Comments Closed

Phillipines charges clan with murder, rebellion

The Philippines said Sunday that leaders of a clan detained after martial law was imposed in their southern stronghold would be charged with rebellion, as more buried weapons were found.


The rebellion charges are separate to murder cases being prepared against them over last month’s election-linked massacre of 57 people in their home province of Maguindanao, Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said.

“We did not see them plotting against the government, we saw the deed done. They have usurped power from the government there,” Devanadera told DZBB radio.

“This is not ordinary chaos taking place in one area, this has an armed component. And there is removal of allegiance from the republic of the Philippines by the leaders of this group.”

President Gloria Arroyo imposed martial law in Maguindanao late on Friday in an effort to rein in the Ampatuan family, a Muslim clan that has ruled the province for most of this decade with the backing of private armies.

The clan patriarch, Andal Ampatuan Snr, governor of Maguindanao since 2001, had installed many of his relatives into senior provincial posts.

Explaining the martial law move, the government said large numbers of heavily armed gunmen loyal to the Ampatuans had threatened to attack security forces and civilians if the clan chiefs were taken into custody.

One clan member previously charged

Ampatuan Snr and other clan members are accused of being involved in the November 23 massacre of a rival politician’s relatives, as well as journalists and other civilians.

One of Ampatuan’s sons, Andal Ampatuan Jnr, has already been charged with 25 counts of murder over the massacre. Police last week filed indictments recommending the clan chief and other relatives also be charged.

Police allege Ampatuan Jnr and 100 gunmen shot dead the occupants of a convoy that included female relatives of his rival for the post of governor in next year’s elections, as well as about 30 journalists.

After martial law was imposed, thousands of soldiers and police poured into the provincial capital Shariff Aguak and other Maguindanao towns to bring the Ampatuans into custody, as well as their militiamen and weapons.

Ampatuan Snr was among five clan members detained on Saturday.

A total of 32 people were picked up during Saturday’s raids, including 20 militiamen found in a warehouse belonging to Ampatuan Jnr.

Raids uncover weapons

The government alleged the Ampatuans had illegally amassed a stunning array of military hardware that it was prepared to use in the rebellion, and raids on Sunday continued to uncover hidden weapons.

About 40 firearms, including M16 assault rifles, were found on a property believed to be owned by Ampatuan Snr, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Michael Samson told AFP at the site.

The weapons were buried on a grassy area about a kilometre (half a mile) from a police station on the outskirts of Shariff Aguak.

On Saturday, security forces retrieved 340,000 rounds of ammunition, several assault rifles and a home-made armoured car at the warehouse owned by Ampatuan Jnr where the miltiamen were detained.

The biggest reported discovery came on Thursday when the military found what it said were enough weapons and ammunitions to arm two battalions, or 1,000 soldiers, buried in a vacant lot near the Ampatuans’ compound of homes.

Violence waged since 1970s

Muslim rebels fighting for an independent homeland have been waging a rebellion on Maguindanao and other parts of Mindanao island since the late 1970s. The conflict has claimed more than 150,000 lives, the military says.

Arroyo’s government has used Muslim clans such as the Ampatuans to rule these areas, and allowed them to build up their own armies as part of a controversial containment strategy against the insurgents.

However the government now insists it did not know the extent to which the Ampatuans had built up its own militia and weapons.

Andal Ampatuan Snr and Jnr, plus another senior clan member, were expelled from Arroyo’s ruling coalition a few days after the massacre.



Comments Closed

Nadal beats Federer in Madrid final

Nadal, who will reclaim the world number two ranking on Monday, clinched a record-breaking 18th career Masters title, beating Federer 6-4 7-6.


The win also made him the first man to claim three major clay titles prior to the start of Roland Garros.

Federer beat Nadal in last year’s final before going on to claim the French Open and Wimbledon crowns and snatching back the world number one ranking from the Spaniard.

Nadal now heads to Paris with all guns blazing as he bids to wipe out last year’s fourth-round loss to Soderling and resume his trophy chase.

Sunday’s eagerly-anticipated match in a packed and rowdy Magic Box arena graced by Spanish Queen Sofia was their first meeting since the 2009 title match.

Home win ‘a dream’ for Nadal

It sets Nadal up for a run at regaining his Roland Garros crown when the grand slam starts next Sunday.

Nadal brought the partisan crowd to their feet when he took the first set and the noise reached ear-splitting levels as their hero fought back from 4-2 down before throwing himself face down on the clay.

