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Two prison guards have been charged in connection with Jeffrey Epstein's death, & more in News in 5.

With AAP.

1. Two prison guards have been charged in connection with Jeffrey Epstein’s death.

Two prison guards have been charged over their actions on the night convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein died in his Manhattan prison cell.

The disgraced New York financier was found unresponsive by Metropolitan Correctional Center guards at 6:33am on August 10, and was later declared to have taken his own life.

Watch: Jeffrey Epstein was awaiting trial at the time of his death.

Video by ABC

Guards Tova Noel, 31, and Michael Thomas, 41, were taken into custody on Tuesday and charged with conspiracy and filing false records in the lead up to Epstein’s death.

According to the indictment, cited by The Guardian, the pair “repeatedly failed to complete mandated counts of prisoners under their watch” and signed false certifications saying they had performed their duties.

The counts were meant to take place every 30 minutes, however, it’s been alleged the pair instead “sat at their desk, browsed the internet and moved around the common area of the SHU”. According to the paper, Noel was allegedly looking at furniture websites while Thomas was looking at motorcycle sales and sports news. The officers also allegedly appeared to have slept for two hours of their shift.

They are due to face a New York court on Tuesday afternoon, local time.

Epstein, 66, had been awaiting trial for his alleged role in a sex trafficking ring involving underage girls. He had pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution in his case had alleged that, over the course of several years, the multimillionaire had recruited underage girls, some as young as 14, for sexual abuse at his homes in New York and Palm Beach, Florida.

Had he been convicted, he would have faced 45 years behind bars.

 2. Northern Territory’s corruption boss steps down from investigation into the police shooting death of Indigenous teen.

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The Northern Territory’s first Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) Ken Fleming QC has stepped down from his oversight role in relation to the police shooting death of Indigenous teenager Kumanjayi Walker.

The move follows some criticism that he was not impartial by addressing a protest rally in Alice Springs.

The rally was one of several that sprung up around Australia last week as Mr Walker’s death became a flashpoint for anger over police treatment of Aboriginal people.

“One of the most important messages today is ‘Black Lives Matter’. Anybody who says contrary to that is guilty of corrupt behaviour,” Mr Fleming said in Alice Springs last Thursday.

NT Police Constable Zachary Rolfe was charged the day before with murder over the shooting at Yuendumu on November 9.

A statement from ICAC on Tuesday afternoon said Mr Fleming would “step aside from the Office of the ICAC’s continuing involvement in the investigation into the circumstances surrounding a Death in Custody in Yuendumu”.

Bruce McClintock SC, who is the ICAC inspector with an oversight role, assessed complaints about Mr Fleming’s remarks and made recommendations about the agency’s future involvement in the police internal investigation into the shooting.

ICAC will still be involved but the NT’s first anti-corruption tsar will not be involved in his own agency’s most high-profile matter since he started in the role in July last year.

ICAC is yet to hold any public hearings although Mr Fleming has named several of its investigations and said he was “very concerned about this incident” after Mr Walker’s shooting.

“From the moment this tragic incident occurred I have set out to give my time to both the NT Police and the Central Australian and Warlpiri Aboriginal communities, in a balanced manner,” Mr Fleming said.

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“I proactively sought counsel to engage in a culturally appropriate manner with senior Aboriginal community leaders, and specifically Warlpiri people who have been impacted by this event.

“My intention when participating in the community meetings in Central Australia was to explain our ability to independently look into these matters to the communities who are upset and seeking the truth.

“I accept that some of my comments have led to the perception among some observers that I am closer to one side than another on this matter, and so I will no longer be involved in it.”

3. Scott Morrison says there is ‘nothing charitable’ about vegan activists’ antics.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has welcomed the stripping of a radical vegan activists group’s charity status, saying there was “nothing charitable” about the invasion of farmers homes and properties.

Aussie Farms drew scorn from the coalition government after publishing an online map with farmers details in a bid to expose animal cruelty.

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission revoked its charity status after an investigation but is not releasing the findings, citing privacy laws.

“Aussie Farms encouraged the invasion of farmers’ homes & properties & the sabotaging of businesses,” Mr Morrison tweeted on Tuesday night.

“It’s why we introduced new laws to ban that sort of bullying of our farmers. There’s nothing charitable about it & I welcome news the group’s charity status has now been revoked.”

