Labor, coalition launch in Brisbane

12/01/2019 Posted by admin

Labor and the coalition will both launch their federal election campaigns in Brisbane.

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The coalition launch is scheduled for this Sunday in the Queensland capital.

Labor’s launch will follow on September 1, heading into the final week of the campaign.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s home city of Brisbane also hosted the two major party launches during the 2010 election campaign.

The coalition launch’s program is still being finalised, but it is understood Queensland premier Campbell Newman has been invited.

Mr Newman has been the target of a Labor attack calling his public sector job cuts the “entree” to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s “main course” of federal budget cuts.

Mr Abbott has promised a commission of audit similar to that run in Queensland after the Liberal National Party’s landslide victory in 2012.

The Labor event will be the first time a major party leader has launched a national campaign in his own electorate.

Mr Rudd attended the low-key Labor launch in 2010, but did not play a role.

Former prime minister Bob Hawke introduced Julia Gillard to the party faithful, having ousted Mr Rudd less than two months earlier.

The coalition’s 2010 launch was a set-piece event, marred only by a streaker protesting the treatment of refugees.

Queensland is the key to Labor’s chances of retaining office.

It has 30 lower house seats, half of which are held with margins of five per cent or lower.

Labor holds only eight of these seats and must pick up a swag of others if it is to have any chance of winning on September 7.

Hird may sue AFL over supplements scandal

12/01/2019 Posted by admin

Essendon coach James Hird is planning to sue the AFL over its handling of the supplements scandal.

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Hird told a media conference on Wednesday he’d been denied natural justice by the AFL.

His legal team will lodge papers in the Victorian Supreme Court on Thursday.

“He will be lodging a statement of claim outlining his concerns about the processes that have led up to the particular events of today,” Hird’s spokesman Ian Hanke told AAP on Wednesday night.

“(It) will outline his concerns, his case and ask for certain issues to be resolved.

“It will document a series of events relating to the ASADA investigation and what steps should be taken to resolve it.”

The Bombers coach, the club and three other officials have been charged by the AFL with bringing the league into disrepute over Essendon’s supplements scandal.

On Wednesday, eight days after the AFL announced it had laid charges against Essendon and the four individuals, chief executive Andrew Demetriou went ahead with the league’s intention to release the details in a 34-page document described by AFLPA chief Matt Finnis as shocking and distressing.

Hird is demanding the case should be heard by an independent tribunal, not the AFL Commission.

A Fairfax Media report says Hird’s legal team will demand the AFL provide particulars of charges it has laid against Hird and a list of witnesses for the case, which was originally scheduled to be heard next Monday by the AFL Commission.

Hird is concerned he had not been given the chance to contest evidence compiled since his day-long interview with ASADA in April, the report says.

Hird denies several key allegations contained in the 34-page report released by the AFL on Wednesday, including that he suffered side-effects from using Melanotan II and that he was warned by the AFL in August 2011 against using peptides.

He also denies it was his responsibility to conduct appropriate background checks on Dean Robinson and Steven Dank before the Bombers employed them as high performance coach and sport scientist.

Hird also maintains he never received the letter written by club doctor Bruce Reid, addressed to Hird and ex-club football manager Paul Hamilton, which addressed Reid’s concerns over the use of some supplements.

However Hird says he did discuss some of its contents with Reid.

No doping cases from Tour de France

12/01/2019 Posted by admin

No riders tested positive for doping at the Tour de France, the International Cycling Union said on Tuesday, after the complete analysis of 622 samples.

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The testing program included 113 urine samples tested for EPO and 15 for steroids.

In blood analysis, 22 samples were tested for EPO-like substances, 18 for human growth hormone and two for transfusions.

“We don’t have any adverse finding from the Tour de France,” Francesca Rossi, director of the UCI-appointed Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), told reporters at a briefing.

The testing included 203 samples taken from riders in training and 419 during the three-week race, which was won by Chris Froome of Britain.

A total of 443 blood samples and 179 urine samples were taken in a program jointly run by the UCI and the French anti-doping agency (AFLD).

