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Angry scenes as Moin returns to Pakistan

Posted by admin on 30/01/2019
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The 43-year-old slipped away quietly from Karachi International Airport to avoid a small crowd of youngsters who had shown up with banners of disapproval.

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Security then had to be provided for the former test captain when he reached home as more unhappy fans waited for him outside.

“We have deployed some police at Moin’s residence for security reasons as people were causing disturbances,” said senior police official Tariq Dharejo.

Television channels showed youngsters at the airport smashing eggs on their heads in anger after learning Moin had left.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) sent Moin home from Australia and New Zealand after he had gone to a Christchurch casino the night before a match against West Indies.

The PCB said its chairman would meet Moin on Friday to hear his side of the story although the former wicketkeeper-batsman has already apologised for his actions.

“I went to the casino to have dinner with some friends but in hindsight it was an inappropriate judgment on my part given the disappointment in the team’s performance at the World Cup,” said Moin.

“I apologise to the people. I never realised my actions would have such serious repercussions.”

Gambling and alcohol are prohibited in Islamic Pakistan and former test players have questioned why Moin, a member of the triumphant 1992 World Cup-winning squad, visited the casino.

“He has brought shame to Pakistan cricket and should be blacklisted,” said ex-paceman Sarfraz Nawaz.

Another former fast bowler, Shahid Nazer, said: “The PCB should hold a judicial inquiry…how can a chief selector behave so carelessly?”.

Pakistan have lost their first two World Cup matches to India and West Indies by big margins and need to find a significant turnaround in form to qualify for the knockout stages.

They are bottom of Group B, a seven-team section that includes non-test playing nations Ireland and United Arab Emirates.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

Manly banking on Brookvale rebuild

Posted by admin on 30/01/2019
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Manly will have a new 23,000-seat stadium within 10 years and training facilities to rival those on offer in the English Premier League if club management get their way.

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At the Sea Eagles NRL season launch, chairman Scott Penn unveiled Manly’s ambitious plans for the badly out-of-date Brookvale Oval.

“We need a new stadium at Brookvale Oval, not a modified one, a new one,” Penn said on Thursday night.

“No is not an option and we are working closely with Warringah Council and the state government to find a solution.

“Clearly we have to go through a community consolation process, because we are in a residential area. But we are very confident we have the plan that will get this across the line.

“We are sick of talking about it, we want action, we want to make it happen.

“Most importantly we are working on a plan that doesn’t cost taxpayers a cent.”

New Manly CEO Joe Kelly is a former COO of Chelsea FC and has set his sights on transforming the club’s aging base at the NSW Institute of Sport.

“(It will be a) state-of-the-art centre of excellence at Narrabeen,” Kelly said.

“At a cost of between 15 and 20 million this will transform our training capabilities as well as our administration functions and will rival the best of class international sporting set ups as well as my old club Chelsea FC.

“We are targeting this to be operational for season 2018 and we are now well positioned in the pecking order of NRL clubs to make this a reality.

On plans for Brookie, Kelly said: “Talks on the redevelopment of Brookvale Oval have progressed from a concept to tangible reality.

“A 23,000 all-seat stadium with restaurants, bars, retail, community engagement areas and classrooms for use for local schools all year round will provide the residents of Warringah and the supporters of the Sea Eagles an iconic home and is no longer just a dream.”

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan has renewed his attack on Queensland premier Campbell Newman, calling him “cold-hearted and callous” for refusing to fund a trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

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The NSW and Victorian Liberal governments on Friday bowed to public pressure and agreed to meet federal funding benchmarks to host trial sites for the multi-billion dollar NDIS.

Mr Newman is still refusing to meet the benchmarks, saying the state can’t afford it.

Mr Swan, who described the Queensland premier as “irresponsible” during the week, fired another broadside on Saturday, saying he had never seriously considered a national disability insurance scheme.

