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Chicago park shooting wounds 13

Thirteen people, including a toddler, have been wounded in an overnight gang shooting in Chicago, police say.

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Among the victims is a three-year-old child who is in critical condition after being shot in the ear when gunfire erupted around 10.15pm on Thursday (1300 AEST Friday) at a park on Chicago’s south side, police say.

No one has been reported killed and no one had been arrested as of early Friday.

“We believe that the motive for the shooting was gang-related,” said Ron Gaines, a spokesman with the Chicago Police Department.

“At this point, detectives are out questioning witnesses trying to find out what happened,” he said.

Officials said the wounded were transported by ambulance to area hospitals.

Many of the victims – most of them in their teens, 20s and 30s – had bullet wounds to their arms, legs or feet.

One 24-year-old man was shot twice in the abdomen and was in serious condition, police said.

A witness, Julian Harris, told the Chicago Sun-Times that dreadlocked men fired at him from a grey sedan before turning toward Cornell Square Park and firing at people in the area. He said his three-year-old nephew was wounded.

“They hit the light pole next to me, but I ducked down and ran into the house,” he said. “They’ve been coming round here looking for people to shoot every night, just gang-banging stuff. It’s what they do.”

Francis John, 70, said she was in her apartment when the shooting occurred. She said went down to see what was going on and “a lot of youngsters were running scared”.

She said she was surprised by what had happened, saying she has lived in the neighbourhood for 30 years.

She told the Sun-Times there hasn’t been much gun violence in the neighbourhood in recent years, adding the neighbourhood went from good to bad 10 years ago, to better recently.

The shooting comes nearly three weeks after Chicago saw an outburst of violence over the Labor Day weekend that ended with eight dead and 20 others injured.

The city’s police department has responded to shootings that have grabbed national headlines by stepping up its crime-fighting efforts, paying overtime to add patrols to some neighbourhoods, including the Back of the Yards, where Thursday’s shooting took place.

US President Obama returned to his adopted hometown earlier this year to appeal for an end to the “senseless” gun violence ravaging Chicago as he pressed for ambitious gun control measures, which so far have been stalled in the US congress.

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Rescuers pull bodies from Mexico mudslide

Rescuers have pulled two bodies from a mudslide that buried a Mexican village but dozens remain missing after storms lashed the country and killed almost 100 people nationwide.

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As soldiers and police removed debris in the southwestern village of La Pintada, Hurricane Manuel pounded the northwest state of Sinaloa, bringing more rain to the flood-stricken nation.

Luis Felipe Puente, the national civil protection coordinator, said the death toll from days of floods and landslides had jumped to 97 from 81, with 65 of the victims registered in the southwestern state of Guerrero.

Guerrero was the hardest-hit state from the dual onslaught of Manuel and sister storm Ingrid on the east coast that drenched most of Mexico this week, damaging bridges, roads and tens of thousands of homes.

The storms flooded half of Acapulco, including the airport terminal, while landslides blocked the only roads linking the city to the capital. Thousands of angry, stranded tourists held a protest, demanding swifter airlifts.

West of the city, in the mountains of Guerrero, some 100 rescuers toiled in the mud to look for victims of an epic mudslide that swamped half the coffee-growing hamlet of La Pintada and left 68 people missing.

Wearing surgical masks, they removed pieces of broken homes and chopped up collapsed trees with machetes. The village church vanished; only its broken steeple was left, toppled on a mess of mud, with its cross broken.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said soldiers had found two bodies so far. The municipality’s mayor has said that 15 corpses were found by villagers in recent days.

“The rescue work has begun. It’s very complicated, it won’t be easy, it won’t be just a few days,” Osorio Chong said after visiting the village.

Mud cascaded down a hill and covered much of the village, burying homes, the school and church before ending its mad descent in a river.

“People were in the church asking God to stop the rain,” said Roberto Catalan, a 56-year-old farmer. “The earth had been bubbling. When we heard a bang, we ran out.”

Jose Minos Romero, 12, said he was playing soccer with 10 other children and was only saved “because my mother called me,” but “my friends died.”

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Qantas planes seconds from colliding

Two Qantas passenger aircraft were just seconds from colliding when they came within 220 metres of each other near Adelaide.

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Collision avoidance systems were set off as a Sydney-to-Perth plane came too close to a Perth-to-Sydney plane over the Great Australian Bight on Friday afternoon.

The plane travelling from Sydney had been granted permission by air traffic control to climb.

An air traffic controller has reportedly been stood down over the incident.

Passenger Gary Martin witnessed the near miss.

“There was nothing reported; I just happened to look out the window somewhere in South Australia and saw a plane fly underneath,” he told reporters at Perth Airport.

