Hundreds flee Lebanon

Written by admin on 05/02/2019 Categories: 深圳桑拿论坛

The evacuees began their 75 kilometre trip from Beirut to Cyprus with the sound of fighting ringing in their ears.

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Two explosions from an Israeli air strike echoed over the city as families clustered at the assembly point.

“It’s very bad, very sad, I can’t believe what’s happening,” said a tearful Lubna Jaber, an Australian who had come to visit relatives in Lebanon , as she waited in downtown Beirut with about 350 compatriots hoping to board a ferry to Turkey.

Three ships docked in the port of Larnaca, Cyprus, overnight, a US- chartered cruise liner carrying 1,044 people, mostly Americans, a United Nations ship with an unknown number aboard and a French ship with 320 on board.

When unloaded from the vessels, the tired-looking evacuees were whisked past reporters to be taken to a large building for processing.

The conflict has so far seen nearly 300 people killed in Lebanon and nearly 30 in Israel.

Australians set to go

As many as 500 Australians will be able to leave Lebanon later today on British and Greek warships, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.

Mr Downer says the government has chartered six ships to evacuate 6,000 Australians from the conflict, but told reporters that Israeli curfews were delaying its rescue operation.

Hundreds of Australians were left stranded on the dock at Beirut port yesterday, after Israel refused to extend a curfew and guarantee a Greek navy ship safe passage. Some Australians made it on board in time, but about 200 others could not be processed.

Mr Downer says charter ships will begin arriving in Beirut on Friday, “If all of those ships are able to get into Beirut, and that is a very big qualification, if they are, we will have enough capacity to take out around 6,000 people,” he said.

More than 7,000 Australians are registered with the embassy in Lebanon. The government estimates that 25,000 Australian citizens are living in Lebanon, although the vast majority have dual nationality and did not plan to leave.

Mr Downer believes that already 400 or 500 Australians have already managed to escape Lebanon, but there are still more waiting to escape. Family back in Australia say the government isn’t doing enough to get their loved ones home. It’s an accusation the prime minister denies.

“The main message I want to convey to distressed relatives in Australia, and indeed through them to their loved ones in Lebanon, is that we are concerned, we have not abandoned them, and any suggestion we have is unfair and I reject it totally, completely, but we are doing our best,” John Howard told Arabic radio.

Concerns have also been raised about whether evacuees might have to meet costs involved in their evacuation. “Cost is not an issue as far as I’m concerned, and cost has never been an issue as far as (Foreign Minister Alexander) Downer is concerned,” Mr Howard said.

He also urged evacuees to travel light, after some people were unable to board a helicopter taking them to a British warship because of excess luggage. “I’m told, for example, that 40 people declined an offer to go out on a helicopter because they had their luggage and the British helicopter people understandably said ‘we can’t take the luggage as well’,” Mr Howard said.

One Melbourne man who escaped, Lebanon Victor Kheir said he was among about 100 Australians aboard the HMS Gloucester. He said the Australians were being given two nights accommodation in Cyprus, but would have to sort out their own flights home or to other destinations. “Or the Greek Islands – like me!”

Marines to the rescue

Meanwhile, about 40 United States Marines have landed on a beach in Beirut to help with the evacuation of US citizens caught up in the conflict. Attached to the troop carrier USS Nashville, they came ashore dawn.

It has been nearly 23 years since US Marines were in Lebanon; they left in 1983 after Hezbollah blew up a barracks in Beirut killing 220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel and three Army soldiers.

“I’m excited to go in and bring out the American citizens,” said Navy hospital corpsman Tanya Callaghan who was part of the mission. Her operation is only part of a massive land, sea and air operation to bring out thousands of Americans and caught in the fighting. A US official says that by Wednesday the United States will have the capacity to evacuate up to 6,000 Americans.

“Over the next couple of days you are going to be seeing a very large influx, maybe five, maybe six, maybe seven (thousand), I think we just have to wait and see.” said US Ambassador Ronald Schlicher.

