Belgian envoy decries Turnbull comments

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s linking of the European refugee crisis with the Brussels bombings is dangerous, the Belgian ambassador says.


Mr Turnbull warned in a speech on Wednesday that Europe faces a “perfect storm” from failed or neglected migrant integration, foreign fighters returning from Iraq and Syria, and porous borders.

He said recent intelligence showed the Islamic State group was using the refugee crisis to send its operatives into Europe.

But Belgium’s ambassador to Australia Jean-Luc Bodson said such comments were dangerous.

“It’s dangerous because it’s precisely what (Islamic State) wants – that we would make a confusion between terrorism and migrants and between terrorism and Islam,” Mr Bodson told the ABC on Thursday.

“My view is that the terrorists who committed the latest attacks in Paris and in Belgium are European-raised and born. Maybe from foreign origins, but they are Europeans.

“So it has nothing to do with the refugee crisis and I think that is the main danger to assimilate that.”

Mr Turnbull told the ABC’s Lateline program on Thursday the Australian government carefully checks refugees.

“ASIO and our other agencies, the AFP and so forth, are taking great care in ensuring that those people who come in are as far as we can ascertain not people that would pose any security risk to Australians and we make no apology for that,” he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said it was a “bit early” to start diagnosing what had happened in Brussels.

Australia’s national terror threat level is unchanged at “probable” following Tuesday’s airport and metro attacks in Brussels that killed at least 31 people and injured more than 200.

Australians are being advised to reconsider any travel to Belgium.

Security has been stepped up at Australia’s international airports.

European security officials said one of the suicide bombers was Najim Laachraoui, a Moroccan-born Belgian whom police had been hunting as the suspected bombmaker in the November 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

The other two suicide bombers were Belgian-born brothers, Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui, both known to the police as common criminals, not anti-Western radicals.

An unidentified fourth man shown in airport video surveillance footage remains at large after his suitcase bomb failed to detonate properly.

Kerry seeks further drop in Syria violence

US Secretary of State John Kerry says a fragile partial truce in Syria has reduced levels of violence there, but that he wants to see a further reduction as well as greater flows of humanitarian aid.


Kerry was speaking at the start of a meeting in Moscow on Thursday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and will later meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Peace talks in Geneva between representatives of the Syrian government and opposition are bogged down, and Washington believes that Moscow, closely allied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, can nudge Damascus to make concessions.

“It’s fair to say three weeks ago there were very, very few people who believed a cessation of hostilities was possible in Syria,” Kerry told Lavrov at the start of their talks in Moscow.

“The result of that work has produced some progress. There has been a fragile (yet) nevertheless beneficial reduction in violence.”

Kerry said there was a hope that his meetings in Moscow could “further find and chart the road ahead so that we can bring this conflict in Syria to a close as fast as possible.”

Russia and the United States have emerged as the two outside powers with a decisive say in what happens next in Syria’s five year-old civil conflict.

The United States and its allies has been backing armed groups that rose up against Assad’s rule, while Moscow has asserted its role with a five-month military campaign that turned the tide of the fighting in Assad’s favour.

Kerry said he was looking forward to constructive conversations with Lavrov and Putin, and said it was encouraging that Russia and the United States were able to co-operate “despite differences … in the face of this urgency to do what is necessary to meet the challenge.”

Commenting on the cessation of hostilities, Lavrov said: “Our cooperation on Syria, our persistence allowed us to succeed because we worked by forming a balance of interests, not only those of Moscow and Washington but also of all the sides involved both in Syria and outside it.”

Wright into Rip Curl Pro second round

Unflustered by a couple of early falls, world championship pacesetter Tyler Wright has powered into the second round of the women’s Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach.


The Australian’s off to a flying start in 2016 after winning the season opener on the Gold Coast last week, as she chases her first world crown.

She carried her form into day one at Bells on Thursday, racking up a combined two-wave score of 15.43 points to overcome Hawaiian Coco Ho (14.20) and American Sage Erickson (7.76).

“I knew that the lines I was taking were the correct lines. It’s just that sometimes the wave throws up a little section you can’t see because you’re already halfway through the turns,” Wright said after twice falling off her board early in the non-elimination heat.

“I just backed it off a touch so I could finish and complete a wave.

“But I was comfortable the whole time.”

Wright was the only Australian heat winner on Thursday, with six-times world champ Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons pitched into sudden-death second-round encounters.