But many other passengers arriving at the airport were unaware of the near miss and believed the flight was normal.

Qantas says the Airbus A330 aircraft had a “loss of separation”.

“Our pilots followed standard operating procedures in re-establishing the required separation distance,” the airline said in a statement.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has begun an investigation which will include examining radar and audio data and interviewing air traffic controllers and flight crew.

It said the incident occurred just after midday (AEST), 19 kilometres west of Adelaide, when the flight one plane had begun to climb from 38,000 feet to 40,000 feet after being cleared to do so.

“Soon after, the controller cancelled the clearance and the aircraft descended back to 38,000 feet,” the ATSB said.

It said the flight crew of the second plane received a resolution advisory alert from the aircraft’s traffic collision avoidance system, requiring immediate action.

The ATSB said it expected to complete the investigation of the incident this month.

The West Australian newspaper’s aviation editor Geoffrey Thomas said all passengers would have died if the planes collided.

“From an accident like that there would be no survival whatsoever,” he told the Seven Network.

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McLaren would be happy to take Alonso back

“Yes, if I could,” he said.

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“I think most teams up and down this pitlane would happily sign Fernando Alonso. He’s a very talented driver.

“I expect next year our driver line-up to stay the same but we are open to anything,” he added. “And in the longer term then he’d be a great asset. I think Fernando’s in control of his own destiny, but we’ll see.”

McLaren have yet to confirm their 2014 line-up, although Whitmarsh said 2009 world champion Jenson Button’s deal was done, while Ferrari have signed 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen to partner Alonso.

The Spaniard has a contract to the end of 2016 but British media was abuzz on Friday with speculation that Alonso could, despite his own assurances to the contrary, walk out of Maranello in what would be the shock of the formula one season.

Alonso is used to having a clear number one role, and his pairing with Lewis Hamilton at McLaren in 2007 and that team’s insistence on giving equal terms to both despite the Briton’s rookie status, led to an acrimonious breakdown in their relations and the Spaniard’s departure.

At Ferrari, Alonso has been partnered by Brazilian Felipe Massa – who has not won a race since 2008 and has acted as a supportive number two.

Asked whether he sensed Alonso was now ‘more gettable’ because of Raikkonen’s arrival, Whitmarsh said it would be wrong for him to comment on what was going on at Ferrari.

“I think people were surprised with the recruitment of Kimi, not because Kimi’s not massively talented or that he would want to go to Ferrari, but…whether it’s a sustainable driver line-up I don’t know.

“Let’s be frank. People want to sign Fernando Alonso because he is one of the best racing drivers in the world at the moment,” said Whitmarsh. “He’s an asset to any team.”

Pressed on the likelihood of Alonso returning one day to former champions McLaren, who have had a woeful season so far without a single podium finish, Whitmarsh did not rule out a change in their current line-up even if he expected it to remain the same.

“There’s a lot of froth and excitement around these issues but being realistic, that’s what I think will happen (Button and Mexican Sergio Perez to stay). But we’ll see.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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Gangs blamed for mass shooting in Chicago

Thirteen people, including a toddler, were wounded in an overnight gang shooting in Chicago, President Barack Obama’s adopted hometown that has been struggling to stem violent crime, police said.

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Among the victims was a three-year-old child who was in critical condition after being shot in the ear when gunfire erupted around 10:15 pm (0315 GMT Friday) at a park on Chicago’s south side, police said.

   

No-one was reported killed and no-one had been arrested as of early Friday.

   

“We believe that the motive for the shooting was gang-related,” said Ron Gaines, a spokesman with the Chicago Police Department.

   

“At this point, detectives are out questioning witnesses trying to find out what happened,” he said.

   

Officials said the wounded were transported by ambulance to area hospitals.

   

Many of the victims — most of whom in their teens, 20s and 30s — were shot in extremities, with bullet wounds to arms, legs or feet.

   

One 24-year-old man was shot twice in the abdomen and was in serious condition, police said.

   

The shooting comes as Chicago struggles to stem an epidemic of gang violence that helped push the city’s murder rate up 16 percent to 506 people last year.

   

Gun violence in Chicago has continued at a slower but still-brisk pace this year.

   

Obama returned to his adopted hometown earlier this year to appeal for an end to the “senseless” gun violence ravaging Chicago as he pressed for ambitious gun control measures, which so far have been stalled in the US Congress.

IT WAS A LOT OF BOOM, BOOM, BOOM: EYEWITNESS

A witness, Julian Harris, told the Chicago Sun-Times that dreadlocked men fired at him from a gray sedan before turning toward Cornell Square Park and firing at people in the area. He said his 3-year-old nephew was wounded in the cheek.

