Djokovic targets year-end tennis hat-trick ( admin posted on July 17th, 2019 )

Paris Masters champion Novak Djokovic is braced for a triple quickfire challenge of winning the ATP World Tour Finals, the Davis Cup and finishing the year as world No.

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The 26-year-old produced some of his best tennis to beat Spain’s David Ferrer 7-5 7-5 in Sunday’s Paris final, winning his third straight ATP title and extending his winning streak to 17 matches.

Djokovic claimed his 40th title in his eighth final of the year during which he won more than 60 matches to be back on Rafael Nadal’s heels to reclaim the top ranking.

He became just the 15th player to reach the 40-title milestone.

“I am definitely playing the best tennis this year, including the start of the year with the Australian Open and Dubai that I had a great run.

“You know, summer was up and down, and now again I’m playing on a very high level and have lots of confidence in myself, in my game,” said Djokovic, after wins in Dubai, Monte Carlo, Beijing and Shanghai and reaching the Wimbledon and US Open finals.

“You know, physically it’s very demanding, but it’s not just me that is tired and has played many matches. All of the top players have had long seasons, and you just have to try to find the strength, find a way to recuperate, recover.”

Djokovic paid tribute to Ferrer for his attitude.

“He is the defending champion, and obviously he enjoys playing on this surface in these conditions. I knew that coming into the match I’m going to have to work for my points.

“He’s a great competitor, one of the most respected guys on tour because he works hard and he’s very humble and he’s a very nice person.

“The opening four or five games … he was a better player. He was … running me around the court.”

Ferrer was dignified in defeat after missing a second Masters title after winning Paris last year.

“With 5-5 in the second, I didn’t serve so good. With Nole, if I don’t take the chances, it’s impossible to beat him.”

“With Nole (Djokovic) or Rafa (Nadal) or Roger (Federer) or Andy Murray, I don’t have these breaks, not in important moments.”

Six-time grand slam winner Djokovic is pooled with Federer, Juan Martin del Potro and Richard Gasquet at the London World Tour Finals, but has only 48 hours to recover before his opener against the Swiss.

Djokovic, who reached three grand slam finals in the same year for the third straight season, has London on his mind but also the Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic and the world No.1 spot which Nadal took back last month.

“I’m at the good spot at this moment. I enjoy tennis. I enjoy competing. I have a right schedule, even though, you know, it’s going to be three weeks now in a row for me: Paris, London and the Davis Cup final.”

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Election court battles can take months ( admin posted on July 17th, 2019 )

The West Australian Senate election debacle could extend well into 2014 before it’s resolved, if events from Queensland’s electoral past are anything to go by.

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At the Queensland state election on July 15, 1995, the opposition Liberal-National coalition raised concerns about the way the poll in the seat of Mundingburra was conducted.

Then-Labor minister Ken Davies won the north Queensland seat by 16 votes, which allowed the embattled Goss government to retain power by just one seat.

But Liberal candidate Frank Tanti claimed voters had been impersonated and some voters had cast more than one vote.

Six weeks later, a Queensland Supreme Court judge ruled the Liberal party petition challenging the win should be allowed to proceed.

It wasn’t until December 8 that Justice Ambrose, sitting in the Court of Disputed Returns, declared there should be a by-election in the seat.

Justice Ambrose found a total of 39 votes that weren’t counted should have been, and seven votes that were counted shouldn’t have been.

The by-election – which was scrutinised around the nation – didn’t take place until February 3, 1996.

Mr Tanti was declared the winner two days later.

Conservative independent MP Liz Cunningham then sided with the coalition, the Goss government fell and the Liberals’ Rob Borbidge was made premier.

State parliament did not sit until February 21, 1996 – just over seven months from the time the voting anomalies were first discovered.

Sorting out legal questions over the WA Senate election across an entire state could take much longer, potentially pushing the final result into the middle of 2014.

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Roar young guns ready to fire in A-League ( admin posted on July 17th, 2019 )

They might have put their hand up for Brisbane but the Roar’s young brigade must be prepared to get them dirty against Central Coast on Sunday and “whack them back” if it gets physical, captain Matt Smith says.

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Impressed by the way the likes of youngsters Kwame Yeboah, Brandon Borrello and Corey Brown have slotted in for a depleted Brisbane, Smith has encouraged stars Besart Berisha, Shane Stefanutto and Liam Miller not to rush back from injury.

The young trio chimed into Brisbane’s 3-0 win over lowly Melbourne Heart on Sunday that moved the Roar back to the top of the A-League ladder.

However, Smith warned a stern test loomed for his Roar cubs on Sunday against defending champions Central Coast at Gosford.

But he backed his youngsters to rise to the daunting challenge even if their arch rivals tried to intimidate them with a more physical approach.

“I hope our young kids whack them back, to be completely honest,” he said.

“I don’t think we are a nasty team. We don’t look to play that way.

