An ISIS-Inspired Terrorist Plot Has Been Foiled, Say Australian Police


Originally posted on TIME:

Australian counterterrorism officials say they have foiled an imminent terrorist attack after the arrest of two men at a house in western Sydney.

The suspects have been charged with terrorist offenses, Reuters reports.

Police say a homemade ISIS flag was found at the house, as well as a machete, a hunting knife and “a video which depicted a man talking about carrying out an attack.”

New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn accused the suspects of “preparing to do this act yesterday.”

Australia’s national threat level has been on “high” since last September, when news broke out that militants were planning to publicly behead a random member of the public.

The country is also concerned with homegrown militancy. Dozens of its citizens are said to be fighting for ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and last December a gunman with ISIS sympathies held up a central Sydney café, leading to…

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Australian Prime Minister Survives Leadership Challenge


Originally posted on TIME:

(CANBERRA) — Australia’s beleaguered Prime Minister Tony Abbott survived an internal government challenge to his leadership on Monday, despite a revolt by dozens of colleagues that leaves him politically damaged.

A meeting of lawmakers in the ruling conservative Liberal Party voted 61 to 39 to reject a motion that called for a ballot for party leader and deputy, party whip Philip Ruddock reported after the brief meeting.

Abbott needed a stronger show of support from his colleagues to ward off potential future challenges if the government continues to endure sagging approval ratings in opinion polls.

But he said later that he should stay in charge of the government until voters decide his fate in elections next year.

“We want to end the disunity and the uncertainty which destroyed two Labor governments and give you the good government that you deserve,” Abbott said in a video statement, referring to the center-left…

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Australian Prime Minister Faces Challenge to Leadership


Originally posted on TIME:

(CANBERRA) — Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Friday that he and his deputy will urge the ruling party to reject calls to hold a leadership ballot next week that could potentially oust them.

Lawmaker Luke Simpkins said in an email to colleagues that he will move a motion at a ruling Liberal Party meeting on Tuesday calling for Abbott to declare that his job and that of his deputy Julie Bishop are open to a ballot of 102 government lawmakers.

Abbott said he and Bishop, the foreign minister, would urge the meeting to reject the motion. He said that Australians had voted out the chaotic and divided center-left Labor Party government in 2013 because it had changed its prime minister twice in four years.

“They are perfectly entitled to call for this, but the next point to make is that they are asking the party room to vote…

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Australian Politics: 1 February 2015 – Lessons Learnt?


Hundreds of Asylum-Seekers Are on Hunger Strike Over Australia’s Resettlement Plan


Originally posted on TIME:

Nearly 700 detainees, or almost two-thirds of those held in an Australian offshore detention center on Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Manus Island, are on hunger strike to protest Canberra’s plan to permanently resettle them on the island.

The hunger strike comes in the wake of a vow by Australia’s recently-appointed Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, that Manus Island detainees would “never arrive in Australia,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

During the past week, hundreds of detainees have abstained from food, and some from water, over the government’s plan to move them to the nearby town of Lorengau. As many as 14 have sown their lips together, the Herald says.

Visiting Australian medical staff and refugee rights groups say that health facilities on Manus Island center are not equipped to handle the hunger strike.

“They don’t have the capacity to handle a hunger strike of even one tenth of that size,”…

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