Ex-analyst under Obama guarantees bail for alleged bomb-throwing lawyer

A former intelligence analyst who worked in both the Departments of State and Defense during the Obama administration guaranteed bail for a New York lawyer who allegedly fire bombed an NYPD vehicle — calling her “my best friend.”

Salmah Rizvi, a NYU Law grad who now works for the prestigious DC firm Ropes & Grey, helped secure the release of fellow lawyer Urooj Rahman by agreeing to be a suretor for her bail during a bail hearing in Brooklyn federal court Monday, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

“Urooj Rahman is my best friend and I am an associate at the law firm Ropes & Gray in Washington, D.C. I earn $255,000 a year,” Rivzi told the judge, who sprang her over prosecutors’ objections.

Rizvi’s intelligence work for the feds involved “focusing primarily on sanctioned finance operations,” according to her bio on Ropes & Grey’s website, which also touts her pro bono legal work.

She “maintains an active civil rights and human rights pro bono practice, focused on prison reform, LGBTQ equality, and immigration. She represents asylum seekers at various stages of litigation,” it says.

Her LinkedIn page says she worked for the feds from May 2008 to August 2013.

She also worked as a legal intern for the NYCLU from September 2014 to May 2015, and for US Attorney’s office in Manhattan from September 2015 to January 2016, according to the page.

Her bio at the Islamic Scholarship Fund added that “her high-value work would often inform the President’s Daily Briefs.”

The group gave Rizvi a law school scholarship sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an organization critics call anti-Israel and supportive of terrorism but which describes itself as “America’s largest Muslim civil liberties organization.”

Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman are accused of driving around near the 88th Precinct stationhouse in Fort Greene on Friday night and early Saturday and trying to pass out Molotov cocktails to crowds protesting the death of George Floyd who were clashing with police.

Soon before 1 a.m., Rahman allegedly got out of the minivan Mattis was driving and tossed one of the firebombs into an empty cop car near the stationhouse.

They were arrested nearby and charged federally with causing damage with fire and explosives to a cop car.

Prosecutors decried Rahman’s release during Monday’s hearing.

“We don’t believe this is the time to be releasing a bomb-thrower like the defendant into the community,” argued federal prosecutor Ian Richardson.

Judge Margo Brodie acknowledged the strong evidence against Rahman, who was also accused of distributing the incendiary devices to other rioters, but agreed to grant her bail due to the “willingness of family and friends to sign on as suretors,” according to a report from Law360.

Brooklyn federal prosecutors then filed an appeal Tuesday with the Second Circuit Court to stay the release of the 31-year-old Rahman and her alleged accomplice, lawyer Colinford Mattis, 32.

They argued in the appeal that the nature of the crime — which they believe to have strong evidence was committed by Mattis and Rahman — warranted the detention of the pair until their trials.

“The defendants’ criminal conduct was extraordinarily serious. Amid the largely peaceful demonstrations taking place on Friday night, Mattis and Rahman committed an act of potentially deadly violence,” prosecutors wrote.

“The actions endangered NYPD officers, as well as other individuals on the street in close proximity to the attack,” they added.

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Boris Johnson's approval rating has dived by 40 POINTS since April

Boris Johnson’s approval rating has dived by 40 POINTS to turn negative in under two months amid backlash over coronavirus testing, care homes, and lockdown easing

  • Exclusive poll shows Boris Johnson’s approval rating has dived since mid-April
  • The PM had a net rating of plus 38 but is now in negative territory at minus five
  • Government faced backlash over testing, care homes and the lockdown easing 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Boris Johnson’s personal approval rating has dived by 40 points to turn negative in less than two months. 

A poll for MailOnline showed the PM has seen an astonishing reduction in his standing since mid-April, when the country appeared squarely behind his leadership.

The government has faced a backlash over a lack of testing capacity, difficulties obtaining PPE and ventilators for hospitals and fury over the deadly outbreak in care homes.

As the death toll rises and the lockdown plunges the economy into the worst recession for 300 years, Mr Johnson has also had to contend with accusations that his chief aide Dominic Cummings flouted lockdown rules. 

And over the past week he has faced a wave of criticism that the draconian curbs are being eased too soon, with households allowed to mix again and school and shops reopening. By contrast Scotland and Wales are moving more slowly.  

