Jetstar adds $30 fare for babies on laps

Parents travelling on Jetstar domestic flights will now be charged $30 to have their baby sit on their lap, and $50 on Trans-Tasman or international flights.

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The new fees, including the rise from $40 to $50 for international baby-carrying journeys, were introduced on Monday and apply to adults nursing children under two. The fees don’t affect flights already booked.

Jetstar’s domestic fee matches Tigerair’s $30 charge for babies travelling on a guardian’s lap, in place since 2009.

Jetstar’s new fee covers an entire one-way journey – such as Hobart to Melbourne to the Gold Coast – unlike Tigerair which slaps the charge on each leg of a one-way trip.

Qantas and Virgin Australia do not charge a fee for babies (0-23 months) on domestic flights.

A Jetstar spokesman said the new fees also allow for up to four oversized infant items such as a stroller, pram, highchair and portable cot – a bonus not offered by other airlines.

“Like other oversized items, there is additional manual handling and equipment required for oversized infant items like prams,” he said on Tuesday.

The $10 hike to international flight fees is also the first increase since 2010.

“We know that fees and charges can be unpopular, but giving customers choice and charging each customer for what they actually need helps us to offer the lowest possible fares, every day,” the Jetstar spokesman said.

NURSING BABIES ON AUSTRALIAN FLIGHTS: A BONUS OR A BURDEN?

* Jetstar – $30 for domestic one-way journeys, $50 for Trans-Tasman or international one-way journeys

* Tigerair – $30 for each flight on a domestic one-way journey, no international flights offered

* Qantas – Free on domestic or Trans-Tasman flights, 10 per cent of full fare for international flights

* Virgin Australia – Free for domestic flights, 10 per cent of full fare for Trans-Tasman or international flights

Questions raised over Thai government’s control of online content

Facebook is still operating in Thailand despite government threats to block the highly popular social media over breaches of the country’s strict lese majeste laws.

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The Thai government had threatened to block Facebook if posts critical of the country’s revered monarchy were not removed.

The lese majeste laws have been in place for three years and have seen about 100 people jailed, many of them for comments made online.

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But for one expert, the stoush has raised more serious questions about the extent of the government’s influence over online services and content within Thailand.

Digital media expert Aim Sinpeng told SBS World News questions needed to answered about the amount of power the Thai government had over what its citizens saw online.

“The bigger questions we should be asking ourselves is what are some of the other stuff that the government has asked ISP providers, or third party companies like Facebook, for co-operation that have been agreed to that the public doesn’t know about?” she said.

“The government first, when they’re trying to limit the flow of certain information or content online, they first discuss this with companies that are basically the ones that are providing the internet, and once that fails or that didn’t go as planned then they actually reach out to the general public.

“I think the bigger question we should ask ourselves is how much can the government have in negotiating with the internet service providers but also Facebook Thailand as a company in filtering or managing online discussions overall.”

Watch: Thai King threatens Facebook following crop top video 0:00 Share

She said Facebook’s continued operation in the country did not surprise her.

“Particularly because Facebook is the most popular social networking site in Thailand, and Thailand is one of the most Facebook active countries in the world actually,” she said.

“The penetration rate is over 90 per cent. And [it is] a very small number of users that the regime is targeting who have anti-regime views, or in particular, violating lese mageste law are very, very, very few minority compared to the overall size of the number of internet, Facebook users.”

Dr Sinpeng said the public dressing down of Facebook was seen as more of a “severe warning for Facebook Thailand”.

She said people were more likely to be concerned about how they would connect with people without Facebook than whether they were going to be arrested for political activity online.

Dr Sinpeng said blocking Facebook entirely would be a big step for the Thai government to take.

“The social backlash and the political consequences of shutting down Facebook would be really significant for the regime’s ability,” she said.

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SA coroner blasts stroke death reports

Authorities might not be able to investigate two stroke deaths at Royal Adelaide Hospital in April because they weren’t properly reported.

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State Coroner Mark Johns says SA Health’s tardiness in providing him with necessary details about the deaths means it’s likely too late to order autopsies, making it impossible for him to piece together what happened.