Bianca Buitendag from South Africa edged Gilmore in the opening heat, while Fitzgibbons was pushed into second spot in her heat by Hawaiian Malia Manuel.

The other round-one winners were reigning world champion Carissa Moore from Hawaii, American Courtney Conlogue and France’s Johanne Defay.

Mick Fanning will not start the defence of his Rip Curl Pro men’s title until Good Friday.

Organisers decided not to begin the men’s event on Thursday because much bigger waves are expected during the Easter long weekend.

Three-time world champ Fanning will take a sabbatical from the pro tour after the Bells Beach event is over.

He decided he needed a break following a tough 2015, which included a shark attack in South Africa, a marriage break-up and the death of his brother.

Women dress as ‘handmaids’ to protest US anti-abortion bill

Sixteen women in the US state of Ohio have dressed as characters from the dystopian TV show ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ to protest a proposed bill which would ban the most common procedure for second-trimester abortions.


Based on the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name, the show explores a dystopian future in which ‘handmaids’ are captured and forced to become pregnant surrogates after fundamentalists take control of the United States.

Donning white bonnets and red robes, the women staged a silent protest against a state bill which would ban the ‘dilation and evacuation’ abortion method – which health experts say is the safest and most common abortion procedure for women in the 12th to 23rd weeks of pregnancy.

The procedure, described as ‘dismemberment abortion’ in the legislation, involves removing fetal tissue through the cervix using a range of medical instruments.

The wording of the legislation itself borrows from anti-abortion activists’ talking points, describing tools which “slice, crush and/or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body to cut or rip it off.”

Exemptions exist in cases where the mother’s life is endangered.

The room has really filled up now. The handmaids sit silently. #SB145 #Ohio #ProChoice #HandmaidsTale pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/Bwia6TjbT4

— Rachel Coyle (@RRuby44) June 13, 2017

The legislation is part of a coordinated effort by the National Right to Life anti-abortion lobby group, which has successfully campaigned for similar legislation in several other states.

Roughly eight per cent of abortions in the United States are performed in the second trimester.

Anti-abortion activists say they are seeking to prevent a brutal medical procedure, but opponents of the bill say the move is a cynical attempt to circumvent constitutional abortion rights by blocking a safe and common method.

“Let’s call Senate Bill 145 what it is: part of a broader effort to end access to safe, legal abortion in Ohio,” said NARAL Pro-Choice lobby group Deputy Director Jaime Miracle.

Ms Miracle said the demonstration was inspired by a similar ‘handmaids’ protest in Texas earlier this year.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, one of the year’s most critically acclaimed shows, has inspired several similar protests against anti-abortion legislation.

The entire series will be available to Australian viewers on July 6, when it premieres on SBS On Demand.


Samoa’s Fonotia to make test debut against All Blacks

The 29-year-old Fonotia, who spent three seasons with the Crusaders before joining the Ospreys in Wales, will be joined in midfield by former Wellington Hurricanes utility back Alapati Leiua.


Former Auckland scrumhalf Auvasa Falealii and Stade Francais prop Paul Alo Emile could also make their test debuts off the bench in the match, which New Zealand are using to prepare for the British and Irish Lion series.

Scrumhalf Khan Fotualii will lead the side in the absence of regular captain David Lemi and injury to Rey Lee-lo has given Fonotia the chance to win his first cap.

“Obviously losing the experience that both these players bring is crucial and David’s leadership will be missed, however Kahn Fotualii is more than capable of stepping up to lead,” coach Alama Ieremia said in a statement.

“And to be able to replace those players with Alapati Leiua and Fonotia is a good test of the depth we can draw into.

“Obviously we want to put out an experienced team and the All Blacks is not a team you experiment with, so we are wanting to put on a performance that will make our nation and most importantly ourselves proud.”

Samoa have lost all six of their previous tests against New Zealand, most recently a 25-16 reverse in Apia in 2015.

Samoa: 15-Ah See Tuala, 14-Albert Nikoro, 13-Kieron Fonotia, 12- Alapati Leiua, 11-Tim Nanai Williams, 10-Tusiata Pisi, 9-Kahn Fotualii (captain), 8-Faifili Levave, 7-Jack Lam, 6-Piula Faasalele, 5-Faatiga Lemalu, 4-Chris Vui, 3-Census Johnston, 2-Maatulimanu Leiataua, 1-Viliamu Afatia.

