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Ukraine rivals trade blame after violence

Ukraine’s shaky truce has been rattled further as warring rivals traded blame over the bloodiest day in the restive east since a ceasefire was signed on September 5.


Gunfire erupted around the airport in the main rebel-held city of Donetsk on Monday, a day after six civilians were killed in shelling near a market, and international observers came under fire.

Government forces and pro-Russian separatists accused the other of violating the ceasefire, the first backed by both Kiev and Moscow since fighting erupted across Ukraine’s industrial heartland in April.

Despite the surge in violence, President Petro Poroshenko unveiled legislation offering parts of the separatist east limited self-rule for three years, under the terms of the truce signed in Minsk.

The proposals would also extend Russian-language rights in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, allow them to strengthen ties with neighbouring Russia and to hold local elections in November.

Poroshenko insisted his proposals guaranteed “the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of our state”, although rebel leaders have said they still want nothing less than full independence.

Kiev also plans to offer amnesty to some separatist militants as part of the peace plan aimed at halting a conflict that has cost more than 2,700 lives and sent at least half a million fleeing their homes.

The legislation is expected to be submitted to parliament on Tuesday, when politicians are also set to ratify an agreement for closer trade ties with the EU which Russia opposes.

Poroshenko has called the planned simultaneous ratifications by the Ukrainian and European parliaments a “historic moment” that will define his country’s westward-looking future.

The decision by his predecessor, Kremlin-backed Viktor Yanukovych, to spurn the same EU pact set off months of street protests that led to his ouster. Russia retaliated by annexing Crimea and backing the eastern uprising.

However, in what some see as a concession to Moscow, a free trade deal under the pact with the EU will be delayed until 2016.

On the ground, tensions were still high after Sunday’s violence, which left an unconfirmed number of soldiers dead or injured.

“The government in Kiev is only using the ceasefire to regroup its forces and attack us again,” the “prime minister” of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, told reporters.

“We will not allow that,” he said.

Kiev in turn accused the pro-Russian separatists of firing on Ukrainian positions around the airport, which is still in government hands after a fierce battle in May.

93-year-old former Auschwitz worker charged over murders

The charges relate to the around 425,000 people believed to have been deported to the camp in occupied Poland between May and July 1944, at least 300,000 of whom were killed in the gas chambers.


The accused helped remove the luggage of victims so that it was not seen by new arrivals, said prosecutors in the northern city of Hanover.

“The traces of the mass killing of concentration camp prisoners were thereby supposed to be covered for subsequent inmates,” prosecutors said in a statement.

His main role was to count the banknotes gathered from prisoners’ luggage and pass them on to the SS authorities in Berlin, they added.

Prosecutors said the accused was aware that the predominantly Jewish prisoners deemed unfit to work “were murdered directly after their arrival in the gas chambers of Auschwitz”.

A regional court must now decide whether the accused will go on trial.

The German office investigating Nazi war crimes last year sent files on 30 former Auschwitz personnel to state prosecutors with a recommendation to bring charges against them.

The renewed drive to bring to justice the last surviving perpetrators of the Holocaust follows a 2011 landmark court ruling.

For more than 60 years German courts had only prosecuted Nazi war criminals if evidence showed they had personally committed atrocities.

But in 2011 a Munich court sentenced John Demjanjuk to five years in prison for complicity in the extermination of Jews at the Sobibor camp, where he had served as a guard, establishing that all former camp guards can be tried.

More than one million people, mostly European Jews, perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau, operated by the Nazis from 1940 until it was liberated by Russian forces on January 27, 1945.

Chanderpaul thwarts Bangladesh once again

Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s phenomenal run of form against Bangladesh continued with the veteran West Indies batsman unbeaten on 63 in guiding his team to 4-208, an overall lead of 427, at stumps on the third day of the second and final Test at the Beausejour Stadium on Monday.


After captain Denesh Ramdin declined to enforce the follow-on despite a first innings lead of 219 when the tourists were dismissed for 161 in the morning session, the home side slipped to 4-100 before an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 108 between Chanderpaul and Jermaine Blackwood (43 not out) killed off any prospect Bangladesh had of precipitating a complete batting collapse.

Chanderpaul, now in his 21st year as an international cricketer, has yet to be dismissed in this series and has totalled 645 runs – with just one dismissal – in his last seven Test innings against Bangladesh, including the current effort, dating back to the 2012 series on the Indian sub-continent.