Boris Johnson’s personal approval has dived over by 40 points to turn negative in less than two months. His net rating was plus 38 in mid-April, but by this week it was minus five

Mr Johnson (pictured launching an international vaccine summit today) has faced a backlash over a lack of testing capacity, difficulties obtaining PPE and ventilators for hospitals and fury over the deadly outbreak in care homes

The Redfield & Wilton Strategies research found in mid-April that Mr Johnson’s rating were riding high.

Some 23 per cent said they ‘strongly approved’ of his handling of the crisis.

Another 36 per cent voiced support, while just 12 per cent disapproved and 9 per cent strongly disapproved.

That gave a net rating of plus 38. 

But a survey by the firm this week found that Mr Johnson’s standing had taken a massive hit.

Just 9 per cent strongly approved of his stewardship, with 30 per cent broadly happy. They were outweighed by 20 per cent who disapproved and 24 per cent who disapproved strongly.

That gave a net rating of minus five. 

In some comfort for Mr Johnson, the study found overwhelming support for the 14-day quarantine restrictions on UK arrivals announced by Priti Patel yesterday. 

With only very limited exceptions for lorry drivers and NHS workers, from Monday everyone coming to the country by plane, rail or sea will be ordered to give an address and self-isolate for two weeks, with spot checks from officials. 

Experts insist the measures will make no difference while the UK’s own transmission rates are so high, while the aviation industry has warned of mas redundancies as the UK ‘puts up a closed sign’.

But 42 per cent were satisfied with the move, and 35 per cent believe it does not go far enough.

A poll for MailOnline by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found 42 per cent are satisfied with the quarantine move, and 35 per cent believe it does not go far enough

The study also underlines the extent of ‘coronahobia’ among the public, with 73 per cent saying they would not feel safe in a plane in the near future

The study, carried out this week, also underlined the extent of ‘coronahobia’ among the public, with 73 per cent saying they would not feel safe in a plane in the near future.

There are deep doubts over the the prospect of ‘air bridges’ to low-infection countries, even though they could allow people to take foreign holidays without the need to quarantine for two weeks at either end. 

Some 42 per cent support the idea, being worked on by ministers, but 39 per cent were against it.

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George Floyd's memorial service to be held in Minneapolis

George Floyd’s gold casket arrives ahead of his Minneapolis memorial service – as his family’s attorney says it will be a celebration of his life but also a plea to America not to let his death be in vain

  • George Floyd’s memorial service will be held on Thursday afternoon in Minneapolis where he died at the hands of police last week
  • His death has empowered a movement that has seen widespread protests and civil strife in cities across the United State to condemn racism and police abuses 
  • Floyd’s family attorney Ben Crump said they don’t want his death to be in vain
  • They said the memorial will be a celebration of his life but also a plea to America and plea for justice 
  • The memorial is the first of three gatherings planned to honor Floyd’s life 
  • Floyd’s body will then travel to Raeford, North Carolina, where he was born 46 years ago, for a public viewing and private family service Saturday 
  • There will be a large service Monday in Houston, where Floyd spent most of his life, before a private burial takes place 
  • The mother of Ahmaud Arbery, the black man who was shot dead by two white men while out running, will attend Floyd’s memorial in Houston 

The gold casket carrying George Floyd’s body has arrived at the venue in Minneapolis where the first memorial service will be held in his honor – as his family’s attorney says it will be celebration of his life but also a plea to America not to let his death be in vain.

Floyd’s body was taken to the North Central University in Minneapolis on Thursday ahead of the first of three services that will be held in the different cities over the next six days. 

His golden casket was flanked by white and purple flowers inside the university’s Lindquist Sanctuary where an image was also projected of a mural painted at the street corner where Floyd was pinned to the ground by police. 

While the sanctuary normally seats 1,000, the capacity has been reduced to about 500 due to COVID-19. 

Floyd’s casket was taken into the service with a cover brandishing a Promethean logo – the same type of custom-made coffin that singers Aretha Franklin and James Brown were laid to rest in. 

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who fired all four police officers now charged in Floyd’s killing, took a knee nearby as his body arrived ahead of the service.  

Floyd’s death has empowered a national movement that has seen widespread demonstrations and civil strife in cities right across the United State to condemn racism and police abuses.  

George Floyd’s golden casket was flanked by white and purple flowers inside the North Central University Lindquist Sanctuary in Minneapolis on Thursday ahead of his memorial service

George Floyd’s body was taken to the North Central University in Minneapolis on Thursday ahead of the first of three services that will be held in the different cities over the next six days

In an interview with NBC’s Today at the site of the memorial, attorney Ben Crump said the Floyd family don’t want his death to be in vain. 

