Exploited international students the target of Fair Work advertising blitz

The open letter advertisement, published in three major metropolitan newspapers and three regional newspapers across Australia, are designed to encourage young workers to seek help if they feel exploited.

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By Friday the ads will be published in ten foreign language newspapers including Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese. 

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the ads were focused on international students who were possibly fearful of coming forward due to misunderstanding the law. 

Currently, international students make up a large proportion of temporary entrants into Australia – more than 560,000 as at July 2017.

In the last financial year 49 per cent of litigations filed by the FWO in court involved a visa holder. One third of these cases involved an international student.

Ms James urged students to get informed about their rights at work and speak up if they have concerns about their conditions of employment.

She stressed that international workers had the same rights as any other worker in Australia.

The full page advertisement which featured in metropolitan and community newspapers on Monday. Twitter @NatJamesFWO

“The number of international students reporting issues to the Fair Work Ombudsman is disproportionately low compared to other categories of visa holders, despite the fact that international students represent a significant proportion of overseas visitors with work rights,” Ms James said on Monday.

“We know that international students can be reluctant to speak out when something is wrong, making them particularly vulnerable to exploitation. This is especially the case when students think that seeking assistance will damage future job prospects or lead to the cancellation of their visa.”

Ms James said the body was aware of cases where employers had threatened students with deportation in order to persuade them to work longer hours outside their visa requirements.  

“In some cases these same employers have altered payslips and underpaid hourly rates in order to disguise the number of hours the student has worked,” Ms James said.  

“I would like to reassure international students that in line with an agreement between my agency and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, you can seek our assistance without fear of your visa being cancelled, even if you’ve worked more hours than you should have under your visa.” 

The FWO found that many international students were unaware of their rights at work and unsure of where to seek help.

International students are entitled to the same minimum wages as all workers in Oz. We can help retrieve unpaid wages and protect your visa. 南京桑拿,南京SPA,/K5dqT1aMur

— Natalie James (@NatJamesFWO) September 25, 2017

Some students told researchers they had been subject to intimidation by their employers, who threatened to deport or “blacklist” them for future work if they complained. 

It was found 60 per cent of international students who participated in FWO research believed the situation would either remain the same or get worse if they reported the issue.

“We know that it can be difficult to understand what is right or wrong at work, or to speak up if you are concerned. This is why we are committed to making it as easy as possible for international students to access the help they need,” Ms James said.  

Fair Work action: Recent cases involving visa holders

In August 2017 Melbourne’s Meatball and Wine Bar faced court for allegedly underpaying 26 workers in restaurants across the CBD, Richmond and Collingwood.

In August 2017 a Newcastle Pizza Hut franchise was found to have underpaid 24 employees a total of almost $20,000.

In July 2017 a 24-hour café operator in Melbourne’s Crown Casino faced court for allegedly underpaying 54 workers over $70,000. 25 of the workers were visa holders.

In November 2016 a Sydney cleaning operator was penalised for refusing to back-pay two international students

In November 2016 a Brisbane 7-Eleven outlet faced court for allegedly short-changing overseas workers thousands of dollars and creating false records. The East Brisbane outlet allegedly underpaid two employees, both international students from India. 

International students seeking assistance can visit 南京夜网,南京桑拿,fairwork.gov南京夜网,/ or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or our Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50.

 

Myanmar searches for more Hindu corpses as mass grave unearthed

Violence has periodically cut through the western state, where communal rivalries have been sharpened by British colonial meddling, chicanery by Myanmar’s army and fierce dispute over who does — and does not — belong in Rakhine.

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But the events of August 25, when raids by Rohingya militants unleashed a swirl of violence across the north, have sunk Rakhine to new depths of hate.

“All of our family died at the village… we will not go back,” said Chaw Shaw Chaw Thee, one of hundreds of displaced Hindus seeking shelter in the state capital Sittwe.

The 20-year-old said she lost 23 family members as Rohingya militants swarmed the clutch of Hindu villages in Kha Maung Seik, near the Bangladesh border. 

On Sunday the army said 28 badly-decomposed bodies of Hindu men, women and children had been pulled from two mass graves in the same area.

It was not immediately clear if they belonged to Chaw Shaw Chaw Thee’s family.

Heavily pregnant when she fled, she gave birth at a disused football stadium in Sittwe, where hundreds of traumatised Hindus now sleep on grubby mats in the overcrowded concourse.

An army lockdown has made it impossible to independently verify what happened in the villages of northern Rakhine, an area dominated by Rohingya Muslims who are a minority elsewhere in the mainly Buddhist country.

But allegations, carved along ethnic lines, are spinning out as conspiracy and competing identity claims override empathy between former neighbours.

Hindus, who make up less than one percent of Rakhine’s population, accuse Rohingya of massacring them, burning their homes and kidnapping women for marriage.

