Hunting Indonesia’s most wanted terrorist

He is Indonesia’s most wanted terrorist who has “kept Jihad alive” in the world’s most populous Muslim country.


Despite large-scale manhunts over more than two years, Santoso and his men have been able to evade capture, pledge allegiance to Islamic State, kill police, stockpile weapons and hold claim over territory within Central Sulawesi’s dense jungle.

As thousands of military and police personnel once again scour the Poso District, AAP travelled to the remote region to get a rare glimpse into Operation Tinombala and explore how Santoso has been able to elude authorities for so long.

Santoso – also known as Abu Wardah – is the leader of Mujahidin of Eastern Indonesia (MIT), a group that emerged from the shadows of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) – infamous in Australia as the organisation behind the fatal 2002 Bali bombings.

Along with Daeng Koro (who was killed in a shoot out with police last year), Santoso has brought together more than 20 men and three women in Napu Valley’s thick forest.

Here nearby villagers dry farmed cocoa in front of their wooden homes and dogs flop lazily onto the middle of the road.

It is quiet and life is slow, but military and police are never far off.

Multiple checkpoints have been established throughout the valley, where those passing are examined by authorities in a bid to sever supplies to Santoso.

But even with this and more than 2000 personnel on the ground, Santoso remains elusive.

The terrain is steep, the forest dense, and fog obscures vision.

More than a dozen men have died in shoot outs with the group and in March at least 10 personnel were killed when a military helicopter crashed in poor weather.

Operation Tinombala spokesman Hari Suprapto said Santoso is an expert in survival.

“One of the things we found were several betel nut trees cut down. They eat the leaves of the tree,” he told AAP.

“It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.”

Director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict Sidney Jones said Santoso’s influence stretches back to 2011 when he ran two-week para-military training courses.

“There is an alumni network of Santoso’s training courses that are now spread across Indonesia and several veterans of Poso training camps are also in Syria,” she told AAP.

“Even though his capture wouldn’t significantly change the risk factor in Indonesia … many people see him as the one person who has kept Jihad in Indonesia alive.”

The only militant to have claim over territory, Santoso has carried out repeated attacks on authorities.

In May 2011, Santoso allegedly murdered two policemen during an assault in front of a bank in Palu, Central Sulawesi’s capital, while he and his men have been linked to the beheadings and kidnapping of villagers.

Last month, the US declared him a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” after it was revealed he had received funding from Syria.

With so much to loose symbolically, Hari doubts that if they do corner him, Santoso will want to come out alive.

Despite backlash, Depp and Heard’s biosecurity message ‘sinking in’

A video showing Hollywood couple Johnny Depp and Amber Heard apologising for breaking Australia’s quarantine laws “clearly broadcasts the importance of biosecurity” to the country, a Melbourne-based analyst said.


Andrew Robinson, the Deputy Director of Melbourne University’s Centre for Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis (CEBRA), said even in the midst of a social media backlash mocking the apology, its message reinforces Australia’s strict customs laws.

“It seems to me that if people are parodying the video, they’re thinking about the content,” he said. “They’re reflecting on the consequences of the mistake these two individuals have made. 

“No doubt the message is sinking in, and the more parodied it is, the more broadcast the message is.”

In the video, Depp and Heard apologise for illegally bringing their dogs Pistol and Boo into the country last year when Depp was filming on the Gold Coast.

 Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the couple communicated with the Department of Agriculture about the recording, which he shared online after Ms Heard’s appearance in a Queensland court.  The reaction on social media has been brutal, with many comparing it to a hostage video.The Johnny Depp apology feels like a hostage video.

— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) April 18, 2016The Heard/Depp video is now the best hostage thriller of 2016. I feel compelled to give it a star rating.

— Marc Fennell (@marcfennell) April 18, 2016Uncropped footage from the Johnny #Depp and Amber #Heard Australian apology video. Makes sense now! #dogs #doggate pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/S37Zio44MA

— Jonathan Davies (@jmdllani) April 18, 2016The Simpsons Australia episode has basically become true #Depp pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/QWLeNTx08U

— Neil Richards (@neilrich75) April 18, 2016

Youtube star Natalie Tran took the “hostage” angle one step further by editing herself into a version of video where she waves a fake gun and holds cue cards off-camera.

