Vice President Pence used private email as US governor: report

Emails obtained by that state’s daily Indianapolis Star newspaper showed that Pence used the private account – which the paper said was hacked last summer – to at times discuss “sensitive matters” and “homeland security issues.

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The Star, which obtained the emails in a public records request, said that in response to its investigation the vice president’s office confirmed that “Mike Pence maintained a state email account and a personal account.”

“As Governor, Mr Pence fully complied with Indiana law regarding email use and retention,” his office told the paper.

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“Government emails involving his state and personal accounts are being archived by the state consistent with Indiana law, and are being managed according to Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act.”

As US President Donald Trump’s running mate on the 2016 campaign trail, Pence criticised the Republican’s rival Hillary Clinton for using a private email server for official communications – a scandal that haunted her throughout the race.

The reporter who broke the story, Tony Cook, told CNN that Pence’s spokesman had “downplayed any comparisons to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and email account.”

Indiana law does not bar public officials from using personal email, but generally does require that messages connected to official business be kept for public information purposes.

Pence’s office told the paper that his campaign had taken steps to allow outside counsel to transfer personal emails dealing with public business to the state.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Clinton was dogged throughout her White House campaign by her use of a private email server while secretary of state. 

She has said FBI director James Comey played a part in her campaign loss, claiming that the agency’s re-opening of a probe into her email use broke the momentum towards victory. 

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Artificial embryo offers pregnancy hope

Scientists have created an artificial mouse embryo from stem cells for the first time.

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The breakthrough, which could shed light on why two-thirds of human pregnancies fail in the early stages of embryo development, was made by researchers at the University of Cambridge.

Using two types of stem cells – embryonic (ESCs) and trophoblast (TSCs) – with a 3D scaffold, the scientists grew a structure capable of assembling itself.

The artificial structure’s development and architecture closely resembled that of a natural embryo.

When a mammalian egg is fertilised by a sperm, it divides to create a ball of stem cells. The ESCs cluster together at one end of the embryo, while the TSCs form a placenta.

A third type of stem cell – primitive endoderm – form a yolk sac which provides essential nutrients for the foetus’s organs to develop properly.

Early embryo development requires the different cells to co-ordinate closely with each other, and previous attempts to create an artificial structure using only ESCs have been unsuccessful.

But the research, published in the journal Science on Thursday, found that the two types of cell communicate about where in the embryo to place themselves.

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, who led the research, said: “We knew that interactions between the different types of stem cell are important for development, but the striking thing that our new work illustrates is that this is a real partnership – these cells truly guide each other.

“Without this partnership, the correct development of shape and form and the timely activity of key biological mechanisms doesn’t take place properly.”

The artificial embryo, while akin to a natural one, is unlikely to grow to a healthy foetus because it would need the third stem cell to create the yolk sac.

However, the study could help scientists understand the developmental events that occur before a human embryo reaches 14 days.

“We are very optimistic that this will allow us to study key events of this critical stage of human development without actually having to work on embryos,” Prof Zernicka-Goetz said.

“Knowing how development normally occurs will allow us to understand why it so often goes wrong.”

Sweden brings back conscription amid Russia fears

“We are in a context where Russia has annexed Crimea,” Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist told AFP, adding: “They are doing more exercises in our immediate vicinity.

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Sweden has had a professional army, staffed by volunteers, since 2010.

“We saw that our units could not be filled on a voluntary basis. A decision had to be taken to complement the (volunteer) system which is why we are reactivating conscription,” Hultqvist said.

A non-NATO member, Sweden has not seen armed conflict on its territory in two centuries. It put conscription on hold in 2010 after it was deemed an unsatisfactory way of meeting the needs of a modern army.

In the past two decades the military’s budget has been slashed as its mission was revamped to focus more on peacekeeping operations abroad and less on the country’s defence.

But in recent years, concerns have risen about Russia’s intentions in the region — with alarms bells ringing after Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014, experts noted.

“The new security situation is also a reality, partly in the form of Russian power politics which has long been underestimated and downplayed,” Wilhelm Agrell, a security expert at Lund University, told AFP.

Since the winter of 2014, “we’ve seen Russia as expansive and prepared to use violence to benefit its own interests,” Agrell said.

