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New Zealand need McCullum at helm to keep winning – Fleming

Posted on: October 13th, 2019 by
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Great rivals Australia won the title but for six weeks, the Black Caps displayed an aggressive brand of cricket which earned them eight successive victories and the admiration of millions.

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Former captain Daniel Vettori and seamer Kyle Kills have since retired but Fleming hoped that the 33-year-old McCullum will stick around to continue the “good work”.

“I hope he opts to carry on in charge of the side across all formats for the foreseeable future,” Fleming wrote in his column on the International Cricket Council’s website on Thursday.

“He has lifted the Black Caps up by their bootstraps … and he ended the World Cup with his position water-tight.

“He is a positive leader who leads by example and although Kane Williamson is regarded as the next cab off the rank in terms of captaincy, it would be ideal if McCullum stayed on to continue the work he and coach Mike Hesson have begun, at least until the end of that ICC World Twenty20 at the earliest.”

The World Twenty20 will be held in India next year and former wicket-keeper McCullum, who has long complained of back problems, said throughout the New Zealand summer that he was treating every game as his last.

Fleming, New Zealand’s most successful captain, feels the team’s recent achievements have drawn a huge number of fans in a country where rugby is the number one sport.

“It has created a euphoria and an awareness of cricket that has not (been) existing in New Zealand since 1992 but now it is important that the legacy… is built upon,” the 42-year-old wrote.

“We have to hope the team’s success and the fact its profile has now grown in a major way will provide New Zealand Cricket’s administrators with more clout around negotiating future commitments for the national side.”

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Aid cuts hit South Sudan schoolkids: World Vision

Posted on: October 13th, 2019 by
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In South Sudan, an average of 129 primary schoolchildren cram into one class.

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And they’re the lucky ones.

More than 400,000 children are missing out on primary school altogether, as an estimated 11,000 of them are recruited as child soldiers following another outbreak of fighting and famine.

Despite the worsening crisis, World Vision Australia has had to pull the plug on a five-year education program in Western Equatoria.

“It’s absolutely depressing,” chief executive Tim Costello told AAP on Thursday.

The $1.32 million program would have benefited 10,000 children.

Construction of classrooms and teacher training has stopped, as a result of the Abbott government’s decision to cut $1 billion from its aid budget next financial year.

It’s just one of a dozen programs World Vision has had to sacrifice because of a $5 million cut to its budget.

Mr Costello warns the government’s aid focus on the the Asia Pacific region is shortsighted and in danger of creating a national security blind spot.

Abandoning Africa’s poorest and illiterate could create breeding grounds for the spread of radicalism and terrorist groups, he said.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram in Nigeria has ties to Islamic State in the Middle East, while al-Shabaab in Kenya and Somalia has links to al-Qaeda.

“This notion that somehow we can pull up the drawbridge from terrorism threats is just foolish,” Mr Costello said.

He warns investment opportunities for Australian mining companies might also be affected, especially as China pours aid dollars into Africa.

“If Chinese and Australian companies are bidding for a contract, and we’ve cut aid, who’s going to get the contract?” he said.

In 2013-14, the government cut the aid program to sub-Saharan Africa by about $90 million to $133 million.

Gordon saga used as political football

Posted on: October 13th, 2019 by
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The political point-scoring and mud-slinging in Queensland’s parliament shows no sign of abating as the Billy Gordon scandal continues.

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The Liberal National Party opposition have ramped up pressure on the state’s fledgling Labor government which is scrambling to win over two Katter’s Australian Party MPs to hold on to power.

Cook MP Mr Gordon was forced to resign from the party after allegations of domestic violence by an ex-partner and a failure to disclose his criminal history emerged last Friday.

But he’s resisting calls from both major parties – who aim to win a by-election to gain power – to quit parliament.

The LNP on Thursday seized on apparent inconsistencies in Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her deputy Jackie Trad’s approach to the outcast MP.

It came after Ms Trad told ABC Radio Mr Gordon was entitled to sit in parliament and vote.

This, the opposition claims, countered the premier’s statement in an earlier open letter to the Cairns Post that he should resign.

“It’s unfortunate (they) are at odds over their position regarding the member for Cook – what has fallen through the cracks are the real victims in this scenario,” Deputy Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek said.

But Labor says the political back-and-forth over Mr Gordon, as well as other MPs’ past indiscretions, are just a dethroned government trying to get even.

“(Lawrence Springborg) was a wrecker in government and he’s a wrecker in opposition,” Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller said.

Ms Miller stressed the state still had a functioning, stable government under Ms Palaszczuk and appealed to the KAP MPs – who have again emerged as potential kingmakers – to see through the LNP’s attacks.

For their part, the KAP duo have recycled their post-election mantra to champion regional interests and are in no rush to make a decision until parliament next sits on May 5.