Meanwhile the Rohingya, some 430,000 of whom have fled to Bangladesh, trade accusations with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists of grisly mob attacks and army “clearance operations” that have emptied their villages.

Small ethnic groups such as the Mro, Thet and Diagnet have also been caught up in the killings and chaos of the last month.

“We were barbers for Muslims, our women sold things in Muslim villages, I had Muslim friends, we had no problems,” said Kyaw Kyaw Naing, a 34-year-old Hindu who can dance across linguistic divides in Hindi, Rakhine, Burmese and Rohingya. 

Community ties in what is also Myanmar’s poorest state have now unravelled.

“We want to go back, but we will not if the Muslims are there.”

Bitter history 

Last week Myanmar’s leader Aung san Suu Kyi told the international community that Rohingya refugees were welcome back if they were properly “verified”.

But delivering on that promise will be almost impossible in a country where the status of the Rohingya is incendiary.

The Rohingya say they are a distinct ethnic group whose roots stretch back centuries.

Myanmar’s powerful military insists they are “Bengalis” who were first brought to the country by British colonisers and have continued to pour in illegally ever since.

“It can’t be solved in the short-term… to be stable and harmonious could take decades,” Oo Hla Saw, a lawmaker for the Arakan National Party, which represents Rakhine Buddhists, told AFP.

Rakhine’s history is bitterly contested and flecked by rivalries.

Once a proud a Buddhist kingdom with a deep Muslim influence from trade and settlement, Rakhine’s demographics were overhauled by British colonial administrators.

They shunted in large numbers of Hindu Indians and Bengali Muslims as farm hands to an area already populated by a soup of ethnicities including the Rohingya and Rakhine. 

The Japanese invasion during World War II saw Rakhine clash with Rohingya, who were perceived to have been favoured by the retreating British.

Since 1962 the military has kindled anti-Rohingya sentiment, painting itself as the protector of the Buddhist faith from conquest by Islam.

Three major campaigns — in 1978, the early 90s and now — have driven Rohingya from Myanmar in huge numbers.

The army, which ran the country for 50 years and still has its hands on key levers of power, has also gradually rubbed out the group’s legal status.

A 1982 law stripped Rohingya of citizenship, subjecting them to suffocating controls on everything from where they can travel to how many children they can have.

“The army wants to clear the Muslim community from Rakhine state,” says Kyaw Min, a Rohingya and former MP, who has had his citizenship revoked.

“The intention is to drive down the Rohingya population. They have achieved that in the south of Rakhine, now they are targeting the north.”

Repression has fed Rohingya militancy, according to analysts.

0:00 Number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh surges Share Number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh surges  

‘Next time no escape’ 

Last month a government-backed commission on Rakhine’s troubles, led by former UN chief Kofi Annan, urged “all communities to move beyond entrenched historical narratives”.

But a few hours after its report was published, the militants attacked, sparking a ferocious military response that the UN believes amounts to “ethnic cleansing”.

The report also urged the government to boost the economy to uplift a poor population and build community bonds.

Business ties and personal relations once defied communal lines, with Rohingya who could not legally own property relying on Rakhine neighbours to secure deeds for them on the sly.

Now the fearful displaced inside Rakhine say there is no way they can ever again live alongside Rohingya neighbours.

Khin Saw Nyo, 48, an ethnic Rakhine, said nearby Muslim villagers suddenly turned on her community near the Bangladesh border, forcing them to flee to the mountains.

“We will die if we go back,” she told AFP from inside a monastery sheltering refugees in Sittwe, adding Rohingya militants are still preparing to strike.

“They warned us to eat well… they said the next time we will not escape.”

Put down booze, it’s killing you, new research shows

If Australians put down the booze, national cancer deaths will drop, according to new research.

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A one-litre decrease in annual alcohol consumption per capita had significant reductions in head, neck and liver cancer mortality, a study across a 20-year period has found.

For head and neck cancer deaths it was associated with an 11.6 per cent drop in males and 7.3 per cent reduction in females, and a 15 per cent reduction in male liver cancer mortality.

Restaurant Manager Maxime Pellegrin says more than half of his daily customers would order an alcoholic beverage with their meal.

“I think Australia got this British culture and at the end its European culture, same as me, that we love enjoying few glasses of wine with a nice meal.” 

Michael Livingston from the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR), says for many Australians the recommendations will not be a drastic change from current drinking habits.

“For heavy drinkers that will need quite a big reduction for light drinkers not so much,” Mr Livingston said.

“If you can change population drinking you can change cancer mortality rates in Australia.” 

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The study is published by the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR) and Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE).

Titled Alcohol consumption and liver, pancreatic, head and neck cancers in Australia: time-series analyses, the research is the first suggestive evidence that a decrease in population drinking could reduce the prevalence of deaths from the three cancers.

