US man accused of triple murder confessed to cooking neighbour’s heart with potatoes, police say

US man accused of triple murder confessed to cooking neighbour’s heart with potatoes, police say


Chickasha, Oklahoma: An Oklahoma man who had been released early from prison in January as part of a mass commutation effort is now accused of three killings, including the death of a neighbour whose heart he cut out, authorities said.

A judge denied bail on Tuesday for Lawrence Paul Anderson, who faces three counts of first-degree murder, one count of assault and one count of maiming for the attack this month in Chickasha, about 55 kilometres south-west of Oklahoma City.

Authorities say Lawrence Paul Anderson, pictured, brought the heart to his aunt and uncle’s house, cooked it with potatoes and tried to serve it to them.

Authorities say Lawrence Paul Anderson, pictured, brought the heart to his aunt and uncle’s house, cooked it with potatoes and tried to serve it to them.Credit:Grady County Sheriff’s Office via AP

According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Anderson is accused of killing Andrea Lynn Blankenship, 41, and cutting out her heart.

Authorities say Anderson brought the heart to his aunt and uncle’s house, cooked it with potatoes and tried to serve it to them before killing Leon Pye, 67, wounding the aunt and killing Kaeos Yates, the pair’s four-year-old granddaughter.



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Canberra Anzac Day dawn service plans yet to be finalised | The Canberra Times

Canberra Anzac Day dawn service plans yet to be finalised | The Canberra Times


coronavirus,

Anxious Canberra veterans have called on ACT Health to tell them if they will be able to attend the dawn service or march on Anzac Day this year as a COVID-19 cloud hovers over the national commemoration. The Australian War Memorial has submitted a proposal to health officials in the hope a crowd will be able to attend the iconic dawn service on April 25, but a decision on logistics is yet to be finalised. Veterans are hopeful they will be able to attend after the coronavirus lockdown forced the memorial to downscale its events last year. The Dawn Service regularly attracts more than 20,000 people to the memorial lawns, but attendees will likely need a ticket if it goes ahead this year. Anzac Day marches in Hobart and Melbourne have already been cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions while other states are pushing ahead. Sydney’s Anzac Day march was given approval earlier this month, limited to 500 people and services will go ahead as normal in Queensland. ACT Health has increased attendance numbers to full capacity at Canberra Stadium for ticketed sporting events in the latest relaxation of restrictions. Most large events must be ticketed and the CBR Check-In app must be used with the majority of indoor performance venues returning to 75 per cent capacity. RSL ACT branch president John King said veterans feared they would be locked out for the second year in a row, adding it was particularly important for veterans and families to commemorate the day after a turbulent 12 months. “It’s been a very difficult time and a lot of my members are not getting any younger … every year that goes by is another year they potentially can’t march anymore,” he said. “It becomes very concerning for them, they get anxious about it of course. “I am now fielding phone calls with people saying, ‘What’s happening, John? What can we do? Remember this is the last year I’ve got’.” “The longer we leave the decision, and that’s a little bit out of our hands, the harder it becomes logistically.” Mr King said RSL sub-branches across the city would run smaller events within COVID-19 restrictions and suggested those who couldn’t attend once again take to their driveways to commemorate the day. “I’ve got one veteran who is 100 years old, he served in World War II, and this could be his last opportunity to take part in something that he sort of has in his blood,” Mr King said. “He knows there are none of his mates left and he feels it is very important to do something for the last time perhaps. “We’ve got families who have lost people in recent operations and as far as back as World War I, people are still commemorating those losses.” An ACT Health spokeswoman said it was working with the War Memorial to ensure any event operated within COVID safe event protocol. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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Morrison’s JobSeeker boost is stingy, mean and bad for the economy

Morrison’s JobSeeker boost is stingy, mean and bad for the economy


Now contrast this, of course, to the generosity shown to JobSeeker recipients, who learnt this week they will receive a $50-a-fortnight continuing boost to their payments after more generous coronavirus supplements expire at the end of next month. They’ll pocket an extra $3.57 a day – about one-fifth of the benefit I’ve seen.

Some have dismissed the sum as little more than a daily cup of coffee. But, of course, welfare recipients rarely have enough spare change for such barista-made treats. That $3.50 can, however, cover one or two meals a day. Or the internet and phone bill for the month. Or car rego and insurance for the year. It’s not nothing. But it’s a pittance compared with what I have received and falls well short of what business groups, economists and social service groups had been calling for.

This is the first real increase to Australia’s jobless payment since before the last recession. But that’s not saying much.

This is the first real increase to Australia’s jobless payment since before the last recession. But that’s not saying much.Credit:Janie Barrett

True, it is the first real increase to Australia’s jobless payment since before the last recession. But that’s not saying much. Since the days of the Howard government, jobless payments have been set to rise only in line with consumer price increases each year, not wages. Because wages growth usually outstrips growth in prices, this means jobless support has shrunk relative to both wages and pensions (which are, by contrast, indexed to wages).