Most blood samples were used for comparisons to the biological passport system, which charts the blood levels of riders.

The total samples of 622 rose from 566 for the 2012 Tour at which only Frank Schleck of Luxembourg tested positive for a banned diuretic.

Tour riders who used banned drugs or doping methods could yet be identified because stored samples can be analysed again in the future using new or improved testing techniques.

Rossi said the foundation could re-test when the World Anti-Doping Agency certifies threshold limits for substances such as AICAR and growth hormones.

She also expects steroid profiling to be added to the biological passport which the UCI has managed since 2008.

Cycling’s anti-doping program is an issue in the current UCI presidential election, with challenger Brian Cookson pledging to create an agency independent of the governing body. UCI President Pat McQuaid supports the existing structure to catch drug cheats.

However, Rossi said the CADF is working to create an independent oversight board “starting work with us very soon.” The UCI will continue to host the foundation and fund 15 per cent of its annual budget of 7 million Swiss francs ($A8.4 million).

“In a technological world, location is less important than people. For me, independence is not an address,” she said.

Rossi acknowledged that the CADF has not secured a working agreement with the US Anti-Doping Agency, whose investigation exposed massive doping by Lance Armstrong’s teams in a report published last October.

“We will come back to them again and try to sign an agreement very soon,” Rossi said.

Manning faces 136 years for espionage

12/08/2019 Posted by admin

25 year old Bradley Manning has been convicted on 20 charges – but not of aiding the enemy, a charge which could have led to the death sentence.

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Private Manning has admitted leaking the documents to try to trigger a debate about U-S foreign policy.

 

Reacting to the verdict from inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has described Manning as the quintessential whistleblower.

 

Manning, 22 years old at the time, leaked more than 700,000 secret documents.

 

They included a graphic video of a helicopter attack in 2007 that killed a dozen people in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, including two from the Reuters news organisation.

 

The 20 offences he was convicted of include multiple espionage charges, which could amount to up to 136 years in jail.

 

Julian Assange says the verdict amounts to what he calls dangerous national-security extremism on the part of the U-S government, claiming the trial was never going to be fair.

 

“It is a short-sighted judgment that cannot be tolerated, and it must be reversed. The government kept Bradley Manning in a cage, stripped him naked and isolated him in order to break him, an act formally condemned by the United Nations special rapporteur for torture. This was never a fair trial, and it has not been a fair trial.”

 

Amnesty International’s Widney Brown says the case highlights something odd about the United States.

 

She told the BBC the government is prepared to pursue a whistleblower but not former president George W Bush, whose administration faced allegations it tortured prisoners.

 

“The military prosecutor went after Bradley Manning, but, in the meantime, even when a former president of the United States (George W Bush) has published an autobiography acknowledging that he ordered the torture of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, there’s been no investigation into allegations of torture. So you go after a whistleblower, but you don’t go after somebody who has acknowledged actually ordering torture. So there’s something a little bit backwards when all the credible claims about torture that have been made over the last 12 years are not being investigated, let alone prosecuted, but somebody who tries to reveal information about actions that may have been unlawful gets the book thrown at them.”*

 

In a joint statement, Democratic and Republican leaders of the intelligence committee say justice has been served.

 

They say Manning has harmed the country’s national security and violated the public’s trust.

 

Former Defense Department spokesman J D Gordon, who served under Donald Rumsfeld, told Al-Jazeera television Manning is a traitor and a criminal, not a whistleblower.

 

“I think he’s involved in this 21st-century type of warfare, and he’s basically become a special-forces soldier in the war of ideas. I think that, like Edward Snowden, he’s trying to attack the United States, he’s trying to tarnish our image and make things difficult for us. So, instead of a whistleblower, I think he’s really more like a criminal. I think he basically decided he was going to be the judge, the jury and the executioner to, basically, give Wikileaks 700,000 classified documents. We’re talking military-intelligence reports, diplomatic cables, videos that were taken out of context and used for enemy propaganda. So I’m pleased with the judge’s decision today.”

