China signals end of drills around Taiwan

China’s military has “completed various tasks” around Taiwan but will conduct regular patrols, it says.

In a brief statement, the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command says its series of joint military operations in the sea and airspace around Taiwan had “successfully completed various tasks and effectively tested the integrated combat capabilities of the troops”.

China, furious at a visit to Taipei last week by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, had extended its largest-ever exercises around the self-ruled island it claims as its own beyond the originally scheduled four days.

The drills last week included ballistic missile launches, some of which flew over the island’s capital Taipei, and simulated sea and air attacks in the skies and waters around Taiwan.

“Theatre forces will keep an eye on the changes in the situation in the Taiwan Strait, continue to carry out training and preparation for combat, organise regular combat readiness patrols in the direction of the Taiwan Strait, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Eastern Theatre Command statement said.

There was no immediate reaction from Taiwan.

A source briefed on the matter told Reuters earlier on Wednesday that Chinese navy ships remained active off both Taiwan’s east and west coasts.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Chinese navy activities near the median line, an unofficial buffer in the Taiwan Strait, continued, and Chinese fighter jets also continued to fly close to the line, the source said, adding Taiwan has dispatched planes and ships in the area to monitor the situation.

Video released by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV on Wednesday showed Chinese fighter jets scrambling and refuelling mid-air, as well as navy ships on what it said were drills around Taiwan.

The Eastern Theatre Command said the drills were focused on blockades and resupply logistics, “under a complex electromagnetic environment to refine joint containment and control capabilities”, according to CCTV.

Andrew Hsia, deputy chairman of the Kuomintang, Taiwan’s main opposition party, flew to China on Wednesday for what his party said was a pre-arranged trip to meet Taiwanese businesspeople.

Hsia told reporters he was not going to Beijing and did not have any official meetings arranged.

However, Taiwan’s government expressed “regret” at the trip coming amid the Chinese drills.

“At this moment, the Kuomintang still insisted on going to China, disappointing our people,” said Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

Taiwan’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that China was using the military drills as a game-plan to prepare for an invasion of the democratically governed island.

Pelosi, a long-time China critic and a political ally of US President Joe Biden, visited Taiwan last week on the highest-level visit to the island by an American official in decades, despite Chinese warnings. She said her visit showed unwavering US commitment to supporting Taiwan’s democracy.

China says its relations with Taiwan are an internal matter and it reserves the right to bring the island under its control, by force if necessary. Taiwan rejects China’s claims, saying only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.

© RAW 2022

Police probe after man turns up at hospital with serious burns

Investigations are underway after a man suffered serious burns on the northern Gold Coast.

Police were called to Yuan Street in Coomera just before midday on Tuesday, following reports of a man on fire.

There are reports a man and woman were seen arguing at the nearby Viney Park shortly before he was seen alight.

The pair are understood to have then left the scene together before the injured man showed up at the Gold Coast University Hospital.

He has since been transferred to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, where he was last night in a serious condition.

Police are continuing to investigate how the man’s burns were received.

Birmingham parties Games to a close

As the curtain fell on the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Birmingham partied its heart out. Then, the Prince of Darkness reigned supreme.

After a Commonwealth Games that was quintessentially Birmingham, the closing ceremony proved the perfect tribute to the proud city.

A plethora of local artists, ranging from Dexy’s Midnight Runners to UB40. Nods to history and culture. Bhangra music. Peaky Blinders.

Then, after Prince Edward had officially closed the Games and the lights looked set to fade to black, perhaps Birmingham’s most famous export took centre stage.

Ozzy Osbourne and Tommy Iommi, of Black Sabbath, made a shock appearance, shredding the party to a close before shouting out a city that has done itself proud in a Games where it has consistently put its identity front and centre.

It capped off a raucous, party-like atmosphere at Alexander Arena.

Just like the Games itself, which has enjoyed a fun atmosphere and sellout crowds, there wasn’t an empty seat among the 30,000.

Much like the opening ceremony, Birmingham’s sign-off celebrated the city’s history, diversity, culture and icons.

But there were also fireworks, dramatic light shows and a raucous party atmosphere as the locals, and the thousands of athletes on hand, delighted in a show that was proudly Birmingham to the core.

Amid a choreographed performance which re-enacted the building of the city of Birmingham, Dexy’s Midnight Runners got the party going with their 1982 hit ‘Come On Eileen’.

Then, Apache Indian performed ‘Boom Shack-A-Lak’, a song that had featured heavily on playlists at various venues across the Games.

The Australians entered the arena as reggae group Musical Youth played ‘Pass the Dutchie’, a song which recently catapulted back into prominence via an appearance on hit show ‘Stranger Things’.

Diving stalwart Melissa Wu was Australia’s flagbearer and walked out with the other flagbearers as her compatriots entered the stadium in another group.

UB40 had plenty of love for their classic ‘Red, Red Wine’, but the loudest roars were saved for when Panjabi MC played bhangra classic ‘Mundian To Bach Ke’.

The hits kept coming from there, before Birmingham officially handed the Games over to 2026 hosts Victoria.

Australia’s First Nations people were recognised after the Commonwealth Games flag was handed over to Victorian governor Linda Dessau.