The study also found a higher death rate for men and women aged 50 and over from head and neck cancers, reflecting the long-term effects of alcohol consumption on the development of the disease.

“This study has extended our understanding of the role that alcohol plays with respect to liver, pancreatic, head and neck cancers in Australia, and the importance of addressing the nation’s alcohol consumption levels” lead author, CAPR’s Dr Jason Jiang said.

National guidelines suggest an adult should drink no more than two standard drinks on any day to reduce the lifetime risk of harm attributed to alcohol.

“There is no doubt that alcohol-related cancers would be significantly reduced if more of the population reduced their alcohol consumption and followed the national drinking guidelines,” FARE chief executive Michael Thorn said.

“The study exposes the need for improved public health education campaigns, better public health policies on alcohol, and more promotion of the guidelines – to reduce the toll of cancer-related diseases and deaths in Australia.”

Schulz faces battle to topple Merkel

Martin Schulz likes to see himself as a fighter.

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“I’m a footballer,” the centre-left German Social Democrats’ (SPD) leader is fond of saying. If he’s not saying that, he’s usually demonstrating his boxing skills at campaign stops.

But the 61-year-old Schulz will need to put up the fight of his life if he is to have any chance of toppling Germany’s conservative chancellor, Angela Merkel, who enjoys a commanding lead in opinion polls ahead of the September 24 election.

“You never give up and never give up in the fight for the things you believe in,” EU Council President Donald Tusk once told Schulz.

A former footballer, town mayor, reformed alcoholic and bookshop owner, Schulz is something of a newcomer on the national German political stage.

Married with two children, he spent 22 years in the European Parliament, including five years as president of the Strasbourg-based assembly and mastering every major European language.

Surprisingly, in a nation which has the highest number of tertiary students in Europe, Schulz never completed high school.

After a year of unemployment, he became a bookshop owner in the town where he was born, Wuerselen, in North Rhine Westphalia, the nation’s biggest state and a traditional SPD stronghold.

Indeed, politics was always part of life for the man often dubbed as Mister Europe.

Schulz’s father was a police officer and a rock solid SPD supporter. His mother was active in Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats.

By 19, he had become an active SPD member before entering regional politics, eventually rising through the ranks of local government to become Wuerselen’s mayor at age 31 – North Rhine Westphalia’s youngest ever mayor at the time.

A strong public speaker, Schulz’s aim is to inject more emotion into political life.

“Anyone in politics who is not able to arouse emotions is in the wrong place,” Schulz once said.

In January, Schulz rose to his party’s highest office as SPD chief and its chancellor candidate for the September 24 election.

As a new face on a stage of old actors, his nomination initially prompted a surge in SPD support in opinion polls.

It was a measure of the SPD’s hopes that Schulz might end Merkel’s 12-year rule that he was voted party chief in March with 100 per cent backing.

But, by then, the “Schulz train,” as the media dubbed the SPD leader’s bid for chancellor, seemed to be already running out of steam, with support for the party slumping.

At about 24 per cent, SPD support now stands below the 25.5 per cent it achieved in the last election, in 2013.

But Schulz is used to tough fights. At age 24, he was battling alcoholism after an injury brought to an end the dreams of a football career.

“I drank everything I could get,” Schulz said in an interview. The SPD chief has not drunk alcohol for about 37 years.

A staunch European, he has regularly defended the European Union over the years as being the best defence against the ghosts that haunted the region during the 20th century – racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. More recently, he joined the fight against populism in Europe.

Far-right party shakes up German politics

The first far-right party set to enter Germany’s parliament for more than a half a century says it will press for Chancellor Angela Merkel to be “severely punished” for opening the door to refugees and migrants.

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The Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has also called for Germany’s immigration minister to be “disposed of” in Turkey where her parents come from, could become the third largest party with up to 12 per cent of the vote on September 24, polls show.

That is far less than similar movements in other European countries – in France far-right leader Marine Le Pen won 34 per cent of the vote in May and in the Netherlands far-rightist Geert Wilders scored 13 per cent in a March election.

But the prospect of a party that the foreign minister has compared with the Nazis entering the heart of German democracy is unnerving the other parties. They all refuse to work with the AfD and no one wants to sit next to them in parliament.

Leading AfD candidate Alexander Gauland denies they are Nazis, saying others only use the term because of the party’s popularity. It has won support with calls for Germany to shut its borders immediately, introduce a minimum quota for deportations and stop refugees bringing their families here.

“We’re gradually becoming foreigners in our own country,” Gauland told an election rally in the Polish border city of Frankfurt an der Oder.

A song with the lyrics “we’ll bring happiness back to your homeland” blared out of a blue campaign bus and the 76-year-old lawyer said Germany belonged to the Germans, Islam had no place here and the migrant influx would make everyone worse off.