It ends with Tran saying, “I think people will think we’re real friendly.”

Mr Joyce said the apology will serve as an effective educational tool.

“We’ve got a message that is going around the world right now,” he said. “It’s going off like a frog in a sock, telling people if you come into this nation and you don’t obey our laws, you’re in trouble.”

Mr Robinson said Australia’s biosecurity laws remained among the strictest in the world.

“Dogs from the United States are known to possibly carry rabies, and numerous types of ticks with diseases that not only effect dogs, but other mammals including humans,” he said.

“When I saw the video I thought it clearly broadcast the importance of biosecurity to Australia.”

Human beings – and our offices – are crawling with microbes

Joanna Verran, Manchester Metropolitan University and James Redfern, Manchester Metropolitan University

Microorganisms are the smallest forms of life, and the human microbiome includes bacteria, viruses and fungi.


There are more microbial cells on and in our bodies than the ten trillion human cells which make us what we are. This microbial life helps us to break down our food, provides vitamins we cannot produce and plays a big role in keeping us healthy.

On a daily basis, we walk around surrounded by our own unique microbial cloud. Given that the skin, hair and dust we shed is covered in microorganisms, it’s hardly surprising that our built environment is also full of microbial life.

This “contamination” can pose a risk. For example, in hospitals, doctors are wary of microorganisms such as Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause infection. And most people know that bacteria such as Salmonella, which might be present on food or kitchen surfaces, can give you food poisoning.

Gone to work

But what about our offices? We spend much of our working lives in office buildings, yet we know relatively little about the microbiome of these spaces. To find out what kind of microorganisms live in our work places, scientists from the American Society for Microbiology investigated the microbiome of three different surfaces (carpet, ceiling tile and wall), in three different offices, in three cities (San Diego, Flagstaff and Toronto) over a 12-month period.

This was no easy task. Normally, if they wanted to know about which microbes were present, scientists would take samples from the site, grow the microorganisms on agar plates, then count the number of colonies and identify the species present. But many microorganisms are in fact “non-culturable” using current techniques, meaning that although they multiply happily in their natural environment, we can’t grow them in the lab.

So, instead, the researchers identified the types of microorganisms present – particularly bacteria – using molecular biology, which characterises unique parts of the organisms’ DNA. Molecular identification can indicate the presence of many more different types of microorganisms, and can detect very low numbers of cells – though it can’t tell you exactly how many cells are present.

Keeping clean

The good news is, the amount of “biomass” material collected was small – indicating that the number of microorganisms in the offices is probably low. All three surfaces were essentially dry, so any microbes that attached would likely be unable to grow because of the lack of moisture. This means that any increase in biomass over time would be due to additional microorganisms being deposited, rather than the formation of a thriving microbial community.

The researchers also found no difference in the bacterial communities on each of the surface materials. This is interesting and perhaps unexpected, because the texture of the materials would vary, the numbers of microorganisms harboured would be different, and the porosity, density and chemistry of the surfaces might affect retention of moisture and dirt.

But in order to be able to control the experiments, the scientists needed to use new test materials, which were located out of the way of most of the office activity. However, they did find a greater variety of microorganisms on the floor than on the ceiling – suggesting that areas which are used more will be at greater risk of contamination.

Downtown San Diego and … looming microbial cloud? from 长沙桑拿,shutterstock长沙桑拿按摩论坛,

The origin of most of the bacteria was non-human, and it was shown that other sources in the environment – such as air, dust, animals, plants, trees – were contributing to a city-specific bacterial community. So, the cities determined the nature of the office microbiome to a greater extent than the people in the office, or the office itself. This is presumably due to their differing geography, location and extent of industrialisation. Indeed, the researchers reported that they could detect which city any given sample came from, based only on its microbial make up, to an accuracy of 85 per cent.

The fact is, most of the bacteria that you’re likely to find in offices can survive for several weeks without much nourishment. But they can only multiply if water and nutrients such as dust, crumbs and skin scales become available, and if the temperature is hospitable. So, if you’ve eaten lunch at your desk recently, or if it’s been a while since you cleaned your keyboard or phone, the chances are that your colleagues aren’t the only life forms you’re sharing your work space with.

