Monthly Archives:January 2019

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Former minister Chris Hartcher is under renewed scrutiny after his alleged bagman confessed to using slush funds to funnel banned political donations to NSW Liberals.

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The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has been probing EightByFive, a “sham” company allegedly set up by Hartcher staffer Tim Koelma to collect more than $400,000 for the benefit of several Liberal MPs.

Also in the corruption watchdog’s sights is the Canberra-based Free Enterprise Foundation (FEF), which was allegedly used to “wash” funds from prohibited donors that were then re-channelled to the NSW Liberal Party.

During a sensational afternoon of evidence on Monday, veteran electoral officer Ray Carter said he warned top Liberal fundraiser Paul Nicolaou that contributions from prohibited donors were being funnelled through the FEF.

“I asked Paul the legality of it and he said more or less, that’s what the Free Enterprise was for,” Mr Carter said.

He agreed he personally sent off $165,000 to the FEF, and said “everyone” – including Mr Hartcher – knew about the foundation’s existence.

“It was no secret,” Mr Carter said.

He also channelled funds via EightByFive, he said.

“Some of this money that you were raising, was it coming from prohibited donors?” counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson SC asked.

“Yes,” the witness replied.

Mr Carter said it was his idea to have EightByFive issue fake invoices to donors, though he knew nothing about alleged donations from Australian Water Holdings (AWH), Gazcorp or Nathan Tinkler’s development firm Buildev.

Property developers have been barred from making political donations in NSW since 2009.

Mr Carter left open the possibility that his boss did not know about the banned donations flowing through EightByFive, telling the inquiry Mr Hartcher had him on a long leash.

“I had my own free run,” he said.

“I did not necessarily go into a lot of detail with him … People were virtually throwing money at me.”

Despite Mr Carter’s apparent frankness, there were suggestions that he may not have told all he knew.

“You’ve worked for Mr Hartcher for many years, and you’re close to him – and you know Tim Koelma well, too,” Mr Watson said.

“Mr Carter, has anybody placed you under personal pressure about the evidence that you were going to give here today?”

“No, but I have been under a lot of pressure by myself,” Mr Carter replied.

Earlier, former AWH boss Nick Di Girolamo told the inquiry that his company paid EightByFive $183,000 in return for services including media relations and advice.

But junior counsel assisting Greg O’Mahoney said the firm was really buying access and support from Mr Hartcher.

“AWH was getting incredible bang for its corrupt buck,” Mr O’Mahoney said.

Mr Di Girolamo replied: “I find that comment to be completely outrageous, offensive and insulting.”

Twin ICAC probes have now claimed seven NSW Liberal MPs, with Newcastle member Tim Owen announcing that he wouldn’t contest the next election following damning evidence suggesting prohibited donors contributed to his 2011 campaign.

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US reports second case of MERS virus

January 28th, 2019 / / categories: 柳州桑拿 /

A second case of the deadly Middle East respiratory virus, MERS, has been found in the United States.

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The patient is a healthcare worker who resides and works in Saudi Arabia, and who travelled by plane on May 1 from Jeddah to London then Boston, Atlanta and Orlando.

The patient is in a Florida hospital and “doing well,” officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters on Monday.

The patient was in Florida to visit family and was admitted to a hospital on May 8.

Out of “an abundance of caution,” the CDC said it is attempting to contact over 500 passengers on the traveller’s flights to see if anyone is ill but it is unclear whether the patient was contagious during the journey.

The United States announced its first case last week, in a healthcare worker who had travelled to Riyadh at the end of April.

He was released from the hospital on Saturday and is considered “fully recovered,” the Indiana Health Department said.

Middle East Respiratory Virus, or MERS, causes fever, cough and shortness of breath, and can be lethal particularly among older people and those with pre-existing health problems.

Some 30 per cent of the several hundred people infected with it have died, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus first emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and recent research has suggested it may originate in camels.

According to the World Health Organization’s latest count on May 9, MERS has killed 145 people out of 536 lab-confirmed infections.

The vast majority of cases have been in Saudi Arabia but MERS has also been found in 16 other countries. Most cases involved people who had recently travelled to Saudi Arabia.