Mr Johns says only one of the deaths was the subject of a timely report but it failed to mention that a neuro-interventionist had been unavailable at the time, which might have contributed to the death.

“Had the coroner been aware of that information when the death was reported, it is likely he would have directed an autopsy. It is now too late for that,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mr Johns said he was forced to seek information from SA Health about the second death after learning about it in the media and is waiting to receive case notes.

He said he believed the situation was another example of junior medical officers with little connection to a patient preparing medical reports of death.

“That practice results in a lack of transparency,” he said.

Mr Johns also chided SA Health for making “misleading” statements about how it reported the deaths.

“It is misleading to allow the public to think it was reported in a manner that would enable the coroner to investigate effectively the issues that are now emerging,” he said.

SA Health said under law, medical practitioners reporting a death to the coroner are obliged to provide their own opinion of the cause of death and it is not the department’s place to interfere with it.

“It is not for SA Health to intervene in their clinical opinion,” the department said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We’ll continue to work with the coroner’s office about the information they require in cases such as these going forward.”

Intelligence communities concerned about impact of Trump’s Russia leak

There’s alarm among intelligence communities about allegations that US President Donald Trump shared highly classified information with senior Russian officials in Washington last week.

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It is alleged Mr Trump revealed highly-classified information about a plot, by self-proclaimed Islamic State, to top Russian officials during a meeting last week in the Oval Office.

The Washington Post newspaper cited what it said were current and former US officials as saying the disclosure potentially jeopardised a source of intelligence.

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The White House has denied the reports, as has Russia’s foreign ministry, both stakeholders labeling the reports are ‘fake’.

It is believed the information related to an IS terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft.

It is also believed Mr Trump’s alleged sharing of the information came before the US had shared it with its closest intelligence partners – the so-called Five Eyes alliance, which consists of the US, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

The group formed in the aftermath of the Second World War and acts as the intelligence eyes and ears of the western world, with a network of shared secretive, high tech surveillance stations and satellites that eavesdrop on telecommunications and internet traffic worldwide.

Associate Professor Patrick Walsh is with the Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security at Charles Sturt University.

He told SBS World News the current geopolitical situation, together with Australia’s involvement in the Five Eyes alliance, meant it is of particular concern to Australia.

“It’s obviously very concerning to the US intelligence community, and to the Five Eyes intelligence community, of which we are part,” he said.

Watch: Trump revealed classified info in ‘boast’ to Russia’s foreign minister 0:00 Share

 

“In general terms, yes, leaders talk about political events, and some of that draws from intelligence.

“But, if the allegation is true, it’s terribly troubling at a time when the western relationship with Russia is at an all-time low, and there isn’t anywhere near the level of trust that expect to allow that sort of thing to happen.”

Associate Professor Walsh said this latest event would cause nervousness behind the scenes at high levels of Australia’s intelligence community.

He said while it wouldn’t ruin the intelligence relationship between Australia and its biggest ally, it would raise alarm bells.

“Publically, political decision makers in Canberra wouldn’t comment on this, but naturally, they’d be concerned, as would the Australian intelligence community [be],” Associate Professor Walsh said.

“There’s a long history of sharing intelligence with the US and other members of the Five Eyes, and that will survive this administration, because of the broader national interest for that to be the case.

“But it is deeply concerning, I would say, to people in Canberra, and there would be some reticence in terms of that sharing relationship, and some sort of risk management, risk assessment, going on, to the extent that that’s possible in Canberra, about sharing intelligence.

“I wouldn’t suggest for a minute that the tap is going to be turned off, because that’s not in our interest. But there’ll certainly be some reticence.”

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Mr Trump has previously clashed, very publicly, with his own country’s intelligence community.

And former Australian ambassador Kim Beazley told the ABC the intelligence and related communities in the US were not happy.

“Trump and his relationships are so comprehensively trashed, his standing with law enforcement and the intelligence community, that the normal level of quietness that emanates from them is no longer doing so,” Mr Beazley said.