Those Americans already out of the country are expected to be quickly returned to their homeland, among them eight-year-old Ali Makki, from Michigan. He said he had been frightened by Israeli bombs.

“The thing I was scared the most about was when they shot the bombs on our building,” he said.

Canadians fly out in style

The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on a trip in Europe, has ordered his official plane to be diverted to Cyprus on Wednesday to pick up Canadians who have been evacuated from Lebanon.

France was evacuating its citizens by sea to Cyprus, while Germany sent at least 500 of its citizens to Syria in a convoy of buses. Poland and Sweden also took moves to evacuate their citizens.

Six British ships, including two aircraft carriers, stood ready to receive Britons from Lebanon. Some 5,000 Britons are to leave.

The Thai foreign ministry says all 100 Thai workers in Lebanon have either left the country or moved to areas they believe are safe. So far, 29 Thais have evacuated to the Syrian capital Damascus where they are waiting to fly home. Another 30 have left Beirut for areas in Lebanon they believe are safe, the ministry said.

Thailand has no plans to evacuate the 25,000 Thais working in Israel.

Philippines plea

Meanwhile, the Philippine president Gloria Arroyo has appealed to Israel and Hezbollah to avoid harming some 30,000 Filipinos stranded in Lebanon, and urged the international community to help evacuate her citizens.

Filipino officials have conceded that they are unable to evacuate thousands of their citizens on their own, and have appealed to the United States, European countries and Gulf states to find space for Filipinos on planes and ships evacuating people from Beirut.

So far around 200 Filipinos are holed up in a Roman Catholic Church in the Christian part of Beirut waiting to be taken across the border into Syria, but many others are being told to sit tight.

The government also released just under three million US dollars to help the evacuation process and said it would try to help any of the 25,000 Filipinos in Israel who wanted to be taken out of the country.

Meanwhile Manila radio and television stations have heard emotional appeals from Filipinos stuck in the conflict zone. “I am very afraid. I have not slept since the bombings began,” said domestic worker Virgie Valencia, adding that she and other Filipina maids were holed up in a Beirut condominium in fear of their lives.

“I will not come back anymore,” she said. “I did not wait for my employers, it might take them a long time to decide to evacuate.”

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No limits for pole vault star Lavillenie

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Newly-crowned pole vault world record holder Renaud Lavillenie says he’s a risk-taker whose limits knew no bounds.

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The 27-year-old Frenchman last month cleared 6.16 metres in Donetsk to break by one centimetre Ukraine legend Sergei Bubka’s 21-year-old world record.

“It was a strange feeling, because it’s not a big difference between jumping 6.16m and 6.01,” said Lavillenie, speaking on the sidelines of the World Indoor Athletics Championships which he is sitting out through injury.

“In the pole vault you always know what you’re going to do.

“When I saw the bar staying on stands and that it was not going to fall, something crazy happened in my head. It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had!”

Lavillenie said he did not regret immediately attempting a vault at 6.21m after his new record in Donetsk. He injured his foot in the landing, hence his absence from the world indoor pole vault, won on Saturday by Greek Konstadinos Filippidis (5.80m).

“My goal wasn’t to break the record again, it was just to try a vault and see how my body would react,” he said.

“I felt confident and I thought I had a good opportunity to see if my body was able to go to that level.

“It’s just the feeling of the moment, the feeling during competition. I have to know and have to see how it’s going to be in the future.

“I always want more,” he said. “I have no regrets about that.”

Lavillenie credited his improvement to changes both technical and physical.

“I’ve tried to be more powerful on the runway,” he said. “I’ve also switched to a longer, stiffer pole with a grip 7cm higher up.

“For the 6.16m jump, I used a pole I’d never used before. I knew if I was able to bend the pole, I could go high because the pole was very strong.”

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Paris Hilton unveils beach club in Manila

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Hotel heiress Paris Hilton is ready to launch her own real estate empire.

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The great-granddaughter of Conrad Hilton, who bought his first hotel in Texas in 1919, has unveiled her first property project.

The Paris Beach Club has been officially opened in the Philippines, three years after the idea was first discussed.