“I don’t believe he’s fair dinkum about doing something to assist Queenslanders with disabilities and Australians with disabilities,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

“I call on him to put away the politics and to get stuck into working constructively with the federal government.”

Mr Swan estimated an NDIS launch site in Queensland would set the state back an extra $20 million.

Mr Newman was “playing politics” with disability, he said, adding that the premier had made “quite a few mistakes” in the past week – referring to Mr Newman’s comments comparing the Queensland economy to that of Spain.

“He made reckless statements about the Queensland economy, which were simply untrue – and very damaging – and I believe he’s being cold-hearted and callous about people with disabilities as well,” Mr Swan said.

“… It’s really, really disappointing to see what Mr Newman and his government have been doing in this area.

“They’re playing with people’s lives. They ought to get serious.

“This is a serious national reform (and) they ought to come on board.”

Mr Swan said Mr Newman was running a political campaign to hide his embarrassment over sacking 20,000 public servants.

“That’s what this campaign’s all about – hiding his embarrassment at repudiating his election commitments,” Mr Swan said.

NDIS fund legislation in future: Macklin

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The federal government is drafting legislation for its National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) but funding won’t be enshrined anytime soon, Disabilities Minister Jenny Macklin says.

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Ms Macklin said the agreement of Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell on Friday to the scheme, joining other premiers in launching trial sites was a great victory for people with disabilities.

The minister says a lot of work has been done on the costings for the scheme but the launch sites will help finalise the costings.

“We think we’ve got the numbers pretty clear,” she told the Ten Network on Sunday.

“The good thing is we’ll be able to test a lot of things on the ground on these launch sites.”

Ms Macklin says the government has found $1 billion to fund the NDIS in a “difficult budget”.

State premiers liked to frame the Productivity Commission report as saying the Commonwealth should fund the scheme, the minister said.

But if you read the report properly it said the commonwealth should pay and recoup some inefficient taxes back from the states, she said.

“You wouldn’t be surprised to know that the states have not offered up any taxes to the commonwealth.”

Ms Macklin says the government is in the process of drafting legislation, which it hopes to introduce to parliament as soon as possible to establish the scheme.

“It’s important to demonstrate … that this legislation will be through the federal parliament as soon as possible,” she said.

The federal government will continue to talk with states and territories about funding and “will eventually need to entrench the funding in legislation”, Ms Macklin said.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has refused to commit his state to the scheme because he says it doesn’t have the money and it is a commonwealth responsibility.

Ms Macklin says the federal government intends to shoulder more of the responsibility but believes it’s a shared responsibility, which is traditionally a state funded area.

Firestorm hits rebel-held suburb in Aleppo

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Dawn in the Salaheddin district of Syria’s second city Aleppo has brought a firestorm with four buildings quickly set ablaze as rebels and foreign fighters battled a long-anticipated army offensive.

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“It started at 4.00am (1100 AEST) and eight hours later, it’s still hell. This is madness,” an AFP correspondent reported on Saturday.

Four helicopters launched salvos of rockets before the rebel-held district, which has been surrounded by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, was bombarded by artillery and tanks.

Families fled the fighting, clutching jars of preserves and bottles of milk and water amid food shortages.

Three women sheltering in a Salaheddin basement were all armed with small pistols.

“I would choose death rather than be attacked by the regime soldiers,” said one.

Many panic-stricken women and children have fled the quarter since Friday for other parts of the city, leaving behind only groups of men.

The opposition fighting against regime forces includes both Syrian rebels and foreign fighters, who said they belonged to the Liwa al-Tawhid al-Mujahedeen (United Mujahedeen Brigade).

The foreigners told AFP they hailed from Chechnya, Algeria, Sweden and France. When the correspondent was about to pass the phone to a French fighter, the line went dead.

An attack on the Hamdaniyeh district, where the correspondent was stationed, was repelled.

On the road were three tanks and two armoured vehicles destroyed by the opposition, as well as the bodies of five or six soldiers and four rebels.