Elders of the lands the Games will be held on: Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung (Melbourne), Wadawurrung (Geelong and Ballarat), Dja Dja Wurrung (Bendigo) and Gunaikurnai (Gippsland), performed a smoking ceremony.

The elders also presented carved message sticks, which represent an invitation to walk on Country in 2026, to Commonwealth Games Federation president, Dame Louise Martin DBE.

Proud Yolngu man and rapper Baker Boy performed his hit Meditjin, while dancers carried the Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags as Vanessa Amorosi performed ‘Amazing’.

A montage of clips of regional Victoria played throughout the performance.

Then, with the baton officially passed on, Birmingham saved its biggest act for last.

© AAP 2022

McGrath playing despite positive test

Australia have beaten India to add women’s T20 gold to their already bursting trophy cabinet on a drama-charged Commonwealth Games finale overshadowed by a Covid controversy.

Australia held on to win by nine runs despite a brilliant knock by Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, adding Commonwealth gold to World T20 and ODI success for this all-conquering side.

Ash Gardner, the hero with the bat when Australia beat India to open the tournament, this time starred with the ball, taking 3-16 off three overs – including the match-turning wicket of Kaur.

But the win was overshadowed by drama before a ball was bowled.

The toss was delayed as officials discussed whether allrounder Tahlia McGrath would be allowed to play, having returned a positive COVID-19 test.

McGrath, one of Australia’s best players all tournament, presented to team officials with mild symptoms on Sunday morning and returned a subsequent positive test.

Despite this, she was cleared to play, and was forced sit away from her teammates and wear a mask while she waited to bat.

She also could not celebrate with her teammates after taking a catch.

Had the match been played in Australia, McGrath would have been forced to sit out and isolate for seven days, highlighting the ludicrous inconsistencies in Covid policies.

Her impact on the game was minimal, but was none the less the biggest talking point at Edgbaston.

After winning the toss and opting to bat, Alyssa Healy again failed to fire, out lbw for seven, but skipper Meg Lanning joined Beth Mooney for a 74-run partnership off just 47 deliveries.

Australia were looking comfortable, before a double piece of brilliance from Radha Yadav dragged India back into the contest.

First Yadav flicked the ball between her legs to catch Lanning short of her ground for 36 after backing up to far, before she plucked a diving catch off McGrath to dismiss the Australian No.4 in the next over.

Gardner pounded a quick-fire 25, but it was Mooney (61 off 41) who was holding the innings together before she was dismissed by a brilliant Deepti Sharma catch.

Sharma stuck out a hand to take a one-handed stunner.

After staring down 180-plus, Australia fell away towards the end and managed just 11 runs off the final two overs and reached 8-161.

India smacked 12 runs off the first over in reply but lost two quick wickets, with Darcie Brown bowling Smriti Mandhana behind her legs before Shafali Verma wasted her extra life to fall for 11.

But enter Harmanpreet Kaur, the Indian skipper looking like she would carry India to the gold medal on her own as she struck a brilliant 65 off 43 balls before holing out in the deep as Gardner picked up two wickets in two balls.

A Grace Harris direct hit helped stymie India as they were left needing 11 runs off the final over, but it only lasted three balls as Jess Jonassen claimed the final wicket to spark wild celebrations.

© AAP 2022

BREAKING: Two men charged over alleged Burleigh bashing spree

Two men have been charged over an alleged violent bashing spree during a night out in Burleigh Heads last month.

A 30-year-old man from Palm Beach, who police say is an associate of the Nomads OMCG, was arrested yesterday after Detectives from the Organised Crime Gangs Group raided a home on Norris Street.

A 31-year-old man from Mudgeeraba, who is a member of the Nomads OMCG, was also arrested following the execution of a search warrant at home on Ninnes Ct.

Police allege the pair were involved in a series of violent assaults that occurred on July 3 between 11.00pm and 11.30pm near a Burleigh Heads licensed premises

“Investigations to date have led detectives to identify seven assault incidents on July 3 allegedly involving the men,” Queensland Police said.

“Detectives will allege the men assaulted a woman inside a Burleigh Heads licensed premises before leaving and punching several people outside the venue on the Gold Coast Highway.

It’s understood the men were not known to the victims.

“Through a range of capabilities including ongoing patrols and intelligence gathering, police are continuing to take a zero-tolerance approach against the violence and criminality of outlaw motorcycle gangs,” Detective Acting Superintendent Craig McGrath said following the arrests.

“OMCGs are not welcome on the Gold Coast or anywhere in Queensland and as these arrests show, police will act swiftly to detect, disrupt and investigate crimes and prosecute offenders who cause harm to our community”.

The men have been charged with one count each of assault occasioning bodily harm and affray and four counts of assault.

They were due to appear at Southport Magistrates Court on Thursday.

Police are continuing to investigate if there were more incidents and are appealing to anyone who may have witnessed the assaults near the Gold Coast Highway at Burleigh Heads to come forward.

If you have information for Police, please contact Policelink on 131 444 or provide information using their online form 24 hours per day.

You can also report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via crimestoppersqld.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.