The bean-shaped, three-story club fronts a man-made beach within the Azure condominium community in Paranaque City.

Although Hilton has put her name to many different businesses over the years, including her own perfume range and a sunglasses line, this is her first foray into the world of luxury beach clubs.

“I’m so excited to see the first of our many projects together,” she said of her collaboration with Century Properties Group, during a press conference at the grand unveiling.

Although fans are more accustomed to seeing the 33-year-old lounging around at a luxurious beach club than running one, Hilton assures critics that this venture has been a long time coming.

She confesses that the finished product beats her other career highs, which have included reality TV show Paris Hilton’s British Best Friend and acting roles in the Razzie award winning movie House of Wax.

“I’ve been dreaming about this for the past three years. When I first walked in, I was just so blown away. It exceeded all my expectations. Just being here is one of the proudest and happiest moments in my life.”

The Paris Beach Club is situated in decadent Azure Urban Resort Residences in Paranaque, Manila.

The heiress found time to share her top tips for success, and was adamant that you don’t need a privileged upbringing to triumph in business.

“Believe in yourself. Don’t listen to what others say. Work hard. Be a good person,” she said.

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FIFA dominates headlines as Portugal advance in New Zealand

Written by admin on 08/09/2019 Categories: 深圳桑拿论坛

The tournament has been touched by the controversy and political machinations at FIFA’s headquarters in Switzerland, with President Sepp Blatter’s shock resignation late on Tuesday again seizing the world headlines.

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Last week’s arrests of a total of 14 FIFA officials and corporate executives on charges of running a criminal enterprise involving more than $150 million in bribes had been a distraction but interest in the tournament was picking up, local organising committee chief executive Dave Beeche told Reuters.

“I guess there is more people talking about football full stop,” Beeche said. “We just have to focus on what we have to do and that’s deliver a great tournament and the football is speaking for itself on the pitch.”

Portugal winger Ivo ensured his side made the round of 16 with two goals in their 4-0 demolition of Qatar in Hamilton.

The result gave the Gulf side a reality check on the hopes of their current under-20 squad blossoming into potential world beaters in seven years’ time.

Qatar have openly said they feel the current under-20 side will provide the bulk of their squad when they host the 2022 World Cup, though their Spanish coach Felix Sanchez said they still needed time to develop.

“Experience won the match,” he told a media conference at Waikato Stadium. “We still have room for progression. Hopefully this experience will better the players.”

Qatar must now beat Senegal, who drew 1-1 with Colombia, to have any hopes of advancing to the round of 16 as one of the best third-placed teams in the tournament.

In Dunedin, Erick Cabaco’s added-time dismissal for a second bookable offence cost Uruguay the opportunity of seizing control of Group D with Mexico’s Kevin Gutierrez converting the free kick to give his side a 2-1 win.

Had Gutierrez not curled the ball past the outstretched hand of Gaston Guruceaga at Otago Regional Stadium, the central Americans would have almost certainly been out of contention for the knockout phases.

Gutierrez’s goal followed Hirving Lozano’s 71st minute strike, though Uruguay’s Mathias Suarez had equalised with seven minutes remaining in normal time.

Mexico have three points after two games, the same as every other team in the group following Serbia’s 2-0 victory over Mali in the late game in Dunedin.

Serbia lead the group on goal difference.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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Indonesia excluded from 2018 World Cup qualifiers

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Indonesia was formally notified over the weekend that it had been suspended by football’s world governing body FIFA and the AFC confirmed on Wednesday the bans would include the World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers.

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Indonesia had been drawn in Group F for the next round of matches, which doubles as qualifiers for both tournaments, but has been excluded from the competition.

They were scheduled to play Taiwan on June 11 and Iraq five days later but the AFC said those matches had been cancelled.

Asia’s regional governing body said the ban on Indonesian national and club teams would also extend to a range of other tournaments.

FIFA did allow Indonesia’s national team to continue playing at the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore because the tournament has already started but all other penalties stand.

Indonesia was banned after the country’s Sports and Youth Ministry cancelled of the domestic football season because of a row over which teams are eligible to compete in the Indonesian Super League (ISL).