A senior Free Syrian Army colonel, Abdel Jabbar al-Oqaidi, told AFP that 100 tanks were massed on the outskirts of Salaheddin.

In the large district in the southwest of the city, rebels had mounted a machine gun on a red pick-up truck with the words “United Mujahedeen Brigade” spray-painted on its side.

A video posted online by activists shows them shooting frantically at the helicopter gunships above, spurred on by the rallying cries of other rebels in the street.

Another video shows flames licking from a building as gunfire crackles in the background and verses from the Koran can be heard from a nearby mosque.

Women and children have been evacuating the Salaheddin area since Friday, seeking refuge in other areas of the city. Those residents who have opted to stay behind have sought refuge in the basements of houses.

According to the AFP correspondent, there is no electricity and water in the city, and food stocks are so low that it is nearly impossible to find bread supplies.

“There are thousands of people in the streets fleeing the bombardment. They’re being terrorised by helicopter gunships flying at low altitude,” said one activist who identified himself as Amer.

“There’s a large number of civilians who have taken refuge in public parks in safer areas, but most took refuge in schools,” he told AFP via Skype.

“They cannot get out of town and there is no safe place left for them in Syria,” he added.

Until recently, both Aleppo and the capital Damascus had been considered to be relative safe havens.

A Syrian security source told AFP: “Hotspots have been completely blocked off to stop the terrorists from escaping,” the term the regime uses when it refers to the rebels.

One militant suggested that regime forces were resorting to subterfuge.

“Some soldiers are passing themselves off as rebels, and putting up checkpoints with the rebel flag to trap fighters taking supplies between secure areas and ‘hot’ districts,” he said.

Carbon price gouge numbers low: ACCC

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The number of companies trying to push up their prices and blaming the carbon tax is below expectations, Australia’s competition watchdog says.

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There were 1260 carbon price-related complaints from July 1 until Tuesday last week and 630 in the first 10 days after the introduction of the tax.

“We were geared up for various overflow … but it’s been a lot less than we expected,” Australian Competition and Consumer Competition (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims told the Ten Network on Sunday.

“We were always concerned that on July 1 people would try and use the focus on it (carbon price) to get price increases.”

But Mr Sims said he expected the issue to remain one for the ACCC for another six to nine months as the cost increases flowed through to businesses through power bills.

The ACCC had done a lot of compliance work which had paid off, he said.

Some companies had quite happily mentioned the carbon price where it had affected their prices when it came to energy, refrigerants and landfill.

“That’s perfectly legitimate,” Mr Sims said.

Asked if he would enforce price changes if the coalition won government and the carbon price was repealed as promised by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, Mr Sims said he would.

“It’s our job to enforce the law, it’s the government’s job to set the law,” he said.

But he said the ACCC only had a role where customers were misled rather than price control power right across the board.

Mr Sims said complaints to the watchdog were mainly about scams, communication and energy markets because they were complex products, and supermarkets.

Officials confirm Ebola outbreak in Uganda

Posted by admin on 30/01/2019
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The deadly Ebola virus has killed 14 people in western Uganda this month, Ugandan health officials say, ending weeks of speculation about the cause of a strange disease that had many people fleeing their homes.

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The officials and a World Health Organisation (WHO) representative told a news conference in Kampala on Saturday that there is “an outbreak of Ebola” in Uganda.

“Laboratory investigations done at the Uganda Virus Research Institute … have confirmed that the strange disease reported in Kibaale is indeed Ebola hemorrhagic fever,” the Ugandan government and WHO said in joint statement.

Kibaale is a district in mid-western Uganda, where people in recent weeks have been troubled by a mysterious illness that seemed to have come from nowhere. Ugandan health officials had been stumped as well, and spent weeks conducting laboratory tests that were at first inconclusive.