“Winning here at home is a dream,” said Nadal, who took titles over recent weeks in Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would win all three of these big events,” added the Spaniard, unbeaten this clay season with 15 consecutive victories.

Nadal, now with 39 titles to his name, leads Federer 14-7 in career meetings, winning ten of their last 12.

Missed chances for Federer

He now stands 28-2 in claycourt finals, his two losses coming at the hands of Federer, including Madrid a year ago.

Federer missed out on chances repeatedly in the final, which lasted just over two hours, converting on only one of seven break points in an hour-long opening set.

In the second, the world number one twice recovered from a break down and once into the tiebreaker, took a 4-2 lead.

But four consecutive unforced errors meant a wasted effort, with Nadal claiming victory on his second of three match points, a Federer mis-hit.

“It’s been a wonderful event for me,” said the Swiss. “I’m sorry I couldn’t defend the title. Rafa’s had an incredible clay season, he was supreme today.

“I’m looking forward to Paris, I’m happy with my claycourt game, I know I’m not Spanish but I tried to play some clay court tennis here.”



Comments Closed

Jetstar denies flights help Burma junta

Jetstar denies its flights into Burma are assisting the military junta and its human rights abuses.


ACTU President Sharan Burrow says international companies are withdrawing services from Burma and those businesses that stay know they are abetting human and trade union rights abuses, including child labour and forced labour.

Burma Campaign Australia says the airline’s payments to fly into the country add to the estimated $US2.8 billion ($A3.23 billion) in “blood money” to the dictatorship.

Campaign spokeswoman Zetty Brake says Jetstar’s payments to fly into the country could be used to fund more than 700 soldiers a year, Fairfax newspapers report.

“Sadly doing business in Burma only helps keep the Burmese junta in power, providing it with the critical funds and resources it needs to maintain its brutal rule,” she said in a statement.

Airline fees ‘lining regime’s pockets’

Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan denies the accusation, saying Jetstar is happy to end the schedule if it thinks it’s harming the Burmese people in any way.

“Whenever we look at it and talk to the (aid) agencies that are in there, they say it’s a good thing. We are giving people access to get out and get education, aid agencies to get in there, and people reconnecting with friends and family,” he said.

Mr Buchanan told Fairfax he received a letter from the ACTU last week and has yet to reply, saying he’s disappointed the matter is now in the public domain.

Ms Burrow told Fairfax it’s a “myth” that ordinary Burmese can fly into and out of the country, and rejected the airline’s suggestion its fees to Burmese aviation authorities do not end up in the regime’s pockets.

She’ll join Burmese democracy activists in Sydney today for the beginning of a campaign to pressure Australian companies into withdrawing from Burma.



Comments Closed

Climate change ‘unquestionably’ linked to humans

Global warming exists and is unquestionably due to human activity, the French Academy of Science said in a report published Thursday and written by 120 scientists from France and abroad.


“Several independent indicators show an increase in global warming from 1975 to 2003. This increase is mainly due to the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide,” the academy said in conclusion to the report.

“The increase in carbon dioxide, and to a lesser degree other greenhouse gases, is unquestionably due to human activity,” said the report, adopted unanimously by academy members.

The report contradicts France’s former education minister Claude Allegre, a geochemist, who published a book called “The Climatic Deception” which claimed that carbon dioxide was not linked to climate change.

The report was commissioned in April by Minister for Research Valerie Pecresse in response to hundreds of environmental scientists who complained that Allegre in particular was disparaging their work.

Allegre is a member of the Academy of Sciences and also signed off on the report.

“He has the right to evolve,” the academy’s president Jean Salencon said. Pecresse said: “The debate is over.”

But Allegre told AFP that the document was a compromise and “I have not evolved, I still say the same thing, that the exact role of carbon dioxide in the environment has not been shown.”

“Of course it’s a compromise, but it’s a satisfactory compromise because what I defend, that is the uncertainty in our knowledge about climate change, is explicitly mentioned, the word uncertainty appears 12 times,” he said.

In his book, Allegre questioned the work of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and criticised worldwide mobilisation around “a myth without foundation.”

He disagreed with linking climate change and an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and said clouds or solar activity had more of an influence.

The IPCC, established to sift through scientific research and produce the most authoritative report possible on climate change for world leaders, has been hit by a raft of criticisms and the UN has said it needs a major overhaul.

Glaring errors were revealed in the panel’s landmark 2007 Fourth Assessment Report — notably that Himalayan glaciers which provide water to a billion people in Asia could be lost by 2035, a claim traced to a magazine article.