“They hit the light pole next to me, but I ducked down and ran into the house,” he said. “They’ve been coming round here looking for people to shoot every night, just gang-banging stuff. It’s what they do.”

Francis John, 70, said she was in her apartment when the shooting occurred. She said went down to see what was going on and “a lot of youngsters were running scared.” She said she was surprised by what had happened, saying she has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years.

She told the Sun-Times there hasn’t been much gun violence in the neighborhood in recent years, adding the neighborhood went from good to bad 10 years ago, to better recently.

“It was a lot of boom, boom, boom,” John told the Chicago Sun-Times.

 

Another witness, Kevin Green, reportedly told the Sun-Times he saw multiple injured victims being taken away on stretchers.

“The women were crying and screaming,” he said. “It was wild.”

A Metropolitan Police Officer is in a critical condition in hospital after being hit by a vehicle which he was attempting to stop, Sky News is reporting.

WATCH: Video below from the scene of the shooting.

Ten adults and a three year old shot here. #chicago pic.twitter.com/KE8GySaQX2

— Peter Nickeas (@PeterNickeas) September 20, 2013

51st & Wood (Chicago Park): EMS PLAN 2 (10+ ambos) for the multiple shooting victims pic.twitter.com/sI6fkyLL6b

— Paris Lewbel (@plewbel) September 20, 2013

A crowd gathers near the scene of the shooting pic.twitter.com/0KiuPh8TU6

— Brandon Wall (@Walldo) September 20, 2013

Scene pic.twitter.com/uUuQAW3Knx

— Becky Schlikerman (@schlikerman) September 20, 2013

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Labor strengthens position on Iraq

Labor has virtually ruled out supporting any war in Iraq which does not have United Nations backing.

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Opposition Leader, Simon Crean says Labor will support the United Nations, but will not support United States-led unilateral action.

But, Mr Crean says Labor could still back unilateral US action if UN support is blocked by a single permanent Security Council member nation using its veto.

“In those circumstances, I’m saying we should consider those facts at the time, but the principle positions that should guide us, is only support for action authorised by the United Nations, not being supportive of US-led unilateral action.”

Some federal Labor MPs have complained that their party has not had a clear position on Iraq.

One of the MP’s, former frontbencher Carmen Lawrence, says it is a stronger position, and she is not yet worried about Mr Crean’s Security Council qualification.

“It’s a hypothetical situation, and a bridge that, I think we’d want to cross when we came to it.

“I’m just very pleased at the strengthning of the position represented by the statement that he’s made, and obviously want to encourage him to close that remaining door.”

And, the Australian Arabic Council, which opposes any Australian involvement in military action against Iraq, has also welcomed Mr Crean’s remarks.

But the Council’s chairman Roland Jabbour says it has taken the Labor Party too long to outline its stand on the issue.

“We are quite pleased that finally we do have a position from the opposition leader and from the Labor Party on these issues.

“We were extremely disappointed because the Labor Party seemed to be totally absent and basically had no position on these fairly serious issues.”

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Hospital call centre bungle

The New South Wales government has conceded a new call centre may have been responsible for a series of mix-ups in Sydney hospitals.

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The Central Sydney Area Health Service says no lives were lost and no-one was hurt during the trial of new technology to transfer calls.

But the service is investigating claims by doctors that the system caused a critically-ill patient to be sent to the wrong hospital.

The Service’s chief executive officer Dr Diana Horvath says a number of errors were made while the system was in use and it will not be continuing.

“There were mix-ups. Some were associated with the trial and some were not but I’m just stopping the whole thing.”

New South Wales Health Minister Craig Knowles says he will wait for an independent review of the circumstances to be completed before he makes an assessment.

“Well I’m particularly concerned about any report of a failure in the system. Whether it’s this set of assertions or any other and that’s why we have organisations like the Health Care Complaints Commission, who will investigate independently.”

Dr Alan Garner from emergency rescue company, Careflight, says in an incident last month, a critically-ill patient was taken to the wrong hospital.

Dr Garner says he had organised his team to transfer a patient with acute liver failure from Canterbury hospital to Concord hospital, both in Sydney’s west.

But Dr Garner says there was no bed available at Concord hospital so the patient was driven for another 30 minutes to Royal Prince Alfred hospital, in the inner western Sydney suburb of Newtown.

Dr Garner says he does not believe that the delay caused the death of the patient.

But he is concerned such delays could result in the death of some critically-ill patients.

“Well, the patient was very critically ill and was unstable, so we were quite unhappy about having to move them again. But we got the patient to Royal Prince Alfred and I understand that the patient died a couple of hours later. But I don’t think in this case that the extra transport contributed to the death. It was certainly not helpful, but the patient was so ill I think they were always going to die – I don’t think for this patient that it made a difference. But in another situation it could be life threatening.”