But, “today Sweden has neither the possibility nor the political will to stay away from a conflict” in the Baltic Sea region, he added.

In June 2015, US think tank Cepa published a report claiming Russia had held exercises with 33,000 troops aimed at practising an invasion of Sweden’s Baltic Sea island of Gotland, among other sites.

Just three months earlier, the Swedish government had decided to remilitarise Gotland, where the last barracks had been decommissioned in 2005.

Around 150 men have been stationed there since September last year.

Russian fears also came to the fore in October 2014, when Sweden launched a massive but unsuccessful hunt for a foreign submarine — suspected to be Russian — in the Stockholm archipelago over an eight-day period.

Consensus

Sweden first introduced compulsory military service in 1901 but halted it in 2010 and replaced it with a volunteer army.

But a military career had little appeal to generations of Swedes who had never set foot inside barracks.

Thursday’s decision by the minority Social Democratic-led government means all Swedes — male and female — born in 1999 or later will be eligible for conscription as of July 1, 2017.

Mandatory military service, which will last for 11 months, will begin January 1, 2018.

As of July 1, all Swedes born after 1999 will be contacted and asked to answer a questionnaire.  Based on their answers, 13,000 people will be mobilised.

Of those, only 4,000 will be called up each year after January 1, 2018.

For the first time, conscription will apply to women.

“It’s very important to emphasise that military service is for girls and guys,” Hultqvist said.

“It is important for the military to have a gender equal profile,” he added.

The reactivation of conscription is supported by both the government and right-wing opposition.

In 2015, they had already agreed to increase military spending, granting the defence an additional 1.1 billion euros ($1.18 billion) over the period 2016-2020.

On defence issues, Sweden has a close dialogue with neighbouring Finland, which in turn shares a 1,340-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia.

Sweden and Finland — the Nordic and Baltic region’s only non-aligned countries — have recently stepped up their military cooperation with the US.

That followed an increase in Russian military activity in the region, including several airspace violations and war planes allegedly flying without their identifying transponders.

Russia has repeatedly warned Sweden and Finland against joining NATO, an issue regularly debated in both countries.

Gale force winds cause chaos across NSW

Gale force winds have wreaked havoc across NSW shattering windows, cutting power to tens of thousands of homes and causing commuter chaos, including the cancellation of more than 100 flights at Sydney Airport.

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But conditions are expected to ease overnight, after wind gusts on Friday reached 106 km/h on Sydney Harbour, in Nowra and at Port Kembla.

The SES on Friday received more than 500 calls for help with winds so strong they blew the roof off a business in Wollongong leading to 80 people being evacuated.

In Gosford, a tree fell onto a house trapping a woman in a wheelchair, while at International House Sydney at Barangaroo three windows shattered some five storeys up.

The building was evacuated but there were “no patients”, an ambulance spokeswoman told AAP.

Most of the damage was on the state’s east coast with the SES responding to trees falling on roads, powerlines and properties in the Illawarra, Central Coast, south Sydney and the city’s innerwest.

However, conditions are easing with a SES spokeswoman saying the worst was over for Sydney.

“Sydney has seen the worst of the damaging winds today and we are looking at easing winds to continue until Saturday morning,” she said.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning on Friday for damaging winds in the Hunter, Central Tablelands, Sydney and the Illawarra.

A warning was also issued for hazardous surf conditions across the state’s entire coastline over the weekend.

“It will still be very windy on Saturday, just not as windy as Friday,” a bureau spokesman told AAP.

Domestic flights in and out of Sydney were affected by the weather with planes only able to use one runway and travellers facing 60 to 90-minute delays on average, airport officials said.

Power was also cut to Sydney, Illawarra and Central Coast homes and businesses.

Emergency crews from Ausgrid had to restore power to more than 50,000 customers.

The distributor says crews are still responding to 400 reports of hazards on the electricity network including trees on powerlines and downed lines.

Endeavour Energy said 11,000 customers lost power and by the evening some 2000 were still without supply.

Friday’s weather warning comes two days after two walls at separate Sydney building sites collapsed in high winds.

A 30-year-old worker was killed and a teenager received critical head injuries on Wednesday.