The Academy’s report said that “solar activity, which has dropped slightly on average since 1975, cannot be dominant in warming observed during this period” even if the mechanisms involved “are not yet well understood.”

“Major uncertainties remain on how to model clouds, the evolution of marine ice and the polar caps, the connection between the oceans and the atmosphere, the biosphere’s evolution and the carbon cycle,” the report said.

Allegre wrote that it was impossible to predict the climate’s long-term evolution, but the Academy said that “climate evolution predictions of 30 to 50 years are little affected by uncertainties on modelling slow evolution processes.”

“These predictions are particularly useful in responding to society’s current concerns, worsened by the predictable population growth.”

The IPCC’s deputy head, Frenchman Jean Jouzel, welcomed the report.

“Even if in this text lots of space is given to the arguments put forward by climate change sceptics, I note that the document clearly reaffirms the IPCC’s broad conclusions,” he told AFP.

“Clearly sceptics will find some things to make their case. It says that not all is clear about the sun’s role. The debate is never over,” he said.

The report was the result of written contributions as well as closed-door discussions held at the Academy on September 20 and subsequent exchanges, the Academy said.



Comments Closed

Red wine packed with antidiabetes compounds

Red wine is a potent source of antidiabetic compounds – but they might not get past your gut.


The finding is sure to enliven the ongoing debate over the drink’s health benefits.

Alois Jungbauer and colleagues at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria, tested 10 reds and two whites to find out how strongly the wines bound to a protein called PPAR-gamma, which is targeted by the antidiabetic drug rosiglitazone. (This drug is marketed under the brand name Avandia and, while still available in the US, has been withdrawn in Europe because of fears over side effects.)

PPAR-gamma is a type of protein called a receptor. Among other things, it regulates the uptake of glucose in fat cells. Rosiglitazone targets PPAR-gamma in fat cells to make them more sensitive to insulin and improve the uptake of glucose. It is used as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, a condition where people either do not make enough insulin to keep their body’s glucose levels down, or become resistant to normal insulin levels.

Several studies have shown that moderate consumption of red wine can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. So Jungbauer and colleagues determined the wines’ binding affinity for PPAR-gamma and compared the results with the effects of rosiglitazone. They found that the white wines had low binding affinities, but all the reds bound readily: the tendency of 100 millilitres of red wine – about half a glass – to bind to PPAR-gamma is up to four times as strong as the same tendency in the daily dose of rosiglitazone.

Red and green

“It’s incredible. It’s a really high activity,” says Jungbauer. “At first we were worried it was an artefact, but then we identified the compounds responsible in the wine.”

The flavonoid epicatechin gallate – which is also present in green tea – had the highest binding affinity, followed by the polyphenol ellagic acid, which comes from the oak barrels the wine is kept in. The researchers think that some of the antidiabetic activity of red wine could be due to these compounds activating PPAR-gamma.

But Jungbauer warns that these compounds don’t make red wine a magic bullet. The compounds in a glass of wine may have other antidiabetic effects and in any case, not all of the compounds will be absorbed and available to the body to use. “Wine also contains ethanol, which will add to your calories,” he says.

Véronique Cheynier, research director at the department of oenology at the University of Montpellier 1, France, says that most polyphenols do not pass through the digestive tract unchanged and may not be absorbed at all.

True temperance

The next step for Jungbauer and his team will be to measure the metabolic effects of the wine compounds on healthy people.

Jungbauer stresses that moderate consumption is the key to health benefits from wine. “It is important to limit the intake of wine. Obesity is one of the major problems of our society,” he says.

Paras Mishra of the University of Louisville, Kentucky, who was not involved in the study, warns that drinking too much wine “could be bad even in diabetes”.



Comments Closed

‘Mystery missile’ has conspiracies firing

The US military said Tuesday it has detected no launch of a foreign military missile off the coast of California and offered assurances that whatever happened there posed no threat to the United States.


KCBS television caught on camera what appeared to be a missile vapor trail as it arced into the evening sky west of Los Angeles, sparking reports of a possible missile launch.

“At this time, we can confirm that there is no threat to our nation and from all indications this was not a launch by a foreign military,” the US Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) Command said in a statement.

The Pentagon, however, said it had no explanation for the sighting and was trying to get to the bottom of it.