It’s inevitable that we’ll find germs in and around the office. And many studies are concerned about the contamination of inert surfaces by microorganisms, and their potential impacts on health. But for the most part, we can keep the office microbiome under control by ensuring surfaces are clean and dry.

Related reading

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Revenue, not cuts key to reducing deficit

The federal government will bank on economic growth improving revenue rather than deep spending cuts to rein in the budget deficit, economists and ratings agencies say.


The median forecast for the deficit is $28 billion in 2017/18 and a return to surplus by 2020/2021, according to an AAP survey of 10 economists.

Moody’s Investors Service associate managing director Marie Diron told AAP fiscal consolidation has been repeatedly postponed or been slower-than-expected in recent years due to constraints to cutting expenditure and raising revenue.

She says about 60 per cent of day-to-day spending growth is in areas like health, education and social security, which are hard to cut, and there’s few other areas the government can make cuts.

Ms Diron is looking for fresh proposals to balance the budget, but also assuming the timeframe for cutting the deficit will be extended past the turn of the decade.

“Typically when there are really significant measures they are announced in advance and we haven’t seen much of that,” Ms Diron said.

“So we do not expect any radical changes in either the direction of revenue or expenditure.”

National Australia Bank economists noted Treasurer Scott Morrison’s optimism about economic growth on the back of non-mining business investment and household consumption growth in a speech last week.

They said this indicated he would assume government revenues would gradually improve and avoid heavy cuts.

“Apart from the political challenge in placing the budget on a more sustainable footing, the government has also faced the economic challenge of not cutting too aggressively in the short-term and hence impacting the recovery of the economy,” the NAB economists said in a report.

The NAB economists said the government would instead continue to seek and forecast a gradual improvement in the budget situation, based on revenue improved, to maintain Australia’s triple-A credit rating.

“The latter seems likely, given the economic backdrop at this time,” they added.

The other development flagged by Mr Morrison is to frame money borrowed to fund income-generating infrastructure, such as roads and railways as “good debt”, while money borrowed to fund expenses such as health and social security as “bad debt”.

However, Ms Diron said ratings agencies already look at the operating balance and the composition of overall government debt in their assessments of Australia’s triple-A credit rating.

“What matters most is the government’s ability to honour its financial obligations,” she added.

Ban on TV gambling ads during live sport part of wide ranging media reforms

If you’re watching live sport, gambling commercials are likely a familiar sight.


But in a move to limit youth exposure to betting culture, they soon won’t air before 8:30pm at night.

It’s move Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says is a huge win for the community.

“Parents around, all around Australia will be delighted when they know that during football matches and cricket matches, live sporting events, before 8:30 there will be no gambling ads. There are no gambling ads allowed before 8.30 generally but there’s been an exception for a long time of live sporting events. “

Former Labor Senator Stephen Conroy now heads the newly formed Responsible Wagering Australia.

He welcomes the move.

“If you ask a kid who’s going to win today you don’t want the odds quoted to you. You want ‘well I think you know Lockett’s going to kick six goals. I think that Bunny will kick five.’ Now that’s the conversation you want to see between parents and their kids around watching footie – not ‘ah, Richmond are 3-1 on to win their match today.”

But not everyone else is on board.

A-F-L and N-R-L executives have been lobbying against the ad restrictions which they say would cost the codes lucrative sponsorship deals.

Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield says the sporting codes should wear the cost for the greater good of their fans.

“They recognise there is a need for change and the sporting codes, I think they are responsible and I think that they will accept what we are putting forward.”

To sweeten the deal for broadcasters and compensate for lost advertising revenue, the government is scrapping notoriously high broadcast license fees.

Currently networks pay around $130 million for their broadcast licences.

In its place will be a spectrum fee, estimated to raise around $40 million.

The announcement, made in the same week Network Ten announced a half yearly loss in the hundreds of millions.

Harold Mitchell, chairman of Free TV, which represents free-to-air media, says all major outlets are in support of the reforms package.

“These reforms will put big sums of money into the television industry, it’s long overdue, it’s a real fillip for the industry.”

Another controversial change is lifting limits on media ownership.

Until now, one company couldn’t own a TV, radio and newspaper outlet in one market – something Mr Fifield says limited profitability of Australian media companies.