Brendan Coates and Matt Cowgill at the Grattan Institute have run the numbers. Even after the boost, they estimate that “Australia will have the second-stingiest payment for newly-unemployed people out of all 37 members of the OECD, behind only Greece”.

“An Australian on an average wage who loses their job will find that JobSeeker and Commonwealth Rent Assistance combined add up to only a bit more than a quarter – 27 per cent – of what they earned when they were working,” Coates and Cowgill estimate. “An unemployed Canadian would get 62 per cent of the average wage. The average across the rich countries is 58 per cent, about double Australia’s new payment.”

Now, it’s true that many countries set their jobless payments relatively high initially but shrink them over time, to further induce people back to work. We’re just stingy from the outset. And our stinginess will only get stingier with time, due to the government’s inaction on revising indexation arrangements. As a result of this week’s decision, JobSeeker will continue to rise only with consumer prices, meaning recipients will fall further behind as wages pick up.

As things stand, JobSeekers are set to receive just 41 per cent of the full-time minimum wage and 66 per cent of the aged pension. For the more than a million Australians on JobSeeker today, they will continue to face difficult trade-offs, like foregoing medications or travel – the very things essential to their continued ability to search for and secure work.

On the upside, they will be able to earn slightly more side income – up to $150 a fortnight – before their benefits are withdrawn.

Now, the government is right to argue JobSeeker payments should not act as a replacement wage, but rather a “safety net”. The tricky thing about safety nets, however, is they have to be slung sufficiently high off the ground to ensure you don’t accidentally hit rock bottom when you fall.

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On the reckoning of economists and many others, even after this boost, our jobless payment does not do that. Which is a shame not just from a moral viewpoint, but an economic one too. The thing about giving money to those who have very little of it is that they are more likely to actually spend it. That money circulates back into the economy, driving jobs and growth. For me, the government’s largesse is just helping me to pay down my home loan faster.

The Morrison government had been doing admirably to put ideology aside to guide us through this economic and health crisis. It has fallen woefully short at the last hurdle. Its decision on JobSeeker is stingy and mean. People will suffer needlessly because of it. And so, too, will our economy.

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England spun out for 112 against India

England spun out for 112 against India


England were bowled out for 112 before tea on the opening day of the day-night third Test against India in Ahmedabad.

After electing to bat, Zak Crawley top-scored for the tourists with a fluent 53 but only four English batsmen managed double digits on a track where the ball turned from the first session.

Left-arm spinner Axar Patel was the pick of the Indian bowlers claiming 6-38, while Ravichandran Ashwin continued his excellent second Test form by returning 3-26.

The four-Test series is level at 1-1.



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Landmark media bargaining code passes the Senate following new Facebook deal

Landmark media bargaining code passes the Senate following new Facebook deal



The federal government’s landmark media bargaining code has passed the Senate with amendments, a day after Facebook said it had agreed to restore Australian news pages.

On Tuesday the social media giant announced it had struck a new deal with the federal government that it said would enable it to reverse its block on publishers and users in Australia from sharing or viewing news content. 

The government’s bill, which seeks to make tech giants compensate news publishers, passed the Senate on Wednesday evening and will now head back to the House of Representatives.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday said Facebook’s actions in removing news from Australia in response to the media code were “regrettable” and “disappointing”. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair on Wednesday said he was very happy with the code.

“This is a high-stakes game,” Rod Sims told parliament’s economics committee. “The media bargaining code has already gone a long way in meeting its objective.”

Mr Sims said it was “absolutely fine” commercial deals were done before the code was passed.

“The whole point of the code is to promote journalism,” he said. “This is a matter of the whole world watching, we’ll certainly be watching, and we want journalism to benefit from the code.” 

Labor says the code is an important step but is just one of a suite of measures recommended by the competition watchdog after the 2019 digital platforms inquiry.

“The government has a lot more to do to support public-interest journalism in Australia,” Labor’s communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said.

With AAP.

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Darcy Vescio leads Carlton Blues to win over Richmond Tigers

Darcy Vescio leads Carlton Blues to win over Richmond Tigers


Tigers find fight but are denied again as blues storm to win

CARLTON 0.2 4.2 7.3 8.3 (51)
RICHMOND 3.0 4.1 5.1 7.4 (46)

GOALS – Carlton: Prespakis (2), McEvoy, Harris, Vescio (3), Stevens
Richmond: Stahl (2), Wakefield (3), Brennan (2)
BEST – Carlton: Prespakis, Vescio, Harris, Egan, J. Hosking, Moodie, Downie
Richmond: Wakefield, Brennan, Seymour, Frederick, Brancatisano, Stahl
CROWD: 2212

Richmond have suffered their 10th straight loss and remain winless in the AFLW following a five-point defeat to Carlton at Ikon Park on Saturday afternoon.

