1. New details emerge of Smallville star’s alleged involvement in sex cult.
In the weeks before her Hollywood facade crumbled, and former Smallville actress Allison Mack’s alleged involvement in the sex cult NXIVM emerged, she was leading a double life, friends say, who had no idea Mack’s “female mentorship” program was actually a sex cult.
“I didn’t think she was part of a cult because you think of cult members as cutting themselves off from family and friends,” one friend told The Hollywood Reporter in a profile piece on the former actress. “She didn’t do that [with me.]”
Mack, 35, allegedly joined NXIVM in 2006 and has since been charged with sex trafficking and forced labour. She is awaiting an October trial. The cult’s leader, Keith Raniere, is also facing a lengthy prison sentence after being indicted on multiple counts of sex trafficking.
Sources told The Hollywood Reporter while Raniere is alleged to have led the cult, Mack “had drunk enough Kool-Aid”, claiming she may have been brainwashed by Raniere in her relationship with him.
They also told the news outlet Raniere would allegedly starve his ‘sex slaves’, limiting the girls to just 900 calories a day, and instructed women not to remove their pubic hair.
One woman, who said she had spoken with a handful of former slaves, said Mack “threatened to release the collateral she had gathered on them if they didn’t sleep with Raniere”.
“She berated them and told them they were worth nothing, that they were weak and couldn’t uphold their word,” she said.
Another added Mack was “incredibly intimidating, cruel and punitive”.
In a statement last month, United States Attorney Richard Donoghue detailed how Mack is alleged to have recruited for the cult.
“As alleged in the indictment, Allison Mack recruited women to join what was purported to be a female mentorship group that was, in fact, created and led by Keith Raniere.
“The victims were then exploited, both sexually and for their labour, to the defendants’ benefit. This Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to prosecuting predators who victimise others through sex trafficking and forced labor.”
To read the Hollywood Reporter’s full profile, click here.
2. 14-year-old Victorian schoolgirl killed after hit-and-run crash involving a truck.
The 14-year-old, named by media outlets as Aivy Nguyen, died in hospital on Wednesday, hours after she was struck on Whitehorse Road in Ringwood about 7am when the driver did not stop.
A 39-year-old NSW man contacted police shortly afterwards and has been speaking with officers.
Family and friends paid tribute to the teen on Wednesday night as they gathered at the scene leaving flowers and cards for her.
This is heartbreaking. Aivy Nguyen, 14, was killed on her way to school today. She lived just mins away. Her mum + little sister sobbed uncontrollably as family left flowers, candles and cookies at the crash scene. She was remembered as “innocent, smart & adorable” @theheraldsun pic.twitter.com/gVv3tVPJH0
— Aneeka Simonis (@AneekaSimonis) May 16, 2018
The teen’s cousin Kimberley Nguyen told News Corp Australia that Aivy would always look after her younger sister, aged 10.
“They were joined at the hip. She was smart and innocent. She was adorable,” she said on Wednesday.
Louis Datoi, a local father, left a bouquet of roses at the intersection and told News Corp Australia a car hit his wife at the intersection last week and his children have been involved in near-misses.
The truck driver involved in the incident was an employee of Makita and was delivering tools to a TAFE in Malvern East, Nine News Melbourne states.
“The company is deeply saddened by today’s accident and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the young girl who lost her life,” managing director Shigeru Okada told Nine News.
“Our driver is assisting police and the company will co-operate in any way we can.”
3. China urges North Korea to proceed with historic summit between Kim-Jong-un and Donald Trump.
China’s Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the two countries should ensure the meeting runs as planned and yields “substantial outcomes.”
“Only in this way can we consolidate the alleviation of the situation and maintain peace and stability in the region,” Lu said at a regularly scheduled news briefing on Wednesday.
Kim and Trump are due to meet in Singapore on June 12, but North Korea on Wednesday threatened to withdraw, saying it has no interest in a "one-sided" meeting meant to pressure it into abandoning its nuclear weapons.
North Korea's warning came hours after it abruptly cancelled a high-level meeting with South Korea to protest US-South Korean military exercises.
China has called for the building of mutual trust through the suspension of large-scale US and South Korean war games in return for a halt of the North's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has met twice with Kim over the past two months in what was seen as an attempt to ensure China's interests are upheld in any negotiations between the US and North Korea.
Analysts said North Korea's threat to scuttle the summit is likely an attempt to gain leverage over Washington, which has demanded the North immediately and irreversibly cease its nuclear weapons program.