Mr Katter said there were no deal-breakers with the government and KAP planned to work with Mr Gordon on the cross bench “as long as he remains there”.

He said Mr Gordon deserved his right to natural justice and shouldn’t be pre-emptively judged.

The Queensland Council for Civil Liberties agreed and said most of his criminal history was for minor matters.

And fresh domestic abuse claims needed to be found to be proven, president Michael Cope said.

Former managers say reform vital to England’s World Cup hopes

Posted on: October 13th, 2019 by
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Glenn Hoddle, Kevin Keegan, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Graham Taylor and Steve McClaren signed a joint letter to FA chairman Greg Dyke backing his proposals for change, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Thursday.

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In the letter, they called for swift implementation of measures to ensure English players are given more match exposure at top clubs to boost England’s chances of repeating the country’s lone 1966 World Cup success.

“Failure to do so risks England falling further behind the leading football nations and will only make it harder to end the long wait to win the World Cup,” they said.

The letter, which the newspaper said was sent to Dyke on Wednesday, said English players accounted for a mere 32 per cent of playing time in the Premier League last year compared with almost 70 per cent two decades previously.

“The trend cannot continue,” they said.

“There are many reasons why England has failed to win any major honours since 1966 and each of us bears a portion of that responsibility.

“However… the pool of English talent playing at the very top level is shrinking and it’s an undeniable fact that this is a clear disadvantage for any England manager,” added the managers.

Dyke has proposed changes to the home grown player rule in English football to help more “top quality” English players break through.

He wants a reduction in the maximum number of non-home grown players permitted in a club’s first team squad of 25 to be reduced from 17 to 13, phased over four years from 2016.

“In 2014, just 23 English players were playing Champions League football. That compares with 78 Spanish players, 55 from Germany and even 51 from Brazil — and the numbers will only get worse,” he said in an FA statement last month.

“If we want to maintain a national side capable of competing against the world’s best, we need change.”

Dyke set up the England Commission in 2013 to look at ways of improving the chances of young English talent succeeding at the highest levels of the game.

The Commission specifically identified a lack of quality coaching and opportunities for home grown players to play competitive first team football between the ages of 18 and 21.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

Australians enjoy solid day at Bells Beach

Posted on: October 13th, 2019 by
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Australian surfing stars Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons are among the big names to win their heats in round one at Bells Beach.

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The six women’s round-one heats were held on Thursday afternoon on day two after the men’s opening round was wrapped up.

Brazilian Silvana Lima closed out her heat with the only perfect 10 wave score of round one, but it was not enough to overhaul Fitzgibbons.

The Australian scored a total heat score of 18.37 and Lima posted 17.67, with Australian Nikki Van Dijk (11.93) third.

Gilmore was too good for Hawaiian pair Tatiana Weston-Webb and Alessa Quisson.

The reigning world champion won the round with a total score of 15.50, three points up on Weston-Webb.

Hawaiian Carissa Moore also continued her strong start to the season by progressing through round one.

Moore beat Gilmore to win the final of the opening event last month on the Gold Coast.

She posted 17.97 to comfortably beat Pauline Ado of France and Australian Dimity Stoyle.

South African Bianca Buitendag, Johanne Defay of France and American Lakey Peterson were the other heat winners.

Earlier on Thursday, Joel Parkinson led an Australian charge as the first round of the men’s Rip Curl Pro was completed.

Parkinson recorded a two-wave score of 12.33 points to hold off the challenge of Ireland’s Glenn Hall and Brazilian Miguel Pupo, advancing straight to round three.

Three of the other four remaining round-one heats were also won by Australians.

Julian Wilson – the runner-up in last month’s season-opening Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast – continued his impressive start to 2015 by beating countryman Matt Wilkinson and American Kolohe Andino.

Josh Kerr and Owen Wright also won their first-round encounters.

Dees debut seven, Dons’ AFL guns return

Posted on: September 8th, 2019 by
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The AFL’s opening round has plenty of selection shake-ups but nowhere more so than Melbourne, which will field seven new players against the Gold Coast on Saturday.

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Headlining the changes are great goalkicking hope Jesse Hogan and former Magpie Heritier Lumumba, who will make a milestone 200th AFL appearance in his first match in a Demons guernsey.

Joining the pair are former Giant Sam Frost, ex-Blue goalsneak Jeff Garlett and No.3 draft pick Angus Brayshaw.

Essendon will place great faith in their sidelined stars, with captain Jobe Watson leading a pack of players that will play against Sydney despite missing the NAB Challenge.

Every AFL club has at least one new face for the season-opening Easter round, though none face as daunting a task as Dayne Beams or Jack Crisp.

