Home' Greymouth Star : May 19th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Friday, May 19, 2017
Scene of horror after Times Square rampage
New York’s Times Square, a
popular site for Australian tourists,
was left strewn with one dead
and 22 injured pedestrians after
a former member of the United
States Navy with a history of
drink driving allegedly mowed
down people for more than three
blocks in his speeding car.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
said there was no indication the
overnight incident was terrorism.
The one fatality was an 18-year-
old girl and her 13-year-old sister
Officials are yet to release the
identities of the victims and it
is not known if Australians are
among the casualties.
Australian Foreign Affairs
Minister Julie Bishop is in New
York for meetings at the United
Nations and is expected to address
reporters later Thursday.
“ We won’t divulge names, ages
or where they come from at this
point, but there was a very large
amount of fire department, police
department resources arriving
here very quickly and thanks to
that people received care in a very
timely fashion,” New York Fire
Commissioner Daniel Nigro told
The alleged driver, Richard Rojas,
26 from the Bronx, was taken into
He has two previous drink
driving arrests and is being tested
to ascertain if he was under the
NYPD Commissioner James
O’Neill said the incident happened
just before midday when a 2009
Honda Accord mounted the
sidewalk at 42nd St and 7th
Avenue and drove at a “high rate
of speed” until 45th St when he hit
a metal stanchion.
Of the injured, four were critical
and three deemed very serious
but all were likely to sur vive,
There were 15 others taken to
hospital with “less serious” injuries.
Despite terrorism largely being
ruled out, the NYPD’s anti-
terrorism units were dispatched to
key locations around the city.
“O ut of an abundance of caution
major sites in the city will get
additional police coverage from
our anti-terror units,” the mayor
said. — AAP
Tax official linked to fraud bust
A Ukraine International Airlines passenger
plane drove through wet concrete while taxiing
after landing at a regional airport, the airline
said in a statement today, accusing the airport
authority of failing to warn them of the hazard.
A senior official at Zaporizhia airport disputed
the airline’s statement.
No passengers on the Boeing aircraft were hurt
but the concrete seriously damaged the fuselage
and landing gear, the airline said, adding that it
was providing alternative means of transport for
passengers scheduled on later flights.
The airline said that the airport had been
carrying out repair work on the runway from
March to May 10. But it had given the airline
the all clear to fly from May 18.
“ Today a UIA plane, which was carrying
out flight PS085 Kiev — Zaporizhia, taxied
after landing onto a section of the aerodrome
where the concrete surface was not fully dry and
received serious damage to its fuselage and all
landing gear,” the airline said.
“The official position of the airport is that
the aircraft did not go onto wet concrete,” Ihor
Bazanov, deputy director of the Zaporizhia
airport, said adding that the plane was not
damaged. — Reuters
Airliner ploughs into wet concrete on runway
Senior tax official Michael Cranston has been
linked to a criminal conspiracy behind the theft
of $165 million from taxpayers to fund the
“ lavish lifestyles” of a group of Sydneysiders
including his son and daughter.
Investigators have seized a haul of luxury items
including two planes, sports cars, jewellery,
artwork, firearms and at least $1m cash found
in a safety deposit box.
Nine people were charged on Wednesday
including Cranston’s 30-year-old son, Adam,
and 24-year-old daughter, Lauren. Cranston,
58, has been issued with a court attendance
notice for allegedly abusing his position as a
senior official of the Commonwealth.
The Australian Taxation Office deputy
commissioner is yet to be officially charged but
is due to face Sydney Central Court on June 13.
He could face five years in jail if found guilty.
Assets seized by the Australian Federal Police
also included 25 motor vehicles — luxury,
vintage and racing — 18 residential properties,
12 motorcycles and vintage wines.
There was also $15m being held in personal
and business company accounts. In excess of
100 bank accounts and share trading accounts
were seized in total.
More than 290 AFP officers were involved in
raids on 28 homes and businesses on Wednesday
following an eight-month investigation
codenamed Operation Elbrus.
“The scale of this allege fraud is unprecedented,”
AFP deputy commissioner Leanne Close told
reporters in Sydney yesterday.
An estimated $165m of tax obligations was
not paid to the ATO, she said.
The AFP says it is one of the nation’s largest
white-collar crimes “in terms of the number of
conspirators and the amount of money involved”.
The ATO revealed four staff have been
suspended without pay while subject to an
The fraud ring was allegedly diverting
taxpayers’ money to fund their “lavish lifestyles”,
“The syndicate members interact socially and
they do have business obligations together,”
AFP Detective Inspector Kirsty Schofield told
Cranston is “in shock”, she said.
Acting Commissioner of Taxation Andrew
Mills says Cranston had “up until this point . . .
held an illustrious career ”.
“It is of concern that a long-standing officer
has been alleged to have been involved in this,”
Mills said in Sydney.
Close said it appeared Cranston’s son has asked
him to access certain information. “ We don’t
believe at this point he had any knowledge of the
actual conspiracy and the defrauding,” she said.
Six additional search warrants were executed
yesterday but there were no further arrests.