“While there is nothing at this time that leads the Department of Defense (DoD) to believe this is a missile launch, the department and other US government agencies with expertise in aviation and space continue to look into the condensation trail (CONTRAIL) seen and reported off the coast of southern California on Monday evening,” Pentagon spokesman David Lapan said in a statement.

“All DoD entities with rocket and missile programs reported no launches, scheduled or inadvertent, during the time period in the area of the reported contrail,” he added.

Lapan said Federal Aviation Administration “radar replays” from a large area west of Los Angeles “did not reveal any fast-moving, unidentified targets,” adding that the FAA also did not receive reports of any unusual sightings from pilots in the arae.

ContrailScience.com, a website that debunks conspiracy theories linked to contrails, suggested the sighting was an optical illusion.

It said an approaching aircraft can leave a horizontal vapor trail that looks like a missile shooting vertically from the ground or sea.

What creates the illusion that it is rising from the ground is that the end of the plume is hidden by the curvature of the earth.

Ordinarily, a missile test would involve closure of air space and notifications to mariners of when to stay clear of the area, but none were known to have been made in this case, Lapan said earlier.

He said it was “implausible” that a military exercise would have been conducted so near Los Angeles’ busy international airport.

“That’s why at this point the operative term is, unexplained,” Lapan added.



Comments Closed

What will be the consequence of the US shutdown?

According to experts, that depends on how long it continues, and whether it leads to US default on government debt repayments.



The partial US government shutdown came into effect after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives refused to pass a new budget.


The main point of contention has been President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, popularly known as Obamacare.


David Smith is a lecturer in American politics at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.


“This is the first time in American history that there is going to be something approaching universal health coverage. Now to Democrats this is fantastic, but Republicans see this as a precursor to a government takeover of medicine and a government takeover of the healthcare system and even though in most other advanced industrial democracies the government does actually play a very major role in the health care system as it does in ours. This is not traditionally the way that its been done in the United States where everything is being done privately often with government money, but through private medical providers and private insurance providers and a lot of people in the conservative part of the Republican party actually see this as an entree into socialism and they see it as completely un-American and destructive of American capitalism.”


President Obama has condemned the blockage of the legislation by the Republicans.


“But I want every American to understand why it did happen. Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to fund the government unless we defunded or dismantled the Affordable Care Act. They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans. In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job.”


However, House Speaker John Boehner accused the President and the Democrats of an unwillingness to negotiate.


“The bill we passed last night would have funded the government through December 15th and provide fairness to the American people under Obamacare – no exemptions, no exceptions, let’s treat everyone the same. Last night they not only rejected that, but they also rejected our call to sit down and resolve our differences under the Constitution which makes it clear that if the two Houses disagree we should sit down and discuss and try to resolve those matters.”


US government bodies seen as doing work regarded as essential, like the military, are continuing to function.


But the partial closure of the government means that many non-essential federal services have been closed, and up to 800,000 public servants have been told to stay at home or left working without pay.


This man was angry over the inability of veterans to visit the now-closed National War Memorial in Washington.


“These guys they’ve flown three or four hours today. They got up at 4 o’clock in the morning to get here, they’re 80 and 90 years old. The Germans and the Japanese couldn’t stop them and now the God damn politicians in Washington are. This is ridiculous and these guys are paying the price.”


David Smith from Sydney University says the shutdown won’t have an immediate impact on the US economy.


“If it’s only a few days, then it’s an inconvenience and it’s unpleasant. But if it goes on for say, a week or more, then that is a lot of money that doesn’t go into the economy, so that’s a lot of employees who can’t do grocery shopping, who can’t fill up their cars with petrol and not only is it just incredibly inconvenient for them it means that their communities suffer a lot economically.”


And Mr Smith says that could also have a significant impact on the rest of the world.


r”The real problem is that in two or three weeks time, the United States is going to reach its debt ceiling again and there’s actually a serious possibility this time that the US could default on its debt. Now if this government shut down is a precursor to a debt default, then that is going to have a really serious effect on global financial markets, because a government default would signal to investors that the United States is actually too politically dysfunctional to be trusted to pay back its debts and this would lead to a massive downgrade in United States credit, which would mean a huge interest rate rise right across the United States, right through out the American financial system and it would cause massive insecurity within the global financial system because there is so much United States debt sloshing around in the system.”


Barack Obama says he’s worried about the possibility of default.


