Archive for: ‘January 2019’

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.

Winner of the West Australian Indigenous Art prize announced

12/01/2019 Posted by admin

The winners of the West Australian Indigenous Art Awards were announced last night in Perth.

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A contemporary North Queensland artist took home the top prize of the evening against over 137 nominations from all the country.

A broad field of traditional and contemporary artists were on hand for the richest prize awarded for Indigenous Art in Australia.

There were two top awards: the Best West Australian Piece and Best Overall.

Warmun Ochre artist Churchill Cann was the night’s first winner for his work ‘Buffalo Hole’ .

Mr Cann East Kimberley-inspired art won the $10,000 WA prize and he says he is enjoying the reception his work has received.

“I’m excited, I’m proud,” Mr Cann sys. “It’s great to come and see the owner of the gallery announce me the winner,” he said.

Mr Cann’s art tells stories of his home in Warmun and even details his life as a cattleman on the land.

“I just love to see what I’m doing. It makes me happy when they (people) like it.”

North Queensland Artist Brian Robinson took home the $50,000 prize for his ceiling-mounted piece called ‘Up in the heavens the gods contemplate their next move’.

“Well that’s one of the first times I’ve ever been gobsmacked while talking about my art,” Mr Robinson says.

Brian Robinson’s use of pop culture and Torres Strait Island mythology was a hit with the judges.

“That’s one of the things that I love about arts practice: is the engagement that audiences have with your art work.”

Mr Robinson, who has named one of his sons Leonardo after one of his inspirations, explained his version of modern Indigenous art.

“The second wall-based piece, it basically looks at the skill of gardening up in the Torres Strait which sustains community life.”

And just what will these artists do with the prize money?

“Well I can’t get it from my kids. I wanna do something but they can’t let me go and do it on my own,” Mr Robinson laughs.

Campaign budgie smuggler free zone: Abbott

12/01/2019 Posted by admin

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has declared the election campaign a “budgie smuggler free zone.

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On day seven of the election campaign Mr Abbott and Liberal frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull chatted to nippers and life savers on Bondi Beach on Sunday morning.

They announced a $15 million boost over five years to surf clubs and a crackdown on drowning black spots.

There was also a $500,000 grant for the North Bondi Lifesaving Club.

“This beach doesn’t just serve locals it essentially serves the world,” Mr Abbott reporters, referring to the hordes of sunburnt backpackers who flock to the famous beach.

Mr Abbott is a member of the Queenscliff Surf Lifesaving club.

Asked if he should have made the announcement in his budgie smugglers Mr Abbott laughed and said: “Election campaigns should be budgie smuggler free zones.

“You won’t see me in budgies this side of polling day.”

Mr Abbott swapped his usual swimwear choice for a blue shirt and jeans, matching Mr Turnbull’s attire.

Earlier on Sunday, Mr Abbott donned gym clothes and joined 85,000 people pounding the pavement between Sydney’s CBD and Bondi, running alongside blind athlete Nathan Johnstone in the City2Surf.

He joked that seeing the election posters with Mr Turnbull’s splendid face kept him going while running up Heartbreak Hill.

Mr Abbott said he had not focused on what he would say at the National Press Club leaders debate, during the race.

“I was busy keeping up with Nathan,” Mr Abbott said.

“I’ll be focused on the right path for Australia tonight but it was about the right path for Nathan this morning.”

When asked if he would be “Dr Yes” or “Mr Relentless Negativity” at the debate, Mr Abbott said his strategy was to be himself.

“I’m very anxious about Tony Abbott’s debate tonight,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Who is he going to be debating? Is it going to be Kevin the fiscal conservative? Is it going to be Kevin the-government-must-be-at-the-centre-of-the-economy? Is it going to be Kevin savings or Kevin spend spend spend?”

Mr Turnbull joked the prime minister could debate himself and leave Mr Abbott unable to get to get a word in edgewise.

“You could probably take the night off,” he told Mr Abbott.

Egypt suspect killed

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

Mohammed Ahmed Salah Felifel, 24, was killed after police tracked him down to his hideout near the Ataqa Mountains, east of Cairo, Egypt’s interior ministry said in a statement.

His wife was said to have been wounded during the exchange of gunfire.

“It was in the course of investigations of the latest terror incidents (at Sharm el-Shiekh on July 23) that conclusive evidence was found pointing to the fact that elements involved in these attacks were hiding out in a quarry at Mount Ataqa,” the ministry statement said.