Gauland provoked outrage for saying at another event that Germans should no longer be reproached with the Nazi past and they should take pride in what their soldiers achieved during the World Wars.

The AfD could end up as the biggest opposition force in the national assembly if there is a re-run of the current coalition of Merkel’s conservatives and Social Democrats (SPD) – one of the most likely scenarios.

That would mean it would chair the powerful budget committee and open the general debate during budget consultations, giving prominence to its alternatives to government policies.

Georg Pazderski, a member of the AfD’s executive board, told Reuters his party would use parliamentary speeches to draw attention to the cost of the migrant crisis, troubles in the euro zone – which the AfD wants Germany to leave – and problems related to the European Union.

Gauland said the AfD would call for a committee to investigate the chancellor after entering parliament: “We want Ms Merkel’s policy of bringing 1 million people into this country to be investigated and we want her to be severely punished for that.”

Unlike previous right-wing movements in Germany the AfD – founded in 2013 by an anti-euro group of academics – has become socially acceptable so radicalised people from the middle class feel able to vote for it alongside classic radical right-wing voters, said Manfred Guellner, head of Forsa polling institute.

“You don’t vote for skinheads but you can vote for professors in suits,” said Guellner, referring to the likes of Gauland, who tends to wear tweed jackets.

Lloyd stars in Tigers VFL grand final loss

Richmond’s Sam Lloyd pushed his claims for an AFL grand final berth with a best-on-ground performance in the Tigers’ heartbreaking VFL grand final loss to Port Melbourne.

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Ben Lennon missed a set shot from just outside the 50m arc after the siren to hand Port a stunning 11.8 (74) to 10.10 (70) win in front of a crowd of 17,159 fans at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Lloyd was awarded the Norm Goss Medal for his 35-possession performance, with Anthony Miles, Corey Ellis and Shaun Hampson also influential.

“I was surprised when my name got called out … I’d trade it in any day for a premiership medallion,” Lloyd said.

Playing predominantly as a midfielder, the 27-year-old also had 10 clearances, laid nine tackles and kicked a goal in a game the Tigers led by 13 points before a stunning resurgence by the Boroughs in the dying minutes.

Lloyd has made eight AFL appearances this season, with the last coming in round 16 which was also his 50th career match at senior level.

“I’m going to prepare like I’m a chance, you never know what could happen,” he said of the prospect of earning a senior recall.

“I feel like I’ve put my hand up.

“I’ve been pushing to get into the midfield at AFL level for a couple of years now.

“My fitness level has really improved over the last couple of years … and if I get the opportunity I’m sure I could do something.”

Richmond senior coach Damien Hardwick was on hand to watch the match, as was skipper Trent Cotchin, who will find out on Monday if he will face a ban for his high hit on Greater Western Sydney’s Dylan Shiel.

Hampson, Ellis and Shai Bolton were the emergencies for the preliminary final.

Hampson had 40 hitouts and took seven marks and Ellis had 23 possessions and laid seven tackles in the grand final loss.

Bolton started brightly with two first-quarter goals but faded in the second half.

“Shai has got a lot of excitement about him hasn’t he?” said Tigers VFL coach Craig McRae.

“He showed what he’s capable of when he got us off to a great start, but part of his challenge at AFL level is to be consistent with that effort.

“He’s an 18-year-old kid and he’s on the rise.”

Reece Conca (21 disposals), Jayden Short (20), Connor Menadue (20 touches and two goals) and Ben Griffiths (three goals) were also prominent.

Big four banks scrap ATM withdrawal fee

Australia’s biggest banks will stop charging customers of other banks a $2 fee to withdraw cash from their ATMs, attracting both praise and renewed calls for a royal commission into banking.

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The Commonwealth Bank was the first to abolish the fee early on Sunday, citing ongoing consumer unhappiness with it as the reason for the decision. ANZ, Westpac and NAB followed suit on Sunday afternoon.

Treasurer Scott Morrison praised the banks and said the government was putting pressure on them to put their customers first.

“Australians are sick and tired of all of these fees that mount up,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“So when banks respond in this way, I am happy to give them a pat on the back when they do the right thing.”

Reserve Bank of Australia data shows Australians made more than 250 million ATM withdrawals from banks other than their own last year.

Group Executive of Retail Banking Services at the Commonwealth Bank Matt Comyn said the decision was designed to increase convenience and help consumers save.

“We think this change will benefit many Australians and hopefully demonstrate our willingness to listen and act on customer feedback,” he said in a statement.

ANZ Group Executive Fred Ohlsson said the fee would be dropped on its more than 2300 machines from early October.