After a 34-point loss to the Blues in last season’s opener, the Tigers, in their second clash against Carlton, needed to show how far they have come since their inaugural AFLW game.

Following a dominant performance against the Saints last week, the Blues, who ran out in orange socks, to signify the club’s commitment to gender equality for the prevention of violence against women, weren’t going to give the visitors their first win.

Darcy Vescio of the Blues, left, is tackled by Hannah Burchell of the Tigers during round four.

Darcy Vescio of the Blues, left, is tackled by Hannah Burchell of the Tigers during round four. Credit:Getty Images

Having made just one change to their line-up, naming defender Jess Edwards in place of skipper Katie Loynes, the Blues were rendered goalless in the first term, Courtney Wakefield booting two of Richmond’s three goals. The Blues’ usual fast play was nowhere to be seen initially, which looked to continue into the second with veteran Katie Brennan booting one straight from the siren.

Courtney Wakefield celebrates a goal for the Tigers.

Courtney Wakefield celebrates a goal for the Tigers. Credit:Getty Images

Reigning league best and fairest winner Madison Prespakis ascended, slotting two for the Blues, fellow Carlton young gun Lucy McEvoy and Tayla Harris added to the tally, leaving the locals one up at half-time.

When the going gets tough, Darcy Vescio gets going and with a spectacular hanger and three goals in the third, Carlton’s two-time leading goal kicker handed them a 14-point lead at the final break.

Darcy Vescio, right, and Harriet Cordner compete for the ball.

Darcy Vescio, right, and Harriet Cordner compete for the ball. Credit:Getty Images

Richmond’s Tayla Stahl and Wakefield booted their second and third goals, respectively, leading to an arm wrestle in the dying moments, but Nicola Stevens wouldn’t allow it on her home turf and added one for the ladies in blue, leaving the Tigers licking their wounds and dreaming of an elusive victory.

25 FOR CONTI
Richmond star Monique Conti marked her 25th AFLW game with a clinical midfield performance and 26 disposals.

The 21-year-old AFLW All-Australian is a premiership player, in which she was named best on ground. The former Bulldog also has a best and fairest award to her name from each of her AFLW clubs.

SIBLING RIVALRY
Jess Hosking earned her sibling bragging rights after lining up against identical twin, Sarah for the first time in their AFLW careers. Jess was named at half-forward and tallied 19 disposals while Sarah racked up 15 against her former side.

COLLINGWOOD 2.2 3.2 3.4 4.4 (28)
NORTH MELBOURNE 0.0 0.3 0. 5 0.8 (8)
GOALS – Collingwood: Sheridan, Molloy (2), Membrey
North Melbourne: none
BEST – Collingwood: Davey, Lambert, Bonnici, Norder, Fowler
North Melbourne: Ashmore, Garner, Riddell, King, Saad, Bruton
CROWD: 2254

The last time North Melbourne lost two consecutive games was 2019, but on Saturday night at Marvel Stadium, an undefeated Collingwood side handed them just their fourth ever AFLW loss.

The Magpies lost to the Roos by two points in last year’s semi-final, and their thirst for redemption was clear.

Emma Kearney looks dismayed as she leads the Kangaroos off after they failed to kick a goal in their loss to Collingwood.

Emma Kearney looks dismayed as she leads the Kangaroos off after they failed to kick a goal in their loss to Collingwood.Credit:Getty Images

Collingwood were first on the board thanks to gaelic footballer Aishling Sheridan, which was followed by a snap goal from teammate Chloe Molloy.

Despite Kaitlyn Ashmore’s strong first quarter, the Kangaroos couldn’t capitalise on their entries into the forward 50, leaving their scoreboard bare.

Aggression was high in the second quarter, both sides holding strong defensively. Pie Jordan Membrey slotted the only major of the term, the Kangaroos with just three behinds for the half.

A messy third quarter saw no scoreboard movement at all, and by the final term the writing was on the wall.

Magpie Brianna Davey breaks away with the ball at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.

Magpie Brianna Davey breaks away with the ball at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.Credit:Getty Images

Collingwood offered a very physical contest and Molloy booted her second for the day. Her seventh consecutive game having scored, she joins Carlton’s Tayla Harris as record holder for goal scoring in successive weeks.

Collingwood Coach Steve Symonds said his team’s ability to stay on task despite small errors was the difference.

“Whether our group could have done that twelve months ago I don’t know, I think we would have dropped off a bit and played a bit safer but we have progressed as a group and today they stuck to task and went all the way which was great.”

Kangaroos Coach Darren Crocker said his side needed to tidy up some “clunky” play, and said they should be “disappointed but not disheartened, there is still a lot to play out in this season”.

