Court of Appeal rejects bid by mining mogul Travers Duncan to overturn ICAC findings

Mining mogul Travers Duncan outside the ICAC in 2012. Photo: Rob HomerThe state’s highest court has rejected a bid by mining mogul Travers Duncan and three of his associates to overturn corrupt conduct findings made against them over a multimillion-dollar coal deal.
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Mr Duncan, lawyers-turned-businessmen John McGuigan and John Atkinson, and investment banker Richard Poole were the founding investors in Cascade Coal, a company seeking to exploit a coal tenement in the Bylong Valley near Mudgee.

After an explosive public inquiry that also made corruption findings against former NSW Labor ministers, the Independent Commission Against Corruption made adverse findings against the businessmen and Cascade Coal in 2013.

The businessmen lost a Supreme Court bid in July 2014 to have the findings overturned.

But one of their associates, RAMS Home Loans founder John Kinghorn, was successful in that case because the finding against him was made on a narrower basis that the court ruled was invalid.

Mr Kinghorn became the first person in more than 20 years to be cleared of corrupt conduct in NSW.

The Court of Appeal ruled on Wednesday that the findings against Cascade Coal, Mr Duncan and his associates were valid.

Chief Justice Tom Bathurst, dissenting in part, would have quashed the corruption findings against Mr Atkinson and Mr Poole. But he agreed on most points with Court of Appeal President Margaret Beazley and Justice John Basten.

All three judges rejected a challenge to the ICAC’s jurisdiction to recommend Cascade Coal’s exploration licence be torn up because it was “tainted by corruption”.

The court also found that the basis on which a corrupt conduct finding was made against Mr Kinghorn was in fact valid.

But because the ICAC had already agreed to discontinue the case against Mr Kinghorn, no finding will be reinstated against him.

The businessmen have 28 days to file any application for special leave to the High Court.

On Twitter, even cats (and dogs) are divided over Brexit

The tension over Britain’s historic referendum has spilled over to social media, where people let their pets battle it out. Photo: 123rf上海龙凤419mBattle lines have been sharply drawn ahead of the vote about whether Britain should remain a member of the European Union.
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The intense debate over the Brexit referendum has pitted neighbours and relatives against one another.

It has spilled over to Twitter, where in moments of tension users often turn to pet memes.

Last week, Lilian Edwards, a law professor in Scotland, posted a picture of her cat on Twitter, curled up on a pillow and looking slightly sad, and added the hashtag #CatsAgainstBrexit, asking other cat owners to join her. My cat is sad because #Brexit. If you agree RT w your cat. #CatsAgainstBrexit. Come on guys, viral time!!! pic.twitter上海龙凤419m/NHH5lBMpZq— Lilian Edwards (@lilianedwards) June 18, 2016

Soon thousands of cat owners who support British membership in the bloc posted pictures of their cats in a purportedly resentful or irritated state, attributing their dark mood to Brexit-induced depression. Never mind that cats are inscrutable.

More hashtags proliferated: the opposing #CatsForBrexit, as well as #DogsAgainstBrexit and #DogsForBrexit. Even hamsters and ferrets weighed in. #FerretsAgainstBrexitpic.twitter上海龙凤419m/hrNfvXHkEP— Panny (@Pannypannypan) June 20, 2016

So far, the cats opposed to leaving the European Union have won the battle, with nearly 54,000 tweets in the past seven days, according to Dataminr, a monitoring service. Cat tweets in favour of leaving the European Union numbered around 2300, with the dog tweets split 1400 against to 700 for leaving, Dataminr showed.

What does this mean for the final outcome of the referendum? We’re not sure, but this is scientific proof that Twitter is ridiculous.

Through their pets, Twitter users touched on several high-profile issues of the referendum debate, including immigration, the economy and the role of the right-wing UK Independence Party.