Police kill 5 after deadly Spain attack

Police have shot and killed five people wearing fake bomb belts who staged a car attack in a seaside resort in Spain’s Catalonia region hours after a van ploughed into pedestrians on a busy Barcelona promenade, killing at least 13 people and injuring over 100 others.

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A seven-year-old Australian boy missing and his mother is among four other Australians injured in the Barcelona attack.

Authorities said the back-to-back vehicle attacks – as well as an explosion earlier this week elsewhere in Catalonia- are connected and the work of a large terrorist group.

Three people have been arrested, but the driver of the van used in the Barcelona attack remains at large

Spain’s security forces have named him as Moussa Oukabir, the teenage brother of one of those arrested.

Authorities were still reeling from Thursday’s Barcelona attack when police in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, about 130 kilometres to the south, fatally shot five people near the town’s boardwalk who had ploughed into a group of tourists and locals. Six people, including a police officer, were injured, though it wasn’t clear how badly.

Catalonia’s interior minister, Joaquim Forn, told Onda Cero radio that the five suspects killed in a subsequent shootout with police were wearing fake bomb belts.

“They were fakes, but very well made, and it wasn’t until the bomb squad carried out the controlled explosion of one that they could determine they were fakes,” he said.

The Cambrils attack came hours after a white van veered onto Barcelona’s picturesque Las Ramblas promenade and mowed down pedestrians, zig-zagging down the strip packed with locals and tourists from around the world.

Forn, told local radio RAC1 the Cambrils attack “follows the same trail. There is a connection.”

He told Onda Cero that the Cambrils and Barcelona attacks were being investigated together, as well as a Wednesday night explosion in the town of Alcanar in which one person was killed.

“We are not talking about a group of one or two people, but rather a numerous group,” he said.

The Barcelona attack at the peak of Spain’s tourist season left victims sprawled across the street, spattered with blood and writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others were ushered inside shops by officers with their guns drawn or fled in panic, screaming and carrying young children in their arms.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility, saying in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State” in response to the extremist group’s calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the killings a “savage terrorist attack” and said Spaniards “are not just united in mourning, but especially in the firm determination to beat those who want to rob us of our values and our way of life.”

By Friday morning, the promenade had reopened to the public, and neighbours and tourist were allowed past police lines to go back to their homes and hotels. The city centre remained under heavy surveillance.

Similar vehicle attacks have been carried out at tourist sites in France, Germany, Sweden and Britain.

The bloodshed was Spain’s deadliest attack since 2004, when al Qaeda-inspired bombers killed 192 people in coordinated assaults on Madrid’s commuter trains.

IS ‘could make use’ of Hanson’s stunt, Iraq ambassador says

Pauline Hanson’s burqa shenanigans in parliament could backfire and give ammunition to the Islamic States’ cause in the Middle East, Iraq’s ambassador to Australia warns.

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The One Nation leader received a stinging rebuke from Attorney-General George Brandis over her stunt in Senate question time on Thursday.

Ambassador Hussain Al-Ameri said such a performance had the potential to negatively influence people at risk of being radicalised both in Australia and the Middle East.

Dr Al-Ameri said the behaviour created a perception that Australians were anti-Muslim and against Islamic principles and traditions.

“Social media makes the world a small village. When anything happens it can be seen anywhere. Accordingly there is no secret thing,” Dr Al-Ameri told AAP.

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“The terrorists are smart. They can make use of this (incident) to motivate their people everywhere, including Australia.”

It’s important to differentiate between extremism and religion as practised by law abiding citizens, he said.

Dr Al-Ameri said he didn’t wish to criticise Senator Hanson directly but merely wished to offer advice that her behaviour may be unhelpful.

He said it was important to create goodwill with Muslim communities and show respect towards customs and traditions.

Dr Al-Ameri praised the leadership of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who last year fasted for the first day of Ramadan and then celebrated an Iftar dinner with Muslim MPs in his party.

Mr Trudeau said at the time that Ramadan reminds people to show appreciation for countless blessings and to put the needs of others before our own.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Canberra it was right to describe Senator Hanson’s behaviour as a “stunt”.

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“Mutual respect is not just the foundation of our success as a multicultural society, it’s the foundation of our national security,” Mr Turnbull said.