“It is a package unabashedly in support of Australian media. We want an Australian media that will survive and prosper. While we might not always like what you write, what you print, broadcast or what you stream, what you do is an important underpinning for the diversity and health of Australian democracy.”

Independent Senator, Nick Xenophon, and the Greens say they want to see tougher restrictions.

Greens Leader Richard Di Natale says it is a step in the right direction.

“These changes don’t go anywhere near far enough. What we need when it comes to gambling advertising is no more gambling ads on the telly, restrictions on sponsorships and promotions.”

The Government’s package needs parliamentary support to pass the reforms.

Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek says without much more information and detail behind the announcement, the Government should not bet on theirs.

“When it comes to media reforms and gambling reforms, there is a very good chance that once again, Malcolm Turnbull will deliver less than people expect.”




Fostering community spirit as Victoria’s mosques open their doors

At Dandenong Mosque in Melbourne’s south east, dozens of worshippers faced Mecca, knelt and prayed.


But as part of Victoria’s inaugural Mosque Open Day, intrigued non-Muslims watched on.

Mohamed Mohideen from the Islamic Council of Victoria says the day provides a rare opportunity to dispel myths around issues like Sharia Law, Halal and more.

“One of the key things that people say is that we are training terrorists – we are not. Jihad in it’s real sense is not holy war Jihad is striving to achieve the best.”

Deanna McKeown had never entered an Australian Mosque, and viewed the day as an opportunity to learn.

Volunteers even helped her try-on a Hijab and explained it’s significance – which certainly wasn’t wasted on Ms McKeown.

“They are chosing to do this so I think that if it’s pure choice then it’s liberating to do what you wish to do.”

At nearby Hallam Mosque, volunteer Inaz Janif escorted several groups through a range of Islamic information booths and stalls.

She says opening the places-of-worship and offering accurate, informed cross- cultural and religious information is extremely important.

“I think it’s a good way of showing that here we are – we’re not going anywhere we’re open come and learn what we’re about .”

Ms Inaz, a local school teacher, says she’s witnessed how misunderstanding and anti-Muslim rhetoric is damaging her community

“I’ve seen with my own eyes the impact of Islamophobia on them where I’ve even seen teenagers attacked over hate and fear of Muslims.”

So highlighting similarities, not difference became a theme of the day – especially for volunteer Zarqa Nur who says she too learned plenty from her discussion with Jewish visitor Keren Harel-Gordan.

“I’ve known that Judaism it’s one of the Abrahamic faiths so I know the similarities are there but just to speak about the daily way we live it – and how similar it is, it’s really nice.”

And the sentiment was shared by Ms Harel-Gordan.

“Prayers – ok so in Islam it would be 5-times a day and Judaism 3-times a day but again it’s very similar.”

It’s intended for the Victorian Mosque Open Day to become an annual event.





Origin offloads Vic windfarm for $110m

Origin Energy has agreed to sell its under-development Stockyard Hill wind farm project in Victoria to Chinese wind power developer Goldwind for $110 million.


The sale is part of Origin’s asset sale program announced in 2015, which has targeted raising $800 million through divestment of non-core assets by June 2017. The proceeds will be used to reduce debt, the company says.

The energy producer and retailer will, however, sign a long-term power purchase agreement with Goldwind to buy all the power from the 530 megawatts project and associated renewable energy certificates once operations start in 2019 and until 2030.

That will boost its renewables capacity further, taking new commitments to 1200 MW in the past 12 months.

Earlier in May, Origin sold its under-development 110 MW Darling Downs solar farm in Queensland to gas pipelines operator APA Group, but agreed to buy all the electricity generated by the project until 2030.

That followed an agreement in April to buy all the generated power from the 220 MW Bungala solar plant in South Australia.

When completed, the Stockyard Hill project is slated to be Australia’s largest wind farm with power generated from 149 wind turbines.

On Monday, Origin said it had signed up to buy the wind farm’s power for a market leading price of below $60/MWh.

“Today’s announcement is important as it indicates just how fast the transition is occurring in Australia’s energy market,” Origin chief executive Frank Calabria said.

“Not only is renewable energy being rolled out rapidly, the costs have fallen at a very fast rate.”

RBC Capital Markets analyst Ben Wilson backed the assessment, calling the agreed rate “surprisingly low” in the context of current wholesale pricing of more than $80/MWh for renewable contracts.