 

JD Gordon says Manning could have gone to his superiors with his concerns rather than WikiLeaks.

 

But Michael Ratner, a lawyer who acts for Julian Assange in the United States, says Bradley Manning had no other option but to do what he did.

 

“Going through your chain of command in the US military is probably the end of your career, if not the end of your life. That’s absurd. Going to your Congressman doesn’t do anything. Congressmen, as we have seen from the Ed Snowden revelations, are afraid to speak out about one thing. Bradley Manning took, I think, the only course he could as a matter of conscience. He saw mass crimes being committed in front of him when he saw pictures of the murder of the two Reuters journalists on the video, when he read documents about a torture centre being set up in Iraq and more. So he acted on principle. He’s no criminal. He shouldn’t have been prosecuted. The people who should be prosecuted should have been the people who were carrying out the crimes that he revealed.”

 

Manning’s sentencing hearing is set to begin later this week.

 

 

 

Abbott tries comedy after ‘boring’ debate

12/08/2019 Posted by admin

First-time voter Sanaya Sabavala is collecting senior Liberals and now she’s added Tony Abbott to her stash.

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The 20-year-old Melbourne resident was among a contingent of younger supporters at Monday’s campaign launch for Michael Sukkar, Liberal candidate for the marginal seat of Deakin.

“Mr Abbott is a wonderful man,” an excited Ms Sabavala told AAP after having a photo taken with the leader.

He’s the fourth addition to her portfolio of photos with senior Liberals, following John Howard, Joe Hockey and Victorian party president Tony Snell.

The crowd at the campaign launch was as buoyant as the helium balloons lining the room after Mr Abbott’s performance in the leaders’ debate on Sunday night.

“He’s always so stiff on TV and he’s so much more relaxed and human in person, and I told him that,” Pamela O’Connor told AAP after meeting the leader for the first time on Monday.

Referring to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s use of notes during his first election debate with Mr Abbott on Sunday, the opposition leader said he didn’t blame anyone for needing to read notes.

The problem was the notes weren’t worth reading, he added.

Earlier at Melbourne’s main traffic control centre Mr Abbott was asked to promise the next debate would be less boring.

“I thought every minute was full of excitement,” he quipped.

Mr Abbott had earlier spent half an hour fully absorbed in footage of Melbourne’s traffic jams.

The opposition leader is trying to convince people infrastructure isn’t boring.

He wants to be known as an “infrastructure prime minister” should he win the election on September 7.

But his funniest line of the day was probably unintentional.

Attacking Mr Rudd’s leadership style, Mr Abbott said the coalition was a strong and united team, not a “one-man band”.

“No one, however smart, however well-educated, however well experienced, is the suppository of all wisdom,” he said. The saying refers to the repository of all wisdom.

Even some of the Liberal party faithful giggled.

Optus joins move to end roaming bill shock

12/08/2019 Posted by admin

Optus has followed Vodafone’s lead in attempting to stamp out massive global roaming charges.

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The telco announced plans on Wednesday to essentially cap roaming charges at $10 a day.

From mid-November, customers on lock-in Optus plans will have the option of a daily $10 “travel pack” allowing unlimited texts, calls, and 30MB of data.

It will be available in “zone one” areas such as the UK, Europe, North America, Asia and New Zealand, but not in the “zone two” countries of Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.

Vicki Brady, managing director of customer relations at Optus, said the plan will cover 94 per cent of the countries to which customers travel.

The initiative is a response to a growing backlash against exorbitant global roaming fees.

Optus’ own research found more than half of customers who had used global roaming reported a bad experience, and a third returned to bills of more than $1000.

Brady said customers had been living “in fear of huge bills”.

The move comes three weeks after rival Vodafone announced a plan to charge customers an optional $5 daily fee to use their regular text, data, and call allowance overseas.

The plan is available only to customers who sign up to new plans expected to be announced before the end of the month.

Vodafone’s plan is available in the UK, US and New Zealand, but the company said it intends to expand it to more countries by the end of the year.