This was his 66th half-century in Tests, and having been left unbeaten on 85 and 84 in his two previous innings in the series, the 40-year-old left-hander would appear to have considerable time on his side to get the 37 runs required for a 30th Test century going into the fourth day of the scheduled five-day match.

Fast bowler Kemar Roach failed to add to his five-wicket tally from the previous afternoon and it was left to spinner Sulieman Benn, who claimed the last two wickets, to ensure that the West Indies had a huge advantage at the start of their second innings.

Only Mahmudullah offered any significant resistance, the all-rounder being ninth out for 53, his second consecutive half-century and fourth score of over 50 in Tests against the West Indies. He was supported by Shafiul Islam in a 45-run eighth-wicket partnership that held up the home side’s progress for an hour until the tailender edged a delivery from fast bowler Shannon Gabriel to Ramdin, one of five catches in the innings for the wicketkeeper.

Building on that substantial platform, Kraigg Brathwaite and Leon Johnson put on 76 for the first wicket before the debutant was bowled driving at left-arm spinner Taijul Islam for 41. Having put on 143 in the first innings, they had come within 24 runs of being the first West Indies opening pair ever to compile century stands in both innings of a Test.

Kirk Edwards and Darren Bravo fell cheaply and when Mahmudullah claimed his second wicket by having Brathwaite caught at slip for 45, West Indies were in need of some stability.

Chanderpaul and Blackwood provided it to put the West Indies in complete command by the end of the day.

‘World lost precious time in Ebola fight’

The European Union has urged the international community to make up for “precious time” lost in the response to the deadly Ebola outbreak in west Africa.


“We are behind the curve and for a reason,” EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said on Monday at a special meeting in Brussels to devise a Europe-wide response to the outbreak ahead of UN meetings later this month.

“When the warning signs were there, it took some time for the international community to pay attention. Precious time was lost.”

The outbreak has killed at least 2400 people in west Africa since it erupted earlier this year.

European countries “can present a very strong commitment” at the UN to help the countries hardest-hit, Georgieva said.

She urged member states to add to the 150 million euros ($A210 million) already pledged by the EU last week.

At the Brussels meeting, called by France, a dozen countries offered to boost aid.

More than half of the deaths have been recorded in Liberia, where President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has warned the outbreak is destroying the country’s social fabric.

“We must isolate the disease, but not the country,” said Tonio Borg, the EU’s Health Commissioner, referring to international airlines that have cut links to the affected countries, which also include Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama is expected to ask Congress to approve his request for $US88 million ($A95 million) to fund Washington’s response to the crisis.

Malaysia on Monday said it will send more than 20 million medical rubber gloves to African nations stricken by the Ebola virus.

Purrfect politics: Stop Tony Meow to give historians paws for thought

Browser extension Stop Tony Meow has been selected for preservation by the National Library of Australia, as part of its archive documenting cultural, social, political life.


For those unfamiliar, the web plug-in’s function is all in the name: it replaces any image it can identify as Tony Abbott with one of a kitten.

Pandora, the web archive established and curated by the National Library of Australia, has preserved more than 39,000 websites since its creation in 1996.

Created to “document the cultural, social, political life and activities of the Australian community and intellectual and expressive activities of Australians”, it has previously archived federal election coverage, political party websites and Royal Commission hearings.

For developer Dan Nolan, it was a “weird” but wonderful surprise for Stop Tony Meow to join such lofty company.

Mr Nolan said they were told about the decision several days ago, almost one year after the idea for the app was dreamt up by his co-creator Matt Kelsh.

“Given there was wall-to-wall coverage of Abbott everywhere, he was kind of getting a bit sick of his face,” he said.

“He decided to throw out on Twitter whether someone could make a browser extension to replace pics of Tony Abbott with pics of cute kittens.”

Fuelled by the internet’s obsession with both politics and cats, Mr Nolan said the plug-in took off.

“We’re over 100,000 installs, which is pretty bloody impressive,” he said.

“It’s pretty heartening.”

But it seems the staff at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet may not be cat people – workers spent more than 130 pages of correspondence discussing the app.

The Department also charged more than $700 for Mr Nolan to access those pages when he filed a Freedom of Information request earlier this year.

Mr Nolan said he, Mr Kelsh and their third collaborator Ben Taylor had since stalled their attempts at obtaining the information.

“We ended up not proceeding down that line and ended the FOI process, out of bureaucratic frustration,” he said.

But given the recent news, Mr Nolan said it may be time to try again.