“While we broadly see downward pressure on wholesale power pricing, we think Origin should generate good margins on the Stockyard deal,” he said.

By 1214 AEST, Origin Shares were trading three per cent higher at $7.56 each in a strong Australian market.

Rates to stay on hold with RBA optimistic

The Reserve Bank of Australia thinks the economy is on track for solid growth, but the central bank’s optimism has been met with a note of caution from some economists.


The RBA’s quarterly Statement on Monetary Policy forecasts gross domestic product (GDP) to rise between 2.75 per cent to 3.75 per cent in 2018, up from 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent previously.

“GDP is forecast to increase by 2.5-3.5 per cent over 2017, with growth expected to remain a bit above potential throughout the rest of the forecast period,” the statement said on Friday.

The Reserve Bank also indicated it had no plan to shift the cash rate from a record low of 1.5 per cent for the rest of 2017.

“The cash rate is assumed to move broadly in line with market pricing,” the RBA said in the statement on Friday.

Royal Bank of Canada chief economist Su-lin Ong said the RBA had “erred on the side of optimism” and may be forced to rethink rates sooner than expected.

She noted official figures released on Thursday indicated trade would weigh on rather than add to growth in the March quarter.

The RBA also said in its statement that household consumption spending growth likely eased in the March quarter and commodity prices have been easing recently.

Ms Ong added that Cyclone Debbie was likely to have disrupted coal export volumes in the June quarter, so there were already some clear risks to the RBA’s growth forecasts.

“The RBA may well tolerate a weaker first half and persistent sub target inflation while housing dynamics and financial stability remain top of its watch list but may find it more difficult to do so further into 2017 as these concerns begin to abate,” she said in a note.

Commonwealth Bank economists Gareth Aird and Kristina Clifton said if the RBA’s growth forecasts hold despite the hits from trade in the first half of the year, rates will be on hold into 2018.

“It sounds like a broken record now, but rate cuts are off the table unless the housing market falters or the unemployment rate materially rises,” they said in a note.

“The risk, however, lies with another cut given weak wages growth, below target core inflation and an expected further downturn in hard commodity prices.”

Morrison to put downward pressure on costs

Scott Morrison has promised a helping hand to reduce the cost of living pressures as he prepares to deliver his second budget on Tuesday.


“We understand that families, households, individuals are under a lot of stress because they just haven’t seen their wages going up,” the treasurer told the Nine Network on Sunday.

For starters, aged pensioners, disability support pensioners, veterans and those on single parent payments will get a one-off payment to help with this winter’s power bills.

Singles will receive $75 by June 30 and couples $125.

There will also be a $350 million boost to help defence force veterans battling mental health conditions, a decision that was quickly endorsed by deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek.

“We support anything that helps our veterans who have sacrificed so much for their country,” Ms Plibersek told reporters in Sydney.

The federal government has also struck a $2.3 billion deal with the new West Australian Labor government in a road and rail package for the state that will create 6000 jobs as a result of 17 new projects.

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester indicated there would be funding in the budget for the inland freight rail network between Brisbane and Melbourne.

“It is a very exciting project. It is one that’s long overdue,” he told ABC television.

Mr Morrison also hinted at a major health announcement in the budget, coat-tailing the government’s schools and university funding plans last week.

He said Health Minister Greg Hunt had been working with the clinics, the medicine sector, pharmacists and doctors to ensure the budget delivered a “healthy Australia”.

“This budget is all about making the right choices,” he said.

“The choices you have to make are about growing the economy but they’re also about ensuring the services that Australians rely on, and Medicare and the PBS these are critical services.”

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said it looked like the budget was adopting “pale imitations” of Labor policy in an attempt to save the prime minister’s political life.

“It is designed to save Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership, desperate to get a positive Newspoll,” Mr Bowen told ABC television.

Mr Morrison hit back at critics who say the commonwealth government can’t make a difference to housing affordability and have accused the treasurer of wrongly raising expectations.

“I don’t agree with the cynics,” Mr Morrison said.

He said there would be a comprehensive plan that worked with the states and territories in the budget.

“It will address everything from the needs of those who don’t even have a roof over their head to those who are trying to buy one to put over their head,” he said.