“Benson’s worried not enough people realise that we have more in common than things dividing us,” Rupert Myers, a journalist, wrote on Twitter, with a picture of his cat gazing forlornly.\ Benson’s worried not enough people realise that we have more in common than things dividing us #CatsAgainstBrexitpic.twitter上海龙凤419m/veqmPeaoIj— Rupert Myers (@RupertMyers) June 20, 2016

Darcy doesn’t like irreversible decisions. And he should know – he’s been neutered. #CatsAgainstBrexit pic.twitter上海龙凤419m/YhYWOWUTDj— Amy Flinders (@amyflinders27)  June 22, 2016  

Immigration figured prominently in the posts, a reflection of the “Leave” campaign’s views, which recently made headlines after a poster showed a huge line of migrants stretching into the distance, with the words “Breaking Point” overlaid in red.

“This dog is voting out because this highly skilled immigrant cat stole his job,” Kimbo Brandt wrote on Twitter, posting a picture of a cat and a dog. This dog is voting out because this highly skilled immigrant cat stole his job #DogsforBrexit#CatsAgainstBrexitpic.twitter上海龙凤419m/0LNTdjLCrF— Kim (@KimboBrandt) June 20, 2016

Dr. Suzanne Conboy-Hill, referring to Boris Johnson, the former London mayor and one of the public faces of the “Leave” campaign, said her cat feared she could be sent packing at any moment: “Chaka is 19 & part Persian. She worries she might be deported if Boris knows where Persia is.” Chaka is 19 & part Persian. She worries she might be deported if Boris knows where Persia is. #CatsAgainstBrexitpic.twitter上海龙凤419m/L5pagYLQzG— DrSuzanneConboy-Hill (@strayficshion) June 20, 2016

On the other side of the debate, Daniel Hannan, a member of the Conservative Party and the European Parliament, invoked the famed Grumpy Cat. “Would anything cheer you up, @RealGrumpyCat?” “Only one thing: getting out before the EU collapses!”#VoteLeavepic.twitter上海龙凤419m/YlfcrJIQLJ— Daniel Hannan (@DanHannanMEP) June 21, 2016The New York Times

Parramatta pool to close with a new aquatic centre proposed

Parramatta residents will have one last summer to enjoy their public pool before it closes. Photo: Steven SiewertParramatta residents will have one last summer to enjoy the Parramatta pool before it is demolished to make way for the new Western Sydney Stadium, the NSW government announced on Wednesday.
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A new aquatic centre is slated to be built on the old Parramatta golf course, subject to final planning approvals.

However, with the construction of a replacement aquatic centre expected to take a minimum of two years, locals will be without a public swimming pool for some time once Parramatta Swimming Centre closes in March 2017.

Sports Minister Stuart Ayres said a master plan would govern the redevelopment of the eastern end of the old golf course, which would need to be upgraded and repurposed for public use.

“Subject to the finalisation of funding arrangements, the City of Parramatta Council will be responsible for delivering the new aquatic centre,” Mr Ayres said on Wednesday.

But the North Parramatta Residents Action Group, which has opposed the closure of the pool since it was first flagged in February, said the announcement was nothing more than a promise to conduct a feasibility study.

“Until we see a like-for-like pool under construction, the War Memorial pool must remain open,” the group’s president Suzette Meade said.

Ms Meade said the Parramatta War Memorial pool, which was first opened in 1959, was greatly valued by the community, given their distance from the ocean.

“To go to an outdoor pool is very special. It’s something for the community that’s affordable, so we can go an sit on the grass and lay in the sun.”

She said the Parramatta community had a “massive trust deficit” with the state government due to after-the-fact consultation.

“We keep saying, put the plans on the table for real engagement with the community, because it’s not happening.”

The pool’s closure was a foregone conclusion after plans for the new $300 million Western Sydney Stadium revealed the adjacent site would be needed to accommodate the 30,000 seat stadium.

Modern security requirements, including more circulation zones around the stadium, and improved pedestrian and vehicle access along O’Connell Street also meant the new stadium would encroach on the pool site.

Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance said the planning process would involve “extensive public consultation” and would be lead by the Parramatta Park Trust, which owns the golf course site.

“We want to get the best result for the community and will be working closely with the council and the Trust to progress the former golf course site proposal,” Mr Constance said.

The government has earmarked the new stadium to be open by 2019, with the contract to design and build it to be awarded in late 2016.