Asher Moses, a spokesman for the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), welcomed moves to end “the global roaming rip-off”.

He said charges have been too high for too long, and “do not come close to reflecting the true cost of providing the service”.

Optus’ and Vodafone’s offerings will be “significantly cheaper” than current arrangements, but buying a local SIM card is still likely to be cheaper, he said.

Telstra has not revealed any plans to alter its global roaming charges.

A spokesman said the telco offered several pre-paid international data packs.

He also pointed to SMS alerts that warn travelling customers each time they use 20MB of data.

Post-debate meltdown… should we scrap the entire campaigns?

12/08/2019 Posted by admin

That’s the outcome if you listen to some Obama supporters.

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The President’s virtual no-show on stage in Denver has his usual flag bearers in the media apoplectic in despair. The drama would be entertaining if it were not so serious for them.

Here’s Andrew Sullivan, a usually pro-Obama blogger on The Daily Beast website: “I’ve never seen a candidate self-destruct for no external reason this late in a campaign before.”

The fallout for the left-wing was so savage that Saturday Night Live felt it funny enough to parody in a sketch.

Some of the blowback was based on a poll from the Pew Research Center that now has Romney four points ahead of Obama post-debate. The hook for Pew was that a month earlier Obama had a 51 per cent to 43 per cent lead over Romney.

Gallup, meanwhile, released its own poll that claimed Obama and Romney were neck and neck at 47 per cent a piece while others still have Obama leading, if only just.

Which throws up an interesting idea. Obama was clearly off his game last weekend. He failed to fight back against Romney and never countered effectively, looking lethargic and like he wanted to be elsewhere.

Romney, meanwhile, came out so energized, he smiled as he condemned Sesame Street’s Big Bird to death in a comment related to funding public TV. Voters apparently said ‘Who cares?’ to fact checkers as Romney got a bounce. This election was done. After one debate, everyone should pack up and go home. Obama was toast.

An important factor here is that Americans are not used to a parliamentary system where Julia Gillard’s blistering attack on Tony Abbott is part of regular political engagement (if, in the Prime Minister’s case, she is fired up on an issue).

The Presidential debates, therefore, become an event, a sport, a political Superbowl. It is now possible that the fortunes of an election campaign really do swing on 90 minutes of televised stunts where you are not necessarily beholden to facts or policy (as Romney wasn’t).

Which prompts the question, why have a campaign at all? Why not just hold three debates over a month and then go to polls? When President Obama has had to raise $690 million to keep his job and Mitt Romney has $633 million in the bank to win that job, why not tip that money into something else for the common good? (That’s before you count the silly money spent by the so-called ‘Super-PACS’ on this campaign).

Set up a shaky set in front of a live audience, have cheerleaders and hot dogs, and go toe-to-toe. Done in a month. Off to the polls. Good efficiency and save on time and money.

Would anyone vote for that?

Williams called up to cover Campese

11/07/2019 Posted by admin

It’s the NRL chance departing Canberra playmaker Sam Williams didn’t believe he’d get.

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Stuck behind regular halves pairing Terry Campese and Josh McCrone since round eight, the St George Illawarra-bound halfback thought he’d finish his Raiders career playing for the Mounties in NSW Cup.

But an eye injury to skipper Campese will give Williams perhaps one final crack in the Raiders first grade side when they host Canterbury at Canberra Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

“This is an opportunity he didn’t think he’d get, leaving next year,” said McCrone, who will assume the role of co-captain alongside David Shillington and Brett White.

“We did a bit of work on (our combination) this week so hopefully it feels the same as it did last year when we were playing well.”

It was touch and go for Williams.

Raiders coach David Furner knew he was more than up to the task after his impressive performances in the lime-green jersey during their 2012 finals run.

However the 22-year-old had only just started running again early this week after injuring his ankle three weeks ago.

“He’s had two pretty good training sessions,” Furner said.

“There was contact involved and I know he’s pretty excited.”

With Campese’s long range kicking game out, McCrone said he and Williams would share the responsibility in a hope to create problems for stand-in Bulldogs fullback Sam Perrett.