The Indonesian Professional Sports Agency (BOPI), sanctioned by the ministry, wanted Persebaya Surabaya and Arema Indonesia teams blocked from playing but PSSI resisted.

The Indonesian government has accepted responsibility for the ban but said it will continue to work to overhaul the competition.

FIFA takes a dim view of government interference in football affairs and the AFC said the bans would extend from the playing pitch to develop programmes.

“As long as the PSSI is suspended, Indonesian football will also not be able benefit from any AFC and FIFA development programmes,” the AFC said in a statement.

“PSSI officials are not allowed to participate in any AFC or FIFA training courses, seminars or workshops.”

(Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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‘Shocking’ debt deepens Racing Qld crisis

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Dead greyhounds aren’t the only skeletons in Racing Queensland’s closet.

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The state government says the body is responsible for failing to stop the disappearances and killing of thousands of dogs and turning a blind eye to the practice of live baiting.

But Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has revealed Racing Queensland’s crisis is deeper – it’s also grappling with “shocking” amounts of debt.

KPMG administrator Ian Hall found the body’s losses will likely top $11 million this financial year and its draft budget shows it’s anticipating a loss of $21 million in 2015/16.

“This is shocking news and it has been uncovered within just a day of Mr Hall taking the reigns of this organisation,” Ms Palaszczuk told parliament on Wednesday.

The premier said the debt revelations justify the government’s decision to sack all four boards overseeing racing in the state, including the harness and thoroughbred racing boards.

“I stand by my government’s decision to provide the CEO of Racing Queensland (Darren Condon) with a show cause notice and giving him five days to respond,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“I stand by my government’s decision to abolish the boards of all racing codes in Queensland.

“I am determined that this important industry will go forward with a clean slate.”

Ms Palaszczuk has also announced former Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judge John Muir had been appointed as chair of the new all codes board set up to oversee greyhound, harness and thoroughbred racing.

But Brisbane Turf Club Director Peter Bredhauer has warned the government to put politics aside during the restructuring process.

“If it doesn’t (appoint Labor associates) it’ll be the first time it hasn’t,” said Mr Bredhauer, who recognised the Liberal National Party was guilty of the same thing.

“I don’t know why it is but the political landscape in Queensland, every time we have a change of government, for some reason the racing industry has to suffer and they have to have a complete change of direction.”

The state government has insisted appointments made during the overhaul won’t be political.

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Myles will remain captain: Titans coach

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Gold Coast coach Neil Henry says Nate Myles will remain Titans captain despite not ruling out that the forward played a role in Daly Cherry-Evans’ stunning backflip.

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Henry admitted he may never know whether Manly-bound Myles had a hand in convincing Cherry-Evans to renege on a four year Titans deal and remain at Brookvale Oval.

But he seemed more dirty on the fact that Myles signed with Manly and Aidan Sezer linked with Canberra from next year due to salary cap constraints created by the Cherry-Evans deal.

“I don’t know if he had an influence or not,” Henry said of Myles talking to Cherry-Evans.

“But it certainly did impact on our offer to Nate and Aidan Sezer that Cherry-Evans was coming so there were ramifications.”

Asked if Myles would remain captain for the rest of the year despite suspicions surrounding his Test forward, Henry said: “I think at the moment Nate is committed to the club and his performances have been good of late – he will remain in that position.”

Regardless, Myles and Sezer won’t be talked into staying with the Titans.

“We are not about to try and get people to renege on a deal,” Titans boss Graham Annesley said.

“That would be double standards on our part.”

Henry admitted he had no contingency plan in place for Cherry-Evans’ backflip despite enduring months of speculation.

“It would have been pointless. It was purely hypothetical – now we will have to look at the market,” he said.

Among the halfbacks off contract this year are Trent Hodkinson (Bulldogs), Chris Sandow (Eels) and Robert Lui (Cowboys) although Henry may also enquire about Sydney Roosters pivot James Maloney.