Melbourne Cricket Club chief executive Stephen Gough retires

Gough will most likely leave the position next year. Photo: Joe ArmaoEddie McGuire’s plans for the MCG precinct should not be dismissed because they include a new stadium, according to MCC chief executive Stephen Gough.
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As he announced his retirement from the MCC after 17 years of running Australia’s historic sports ground, Gough said a global plan for the entire precinct, including a renovation of Richmond station and bridging over Brunton Avenue and the railway lines, needed to be seriously looked at.

Gough said McGuire’s plan for the precinct was hijacked by the fact it included plans for a new stadium and became a binary choice of keeping Etihad Stadium or adopting McGuire’s stadium.

But Gough said McGuire’s plans included the important acknowledgement that there needed to be a big picture view of the precinct, including decking over Brunton Avenue and the railway lines to properly connect the entire sports precinct.

Those plans would also require a significant rebuild and renovation of Richmond Station as elevated decking would not funnel people properly into the existing infrastructure.

“I think there needs to be a total look at the precinct. Despite some of the critics of Eddie’s proposal because it became all about a new stadium, he put up a proposal that we deal with Punt Road and the separation of the two precincts, deal with the issue of cars, parking, parks, trains and transport,” Gough said.

“I think for the future of Melbourne as a sporting capital we need a proper link between the two precincts and that would be of enormous significance to Melbourne.

“I do think that is the next big thing that the club [MCC] will have to look at but that requires discussions with government, with the Melbourne and Olympic Park Trust, the AFL, tennis, councils … it requires a 30 to 40-year vision for the precinct.

“Richmond station eventually has to be done because it’s still a major transport hub but at the moment it is suffering from its infrastructure. You cannot have elevated decking and not do the station.”

McGuire’s $1 billion proposal was to build over the railway lines and Brunton Avenue and construct a new 60,000-seat stadium next to the MCG and have Hisense Arena moved. His proposal also suggested changes to Richmond Station, possibly even moving it underground.

The funding for this new stadium would come in large part from the AFL selling Etihad Stadium once it takes ownership of it. The stadium will be handed over to the AFL in 10 years unless there was an early buy out.

Gough said regardless of the merit of whether there is a new stadium involved, a global approach needed to be taken to the entire precinct.

Gough has not set his departure date from the MCC yet. He will remain in charge until a suitable replacement is found and a handover period undertaken. It is likely that could mean he remains in charge until early-to-mid next year.

Gough came to the job at the MCC after 18 years at Carlton Football Club, the last six of which were as chief executive.

“It is a sad day because I have been here for so long. It has been such a major part of my life for the last 17 years,” Gough said.

He said he would most likely look to work in part-time roles after leaving the MCC but doubted he would return to a role at Carlton.

“I look at the size of the football departments at clubs now compared to when I was there and I feel prehistoric and that is only 17 years ago,” he said.

Third Hunter drug house found in four days on Carrington Street, Mayfield

Third drug house found at Mayfield | photos RAID: A crime scene has been set up at the Carrington Street, Mayfield premises where 60 plants and five kilograms of cannabis was allegedly found. Picture: Brodie Owen
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RAID: A crime scene has been set up at the Carrington Street, Mayfield premises where 60 plants and five kilograms of cannabis was allegedly found. Picture: Brodie Owen

RAID: A crime scene has been set up at the Carrington Street, Mayfield premises where 60 plants and five kilograms of cannabis was allegedly found. Picture: Brodie Owen

RAID: A crime scene has been set up at the Carrington Street, Mayfield premises where 60 plants and five kilograms of cannabis was allegedly found. Picture: Brodie Owen

RAID: A crime scene has been set up at the Carrington Street, Mayfield premises where 60 plants and five kilograms of cannabis was allegedly found. Picture: Brodie Owen

TweetFacebookBig drug haul at a house in Mayfield. Strong smell wafting down the street. 60 yo man in custody. pic.twitter上海龙凤419m/d9TxzwIPzM

— Brodie Owen (@Brodie_Owen) June 23, 2016Newcastle Heraldspoke with several neighbours who said they hadn’t seen anyone at the property in years.