The World Health Organization is planning to hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the MERS crisis.

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Blues’ second term blows Saints away=2

January 28th, 2019 / / categories: 柳州桑拿 /

Carlton’s eight-goal second quarter earned them a gritty 32-point win against St Kilda.

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The Blues’ 15.11 (101) to 9.15 (69) win, was their biggest of the season, led by Bryce Gibbs and Kade Simpson.

However, the win is likely to have come at a cost, with Marc Murphy’s bump on Nick Riewoldt sure to come under scrutiny.

The two captains clashed early in the third quarter, with Murphy catching Riewoldt high with his head over the ball.

Riewoldt spent much of the third term in the rooms and on the bench, but was able to play out the match, kicking four goals.

In desperate need of a win, Carlton started fastest, with Simpson and Chris Yarran putting them two goals up within two minutes.

But the Blues butchered chances to end the term with 2.6 despite having more ball and territory.

At half-time though, all was forgotten.

The Blues caught fire in the second term, with three goals to Troy Menzel and two to Yarran opening up a 39-point half-time lead.

The Saints replied with two quick goals after the break but the sides looked more intent on brawling rather than scoring.

Sean Dempster and Mitch Robinson were involved in a melee during an intense third quarter, while Jack Steven needed bandages for a nasty cut.

When the steadier did come for Carlton, it was through the most unlikely of sources as Michael Jamison ghosted forward to kick just his second goal in eight seasons.

St Kilda were able to put the clamps on Carlton to avoid a second straight blowout but the Blues were never threatened on the scoreboard.

High-profile recruit Dale Thomas had another quiet night, but it did not matter to Carlton, who eased to a 46 point lead before giving up the last two.

Carlton improved their record to 3-5, going ahead of St Kilda on percentage.

Carlton coach Mick Malthouse wasn’t getting carried away with the win, saying his search for consistency went on.

“We just haven’t really been able to mount that all year,” he said.

“We’ve only had three wins so far … but we may have taken a bit more of a step.”

His opposite number Alan Richardson was even less impressed, saying his young side needed to build forward alternatives to Riewoldt.

“We were well and truly beaten for most of the night,” he said.

“We just need a few more in front of the footy to give the big fella a hand.”

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Budget promises cost hike for uni students

January 28th, 2019 / / categories: 柳州桑拿 /

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has also hinted that the country would benefit from more private universities, where students and their families can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for an education.

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“I support the deregulation and the entrance of competition into the higher education market because that ensures quality being offered to students,” said Mr. Pyne.

In the US where private universities and colleges are common, students at Middlebury College in Vermont pay almost $60,000 a year for tuition.

The average student contribution at the University of Melbourne ranges from $6,000 to more than $10,000 a year.

Paying more is a concern for many, including University of New South Wales student Morgan Roche.

“The thought of accumulating more debt than I’m already doing, in my late 20’s with a family to support is incomprehensible,” she said.

The landscape was a lot different when Prime Minister Tony Abbott was student at Sydney University during the mid 1970’s, especially when it came to university fees.

In 1974, then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam abolished university fees. That was good news for Mr. Abbott who began his Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Economics degrees just two years later.

By the time the Education Minister studied law at the University of Adelaide in the1980’s, students from all disciplines were required to pay $2,300 a year under the newly created Higher Education Contribution Scheme or HECS.

“I paid the higher education contribution scheme, I’m very happy to do so because I got a fantastic education and I paid it back through my income once I started earning money,” said Mr. Pyne speaking on ABC last week.

But Mr. Pyne’s office did not respond to requests when we asked how much the education minister paid.

The office for the Shadow Education Minister Kate Ellis told us they didn’t know how much she paid in fees to study international relations at Flinders University in the late 90’s, or how they would find it.

But SBS found that a humanities degree at the time cost students about $3,400 each year.

While the federal government says students need to bear more of the costs of their education, some including Morgan Roche, worry that making a university education more expensive will make it less accessible.

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In Stuttgart, and at the team factory in Brackley and engine plant in Brixworth, such thinking is still considered crazy however – even if the possibility is lurking deep in the recesses of more than a few minds.

