HHS, ASPR, and FDA

HHS works to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans, providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services. The mission of ASPR is to save lives and protect Americans from 21st century health security threats, and within ASPR, the Strategic National Stockpile represents the nation’s largest stockpile of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in supplementing state and local supplies in a public health emergency. The FDA protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.