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Nude photos of candidate no biggie

BEAUDESERT, Australia, March 16 (UPI) -- Most Australian voters in Beaudesert, Queensland, say they have no interest in 30-year-old nude photos of a woman now seeking public office.

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Beaudesert Chamber of Commerce Chairman John Staib agreed that the photographs of parliamentary candidate Pauline Hanson that have been released to the public would likely do little to hurt her electoral chances, the Brisbane Courier-Mail reported.

"If people were going to vote for her, I think they still will," Staib said.

The nude photos of Hanson, 54, were taken nearly 30 years ago by the politician's former boyfriend, Jack Johnson, who reportedly leaked the pictures to the media for undisclosed reasons.

David Oldfield, a former lover and adviser of Hanson's, also saw the photographs as insignificant as she runs for the Queensland Parliament, the Melbourne Herald-Sun reported.

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"I would not see it as an issue from a political point of view," Oldfield said.

"I would think it's a good spread from a victim's point of view … . I see it as a political bonus."


Media group charging extra for native help

SYDNEY, March 16 (UPI) -- The Australian telecommunications group Telstra says customers must pay extra if they want to speak with one of its Australian employees.

An unidentified Telstra spokesman said the company has created a new messaging service that, for a negotiated fee, allows customers to avoid speaking with overseas workers, the Sydney Telegraph reported.

"Following feedback, calls for selected customers would be answered in Australia," the spokesman said.

Telstra had previously outsourced its messaging service to overseas workers, leading to complaints.

Telstra Memo customers can have their phone calls diverted to an Australian call center where callers can give company employees any messages they want to leave.

The service costs up to $12 a month, depending on the number of times the call center takes a call for a customer.


Inmate wanted to serve his time in Russia

MINNEAPOLIS, March 16 (UPI) -- A Russian national serving a 40-year sentence in a Minnesota prison has had his petition to be transferred to a Russian facility denied, officials said.

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Pytor Shmelev was convicted of murdering his wife in 2001. He asked to be transferred to Russia, citing an international treaty that allows for such moves, and he said sending him away could save the state $32,800 a year, the Star Tribune reported.

The Minneapolis newspaper reported Shmelev is just one of nearly two dozen foreign nationals in Minnesota prisons who have had their requests to be transferred to their homelands denied.

The state Department of Corrections policy has been that serious offenders should serve their terms in the state where they committed their crimes.

"There is no assurance that the sentence imposed by a Minnesota court will be administered similarly in an offender's home country," said Corrections Commissioner Joan Fabian. "I support the community expectation that violent offenders or serious drug traffickers should serve their entire prison sentence in Minnesota before returning to freedom in their home country."

In six years as commissioner, Fabian has denied 20 of 26 applications for international transfer, the newspaper said.


British official lost without translation

LONDON, March 16 (UPI) -- An official with Britain's Labor Party insulted those with Scottish accents by asking for a translation of a Glasgow man's comments, a union official says.

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In a question-and-answer session in Dundee, Scotland, Labor deputy leader Harriet Harman had difficulty understanding a questioner and asked whether anyone else was having trouble hearing, the Daily Mail reported. General Secretary Ray Collins -- the most senior Labor official -- then asked Scottish Labor Party General Secretary Colin Smyth to translate the man's comments, the newspaper said.

Union official Mary Fee of Glasgow filed a formal complaint against Collins.

"I heard Mr. Collins' remarks clearly," Fee said. "I was upset by what he said and considered it to be racist. The man had a normal Scottish accent and most people could understand him perfectly well."

Fee said Collins has apologized.

"He said he was very sorry and he had not intended to cause offense," she told the Mail. "He said it was as a result of a problem with the sound in the hall."

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