“One thing in our favour is Ben Barba is out,” McCrone said.

“(Perrett’s) not a regular fullback, so hopefully we can catch them out of position a couple of times.”

The Raiders also have their share of injured key players.

Campese will be joined on the sidelines by tackling machine Shaun Fensom, whose defensive role will be taken over by Joel Edwards.

Representative forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, who was confident of returning this week after a three-month foot injury, has now succumbed to a minor hamstring problem.

The Bulldogs on the other hand will be missing prop Sam Kasiano (knee) and back-rower Greg Eastwood (broken hand) following Monday night’s 26-16 loss to the Titans.

“It’s disappointing, they are big losses,” Bulldogs forward Aiden Tolman said.

“But the guys coming into the side, Tim Browne and Martin Taupau are going to do a great job.”

It’s an important match for both the fifth-placed Bulldogs and the ninth-placed Raiders, as either team are still at risk of missing the play-offs.

“It’s really close, it’s bumper-to-bumper in that top eight,” said Bulldogs halfback Trent Hodkinson.

“Every wins counts leading into the finals.”

McKenzie adds another Red to coaching team

11/07/2019 Posted by admin

New Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has added his Queensland Reds attack coach, Jim McKay, to Australia’s coaching team through to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

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McKay, who served with the Reds for the past four seasons, will keep the same role under McKenzie for the Wallabies as part of a four-man coaching team.

The former Randwick winger will be one of three assistant coaches, with Nick Scrivener retaining his job as defence mentor and Andrew Blades staying in control of set-piece coaching.

Deposed head coach Robbie Deans had the responsibilities for Australia’s backline throughout his six-season stint while coaching coordinator Tony McGahan left his national team post last month to take charge of the Melbourne Rebels.

McKay’s two-year appointment is another good sign for controversial five-eighth Quade Cooper who has played his best rugby under McKenzie and McKay at the Reds.

Out of favour under Deans, Cooper appears likely to reclaim the Wallabies No.10 jersey for the Rugby Championship campaign which starts with the first Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks in Sydney on August 17.

McKenzie said the new coaching group had combined well already, keeping some continuity while also morphing plans into the “direction where we see opportunity”.

“The structure has now moved away from the traditional forwards and backs concept because that polarises training.

“By coaching as an attack, defence or set piece, it allows us to coach and train in a more game-like manner,” he said.

“Within all of that, I’ll concentrate more on the team elements around the tactics and the game-plan, along with the breakdown, and then work on blending the skills of all three coaches together.

“Right now, I really think we’ve got a good mix between technical and tactical.”

Tougher challenge at sunny Oak Hill for final round

11/07/2019 Posted by admin

Only seven players were under par for the day in the early going at Oak Hill Country Club where British Open champion Phil Mickelson, second-last in a field of 75 after the third round, was two over after 15 holes.

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With little margin of error in approaching Oak Hill’s smallish greens as they continued to dry out and speed up in blazing sunshine, Mickelson was on a roller-coaster ride at 12 over for the tournament.

Always unpredictable and exciting to watch for the fans, the American left-hander had piled up four birdies, one bogey, a double and a triple after teeing off in the second pairing of the day.

Four-times champion Tiger Woods, whose bid for a first major title in five years unravelled as he shot scores of one-over 71, 70 and 73 to sit 13 strokes off the pace overnight, was level for the day after parring his first two holes.

Most fans at Oak Hill, however, were waiting for the later starters to set out as the year’s final major began to build toward a likely exciting finale given its high-quality and tightly bunched leaderboard.

Furyk, bidding for a second major title a decade after claiming his first, was scheduled to tee off at 2:55 pm (1855 GMT) in the final pairing with fellow American Jason Dufner, who was alone on second place overnight.

Furyk seized control by carding a two-under 68 on Saturday to post a nine-under total of 201, and was aiming to follow up with another sub-par score on Sunday.

“Overall, I’m comfortable with where I’m at,” the 43-year-old said. “There’s a crowded leaderboard at the top and instead of really viewing it as who is leading and who is not, I’m really viewing it as I need to go out there tomorrow and put together a good, solid round of golf, fire a good number and hope it stacks up well.”