However, officials did not specify a direct link connecting Felifel with last month’s deadly Red Sea resort blasts.

Sweeps of the Sinai peninsula by security forces more than a week after the Sharm attacks have yielded little information.

Three Islamist groups, two of them purporting links to al-Qaeda, have made unverified claims of responsibility.

The final death toll of those killed also remains in doubt, with hospital staff in the resort putting the number at 88, while the health ministry has list only 67.

But Felifel was alleged to be involved in last year’s strikes on the resorts of Taba and Nuweiba in which 34 people died.

His brother, Suleiman Ahmed Saleh Felifel was identified as one of the two suicide car bombers.

Felifel was in the process of being tried in absentia, along with two other suspects – Mohammed Gaiez al-Sabah and Mohammed Rubaa Addallah – when he was killed.

The spate of attacks has sparked fears that al-Qaeda may have infiltrated Egypt, a suggestion rejected by the country’s prime minister.

“Egypt has been the subject of a lot of terrorist acts. And they haven’t been related to al-Qaeda in any way in the past. So, it would be a new thing if we see al-Qaeda operating in Egypt,” Prime Minster Ahmed Nazif told the CNN news service.

The Sharm el-Sheikh attacks came eight years after 62 people, including 58 foreign tourists, were killed in Luxor in an attack claimed by the Egyptian Islamic group, Jammaa Islamiyya.

Iran to resume uranium work

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

Iran told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of its intention to immediately resume uranium ore conversion, the precursor to enrichment in the nuclear fuel cycle.

Iran said that in coordination with IAEA inspectors it was preparing to remove seals on a plant in the city of Isfahan.

“Inspectors from the IAEA are working, controlling (surveillance) cameras and making their own controls so that the seals can be removed,” nuclear negotiator Ali Agha Mohammadi said on state television.

“When their work is completed this will mean that the plant at Isfahan will restart.”

Tehran’s decision, which jeopardises months of sensitive talks aimed at saving Iran from UN Security Council sanctions, immediately aroused international concern.

“If Iran does not go back on its choice we will then have to demand an exceptional meeting of the IAEA council of governors,” said French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste Blazy.

The US, which accuses Iran of seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, threatened further action.

“If they’re not going to abide by their agreement and obligations, then we would have to look to the Security Council,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei urged Iran to halt its unilateral move, which comes just three days before hardline president Mahmood Ahmadinejad takes office.

Both conversion and enrichment were suspended by Iran last November for the duration of talks with the European Union.

Iran warned on Sunday it would resume conversion if the EU failed by Monday to come up with its trade and security incentives.

But Iran has not closed the door on further talks, but pledged to maintain its current suspension of uranium enrichment.

Iran has always insisted that is separate and less sensitive than enrichment, but the EU regards all parts of fuel cycle as equally sensitive.

An IAEA spokesman said it would take 72 hours to convene a session and send an Iranian dossier to the Security Council.

IRA ends 30 years of violence

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

The British, Irish and US governments welcomed the statement as “historic” provided the Roman Catholic paramilitary group matched its words with deeds.

But the head of the province’s main Protestant party was more sceptical.

The IRA’s order to abandon their armed campaign to unite Northern Ireland, which is mostly Protestant, with the Irish Republic came into effect at 0100 AEST.

Supporters say the move is designed to revive the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement and the power-sharing institutions that have been suspended.

It comes against the backdrop of worldwide revulsion over terrorism, especially in the light of the recent London bombings, a similar tactic once used by the IRA itself.

“All IRA units have been ordered to dump arms,” the group said, adding its militants “have been instructed to assist the development of purely political and democratic programs through exclusively peaceful means”.

It said that militants “must not engage in any other activities whatsoever” and described the order as compulsory.

But the statement stopped short of disbanding the organisation, as demanded by leading Protestants, and it also omitted any apology for past bombings.

“Our decisions have been taken to advance our republican and democratic objectives, including our goal of a united Ireland,” the group said.

“We believe there is now an alternative way to achieve this and to end British rule in our country.”

Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern released separate and joint statements welcoming the breakthrough.

“If the IRA’s words are borne out by actions, it will be a momentous and historic development,” the two men said in a joint statement.