Floyd’s memorial service will be held on Thursday afternoon in Minneapolis where he died at the hands of police last week

‘It’s going to be a celebration of life, but it’s also going to be a plea to America and a plea for justice that we don’t let his death be in vain,’ Crump said. 

‘We have a lot of high profile people coming. We want everybody to use their forces to say no more – we’re tired of dying at the hands of the people supposed to protect us.’  

Civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton and Floyd’s relatives will be among those addressing the memorial service at North Central University. 

It is the first of three memorial gatherings planned to honor Floyd’s life – the man whose name has been chanted by hundreds of thousands of people across the country. 

Floyd’s body will then travel to Raeford, North Carolina, where he was born 46 years ago, for a two-hour public viewing and private service for the family on Saturday. 

Finally, a public viewing will be held Monday in Houston, where he was raised and lived most of his life. A 500-person service on Tuesday will take place at The Fountain of Praise church and will include addresses from Sharpton, Crump, and the Rev. Remus E. Wright, the family pastor. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, may attend, and other political figures and celebrities are expected as well.

The mother of Ahmaud Arbery, the black man who was shot dead by two white men while out running, will attend Floyd’s memorial in Houston, her attorney Lee Merritt told TMZ. 

A private burial will follow.  

Due to the coronavirus, Fountain of Praise will be limited to 20 percent of its capacity and visitors will be required to wear masks. 

 Floyd’s death has empowered a national movement that has seen widespread demonstrations and civil strife in cities right across the United State to condemn racism and police abuses

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who fired all four police officers now charged in Floyd’s killing, took a knee nearby as his body arrived ahead of the service

His casket was taken into the service with a cover brandishing a Promethean logo – the same type of custom-made coffin that singers Aretha Franklin and James Brown were laid to rest in

This will be the first of three memorial gatherings planned to honor Floyd’s life – the man whose name has been chanted by hundreds of thousands of people across the country

Since his May 25 death in Minneapolis, Floyd’s name has been chanted by hundreds of thousands of people and empowered a movement

The organizers of the memorials want to acknowledge the meaning Floyd had in life to his large family and the broader meaning he has assumed in death, which happened after a white officer pressed a knee into the handcuffed black man’s neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air. 

‘It would be inadequate if you did not regard the life and love and celebration the family wants,’ said the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader who will eulogize Floyd in two cities. 

‘But it would also be inadequate… if you acted as though we’re at a funeral that happened under natural circumstances.  

‘The family is not independent of the community. The family wants to see something happen.’ 

Both the memorials in Minneapolis and Houston will include personal tributes and eulogies about social justice, Sharpton said.  

Floyd’s final journey was designed with intention, Sharpton said. Having left Houston for Minneapolis in 2014 in search of a job and a new life, Floyd will retrace that path.

‘They collectively said we need to make the first memorial statement from the city he chose to go to make a living, that ended his life,’ he said. 

The memorial services to honor Floyd are extraordinary but so are the circumstances surrounding them. 

Since his May 25 death in Minneapolis, Floyd’s name has been chanted by hundreds of thousands of people and empowered a movement. 

Violent encounters between police, protesters, and observers have inflamed a country already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Attorney Ben Crump told NBC on Thursday that George Floyd’s family don’t want his death to be in vain. He said Floyd’s memorial will be a celebration of his life but also a plea to America and a plea for justice

Floyd’s death has empowered a national movement that has seen widespread demonstrations and civil strife in cities right across the United State to condemn racism and police abuses. Pictured above is the memorial at the place where Floyd was killed

The service on Thursday is the first of three memorial gatherings planned to honor Floyd’s life – the man whose name has been chanted by hundreds of thousands of people across the country

Floyd’s memorial on Thursday will take place around the same time three Minneapolis police officers who were at the scene, but did not intervene, will face court for the first time. 

It comes as prosecutors on Wednesday leveled new criminal charges against all four policemen implicated in Floyd’s death after he was filmed being pinned by his neck to the street during an arrest. 

Derek Chauvin, who was jailed Friday on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter, was newly charged with second-degree murder.

He was the white officer seen in widely circulated video footage kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd gasped for air and repeatedly groaned, ‘Please, I can’t breathe.’ 

Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – the three fellow officers fired from the Minneapolis police department along with Chauvin the next day – were charged on Wednesday with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. 