Westpac Group Executive, Consumer, George Frazis said the decision would apply to its Westpac, St George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA customers and particularly benefit rural and regional consumers.

“We want all Australians, whether they are Westpac Group customers or not, to benefit from one of Australia’s largest ATM networks,” he said.

NAB Chief Customer Officer of Consumer Banking and Wealth Andrew Hagger said all Australians, regardless of their bank, could use their ATMs and not be charged a cash withdrawal fee.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said the decision was no reason to ease off a royal commission into banking.

“Imagine how we could get better banking for all Australians if we had a banking royal commission,” he said.

Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the threat of an impending royal commission, coupled with mounting public pressure over multiple scandals, prompted CommBank to act.

He said a royal commission or a parliamentary commission of inquiry would put more pressure on the banks to lift their game.

The Australian Bankers’ Association welcomed the ATM fee scrap, saying it would make banking more affordable and improve services for customers.

The fee will still apply to customers using overseas bank cards.

NZ’s ruling National Party wins most votes as First Party holds balance of power

New Zealand’s ruling National Party won the largest number of votes in the country’s general election on Saturday, securing a comfortable margin over the Labour Party after what had promised to be the most hotly contested race in recent history.

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National and Labour had been almost neck and neck in opinion polls, with charismatic 37-year old Jacinda Ardern almost single-handedly dragging Labour back into the race after taking over the party’s leadership in August.

National took 46 per cent of the vote, the Electoral Commission said, while support for Labour was 35.8 per cent.

A final tally including overseas votes will be released on October 7.

0:00 National Party needs to negotiate with ‘tricky’ Winston Peters Share National Party needs to negotiate with ‘tricky’ Winston Peters

The results set up the nationalist New Zealand First Party to hold the balance of power and form the next government with 7.5 per cent of the ballot.

Veteran New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has been a minister under both major parties and has not said which party he would favour as a coalition partner. Previously he has backed the party with the largest number of votes.

All party leaders said they would have conversations over the next few days, with some of them already trying to woo Peters on election night.

“I want to acknowledge the strong performance of Winston Peters and New Zealand First,” Bill English said in a speech to his supporters.

“They’re just trading votes on the left,” a young National supporter tells me, “the right is as strong as ever.” #nzelection

— Nastasya Tay (@NastasyaTay) September 23, 2017

“The voters of New Zealand have given New Zealand First a role in forming the next government,” he said.

For English, who campaigned heavily on National’s economic credentials after taking the party leadership last year, the strong showing was a vindication after National crashed to its worst ever election result in 2002 under his first stint as leader.

Opinion polls leading up to the vote had been volatile with two recent ones giving National a near 10 point lead over Labour. National has been in power for nearly a decade.

“Bill English and National have taken the largest number of votes. I’ve called Bill and acknowledged that,” Ardern told her supporters, adding she was planning conversations with both the Green and New Zealand First parties.

“It’s not over yet,” she said.

Peters sounded buoyant but kept his cards close to his chest.

“We have been strong enough and honest enough with our supporters to make it home,” he said.

New Zealand First had “not all the cards but we do have the main cards,” he added, saying he would not be rushed into giving any answers immediately.

0:00 Jacinda Ardern speaks after NZ election count Share Jacinda Ardern speaks after NZ election count

‘Special votes’

Ardern and English were expected to maintain fiscal prudence, but to differ on monetary policy, trade and immigration.

That would likely have implications for the New Zealand dollar, the world’s 11th most-traded currency in 2016. 

The New Zealand dollar has tended to rise when National rose in the polls.

“The thin trading conditions typical of early morning in Asia mean a sharp but short-lived move on the NZD is possible on Monday,” said Joseph Carpuso, senior currency strategist at CBA.      

New Zealand uses a German-style proportional representation system in which a party, or combination of parties, needs 61 of Parliament’s 120 members – usually about 48 percent of the vote – to form a government.

The results secured 58 seats for National in parliament, and 45 for Labour. New Zealand First has nine seats and Greens, which won 5.8 per cent of the votes, have seven.

It feels like National relief has evolved into supporter smugness. But @pmbillenglish is careful: “We may be able to form govt” #nzelection

— Nastasya Tay (@NastasyaTay) September 23, 2017

National’s 58 seats were higher than Labour and Greens put together at 52, but neither combination had enough to govern on their own.

“It’s all over, bar the special votes – but even they won’t change the basic maths. They won’t change any crucial seats and National is extremely unlikely to go up. So Winston Peters rules,” said Bryce Edwards, an analyst at Wellington-based Critical Politics.

A record 1.2 million ballots were cast before the day of the election, accounting for about a third of the 3.3 million New Zealanders enrolled to vote.

“Special votes”, which include ballots from New Zealanders overseas and those who vote outside their home constituencies, will be released on October 7.

These are estimated to represent 15 percent of total votes and could have a considerable impact.