“This may be the day when finally after all the false dawns and dashed hopes, peace replaces war, politics replaces terror on the island of Ireland,” added Blair in a separate comment. “This is a step of unparallelled magnitude in the recent history of Northern
Ireland.”

In Washington, US President George W Bush’s chief spokesman Scott McClellan called the announcement “an important and potentially historic statement”.

But Ian Paisley, the fiery leader of Northern Ireland’s main Protestant party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), was far more cautious, noting that the IRA statement lacked an explicit call to end criminal activity.

US climate change deal

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

The Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate will not replace the 1999 Kyoto Protocol that Washington has repudiated.

“This new results-oriented partnership will allow our nations to develop and accelerate deployment of cleaner, more efficient energy technologies,” US President George W Bush said in a statement released by the White House.

“I have directed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman to meet with their counterparts this fall (northern autumn) to carry forward our new partnership and provide direction for our joint work,” Mr Bush said.

The plan, which does not set precise new emissions targets or timetables, will be unveiled formally by Deputy US Secretary of State Robert Zoellick at 1330 Thursday AEST) at a regional summit in Laos.

The accord, the fruit of five months of high-level diplomacy, does not envision any enforcement mechanisms to ensure that the partners are doing all they can to cut pollution.

The commitments under the deal “don’t require enforcement, what they require is investment” from the private sector, as well as sharing technologies that increase energy efficiency and cut pollution.

The agreement, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, does not set a specific goal for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by a certain date but aims to accelerate current goals set by the countries individually.

The countries involved accounted for about 50 per cent of global emissions of greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere and are blamed for global warming, seen as one of the world’s greatest environmental dangers.

One goal is to battle pollution in a way that does not seriously hamper economic growth, one of the objections Mr Bush raised about the
Kyoto Protocol when he announced he would not submit the treaty to the US Senate for ratification.

According to the White House the accord aims to build on existing cooperation: reduce methane emissions; promote “clean coal” use; expand civilian nuclear power programs; promote energy efficiency; and increase reliance on sources of energy other than fossil fuels.

Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell said earlier: “Australia is, and I reassure the Australian people, working on something that is more effective post-Kyoto”.

The UN’s Kyoto Protocol requires industrialised countries to trim emissions of carbon dioxide, the byproduct of burning oil, gas and coal, by a deadline of 2010.

Mo Mowlam dies

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

Ms Mowlam served as Britain’s Northern Ireland secretary, and died at a hospice in Canterbury, southeast England, a week after she was transferred from a London hospital.

The cause of death has not been disclosed, but she had previously suffered a brain tumour, and friends on Thursday said her condition had deteriorated.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair remembered Ms Mowlam in a statement, saying she had one of the shrewdest political minds he has encountered, as well as a remarkable personality.

“[She was] great company, utterly irreverent, full of life and fun,” he said.

“She transformed the politics not just of Northern Ireland itself, but crucially of relations between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, and it was this transformation that created the culture in which peace-making could flourish.”

Other Labour politicians have paid tribute to her, describing her as “serious, smart, fun and a fighter”, and Conservative leader Michael Howard said she was held in great affection by many people.

Ms Mowlam had reportedly asked not to be resuscitated, and in the last few days food and water were withdrawn.

“Mo Mowlam passed away today at 8.10am,” family spokesman Brian Basham said.

“Her family wishes to thank the many well wishers who have sent cards, messages and flowers and to say that, although, the funeral will be a private family occasion, there will be a memorial event in a few months.

Ms Mowlam is the second member of Mr Blair’s original government to die this month, after former foreign secretary Robin Cook — who quit the cabinet in 2003 in protest over the Iraq war — collapsed while hill climbing in his native Scotland, aged 59.

Ms Mowlam was one of Britain’s most popular politicians, admired for her frank opinions, her bravery in fighting her brain tumour and for her role in the Northern Ireland peace process.

The Good Friday agreement she helped to broker set out a blueprint for power-sharing between Protestants and Catholics in strife-torn Northern Ireland.

She was attempting to recover from the brain tumour at the time.

Ms Mowlam was born in Watford, northwest of London, on September 18, 1949, into a cash-strapped family and to an alcoholic father.

The family moved to Coventry, in the Midlands, where she attended a state-funded high school before going on to university in Britain and the United States.

She worked as a lecturer and university administrator before being elected to parliament in 1987.

In 1995 she married Jon Norton, a merchant banker who supported the Labour Party.