“If they go through with it this time, and force the United States to default on its obligations default for the first time in history, it would be far more dangerous than a government shutdown, as bad as a shutdown is. It would be an economic shutdown. So I’ll speak more on this in the coming days. Let me repeat: I will not negotiate over Congress’ responsibility to pay bills it’s already racked up. I’m not going allow anybody to drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud just to refight a settled election or extract ideological demands. Nobody gets to hurt our economy and millions of hard-working families over a law you don’t like.”


Despite the partial government shutdown, the Obamacare health policy has actually been launched.







Comments Closed

AFL’s Saints sign US ruck prospect

St Kilda have signed a 203cm former US college basketballer whose brother plays in the NFL and whose athletic capacity they predict will excite AFL fans.


Jason Holmes, a 23-year-old from Chicago whose older brother Andre plays with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, has been tested alongside other hopefuls at this week’s draft combine in Melbourne.

Saints head of football Chris Pelchen said learning the finer points of the game would be a gradual process for ruck prospect Holmes, a newcomer to the sport, but the athletic feats he displayed at the combine couldn’t be ignored.

“That’s exciting for not just Saints fans but all AFL people,” Pelchen told reporters.

“I think we all watch American sport with great interest and are obviously sometimes amazed by their athletic prowess.

“Jason comes from a basketball background, played at college level and I think he’ll bring some very interesting aspects to the game in terms of his athletic ability in the short term.”

Holmes has been signed as an international rookie for the next two seasons.

He’s the second international rookie for the Saints, who recruited New Zealander Joseph Baker-Thomas in April, while in Wellington for their Anzac Day clash with Sydney.

Holmes, who was introduced to the sport at a talent-spotting camp in the United States in April, said deciding to shelve his basketball career was a tough choice but he was committed to trying to make it in the AFL.

“My passion is to compete,” he said.

“Obviously I had time to think about what I want to do and I’m glad I did have that time and I wouldn’t be here if this wasn’t serious to me.”



Comments Closed

NZ no consolation prize for refugees: PM

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat that they should not expect to get New Zealand as a “consolation prize”.


Mr Abbott hosted NZ Prime Minister John Key on Wednesday, the first foreign leader to visit Australia since the change of government last month.

The pair discussed NZ’s previous commitment to annually settle 150 refugees that Australia has processed, under a deal struck with former prime minister Julia Gillard in February.

AAP understands NZ has left the offer on the table but the Abbott government has indicated it won’t take it up because it wants to focus on sending asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Island.

The intake had been slated to start in 2014 and was to make up part of New Zealand’s annual quota of 750 refugees.

Mr Abbott cast doubt over the arrangement during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday.

“We’re grateful for New Zealand’s help,” Mr Abbott said.

“If and when it becomes necessary obviously we’ll call on it.”

He reiterated his determination to stop the boats.

“One of the ways we stop the boats is by making it absolutely crystal clear that if you come to Australia illegally by boat you go, not to New Zealand, but to Nauru or Manus and you never ever come to Australia,” Mr Abbott said.

“People ought not think that New Zealand is some kind of a consolation prize if they can’t come to Australia.”

There’s strong support from NZ to take refugees from Australia with 60.8 per cent of people surveyed in a Herald-DigiPoll backing the arrangement.



Comments Closed

Trade balance narrows in August

Australia’s recent trade deficits have been pushed further into the red by the new inclusion of small purchases by consumers of goods made overseas.


The total value of imports below $1,000 ordered directly from overseas vendors in the 2012/13 financial year was $7.61 billion.

The ABS estimates that between 88 per cent and 95 per cent of that was consumer goods.

The ABS has also revised figures going back to 1998, and JP Morgan economist Ben Jarman said it shows domestic spending is leaking overseas more than previously thought.

“This is an attempt to get more of a handle on the increasing prevalence of online consumer spending with offshore retailers,” he said.

“The revisions get smaller as we move back through history, but were worth over $600 million in July alone, taking the balance for that month down.”

For the record, Australia’s total trade balance remained in the red in August, with a deficit of $815 million, official figures show, which was worse than the $450 million deficit the market was expecting.

Still, the August figure was a little bit better than the July deficit of $1.375 billion, which was revised from the original deficit estimate of $765 million.

Mr Jarman said the improved trade balance came via a surge in iron ore exports.

RBC fixed income and currency strategist Michael Turner said he expects Australia’s trade balance to improve as more mining and resource projects go into production and export shipments start moving.

“The ABS estimate of total imports includes the value of goods falling under the low value threshold,” he said.

“Beyond these distractions, the trade data were reasonably positive.