Senator Hanson was unrepentant on Friday.

“I’m not embarrassed by what I did. I’ve created debate over it, which needed to be done,” she said.

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Not Greek, but British? Xenophon contacts UK Home Office over possible dual citizenship

The senator said he would publically reveal the documents he receives back from the UK government as soon as possible, predicting he would have an answer by early next week.

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“What can I do? I am making the enquiries,” Senator Xenophon said on Friday. 

“As soon as I get that paperwork I will give it to you all.”

Mr Xenophon, whose Nick Xenophon Team controls three seats in the Senate, has spent the past week denying any dual citizenship concerns despite having a Greek mother and a Cypriot father.

0:00 Xenophon contacts UK Home Office over possible dual citizenship Share Xenophon contacts UK Home Office over possible dual citizenship

He said he wrote letters to renounce any citizenship to the Greek embassy and Cypriot high commission in 2007, before he entered the federal parliament.

“I have never had citizenship of another country, never wanted citizenship of another country,” he said earlier in the week.

But Senator Xenophon’s father Theodoros Xenophou may have left Cyprus for Australia when the country was still a British colony, raising the prospect that Mr Xenophon may have inherited UK citizenship by descent.

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Cyprus was a British colony until 1960. Travel records show the elder Xenophou travelled to Australia in 1951 as a British citizen, the ABC reports.

The inheritance of UK citizenship by descent landed Nationals cabinet minister Fiona Nash in trouble this week, when she revealed she too was a UK citizen.

Parliament will refer her case to the High Court when sitting resumes next month, but Ms Nash has decided to remain in her ministry position until then, following the example set by Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

The dual citizenship fiasco has already seen five parliamentarians referred to the High Court, to determine whether they were validly elected under Section 44 of the Constitution.

There are the two resigned Greens senators, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters.

The Nationals’ Matt Canavan and Barnaby Joyce, along with One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts, have also been referred but have decided to remain in the parliament, pending the court’s decision. 

0:00 Barnaby Joyce ‘shellshocked’ by NZ citizenship Share Barnaby Joyce ‘shellshocked’ by NZ citizenship

 

Australian leaders react to Barcelona terror attack

Responding to a deadly attack in Barcelona that has claimed at least 16 lives, Mr Turnbull said the love and prayers of Australians were with the victims and their families.

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0:00 Chaos on the street after Barcelona van attacks Share Chaos on the street after Barcelona van attacks

This is a global battle against terrorism,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

Resolute with Spain in the fight to defeat terrorism we condemn the terrorist attack in Barcelona. Our love & prayers are with the victims.

— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) August 17, 2017

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said earlier that 16 people were killed in the attack, which took place on Thursday when a van careened into pedestrians in the Spanish city’s tourist hub of Las Ramblas.

Scores of people were injured including three Australians, with one of those a woman hospitalised in a serious but stable condition.

Mr Turnbull said plans for keeping Australians safe domestically, including around public spaces, were constantly being adjusted.

0:00 Malcolm Turnbull speaks about Barcelona terrorist attack Share Malcolm Turnbull speaks about Barcelona terrorist attack

“I can assure you – we are relentless.”

Turnbull says newly constructed shopping centres will have terror “resilience built in”. Details on how to come in the report.

— James Elton-Pym (@JamesEltonPym) August 17, 2017

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) director-general Duncan Lewis, appearing alongside the Prime Minister, said intelligence-gathering was essential to prevent attacks in Australia. 

ASIO chief Duncan Lewis says existing “very good” links with Muslim community are “absolutely critical” in counter-terror efforts @SBSNews

— James Elton-Pym (@JamesEltonPym) August 17, 2017

Working with the Council of Australian Governments would also be important in the future, Mr Turnbull said.

“We will look at the full range of counter-terrorism measures,” he told reporters. 

ASIO deputy director general, Tony Sheehan responded to a question about the vulnerability of Australian airports, particularly following the recent counter-terrorism raids across Sydney.

0:00 AFP continuing airport terror plot investigation Share AFP continuing airport terror plot investigation

“Those matters are always under consideration by our agencies, Office of Transport Security and other relevant agencies,” he said.