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Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack raised the prospect of further punishment for Aussie Farms if it continues to incite activists to storm farms.

“If these people look at ways and means of creating activism that is going to see people invading farms then yes, we might need to go a bit further and tougher,” the Nationals leader told reporters on Tuesday.

Mr McCormack said the government had taken a strong step by referring Aussie Farms to the watchdog.

“We don’t want this activism – illegal activism – affecting the lives and livelihoods of those people who are trying to grow the food and trying to grow the fibre for domestic uses and overseas,” he said.

In a statement, Aussie Farms said losing charity status would only mean it would have to pay tax on unspent fundraising at the end of each financial year.

“We remain a non-profit animal protection organisation dedicated to exposing and ending systemic animal cruelty,” the group said.

Aussie Farms believes the ACNC decision is related to footage released of an illegal slaughterhouse in southeast Melbourne and the shooting of baby male goats on a farm.

The group accused the charities regulator of “clear bias” in favour of industry, but is unlikely to appeal the decision because it would be futile.

“At this stage we are calling for an external review of the ACNC’s ability to perform its role independently as it ought to do, and must now consider whether to pursue legal action for gross misuse of the ACNC Act.”

4. Western Australian government tweaks assisted dying laws.

Western Australia’s government has won the support of doctors after tightening proposed voluntary assisted dying laws.

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Health Minister Roger Cook says the six amendments tabled on Tuesday ensure doctors would be clear on their obligations.

The bill sailed through the lower house in September and is at the committee phase in the upper house, where the numbers are tighter for the Labor government.

Under the proposed laws, terminally ill adults who are in pain and likely have less than six months to live – or one year if they have a neurodegenerative condition – will be able to take a drug to end their lives if approved by two medical practitioners.

Doctors and nurses would be the only healthcare workers allowed to raise voluntary assisted dying with patients under the proposed changes.

The amendments also require the assessment of the second consulting practitioner to be independent.

Australian Medical Association state president Andrew Miller said the changes would make the legislation “significantly more workable”.

“All of this is good for dying patients and the doctors who care for them at the end of life,” Dr Miller said.

“We did not get everything we asked for, but we respect the parliament, and will work to make sure the issues important to doctors continue to be advanced.”

The health minister said there was strong support in WA for assisted dying laws and the amendments were an important step in the process.

“I urge the opposition leader to do the right thing and ensure the passage of this bill is not delayed in the upper house by the small minority in the Liberal Party who want to wreck this legislation,” he said in a statement.

Liberal MP Nick Goiran in October moved hundreds of amendments to the bill and spent three sitting days debating the first of 184 clauses.

Premier Mark McGowan, who wants the legislation passed by Christmas, labelled the staunch conservative’s behaviour “disgraceful”.

Victoria is the only state where voluntary assisted dying is legal.

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5. NASA ice robot test is set to begin at Australia’s Antarctic site.

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An underwater NASA robot that could be a precursor for technology used to search for life on distant moons will undergo trials in Antarctica.

Scientists from the space agency will travel to Australia’s Casey Research Station on Wednesday to begin weeks of tests on the buoyant rover.

The device is designed to travel on the underside of ice sheets, something that is hoped can one day be done on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

NASA scientist Kevin Hand said late 1990s missions found strong evidence of a salty ocean beneath Europa’s icy crust.

The interface between the ice and the water is where life is most likely to exist, he added.

The robot, which has already been tested in the Arctic and Alaska, has two independent wheels and is more energy efficient than similar-sized submarines.

“We’ll trial the endurance of the rover, particularly how long the batteries can last in extreme conditions and how it handles a variety of terrain,” NASA engineer Andy Klesh said on Tuesday.

But any search for life near Jupiter is decades away.

Scientists will have to first figure out how to transport necessary equipment which can operate hundreds of degrees below zero to the planet’s moon and drill through ice 10 kilometres thick.

Until then, the underwater robot could be used to gather information about the conditions of sea ice and ice sheets on earth.

“We hope to some day leave it out for an entire winter or perhaps an entire year so it can serve as a robot vehicle constantly collecting data,” NASA scientist Dr Kevin Hand said.

“By studying earth’s ice-water interface we can being to understand the dynamics that make life possible at that interface.”

NASA is planning a mission in 2025 to fly past Europa and collect data about potential landing sites.

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