Replacements: 16-Seilala Lam, 17-Nephi Leatigaga, 18-Paul Alo-Emile, 19-Taiasina Tuifua, 20-Alafoti Faosiliva, 21-Auvasa Falealii, 22-D’Angelo Leuila, 23-Ken Pisi.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

May promises Macron ‘Brexit is on track’

After days enduring the fallout from her election disappointment, there was a sense of relief for British PM Theresa May as she escaped to Paris to attend meetings with Emmanuel Macron and a soccer friendly between England and France.


With both countries experiencing recent acts of terrorism, there was a sense of mutual defiance and unity before both teams took to the pitch.

Earlier, Theresa May was keen to present a “business-as-usual” face in a press conference with the French President, declaring the United Kingdom’s negotiations to exit the European Union would proceed as planned.

“And I believe that with the good process that’s been set out by the EU for those negotiations, which start next week, and with the willingness and intent on both sides to build that future partnership then we will see an arrangement for Brexit that will be in the interests not just of the United Kingdom but of the remaining 27 members of the European Union.”

Emmanuel Macron says it’s not too late for a change of heart from Britain.

“Of course the door remains open, always open until the Brexit negotiations come to an end. That being said, a sovereign decision was taken by the British people and that’s to come out of the European Union and I very much respect the decisions taken by the people but until negotiations come to an end there’s always the possibility to re-open the door but let’s be clear and organised and once negotiations have started we should be well aware it will be more and more difficult to move backwards.”

Moving forward, there are signs Theresa May is making progress in her negotiations to stay in power.

An agreement is close with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that would allow her to lead a minority government in the UK after her conservative party lost its parliamentary majority in Thursday’s election.

DUP leader Arlene Foster says she expects to reach a deal “sooner, rather than later”, while remaining tight-lipped on the details of just what it will entail.

“Well I’m not going to negotiate over the airwaves, but I think there’s been a lot of commentary around the issues we’re talking about, and it won’t surprise anyone that we’re talking about matters of course that pertain to the nation generally, bringing stability to the UK government, in and around issues on Brexit, obviously around counter-terrorism and then doing what’s right for Northern Ireland in respect of economic matters.”

But Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein has warned a potential agreement for the DUP to prop up a minority conservative government with its ten votes in the British parliament is causing fear and anxiety in Northern Ireland.

There are fears it could undermine a peace settlement that brought an end to three decades of violence.

Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff says the DUP’s policies should be exposed to the British public.

“Their homophobia, their sexism, their sectarianism and their anti-Irish regressive politics. Maybe every cloud has a silver lining and maybe people here will begin to understand what they are actually dealing with in the DUP.”

Their warnings came as MPs returned to Westminster for the first time since the election.

The once-derided Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is still revelling in the outcome….

Speaker: “I call the Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn….”

Corbyn: “Democracy is a wondrous thing and can throw up some very unexpected results!”

Those results have put Theresa May on the brink.

And as her cabinet meets to outline its legislative plans, to be presented to parliament by the Queen, Jeremy Corbyn is offering what would have been considered impossible not so long ago.

“I’m sure we all look forward to welcoming the Queen’s speech, just as soon as the coalition of chaos has been negotiated. Mr Speaker, just to let the House know and the rest of the nation know, if that’s not possible, the Labour party stands ready to offer strong and stable leadership in the national interest.”



Cosby’s fate in balance as clock ticks down on verdict

The 79-year-old legendary entertainer, once loved by millions as “America’s Dad,” risks being sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.


The 12-member jury on Tuesday headed into a 12th hour of deliberations, after failing to reach a verdict late Monday and asking Judge Steven O’Neill to read extensively from Cosby’s original deposition given in 2005.

The pioneering black comedian arrived at Montgomery County Court in Norristown, Pennsylvania dressed in a dark suit and tie to await the verdict.

Each charge in the closely-watched case — one of the biggest US celebrity trials in years — is punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.

Related reading

The trial, which saw six days of testimony and arguments, heaped disgrace on the award-winning actor lauded as a hero by African Americans and revered by whites for smashing through racial barriers in a five-decade entertainment career.

Around 60 women came forward to publicly accuse Cosby in recent years of being a serial sexual predator alleging that he drugged and assaulted them over a span of 40 years in cities across the United States.