On Friday, Joaquim Saweka, the WHO representative in Uganda, told The Associated Press that investigators were “not so sure” it was Ebola, and a Ugandan health official dismissed the possibility of Ebola as merely a rumour. It appears firm evidence of Ebola was clinched overnight.

Health officials told reporters in Kampala that the 14 dead were among 20 reported with the disease. Two of the infected have been isolated for examination by researchers and health officials. A clinical officer and, days later, her four-month-old baby died from the disease caused by the Ebola virus, officials said.

The officials urged Ugandans to be calm, saying a national emergency task force had been set up to stop the disease from spreading far and wide.

There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola, and in Uganda, where in 2000 the disease killed 224 people and left hundreds more traumatised, it resurrects terrible memories.

Ebola, which manifests itself as a hemorrhagic fever, is highly infectious and kills quickly. It was first reported in 1976 in Congo and is named for the river where it was recognised, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Scientists don’t know the natural reservoir of the virus, but they suspect the first victim in an Ebola outbreak gets infected through contact with an infected animal, such as a monkey.

The virus can be transmitted in several ways, including through direct contact with the blood of an infected person. During communal funerals, for example, when the bereaved come into contact with an Ebola victim, the virus can be contracted, officials said, warning against unnecessary contact with suspected cases of Ebola.

Queensland to lose 2,000 public servants

Posted by admin on 30/01/2019
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Another 2000 Queensland public servants are bracing for a tap on the shoulder after the state announced a mass purge of transport workers in its multibillion-dollar cost-cutting drive.

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Underpinning their fears, the state government has not promised to refrain from forced redundancies, nor has it ruled out further cuts or privatisation.

The government announced in parliament on Tuesday that 1970 full-time workers, or 18 per cent, would go as part of a major restructure of its transport bodies. About 600 will be axed from RoadTek, 70 from Translink, and the rest from the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Translink will be absorbed into the Department of Transport and Main Roads to reduce duplication. The TransLink board will be removed, and the number of senior executives slashed by almost half to 21.

Transport Minister Scott Emerson said the cuts would save $287 million over four years but he did not know how much the redundancies would cost.

He is also yet to tell staff who will be going. Over the coming months they will be offered voluntary redundancies or alternative positions where possible.

“Not everyone will have those jobs elsewhere, that is the case,” Mr Emerson told reporters in Brisbane.

There are now over 6500 confirmed job losses in the public sector since Premier Campbell Newman came to power in March, and he is eyeing another 13,500.

Mr Emerson said he expected Queensland Rail would have potential cuts finalised in the next few weeks. There is speculation that 2200 out of 7200 jobs will be abolished.

Public Works Minister Bruce Flegg confirmed on Tuesday that 300 full-time workers on temporary contracts had been axed between March and July from government construction business QBuild. Only 78 workers are left on temporary contracts, and an undisclosed number will be picked off in the coming months.

Dr Flegg said a decision wouldn’t be made until after the September budget on whether permanent QBuild staff would also go.

The opposition says it believes 600 of the staff are doomed. Dr Flegg couldn’t rule out privatising QBuild outright.

“I think that would be a very extreme outcome and in my view not the best outcome, but these decisions aren’t necessarily mine,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

The union representing public servants, Together, says the government has launched an outrageous attack while the public is focused on the Olympics and it may be about to break an election promise of no forced redundancies.

“We believe there is a real risk of forced retrenchments,” secretary Alex Scott told reporters in Brisbane. He said the job cuts wouldn’t go near easing the state’s $65 billion debt this financial year, but were aimed at funding the LNP’s $4 billion worth of election promises.

“These cuts are cuts the government is choosing to make … not because it has to but because it wants to,” he said. Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk says the government has an obligation to tell Queenslanders how many jobs will be lost across the public service.

Although Mr Newman said before the election the public service had nothing to fear, they actually had everything to fear, she told parliament on Tuesday.