“There are a number of halfbacks who haven’t signed a contract – and high profile ones as well,” Henry said.

“We will have to see. It does free up a bit of money in the cap.”

But Henry reckons they already have their next captain in their midst, citing young gun Kane Elgey, budding NSW Origin forward Ryan James and veteran Luke Douglas as candidates.

“We have people to step up in that leadership role,” he said.

Asked if the backflip would put other players off signing with the Titans, Henry said: “I think it (the backflip) says something about when you sign a deal and shake a hand you think a deal is done and it is not.”

Annesley was not impressed with Cherry-Evans’ managers Chris and Gavin Orr who had reportedly assured the Titans throughout the saga that their star client was still heading to the tourist strip.

And he certainly wasn’t happy that the club had learned of the decision via the media.

Annesley said the only silver lining to the drama was the NRL abolishing the controversial round 13 contract rule.

“No club will have to deal with this sort of saga (again),” he said.

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WWII vets return to ‘futile’ Borneo battlefield

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Next week is the 70th anniversary of the Borneo campaign in which hundreds of diggers died but some historians say was unnecessary.

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Some of the last veterans of this largely forgotten World War II campaign gathered in Brisbane for a commemoration before travelling to Borneo.

Serving as a telegraphiston on the landing ship HMAS “Westralia,” Patrick Curtis was one of more than 70,000 Australians involved in Operation Oboe in June 1945.

About 600 died as part of the largest ever seaborne landing by Australian forces.

“Yes, it’s going to be upsetting, [it] even upsets me now thinking about it,” said 90-year-old Patrick Curtis, wiping away tears.

“They were prepared to lay their lives down for their country.” 

His wife of almost 50 years, Jan, said he rarely talked about the war. Patrick helped soldiers board landing craft and then watched on from the deck.

“As they went along the beach, we could see them, and then they were strafed, a few times,” he said.

“You could see the soldiers being killed, with the Japanese planes coming in and strafing them, and knocking them over. That was a sad point.”

The landings at Tarakan, Labaun and Balikpapan are considered near textbook military operations but are eclipsed in history by the Kokoda campaign in Papua New Guinea.

“This was not an operation that was at the tip of the spear in terms of defeating Japan, this was an operation that was very controversial even at the time,” said historian Dr Peter Dean, from Australian National University. Dr Dean is the author of “1944 – 45: Victory in the Pacific,” due for release later this year.

“Tactically, while an outstanding operation, they were operationally really not that important and strategically quite questionable as well,” he said.

In June 1945, the Japanese Imperial forces were on the retreat. The Allies fought them back through Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, leaving Borneo sidelined.

“Yes, it’s going to be upsetting, [it] even upsets me now thinking about it.” 

“The main reason for them going ahead was our alliance, our coalition and ensuring Australia’s place at the peace table, when those peace negotiations came up with Japan,” Dr Dean said. 

It was less than two months before the United States dropped the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima that ended the war in the Pacific.

“By this stage of the war the fighting is fairly gritty business,” said Dr Karl James, senior historian at the Australian War Memorial.

“A lot of it is being conducted at close quarters. Yes, you have naval gun support, air strikes, flamethrowers but a lot of work is done with bayonets. It’s a very gritty business.”

The Australian 7th and 9th Division, some veterans of fighting the Germans and Italians in North African, were the main force.

Among the casualties, war hero and Victoria Cross recipient lieutenant Tom “Diver” Derrick. 

“The death of Derrick was a huge blow to the Australians fighting on Tarakan,” Dr James said.

“This is a decorated soldier, he served at Tobruk and El Alamein, was awarded the Victoria Cross in New Guinea and, for many, his death highlighted the futility of the campaign. 

“In the early 1940s he was possible Australia’s best known soldier in the war.”

The Australian forces were serving under the Supreme Commander of Allied forces in the South West Pacific, US General Douglas MacArthur.

“He played a very duplicitous hand. He told the Australian government [Operation Oboe] was being demand by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and US High Command, and he was also telling US High Command the Australian government wanted this to go ahead,” Dr Dean said.