Several of those accusers have attended the trial, but the allegations lodged by 44-year-old Canadian Andrea Constand dating back to January 2004 were the only criminal case brought against him.

Andrea Constand walks to the courtroom for Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial AAP

The vast majority of the alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute.

Cosby attained his greatest fame for his role as Cliff Huxtable, a benevolent father and affable obstetrician on “The Cosby Show” from 1984 to 1992.


One of the most popular television series in history, it jettisoned a man raised by a maid and a US Navy cook into a life of fame and wealth.

“Everybody knows you, Mr Cosby,” a police officer told him while taking down his original deposition in the case in 2005. “Not really,” he replied.

Constand took the stand last week, keeping her composure under a fierce barrage of cross-examination from the defense, which sought to portray their relationship as consensual, and Cosby’s accuser as a liar.

“I wanted it to stop,” she testified.

At the time a 30-year-old director of women’s basketball at Temple University, where the actor sat on the board of trustees, she said the assault left her “humiliated” by someone she had thought of as a friend and mentor.

Related reading

She said Cosby gave her three pills and wine before touching her breasts, putting his fingers in her vagina and putting her hand on his erect penis after she sought his advice about moving to Canada and switching careers.

Cosby maintained in his deposition that he gave Constand the antihistamine Benadryl to relieve stress and had consensual relations, accusing her of lying.

At trial, he refused to testify.

After taking the pills, Constand said, she had trouble talking and difficulty moving and was suffering double vision, before briefly losing consciousness.

“In my head, I was trying to get my hands to move, get my legs to move, but I was frozen and those messages didn’t get there,” she said, her voice breaking.


 The prosecution spent five days building their case. But the defense team called just one witness to the stand and rested their case in just a handful of minutes.

While Cosby’s wife of 53 years, Camille, has stood by him, she has largely stayed away from court and his celebrity friends have largely deserted him.

Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played his daughter Rudy on “The Cosby Show,” attended the opening statements, but left at lunchtime on the first day.

The prosecution leaned on Cosby’s words in the 2005 deposition, in which he admitted obtaining sedatives with a view to having sex.

In closing statements, they portrayed the actor as a sexual predator who deliberately drugged Constand so she would be unable to resist.

The defense savaged Constand’s credibility and painted their relationship as one that involved many meetings, and saw her call the star 53 times after the incident.

“Don’t let her declare victim,” defense lawyer Brian McMonagle implored the jury.

Constand initially settled the case with a civil suit in 2006, but it was re-opened in 2015 when new evidence apparently came to light.

The judge will determine the sentence 60-90 days after the verdict and Cosby could technically walk free as there is no mandatory minimum punishment.

PM wants ‘patriotism’ from would-be citizens as counter-terror move

The Prime Minister has linked the issue of terrorism with the government’s planned changes to citizenship as it pressures Labor to support the reforms.


Malcolm Turnbull says uncontrolled migration has created an ‘existential threat’ in other countries.

Addressing parliament on national security and terrorism, he said those who wish to live in Australia as citizens should be required to demonstrate their loyalty to Australia.

“There is no more important title in our democracy than ‘Australian citizen’, and we should make no apology for asking those who seek to join our Australian family to join us as Australian patriots, committed to the values that define us, committed to the values that unite us.”

The citizenship changes will include new English language requirements and questions based on what the government calls “national values”.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton would also be given new powers to overturn citizenship decisions made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The opposition says they need to see the legislation in full before they decide on whether to support it.

But Labor’s citizenship spokesman, Tony Burke, says he’s not convinced the changes will do anything to prevent terrorism, given those seeking citizenship have already been living here for years.

“How can it be that it only applies to people who are permanent residents – all of whom are already here? If it’s a national security issue, how can it be applying to people who are already here and if they are a naitonal security problem, why are they permanently living here?”

The Prime Minister hit back, saying a values-based citizenship test would reduce the risk of terrorism.

“If he does not think that a strongly integrated society, based on commitment and sharing the values that make us the nation that we are, if he thinks that has got nothing to do with national security then he totally misunderstands the nature of the threats we face.

Mr Turnbull said a recent funding boost for the Federal Police is already helping the fight against domestic terrorism.

And he says recently implemented metadata retention laws are helping law enforcement agencies track online terrorism activities.

In his response, Opposition leader Bill Shorten offered Labor’s support for the government’s counter-terrorism efforts.