One man, who did not want to be identified, said he was surprised he never smelt the cannabis odour despite living next door.

“I can certainly smell it now,” he said.“It came as a shock –I’m as shocked as everyone else is.As you can see, the house was pretty rundown but never do you expect anything like this.”

The drugs are estimated to have a street value of more than $100,000.

A crime scene has been set up at the Carrington Street, Mayfield premises where 60 plants and five kilograms of cannabis was allegedly found. Picture: Brodie Owen

‘I’m filled with shame’: Selma Blair apologises for in-flight outburst

“I’m filled with shame:” Selma Blair aplogises for on flight outburst. Photo: Theresa Ambrose Blair and son Arthur, 4, on board a the plane to Cancun on Friday. Photo: Selma Blair/Instagram
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Selma Blair taken to hospital after flight outburst

Selma Blair has apologised for her outburst on an international flight that led to her hospitalisation.

Returning from a family holiday, the 43-year-old actor said she deeply regretted the incident, where she was stretchered off a plane from Cancun, Mexico to Los Angeles on Monday.

In a statement issued to Vanity Fair, she said: “I made a big mistake [on Monday]. After a lovely trip with my son and his Dad, I mixed alcohol with medication, and that caused me to black out and led me to say and do things that I deeply regret.

“My son was with his Dad asleep with his headphones on, so there is that saving grace.

“I take this very seriously, and I apologise to all of the passengers and crew that I disturbed and am thankful to all of the people who helped me in the aftermath.

“I am a flawed human being who makes mistakes and am filled with shame over this incident. I am truly very sorry.”

Blair was travelling with her son Arthur, aged four, and ex-boyfriend Jason Bleick to celebrate Father’s Day.

Witnesses told TMZ that she was travelling in first-class and mixing prescription medication with wine. Two nurses tried to comfort her during the incident.

Shortly after, she “suddenly started crying” and was heard saying: “He burns my private parts. He won’t let me eat or drink … He beats me. He’s going to kill me.”

Blair, who recently played Kris Jenner in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, had shared a selfie of herself and Arthur seated on a plane on Instagram, ahead of their trip.

“We’re leaving on a jet plane. Dad is already asleep. Not for long. Bwahahahha,” the Legally Blonde star wrote.

Bleick shared a similar selfie on Monday at Cancun International Airport alongside Arthur and before Blair’s outburst.

“On our way back from Fathers Day in Mexico. #arthursaintbleick,” he wrote.   On our way back from Fathers Day in Mexico. #arthursaintbleickA photo posted by Jason Bleick (@jasonbleick) on Jun 20, 2016 at 10:17am PDT

Former refugee sets sights on uni degree

FAST LEARNER: Khadijeh Ebrahimi won the cultural diversity prize at the 2016 Hunter TAFE Awards and is hoping to study nursing at university.WHEN KhadijehEbrahimi arrived from Iran as a refugee, she was so determined to learn English she completed two years’ worth of study in just one.
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“I didn’t want to waste any time,” Ms Ebrahimi, 26,said.

“I’m a fast learner, but I’m also a dedicated learner.

“It was really hard, I had no car, a small daughter, but I still came every day and did my best to learn.”

Ms Ebrahimi, who was recentlyawarded the Cultural Diversity prize at the 2016 Hunter TAFE Awards, reflected during Refugee Week on her journey to her much-loved adopted homeland and plans to contribute.

She will start the University of Newcastle’s Open Foundation program next month and hopes to study for a nursing degree.

“I want to become more independent, I don’t want to have to rely on other people,” she said.

“If I study I can do my job and I don’t need anybody else’s help.

“If you work hard, you can do anything and achieve your goals.”

Ms Ebrahimi’s parents were born in Afghanistan, but the war forced them to flee to Iran.

They married and had Ms Ebrahimi and her two younger brothers and sisters in Iran.

Ms Ebrahimi said she had a safe and happy upbringing and married,according to custom, at 14.

But in 2010, the government decided Afghans or those of Afghan descent “should not be in the country anymore”.