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“Yes, we will do that and then we will retire,” smiled Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff when the thought was put to him after another dominant afternoon at the Circuit de Catalunya.

“It’s just the fifth race,” he added. “If you look at the performance now, that (idea) comes up to your mind and you say ‘Well, that never happened and could it happen?’. But then we know racing.”

Mercedes have won five out of five and started all on pole position. The last four races have finished one-two, with Hamilton leading Germany’s Nico Rosberg, and the margin of superiority over the rest is immense.

All but four rival cars were lapped by Hamilton on Sunday – with the Briton revelling in exactly the success he was promised in 2012 when Mercedes lured him from McLaren. Red Bull’s third placed Australian Daniel Ricciardo was some 49 seconds behind.

“It’s 14 races to go, we haven’t had really difficult conditions in the race itself. We haven’t had safety car periods at the wrong moment, we haven’t had thunderstorms at the wrong time,” said Wolff.

“They didn’t touch (collide) yet, which is eventually going to happen – or not, hopefully,” he smiled. “So it’s much too early (to consider the idea of winning everything). That would be really like losing the plot, thinking about that.”

MCLAREN 1988

McLaren are the only team to have come close to such domination, when the late Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost battled for the title in 1988 and won all but one of the 16 races.

Ferrari also won 15 (of 17) races in 2002 and 2004.

No driver has ever won four races in a row in a single season and failed to take the title that year but Rosberg – winner in Australia – is still only three points behind Hamilton due to his consistent scoring.

There are more rounds (19) in a season now and Red Bull’s performance on Sunday – with quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel in fourth place after starting 15th – indicated that engine partner Renault are getting their act together.

The next race, in Monaco, could suit Red Bull’s car also with outright engine power – where Mercedes have such an advantage – less of a factor.

Red Bull are certainly not about to capitulate, even if the constructors’ championship looks a foregone conclusion already – something Ferrari’s Alonso recognised after Mercedes qualified one-two on Saturday.

“They should be in a position to win all the races probably, so it is going to be tight between them,” the Spaniard had told the BBC.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner, whose team have won the last four constructors’ and drivers’ championships with Vettel, acknowledged Mercedes were currently out on their own.

“We have a choice: We either pack up and go home or we fight and try to close the gap,” he told reporters. “We have made small inroads this weekend and we are determined to keep pushing, keep trying to close that gap down.

“We are going to push like hell all the way through the year to the last race in Abu Dhabi.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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Drone kills six Qaeda suspects in Yemen

January 28th, 2019 / / categories: 柳州桑拿 /

A drone strike has killed six al-Qaeda suspects in eastern Yemen, the first such raid since government troops launched their biggest offensive on jihadists in two years.

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In Sanaa, the US embassy on Monday announced the mission would “remain closed for consular services through May 15”, adding that it could remain shut for even longer depending on the situation.

The pilotless aircraft deployed over eastern Yemen targeted a vehicle near Al-Husun, a village in Marib province, killing at least six “al-Qaeda members”, tribal sources said.

The United States is the only country operating drones over Yemen but US officials rarely acknowledge the covert program.

Two weeks into its government offensive, Defence Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed pledged an “open war on terror”, at a security meeting in the southeastern city of Mukalla.

The war aims to “cleanse the regions of Yemen” of terror elements, he said.

Yemen’s army says it has inflicted heavy losses on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula since it launched a major offensive against AQAP strongholds on April 29.

But suspected AQAP militants have carried out apparent revenge attacks.

Washington regards AQAP as al-Qaeda’s most dangerous franchise and the group has been linked to failed terror plots in the United States.

On Monday, militants opened fire on an army convoy heading from Azzan to Huta, in the southern province of Shabwa, a military official said, prompting an exchange of fire.

Army troops also killed a Saudi militant with aAl-Qaeda named as Majid al-Mutairi in Shabwa, the defence ministry news website 26sep南宁桑拿, said.

Troops last Thursday announced they had entered Azzan, which had been a jihadist bastion.

The interior ministry, meanwhile, said it has beefed up security in several provinces to prevent likely attacks by jihadists and infiltration by Somali jihadists.