“Exports were up three per cent, led by iron ore and gold, while the one per cent rise in total imports was driven largely by broad rises in consumption goods – which ties in well with the slightly better environment for retail reported for August.”



Comments Closed

Atletico demonstrate credentials with victory at Porto

Buoyed by a stunning 1-0 win at Real Madrid on Saturday, their first success against their bitter city rivals in La Liga this century, Atletico recovered from conceding a 16th-minute Jackson Martinez goal at the Dragao stadium to secure a ninth victory in 11 matches in all competitions this term.


Their only blemish was a reverse on away goals to Barcelona in the two-legged Spanish Super Cup and they top the La Liga table alongside the champions with a perfect 21 points from seven matches.

Atletico’s progress under coach Diego Simeone has been spectacular since the Argentine took over at the end of 2011 and he has moulded his squad into an outfit that looks capable of challenging the Barca-Real duopoly in Spain and progressing to the latter stages of Europe’s elite club competition.

A combative and passionately committed midfielder for his country and during stints at Atletico, Sevilla, Inter Milan and Lazio, Simeone has instilled the same qualities in his players and praised their grit in Tuesday’s post-match news conference.

Their success against the Portuguese side was all the more remarkable given that forward and top scorer Diego Costa was suspended and that they sold prolific Colombia striker Radamel Falcao to Monaco in the close season.

“We have an extraordinary group,” Simeone said. “I am no doctor but the players were wounded and tired and that is a source of satisfaction as it shows they gave their all.”

Atletico’s Uruguay centre back Diego Godin headed the equaliser in the 58th minute before a well-worked free kick routine set up Turkey playmaker Arda Turan to snatch the winner four minutes from time.

The Spanish side top the group with six points from two games, with Porto on four in second and Zenit St Petersburg and Austria Wien, who drew 0-0 in Russia on Tuesday, on one point each in third and fourth respectively.

“We are just taking each match at a time,” Godin told reporters.

“We are fighting to the death in every game and I think that is the right path to follow,” he added. “Then we’ll see how far that takes us.”

Atletico’s next outing is a La Liga clash at home to Celta Vigo on Sunday before away and home matches against Austria Wien on October 22 and November 6 respectively.

(Editing by John O’Brien)



Comments Closed

PUP to be a power in Senate

Mining magnate Clive Palmer’s political party looks set to hold the balance of power when the new Senate takes shape next July.


The coalition will have 33 senators but needs six more votes to pass legislation.

Labor with 26 seats and the Greens with nine – possibly 10 after a recount – are likely to vote together to oppose government plans.

Both parties oppose repealing the carbon tax, which Prime Minister Tony Abbott has at the top of his legislative priorities.

The coalition would need to seek support from the eight senators on the crossbench, including five independent/micro party senators.

They’re independent Nick Xenophon (SA), Democratic Labor Party John Madigan (Vic) and three newcomers: Liberal Democratic Party David Leyonhjelm (NSW), Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party Ricky Muir (Vic) and Family First’s Bob Day (SA).

The other newcomers are Palmer United Party (PUP) senators Glenn Lazarus from Queensland, Jacqui Lambie from Tasmania and probably Zhenya Wang from Western Australia.

However senator-elect Wang is facing a partial vote recount in WA, requested by the man he seems to have ousted on preferences – Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam.

Mr Abbott will be able to count on the PUP senators, Mr Day and Senator Madigan since all have publicly opposed the carbon tax.

But Mr Abbott may have tough negotiations ahead with Senator Xenophon, Senator-elect Muir, and Senator-elect Leyonhjelm.

Senator Xenophon supports the repeal of the tax but wants it replaced by a model developed by Frontier Economics, which rewards low-emission industries and punishes high-emission polluters.

The Liberal Democratic Party’s policies state that, should evidence become compelling that global warming is due to human activity, the party would favour market-based options.

The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party’s stance is not clear.

Its environmental policy is to support a balanced approach towards sustainability of the environment and the use of the environment, both for the survival of mankind and for the unimpeded recreational use of the environment.

However, the party also advocates removing the need for government to waste time on the introduction of “nanny-rules” to protect ourselves from ourselves.

Mr Abbott’s signature paid parental leave scheme may pass parliament before the changeover next year, if he agrees to the Greens push for a $50,000 payout cap.



Comments Closed

Lynch shocked by Buddy’s big AFL deal

Alastair Lynch, the AFL star who signed an extraordinary 10-year contract at the age of 25, believes Sydney wouldn’t expect Hawthorn superstar Lance Franklin to keep playing until the end of his nine-season deal.