Shadow foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, was pressed for comment and said it was an “unfolding” situation.

“I’m going to leave it to the government to respond to details, because obviously they have information to hand as it comes in,” Ms Wong said.  

New counter-terrorism measures were introduced in Melbourne in June, including road bollards along Bourke Street Mall and the northern edge of Federation Square.

A siren system was also introduced as part of the $10 million safety upgrade.

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Australian boy missing after Barcelona attack

Barcelona terror attack: 16 dead, scores injured In pictures: Aftermath of Las Ramblas attack ‘There were bodies on the ground’: Witnesses describe Barcelona attack

A seven-year-old boy who became separated from his mother is missing after the Barcelona terror attack, his Australian family say.

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Sydney man Tony Cadman has posted on Facebook that his grandson Julian Cadman is missing and the boy’s mum Jom is in a serious but stable condition in hospital.

Young Sydney bank worker Suria Intan is in a serious but stable condition at the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona.

Ms Intan works for the Commonwealth Bank and is heavily involved in the Hillsong Church.

A picture of Suria Intan on her Facebook page.Facebook

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop earlier said of the eight Australians affected by the terrorist attack in Las Ramblas, four have been injured, three have required consular support and one is unaccounted for.

“Of the four injured, that includes one woman, who is from New South Wales in a stable condition, but was seriously injured,” Ms Bishop told reporters Friday afternoon.

“A second woman, also from NSW, is in a serious condition in hospital. She was travelling on a British passport.”

The path of the van in BarcelonaGoogle

She also said two young men from Victoria were injured, but have been discharged from hospital after treatment.

“I have spoken to the Spanish ambassador to Australia and conveyed to him the condolence of the Australian Government and the Australian people and reaffirmed our commitment to stand with Spain at this terrible time.”

She said travel advice has been updated, and that travellers should take caution.

“Again, I remind Australians that if you are worried about loved ones or families, please try and get in touch with them directly, but if you are unable to do so, and you are calling from Australia, the number is 1300 555 135.”

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People walk down a main street in Barcelona, Spain, after the terror attackAAP

16 dead, scores injured

Sixteen people were killed Thursday when a driver deliberately slammed a van into crowds on Barcelona’s most popular street in an attack claimed by the IS. 

Police and the Catalonian Interior Minister said they had arrested three suspects after the assault, the latest in a wave of vehicle rampages across Europe in recent years.

The IS propaganda agency Amaq claimed that “soldiers” from the jihadist group carried out the attack, according to the Site Intelligence Group which monitors Islamist websites.

Witnesses told of the panic unleashed in an area thronging with local residents and tourists in Spain’s second biggest city, as world leaders united in condemning the carnage.

“We can confirm there are 13 dead and more than 50 injured,” regional interior minister Joaquim Forn said on Twitter. Belgium said one of its nationals was among the dead.

Twenty-six French citizens have been injured, with at least 11 of them in serious condition, the French Foreign Affairs Ministry says.

The statement says French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will visit Barcelona on Friday to visit the victims, and that the French consulate in Barcelona is in contact with Spanish authorities.

0:00 Barcelona’s most famous street Las Ramblas was packed with tourists when a van drove into the crowds, leaving scenes of carnage and panic. Share Barcelona’s most famous street Las Ramblas was packed with tourists when a van drove into the crowds, leaving scenes of carnage and panic.

One of the suspects was named by the police union as Driss Oukabir, but there were no further details and police denied earlier reports a perpetrator was holed up in a bar.

The famous Las Ramblas is one of Barcelona’s busiest streets, lined with shops and restaurants and normally packed with with tourists and street performers until well into the night.

Police said there had been a “huge collision” between a van and pedestrians on the thoroughfare and a police source said officers were seeking a total of two suspects.

Injured people are treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district (AAP)AP

Spain’s royal family condemned the assault in unusually strong terms, vowing that their country would not be “terrorised” by extremists.

‘Bodies on the ground’

Witnesses told of scenes of horror, with bodies strewn along the boulevard as others fleeing for their lives.

“When it happened I ran out and saw the damage,” local shop worker Xavi Perez told AFP.

“There were bodies on the ground with people crowding round them. People were crying. There were lots of foreigners.”