He agrees there’s more work to be done in cyberspace, where terrorists are using encrypted messages and payments to avoid detection.

“We need to track and target terrorists as they seek to hide and obscure their financial dealings through electronic currencies like bitcoin. We can allow them no sanctuary, no place to rest, we must dislodge them from wherever they hide. In doing this, though, we must always be mindful of the rule of law and the proper protections of our citizens.”

The government and Labor are both calling for social media companies to do more to stop the spread of extremist material.



Don’t forget Roos on Good Friday: Scott

North Melbourne coach Brad Scott has urged the AFL not to forget his club as the annual debate over the introduction of a Good Friday game heats up.


League boss Gillon McLachlan said on Tuesday that the AFL would have a good look at fixturing a blockbuster match-up on the public holiday from next year.

Competition between clubs to be a part of what would be a highly lucrative game will be fierce but Scott said they should all get in line behind the Kangaroos.

“I think the whole football community are well aware that North Melbourne were not only the originators of Friday night footy but 20 years ago we were the first to talk about possibly playing on Good Friday,” Scott said.

“Twenty years is a long time to wait.

“Obviously if it’s on the table a lot of clubs will put their hands up but we certainly hope that the AFL have long memories and they remember who came up with the idea.”

The Kangaroos open their 2016 campaign against Adelaide at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

The Roos will hit the season in good shape from an injury perspective, with Shaun Higgins (knee) and Robbie Tarrant (back soreness) expected to be available to take on the Crows.

That’s good news for Scott, who is yet to guide North to a season-opening win in six years in charge.

He’s not sure exactly why that is but he’s left no stone unturned as he attempts to rid himself of the unwanted record.

“It could be (a coincidence) but we’re not leaving anything to chance,” he said.

“We’re not stupid enough to say that we’re just going to keep rolling out the same round-one preparation that we have in previous years.

“We’ve played a lot more (pre-season) games than we have previously and we’ve tweaked our training structure pretty significantly to be more ready to go at the start of the year.

“We’re not sticking our heads in the sand and saying that it’s just a coincidence.”

Brazil sports minister pushed out five months before Olympics

Hilton will likely be replaced by Ricardo Leyser, a senior official in the sports ministry who has been managing Olympic preparations, Wagner said in a wide-ranging news briefing with foreign media in Rio.


Hilton could not immediately be reached for comment. But Ugo Braga, an aide of his, said President Dilma Rousseff told Hilton her decision in a meeting on Tuesday evening.

His departure came after Hilton quit his Brazilian Republican Party (PRB), which was part of Dilma Rousseff’s ruling coalition, on Friday. The PRB broke with Rousseff’s governing coalition last week and the minister quit the party to keep his post.

Rousseff, who is trying to keep her coalition together as she battles impeachment proceedings, pushed out Hilton in a bid to woo back the PRB, several party members said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Hilton’s departure is a sign of how the fallout from Brazil’s spiraling political crisis could affect the country’s preparations for South America’s first Olympics in August.

Appointed in January 2015, Hilton had been criticized for an apparent lack of sporting experience. In his acceptance speech he said, “I may not profoundly understand sport, but I understand people, I know how to listen.”

Hilton’s likely successor, Leyser, has been responsible for coordinating the organization of Rio 2016 Olympic Games within the ministry. Except for a brief six-month hiatus, he has been the ministry’s secretary for professional sport since 2009.

(Reporting by Maria Pia Palermo and Anthony Boadle in Brasilia; Editing by Richard Chang)

Man nested in Seattle’s landmark tree, draws coos, boos

Seattle police negotiated with the bearded man from the window of a Macy’s department store building some 30 feet (9 meters) from where he had been perched in the tree branches since Tuesday, said Officer Patrick Michaud.


Michaud said the man “created himself a little seat, maybe even a nest up there at the top.”

Police closed off a small, triangular city block at the base of the tree to protect the public from falling objects, including the man himself, who became a top trending topic.

“Has anyone tried sending a cat up to rescue him? I think they owe us one. #ManInTree,” tweeted @TheChrisAsbury on Wednesday.

“I know #ManInTree is (still) causing a logistical nightmare for the City of Seattle but God love this man!” tweeted @carrielamarr.

The man was first noticed atop the tree on Tuesday morning, and he spent the day throwing objects, including branches and sequoia seed cones, at police officers on the street below, Michaud said. He also claimed to be armed with a knife.