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Clubs support Soccer Australia’s changes

The inquiry’s head David Crawford says the report shows Soccer Australia is plagued by infighting, factionalism and financial mismanagement.

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The report calls on the board of Soccer Australia to stand aside and for a new constitution to be developed under the leadership of Westfield Chairman Frank Lowy.

Chairman and owner of Sydney’s Northern Spirit soccer club, Antonio Gelonesi, says if all the report’s recommendations are to be implemented, a new board should be formed.

“On that basis yes, and under those conditions I feel that it’s wise that the report be implemented and that Soccer Australia has a new board. But I would say that there are a number of people on that board who could be quite eligible to stand again. So again the market place will determine who those people are.”

The report recommends state soccer bodies introduce similar reforms to Soccer Australia or risk losing voting rights and funding.

Mr Gelonesi says the state bodies should operate like a business does.

The chief executive of the Melbourne Knights club, John Ovcaric says Soccer Australia’s board, which recently had changes, is working on the organisation’s problems.

“All soccer supporters, including stakeholders, would have to have been worried in the past. But I wouldn’t necessarily equate the statement that he has made in the report momentarily, against the current board, who I think have been very diligent in doing a very good job in regardsto getting Soccer Australia back on its feet.”

Mr Ovcaric says National Soccer League clubs will have to consider the report collectively and adopt it if they find it fair and legitimate.

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Downer defends North Korea decisions

The Australian government is continuing to defend its decision to send a diplomatic delegation to North Korea to help ease tensions with the United States over its nuclear program.

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A delegation of three Australian diplomats is due to arrive in Pyongyang today to discuss North Korea’s moves to reactivate its nuclear programs.

The team will be led by the foreign ministry’s top north Asia expert Murray Mclean, but Labor says the delegation is not high-level enough.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says the delegation will participate in important dialogue with North Korea.

“We would not surprisingly express our concern about the uranium enrichment capabilities of North Korea, their withdrawal from the non-proliferation treaty and, most recently, statements that the moratorium on missile testing is finished. But we will also listen to what they have to say and explain to the North Koreans, that the Americans have no intention of mounting military action against North Korea.”

The Federal Opposition is continuing to accuse the Australian Government of not taking the North Korean situation seriously enough.

Labor leader Simon Crean says there needs to be an effort at a higher level, with a visit by Mr Downer or perhaps Prime Minister John Howard.

“If it requires political involvement at the highest level, that’s what leadership is about. That’s what prime ministers are elected to do. They are elected to secure our region, and Australia’s interests in that region. And, so I would urge the Government to re-think its complacency in relation to North Korea, look at what initiatives it can take, and look at initiatives in the past that have worked.”

Meanwhile, Gerald Bourke from the UN’s World Food Program says a humanitarian crisis unfolding in North Korea because many countries have cut ties with the country.

“In a word, fairly bleak, the country doesn’t have enough food to feed itself. It has nevber had enough food to feed itself for all kinds fo reasons. It’s a very mountainous country, it’s got very little in the way of arable land, its agricultural infrastructure is pretty deficient, and therefore it relies very heavily on external assistance which has also been dwindling over the last several months.”

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Howard on Iraq involvement

Prime Minister John Howard says some elements of the Australian military could soon be deployed for possible military action against Iraq.

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At a news conference in Canberra, Mr Howard reiterated that Australia did not want military action to take place if it could be avoided.

But he said the Australian Defence Force had to prepare for possible action, which could involve both personnel and military assets such as planes.

“There have been some contingency arrangements in place now for some weeks. I indicated that last November, and that process goes on. And as I’ve said today, that could involve some forward deployments of those people and assets over the weeks ahead, and if that..when that takes place, then announcements will be made so that the AUSTRALIAN public is fully informed.”

Mr Howard said any Australian involvement in military action against Iraq would be similar to what Australia contributed to help fight Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan.

He said it would include Special Air Services troops, aircraft, and ships.

“There would be in those terms, special forces, with appropriate support units. There would be naval vessels. There are already two in the Gulf, and that might be augmented by one. There would be some FA-18 fighters but not more than a squadron of 14.”

Mr Howard denied reports that Australia might send ground forces other than the Special Air Services troops.

The Prime Minister stressed that Australia was still hoping United Nations weapons inspectors could address concerns over Iraq’s capabilities of making or using weapons of mass destruction.

However, he said he was not encouraged by Iraq’s response so far to the UN weapons inspection process.

“For that UN process to have substance and meaning, there’s got to be a response and a compliance by Iraq and so far I don’t think Iraq has responded with sufficient enthusiasm, transparency and openness and honesty. And if that response continues, then that obviously has very serious consequences for a peaceful resolution of this issue.”

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