CNN boss slams White House media attacks

CNN in New York received a suspicious package, leading police to evacuate the Time Warner building.CNN chief Jeff Zucker has criticised the White House for a “total and complete lack of understanding” of the seriousness of its attacks on the media, as his network’s New York bureau was evacuated for five hours following the discovery of an explosive device sent there.

Feelings were raw at the cable network because of a what it believed was a reluctance by the administration to discuss CNN as one of the targets of crude devices sent to political leaders, and the delivery of a fundraising email that attacked CNN that arrived in inboxes of supporters as the story unfolded.

“The president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand their words matter,” said Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide. “Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”

There was no immediate response from the White House.

The package that included the explosive device and an envelope containing white powder was addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, a frequent Trump critic.

Brennan is actually a contracted analyst at NBC News, although the package’s street address was for the Time Warner Center in New York’s Columbus Circle, where CNN’s offices are.

CNN shifted its broadcast from New York to Washington mid-morning on Wednesday after an alarm sounded and the building was evacuated.

Employees milled about in the streets, along with shoppers in the Time Warner Center mall, which was also evacuated.

Zucker was at the network’s Atlanta headquarters, where he helped direct coverage.

CNN has been a frequent target of Trump’s “fake news” barbs and a “CNN sucks” chant broke out at a Monday campaign rally.

Amid that backdrop, some at CNN were angered by an initial tweet by press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that condemned “the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton and other public officials”.

An hour later, she sent another tweet that said the White House’s condemnation “certainly includes threats made to CNN as well as current and former public servants”.

Less than two hours after the CNN offices were evacuated, Trump’s campaign sent a fundraising email to some supporters that specifically targeted CNN and urged recipients to fight back against the “fake news’ attacks and bias against hardworking Americans”.

Campaign chairman Brad Parscale later apologised, saying it was a pre-programmed message that was not caught before news of the explosive device came out.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims re-appointed

‘s consumer watchdog will use its new powers to go after big companies under newly-reappointed chair Rod Sims.

Mr Sims was appointed chair of the n Competition and Consumer Commission in August 2011 for an initial five-year term, before getting an extension in 2016.

He is the first chairman to get a third term, which will run until August 2022.

“I’m looking forward to continuing our very strong enforcement work,” Mr Sims said in Canberra on Thursday.

“We’ve just got higher penalties so we’ll certainly be seeking penalties against large companies, north of $100 million, if we can achieve that.

“We continue to put a lot of focus on enforcement, we’ve got a lot of important market studies, a lot of important work to do on communications, I’m looking forward to embracing all of it.”

The ACCC is currently inquiring into power prices; the dairy industry; gas; insurance in northern ; home loans; and the impact of Google and social media on traditional news and advertising media.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Mr Sims had done an outstanding job in the role.

“Under Rod’s leadership the ACCC has been the consumer’s champion, enhancing competition, and therefore in the process ensuring more jobs and lower prices for consumers,” he said.

“Most recently Rod has been absorbed, as we have been, with the energy market.

“The ACCC conducted a very important review of the retail pricing market and the recommendations of his review we are now implementing.”

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said Mr Sims is a “respected regulator”.

“That’s an appointment I have no quarrel with …(but) as we get closer to the election, on seriously important economic appointments it would appropriate for the opposition to be consulted,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Bianca Louise French has arson charge dropped after ex-partner’s death

A WOMAN who was accused of setting her ex-partner on fire during a domestic dispute at Hamilton South has had the charge against her dropped after the man died from unrelated causes more than a year later.

Lawyers for Bianca French, 30, were preparing to run a self-defence case at a trial in Newcastle District Court in November and had planned to call evidence to show her ex-partner, Paul Michael Green, had a tendency to commit acts of domestic violence and intimidation towards Ms French, according to a tendency notice filed in court.Mr Green, known as “Ducky”, died on July 30 this year.

In the news:Police figures show 100 guns surrendered in Hunter Region during statewide gun amnesty

His death camemore than a year after he went into a coma for four days and suffered “serious and life-threatening injuries” and burns to more than 20 per cent of his body after being allegedly set on fire by Ms French at a unit in Triumph Way.

But rather than have the charges against her upgraded to reflect Mr Green’s demise, Ms French’s matter was mentioned in Newcastle District Court on Thursday where a DPP solicitor told Judge Roy Ellis there would be no further proceedings.

“The DPP has directed there will be no further proceedings,” Mr Ellis said.

“The accused,Ms French, is discharged.”

The trial, which was due to begin on November 13 and run for five days, was vacated.Neither Ms French, who isrepresented by Public Defender Peter Krisenthal and solicitor Kate Maher, or Mr Green’s family were in court on Thursday.

In other news:Acquitted doctor Jeremy Coleman wants costs, remaining charges dropped

At first glance it appeared to be a particularly callous crime; a woman accused of pouring petrol on her partner and then setting him alight.

But, according to the defence tendency notice,the case against Bianca French needed to be viewed in the context of a volatile and violent domestic relationship that was underscored by numerous visits from police, assaults, intimidation, criminal charges, apprehended violence orders and breaches of those orders.

The defence claimed Mr Green had a tendency to be jealous and accuse Ms French of infidelities, to attend Ms French’s home uninvited and in breach of an apprehended violence order, to physically assault her by punching her in the head or pulling her hair and to choke or suffocate her.

