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Australia returns illegally removed tribal hunting axe to Philippines Government

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A steel and wood axe from the early- to mid-1900s that was seized under Australian legislation has been returned to the Philippines Government

The Australian Federal Police’s INTERPOL National Central Bureau (INTERPOL Canberra) returned the item after working with national and international law enforcement agencies to detect sources of illicit trafficking of cultural material.

It has made ongoing international enquiries into a US-based online vendor selling cultural heritage objects found to be illegally removed.

INTERPOL Canberra joined the Office for the Arts (OFTA), Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and the Australian Border Force (ABF) to return the axe to the Philippines in a restitution ceremony in Canberra.

It follows two other restitution ceremonies in Australia in the past year in which illegally trafficked cultural items were returned to the governments of Mexico and Peru

The axe is associated with the Igorot communities in Northern Luzon, Philippines. This style of axe is still used for woodcarving and hunting by the Igorot communities. Axes like this were also used for headhunting, a custom that the Igorots maintained until the early 1900s.

According to a police statement, the ABF intercepted the item at the border in June 2020 after an Australian customer purchased it from the US-based vendor of interest.

The ABF referred the matter to the OFTA for advice for possible contravention of the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986.

The Federal Police say that OFTA consulted with Australian experts who assessed the axe to be authentic. The Government of the Philippines requested restitution of the object in January 2021, asserting that the object was protected under its cultural property laws.

The OFTA seized the axe on 17 May 2021, and it was forfeited to the Commonwealth on 28 June 2021.

The axe was returned to the Ambassador of the Philippines to Australia, Her Excellency, Ms Hellen Barber de la Vega, at a formal restitution ceremony last week.

The Office for the Arts returned the axe at the ceremony and was joined by representatives from INTERPOL Canberra, ABF and DFAT.

The US-based vendor who sold the axe was first detected during Operation Athena II, a global customs-police operation spanning 103 countries, which included INTERPOL Canberra, focussed on disrupting the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage.

Globally, more than 19,000 archaeological artefacts and other artworks have been recovered during Operation Athena II and more than 100 people have been arrested.

Enquiries into the US-based vendor who sold the axe continue with US law enforcement partners

AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner International Command Melinda Phelan said law enforcement agencies around the world were increasingly receiving reports about cultural items and art being illegally trafficked.

“INTERPOL Canberra has been working closely with our partners in Australia and around the world to retrieve and return property illegally removed from their country of origin before they reach private collections and disappear from view,”

Assistant Commissioner Phelan said.

ABF Group Manager for Customs, Vanessa Holben, said that officers are attuned to attempts to illegally import cultural items into Australia.

“Thanks to the efforts of ABF officers at the border, this item was detected and referred to the Office for the Arts. We will continue to work closely with stakeholders to combat this type of cultural theft,”

Group Manager Holben said.

The axe was the sixth item sold by the US-based vendor to an Australian customer that has been intercepted and returned to a foreign government in the past 12 months.

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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NASA confirms Odysseus lunar aircraft tipped over after failed moon landing

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NASA has confirmed that the first privately owned spacecraft to land on the moon, named Odysseus, has tipped over onto its side after a failed landing.

Despite the setback, the spacecraft is reported to be “alive and well.”

Initial data received by Intuitive Machines, the company behind the spacecraft, indicated that Odysseus had successfully landed with all six feet on the lunar surface.

However, subsequent updates revealed that the lander is now laying on its side on the lunar landscape.

According to CEO Steve Altemus, the mishap occurred when one of the lander’s legs became caught, causing it to tip over onto a rock.

This unexpected turn of events occurred a day after what was initially confirmed as a soft landing.

Solar power

While laying on its side has hindered radio transmission and potentially impacted the craft’s ability to receive solar power, Altemus reassured during a press conference that much of Odysseus’ operating abilities remain intact.

“We do have communications with the lander,” Altemus stated, noting that commands are still being sent to the vehicle.

Efforts are underway to obtain the first photo images from the lunar surface at the landing site.