Fears of reprisals as well as a spate of attacks against foreigners prompted the United States to close its embassy in Sanaa last Wednesday.

The State Department “has been apprised of information that, out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting the embassy, indicates we should institute these precautionary steps,” said the mission’s website.

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Murdoch targets pan-European pay TV giant

January 28th, 2019 / / categories: 柳州桑拿 /

Rupert Murdoch has launched an ambitious bid to create a pan-European television giant to tackle fierce competition, rapid sector consolidation and aggressive bidding wars for live football rights.

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British pay-TV group BSkyB revealed it was in talks to buy holdings in sister firms Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia from Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox media conglomerate, which currently owns 39 per cent of London-listed BSkyB.

“The company initiated preliminary discussions with 21st Century Fox to evaluate the potential acquisition of its pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy,” said a BSkyB statement on Monday which gave no indication of price.

It added: “BSkyB believes at the right value, this combination would have the potential to create a world-class multinational pay TV group”.

A 21st Century Fox spokesperson said that while it had carried out “numerous internal discussions regarding the organisational and ownership structure of the European Sky-branded satellite platforms … no agreement between the parties has ever been reached”.

Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, which comprises the mogul’s film and television assets, currently owns 55 per cent of Sky Deutschland and all of Sky Italia.

Industry experts say the deal would create a major player with the power to sell services and compete for broadcasting rights across three key European nations, with a total of more than 17 million subscribers.

BSkyB faces intense competition from British telecoms firm BT, which launched its own sports channels last year offering free Premier League football if customers sign up to its broadband internet package.

BT had outgunned BSkyB in November to secure exclusive rights to televise all Champions League and Europa League football matches in Britain for three seasons from 2015.

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The striker, who plays for England second-tier club Reading, has yet to appear for his country under Italian Capello and his international career appeared to be over.

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Pogrebnyak’s last appearance for Russia came against Greece in June 2012.

The former Fulham forward, who scored 13 goals in 39 Championship appearances this season, is the only player in the squad who plays his club football outside Russia.

As expected there was no room for Andrey Arshavin, Roman Pavlyuchenko or Dinyar Bilyaletdinov.

Arshavin and Pavlyuchenko have struggled to get much first team action with Zenit St Petersburg and Lokomotiv Moscow respectively this season.

Bilyaletdinov has just suffered relegation from the top flight with Anzhi Makhachkala after joining them on loan from Spartak Moscow.

Artem Dzyuba was included by Capello. The Spartak striker has spent this season on loan with Rostov and has scored 17 goals, the second highest in the Russian Premier League.

Fedor Smolov was omitted despite being a regular in Capello’s previous squads.

He spent the second half of the season on loan at Anzhi but only scored twice in 10 matches.

The Italian has to cut his squad to 23 players by June 2.

The squad start their preparations with a friendly against Slovakia in St Petersburg on May 26.

Russia also have pre-World Cup friendlies against Norway and Morocco before leaving for Brazil.

Capello’s team have been drawn in Group H along with South Korea, Belgium and Algeria as they make their first appearance at the finals in 12 years.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Yury Lodygin (Zenit St Petersburg), Sergey Ryzhikov (Rubin Kazan)

Defenders: Alexander Anyukov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexey Berezutskiy (CSKA Moscow), Vasili Berezutskiy (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Granat (Dynamo Moscow), Andrey Eshchenko (Anzhi Makhachkala), Sergey Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Alexey Kozlov (Dynamo Moscow), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Andrey Semenov (Terek Grozny), Georgi Schennikov (CSKA Moscow)

Midfielders: Vladimir Bystrov (Anzhi Makhachkala), Yury Gazinskiy (Krasnodar), Denis Glushakov (Spartak Moscow), Igor Denisov (Dynamo Moscow), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Yury Zhirkov (Dynamo Moscow), Alexey Ionov (Dynamo Moscow), Pavel Mogilevets (Rubin Kazan), Alexander Samedov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Victor Faizulin (Zenit St Petersburg), Oleg Shatov (Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Shirokov (Krasnodar)

Forwards: Artem Dzyuba (Rostov), Maxim Kanunnikov (Amkar Perm), Alexander Kerzhakov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexander Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading)

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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India records weak output

January 28th, 2019 / / categories: 柳州桑拿 /

India’s industrial production shrank in March for the fifth time in sixth months.