Henrik Stenson, hunting a first major title, goes into the final round two shots off the pace at seven under, a stroke better than fellow Swede Jonas Blixt.

Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia and American Steve Stricker were tied for fifth at five under with defending champion Rory McIlroy also in the mix, at three under, after resurrecting his title defence with a superb 67 on Saturday.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)

McKenzie urging Wallabies to have a go

11/07/2019 Posted by admin

The shackles are off with new Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie encouraging his charges to “have a go” and reprise Australia’s glory days of running rugby.

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The McKenzie reign is underway with the new-era Wallabies assembling in Sydney on Monday and vowing to get straight down to the business of regaining the Bledisloe Cup.

The Wallabies take on the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship opener at ANZ Stadium on Saturday week and, although McKenzie isn’t forecasting wholesale changes to the Test side for his first match in charge, he is promising an innovative game plan to try to conquer the world champions.

“We’re certainly not going to deny the players the opportunity to have a go,” McKenzie said.

“People are expected to use their skill and, if they can create an opportunity, then go for it. It’s not about limiting people by structure.”

McKenzie won’t be giving his entire squad a free licence to thrill but said players like enigmatic five-eighth Quade Cooper, who is almost certain to return from his 11-month Test exile under Robbie Deans, will have the freedom to apply the tricks they practise on the training paddock.

“You don’t want to dampen the whole thing and say it’s a Test match, you can’t do anything – just kick to corners and let’s keep it zero to zero,” he said.

“If you see an opportunity, then you’ve got to be able to take it.

“And that’s the Australian thing. You’ve got to have a bit of a go.”

While Cooper is odds-on to be reinstated, McKenzie said he wouldn’t be making radical changes to the Wallabies’ starting XV.

But he is hoping to catch the All Blacks out with a mix of panache and unpredictability.

“You arrive at this time and it’s not a matter of chucking everything out the window,” he said.

“You have to accept that there were things going on that were quite good and world-class, so we’ll only be interested in changing things where we think we can get a benefit, I guess, from a base game.

“Then we’ll look at tactically where are the opportunities against the All Blacks.”

McKenzie will trim his 40-man training squad back to 30 players on Friday and on Monday he finalised his coaching team through to the 2015 Rugby World Cup with the addition of Queensland’s attack coach Jim McKay.

McKay, who has worked with McKenzie at the Reds for the past four seasons, will keep the same role for the Wallabies as part of a four-man coaching team.

The former Randwick winger will be one of three assistant coaches, with Nick Scrivener retaining his job as defence mentor and Andrew Blades staying in control of set-piece coaching.

Deposed head coach Robbie Deans had the responsibilities for Australia’s backline throughout his five-and-a-half-season stint, while coaching coordinator Tony McGahan left his national team post last month to take charge of the Melbourne Rebels.

“We’ve got a very good mix of the technical principles and also the attitudinal bit that you need and certainly some of the innovation that is synonymous with Wallaby rugby,” McKenzie said.

Comment: My parents chose my husband

11/07/2019 Posted by admin

By Debi Thomas

The first time I met Alex was on my parents’ doorstep, the winter after I graduated from college.

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He was Prospective Groom No. 3, or 7, or maybe even 12; by the time my parents met him at the bus station and drove him to our house, I had long lost count. For more than a year, my extended family had been laboring on my behalf, receiving and rejecting proposals. Things were getting desperate; I was 22, and apparently throbbing with marriageability. Old-maid-hood loomed.

As per custom, I met Alex at the door with averted eyes and a guarded smile, feeling ridiculous in the traditional Indian garb my mother insisted was appropriate for the occasion. Over the course of the next several hours, I served him tea, sat across from him at dinner, and answered his questions about my education and interests. When my father at last gave the two of us permission to be alone, I ushered Alex into our family room to chat for a quick 20 minutes and decide whether or not I’d marry him.