“I would expect us to get a bit of a lift out of those special votes,” said Ardern.

0:00 Maori Party ‘changed face’ of New Zealand politics Share Maori Party ‘changed face’ of New Zealand politics

600,000 sign petition to overturn London Uber ban

Friday’s decision to ban the ride-sharing service was “affecting the real lives of a huge number of honest and hard-working drivers” and would “show the world that London is far from being open and is closed to innovative companies,” the petition said.

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Transport for London said the conduct of Uber, which has around 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million customers in the British capital, had raised safety concerns.

“TfL has concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence,” it said in a statement.

It said Uber’s “approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications”, citing concerns over background checks of drivers.

The petition, on change南京楼凤,, said that Uber provided a “safe, reliable and affordable ride”, and thar its users would be “astounded” by the ban.

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“By wanting to ban our app from the capital, Transport for London and their chairman the Mayor have given in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice,” it added.

The licence expires on September 30 but Uber has 21 days to appeal the decision, and has said it plans a challenge.

0:00 Angry taxi drivers block London streets protesting Uber Share Angry taxi drivers block London streets protesting Uber

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday backed his London mayor Sadiq Khan, telling Sky News that authorities had done the “right thing”.

“Obviously people need to be able to travel, obviously they want to be able to access cabs,” he said. “Those cabs must be safe, must be regulated and must be available for all.”

 

Finch shines with century in ODI return

Australian opener Aaron Finch has scored his eighth one-day international century with a powerful display against India in his return from injury.

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Finch missed the first two games with a calf complaint as Australia slumped to 2-0 down in the five-match series making victory in Indore crucial to their hopes of winning the series.

The 30-year-old Victorian made 124 off 125 balls, plundering 17 boundaries including five sixes to help his side into a strong position on Sunday.

Finch had no trouble clearing the short boundaries at Holkar Stadium after skipper Steve Smith won the toss and chose to bat first.

He smashed four of his five sixes off Indian spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.

But Yadav eventually claimed his wicket with a slog sweep hit straight down Kedar Jadhav’s throat at deep mid-wicket.

With batting collapses Australia’s chief concern coming into the match, Finch provided a steady hand at the top of the order as he reunited with long-time opening partner David Warner.

Finch and Warner put on 70 for the first wicket before skipper Steve Smith came to the crease.

Smith, who has spoken about success being underpinned by batting partnerships, teamed up with Finch for a second wicket stand of 174.

After starting watchfully, Finch eased into his innings and brought up his fifty from 61 deliveries.

He reached his ton in 110 balls before putting his foot on the accelerator only to be brought undone after not middling another six attempt.

Finch replaced makeshift opener Hilton Cartwright who was bowled for one in the first two matches of the series.

Germany votes as Merkel heads for win, hard-right AfD for first seats

Surveys suggest Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance has a double-digit lead over its nearest rivals, the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) led by Martin Schulz.

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Polling stations opened at 0600 GMT in Europe’s top economy and will close at 1600 GMT.

With four other parties predicted to clear the five-percent bar to enter into the Bundestag, the highest number since the 1950s, it could take months of coalition wrangling before the next government takes shape.

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0:00 SBS Chief International Correspondent Brett Mason previews Germany’s election Share SBS Chief International Correspondent Brett Mason previews Germany’s election

Mainstream parties however have already ruled out talking to the anti-Islam, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is polling at 11 to 13 percent and could emerge as Germany’s third-strongest party.

Alarmed by the prospect of what Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel branded “real Nazis” entering the Bundestag for the first since the end of World War II, politicians used their final days of campaigning to urge voters to reject the rightwing populist AfD.

“This Alternative for Germany is no alternative. They are a shame for our nation,” former European Parliament chief Schulz said at a rally on Friday.

Gabrielle: “I hope it will be #Merkel. She’s a Christian. She’s for peace. And Mr Trump is for war.” #BTW2017 pic南京夜生活,/ZZzWvbDDv6

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) September 24, 2017

The latest surveys put support for Merkel’s conservative block at 34-36 percent, with the SPD trailing at 21-22 percent — which would translate into a historic low for the party.

Despite bracing for a drubbing, Schulz was all smiles as he and his wife cast their ballot in his western hometown of Wuerselen.

Of those voters: 31.7 million are women, 29.8 million are men and around 3 million are first time voters #BTW2017 #GermanyDecides

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) September 24, 2017

Merkel, 63, whose campaign events were regularly disrupted by jeering AfD protesters, said at her final stump speech in the southern city of Munich that “the future of Germany will definitely not be built with whistles and hollers”.

Observers say a strong showing by the AfD, which has capitalised on anger over the influx of a million migrants and refugees since 2015, will hit Germany like a bombshell.

