Australia's most notorious drug trafficker set to return home

On Saturday Australia's most notorious drug trafficker will finish her sentence in Bali and be deported back to Australia.

The 36-year-old could be free from prison in Bali as early as this afternoon. Source: 1 NEWS

It will be the first time Schapelle Corby has been home since she was arrested for importing 4.1kg of marijuana into Indonesia more than 12 years ago.

The 39-year-old's case became a national obsession, and her and her family maintain her innocence.

THE TIMELINE:

October 8, 2004

Corby, then 27, is arrested at Denpasar Airport in Bali. Customs find the drugs in her bodyboard bag.

Early 2005

Corby goes on trial and professes her innocence, saying she had no idea how the marijuana ended up in her bag.

The defence argues they were planted at the airport. In April Corby collapses in the courtroom, with her sister blaming the media scrutiny.

May 27, 2005  

Corby is found guilty of importing a narcotic and is sentenced to 20 years in prison, prompting an outpouring of emotion in the courtroom.

The verdict and dramatic scenes that followed were broadcast live on Australian television, and many Australians were horrified.

She is sent to the notorious Kerobokan prison.

2005 - 2012 

The former beauty school student goes through various appeals and pleas for clemency, and in 2012 has her sentence reduced.

In 2008 her father dies in Brisbane and allegations he was involved in the marijuana trade are aired.

2014 

Corby is granted parole and is released from prison, but must stay in Indonesia until 2017.

THE FINAL DAYS

Corby has been spending her final days effectively in hiding in her home in Kuta.

She is said to be fearful of the media outside, watching for her every move. Her sister Mercedes is with her and has lashed out at the media for being intrusive.

The media has also been blamed for her refusing to make a required monthly trip to report for parole.

WHAT NOW?

On Saturday Corby will be deported and flown back to Australia.

She is expected to land to a media circus in Brisbane on Sunday.

There are plenty of questions over how she will settle back into life in Australia, and fears for how her time in prison has affected her mental health.

Convicted drug trafficker Schapelle Corby may be spending her last weekend in prison. Source: 1 NEWS

There has also been speculation over a media deal, however, under Australian law she is not allowed to profit from criminal activity.

WHAT'S CHANGED?
A lot can happen in nearly 13 years.

Since Corby was last in Australia:

  • The country's had five leadership changes (John Howard was still in power when she made her fateful trip to Bali)
  • The era of social media has been ushered in. In 2004 Facebook was limited to Harvard students, and Twitter and Youtube didn't exist. Nor did iPhones.
  • In 2004 New South Wales was still dominating State of Origin. Since her arrest Queensland has won 10 out of the 12 years.


Octopuses given ecstasy become more social and try to hug each other, new study finds

Octopuses given the drug ecstasy become more social and try to hug each other, a new study has found.

US Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say the drug affects the creatures in a similar way to humans.

Scientists say the way they behave on the drug may give insights into how their social behaviour has evolved.

Ecstasy also known as MDMA is a powerful mood changing drug which affects the human brain with a chemical called serotonin.

Serotonin is a drug that makes people more sociable.

Gul Dolen, a neuroscientist at John Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the study, designed an experiment with three connected water chambers.

One containing a trapped octopus and the other a plastic toy.

Four other octopuses were placed inside the tank to test their response.

The researchers measured how long they spent with the other animal and how long with the toy.

They were then exposed with the liquefied version of MDMA, which they absorbed through their gills and placed in the chambers again.

The study found that all four spent more time in the area with the other octopus than they had before the drugs.

"They tended to hug the cage and put their mouth parts on the cage," Professor Dolen told the BBC.

"This is very similar to how humans react to MDMA; they touch each other frequently."

The findings suggest brain chemicals may be key to social behaviour across very different species.

However, other researchers have raised questions about the study.

Professor Harriet de Wit from the University of Chicago, who has studied how ecstasy affects animals, said it was "innovative and exciting" - but that we can't be certain the drugs were fully responsible.

Ideally, the experiment would be repeated on a larger scale, the researchers agreed.

And some of the octopuses would be placed in the tank for the first time after absorbing ecstasy, and others would not.

Prof de Wit said that would help rule out the idea that they were friendlier the second time because they'd got used to the tank, or the other octopus.

ecstasy being handed over at a house party..
Source: istock.com


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New charges revealed: Jobseeker with 'Devast8' across his face is back before the courts

A man with 'Devast8' tattooed across his face, who last year opened up about his job struggles as he tried to turn his life around, is back before the courts.

Mark Cropp - also known as 'DEVAST8' due to his distinctive facial tattoo.
Mark Cropp - also known as 'DEVAST8' due to his distinctive facial tattoo. Source: Screenshot/NZ Herald

Mark Cropp, 21, will face two charges of assaulting a female and threatening to kill.

The NZ Herald reports Mr Cropp will face a judge alone trial in November.

Mark Cropp became internationally known last year after he approached the Herald about not being able to get a job because of his inked face.

