Dog walkers in south west Melbourne required to carry bags for picking up doggie-doo

A Melbourne council's number one priority is cracking down on dog walkers who do not carry plastic bags to pick up their pooches' number twos.

Unprepared owners face a $NZ220 fine for walking pets with no poo-bag on hand, with council officers in south-east Melbourne empowered to approach and question potential offenders.

Residents of suburban Berwick, Cranbourne, Narre Warren and Hallam could also be fined $500, up $300 from the previous penalty, if they fail to bin doggy business.

"The onus is clearly put back on the people who own dogs to do the right thing," the City of Casey mayor, Geoff Ablett, told ABC radio yesterday. "For those who don't, you could end up copping a harsh fine."

The council revised its animal waste penalties in late November after complaints from "fed up" ratepayers, Ablett said.

"This has been the number one priority, from the animal management side of things, that people want to see changed," he said. "Responsible dog owners think it's a great thing, the residents think it’s a great thing."

But local dog-walker Ben Smith questioned the severity of the fines and how the bag law would be enforced.

"What if they go twice? Are you going to take three or four [bags]?" The Cranbourne East Dog Owners Facebook group founder told 3AW, noting the council did not provide free bags at a local dog park.

The local council is focused on keeping the streets clean. Source: Seven Sharp


Volkswagen manager sentenced to seven years prison over emissions scandal

A judge has sentenced a Volkswagen senior manager to seven years in prison today, for covering up a scheme to evade pollution limits on US diesel vehicles, calling it an astonishing fraud on American consumers.

Oliver Schmidt, who is the second person to be sent to prison over the scandal, was dispatched to the US from Germany in 2015 to meet with suspicious California regulators.

But he didn't disclose rogue software that had long fooled authorities into believing that VW was meeting emissions rules on nearly 600,000 vehicles.

He also misled American investigators and destroyed documents.

"I'm sure, based upon common sense, that you viewed this cover-up as an opportunity to shine — to climb the corporate ladder at VW," U.S. District Judge Sean Cox said. "Your goal was to impress senior management."

The judge called Schmidt, who had led VW's engineering and environmental office in Michigan for three years, a "key conspirator" in the deception.

"Without trust in corporate America," Cox said, "the economy can't function."

The diesel vehicles were programmed to trigger certain pollution results only during testing, not during regular road use. The plan was hatched in 2006, and the vehicles were marketed as "clean diesel." Justice Department prosecutor Ben Singer called it the "height of irony."

Schmidt, 48, was arrested in Miami in January while trying to return to Germany after a vacation. He's been in custody without bond.

"For the disruption of my life, I only have to blame myself. ... I accept the responsibility for the wrong I committed," Schmidt told the judge.

Engineer James Liang cooperated with the FBI and was sentenced to 40 months in prison last summer.

Six others at VW or Audi were charged, but they are in Germany and out of reach of US authorities. Among them is Heinz-Jakob Neusser, who was described as Schmidt's boss. He was head of engine development and, later, VW brand development.

VW pleaded guilty as a corporation in March and agreed to pay $US4.3 billion in civil and criminal penalties on top of billions more to buy back cars.

Schmidt's lawyer, David DuMouchel, argued that his sentence should be identical to Liang's, noting that his role only heated up in 2015 in the last months of the scheme.

But Judge Singer noted that Schmidt still was a major player at key events and purposely "lied and deceived."

"He could have made a lot of different choices," Judge Singer said.

Volkswagen New Zealand’s General Manager Tom Ruddenklau says he’s disappointed with the company’s deception. Source: 1 NEWS


Woman at centre of Australia 60 Minutes defamation case describes being forced to take virginity test aged 13

The woman at the centre of an Australia 60 Minutes defamation case has told a jury in a Sydney court of being regularly beaten by her older brother who was "very focused on chastity".

Nadia Tabbaa, now 29, said when she was eight, she left Jordan with her mother and siblings to live in Sydney where her older brother Omar was extremely abusive about her taking part in swimming, gymnastics, or sleepovers and about the way she dressed.

"He was extremely violent all the time," she said in the NSW Supreme Court yesterday.

"He belted us with a belt, a kettle cord and thongs" from the time he arrived in Sydney until she was taken back to Jordan in 2002 at the age of 13.

Ms Tabbaa broke down as she recalled the moment she was forced to take a virginity test in a Jordan hospital that same year.

Ms Tabbaa is giving evidence on behalf of the Nine Network, which is being sued for defamation by her parents, Mouhammad Tabbaa and his former wife Pamela Tabbaa, over a 60 Minutes program broadcast in 2014.

In the interview, she says she was kidnapped at 13 when holidaying in Egypt, taken to Syria to live with relatives and forced to marry her older cousin.

Ms Tabbaa told the jury she barely saw her father when they lived in Amman before she came to live in Sydney when she was eight, and Omar became the disciplinarian and father figure.

"From my understanding, Omar came to Australia believing we would live an Islamic lifestyle," she said.

He was shocked their Australian-born mother had abandoned Islam.

He also abused her for going on sleepovers "in a house with strange men" and disapproved of her wearing swimming suits or leotards.

"Everything to him was sexualised," she said.

"Everything was very focused on chastity."

From the age of eight, he would say things like: "why are you dressed like a slut?"

The hearing continues.

Nadia Tabbaa. Source: Nine