“If the AfD becomes the leading opposition party, they will challenge key themes,” said Thorsten Benner, director of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin. “It will very much change the tone of debate in parliament.”

Aside from the populist noise, the past two months of campaigning have been widely criticised as lacklustre, with few hot-button issues dividing the main contenders.

Commentators say Merkel’s reassuring message of stability and prosperity has resonated in greying Germany, where more than half of the 61 million voters are aged 52 or older.

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Europe’s most powerful woman appears all but assured of winning another term, matching the 16-year reign of her mentor Helmut Kohl.

Schulz on the other hand has struggled to gain traction with his calls for a more socially just Germany at a time when the economy is humming and employment is at a record low.

The SPD has also found it hard to shine after four years as the junior partner in Merkel’s left-right “grand coalition”, marked by broad agreement on major topics, from foreign policy to migration.

In the final stretch, the more outspoken Schulz told voters to reject Merkel’s “sleeping-pill politics” and vote against “another four years of stagnation and lethargy”.

Germany’s best-selling daily Bild at the weekend said 61-year-old Schulz found his voice as he neared the finish line, and praised him for “fighting until the end”.

“Germany doesn’t just need a chancellor. It also needs an opposition leader. Schulz has started to sound like one,” the newspaper wrote. 

Die Zeit: “Be careful, Germany!” #GermanyDecides #BTW2017 @SBSNews pic南京夜生活,/cQ0doyqzgZ

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) September 24, 2017Undecided

The CDU and the SPD have signalled they aren’t keen to continue their loveless marriage, and many rank-and file SPD members believe the traditional working class party would benefit from a stint in opposition to rekindle its fighting spirit.

This would leave the presumed winner Merkel in need of new coalition partners — possibly the liberal and pro-business Free Democrats, who are hoping for a comeback after crashing out of parliament four years ago.

Another potential partner would be the ecologist and left-leaning Greens party, which, however, starkly differs with the FDP on issues from climate change to migration policy.

Ulf: “I hope that today we secure a free, democratic Europe” #BTW2017 pic南京夜生活,/x2NQrJCX0v

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) September 24, 2017

Pundits have pointed out that a significant number of voters remained undecided until the last minute, suggesting the final outcome could throw up some surprises depending on turnout.

In the western city of Frankfurt, 66-year-old Harald said he was still unsure who to vote for as he headed home from his night shift as a security guard in the leafy Westend suburb.

“I will make up my mind once I’m in the polling booth. You can forget about the AfD,” he told AFP.

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Here are some facts and figures about the country:

GEOGRAPHY: The Federal Republic of Germany is bordered to the north by Denmark, to the west by France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, to the south by Switzerland and Austria and to the east by the Czech Republic and Poland.

The country covers 357,050 square kilometres (137,850 square miles). The landscape rises from lowlands on the North and Baltic seas to the Bavarian Alps in the south. The biggest rivers are the Rhine, Elbe and Danube.

CAPITAL: Berlin, with 3.5 million inhabitants, is Germany’s biggest city and the second biggest in the European Union after London.

POPULATION: The EU’s most populous country, Germany had 82.8 million inhabitants at the end of 2016, including 10 million foreigners. Germany has the highest population of ethnic Turks outside Turkey, at about three million. It is one of Europe’s most densely populated countries, at 232 people per square kilometre. With a low birth rate, the population is ageing and shrinking.

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RELIGION: Christianity is the main religion in Germany, with a third of the country Protestants and a similar number Catholics. Other major religious groups in Germany include Muslims, who are estimated at 4.4 million and a Jewish population of 99,000.

HISTORY: Otto von Bismarck, the “Iron Chancellor”, founded the German Empire in 1871 from many independent states, dominated by the Kingdom of Prussia.

After four years of bitter fighting, Germany suffered a devastating defeat in World War I and the humiliating conditions of the peace settlement contributed to the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in 1933.

Hitler unleashed the Holocaust and plunged Europe and the world into its bloodiest-ever conflict that resulted in the death of tens of millions of people and the division of Germany and Berlin into four zones, shared by the victorious powers – Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States.

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Divided Germany became the key Cold War battleground between nuclear superpowers Russia and the United States, whose tanks faced each other across the Berlin Wall, which was finally and jubilantly torn down by people power in 1989. Germany was reunified in 1990.

POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS: Germany has two houses of parliament, the Bundestag (lower house) and Bundesrat (upper house, representing the 16 federal states).

The head of government or chancellor is now Angela Merkel, the leader of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union.

She has governed since 2005 and was re-elected in September 2009, ruling with Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union and, in her second term, with junior partners the pro-business Free Democrats. She now leads a coalition with the Social Democratic Party as junior partners.

There is also a president, a largely symbolic head of state, currently Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a former foreign minister who was sworn in in March 2017.