Floyd’s family attorney said his relatives were relieved to hear all four officers had been charged. 

‘They had a sense of relief… they were very thankful,’ Crump said. 

‘George Floyd’s family and many others believe the charge should be first degree, however, we’re relieved (it’s been upgraded). 

Crump said he didn’t believe the additional charges would have been brought if it were not for the widespread protests over the past week.

‘I don’t think we would have seen those charges. There’s evidence for these charges. There’s always evidence for many of these cases when white police kill black people, they just never get charged,’ he said. 

Following the charges, demonstrations seen over the past week across the US remained large but turned notably more subdued.

In many cities, demonstrators defying nighttime curfews have been met by police in riot gear firing tear gas, mace and rubber bullets to disperse unruly crowds. 

National Guard troops have been activated in several states to assist local law enforcement. 


Derek Chauvin, who was jailed Friday on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter, was newly charged with second-degree murder (left).  Tou Thao (right) charged on Wednesday with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter


J.A. Kueng (left) and Thomas Lane (right) were also charged on Wednesday with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter

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New York Times staffers condemn paper for publishing Tom Cotton op-ed

Dozens of New York Times staffers erupted in outrage at the newspaper publishing an op-ed from Republican senator Tom Cotton urging President Trump to call out the US military to crackdown on protests that have turned violent in many parts of the country.

In the piece headlined “Tom Cotton: Send In the Troops,” the Arkansas lawmaker said Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 to end the looting, arson and attacks on law enforcement in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis.

“But the rioting has nothing to do with George Floyd, whose bereaved relatives have condemned violence. On the contrary, nihilist criminals are simply out for loot and the thrill of destruction, with cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa infiltrating protest marches to exploit Floyd’s death for their own anarchic purposes,” Cotton wrote in the op-ed published Wednesday.

“These rioters, if not subdued, not only will destroy the livelihoods of law-abiding citizens but will also take more innocent lives. Many poor communities that still bear scars from past upheavals will be set back still further,” he argued.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, who won the Pulitzer Prize in May for the Times “1619 Project,” said on Twitter: “As a black woman, as a journalist, as an American, I am deeply ashamed that we ran this.”

Charlie Warzel, who works on the newspaper’s opinion staff, posted: “i disagree with every word in that Tom Cotton op-ed and it does not reflect my values.”

Roxane Gay, an advice columnist in the Times business section, called Cotton’s op-ed “inflammatory” and said he was “endorsing military occupation as if the constitution didn’t exist.”

“As a NYT writer I absolutely stand in opposition to that Tom Cotton ‘editorial.’ We are well served by robust and ideologically diverse public discourse that includes radical, liberal, and conservative voices,” Gay said in another tweet.

The NewsGuild of New York, the union that represents many Times employees, released a statement claiming “Cotton’s Op-Ed pours gasoline on the fire” and “promotes hate.”

“Media organizations have a responsibility to hold power to account, not amplify voices of power without context and caution,” it said.

James Bennet, the editorial page editor, explained his reasoning on Twitter in a thread.

“Times Opinion owes it to our readers to show them counter-arguments, particularly those made by people in a position to set policy,” he wrote. “We understand that many readers find Senator Cotton’s argument painful, even dangerous. We believe that is one reason it requires public scrutiny and debate.”

The Times was also criticized by Democratic lawmakers for a headline about Trump’s plan to deploy the military at protesters, which they eventually changed.

The president threatened to invoke the 1807 law to use the country’s armed forces unless the nation’s governors take forceful steps to control the rallies.

“As Chaos Spreads, Trump Vows to ‘End It Now,” the headline in Tuesday’s paper said.

After the outrage, it was changed to: “Trump Threatens to Send Troops into States.”

Trump addressed the headline change in a tweet on Thursday.

“The Fake Newspaper!,” he wrote.

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Scott Morrison is heckled by a furious homeowner on front lawn

Oi ScoMo, get off me lawn! Hilarious moment Scott Morrison is heckled by a furious homeowner for holding a press conference on his grass

  • Scott Morrison was announcing new HomeBuilder scheme near Canberra today
  • The PM was interrupted when taking questions from journalists on live TV 
  • Home-owner shouted at reporters and crews to get off his freshly seeded lawn
  • Do you know Lawn Man? Email [email protected] 

Scott Morrison’s press conference to announce his new HomeBuilder scheme this morning was interrupted by a furious home-owner.