By the time my parents drove Alex back to his Greyhound bus a day later, he was my fiancé.

When I tell people here in America that I have an arranged marriage, they react in one of two ways. Some love my story because it appears to confirm their belief that America is doing it wrong: “Kids nowadays—having sex in middle school! All the single moms! The institution of marriage is dying! Your culture is just so beautiful.”

Others are more cautious. If Alex happens to be around, they appraise us both, searching for signs of trauma or misery. Eventually, they lean in and whisper, “Well, it ended up just fine, right? You’re both happy? You’ve made it work and it was all for the best? Right?”

These aren’t really questions. They’re Statements Designed to Make Everything OK, and I know my cue well enough by now to smile big and say, “Yes!—Yes, of course.”

The “yes” is not exactly a lie. Alex and I have been married for 17 years, and our relationship is stable. But the life we live together is still difficult for me to reconcile. For one thing, the words “arranged marriage” conjure up images that have nothing to do with me. Child brides and dowry burnings on the one hand, or henna and Bollywood on the other. I grew up in the United States, a product of New England suburbia, evangelical Christianity, Wellesley College, Pride and Prejudice and When Harry Met Sally. I was the bicultural kid who wore salwar kameezes during the day, read Sweet Valley High at night, and swooned over “happily ever after” stories.

But I always knew my marriage would be arranged. Dating was absolutely forbidden in my family. Still, I dated secretly in high school and college, hoping that my parents (conservative, first-generation immigrants from India) would change their minds and terrified at the prospect that they wouldn’t. I pleaded. I prayed for a miracle. But by the time I turned 20, I knew my arranged marriage was set in stone. Saying “no” (though I still longed to) was not an option—the stakes in our honor-and-shame-based family were too high. Yes, I know this is hard for most Americans to understand, but it’s true.

During my senior year of college, my parents contacted a network of friends and relatives, and an international community came together to find me a husband. We received proposals by mail, by phone, and in person. I thumbed through “bio-data” sheets with my mom. Everything American in me protested: How can love be arranged? Isn’t romance a wild, unruly thing? How will it thrive if it’s coerced?

When I told my family I couldn’t fall in love with a stranger, they told me Indians don’t have to fall like “poor, helpless Americans.” “We choose,” they said triumphantly, as if their notion of choice would make me feel free. “We’re not at the mercy of falling and feeling. We choose to love.”

Perhaps. But I didn’t choose Alex. My family did. Yes, he and I picked each other out of the proposals our families offered us. Based on those 20 minutes in my family room, I decided he was a likeable guy. But what can “choice” mean in such restrictive circumstances?

In ways I’m still coming to understand, it’s our not-choosing that has reverberated across the years of our marriage, breaking us in ways we can’t mend, and recreating us in others. Arranged marriage, as I’ve come to experience it, is far more complicated than either its champions or its critics understand.

In the months leading up to my engagement, my parents talked a lot about compatibility. As they flipped through photographs and resumés, they looked for men with educations, professions, family backgrounds, and religious beliefs similar to mine. At one point, my mother asked me straight out: “What are you looking for in a husband?” Since I wasn’t allowed to say, “I’m not looking,” I said, “A soul mate. A best, best friend.”

This was the wrong answer. A naked, American answer, sentimental and embarrassing. What my mother wanted was something along the lines of, “A man younger than 30, with a minimum of a master’s degree in the medical field, who has a lucrative job, a close-knit family, and high standing within our community.” This was an answer I was incapable of giving her. Not because a stable job and a tight-knit family were bad things, but because our basic visions of what marriage is—what marriage is for—were incompatible.

Alex and I weren’t married three months before our differences—the kinds of differences we couldn’t have discovered in each other’s CVs— started to baffle us. He disliked my seriousness. I found him shallow. He craved adventure. I craved stability. He resented routine. I thrived on it. Though it took years to parse these differences, it didn’t take long at all to recoil from them.

The point, of course, is not that two people with this constellation of differences can’t marry each other. Couples do it all the time. The point is that something compelling (Love? History? Common interests? Great sex?) has to transcend the differences. Arranged couples start out with none of that. When Alex and I got married, all we had was our raw selves.