Her family were moved to a camp where they spent two years in a two-bedroom house without a kitchen or bathroom, waiting for their application to Australia to be approved.

Her parents and siblings arrived in August 2013 and she, her husband Shahab and daughter Neyayesh, now 4, arrived 13 days later.

Ms Ebrahimicompleted her Preliminary Course and Certificate 1 in Spoken and Written English at Tighes Hill TAFE in half the recommended time, before enrolling at a Certificate III in Aged Care at Glendale, which earnedher the qualification of an assistant in nursing.

Her teacher Paul Robertson said she was a “hardworking, gifted language learner”.

“It was commitment to her studies and a preparedness to practice her language skills wherever possible that allowed her to do this,” he said.

MsEbrahimicompleted at Certificate II in Spoken and Written English last year and is currently completing Certificate III.

“I love Australia, it’s given me freedom, it’s given me everything,” MsEbrahimi said.

“I can study, I can get a job.

“I can do anything I want to do.”

Hedge fund manager Valvani in apparent suicide after insider trading charge

Sanjay Valvani was accused of having made $US25 million getting the drop on US regulators’ drug approvals. Photo: Duke/The Fuqua School of BusinessSanjay Valvani, a Wall Street hedge fund manager who was criminally charged last week in a major insider trading case, has been found dead in an apparent suicide, the police said on Tuesday.
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Valvani, 44, was discovered by his wife on Monday evening in the bedroom of his Brooklyn home with a wound to his neck, a New York Police Department spokeswoman said. A suicide note and a knife were recovered, she added.

The death marked a stunning turn in one of the US government’s biggest recent insider trading cases. Valvani’s lawyers, Barry Berke and Eric Tirschwell, called his death a “horrible tragedy that is difficult to comprehend.”

“We hope for the sake of his family and his memory that it will not be forgotten that the charges against him were only unproven accusations and he had always maintained his innocence,” they added.

The city’s medical examiner’s office will determine the cause of Valvani’s death, and police said an investigation was under way.

Prosecutors last Wednesday unveiled charges against Valvani, a fund manager at Visium Asset Management, alleging he fraudulently made $US25 million ($33.5 million) by getting advance information about US Food and Drug Administration approvals of generic drug applications.

Prosecutors said the inside information was provided by Gordon Johnston, a political intelligence consultant and former employee at the FDA, who got it from a friend, who still works at the agency.

Valvani passed some of the tips to Christopher Plaford, then a Visium portfolio manager, who made his own illegal trades, prosecutors said.

Both Johnston and Plaford secretly pleaded guilty earlier this month and agreed to cooperate in the case against Valvani, who pleaded not guilty to charges including securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy. He had been free on $US5 million bond.

The charges were announced by Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara, who has overseen a series of insider trading prosecutions that have resulted in 107 people being charged and 81 being convicted since 2009.

That push has suffered recent setbacks following a 2014 appellate ruling that limited the scope of insider trading laws, resulting in charges being dropped or dismissed against 14 defendants.

A spokesman for Bharara declined to comment. Helped build Visium

Valvani grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan and graduated from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business before heading to Wall Street where he began covering the pharmaceutical sector.

He had been a partner at Visium Asset Management and was instrumental in building it with founder Jacob Gottlieb into an $US8 billion firm that counted some of the country’s biggest pension funds as clients.

“We mourn the tragic loss of Sanjay, a devoted father, husband and friend,” Gottlieb said in a statement on Tuesday. “Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.”

Gottlieb told investors on Friday that it was impossible to continue managing the firm because of the negative impact from the publicity surrounding Valvani’s indictment and substantial investor withdrawals.

Gottlieb wrote to clients that one of the firm’s portfolios was being sold to AllianceBernstein and that the Balanced Fund, where Valvani worked, was being shut down.

Visium’s Balanced Fund, which Valvani helped run, earned 5.6 per cent last year when most hedge funds were losing money.

This year, the fund is in the red, posting a 9.25 per cent loss for the year through early June. The Visium Global fund, which is being sold to AllianceBernstein, returned 10.3 per cent last year and has lost 2.3 per cent through early June.