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Output from mines, factories and utilities contracted by 0.5 per cent year-on-year in March, according to data published on Monday as the country concluded elections.

Manufacturing output slid by 1.2 per cent, while output of capital goods, such as plant equipment – a harbinger of future investment – plunged by 12.5 per cent.

“The figures show the next government will inherit an economy with very little positive momentum,” said Capital Economics analyst Miguel Chanco.

Exit polls released late on Monday after balloting ended in the marathon election suggested the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies would form the next government, ousting the scandal-tainted, left-leaning Congress party.

Official results will be announced on Friday.

Even though the headline industrial output figure beat market forecasts for a 1.5 per cent contraction, the new government faces “enormous” challenges to revitalise the economy, said Deepak Lalwani, head of India-focused investment consultancy Lalcap.

The economy grew by just 4.9 per cent in the year to March 2014, according to government estimates, half the rate it notched up during India’s boom times.

The Hindu nationalist BJP, led by chief minister of thriving western Gujarat state Narendra Modi, has promised steps to counter India’s worst slowdown since the 1980s, such as fast-tracking investment approvals and improving roads and other creaking infrastructure.

But analysts see little chance of a swift turnaround as separate figures on Monday showed consumer prices rising to 8.59 per cent in April from 8.31 per cent in March year-on-year – one of the highest rates globally.

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There were no real surprises as the irresistible late-season form of Everton’s attacking midfielder Barkley and Liverpool wide man Sterling made their inclusion an easy choice for Hodgson despite having only five caps between them.

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Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arsenal team mate Jack Wilshere got the nod despite ending the season with injuries, while Shaw was chosen ahead of 107-cap Ashley Cole as left-back back-up for Leighton Baines. Southampton provide three players in Shaw, midfielder Lallana and striker Rickie Lambert – who share only eight caps.

Lambert and Manchester United’s goal-shy Danny Welbeck were included as back-ups for the probable first-choice strike partnership of Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge, with Andy Carroll named among the seven players on stand-by.

Everton centre back John Stones and Liverpool fullback Jon Flanagan, both uncapped, were also named as stand-bys, as was Jermain Defoe. Hodgson will have to name his final 23-man squad by June 2.

Hodgson, not known as a risk taker, can also draw on the immense experience of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner and goalkeeper Joe Hart for a tough assignment in Brazil where England face Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D.

“I think the balance is quite good,” Hodgson told a news conference.

“I think they (the younger players) have imposed themselves and imposed their ability in my thinking. If I picked my squad in October after the last two World Cup qualifiers, then it might have looked different.

“I’m not sure Raheem Sterling was getting the game time or making the impact he has had in recent months.

“You can’t ignore what people are doing week to week in their club sides.

“But I think it would be wrong to focus on those who are young and inexperienced. You can’t get that experience until you play.

LEADERSHIP QUALITIES

“Frank is a very important part of our set-up still,” added Hodgson of the midfielder who will turn 36 during the tournament.

“In midfield you have many more positions to choose from – it’s not a straight choice between two players. Frank has been captain on many occasions, he still plays a very important role in his club side and we think his leadership qualities and his ability as a player means he fully justifies his position.”

Hodgson also showed faith in Rooney, still awaiting his first World Cup finals goal.

“If it’s anything to do with desire and ambition then we’ve got nothing to fear.

“I’ve told the players to go away for a week and get mentally prepared. Wayne has decided to take a physio with him because he is so determined to come back firing on all cylinders.

“His attitude – spot on, desire – couldn’t be better, ability – yes he has. Now it is all about bringing that to the match on the day. But it would be wrong to put the hopes of a nation on the shoulders of one man.”

The squad will travel to Portugal next week to begin their World Cup preparations, before facing Peru at Wembley on May 30. They then play Ecuador and Honduras in Miami before moving on to Brazil.

(Additonal reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Justin Palmer)