Injured people are treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017AAP

Witness Aamer Anwar told Britain’s Sky News television that he was walking down Las Ramblas, which he described as “jam-packed” with tourists.

“All of a sudden, I just sort of heard a crashing noise and the whole street just started to run, screaming. I saw a woman right next to me screaming for her kids.”

Mossos d’Esquadra Police officers and emergency service workers near the site where a van crashes into pedestrians in Las Ramblas, downtown Barcelona,AAP

Just hours after, police stopped a second terrorist attack involving explosive devices in the Spanish coastal town of Cambril.

Police in the resort town of Cambrils, located about 100 kilometres south of Barcelona, say those behind a van attack which left six people injured were carrying explosive vests, according to the Associated Press.

The four attackers shot dead by police in Cambrils, 120 kilometres south of Barcelona, were wearing explosive belts.

A fifth attacker died after earlier being injured in the operation.

Police were preparing to complete controlled explosions and called for calm in Cambrils ahead of the operation.

Spain had so far been spared the kind of extremist violence that rocked nearby France, Belgium and Germany.

But it was hit by what is still Europe’s deadliest jihadist attack in March 2004, when bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people in an attack claimed by Al Qaeda-inspired extremists.

Ethan Spibey, a charity director on holiday in the city, said he and several others had locked themselves in a nearby church.

“All of a sudden it was real kind of chaos… people just started running screaming,” he told Sky. “There was kind of a mini stampede.”

Tom Gueller, who lives on a road next to Las Ramblas said he saw the van speeding along the boulevard.

“It wasn’t slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds in the middle of the Ramblas,” he told BBC radio.

A Greek diplomat in the city said three nationals had been wounded — a woman and her two children.

Thursday’s attack, which followed similar incidents in Britain, Germany and France, drew widespread condemnation.

0:00 US Vice President Mike Pence condemns attack in Barcelona Share US Vice President Mike Pence condemns attack in Barcelona

‘Revolting attack’

“The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help,” US President Donald Trump tweeted.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron — whose country has witnessed a series of bloody jihadist atrocities including a truck rampage in Nice in July 2016 that killed 86 people — said his thoughts were with the victims of the “tragic attack”.

A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the “revolting attack” and British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Twitter that London “stands with Spain against terror”.

The Nice carnage and other assaults including the 2015 Paris attacks on nightspots in the city were claimed by the Islamic State.

Deeply saddened by the attack on our city. All our thoughts are with the victims, their families and with the people of Barcelona.

— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 17, 2017

In another deadly vehicle attack in December, 12 people were killed when a man driving a truck ploughed into a crowd at a Berlin Christmas market.

Spain has emerged as a potential target for jihadists, with extremist websites mentioning it for historical reasons, since much of its territory was once under Muslim rule.

The authorities in Spain — the world’s third biggest tourism destination — generally remain discreet on the terror threat.

But they publicise every arrest of alleged jihadists, most of them detained for propaganda, recruitment for extremist groups or “glorifying terrorism.”

According to the interior ministry, more than 180 “jihadist terrorists” have been arrested since 2015.

Australian boy missing after Spain attack

A seven-year-old Australian boy who became separated from his seriously injured mother in the Barcelona terrorist attack remains missing.

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Sydney woman Jom Cadman is in hospital but family members do not know what has happened to her son Julian.

Another Sydney woman, Suria Intan, on the last few days of a European holiday with friends is also in a serious condition in hospital.

Ms Cadman and her son were in Spain for a wedding this weekend.

Her father-in-law Tony Cadman said Ms Cadman is in a serious but stable condition in hospital, but his grandson is missing.

“Julian is seven-years-old and was out with Jom when they were separated, due to the recent terrorist activity,” he said in a Facebook post.

A friend said Ms Cadman’s husband Andrew heard about the terror attack when he turned on the radio at work in Sydney on Friday morning, but was unable to reach her on the phone.

Mr Cadman then discovered his wife was in hospital and his son was missing, the friend identified only as Scott told Sydney radio 2GB.

Scott said Mr Cadman was flying to Spain on Friday night, not knowing his son’s fate.

“He’s flying to Spain at the moment not knowing whether his son is dead or alive,” Scott said.