“It will deal with those later in life who are looking to change their own housing arrangements.”

Global credit rating agencies will be closely watching the budget.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government values the nation’s triple-A rating, but in the end it will be up to the agencies whether it remains intact.

“We always work to ensure that our budget is in the best possible position and on the best possible trajectory for the future,” he told Sky news.

‘Tonight, France won’: Emmanuel Macron elected French president

Thousands of flag-waving supporters gave Emmanuel Macron a rapturous welcome Sunday as he strode into the courtyard of the Louvre museum to the strains of the European anthem after his decisive election victory.


The glass pyramid in the world-famous courtyard glowed golden as 39-year-old Macron made a solitary walk to a stage in front, looking solemn.

“Tonight, France won,” the pro-EU centrist, who will become the nation’s youngest ever president cried to the crowds, who yelled with joy.

Related reading

“Everyone told us it was impossible, but they don’t know France,” he said, before vowing: “I will serve you with love.”

The rousing speech lasted just a few minutes before Macron’s wife Brigitte, 64, and around 20 people including family members joined him onstage.

The new leader then clasped his hand to his heart and closed his eyes as he sang along to the French anthem, the Marseillaise.

SBS Europe Correspondent Brett Mason reports from Paris

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At 39, the pro-EU former investment banker will become France’s youngest-ever leader but will face a huge challenge to enact his programme while trying to unite a fractured and demoralised country.

“I will fight with all my strength against the divisions that are undermining us,” Macron said in a solemn address at his campaign headquarters, adding that he had seen the “anger, anxiety and doubts” of many voters.

The vicious election campaign exposed deep economic and social divisions in France, as well as tensions provoked by identity and immigration.

Initial estimates showed Macron winning between 65 per cent and 66.1 per cent of the ballots in the first ever election he has contested, far ahead of Le Pen on 33.9 per cent and 35 per cent.

Vast crowds of jubilant Macron supporters celebrated outside the Louvre Museum in Paris, waving French flags.

“He’s a symbol of hope,” said Jean-Luc Songtia, 36. “It’s like Obama eight years ago. It’s youth, it’s hope.”

WATCH: Parisians celebrate election results

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EXIT POLL: Macron 65.1% / Le Pen 34.9% #Presidentielle2017 @SBSNews

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) May 7, 2017

Unknown three years ago, Macron is now poised to become one of Europe’s most powerful leaders, bringing with him a hugely ambitious agenda of political and economic reform for France and the European Union.

The result will resonate worldwide and particularly in Brussels and Berlin where leaders will breathe a sigh of relief that Le Pen’s anti-EU, anti-globalisation programme has been defeated.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said it was a “victory for a strong and united Europe”, while EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said French voters had chosen a “European future.”

The euro rose against the dollar in Asian trade and other financial markets are expected to react positively to the news.

Félicitations @EmmanuelMacron! Heureux que les Français aient choisi un avenir européen. Ensemble pour une #Europe plus forte et plus juste pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/GWlxKYs4hL

— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) May 7, 2017

After Britain’s vote last year to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s victory in the US, the French election had been widely watched as a test of how high a tide of right-wing nationalism would rise.

Trump, whose beliefs and temperament are seen as radically different to Macron’s, congratulated the future French president on his “big win” and said he looked forward to working with him.

Le Pen, 48, had portrayed the ballot as a contest between Macron and the “globalists” – those in favour of open trade, immigration and shared sovereignty – and her “patriotic” vision of strong borders and national identities.

In a short statement, Le Pen claimed a “historic, massive result” and said she had called Macron to wish him “success” in tackling the challenges of the country.

She said her National Front (FN) party needed to undergo a “profound transformation” ahead of parliamentary elections in June, which is set to include a name change, according to one of her aides.

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Major obstacles ahead

Macron will face huge challenges as he attempts to enact his domestic agenda of cutting state spending, easing labour laws, boosting education in deprived areas and extending new protections to the self-employed.

The philosophy and literature lover is inexperienced, has no political party and must try to fashion a working parliamentary majority after legislative elections next month.

His En Marche movement – “neither of the left, nor right” – has vowed to field candidates in all 577 constituencies, with half of them women and half of them newcomers to politics.