The Prime Minister was taking questions from journalists on live TV in Googong, near Canberra when a man came out of his home and chastised reporters who were standing on the edge of his garden.

‘Can everyone get off the grass please,’ yelled the bearded man who was wearing a hoody and no shoes.

‘Can everyone get off the grass please,’ yelled the man (top left with hands on hips) who was wearing a hoody and no shoes

After the TV crews moved, Mr Morrison replied: ‘All good? That’s all good, thanks.’ The man (pictured) gave a thumbs up and went back inside

Mr Morrison asked reporters to move off the grass, saying: ‘Sure, let’s just move back from there, please, off the thing’.

‘Hey guys I’ve just re-seeded that,’ the man shouted again.

After the TV crews moved, Mr Morrison replied: ‘All good? That’s all good, thanks.’

The man gave a thumbs up and went back inside.

Mr Morrison was later pictured chatting to the home-owner, who lived right next to the construction site where the announcement was being made. 

Later in the morning, Mr Morrison recounted the situation in a 2GB radio interview with Ray Hadley. 

He said: ‘It was quite funny because we were out there at Googong which is you know a housing estate like so many all around the country, and people are very house-proud and this bloke had just built his house and all the media was standing on part of his lawn that he’d re-seeded. 

‘And so he wasn’t yelling at me but he came and said “get off my lawn.” So I ushered them all off the lawned area and he was quite happy then, he said thanks and went back inside. So it was, it was quite funny actually.’ 

The homeowner (left) did not seem too impressed the Prime Minster (right) as they chatted afterwards

The HomeBuilder scheme is designed to rescue the country from its first recession in 29 years, caused by coronavirus lockdowns.

Grants of $25,000 are available for renovation works that cost between $150,000 and $750,000 and for new homes valued at less than $750,000.

Renovations must improve the ‘livibility’ of the home, meaning swimming pools, tennis courts, outdoor spas and saunas, and detached sheds or garages do not count.

The house being renovated must not be valued at more than $1.5million and must be the applicant’s primary residence, meaning investment properties do not qualify.  

To get the cash, applicants must earn less than $125,000 or be in a couple earning less than $200,000.

Renovations must improve the ‘livibility’ of the home, meaning swimming pools, tennis courts, outdoor spas and saunas, and detached sheds or garages do not count (stock image)

There are a number of restrictions on where the $25,000 can be spent. Those looking to build a new tennis court will be left disappointed (stock)  

The applicant must pay a licensed builder the first installment for starting work and then can apply to their state or territory revenue office for the $25,000. 

After checking all the criteria is met, officials will transfer the cash directly into the applicant’s chosen bank account. 

In total, the policy is expected to cost $688million and provide work for 140,000 tradies and another 1million workers in the supply chain. 

Announcing the policy today at a construction site in the federal seat of Eden-Monaro, which faces a by-election next month, the Prime Minister said: ‘Australia is in a battle for jobs, and our Government is in that battle for jobs.’

‘If you’ve been putting off that renovation or new build, the extra $25,000 we’re putting on the table along with record low interest rates means now’s the time to get started.’ 

The grants are available for renovation works that cost between $150,000 and $750,000. Pictured: A house being built in Cobbitty in Sydney

By stimulating private investment, it will generate ten to 15 billion dollars of economic activity. 

‘This investment isn’t just about helping Australians bring their dream home to life, it’s about creating jobs and helping support the more than one million workers in the sector including builders, painters, plumbers and electricians across the country,’ Mr Morrison said.

The scheme lasts from 4 June 2020 until 31 December 2020.  

What you need to know about Homebuiler: Who is eligible and what can be built? 

To access HomeBuilder, owner-occupiers must meet the following criteria:

You are an individual, not a company or trust;

You are aged 18 years or older;

You are an Australian citizen

You earn less than $125,000 or in a couple earning less than $200,000  

What can be built? 

A new home as a principal place of residence valued up to $750,000 (including land);

A renovation to an existing home as a principal place of residence, with renovations valued at between $150,000 and $750,000 with the dwelling not valued at more than $1.5 million before the renovation.

The renovation works must be to improve the accessibility, safety and liveability of the dwelling.

Swimming pools, tennis courts, outdoor spas and saunas, and detached sheds or garages do not count 

The renovation can be a combination of works (ie kitchen and bathroom renovation) but must be under the supervision of a registered or licenced builder 

Construction must be contracted to commence within three months of the contract date

Who can do the building? 