Lynch, like most in the AFL, was shocked to learn 26-year-old Franklin is headed to the Swans on a $10 million deal instead of joining expansion side Greater Western Sydney.

The 45-year-old, who reluctantly left Fitzroy to join Brisbane after the 1993 season, knows first-hand how unusually long deals brokered by Andrew Ireland can work.

Lynch ended up signing a one-year extension to his landmark contract, bowing out of the game in 2004 with three premierships at the age of 36 – one year older than Franklin will be at the end of the 2022 season.

However powerhouse full-forwards like Lynch are rarer these days, and the former Brisbane captain senses Sydney won’t be banking on Franklin fulfilling the sum total of his deal.

“It’s a big aggressive move by a footy club to get someone over the line, so I understand that,” Lynch told AAP on Wednesday as Franklin confirmed he was Sydney-bound.

“I don’t think the Sydney Swans would expect Buddy to play for the whole term.

“They’d be rapt if he did, but I’m sure they have got in the back of their minds that it might only last six or so years.

“You’re still getting to a fair old age at 33. So six years would probably be a good result, if so they’d have to wear the last three years in the salary cap.

“But I’m sure that’s something they’ve considered long and hard over the last few months. If they can grab two more premierships in that time with Buddy, I’m sure they’d take the pain at the end.”

Lynch admitted he had “no thought of playing the 10 years out” when he first joined the Brisbane Bears.

“That’s where the guarantee was very attractive … it was impossible to knock back,” he recalled.

“It (the 10-year contract) worked beautifully for me … and hopefully the club felt it balanced out in the end.”

Brisbane’s retention allowance was abolished after winning three consecutive premierships, much to the relief of Collingwood president Eddie McGuire who declared “war on the AFL in regards to the salary cap” a day after his side lost the 2002 grand final to the Lions.

McGuire, long outraged over the Swans’ cost-of-living allowance (COLA), has been at the forefront of a swell of COLA angst after news of Franklin’s imminent departure broke on Tuesday.

“They work within the rules that have been provided by the AFL,” Lynch said of the Swans.

“It sounds like there’s an ongoing review of this allowance to live in Sydney, and this might bring it to a head.

“Once we (the Lions) started to become successful it was pretty swiftly knocked on the head – that may happen again.

“There has been talk over the last few years about it. At some stage it was deemed to be a valid competent of the salary cap for the Sydney-based clubs, so I’m not quite sure why it should change.”



Comments Closed

Arthur in line for Eels coaching job

Parramatta are set to offer their vacant coaching position to Manly assistant Brad Arthur.


Arthur worked alongside Stephen Kearney last year but left when Ricky Stuart was appointed at the end of a season that saw the Eels claim the first of two successive wooden spoons.

However, the 39-year-old impressed in his short time as caretaker coach when Kearney was axed, leading the struggling team to wins over Brisbane and the Sydney Roosters and AAP understands he’s the favoured choice of several board members and will be offered the job.

North Queensland were also interested in Arthur but opted for Roosters under-20s coach Paul Green as Neil Henry’s replacement leaving the door open for Arthur at Parramatta.

“He did a very good job when he was here and more importantly he worked well with Jarryd Hayne and a lot of our younger players,” an Eels insider told AAP.

“We will have Will Hopoate here next year and that will put pressure on Jarryd at fullback and we hope he’ll react to that and have a great year.

“Financially we are in good shape the leagues club is making money and we have just signed two new sponsors. We just need to get the coach in place now.”

Test coach Tim Sheens was interviewed by the club on Tuesday but the younger Arthur is the favoured with his knowledge of the team’s younger players working in his favour.

The news will be a dent to Jason Taylor’s hopes of returning to the club.

Parramatta are also struggling with their salary cap for next season and aren’t likely to bring in any other players after South Sydney pair Nathan Peats and Justin Hunt, Hopoate and English prop Lee Mossop.

Knowing most of the squad is something else that works in Arthur’s favour with the board impressed at the way Trent Robinson turned around the Roosters two years after leaving his post as Brian Smith’s No.2.

The club announced on Wednesday they’ve secured a major sponsor after severing ties with long-term partner Pirtek.

Dyldam and UNIBET will don the front and back of the club’s shirt respectively for the next three seasons in a lucrative seven-figure deal.

Private residential group Dyldam were already a club sponsor, but have upgraded to become the main partner.