In his meeting with Xi last week, Kim registered his desire for Chinese support in the talks, particularly his call for a "phased and synchronous" approach to denuclearisation, as opposed to Trump's demand for an immediate end to its nuclear program.
4. Accused murderer of young NSW mum, found dead beside her one-year-old daughter, was a close friend.
A man charged with the brutal murder of a young Tamworth mother was a friend of his alleged victim and knew her baby girl.
Teah Luckwell's body was discovered beside her one-year-old daughter in her Tamworth unit on the night of March 28.
The toddler is now being looked after by her grandmother.
Jesse Leigh Green was arrested on Tuesday and charged with Ms Luckwell's murder.
The 27-year-old was charged at Silverwater Correctional Complex where he was already in custody in relation to a series of break-ins around Tamworth.
Green was arrested in relation to the robberies, along with two other men, a week after Ms Luckwell's body was discovered.
He was refused bail at Tamworth Local Court on Wednesday and is due to appear again via video link on July 11.
AAP understands he was not in a relationship with the victim but had visited her house as a friend and would have known her baby daughter.
Devastated friends have posted online tributes to the "forever young" 22-year-old.
The local community is preparing for a weekend fundraiser for Ms Luckwell's daughter.
"Please help us to raise as much as we can for Teah's little girl," an organiser said on Facebook.
Superintendent Fred Trench says information provided by the community following Ms Luckwell's death played a "significant role" in the breakthrough this week.
"We got a lot of information from the public and that, combined with other investigative techniques, lead to this arrest yesterday," he told reporters in Tamworth.
Detectives had been working on the case round-the-clock for seven weeks, Supt Trench said, and Ms Luckwell's family were relieved an arrest had been made.
"Each murder is traumatic. But the circumstances in this one - such a young lady (and) her body found in the company of her 13-month-old daughter - certainly added some extra trauma to the investigation," he said.
The two other men arrested over the break-and-enters - aged 26 and 40 - were also to appear before Tamworth Local Court on Wednesday.
5. 'Dozens' of Commonwealth Games athletes from African countries seeking asylum in Australia.
At least 20 AWOL Commonwealth Games athletes want to stayhttps://t.co/E60qEVyfeI
— Brisbane Times (@brisbanetimes) May 16, 2018
Potentially dozens of Commonwealth Games athletes and team staff who went missing during the Gold Coast event are now seeking asylum in Australia, refugee advocates say.
Sydney's Refugee Advice and Casework Service principal solicitor Sarah Dale told AAP the organisation had helped a number of people lodge applications for protection, before their federally-approved games visas expired on Tuesday night.
Initially, it was believed 11 participants had not returned home, including five boxers and three wrestlers from Cameroon, two athletes from Uganda and a Rwandan Paralympic powerlifting coach.
But Ms Dale, who was unable to give precise numbers due to privacy issues, said it was more than 19.
"It's our expectation that there are significantly more people in the community that have sought asylum here in Australia," she told ABC radio on Wednesday.
"It's a significant number ... It's certainly more than what's being reported."
The competitors are seeking asylum for various reasons and are from several different African countries, Ms Dale confirmed.
The federal government has said "some" of those who went missing have already been granted bridging visas to allow them to stay.
The applicants will need to demonstrate they fear persecution, whether it be on religious, race, nationality, social group or political affiliation grounds.
Australian Border Force said visa overstayers were "a common feature of many major international events".
It refused to comment on individual cases but issued a warning to those attempting to remain in Australia without engaging with authorities.
"They should be aware that anyone in Australia without a valid visa will be subject to enforcement measures aimed at locating, detaining and removing them from Australia," ABF said in a statement.
Those who are removed may face a three-year re-entry ban and could be forced to foot the bill for their removal, it said.
Tawanda Karasa decided to seek asylum after coming to Australia for the 2008 Homeless Football World Cup.
The Brisbane resident feared for his life in Zimbabwe because of his involvement in human rights activism, but said applying for a visa was sometimes a "torturous" process.
"It took me about three to four months to get permanent residency, but I know for some of my colleagues it took two years," Mr Karasa told the ABC.
Ms Dale says it is a "stretch" to suggest the claimants planned to come to Australia as part of a games team and then stay.
"I would not suggest that there was a group of people that had decided 'let's compete in the Commonwealth Games to get to Australia'," she said.
But some people do arrive in Australia to find that there are options, given their circumstances back home.