Conventional Indian wisdom would say, “It doesn’t matter. You adjust to each other. You sacrifice, you compromise, you accommodate. For the sake of preserving the marriage, you change.”

I don’t disagree, exactly. All marriages, arranged or not, eventually hinge on compromise and change. But accommodating a spouse is an entirely different activity from enjoying her. Yes, we’ve changed, and yes, we’ve accommodated, but isn’t framing marriage in terms of adjustment and compromise (instead of pleasure, or even affinity), an admission of defeat from the get-go?

No, my elders would say emphatically, it is not. It is a clear-eyed insistence on reality. Delight fades. Feelings come and go. Affinities shift with age and circumstance. Love, though—the practical, everyday love we choose in spite of our differences—is unwavering. But do I have that kind of love?

Alex and Debi on holidays a few years ago

Neither Alex nor I, when we describe our first meeting, use words like “attraction,” or “love at first sight,” or “romance.” I don’t say, “My pulse raced when you walked in the door.” He doesn’t say, “I got tongue-tied every time you asked me a question.” Neither of us says, “I really wanted to kiss you when we said goodbye.”

In my case, what arranged marriage took away early on was the thrill of pursuit. Alex didn’t pursue me; in the economy of the arrangement, he didn’t have to. I, meanwhile, wasn’t allowed to pursue him. Since neither of us freely chose, neither of us tasted the deep pleasures of being freely chosen.

On the other hand, I’m married to a good man who is my partner and my equal. He’s a committed provider and a loving father to our two children. We have a comfortable life, rooted in tradition, family, and culture. My parents would say I’ve hit bedrock, a foundation far stronger than the shifting sands of American romance.

But the losses are significant, and Alex and I still grieve them. On the rare occasions when we talk about this, we express sadness on each other’s behalf: “I wish you had married a best friend.” “I wish you’d found a spouse who excites you more.” “I wish delight would replace acceptance.” To arrange a life, after all, is to control it. To write its script so exhaustively that there’s little room left for improvisation. And a lot of good stuff happens when you are improvising.

Yes, at times we think about quitting. We wonder whether our culture has asked too much of us. We worry about the questions our very American children might ask about our marriage. But something always pulls us back. To arrange a life is also to love and protect it, to put every bit of scaffolding in place to prevent collapse and chaos. It’s an ongoing tension, messier than the words “arranged marriage” would suggest. This is how we manage our lives. We try to do it well.

© 2013, Slate

Thais suspended for badminton brawl

11/06/2019 Posted by admin

The Badminton World Federation has banned Thai shuttler Bodin Issara for two years over a violent brawl.

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His former doubles partner Maneepong Jongjit has been hit with a three-month suspension.

Bodin and Maneepong were punished for an on-court fight in July, which unfolded during the Canada Open men’s doubles final in front of shocked spectators.

Video footage showed Bodin chasing Maneepong, his partner at last year’s Olympics who then teamed up with Nipitphon Puangpuapech, onto a neighbouring court and dragging him to the ground.

He then punched his prone countryman twice and appeared to try to stamp on him before being dragged away from 22-year-old Maneepong, who got up shirtless and was helped away.

“This decision by the BWF’s Disciplinary Committee follows the two players’ involvement in an altercation while competing against each other in the Men’s Doubles final of last month’s Yonex Canada Open,” the Badminton World Federation (BWF) said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Both sanctions are effective from the date of the incident – Sunday 21 July – and the players have 21 days in which to appeal,” it added.

Bodin will forfeit the world-ranking points and prize money he earned from the event after the 22-year-old was found to have breached five sections of the BWF players’ code of conduct.

While tempers can fray during games it is rare for badminton players to fight on the court.

Badminton is still reeling from a scandal at the Olympics when eight doubles players were banned for trying to lose group matches, in the hope of gaining a favourable quarter-final draw.

Bodin and his partner, Pakkawat Vilailak, were disqualified from the Canada Open final after the fight.