“In order for us to act, we will need a majority in the National Assembly,” the secretary general of En Marche, Richard Ferrand, told the TF1 channel, adding that only “half of the journey” had been completed.

Related reading

Many analysts are sceptical about Macron’s ability to win a majority with En Marche candidates alone, meaning he might have to form a coalition of lawmakers committed to his agenda.

Furthermore, his economic agenda, particularly plans to weaken labour regulations to fight stubbornly high unemployment, are likely to face fierce resistance from trade unions and his leftist opponents.

He also inherits a country which is still in a state of emergency following a string of Islamist-inspired attacks since 2015 that have killed more than 230 people.

Macron and outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande will appear side-by-side on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris on Monday for a ceremony to commemorate the Nazi capitulation on May 8, 1945.

Rollercoaster election

The vote Sunday followed one of the most unpredictable election campaigns in modern history marked by scandal, repeated surprises and a last-minute hacking attack on Macron.

Hundreds of thousands of emails and documents stolen from his campaign were dumped online on Friday and then spread by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, leading the candidate to call it an attempt at “democratic destabilisation.”

France’s election authority said publishing the documents could be a criminal offence, a warning flouted by Macron’s opponents and far-right activists online.

The election saw voters eject establishment figures, including one-time favourite Francois Fillon, a rightwing ex-prime minister.

Unpopular Hollande was the first to bow to the rebellious mood in December as he declared he would be the first sitting president not to seek re-election in the French republic, founded in 1958.

In the first round of the presidential election on April 23, Macron topped the vote with 24.01 per cent, followed by Le Pen on 21.30 per cent, in a crowded field of 11 candidates.

The results revealed Macron was favoured among wealthier, better educated citizens in cities, while Le Pen drew support in the countryside as well as poverty-hit areas in the south and rustbelt northeast.

“France is sending… an incredible message of hope to the world,” veteran centrist Francois Bayrou, an ally of Macron, told France 2 television. “Anyone who bet on this has probably made a fortune.”

Related reading

Former drama teacher seeks new role as French First Lady

Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron’s wife, now 64, has been constantly by his side during his campaign, managing his agenda, editing his speeches and advising him on his stage presence.


For his victory speech after winning the first round of the election two weeks ago, Macron brought his wife onto the podium and thanked her, to long applause.

“Brigitte, always present, and even more now, without whom I would not be me,” an emotional Macron said as hundreds of his supporters shouted her name.

Watch: French president elect Macron thanks supporters

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Both complete unknowns when Macron was appointed economy minister in Socialist President Francois Hollande’s government in August 2014, Brigitte Macron, born Trogneux, resigned from her teaching job a year later to help her ambitious young husband.

At the economy ministry, she was a discreet presence during meetings with officials in the modernist Bercy building by the Seine in eastern Paris.

“She spends a lot of time here because her view matters to me, because she brings a different atmosphere, that is important. My life is here, you cannot work well if you are not happy,” Macron said in his last staff meeting after he resigned from the Hollande government in August 2016.

He would not declare his presidential bid until three months later, on Nov. 16, 2016, but by then he had already started making the relationship with Trogneux – nearly 25 years his senior – an integral part of his public persona.

Brigitte Macron, wife of Emmanuel Macron, casts her ballot in the second round of the French presidential election while her husband looks on.AAP

In the months leading up to his official candidacy, the French public discovered Trogneux in a series of cover stories in the popular society magazine Paris Match, including, in August 2016, one of the couple on the beach, the petite blonde looking svelte and tanned in a one-piece bathing suit.

“Lovers’ holiday before the offensive,” read the headline.

In a November 2016 TV documentary on France 3, just days after Macron declared his bid, the couple shared video footage of the youthful Macron in the school play at which they met, and footage of their 2007 wedding ceremony.

“Thanks for accepting us, a not quite normal couple,” Macron is heard saying in a video of the ceremony, attended by Trogneux’ then adult children. He was nearly 30, she 54.

French cartoonists and satirical radio and TV programs regularly mock the couple’s age difference, portraying Macron as a schoolboy taking instructions from his teacher.

Macron supporters say these jokes are misogynist, saying that nobody would bat an eyelid if the age difference – the same as between U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania – had been the other way around.

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Trogneux, takes the mockery in her stride and has joked that if he wanted to run for president, he better do it soon, while she still looked presentable.