Former drug executive Martin Shkreli, under indictment himself in an unrelated securities fraud case, in a post on Reddit said he could understand the pressure felt by Valvani, whom he said he had spoken with in the past.

“I couldn’t be more saddened to see this process destroy someone,” Shkreli wrote.

Lifeline 13 11 14

Reuters

‘Heaven over Hospital’: Five-year-old Julianna Snow dies on her own terms

Julianna Snow celebrating her birthday. Photo: juliannayuri上海龙凤419m Five-year-old Julianna being treated in hospital for a neurodegenerative disease. Photo: juliannayuri上海龙凤419m
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Julianna said “not the hospital” when asked about the future. Photo: juliannayuri上海龙凤419m

Julianna Snow, the little girl who touched millions with her approach to terminal illness, died at home in her mother’s arms on Tuesday.

The five-year-old, who was born with an incurable illness, told her parents she wanted to go to “heaven not hospital” in a conversation that sparked a series on CNN called Heaven over Hospital.

Her mother, Michelle Moon, chronicled her daughter’s decision on a blog devoted to the girl who loved princesses and having her toenails painted.

Dr Moon, a neurologist from Portland, Oregon, announced her daughter’s death on Tuesday.

“Our sweet Julianna went to heaven today,” she wrote on her blog.

“I am stunned and heartbroken, but also thankful. I feel like the luckiest mom in the world, for God somehow entrusted me with this glorious child, and we got almost six years together. I wanted more time, of course, and that’s where the sadness comes in. But she is free now.”

Julianna was diagnosed with a severe form of the neurological disorder Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease when she was two years old.

By the time she was four, the condition had robbed her of the use of her arms and legs. She was fed through a tube and suffered breathing difficulties. Long stays in hospital were a constant feature of her young life.

After one such confinement in Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, specialists warned Dr Moon and her husband, Steve Snow, that they faced a heartbreaking choice. To what extent should their daughter continue to receive often painful medical interventions?

Dr Moon raised the subject with Julianna, asking her if she wanted to go to the hospital again or stay home, even if that would mean going to heaven.

Julianna replied: “Not the hospital.”

Her simple answer raised complex questions about the nature of terminal illness and whether a child should be consulted in medical decisions.

It caused widespread debate, with the director of the division of medical ethics at New York University School of Medicine, Art Caplan, telling CNN that Julianna showed wisdom beyond her years .

“She taught me and others that even a child can become very knowledgeable about a challenging illness and can convey thoughtful and remarkable feelings about her illness and her ideas,” he said.

In her post, Dr Moon described her daughter as: “A bright light. An old and delightful soul.”

“Her words were startling,” she wrote. “Sometimes I thought that people wouldn’t believe the conversations I recorded. How could a five-year-old know those things? But if you spent any time with her, you knew.”

Dr Moon wrote of Julianna’s courage, fighting “with a body that was too frail for this world”.

“This last fight was not to be won by her body,” she wrote. “It was tired, and it needed to rest. And when it did, she was comfortable. Today, she is free. Our sweet Julianna is finally free.”

Orlando shooting aftermath: American politician to give away assault rifles at fundraiser

Better gun laws could have stopped Orlando shooting: EDITORIALOrlando shooter Omar Mateen’s confused backgroundLast call at the Pulse nightclub, then the shots rang outOrlando shooting survivors’ struggle to stay alive
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Washington: On Friday, Tennessee representative Andy Holt unveiled plans for an upcoming fundraiser at his family farm later this month. The event, according to an invitation posted on the politician’s blog, will feature a roasted hog, a petting zoo, live music and “hay rides for the kids”.

“Oh, did I mention we’re giving away an AR-15 as the door prize!” the invitation adds. Rep. Holt fundraiser set for June 25 pic.twitter上海龙凤419m/C8K7LfOWtO— Alanna Autler (@WSMVAlanna) June 13, 2016

Hours later, as Saturday night spilled into Sunday morning, Omar Mateen walked into Pulse nightclub in Orlando with a Sig Sauer MCX assault rifle – a weapon similar to the AR-15 – and began shooting club-goers. When the bodies were tallied, 49 people were dead, dozens more were injured and one of central Florida’s most popular gay nightclubs had become the setting for the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

Instead of cancelling his gun giveaway, as some critics called for, Mr Holt had another idea.