THOU SHARNI NOT PASS
All-Australian Magpie Sharni Norder returned after sitting out last match with a quad injury but with 10 hitouts to 15 against North Melbourne’s Emma King, Norder seems back on track.

TACKLING DEBUT
Kangaroo Brooke Brown on debut had only three disposals but managed a skilful tackle. The versatile 23-year-old moves between defence, the forward line and ruck.

COACH SHIFT
Collingwood’s new senior assistant coach Scott Gowans undoubtedly had some valuable tips for his side, having coached the Kangaroos for two years. In charge of midfield and ball movement, the last game Gowans coached for North Melbourne was, ironically, their 2020 semi-final win over Collingwood, immediately prior to the termination of the season due to Covid-19.


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ASX sinks, Scentre in $3.7bn loss



That’s all from the Trading Day blog for Wednesday, February 24. Australia’s sharemarket gave up all of the previous day’s rise, hitting a new 3-week low intraday and closing down 0.9pc. There was a volatile session on Wall Street, where the Dow ended 14 points higher, the S&P 500 added 0.1 per cent and the Nasdaq was down 0.5 per cent. Wage price index figures are released and, in another busy day for earnings, results are out from Woolworths, WiseTech, Scentre, Nine, Medibank Private, Healius and IOOF, among others.



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Australia’s visa program contracted to China state-linked company

Australia’s visa program contracted to China state-linked company


The Canadian and New Zealand government arrangements have raised questions about the security of biometric data and the potential for Chinese authorities to be alerted to residents attempting to leave the country over concerns for their safety.

Those fears have been heightened by Australia’s deteriorating relationship with China, the detention of dual citizens who have been critical of the government, a crackdown on ethnic groups including the Uighurs, and new national security laws in Hong Kong which have seen dozens of activists arrested on subversion charges.

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The Home Affairs review found no issues with the local subcontractor, despite its ties to the Chinese government, and reported that the checks and balances in place had ensured no data had been compromised.

“The [company] does not have access to visa application data or personal information of visa applicants provided to VFS in China in support of Australian visa applications,” a Home Affairs spokesperson said.

Beijing Dongfang Tianxiao company is part-owned by the CITC Group, China’s largest state-owned investment company. It performs a data entry role in Australian visa application centres in China. The Home Affairs review found the company has no ability to transmit data out of the application centre.

VFS’ chief communications officer Peter Brun said that virtually all foreign companies in China operate with locally owned or state-owned facility management companies. He said the local companies provide office space and administrative staff.

“Their owners or investors have absolutely no access to any data at these visa application centres and no IT infrastructure access,” he said. “VFS Global does not have any servers in China, where applicant data is stored.”

Brun said applicants’ data was transferred via a fully encrypted private network tunnel managed by VFS Global. This data is then transferred to respective client government servers.

“VFS Global welcomes this scrutiny,” Brun said. “It is essential that client governments and visa applicants have full confidence in the integrity and security of their government’s programs and services.“

The former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Ward Elcock, told the Globe and Mail in February that using companies connected to China’s security forces or its governments “represents a lazy abdication of our standards to those of a police state”.

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Dominic Tse, the pastor of North York Chinese Community Church, said Chinese applications should be brought back within the department.

“We’re handling sensitive personal data that could mean life and death for people,” he told Canada’s Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. “We must bring it back home.”

In Hong Kong, VFS runs its operations through private subcontractor Glory Visa Consulting.

Jane Poon, who left Hong Kong in 2017 and now runs the Victorian Hongkonger association, said the relationship between VFS and state-owned enterprises in the mainland had raised concerns about information being processed by the Chinese government.

“But there is no other choice if this is the only way to apply,” she said.

Abul Rizvi, the former deputy secretary of the Department of Immigration who dealt with VFS when it was processing paper-based applications a decade ago, said: “VFS would be taking a big risk if it starts using that data in a nefarious way.”

“Unless the subcontracting agency is itself involved in some sort of fraud then I don’t see it as an issue, but the risk is always there.”

He said the company was used to expand Australia’s ability to attract visitors from China, allowing the government to process more applications than could have been handled by traditional consular services.

“Prior to COVID-19, China was our biggest tourist market,” he said. “As long as the decision-making is retained entirely within the department I don’t see a problem.”

The Department of Home Affairs scrapped a $1 billion overhaul of Australia’s internal visa processing system in March last year over procurement risk and data security concerns. Two consortium bids from Accenture and Australia Post, and a separate pitch from Ellerston Capital, PwC, Qantas, National Australia Bank and Pacific Blue Capital were rejected.

clarification

A previous version of this article said corporate records showed VFS Global is itself part owned by Chinese sovereign wealth fund Chengdong Investment Corporation. Chengdong owns a share of VFS through an investment fund.

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