The federal government has reacted cautiously to the alleged incident.

Government minister Zed Seselja has told Sky News the US intelligence relationship was of great importance to Australia – and any concerns Australia had wouldn’t be played out in public.

“The Five Eyes is very important for Australia,” he said.

“And we benefit greatly from those arrangements. And there is a significant degree of trust within that.

“And we’ve got no reason to doubt, or have concerns, about any of those issues. Of course, to the extent that there are issues in these relationships- and I’m not suggesting that there are- these would be expressed privately rather than publically.”

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Trump: ‘As president I wanted to share facts with Russia’

Tuesday morning local time, the US president tweeted that he “wanted to share with Russia.

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.. facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety”.

The tweets appeared to defend to contradict comments made Monday by his National Security Advisor and the Kremlin spokesperson.

The Washington Post had reported that Trump revealed highly classified information on the Islamic State group during a meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Moscow’s man in Washington Sergey Kislyak.

In a shock twist, the intelligence reportedly came from a US ally who did not authorise Washington to share it with Moscow. That development that could shatter trust that is essential to intelligence and counterterrorism cooperation.

National Security Advisor HR McMaster denied the president had revealed “intelligence sources or methods,” but acknowledged that Trump and Lavrov “reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation”.

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The Post, citing unnamed officials, said that Trump went off script during the meeting, describing details about an Islamic State terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on airplanes, revealing the city where the information was gathered.

The Trump administration recently barred the use of laptops in the passenger cabin from several countries in the Middle East and is mulling the expansion of that ban to cover jets originating in Europe.

As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017

“There’s nothing that the president takes more seriously than the security of the American people. The story that came out tonight as reported is false,” McMaster said without elaborating on which elements were wrong.

“Two other senior officials who were present, including the secretary of state, remember the meeting the same way and have said so. Their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources. I was in the room. It didn’t happen.”

…to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017

The Kremlin described as “complete nonsense” the media reports.

“It’s not a subject for us, it’s the latest piece of nonsense. We don’t want to have anything do to with this nonsense. It’s complete nonsense, not a subject to be denied or confirmed,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on a conference call with reporters.

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McMaster earlier refused to answer questions to a group of journalists gathered in the West Wing, saying “this is the last place I wanted to be” before leaving.

The revelations are the latest in a wave of crises to hit the White House, which late Monday was in a state of shock, with aides frantically trying to put out the fire and determine the source of such damaging leaks.

Since coming to office in January, Trump has lurched from crisis to crisis, lampooning the intelligence services, law enforcement and the media along the way.

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Last week, Trump threw his administration into turmoil by taking the virtually unprecedented step of firing his FBI director James Comey.

Comey had been overseeing investigations into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia to skew the 2016 election.

The meeting came a day after that firing, and was already controversial in itself, a red carpet welcome for top aides of Vladimir Putin just months after being hit with US sanctions for meddling in the 2016 presidential election. 

Trump’s administration was left red-faced after Moscow surprised them by releasing pictures of what was meant to be a closed-door meeting.

Ryan wants ‘full explanation’

But political and legal experts said this latest alleged misstep is among the most egregious so far of the Trump presidency.

“This is the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president of the United States,” renowned legal expert Alan Dershowitz told CNN late Monday.

For Trump’s already weary allies in Congress, the latest crisis brought more headaches and demanded yet more explanation from an administration that is struggling to leave its legislative mark.

“We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation’s secrets is paramount,” said Doug Andres, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. 

“The speaker hopes for a full explanation of the facts from the administration.”

Senior Republican Senator John McCain told CNN that “if it’s true, it’s obviously disturbing.” But he cautioned: “Let’s wait and see what this was all about first.”

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer accused Trump of potentially putting American lives at risk.

“If the report is true, it is very disturbing. Revealing classified information at this level is extremely dangerous and puts at risk the lives of Americans and those who gather intelligence for our country,” he said.

“The president owes the intelligence community, the American people and Congress a full explanation.”

Watch: Journalist defends Trump Russia report 0:00 Share

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