Renovations or building work must be undertaken by a registered or licenced building service ‘contractor’. They must have held the building licence or endorsed contractor licence before 4 June.

The contract must be made by two parties freely and independently of each other, and without some special relationship, such as being a relative. 

The terms of the contract should be commercially reasonable and the contract price should not be inflated compared to the fair market price. 

‘What about ordinary people?’ Scott Morrison’s $25,000 renovation handouts are slammed as a ‘gift to wealthy’ homeowners because Australians need to spend $150,000 to get the cash grants

By Charlie Moore, political reporter for Daily Mail Australia 

Scott Morrison’s new home renovation policy is copping heavy criticism from both sides of politics for leaving millions of Australians in the cold.

Under the HomeBuilder scheme announced today, applicants must spend at least $150,000 to qualify for a cash grant of $25,000.

Aussies around the nation became excited by the prospect of government support when the policy was touted this week – but, for many, the threshold is simply too high.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese today slammed the scheme, saying it was ‘not well targeted’. 

‘There’s not many Australian battlers who have a lazy $150,000 to renovate their bathroom or the kitchen,’ he said. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured today) announced his new scheme in Eden-Monaro which is facing a by-election in July

The announcement sparked fury on social media as critics said the policy will use taxpayer money to make ‘rich people richer’.

‘What about the ordinary people?’ one critic wrote.  

Emma Dawson, director of the left-wing Per Capita think tank, said: ‘This HomeBuilder thing is beyond parody. It’s economically stupid and morally repulsive.’

Others said it was unfair for the government to support tradesmen while considering slimming down the JobKeeper policy in September.

‘So now tax payers are footing part of the bill for rich people to boost the value of their property to support tradies who make more than the average tax payer,’ one critic wrote.

The policy has also been criticised by free-market think tank the IPA, which believes it is a ‘gross waste’ of taxpayer money.

Director of Policy Gideon Rozner told Daily Mail Australia: ‘This is a bank stimulus package by another name. No couple on under $200,000 or single on under $125,000 a year has a spare $150,000 lying around to spend on a home renovation to be even eligible. 

‘So in order to access this Australians are going to be putting more money their mortgage, and will end up paying the free $25,000 in interest payments.’ 

Scott Morrison (right) speaks to a local after announcing the new HomeBuilder stimulus packag, in Googong, New South Wales

Under the new HomeBuilder scheme announced today, applicants must spend at least $150,000 to qualify for a cash grant of $25,000

Even some tradesman have said the scheme is a waste of money.

Builders Collective president Phil Dwyer told Melbourne radio 3AW: ‘At the moment I think it’s a little bit busier than usual. There’s a heap of renovations in every suburb in this town.

‘I can’t imagine why we would need cash injections to help us. We’re just going to overheat the industry.’  

On the other hand, industry leaders and economists have hailed the plan to help the $100billion construction industry and support one million jobs.

Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn said the package would save small construction companies from a potential catastrophe. 

‘We were facing death valley in terms of job losses,’ she said today.   

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Ms Wawn said the inclusion of renovations to the scheme bypasses ‘the red tape’ of requesting planning approvals.

Stockland chief executive communities Andrew Whitson said: ‘A clear stimulus for the housing construction sector is a powerful measure to help restart the Australian economy and support a million jobs.’ 

A government source told Daily Mail Australia the $150,000 threshold is to encourage large projects to provide enough jobs.

Secondly, the high threshold is a deterrent against rorting and stops builders inflating their prices as happened during the Rudd government’s disastrous ‘pink batts’ scheme after the 2008 crash.

‘If we gave everyone a grant then $10,000 projects would mysteriously become $25,000 projects,’ the source said. 

An estimated 27,000 people are expected to apply for the grants to renovate their home or build a new house – but Labor believes the project does not go far enough.

Labor’s housing spokesman Jason Clare said: ‘There’s about a million Australians who work in the home building industry. All were relying on the Prime Minister to deliver today and he’s failed.’

Labor is dismayed that the government has not embarked on projects to build more Housing Commission homes. 

‘During the coronavirus crisis, homeless people had to be put up in hotels because we don’t have enough social housing in this country. At a time when we need urgent stimulus, why would the Government ignore this national priority,’ Mr Albanese said.

Mr Clare added: ‘For six weeks we’ve been telling the Government they need a comprehensive plan to keep Australian tradies working. 