Germany is a founding member of the European Economic and Monetary Union, launched in 1999, and was among the first 11 countries to physically use the euro currency on January 1, 2002.

ECONOMY: Germany is Europe’s leading economic power and the world’s second-largest exporter after China, mainly of vehicles, machinery, high-tech goods and chemicals. Big companies include auto makers Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi and industrial conglomerates ThyssenKrupp and Siemens. The main financial centre is Frankfurt.

GDP: 3.134 trillion euros ($3.760 trillion) in 2016 or 48,839 euros per capita.

UNEMPLOYMENT: 5.7 percent in August 2017.

ARMED FORCES: The German armed forces had 178,304 personnel in June 2017. The constitution states they can be used only “for defensive purposes”. The army requires parliamentary consent for any missions abroad. Conscription was ended in 2011.

 

Germany federal election 2017: The final countdown

With only days until Germany heads to the polls on September 24, here’s a recap of the race in the lead up to election day.

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Where do Germany’s two chancellor candidates stand on key issues?

FOREIGN POLICY:

On the issue of North Korea, Social Democrat Martin Schulz argues US President Donald Trump is not the right person to solve tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Chancellor Angela Merkel says although she disagrees with Mr Trump on many issues, solving the current situation without his involvement is impossible.

Mr Schulz says if he were to become chancellor he would stop EU accession talks for Turkey, while Ms Merkel says Germany should not push for a break in the negotiations although she believes there should be a freeze on any payments from the European Union to help with Turkey’s accession.

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MIGRATION:

Mr Schulz accuses Ms Merkel of not informing other European Union nations properly of Germany’s plan, two years ago, to allow in refugees who were stuck in Hungary.

The chancellor says the government simply acted in accordance with the laws laid down in the country’s constitution.

Both candidates agree that the EU-Turkey agreement on refugees should be maintained, despite human rights abuses committed by Ankara.

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SECURITY AND ISLAMIC EXTREMISM:

The chancellor argues authorities need to have more tools at their disposal to conduct video and social media surveillance.

Mr Schulz says he wants 15,000 more police jobs created and officers should not be tied up with so much bureaucracy.

On the topic of radicalisation, Ms Merkel says a version of Islam which abides by Germany’s constitution is welcome in the country.

Both candidates say preachers who spread extreme views in Germany’s mosques should not be tolerated.

SOCIAL JUSTICE:

Mr Schulz argues although Germany is a wealthy country, not all people in the country are doing well, citing single parents, pensioners and long-term unemployed.

He says he will campaign for free kindergartens to try to lighten the financial burden on parents.

Ms Merkel counters the number of unemployed has sunk from 5 million to 2.5 million since she took over as chancellor.

Mr Schulz wants to reduce taxes on families and also force the top tax rate to apply to those earning higher.

The chancellor says she wants to save German taxpayers 15 billion euros over the next four years.

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COALITION OPTIONS:

Ms Merkel categorically rules out forming a coalition with the country’s Left Party or the right-wing AfD party, and avoids answering the question on whether she would enter into a partnership with the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP).

Mr Schulz has refused to rule out his party could again form the junior partner in a grand coalition with Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats, should they fail to win the vote on September 24.

Germany 2017: The final countdown

Barty wins first round in Wuhan tennis

Ashleigh Barty has set up a second round clash with world No.

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7 Johanna Konta after a straight sets win in the opening round of the Wuhan Open.

After a tight first set against American Catherine Bells, Barty steamrolled her way through the second to win 7-5 6-0.

Konta, who had a first round bye, enjoyed a win over Barty in their only clash, in the quarter finals of Nottingham earlier this year.

In a breakout year Barty has risen to No.37 in the world, from 271 at the start of 2017.

A few more wins this year should ensure she breaks into the top 32, enabling her to avoid playing seeds in the first two rounds of grand slam tournaments.

Meanwhile Katerina Siniakova beat a top-20 player for the sixth time this year when she ousted Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-3 6-2.

The Czech, who has two singles titles already this year, deepened the hole occupied by Mladenovic, who lost an eighth consecutive match, all to players ranked outside the WTA top 25.

Ekaterina Makarova of Russia won nine games in a row from 4-1 down en route to beating Anastasija Sevastova 6-4 6-2.

Also, Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine defeated Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-3 7-6 (10-8) to line up world No.1 Garbine Muguruza in the next round.

Muguruza, second-seeded Simona Halep and the other top six seeds received byes into the second round.

Sloane Stephens will take on Wang Qiang of China in the first round in her first competitive match since winning the US Open.

Stephens, seeded 14th in Wuhan, arrived on Friday and is expected to play her opening match on Monday. Madison Keys, who lost to Stephens in the all-American final in New York, will face qualifier Varvara Lepchenko in her opener.