Beams faces his former Collingwood teammates in his first match for Brisbane, joining Allen Christensen and Mitch Robinson as players to start their new AFL journeys in round one.

The Magpies will field ex-Lion Crisp after he escaped a suspension for gambling on AFL markets this week, alongside Travis Varcoe and No.5 draft pick Jordan de Goey.

Sydney will hand a debut to academy product Isaac Heeney, while Adam Cooney will make his first Bombers start against the Swans.

There’s a Western Bulldogs debut for Tom Boyd, who comes from GWS with high expectations and a price tag to match.

Former Bulldogs captain Ryan Griffen, who headed in the opposite direction as part of the Boyd deal, will debut for the Giants against St Kilda.

The Saints will give Ahmed Saad his shot at footy redemption against GWS after the forward completed his 18-month ban for a positive drugs test.

Melbourne football boss Josh Mahoney said milestone man Lumumba had made his presence felt at the Demons already.

“We would consider him to be our best player over the NAB Challenge period and we look forward to him continuing that into the season proper,” Mahoney said.

“The impact he’s had off-field to be voted into the leadership group and the passion that he shows in helping our younger players has been impressive.”

Lumumba said he was “really excited” about lining up alongside Hogan.

“He’s been spoken about a lot but from day one I’ve loved the way he’s gone about his football, he said.

“His preparation, his professionalism, his desire and competitiveness … all those things make up a good footballer.”

Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade said Ablett would be playing as a midfielder and not as a forward.

“Obviously there’s been some conjecture about Gary with his shoulder, but his training has been really strong for a long time and he’s done a lot of competitive work the last two or three weeks,” he said.

WA doctor not guilty of sex offences

Posted on: September 8th, 2019 by
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A West Australian doctor acquitted of 12 counts of inappropriately touching patients while conducting medical examinations is disappointed a jury failed to reach verdicts on other charges.

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Ranjit Kumar Panda had been on trial in the WA District Court accused of committing 25 offences, including indecent assault and sexual penetration without consent, against 10 women in Bunbury in 2012.

On Thursday, a jury found Dr Panda not guilty of 12 offences but was undecided on 11 counts after deliberating for more than two days.

Judge Michael Bowden had previously ordered verdicts of not guilty on two other charges during the trial due to a lack of evidence.

Outside court, Dr Panda’s lawyer Simon Watters told reporters his client would fly home to Sydney either later on Thursday or on Friday.

“Dr Panda’s relieved that he’s been exonerated on certain counts,” he said.

“He’s obviously disappointed that the matter hasn’t been resolved completely.

“He’s been suspended from practice as a doctor since August 2012 and hopefully now the matter can be resolved in the short term.”

Most of Dr Panda’s complainants were aged in their early 20s but one was 17.

During the trial, the court heard the general practitioner offered patients Pap smears and breast examinations, despite some of the women coming to him for other health problems.

A pregnant woman, a mother with a three-month-old baby and a teenager with eczema who came to see Dr Panda with her mum were among those who testified.

The defence claimed the women had made up stories about Dr Panda after making contact on Facebook and other doctors at the practice were jealous of him.

A couple who were patients of Dr Panda testified that he never behaved inappropriately around them but they noticed staff had a negative attitude towards him.

Morrison signals possible new assets test for retirees

Posted on: September 8th, 2019 by
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The federal government is seriously considering scaling back access to pensions for wealthy Australians.

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Social Services Minister Scott Morrison is in talks with crossbench senators and the welfare sector to pass laws which would ease spending on pensions over coming decades.

If nothing is done, the intergenerational report projects the government will spend 3.6 per cent of GDP annually on pensions by 2055.

Under the government’s current plan being blocked in the Senate the bill would be 2.7 per cent of GDP, or $14.4 billion a year less, Mr Morrison says.

The Australian Council of Social Service has asked the government to cut the asset test threshold from $1.1 million to $794,250, excluding the family home.

ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie describes the proposal as fairly modest, arguing the pension should target people who really needed it.

Mr Morrison says the proposal is a “real option” which he would cost alongside a plan by South Australian independent senator Nick Xenophon.

The minister met with Senator Xenophon on Wednesday to discuss the idea of a tapered assets test, which existed under the Keating and Howard governments.

The taper rate under the Keating government was about $3 per fortnight cut from the pension for every $1000 of assets held over the threshold.

“That to me seems a sensible starting point to look at some pragmatic changes that are fair to pensioners and ensure the long-term viability of the pension,” Senator Xenophon said on Thursday.

However, he is certain the government’s proposed change to pension indexation would never get through the upper house.

Mr Morrison said big spending items such as the national disability insurance scheme – due to cost the federal government an extra $10 billion over a decade – would be at risk if the pension could not be made sustainable.

The minister declined to comment on another suggestion, to bring back the pension bonus scheme.

However, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it was worth looking at the scheme, in which people who work past their retirement age are paid a benefit through the pension system.

The pension bonus scheme, which has been closed to new applicants since July 2014, paid a lump sum of up to $49,000 to people who deferred claiming the age pension and stayed in paid work.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen – who convened a meeting of peak superannuation bodies, business, unions and community groups in Sydney on Thursday – described Mr Morrison’s position as “the latest in a long line of thought bubbles”.

National Seniors chief executive Michael O’Neill said the government had not made the case that there is a pension crisis.

Recent OECD figures showed Australia spent 2.5 per cent of GDP on pensions while the OECD average was 8.7 per cent, he said.

Much of the pressure on the budget was the fault of the government having dropped billions of dollars in savings.

“Pensions are being targeted as low-hanging fruit,” Mr O’Neill said.

Jilted double murder accused sobs in dock

Posted on: September 8th, 2019 by
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A Chinese tourist dumped by her Australian lover sobbed hysterically as she faced court accused of murdering his wife and grandson with garden shears.

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Cai Xia Liao, 45, did not meet the eyes of more than a dozen family members of Mai Mach, 60, and Alistair Kwong, 4, who were fatally stabbed at their Melbourne home on Tuesday.

Liao, wearing a black tracksuit, cried loudly and became increasingly hysterical throughout a short hearing on Thursday before Chief Magistrate Peter Lauritsen, who remanded her until July 22.

Her lawyer, Sarah Pratt, said this was the first time Liao, who is in Australia on a tourist visa, had been in custody.

Liao needs blood pressure medication and has suicidal thoughts, Ms Pratt said.

Supported by Alistair’s father Andrew Kwong, his mother Amy Mach held a toy and tiny photo of their only child during the hearing.

A dozen other relatives watched Liao from the back of the court.

Late on Wednesday night, after Liao was charged with murder, Detective Leading Senior Constable Tony Harwood told an out-of-sessions court hearing Liao had allegedly bound and gagged Giangwa Mach, 61, before the alleged murders in suburban Albanvale.

The court heard Mr Mach had recently ended a three-year relationship with the accused killer.

A post mortem revealed Alistair, who was regularly babysat by his grandparents, was stabbed 18 times and had tried to defend himself from the attack.

It’s alleged Liao waited up to 10 hours for Mrs Mach to return home before stabbing her 23 times in the backyard, Det Leading Snr Const Harwood said.

Liao is also charged with intentionally causing injury, assault and false imprisonment in relation to Mr Mach.

She will return to court for a committal hearing on July 22.

IOC publishes compensation policy, seeks transparency

Posted on: September 8th, 2019 by
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In an unprecedented move for an international sports organisation, the IOC said it had approved the IOC Ethics Commission’s proposal and demand to make it public as part of its Agenda 2020 reforms process.

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The announcement will no doubt pile pressure on other sports organisations, including world football’s governing body FIFA, which has staunchly refused to publish the salaries and bonuses of top staff including under-fire President Sepp Blatter, also an IOC member.

The IOC Ethics Commission, which had urged the IOC to immediately publish its approved compensation policy also called on other Olympic sports organisations to follow suit.

Under the policy, the IOC president, who does not get a salary, will be compensated with a flat annual amount of 225,000 euros ($243,540) to cover his expenses.

“According to the obligations and rights attributed to him in the Olympic Charter, the IOC President has the function of an Executive President. Therefore, the President is on a mission for the IOC 365 days a year,” the Ethics Commission said.

“The President will receive neither the fixed annual support nor the daily indemnity related to all commission meetings or other missions that he is entitled to as IOC member,” it said.

“Instead of this, to cover some of the President’s personal costs related to the execution of his function, the ethics commission is fixing a single annual fixed amount linked to inflation of Euro 225,000 — as indemnity.”

IOC Executive Board members and commission heads will receive $900 (607 pounds) per day with simple IOC members $450 a day. An annual administrative support of $7,000 is added for each member, while travel and accommodation is covered by the IOC.

The IOC Ethics Commission chairman, in a separate letter to all IOC members, said the new indemnities policy would further increase transparency.

“Your wish for greater transparency has been reflected in the IOC’s presentation of its finances using the highest international standards,” Youssoupha Ndiaye said in the letter.

“It must also be reflected in all other aspects of the IOC’s management, particularly with regard to the policy on the indemnities allocated to IOC members.”

“The IOC Ethics commission invites all sports organisations of the Olympic movement to establish a similar policy and make this public, in order to increase transparency within the sports movement.”

The IOC’s Agenda 2020 reforms, approved back in December, aim to make the Olympics more attractive, reduce cost of the Games, change the sports programme more quickly to keep the event relevant to younger audiences while also making the IOC more transparent.

(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)