“That’s right…. I’m now giving away TWO AR-15s!” he wrote on Facebook on Monday. “I’m sick and tired of the media and liberal politicians attacking our right to keep and bear arms. I’ll do everything I can to ensure the 2nd Amendment is protected and people are equipped to exercise their innate right to self-defense [sic].” . @shellyamberston No, I’m giving away two actually.— Andy Holt (@AndyHolt4TN) June 13, 2016

Mr Holt told the Tennessean that he remains convinced that the weapon used Orlando’s mass shooting has no bearing on the massacre. The paper noted that Mr Holt has sponsored multiple gun bills, including one recently passed into law that gives full-time employees at Tennessee colleges and universities the ability to carry weapons on campus.

“It has nothing to do with the style of weapon,” he told the paper. “It has everything to do with who’s behind the weapon.”

In a statement published by Fox affiliate WZTV, Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini called Mr Holt a “reckless” gun owner and blasted his timing,

“…we’re furious that in the wake of this tragedy, state Rep. Andy Holt is being such a reckless and irresponsible gun owner,” the statement said. “Responsible gun owners don’t give away guns without background checks. Responsible gun owners make sure that guns are safely and securely stored to prevent access by children or irresponsible adults. Responsible gun owners don’t put guns in the hands of strangers. Andy Holt doesn’t know if he’s putting the winning raffle ticket in the hands of the next mass shooter.”

“We’re also furious that when 18% of all hate crimes are committed against the LGBTQ+ community, Andy Holt continues to fan the flames of hatred towards that community by making jokes that demean them and statements that blatantly define them as different, wrong, and scary,” the statement added.

On Tuesday, Mr Holt posted a message on his website that says a man using a Memphis phone number called his office on Monday and threatened him and his legislative assistant. The message said that the caller – who did not identify himself – promised to “kick his a**” and that he would be coming to Nashville on Tuesday to “pay him a visit”.

In a recording of the exchange posted on Mr Holt’s site, the caller makes no mention of why he’s upset or whether it stems from the planned ‘s gun giveaway. The caller indicates that he has “plenty of guns, and a licence to carry”. While the caller didn’t speak of any political affiliation, Mr Holt referred to the individual as “a liberal activist” and called on Democratic politicians to condemn the individual’s behaviour.

Assault-style rifles, like the one used in the Orlando shooting and those being given away by Mr Holt, have been the weapon of choice for mass shooters in recent years, as The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham recently reported:

Six months ago, in San Bernardino, California, a man and woman armed with assault-style rifles killed 14 people and wounded 20 others at a holiday party.

In 2012, in Aurora, Colorado, a man armed with an assault-style rifle killed 12 people and wounded 58 others in a crowded movie theatre.

Also in 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, a man armed with an assault-style rifle killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school.

In the past 10 years, Ingraham noted, assault-style rifles have been used in 14 public mass shootings, half of which have occurred since last June.

The weapon’s potential for inflicting mass harm in a short time has even been noted by terrorists. In 2011, al-Qaeda encouraged its followers to take advantage of lax guns laws, purchase assault-style weapons and use them to shoot people, Ingraham reported.

“America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms,” American-born al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn said in a video. “You can go down to a gun show at the local convention centre and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”

Gadahn’s characterisation, while mostly accurate, failed to point out that the sale of fully automatic weapons, which shoot continuously when you hold down the trigger, have been banned since 1986.

Within hours of this weekend’s mass shooting, Mr Holt posted on Facebook that he was furious, both about the attack and the criticism he was getting about giving away weapons while the accounting for the dead, missing and injured continued in Orlando.

“I’m furious that I get phone calls from the media asking me if I’m still going to give away an AR-15 at our HogFest, rather than asking me how many extra firearms I’ll be handing out to ensure people can protect themselves,” he wrote. “After all, it was a bullet that stopped the terrorist. Amazing how so many seem to miss that fact.”

Washington Post