Daily News Roundup

March 27, 2019

AP: Matt Marton, File

WEDNESDAY, March 27

In a bizarre twist Chicago police have dropped charges accusing Empire actor Jussie Smollett of staging a fake hate crime with his lawyer saying that in future prosecutors should not use the press to convict people.

And Smollett followed by saying in a statement he had been “truthful and consistent on every level from day one.”

“This has been an incredibly difficult time. Honestly one of the worst of my entire life,” hen said.

“But I am a man of faith and I am a man that has knowledge of my history and I would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this. I just wouldn’t.

“Now I’d like nothing more than to get back to work and move on with my life.”

Smollett’s lawyer, Patricia Brown Holmes, said that the way Chicago Police Department and prosecutors handled the case led “things to spiral out of control”.

Brown Holmes pleaded with prosecutors to in future “investigate the charges” and not to “jump ahead and utilise the press to convict people before they are tried in a court of law.”

Smollett’s family released a statement earlier saying that “this morning truth has prevailed.”

“Our son and brother is an innocent man whose name and character has been unjustly smeared,” the statement said.

“Jussie is a son, a brother, a partner, a champion for human rights, and a genuine soul who would never be capable of what he was falsely accused of.

“He was the victim of an assault and then falsely blamed for his own attack. This morning truth has prevailed and he has been vindicated. All charges have been dismissed and his record expunged (cleared).”

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When the First Fleet sailed to Australia one of its prized pieces of cargo was a piano……the first keyboard instrument to arrive on Australian soil.

And now it has left its long time home at Perth’s Edith Cowan University and returned to London for crucial restoration work.

The square piano was taken to Sydney on board the HMS Sirius as part of the 11 First Fleet ships which sailed from England in 1787 and made landfall in Australia in January 1788.

It was made by London piano-maker Frederick Beck and brought to Australia on the fleet’s eight-month journey from Portsmouth.

It was eventually donated to Perth’s Edith Cowan University.

The return journey to the UK was much quicker taking just 21 hours on an Emirates jet from Perth to London earlier this month.

“The restoration of the First Fleet Piano has firmly placed Edith Cowan University at the centre of worldwide efforts to create research and education programs on how to conserve and restore prized historical instruments,” the university’s vice-chancellor Professor Steve Chapman was quoted telling the ABC.

The First Fleet Piano was accompanied by another five pianos, three of which were produced in the 18th and 19th centuries, the airline said.

The instruments were packed in specially crafted insulated flight cases with sensors to track temperature and movement and loaded in the cargo hold of Emirates’ A380 aircraft from Perth to Dubai.

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One Nation’s Queensland leader Steve Dickson has been recorded boasting about how he changed “shit all the time” while a minister in the Newman LNP government.

In one of the recordings aired by an Al Jazeera investigative team on the ABC, Dickson, his conversations peppered with expletives, talks about how easy he found it to change laws during his time in state parliament.

“I was a minister, mate,” he said.

“Once I found out about regulation — get out of my way mate, I was just shooting legislation off everywhere.

“I didn’t know you could do it. Once you find out, mate, it’s like finding the genie’s lamp.

“You just do anything. I was changing shit all the time. It was great.”

Mr Dickson, who was Queensland’s minister for national parks and racing, defected from the Liberal National Party to One Nation in 2017.

The 90-minute documentary centres on One Nation’s efforts to solicit political donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the United States.

In a separate recording, Mr Dickson talks about his time on state parliament’s powerful anti-corruption oversight body known as the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee (PCCC).

His comments were recorded during a conversation in which he canvassed the idea of One Nation seeking social media backing from the powerful gun lobby

“I’ve been a minister in government, I’ve done most of it,” he said.

“I’m really fortunate because I was on a committee within parliament called the PCCC — the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee [sic] — it’s bad shit.

“I’m never going to jail, hey. It won’t happen because I walk the knife.”

His comments were made before the Federal Government introduced laws banning foreign donations and in-kind support.

There is no evidence suggesting One Nation was successful in getting any support from the NRA.

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