To support their claim, the defence provided court attendance notices and policefact sheets for six separate acts of violence or AVO breaches as well as COPS (the internal police system) evententries detailing similar instances when the police were called but Ms French declined to take the matter further.

The defence said the evidence was relevant because some of those tendencies had played out in the days before Mr Green was set on fire on May 11, 2017.

In the newsNSW auditor general report shows infrastructure spending shortfall in regional NSWNewcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes insists a new multi-million dollar basketball stadium should be built at BroadmeadowPower line thieves strike at Tomago amid Ausgrid warning over spate of theftsLawyers for convicted child killer Kathleen Folbigg say her controversial diaries contain ‘no admission of guilt’

Redundant bus stops in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie could be converted to car parking spaces

POSSIBLE CHANGE: A file photo of a bus stop. Many redundant bus stops in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie could be converted to parking. Picture: Marina NeilCLOSE to 140 redundant bus stopsin Newcastle could be converted to parking underplans being considered by the council and relevant government authorities.

The stops, which have not beenused since Keolis Downer changed the region’s bus routes in January, are dotted throughouta range of suburbs in Newcastle,and there are others in Lake Macquarie.

Beaumont Street had its bus stops converted to 12 hybrid parking spaces in August, but hundreds of possible spaces remain as bus stops across the region.

Onthe western side of Broadmeadow station, an unused stop could provide drop-off and pick-up parking for a short time period.

In other suburbs, converted stops could be a valuable addition forlocal residents.

Newcastle City Council confirmed it was planning to remove close to 140 stops identifiedby Keolis Downer as no longer in use.


Opal card data shows Newcastle bus patronage still downNuatali Nelmes wants fare-free light rail in NewcastleLight rail vehicle goes under control for the first time | PHOTOS“We’ve provided a list of the stops to all bus operators in the Newcastle local government area to ensure no stops are removed that are still required for private bus routes or school services,” a council spokesperson said.

“Once the list is finalised, the bus stops will be removed following approval from the Newcastle City Traffic Committee.

“The stop areas will then be returned to parking for community use, with the type of parking kept consistent with existing parking zones within each area.

“This will help support parking turnover and availability, particularly in commercial or high-use areas.”

Keolis Downer’s director corporate affairsAndrew Fletcher said many of the redundantbus stops in Newcastle were in suburban areas where there was no paid parking.

He said Keolis Downer had provided the two councils with a list of redundant stops earlier this year after the network changes.

READ MORE:Council urges drivers to use ‘secret’ carpark

Lake Macquarie councildid not confirm how many bus stops were redundant in its local government area.

“Councilinvestigates bus stops that may no longer be required on a case-by-case basis, in conjunction with the relevant bus service provider, when requests from the community are received,”a council spokesperson said.

“When assessing the need for a bus stop, we consider things such as whether the stop is still required for school bus services, if it is of benefit to the on-demand bus service, and potential costs associated with the removal of any infrastructure.

“Where it is identified that a stop is no longer required, any changes to signage are considered at the Lake Macquarie City Council Traffic Facilities and Road Safety Committee and implemented following council approval.”

Newcastle City Council did not give a timeframe for when it wouldconvert any redundant bus stops.

The Newcastle City Traffic Committee is comprised of members from Newcastle City Council, Roads & Maritime Services, Newcastle Police, and offices of the MPs for Newcastle, Charlestown and Wallsend.

State government data reveals Newcastle postcodes with the most unclaimed CTP green slip refunds

UNCLAIMED: Merewether and Merewether Heights were two subrubs with many unclaimed CTP refunds. More than 18,000 policy holders in Newcastle are yet to claimCTP refunds under the NSW government’sgreen slip reforms introduced in December last year.

State data obtained by the Newcastle Heraldreveals more than $800,000 remains unclaimed across 15 postcode areas in Newcastle.

Topping the list of postcodes where policies remain unclaimed is 2289 –Newcastle, where more than $180,000 remains available to be refunded from 3770unclaimed policies.

More than 7150 policies in 2289 have been claimed, however, totaling $400,000.

READ MORE:How Hunter drivers can get a Green Slip refund

The postcode with the second largest amount of unclaimed policies is 2291, comprising Merewether, Merewether Heights and The Junction, where 3050 remain unclaimed compared to 5305 claimed.

The unclaimed policies accountto about $151,352,which is sitting idle and yet to be refunded.

“I strongly encourage Hunter car owners to take the time to see if they are eligible to claim CTP refunds,” Parliamentary Secretary for the HunterScot MacDonald said.

“Car running expenses are a big part of the cost of living in the Hunter and any drop in ownership cost helps.

“Claiming a refund is simple and easy and can be done via Service NSW either online, over the phone or in store.”

The government has extended the deadline for claiming to June 30, 2019.

CTP refunds by postcode:

2304 –6195 policies claimed, 1816 unclaimed2305 –5809 policiesclaimed, 1517 unclaimed2300 –4919 policiesclaimed, 1479, unclaimed2299 –4732 policiesclaimed, 1337 unclaimed2303 –3894 policies claimed, 1515 unclaimed2298 –3702 policies claimed, 1015 unclaimed2295 –2388 policies claimed, 1525 unclaimed2292 –1377 policies claimed, 492 unclaimed2293 –1269 policies claimed, 590 unclaimed2294 –1047 policies claimed, 406 unclaimed2296 –724 policies claimed, 393 unclaimed2297 –592 policies claimed, 250 unclaimed2302 –89 unclaimed