Despite the setback, Intuitive Machines expressed confidence in Odysseus’ overall performance.

Mission director Tim Crain highlighted the spacecraft’s flawless flight to the moon, during which it utilized a propulsion fuel of liquid methane and liquid oxygen for the first time in space.

The journey to the lunar surface was not without its challenges, as a problem with the lander’s navigation system emerged during the final approach and descent. Ground engineers had to implement an untested workaround at the last minute to ensure a safe landing.

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Policeman charged with murdering TV presenter and his boyfriend

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A major update in the disappearance of a Channel 10 presenter and his Qantas flight attendant boyfriend, as a police officer with connections to the missing couple has been charged with two counts of murder.

NSW Police have released footage of constable Beau Lamarre-Condon handing himself in to Bondi police station.

Beau Lemarre, 28, a former celebrity blogger turned NSW Police officer, surrendered to authorities on Friday morning, following a frantic overnight search.

The charges stem from the mysterious disappearance of Lemarre’s ex-boyfriend, Jesse Baird, and Baird’s partner, Luke Davies, who were last seen on Monday.

Jesse Baird and Luke Davies are pictured.

Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty confirmed the charges, stating, “Charges have been submitted for two counts of murder.”

He further added that Lemarre is expected to be formally denied bail and brought before the court.

Jesse Baird on the set of Studio 10

Police weapon

Police allege that Lemarre used his service weapon to fatally shoot Baird and Davies at Baird’s home in Paddington on Monday night.

The bodies have yet to be found, but evidence collected at the crime scene, including bloodstained clothes discovered near a skip-bin in Cronulla, and a projectile matched to a NSW Police firearm, have led investigators to pursue charges against Lemarre.

Beau Lemarre, 28, a NSW Police officer and ex-celebrity blogger

A white van believed to be connected to the disappearance was located on Friday morning, prompting authorities to intensify their search efforts.

However, the whereabouts of Baird and Davies remain unknown.

The couple’s disappearance has sent shockwaves through the community, with friends expressing concern for their safety.

According to reports, Baird had previously voiced fears of being stalked, adding a layer of complexity to the investigation.

Police are searching for a white van (pictured) they believe was being driven by Mr Lamarre. It was captured on CCTV (pictured) driving past the couple in Paddington on Monday night

Major crime scene

Police sealed off a street in Lambton, Newcastle, located 165km away from the Paddington crime scene, on Friday after a white van matching the description of the one being sought was spotted in Karoola Road near Lambton Pool.

Local residents reported a heavy police presence in the area, with streets cordoned off and officers conducting door-to-door inquiries.

“There’s cops everywhere, walking the streets, door knocking,” said one resident.

“Got the road closed past the pool,” they added.

Another resident mentioned, “The park is taped off with police tape up near the bowling club and lots of police are walking the park at the moment.”

It is suspected that Beau Lamarre-Condon, the individual charged in connection with the disappearance, may have driven the van, registered as CW82PM, to a residence in the Newcastle suburb where it was sighted around 10pm the previous night. However, by 2am, the van had vanished again.

Prior to becoming a police officer, Lamarre-Condon was a celebrity blogger

These significant developments occurred after Lamarre-Condon’s phone showed signs of activity shortly before his arrest.

He had evaded authorities following the launch of a manhunt for the missing couple, after it was revealed that he was Jesse Baird’s ex-boyfriend.

Prior to his tenure with the NSW Police, Lamarre-Condon was known as a celebrity blogger, famous for capturing selfies with prominent figures such as Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.

His entry into law enforcement in 2019 was not without controversy, as he garnered attention for tasering a man in the face during an arrest, which was captured on camera.

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Generative AI is threatening to kill off original music

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From original sounds to entire songs, generative AI is sparking debates on the future of the music industry.

Generative artificial intelligence can already produce original sounds, lyrics, and entire songs on its own.

So, as the new technology continues to develop, will AI mean the death of original music, or herald a new era of creativity?

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