“So while there were concerns by both the US and Australian governments, it was really MacArthur who drove this ahead.”

General MacArthur’s interest in Borneo was likened to a vanity project.

“It’s a little bit of a sideshow, the operations in Borneo, and they really only came about because of MacArthur’s personal desire to liberate parts of Netherlands East Indies,” Dr James said.

For battle-scarred veterans like Patrick Curtis, those debates were no longer a concern.

By returning to Borneo for the anniversary, he just wanted to remember those lost 70 years ago on a faraway shore.

“About Borneo, I don’t think there’s anything outstanding to remember it by,” he said.

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‘I watched my crops die day by day’: Vic grain farmers optimistic after devastating harvest season

Written by admin on 07/08/2019 Categories: 深圳桑拿论坛

Grain farmers in parts of Victoria’s Mallee and Wimmera districts are coming off a devastating season with some barely able to harvest.

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Despite predictions of another dry season, they’re counting on good advice, experience and technology to improve this year’s yields.

Across the country, grain farmers are hoping timely dumps of early winter rain will get freshly sewn crops off to a favourable start.

Grain farmer Brad Martin is pensive as he prepares to sow his final barley paddock of the season. This year, he’ll crop 1,800 hectares of this southern Mallee farm.

“The hardest part is you’re pretty much watching your crops die in front of your eyes day by day.”

Mr Martin said it was important to remain optimistic, but memories of 2014 are difficult to avoid.

“The hardest part is you’re pretty much watching your crops die in front of your eyes day by day and you know that it’s not going to be good but the full ramifications obviously don’t hit until after harvest,” he said.

In Victoria’s wheat belt, the weather bureau’s forecast of an El Niño or prolonged dry spell is far from welcome.

Birchip Cropping Group Chief Executive Chris Sounness says everyone feels the pinch, including small businesses in the district’s small towns.

“People were very conservative with their spending which flows through so the small businesses lose confidence,” Mr Sounness said.

In parts of the southern Mallee last year’s annual rainfall was about 60mm below average, which for some farmers signals the difference between a $250,000 loss – or a profit exceeding half a million dollars.

But Mr Sounness said yields weren’t determined entirely by rainfall.

“You need to be aware of those, however, in the end, you really got to focus on what you can control. And research and development is going to be the key getting that innovation in the paddock getting it adopted as soon as possible,” Mr Sounness said.

It’s a philosophy embraced by Patchewollick farmer Jamie Frankel who has diversified into legumes and lupins, instead of traditional staples wheat and barley.

He says he also pre-sells some grains and uses GPS guidance to preserve paddocks and improve yields

“We will shift it across from one year to the next so we’re not seeding right on the straw row from last year,” Mr Frankel said.

But in a district where rainfall makes or breaks, all eyes will unavoidably remain on the sky.

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Hadron Collider reboots after 2-year break

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The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has started delivering physics data as a result of what has been described as a “milestone” collision.

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After an almost two-year shutdown and several months of recommissioning, the world’s largest particle accelerator is now providing collisions to all of its experiments at the unprecedented energy 13 tera-electronvolts (TeV).

That is almost double the collision energy of its first run.

The latest collisions mark the start of season two at Cern’s LHC, opening the way to new discoveries.

The LHC is now expected to run around the clock for the next three years.

Speaking after stable beams were declared, European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN)’s director-general Rolf Heuer said: “Congratulations to everybody, here and outside! We should remember this was two years of teamwork. A fantasic achievement. I am touched. I hope you are also touched.

“Thanks to everybody. And now time for new physics. Great work.”

But he reminded his colleagues they would have to wait for results, saying: “We have provided the basis, now the experiments have to follow.

“However, don’t expect that it will be tomorrow, do not expect that it will be in a month – be patient.”

During the first run of the LHC, the Atlas and CMS experiments announced the discovery of the so-called Higgs boson, an elementary particle that gives other particles mass, which had eluded detection for nearly 50 years.

It was the last piece of the puzzle known as the Standard Model.

With the ability to tap into higher energy, the scientists hope to explore mysterious realms of “new physics” that could yield evidence of hidden extra dimensions and dark matter.