“They were over there for a wedding for this weekend. My mate stayed here and he’s just beside himself.”

Ms Intan, a Commonwealth Bank worker was named by Fairfax as also being seriously injured in the attack.

She was due to come home this weekend after a three-week holiday with three girlfriends, Fairfax reported.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said four Australians were injured in the attack targeting tourists in the Spanish city’s Las Ramblas district.

Two Victorian men were hit by the van driven into crowds on a busy promenade, but had been released from hospital.

At least 100 people were injured in the attack claimed by Islamic State, while Ms Bishop said Catalonian authorities put the death toll at 16.

Australian cyber safety expert Susan McLean was about 100m away as the van zigzagged down the busy avenue, mowing down pedestrians and leaving bodies strewn across the ground.

“All of a sudden there was this tidal wave of people running from both Placa de Catalunya and Las Ramblas towards us screaming, crying and with absolute terror etched on their faces,” she said.

Ms McLean, who was separated from her husband in the panic as people were pushed into shops, said the scene reminded her of Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall rampage in January that killed six and injured three dozen people.

“My first reaction was the Bourke Street massacre, because that is what it reminded me of – the vision of people fleeing in just such terror,” she said.

One of the first Bourke Street responders, fire brigade Commander Graeme O’Sullivan, and his wife saw the carnage as they enjoyed poolside drinks on a rooftop terrace of their Barcelona hotel.

“We could clearly hear thuds as the vehicle was running into people, and then a short time after that, obviously, several very loud sickening screams from the people involved down at street level,” he said.

There are no reports any Australians were involved in two connected attacks in the Spanish towns of Cambrils and Alcanar, both south of Barcelona.

Sombre crowds return to Las Ramblas

Tourists and Barcelona residents have tentatively returned to Las Ramblas for a subdued stroll down the leafy boulevard, a day after a van attack filled it with fear and bloodshed.

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Dozens of armed police officers in blue and neon-yellow uniforms were stationed near Placa de Catalunya and the street was still closed to vehicles, but all other signs of the previous day’s terror had been cleared away.

Newsstands were open selling papers and souvenirs, and by midmorning, some ice cream shops were starting to lift their gates. Notable exceptions were the iconic flower stalls near where the van came to a halt after killing at least 13 and injuring 100. And metal gates were closed at the entrance of La Boqueria, the expansive market that is one of the city’s most famous tourist attractions.

Enrique Camprubi, a city resident for 40 years who walks down Las Ramblas nearly every day, said besides the police, the scene didn’t appear very changed.

“We don’t have to be afraid,” said Camprubi, who volunteers at a nearby center named after Mother Theresa. “And we aren’t afraid because that’s what they want, the Islamic State, they want to scare us so that we stay at home. That is last thing we’re going to do.”

The number of pedestrians was about the same as a regular summer morning, but the crowd was much quieter than usual. Many somberly walked in silence, staring down at the distinctive curved paving stones.

A family from New York said outside La Boqueria that they were undeterred when they boarded a plane last night after hearing about the attack.

“We all feel fine, right?” Tara Lanza said as the whole family exchanged reassuring looks.

“It’s sad,” said her husband, John Lanza. “You can tell it’s obviously quieter than it usually is, but I think people are trying to get on with their lives.”

Their tour guide, Gaston Magrinat, an American who came to Barcelona in 1999, said he couldn’t help thinking that he or his kids could have been among the victims.

“Thinking how often I come down this avenue? Not just for work but also with family,” he said. “It’s a recreational area as well. You come with the kids and get ice cream and stuff like that. It could have easily been me.”

Webcams improve bond with babies

Webcams can help improve early bonding between parents and premature babies, a study has found.

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Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) analysed the views of parents and professionals using webcams to assist the process.

The majority of parents quizzed in the study, published in BMC Pediatrics, benefited from seeing their baby 24 hours a day, seven days a week in neonatal units.

The team interviewed 30 mothers and fathers and 18 professionals, including nurses, midwives, nursery nurses and doctors, in a Scottish hospital over a six-month period.

Parents said webcams gave them an increased feeling of closeness, enhanced emotional well-being and improved post-birth recovery. The technology also increased the involvement of family and friends through shared images from the post-natal area.