Labor is dismayed that the government has not embarked on project to build more social housing while the country is in recession

‘That includes building social housing, repairing social housing, building for affordable accommodation for front-line workers, expanding the first home loan deposit scheme to encourage more first home buyers to build their first home, and grants for first home buyers as well. What the Government has announced today is barely one of those measures.’ 

Housing minister Michael Sukkar said the scheme was preferable to investing in social housing because a government investment of $688million will help stimulate $10billion of economic activity. 

The government source said the policy is designed to give people who may have shelved plans to renovate or build their home the confidence to go ahead during uncertain economic times. 

Mr Albanese also slammed the government for not rolling out the project sooner.

‘There is no doubt announcements are being delayed to come up with slick slogans,’ he said.  

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Bloodthirsty poachers ‘massacre’ six elephants – with one animal shot 30 times – in slaughter at Ethiopian national park – The Sun

POACHERS have shot dead at least six elephants in a single day at a national park in Ethiopia.

The carcasses of the animals were found without their tusks by the Omo River outside the Mago National Park on May 26.


The group appeared to have been attacked while drinking at the river.

Speaking to the BBC, chief park warden Ganabu Balmy described the incident as a "mass killing".

He said one of the elephants had been hit by around 30 bullets.

Authorities are now investigating the killings, and say that two more elephants may have been slaughtered on the same day.

"The elephants were killed while they ventured out of the Mago National Park to drink water," Balmy said.

"The poachers then removed all the tusks from the elephants.

"It was a mass killing.

"We haven't seen anything like this before."

During the 1970s, Ethiopia had at least 10,000 elephants, but a combination of poaching and loss of habitat has seen numbers fall below 3,000.

Officials recorded ten deaths over the whole of 2019, and last week's massacre is thought to be the worst the country has seen.

"We don't think there is an organised poaching in Ethiopia," said Daniel Pawlos, director for trafficking and control at the Ethiopian government's Wildlife Conservation Authority.

"But whenever there's demand, that triggers illegal poaching.

"What makes the latest poaching different is the high number of elephants killed within a day."

But Mr Balmy said it had proved difficult to track down the perpetrators, in part because of a lack of cooperation with officials by locals.

In recent years, a number of African countries have begun burning any ivory seized as part of attempts to deter poachers.

At a ceremony held in Ethiopian capital Addis Abada in 2015, authorities burned the country's entire 6.1-ton stockpile of ivory goods.

Speaking at the time, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen said: “If we allow elephants to be killed, not only will we betray our heritage, but we will impoverish ourselves and future generations."

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£15 a week free school meals scheme WON'T continue over summer holidays, Gov confirms

A £15 a week free school meal voucher scheme to help poorer kids won't continue over the summer holidays, the Government said today.

Ministers had made exceptions to the voucher scheme for the Easter break and half term due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

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It gave parents who usually got help with meals during the school time extra help with food costs.

They get vouchers to spend in their local supermarkets to feed their kids, when usually they would have been able to claim a meal at school.

But this won't carry on over the summer.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said today: “The voucher scheme will not run over the summer.

“A £9 million holiday activities and food programme will offer activities and meals to thousands of disadvantaged children during the summer break."

The holidays and food scheme follows similar programmes over the last two years.

It saw charities and community groups provide meals and activities such as football, play sessions and cooking classes for 50,000 children across the country.


 

But Labour MPs hit back at the news and begged the Government to reconsider.

Shadow minister for early years, Tulip Siddiq said: "Free school meals have been a lifeline for struggling families in this crisis.

"Withdrawing them over what is set to be a very difficult summer is a terrible decision."

And Carolyn Harris told the Daily Mirror: "The summer is the time when kids most need that help.

"Families can ill-afford to feed kids under normal times but this summer will be extremely hard."


All kids apart from those of key workers have been learning at home since the start of the outbreak.

But earlier this week millions of children in reception, year one and six returned to school for the first time since March.

The Government wants more kids to start going back before the summer holidays, but has made no specific plans yet.

In Scotland kids will go back from August.

Yesterday Wales announced all pupils will return to schools from June 29 – but they will only be able to have a third of all pupils in a time.

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Airbnbs set to reopen within weeks with Brits urged to take staycations in UK from July

BRITS will be urged to go on a staycation holiday in the UK from July to boost the tourism industry at home.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden today suggested Airbnb holiday lets would be the first parts of the British tourism industry to reopen as they have a “lower risk” of spreading coronavirus.