Recently-appointed Parramatta chief executive Scott Seward said the deals prove how strong a brand the club still are despite two awful seasons.

“Today’s announcement represents the faith shown in us from within by Dyldam upgrading to become our major sponsor and also how strongly we are positioned in the marketplace to be able to attract new corporate partners such as UNIBET,” Seward said.

“I hope securing the largest sponsorship deal in this club’s history off the back of two wooden spoons instils confidence in our members and fans in the job this administration and board are doing right now.”



Comments Closed

De Jong impresses but Dutch recall hinges on role in side

On Wednesday, the Dutch media described him as a “windshield wiper” offering lateral protection in front of the central defensive duo of Philippe Mexes and Cristian Zapata.


The solid performance came just days before Dutch coach Louis van Gaal finalises his squad for World Cup qualifiers against Hungary and Turkey, where the 28-year-old is hoping for a return to a side already qualified for next year’s finals.

He was named in a preliminary squad last week but whether he can force his way back into the starting line up for the first time since recovering from an Achilles injury, remains unclear.

Van Gaal has previously gone on record as saying he would prefer to use a defensive midfielder who could also provide assistance going forward rather than just being an extra lock on the defensive door.

“Last night’s game will have shown Van Gaal little that fits in with his tactical plans,” Dutch daily the Algemeen Dagblad said.

De Jong’s role at his Italian club precludes him from any adventure and whether van Gaal believes he can play differently in a Dutch shirt will only become clear next weekend when the side host Hungary in their penultimate World Cup qualifier.

That match will also be at the Amsterdam Arena where de Jong was hailed like a returning hero by a partisan crowd of more than 50,000 on what he said would be an emotional night.

“I ran around here for a long time. It is where I grew up,” he said prior to the match referring to his early career at Ajax.

Tuesday’s game was only his ninth after an extended spell on the sidelines after rupturing the tendon in a Serie A match against Torino last December, just five months after joining Milan from Manchester City.

De Jong, who won international notoriety for a kung fu-style challenge on Xabi Alonso in the 2010 World Cup final that went unpunished by referee Howard Webb, claimed the last of his 67 caps in a friendly against Germany last November.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by John O’Brien)



Comments Closed

Corby wins parole approval in Bali

Schapelle Corby has edged closer to parole after winning crucial approval from the Justice Ministry office in Bali.


A spokesman for the office on Wednesday confirmed the 36-year-old’s parole application had been approved and would be immediately forwarded to Jakarta for further consideration.

“From the hearing yesterday, we have issued a recommendation which is approving Corby to receive her parole,” Justice Ministry office spokesman Made Badra said in Bali on Wednesday.

“Our consideration is that Corby has fulfilled a substantive requirement, which is she has served two-thirds of her sentence and behaved well.”

It’s still likely to be months before Corby, caught in 2004 attempting to smuggle more than 4kg of marijuana into Bali in a bodyboard bag, wins final approval for parole from the Justice Ministry in Jakarta.

Another hearing is expected to take place within the next two weeks in Jakarta at the office of the Director-General of Prisons.

“Based on previous experience, the answer of approval or rejection to parole should be received within 12 days after the documents are received by the Prisons Director-General,” Made Badra said.

However, even if Corby wins the support of the Prisons Director-General, the final approval for her parole application would still have to come from the Justice Minister.

In another promising sign, Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin has told AAP he does not believe there are any impediments to Corby being granted an early release.

“As long as she fulfils requirements in its regulation and has finished her obligation, and didn’t break any rules, no one can prevent her to get her parole,” he said.

Mr Syamsuddin also insisted the final decision would not be affected by critics in Indonesia, including anti-drug activists and some politicians, who are ardently opposed to Corby being granted any leniency.

“About this Corby thing, I always become the target of critics,” Mr Syamsuddin said.

“But I couldn’t prevent someone from getting their rights just because I’m afraid of critics. That can’t be happening.”

Corby must also obtain a letter from the Immigration Ministry confirming her visa status before she can be released from Bali’s Kerobokan jail, but this is expected to be just a formality.

“We have sent a letter to Immigration Directorate-General to ensure that Corby’s stay permit will be issued once she’s released from prison,” Made Badra said.

Corby is serving a 15-year jail term after Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last year granted her clemency on humanitarian grounds and slashed her sentence by five years.

The convicted drug smuggler would have to serve her parole in Bali, where she would live with her sister Mercedes and brother-in-law, Wayan Widyartha, in Kuta.