Those interviewed said webcams allowed them to “feel that they were with their baby” even during periods of separation.

They also said they became more responsive to their babies’ needs, and seeing their child helped mothers produce breast milk.

A small minority in the study, however, said the ability to see their baby round-the-clock heightened their anxiety rather than decreasing it, as the majority of parents reported.

Dr Susan Kerr, of GCU’s school of health and life sciences, said: “Our study appears to encourage the early bonding process between parents and their babies.

“The study is one of a few worldwide to have evaluated the use of webcam technology in neonatal units.

“Further work is required to assess the cost-effectiveness of webcam technology and also to evaluate its use in the family home following the mother’s discharge from hospital”.

‘Don’t call me a pioneer!’ Australia’s first hijab-wearing officer changing perceptions

Refusing to call herself a pioneer, the Senior Constable Maha Sukkar is inspiring other women of the Islamic faith to follow in her footsteps and set an example for police forces around the world.

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Walking the beat in Dandenong, in Melbourne’s south-east, Leading Senior Constable Maha Sukkar is a familiar face.

Migrating to Australia from Lebanon in 2000, it was an act of global terrorism a year later that sparked her desire to join the force.

Leading Senior Constable Sukkar said after the September 11 terror attacks, the attitudes of society towards her changed, so she embarked on a mission to change them back.

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“After September 11 those same people started saying bad things to me, to my face. I thought: what has changed? I am the same person I was the day before. So I wanted to change people’s perspectives.”

And in 2004 she did, making history as the first hijab-wearing officer.

In November that year, Maha Sukkar held the Qu’ran high above her head as she swore an oath to Victoria Police and received her badge from then police commissioner Christine Nixon.

“It was the best day of my life, even better than my wedding day. I still smile when I think about it. It was really hard work physically and mentally to convince Victoria Police that I can be part of [them] even if I have a headscarf on. The only difference is I might look a bit different but I’ll do the same job.”

Melbourne, November 26, 2004. Islamic police recruit Maha Sukkar receives her badge from Police Commissioner Christine Nixon at the Victoria Police AcademyAAP

Over her 13-year career in blue, she’s seen a lot of changes, mostly – she says – for the better.

Leading Senior Constable Sukkar said she still gets the occasional question about her headwear, but she delights in every opportunity to disprove the stereotype of a subservient hijab-wearing Muslim wife.

“I’m happily divorced. I’m a police officer who works night shifts and afternoon shifts. If I’m oppressed, how could I do that? I chose to wear it. My parents actually didn’t want me to wear it, but I chose to wear it.”

Her diversity is an asset on the Multicultural Liaison Unit at the Dandenong Police Complex.

Acting Inspector Chris Edwards said Leading Senior Constable Sukkar has not just helped change the way the region’s newly-arrived community members see the police, but also how the police think about the communities.

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“When I first came into this role, I wanted to get my head around the literature, tolerance of religions, tolerance of cultures. Maha said it’s not about tolerance. It’s about acceptance.”

Figures from the Victoria Police Muslim Association suggest, over the last decade, the number of officers in the state who identify as Muslim has risen to about 130.

But in a force of over 14,000, officers like Leading Senior Constable Sukkar are still a minority.

It’s something she said she’s working to change.

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“As I always tell people, we are part of the community, and in order to be part of the community, we need to help the community we are a part of. At the same time, [we] help the police understand more about our community, the multicultural community in general but the Muslim community in particular, and that way it’s a win-win for both.”

She has assisted more than 10 women of diverse backgrounds to join Victoria Police, but some believe her influence reaches much further than state and even national borders.

0:00 How to wear a hijab: Tutorial Share How to wear a hijab: Tutorial

The Islamic Council of Victoria’s Nail Aykan said he believes Leading Senior Constable Sukkar is not just the first hijab-wearing officer in Victoria, but in Australia and in many English-speaking countries.

He said she’s an example globally of how well diversity in law enforcement can work, “in profiling and modelling the diversification of the police force, to say ‘look, if it works for Victoria, if it works for Australia, it can work for us’.”

But, despite her achievements, Leading Senior Constable Sukkar refuses to be called a pioneer.

“I’m just a normal human being doing a job.”

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