He said his brother tattooed the nickname 'Devast8' on his face during a heavy night drinking in jail.

On his release from jail, Mr Cropp wanted to get off the employment benefit so he could put food on the table for his family and to do that he needed a job.

But, employers didn’t take him seriously.

"One employment place said to me 'I wouldn't employ you with that on your face, I wouldn't even take a second look at you'," he told the Herald last year.

"I've had other people that just shrugged and laughed at me."

Last year the 21-year-old revealed his regret over the tattoo., saying:  "Once it was started, I thought, I can't go back on it now," he said of the night his brother tattooed the word on his face,

"I wish I had stopped while the outline was there to be quite honest."

Despite the regrets he initially wanted to keep the tattoo and hoped potential employers could look passed it.

However, after his Herald interview the story went viral and he decided to have it removed.

He accepted an offer from Sacred Laser in Kingsland to have it removed for free and he attended one appointment but did not return for further work.

New Zealand Herald

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Hong Kong opens high-speed rail link with mainland China

Hong Kong yesterday opened a new high-speed rail link to mainland China that will vastly decrease travel times but also raises concerns about Beijing's creeping influence over the semi-autonomous Chinese region.

Costing upward of US$10 billion and taking more than eight years to build, the system aims to transport more than 80,000 passengers daily between the Asian financial centre of seven million people and the neighbouring manufacturing hub of Guangdong province.

The train travels the 26 kilometred through Hong Kong to Shenzhen across the border in China in just 14 minutes, down from about one hour.

The through-train to Guangdong's capital Guangzhou will take just over half an hour, about 90 minutes faster than the current service.

Once across the border, passengers can link up with Chinese sprawling nationwide high-speed rail network serving more than 44 destinations, including Shanghai, Beijing and the western city of Xi'an.

Passengers will clear Chinese immigration at the line's newly built West Kowloon terminus, the source of major legal controversy when it was revealed that mainland Chinese law would apply within roughly one-quarter of the station's area.

Some opposition lawmakers argued the move would be a violation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution under which it retained its own legal system and civil liberties after reverting from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

That guarantees Hong Kong the right to maintain rights such as freedom of speech and assembly - which are routinely violated on the mainland - until 2047.

Legal matters related to defence, foreign affairs and national security fall under Beijing purview.

However, Beijing's tight control over the city's politics and a continuing crackdown on politicians calling for greater economy and democratic reforms have spurred worries about an erosion of Hong Kong's remaining autonomy.

The Hong Kong legislature's passage in June of the plan to allow Chinese law to apply at the railway terminus was a significant moment for the opposition, coming four years after mass street protests demanding reforms fizzled out amid Beijing's intransigence.

Pro-democracy legislators have been expelled and charges brought against more than 100 protesters.

Supporters of the provision, including the territory's Beijing-backed Chief Executive Carrie Lam, defended it as promoting speed and convenience.

It cost upward of US$10 billion and took more than eight years to build. Source: Associated Press


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Thousands rally across Russia against raising pension ages

Several thousand people attended a Moscow rally organised by the Communist Party and other leftist groups, which was authorised by city officials.

Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov called for rolling back the proposed changes, arguing that the government should redistribute resources to avoid raising the pension age.

"They keep reaching into your pockets," he told protesters, who waved red flags.

The government's plan to lift the retirement age to 65 for men and 60 for women has irked a wide range of Russians from all political factions.

Older Russians fear they won't live long enough to collect significant benefits while younger generations are worried that keeping people in the workforce longer will limit their own employment opportunities.

The proposal has also dented President Vladimir Putin's popularity.

Dmitry Orlov, who came to Moscow from his home city of Kostroma to join the rally, denounced the Russian government's move as a "robbery."

"It can't be that our country doesn't have money for its people, the people who spend their whole lives working and paying deductions for their pensions," he said.

Similar protests were also held Saturday in many cities across Russia's 11 time zones, most of them sanctioned by authorities.

Several hundred demonstrators rallied against the pension age hike in Sevastopol in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

"This is a very serious issue for me, because it touches upon my life, my children, my parents who haven't retired yet," said Olga Konitskaya, 30, a protester in Sevastopol.

The demonstrations went on peacefully, unlike a wave of unauthorised pension protests earlier this month organised by opposition leader Alexei Navalny that led to the detention of over 1,000 people across Russia.


Navalny, the anti-corruption activist who is Putin's most visible foe, had called for protests against the pension age hike before he was sentenced to 30 days in jail for organising a January protest over a different issue.


He is set to be released from custody Monday.

Putin has responded to the protests by offering some concessions, but argued that the age hike is necessary because rising life expectancies in Russia could exhaust the nation's pension resources if the eligibility age remains the same.

The Kremlin-controlled lower house, the State Duma has given only a preliminary approval to the pension changes bill and is yet to hold a decisive second reading.

Protest (file picture).
Protest (file picture). Source: 1 NEWS


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