Dark matter is the invisible, undetectable “stuff” that makes up 84 per cent of material in the universe and binds galaxies together, yet whose nature is unknown.

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Interpol hunts six in FIFA probe

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Interpol has put two former FIFA officials and four corporate executives on its wanted list for racketeering conspiracy and corruption.

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The international police organisation said it had placed “red notices” on the six at the request of the US authorities.

The US Attorney General’s office indicted nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives in late May, including the six sought by Interpol.

Former top FIFA executives Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago and Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay were both on Interpol’s list.

Alejandro Burzaco and Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, all of Argentina, and Brazilian Jose Margulies, also known as Jose Lazaro, are the others.

The six are wanted in the US face charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies over the course of 24 years.

According to US judicial authorities, Warner faces bribery charges and the sports executives are wanted for having “systematically paid and agreed to pay well over $US150 million in bribes and kickbacks to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments.”

Seven FIFA officials were separately arrested in Switzerland, last week in a broad operation that has cast a shadow on the prestigious football governing body.

The US probe includes allegations that FIFA forwarded a $10 million dollar payment from South Africa to an account controlled by Warner in connection with their election as 2010 World Cup hosts.

Swiss authorities are meanwhile also investigating the World Cup host elections for 2018 and 2022 in a separate probe.

Blatter on Tuesday announced his decision to resign, saying that the end of his 17-year tenure was necessary to give the federation a “profound overhaul.”

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Lewis warns of rugby league’s TV issue

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Representative rugby league star Luke Lewis believes his code is so perfect for television consumption it may be contributing to its downfall in the escalating battle for live crowd support from Sydney’s spoilt sport fans.

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A massive crowd of 83,598 packed into Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Tuesday night to watch English Premier League champions Chelsea beat Sydney FC 1-0.

That was just three days after more than 71,500 attended the same venue to watch Sydney lose by the same scoreline to another EPL side, Tottenham Hotspur.

The Sydney Swans had over 32,000 fans attend their AFL indigenous round clash with Carlton at the SCG last Friday.

Although rugby league’s first State of Origin drew 80,122 punters to ANZ Stadium last Wednesday, club games are struggling to pull big crowds.

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold warned the sleeping giant of football had awoken and pointed out the attractive live TV Monday night showdown between NRL competition heavyweights Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm drew just 8,265 through the gate at Allianz Stadium.

Lewis acknowledged the NRL had a fight on their hands from both soccer and AFL.

“I think soccer and AFL are doing a great job in trying to take over the sporting environment in NSW,” Lewis said on Wednesday.

“I think the crowds that soccer are pulling and the way that the crowds pull that atmosphere, it’s pretty scary.

“But the worst thing for us I think is that our game is such a good game to watch on TV, you can see everything twice, you don’t miss too much.

“When you’re at the game, you are looking or you are watching on the big screen to see what happened (in replays).

“I think that’s probably our biggest downfall is that our game is such a good game to watch on TV.”

Overlooked by NSW coach Laurie Daley for the State of Origin series opener, Lewis isn’t optimistic of a call-up for game two, even though he said he would grab any opportunity.

“I can’t see the team changing too much, they only lost by one point,” Lewis said.

“I love playing for NSW, I always have. I love playing in the rep arena, but I won’t hold my breath on anything.”

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Veterans revisit site of deadly, largely unnecessary battle

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(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

Eight Australian veterans are returning to the site in the South China Sea that marks the country’s largest and last major battle in the Second World War.

南宁桑拿

Hundreds of Australians died in the little-commemorated Borneo campaign.

Next week is the 70th anniversary of what historians say was a largely unnecessary battle.

Stefan Armbruster reports.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

Gathered in Brisbane, some of the last veterans of a largely forgotten Second World War campaign.

Age has wearied them, but, for Patrick Curtis, memories of the war in Borneo remain as sharp as yesterday.

A veteran of Operation Oboe in Borneo in June 1945, he was part of the largest ever seaborne landing by Australian soldiers.