Police used a fire department cherry picker to negotiate with him, but late in the day it was needed elsewhere and left.

A police statement said the man appeared to be going through a personal crisis. He was largely peaceful, Michaud added.

By then, T-shirts emblazoned with “Remember the Tree” with the date that the tree-sitting began were being snapped up online.

A live feed streamed by local broadcaster KOMO News showed spectators videotaping the man as he lounged in his nest, sporting an outfit of khaki pants, a checked hoodie and a red beanie hat.

Some shouted at the man and accused him of vandalising the tree that was planted in 1973 and, according to the Seattle Government Department of Transportation’s SDOT Blog, was once 100 feet (30 meters) tall before being damaged by a storm several years ago.

“I was okay with #ManInTree yesterday, but just look at the damage he has done to that thing. Not acceptable,” tweeted Cameron Bielstein @CBielstein.

Aust draw on World Cup win at World T20

Glenn Maxwell believes holding the World Cup will hold Australia in good stead as the pressure rises at the World Twenty20.


Australia’s tournament-opening loss to New Zealand has made their path to the World T20 semi-finals a lot tricker.

They most likely need to win both remaining pool games, against India and Pakistan in Chandigarh.

Maxwell concedes it has been an inconsistent start to the event from him side but points to their impressive record at last year’s World Cup as cause for confidence.

“When our backs are against the wall we generally find a way out of it,” Maxwell told AAP.

“We’ve got two big games coming up but these are the sort of games that we’ve played really well in over the last few years.

“We did it last year in the World Cup.

“We lost to New Zealand in that low-scoring game then found a way to get past the rest of the sides and go undefeated for the rest of the tournament.

“That’s exactly what we’re hoping to do now.”

It isn’t the only parallel.

Australia defeated Pakistan in the their 2015 World Cup quarter-final then ousted defending champions India in their semi.

Now they are attempting to end the World T20 hopes of the same two sides.

“We definitely can draw confidence from it,” Maxwell said, having played a key role in last year’s World Cup.

“And I don’t think people can just say ‘India is a different country’.

“If we play with that same freedom that we played with during last year’s World Cup then I don’t see why we can’t knock over these two teams and get ourselves into a semi-final.”

There is a possibility Australia could sneak through to the knock-out phase on net run-rate by losing to Pakistan then beating India.

But it’s not a scenario that anyone in the 15-man squad is contemplating ahead of their clash with Shahid Afridi’s side, which starts at 8.30pm (AEDT).

Australia have suffered an eight-run loss to NZ then beaten Bangladesh by three wickets, with Maxwell describing it as a “bits and pieces” start to the event.

Skipper Steve Smith was more cutting when he addressed the side after they suffered a collapse of 6-57 while hauling in a target of 157 to defeat Bangladesh.

“He was probably just disappointed that we played sloppy. We weren’t at what we expect to be our clinical best,” Maxwell said.

The side’s batting order hasn’t clicked in India but Maxwell, who has logged scores of 22 and 26 in the tournament, is upbeat it will soon.

“I look down at our Australian list and we’ve got more match-winners than any other side in the world. We have a team full of them,” the allrounder said.

“That’s why we’ve just got to have confidence … but first we’ve got to worry about Pakistan and how we’re going to overcome them.”

The west’s Islamophobia is only helping the Islamic State

That formula has clearly failed.


Tuesday’s bombings in Brussels come on the heels of similar incidents in Grand-Bassam, Ivory Coast; Maiduguri, Nigeria; Istanbul; Beirut; Paris; and Bamako, Mali, all in the last six months. Rather than containing violence, the war on terror turned the whole world into a battlefield.

We should not be surprised. Violence inflicted abroad always comes home in some form. Last year, the U.S. military dropped 22,110 bombs on Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon says these bombs “likely” killed only six civilians, along with “at least” 25,000 Islamic State fighters. The true number of civilian deaths, though, is likely to be in the thousands as well.

Indeed, we know that the war on terror kills more civilians than terrorism does. But we tolerate this because it is “their” civilians being killed in places we imagine to be too far away to matter. There is no social media hashtag to commemorate these deaths; no news channel tells their stories.

Related reading

Because we pay little attention to the effects of our violence in the places we bomb, it appears that terrorism comes out of the blue. When it does happen, then, the only way we can make sense of it is by laying the blame on Islamic culture.