President Donald Trump today assailed
the Justice Department ’s appointment
of a special counsel to probe possible ties
between his 2016 presidential campaign
and Russia, calling it “the single greatest
witch hunt ” in United States history and
a move that “hurts our country terribly.”
Trump also said he was close to
selecting a new FBI director to replace
James Comey, who he fired last week,
and that former senator and one-time
Democratic vice presidential candidate
Joe Lieberman was among the top
Trump’s defiant comments stood in
contrast to his measured statement last
night after former FBI chief Robert
Mueller was named as special counsel, in
which he said “a thorough investigation
will confirm what we already know —
there was no collusion between my
campaign and any foreign entity.”
Deputy Attorney General Rod
Rosenstein appointed Mueller after
a succession of jarring developments
that brought to a boil questions over
Russia’s alleged meddling in the election
and possible collusion by the Trump
They included Trump’s firing of
Comey, reports that Trump had
previously pressured Comey to end a
probe of former national security adviser
Michael Flynn, and Trump discussing
sensitive information on Islamic State
with Russia’s foreign minister.
The Republican president decried the
naming of a special counsel, by an official
he himself appointed.
“ With all of the illegal acts that took
place in the Clinton campaign and
Obama Administration, there was never
a special counsel appointed!” Trump
wrote in Twitter postings today. He
did not offer any evidence of such acts
in his reference to Democratic former
President Barack Obama and former
presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“This is the single greatest witch hunt
of a politician in American history!”
Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar
responded: “ This is a truth hunt.”
Trump later told news anchors
at the White House that Mueller’s
appointment was a “very, very negative
thing,” adding, “I believe it hurts our
country terribly, because it shows we’re a
divided, mixed-up, not-unified country.”
US stocks recovered ground today
as upbeat economic data emboldened
investors to return to the market, a day
after Wall Street saw the biggest selloff
in eight months on worries the political
turmoil could undermine Trump
initiatives such as tax cuts that investors
see as favouring economic growth.
Rosenstein, the No 2 Justice
Department official, named Mueller
amid mounting pressure in Congress
for an independent investigation beyond
existing FBI and congressional probes
into the Russia issue.
Rosenstein briefed US senators today.
After ward, Republican Senator Lindsey
Graham said “everything he said was
that you need to treat this investigation
as if it may be a criminal investigation. ”
The White House initially said last
week that a letter Rosenstein wrote
accusing Comey of missteps as FBI
director, including his handling of an
election-year probe into Clinton’s use
of a private email ser ver while she was
secretary of state, was what prompted
Trump to fire Comey. Trump later said
he had already decided to dismiss him
and was thinking of “this Russia thing. ”
Rosenstein told senators he knew
Comey would be fired before he wrote
his letter, Democratic Senator Claire
Democrats and Trump’s fellow
Republicans widely praised Mueller’s
appointment. Senate Democratic Leader
Chuck Schumer said Comey should still
appear before congressional committees
that have invited him to testify.
Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi
said an independent commission to
investigate the Russia matter was still
needed to guard against White House
interference. — Reuters
Rolf Harris is being released from
prison on bail but must now front a
London jury trial in person on charges
he groped teenage girls.
One of the complainants, now in her
mid-40s, told Southwark Crown Court
today that Harris left her in shock after
groping her breast at the BBC Television
Centre in 1983 when she was 13.
She said Harris had said to her, “Do
you often get molested on a Saturday
The woman’s testimony came after the
judge told the jury she had approved
an application for bail allowing Harris
to be released tomorrow from Stafford
Prison where he has been ser ving time
for previous convictions from 2014.
The 87-year-old entertainer has been
permitted to appeared by video-link
from the jail for the first week of his trial
on account of his age and state of health.
He is facing four indecent assault
charges involving three women who
accuse him of groping them when they
were teenagers in 1971, 1978 and 1983.
Judge Deborah Taylor told the jury
that her granting bail to Harris should
have no impact on their decisions on the
current charges. “ He will be attending
what remains of this trial in person from
Monday next week,” the judge said.
Harris out of jail for trial
A Maine Coon cat named Omar may
take the title of world’s longest domestic
cat after Guinness World Records saw
a picture of the feline on Instagram and
contacted his owner.
Omar stretches out to 1.2m and weighs
in at 14kg, according to the cat ’s owner,
Stephy Hirst, from Melbourne.
“ We were expecting about a nine kilo
cat,” Hirst, who told the Maroondah
Leader that the Guinness World
Records had reached out to her about
“ He got to that before he was one-year-
old and that ’s when we sort of realised
that he’s not nearly done yet. ”
The current record holder at 118.33cm
is Ludo, a Maine Coon cat living in the
Omar eats dry cat food and kangaroo
meat and has a relaxed life lounging
around the house with dogs Rafiki
and Penny, Hirst told Australia’s Seven
Guinness World Records has yet to
confirm if Omar takes the title.
Maine Coons are one of the largest
breeds of domesticated felines in the
world. They derive their name from the
American State, where it is the official
State cat. — Reuters
1.2m cat may take world record
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