Now, eight Borneo veterans are returning to the old battlefields to mark the 70th anniversary of the landings.

“Yes, it’s going to be upsetting. (It) even upsets me now, thinking about it. They were prepared to lay their lives down for their country … Pardon me.”

90-year-old Patrick Curtis wipes away the tears.

Jan Curtis, his wife of almost 50 years, says this is one of the few times she has heard him talk about the war.

Serving as a telegraphist on the landing ship HMAS Westralia, he was one of more than 70,000 Australians involved.

Hundreds died.

“As they went along the beach, we could see them, and then they were strafed, a few times. You could see the people, the soldiers, being killed, with the Japanese planes coming in and going and strafing them and knocking them over. Yeah, that was … that was a sad point, that.”

Sailors like Patrick Curtis watched on helplessly from the Westralia.

The landings at Tarakan, Labaun and Balikpapan are considered textbook military operations.

But they are eclipsed by the Kokoda campaign in Papua New Guinea.

Australian National University historian Dr Peter Dean is the author of 1944-45: Victory in the Pacific, due out for release later this year.

“So this was not an operation that was at the tip of the spear,* in terms of defeating Japan. This was an operation that was very controversial even at the time, so … And in many respects, while tactically outstanding operations, they were operationally really not that important, and strategically they were quite questionable as well.”

In June 1945, the Japanese Imperial forces were on the retreat.

The Allies fought them back through the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, leaving Borneo sidelined.

It was less than two months before the United States dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended the war in the Pacific.

Peter Dean says the Borneo campaign was politically motivated.

“The main reason for them going ahead was our alliance, our coalition that was happening in the Second World War, and about ensuring that Australia was going to get a place at the peace table when those eventual peace negotiations came up with Japan.”

Fighting the desperate and isolated Japanese army was an ugly affair.

Dr Karl James is a senior historian at the Australian War Memorial.

“By this stage of the war, it’s a very gritty, nasty business. A lot of fighting is still being conducted in fairly close quarters. Yes, you have naval gunfight support, you have airstrikes, you have flamethrowers, but a lot of the work is still done … almost to the point of bayonets. It’s a very gritty business.”

The Australian 7th and 9th Divisions, including veterans of fighting the Germans and Italians in North Africa, were the main force.

Historian Karl James highlights the case of war hero lieutenant Tom “Diver” Derrick.

“The death of Derrick was a huge blow to the Australians fighting on Tarakan. This is a decorated soldier. He served in the Middle East. He’s at Tobruk. He’s at El Alamein. (He was) awarded the Victoria Cross in New Guinea. And a lot of people saw his death as an example of the pointlessness, of the futility, of the campaign. During the 1940s, he’s possibly our best known soldier during the Second World War.”

In all, 568 Australians were killed and about a thousand wounded.

They were serving under the commander of Allied forces in the Pacific, US General Douglas MacArthur, the focal point of historian Peter Dean’s research.

“He played a very duplicitous hand. He told the Australian government that it was being demanded by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US High Command. But he was also telling the US High Command that the Australian government was demanding this go ahead. And so, while there were concerns by both the US and Australian governments about this, it was really MacArthur who drove this ahead.”

General MacArthur fulfilled in Borneo what historian Karl James likens to a vanity project.

“It’s a little bit of a sideshow, the operations in Borneo. They really came about because of MacArthur’s personal desire to liberate parts of the Netherlands East Indies.”

For battle scarred veterans like Patrick Curtis, those debates are no longer a concern.

Returning to Borneo for the anniversary, he just wants to remember those who were lost 70 years ago on a faraway shore.

“About Borneo, I don’t know that there was anything outstanding that it would be remembered by.”

Historian Karl James says it is veterans like Patrick Curtis who are really the key to marking this anniversary.

“I think the most active form of commemoration is, really, commemoration through understanding. The generation who fought the Second World War are now very rapidly passing from us, so it’s really useful to talk to these veterans, to hear about their experiences, while we still can, because, in another 10 years or so, that generation will largely be gone.”

 

 

 

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