When opinion polls find that most Muslims think Westerners are selfish, immoral and violent, we have no idea of the real causes. And so we assume such opinions must be an expression of their culture rather than our politics.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have exploited these reactions with their appeals to Islamophobia. But most liberals also assume that religious extremism is the root cause of terrorism. President Obama, for example, has spoken of “a violent, radical, fanatical, nihilistic interpretation of Islam by a faction — a tiny faction — within the Muslim community that is our enemy, and that has to be defeated.”

Based on this assumption, think-tanks, intelligence agencies and academic departments linked to the national security apparatus have spent millions of dollars since 9/11 conducting research on radicalization. They hoped to find a correlation between having extremist religious ideas, however defined, and involvement in terrorism.

“Indeed, we know that the war on terror kills more civilians than terrorism does. But we tolerate this because it is ‘their’ civilians being killed in places we imagine to be too far away to matter.”

In fact, no such correlation exists, as empirical evidence demonstrates – witness the European Islamic State volunteers who arrive in Syria with copies of “Islam for Dummies” or the alleged leader of the November 2015 Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was reported to have drunk whisky and smoked cannabis. But this has not stopped national security agencies, such as the FBI, from using radicalization models that assume devout religious beliefs are an indicator of potential terrorism.

The process of radicalization is easily understood if we imagine how we would respond to a foreign government dropping 22,000 bombs on us. Large numbers of patriots would be volunteering to fight the perpetrators. And nationalist and religious ideologies would compete with each other to lead that movement and give its adherents a sense of purpose.

Similarly, the Islamic State does not primarily recruit through theological arguments but through a militarized identity politics. It says there is a global war between the West and Islam, a heroic struggle, with truth and justice on one side and lies, depravity and corruption on the other. It shows images of innocents victimized and battles gloriously waged. In other words, it recruits in the same way that any other armed group recruits, including the U.S. military.

That means that when we also deploy our own militarized identity politics to narrate our response to terrorism, we inadvertently reinforce the Islamic State’s message to its potential recruits. When British Prime Minister David Cameron talks about a “generational struggle” between Western values and Islamic extremism, he is assisting the militants’ own propaganda. When French President François Hollande talks of “a war which will be pitiless,” he is doing the same.

Related reading

What is distinctive about the Islamic State’s message is that it also offers a utopian and apocalyptic vision of an alternative society in the making. The reality of that alternative is, of course, oppression of women, enslavement of minorities and hatred of freedom.

But the message works, to some extent, because it claims to be an answer to real problems of poverty, authoritarian regimes and Western aggression. Significantly, it thrives in environments where other radical alternatives to a discredited status quo have been suppressed by government repression. What’s corrupting the Islamic State’s volunteers is not ideology but by the end of ideology: They have grown up in an era with no alternatives to capitalist globalization. The organization has gained support, in part, because the Arab revolutions of 2011 were defeated, in many cases by regimes allied with and funded by the U.S.

After 14 years of the “war on terror,” we are no closer to achieving peace. The fault does not lie with any one administration but with the assumption that war can defeat terrorism. The lesson of the Islamic State is that war creates terrorism.

After all, the organization was born in the chaos and carnage that followed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Russia and Iran have also played their role, propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime — responsible for far more civilian deaths than the Islamic State — and prolonging the war in Syria that enables the militant group to thrive.

Meanwhile, the alliances that we consider crucial to the war on terror have worked in the Islamic State’s favor. The group’s sectarianism and funding have come from the Saudi and Gulf ruling elites, the West’s closest regional allies after Israel. And the groups that have been most effective in fighting the Islamic State — the Kurdish militia — are designated as terrorists by Western governments because they are considered threats to our ally Turkey.

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The incoherence of our response to the Islamic State stems from our Islamophobia. Because we believe religious extremism is the underlying problem, we prop up Arab dictatorships that we think can help us contain this danger. Paradoxically, we support the very regimes that have enabled the Islamic State’s rise, such as the Saudis, the most reactionary influence in the region.

With our airstrikes, we continue the cycle of violence and reinforce the militants’ narrative of a war by the West against Islam. Then, to top it all off, we turn away the refugees, whom we should be empowering to help transform the region. If we want to avoid another 14 years of failure, we need to try something else — and first, we need to radically rethink what we’ve been doing.