“They have knots in their stomachs, they can’t sleep at night … crying on buses not knowing do they have a job to go to tomorrow,” she said.

“This fear and uncertainty, the climate that this government is creating, is simply not acceptable.”

Late British TV star Jimmy Savile abused 60 patients, staff and visitors at a hospital he raised money for, investigators say, highlighting the scale of abuse he committed under the cloak of celebrity.

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A total of 177 people, mainly women or girls, say that Savile – one of the BBC’s top presenters in the 1970s and 1980s, known for his eccentric dress sense and love of cigars – abused them from 1954 onwards.

The latest allegations emerged in a new series of reports which help lift the lid on the full extent of his crimes, which only emerged after his death in 2011. This has prompted questions about why they were not detected earlier.

“People were either too dazzled or too intimidated by the nation’s favourite celebrity to confront the evil predator we now know he was,” Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the House of Commons in a statement on Thursday.

“Because of his celebrity and useful fundraising skills, the right questions, the hard questions, were simply not asked,” Hunt said.

Liz Dux, a lawyer representing 44 of the victims, said it “beggars belief” that the report found no evidence of senior managers knowing about the abuse.

“Those people who did know what Savile was up to and to whom direct reports were made will get away scot-free,” she said. “It’s simply, I’m afraid, a whitewash.”

It is thought that Savile abused people in 41 acute hospitals – nearly a quarter of the total number in England.

Sixty of the allegations centre on Stoke Mandeville hospital northwest of London, where Savile was “given the run” of the facility, including his own flat, after being appointed as a fundraiser by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1980.

It is claimed he committed offences against patients, staff and visitors there ranging from rape to sexual touching between 1969 and 1992.

Victims of Savile, who worked as a voluntary porter at the hospital, included some young patients with spinal injuries, which the hospital specialises in treating.

While staff there saw him as a “sex pest”, nine complaints made against him were not referred to senior management, the report into what happened at Stoke Mandeville found.

His youngest victim was aged eight and the oldest was 40 and they included patients, staff and visitors.

Savile is also known to have abused patients at facilities including Broadmoor, a high-security psychiatric hospital west of London, and the main hospital in his home city of Leeds, northern England.

An investigation into the culture at the BBC when Savile is accused of committing abuse there is still gathering evidence, along with other probes into his actions at National Health Service (NHS) facilities.

‘Jihadi John’ named by media as London man

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The “Jihadi John” killer who has featured in several Islamic State beheading videos is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a middle class family who grew up in London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming, the Washington Post newspaper said.

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In videos released by Islamic State (IS), the masked, black-clad militant brandishing a knife and speaking with an English accent appears to have carried out the beheadings of hostages including Americans and Britons.

The Washington Post said Emwazi was believed to have travelled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined IS.

“His real name, according to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming,” the Post said.

In each beheading video, he is dressed entirely in black, a balaclava covering all but his eyes and the ridge of his nose. He wears a holster under his left arm.

Hostages gave him the name John as he and other Britons had been nicknamed the Beatles, another was dubbed George.

The paper said he had been born in Kuwait, was raised in a middle-class neighbourhood in London and occasionally prayed at a mosque in Greenwich, southeast London.

Police declined to comment on the reports.

“We are not going to confirm the identity of anyone at this stage or give an update on the progress of this live counter- terrorism investigation,” said Commander Richard Walton of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command in a statement.

The Post quoted friends of Emwazi, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying they thought he had started to become radicalised after a planned safari in Tanzania following his graduation from the University of Westminster in London.

They said Emwazi and two friends – a German convert to Islam named Omar and another man, Abu Talib – never made it to the safari.

On landing in Dar es Salaam, in May 2009, they were detained by police and held overnight before eventually being deported, they said.

No comment was immediately available from the University of Westminster.

The Post said counterterrorism officials in Britain detained Emwazi in 2010, fingerprinting him and searching his belongings.

(Reporting by Stephen Addison; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)