“He needs to go for it in 2017 because by 2022, his problem will be my face,” she was quoted as telling a friend in Nico­las Pris­sette’s book “Emma­nuel Macron en marche vers l’Élysée”

Born Brigitte Trogneux April 13, 1953, the youngest of six children in a family of wealthy chocolate makers in the northern town of Amiens, she married a banker with whom she had three children.

In 1993, in the Providence Jesuit college where she taught French and drama, the young Macron acted in a play under her supervision. The next year, the two rewrote a play together, adapting it to include more roles.

“Little by little, I came totally under the spell of the intelligence of this young boy,” Trogneux told France 3 TV.

As rumours started to fly about the relationship, Macron left Amiens to complete his last year of high school at the prestigious Lycee Henri IV in Paris, a traditional breeding ground for the French elite.

“You cannot get rid of me. I will come back and I will marry you,” Macron told Trogneux according to his biographers.

Asked about what role Trogneux would play at the Elysee if he were elected, Macron has said that he will propose that within the first weeks of his presidency a formal, albeit unremunerated, role is established for the French First Lady and that she will have her say in how that role is defined.

“She will have an existence, she will have a voice there, a view on things. She will be at my side, as she has always been, but she will also have a public role,” he said.


AFL boss looks forward to China game

AFL chief executive Gill McLachlan is confident the historic clash between Gold Coast and Port Adelaide in Shanghai will go ahead successfully, despite concerns about poor air quality.


Suns coach Rodney Eade has flagged the prospect of not selecting players who suffer from respiratory problems due to the threat of smog and forecast hot conditions in China.

“There are a lot of things you can’t control about our game, there are always operational challenges wherever we play the game,” McLachlan said on Monday.

“But there’s nothing that I’m aware of that puts the game at risk.

“Our players and our clubs are resilient if there is something, but I don’t have anything that’s worrying me at the moment.”

Eade said the absence of direct flights from the Gold Coast meant the Suns would spend 20 hours travelling to Shanghai, potentially hampering their preparation for the first match to be played for premiership points outside Australia or New Zealand.

“That smog you talk about, hopefully there are no respiratory problems,” Eade told Triple M.

“We won’t take any players who have asthma or some respiratory problems anyway.”

Eade said the Suns would decide on any team changes on Tuesday for the match in Shanghai on Sunday afternoon.

Both clubs have a bye in round nine to help aid their recovery.

“It’s self-evident that a long trip to Shanghai is more challenging than a domestic trip but both clubs are doing it,” said McLachlan.

“They play each other pretty much on level terms and then they play after a week’s break when they get back.

“Both clubs are broadly happy with it, albeit that it’s more challenging than a normal game.

” … whatever the conditions are, I know they’ll be the same for both teams.”

Image abuse and what to do about it


More than one in five young Australians have been affected by image-based abuse.



Intimate partners or former partners account for only 39 per cent of female victims and 30 per cent of male victims.

“This isn’t just about ‘revenge porn’ – images are being used to control, abuse and humiliate people in ways that go well beyond the ‘relationship gone sour’ scenario.” – RMIT University’s Dr Nicola Henry.

Revenge porn is the sharing of photos by partners or former partners without consent to humiliate the victim but “image-based abuse” can cover threats, other abuses and other kinds of perpetrators.


RMIT and Monash universities surveyed almost 4300 Australians aged 16 to 49 and found image-based abuse is far more common than previously thought.

* Victims are equally likely to be women (22 per cent) or men (23 per cent).

* 56 per cent of people with a disability and 50 per cent of Indigenous Australians have been victims of image-based abuse.

* Victimisation is higher for lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians (36 per cent).


* The majority of those experiencing “sextortion” – threats to share images – reported high levels of psychological distress, consistent with moderate to severe depression. Almost half feared for their safety.

* Depression and anxiety were also common with victims whose images were distributed or taken without consent.


Tips for victims are on esafety.gov长沙夜网,:

* Report the abuse to authorities.

* Collect evidence such as screenshots and web addresses.

* Seek help and support from friends and counselling services.

* Create a positive digital reputation to help bury the content down the result of search engines.

Sources: esafety.gov长沙夜网,, ABC, RMIT and Monash universities