Obama to be first president to visit Cuba in 88 years - and more 10am Zedlines

Barack Obama will visit the island nation next month in a move to further strengthen the new ties formed between the former rivals. Image Source: WikiCommons

Lockyer Valley mayor in critical condition

Lockyer Valley mayor Steve Jones is in a critical condition after collapsing at a meeting with Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale and Somerset mayor Graeme Lehmann.

The councillor is believed to have suffered a stroke and was treated by paramedics at the scene before being rushed to hospital.

He has been moved to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane and Queensland Health has not revealed any further information on his condition.

QLD government attacks opposition chief of staff

The Queensland Government has used parliament to attack the opposition leader’s chief of staff Jake Smith after the Speaker admonished an LNP backbencher for misleading two parliamentary committees and disclosing confidential matters.

Mr Smith is under attack for helping Member for Warrego Ann Leahy write an email which breached the confidence of the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee.

Labor's Leader of the House Stirling Hinchliffe called Mr Smith a shadowy figure who needed to be exorcised from the body politic in Queensland.

Australian senate warned of plastic pollution in marine environments

An Australian senate enquiry has been told plastic pollution in the oceans is a critical problem that will affect food chains, global conservation, and human health.

A 2014 study revealed more than five trillion pieces of plastic were contaminating the ocean, amounting to nearly 269 thousand tonnes of material.

The Guardian was given official parliamentary advice informing them the federal health minister has the power to ban all plastic microbead products without introducing new legislation.

Protesters climb spire to show support to refugees

Two women have climbed part way up the Melbourne Arts Centre spire this morning in protest against the Federal Government’s refugee policies.

The professional climbers have affixed a huge banner to the structure bearing the Let Them Stay hashtag that has become synonymous with a recent wave of protests against returning 267 asylum seekers to Nauru.

The Whistleblowers Activist Citizens Alliance says the two women, who climbed the spire at around 3:30 this morning, are acting in support of doctors at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane who are refusing to release baby Asha.

The protest follows a similar protest yesterday in Brisbane in which two women climbers hung a huge Let Them Stay banner off Brisbane’s goodwill bridge.

Pope labels trump as not Christian over wall claims

Pope Francis has attacked US Presidential candidate Donald Trump over his claims that he will build a wall to keep Mexican migrants from entering the United States.

The Pope said that anyone who wants to build walls and not bridges is not a Christian, in response to a question about Trump’s hardline immigration stance.

The pontiff’s comments drew condemnation from Mr Trump who called them disgraceful.

Obama set to be first president to visit Cuba in 88 years

Barack Obama is set to be the first US president to visit Cuba in 88 years, with a visit to the country planned next month.

Cuban-American Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said it is pitiful for Obama to reward Castros with a visit to Cuba while the living conditions in Cuba worsen.

Many Cubans are welcoming the renewed relationship between the two countries, with Cuban political dissident and journalist Guillermo Farinas saying he hopes Obama will try to empower the Cuban people, civil society, domestic opposition and small business, not the Cuban government.