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He said he is still optimistic of opening up UK holiday spots in July, and will push a “major campaign to encourage people to take British staycations.”

Mr Dowden told MPs that he will be "at the forefront of championing the campaign for British tourism" once the sector is ready to reopen, and said the Government's target remains for this to happen in England "by 4 July".

He insisted he "much prefers" British holidays to holidays overseas too.

He added: "And of course once the sector is ready to go I'll be at the forefront of championing the campaign for British tourism."

Mr Dowden said: "As the Prime Minister has said, we have set this very ambitious target to try and get the sector back by 4 July, so long as it is safe to do so, and I am working to make that a reality."

Ministers want to get UK tourism "up and running" as "rapidly as possible", he stressed.

"Self let accommodation has a lower risk, so I would hope that is at the front of the queue," he said in relation to questions in the Commons.

The news will delight Brits who have spent nearly three months indoors and have been unable to stay away overnight.

People in England can travel as far as they like for a day trip, but can't stay there at the moment.

It means trips to see friends and family are off the cards still for now.


 

At the moment Brits are unable to go out of the country, either.

Foreign and Commonwealth advice still says no one should be travelling unless absolutely necessary.

From Monday people coming into the UK will face a 14-day quarantine when they arrive in the country.

That will mean tat even if Brits are allowed to jet off outside the country in the next few months, they may have to take an extra two weeks off afterwards to isolate.

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Hero tackles thugs after they tried to steal his French bulldog puppy

Moment have-a-go hero tackles gang of masked burglars after they tried to break into his friend’s house to steal his French bulldog puppy

  • Man fought off four burglars trying to break into friend’s house he was visiting
  • He got into a scuffle when thugs turned up at house in Wytheshawe, Manchester
  • Said they threatened to stab him before running off and  jumping into a BMW

A have-a-go hero chased away four violent burglars who he believes were trying to steal his three-month-old French bulldog puppy.  

A masked gang turned up at his friend’s house in Wytheshawe, Manchester, and CCTV footage captured the moment they launched a vicious attack on him.

The man was having a cigarette on the front step while his friend and her three-year-old son, who has autism, were sleeping inside. 

He heard a ‘rustling’ in the garden when the burglars turned up at around 11.15pm on Monday. 

A group of four thugs attacked a man sat on a step outside his friend’s house in Wytheshawe, Manchester, after they tried to take his French bulldog

The heroic man can be heard shouting ‘lock the door’ to his friend when the four men, wearing balaclavas, run towards him and attempt to get into the house. 

In a bid to protect his friend, he launches himself at the gang, tackling one of them to the ground and wrestling him while the others watch on.  

The footage shows a scuffle between the man and another two men who attempted to hold him down as their accomplices enter the property.

They left the house a few moments later as the police were called.

The men then attack again, kicking the man while he was on the ground, but he manages to keep hold of one of the burglars by hanging onto his leg as the other three flee.

After the fracas, the four men drove away in a blue BMW.

The man was able to note down the car’s registration number and passed the details on to the police. 

He believes the burglars were trying to steal his three-month-old French Bulldog which he had taken to his friend’s house to entertain her son. 

‘There had been a large group of youths going past the garden in the day. But I didn’t think anything of it.

‘We had dinner, I took the dog out and came back. I was having a cigarette on the front step and I saw this BMW go past and park down the road.

They begin kicking the man while he was on the ground but he manages to hold onto one of the men’s legs as the other three flee

The heroic dog owner said the burglars demanded he give them his dog had threatened to stab him 

‘I carried on smoking and I heard a rustle at the end of the garden and saw this lad in a balaclava. I shouted: ‘Yo, what’s going on?’. 

‘It dawned on me that they were robbers. They got to the front door and he said: ‘Give me the dog’.

‘That’s when it started. I hit him, he hit me, the other guys got me out of the doorway. I was trying to block the door’, he added.  

‘They got me out of the house and the largest of them got his arm around my neck and I ended up on the floor. They gave me a few kicks and my friend managed to lock the door.

‘At that point the plan had not gone how they wanted it to and I think they panicked.

‘The big one had still got hold of me but I thought: ‘I’ve got nothing to lose now’ and I decided to keep hold of the big one as he tried to get away.’

He said he had hoped to keep a hold of him until the police got there but he managed to get away. 

The dog owner also claimed the thugs, wearing balaclavas, tracksuits and jeans, threatened to stab him.  

Greater Manchester Police has been approached for comment.  

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