“But sometimes you do need to mix it up.

“These (young) guys have been impressing at training and rightly deserve their shot and will only get better for it.

“I expect them to play a key role this season.”

Socceroos defender Jade North (groin) looks set to return against the Mariners but Berisha (hamstring), Miller (calf) and Stefanutto (hamstring) are expected to miss at least another week.

Not that Smith was complaining.

“I have told them not to rush,” he said. “You can’t push them.

“I would rather they miss a couple more weeks then for them to come back early and be out for another month.

“At the moment, I am not expecting them to be involved (on Sunday).”

Smith said the onus was on the entire team – not just his young brigade – to lift against Central Coast after another unsatisfactory effort on Sunday.

Brisbane again suffered a slow start against the winless Heart but pulled out a third win in four games thanks to an Henrique brace.

“Yesterday wasn’t up to scratch,” Smith said.

“You will take a win any day of the week but there is a lot for us to work on.

“We can’t take half an hour to get into games.

“That’s something we are very conscious of going into this week.”

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WA estuary searched for more explosives ( admin posted on July 17th, 2019 )

The West Australian waterway where the deadly chemical explosive TATP was found continues to be scoured for more of the highly volatile substance.

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After a member of the public last week discovered some 3kg of TATP hidden underwater near a jetty at Leschenault Estuary at Australind, a second package was discovered 36 hours later.

Both were blown up in controlled operations.

The second package was detonated by navy divers at the estuary after the first package was mistaken for drug-making chemicals and driven to police headquarters in Perth – prompting the shutdown of streets and evacuation of buildings when officers realised it was a deadly substance.

The mistake has also prompted a review of police protocols when suspicious substances are discovered.

The search for more chemicals continued over the weekend and on Monday, navy divers were assisting police with a broader search of the estuary.

A WA Police spokesman said there was no information to suggest there were more volatile objects in the area.

“Anyone intending on travelling within the estuary area is reminded to exercise caution and follow the directions of police officers at all times,” he said.

Police continue to investigate who hid the chemicals in the estuary and are not ruling out the possibility they had sinister plans, including terrorism.

TATP, which can be manufactured from household ingredients and is known as “Mother of Satan”, was used in the 2005 London bombings.

The discoveries last week coincided with a major gathering of foreign ministers and diplomats in Perth, the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation meetings.

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Melbourne Cup field draws crowd to parade ( admin posted on July 17th, 2019 )

They filed along in an orderly line but on Tuesday they will do everything they can to get a nose in front.

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There were 24 contenders in the parade, and while each horse and jockey will do its best to cross the line first, there’s plenty of talk of whether it will be the year for Gai Waterhouse.

Her horse Fiorente, the runner-up in the 2012 Melbourne Cup, is being widely tipped as the one to watch this year.

 

Jockey Damien Oliver said the horse had been trained specifically for this year’s Melbourne Cup.

“He ran second last year and (Waterhouse) had a full year with the horse now from last year and he’s been trained specifically for this race,” Oliver said.

“He’s had a great preparation.”

WATCH: SBS reporter Glenn Osbourne reports from the Melbourne Cup parade

But for Waterhouse to claim her first Cup win, she will have to overcome last year’s winner Green Moon, whose jockey Brett Prebble is also feeling confident.

Asked if Green Moon could do it again, Prebble simply said “he’s proven”.

However, he is mindful of the close field.

“It’s a very even, very competitive field,” Prebble said.

“There are probably 18 horses that you could make a case for a win.”

Melbourne Cup devotee Tom Blair picked Green Moon to win last year, but the Cowra resident – who has travelled to Melbourne for the race every year for the past 33 years – doesn’t think Green Moon has it in him to do it again.

For 2013 his money will be on Hawkspur.

 

Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle is tipping Seville from Lloyd Williams’ stable.

“My grandad used to say ‘it’s not who owns the Melbourne Cup who surprises you, it’s who doesn’t,” Mr Doyle said.

“There are so many good horses in it that many of them can win.”

Lisa Glasby, who came all the way from Tweed Heads to watch the Melbourne Cup, said the parade was part of the exciting lead-up to the real thing.

“We’ve been a racing family from way back … but it will be my first time at the Cup.”

Television host Matt Preston, who was studying a form guide despite accessorising his sage-coloured suit with a Mount Athos cap, urged punters to use it as an opportunity to improve their betting odds.

“It’s a great chance to get last-minute tips,” Mr Preston said.

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Housing sector shows signs of booming ( admin posted on June 17th, 2019 )

House prices are continuing to surge, especially in Sydney, as buyers take advantage of record low interest rates.

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In the year to September, the house price index rose 7.6 per cent, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Monday, the biggest increase in three years.

Of the eight capital cities, Sydney had the largest increase with a rise of 11.4 per cent, followed by a 8.6 per cent increase in Perth.

JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy said the data showed the housing market, particularly in Sydney, was on the rise.

“In the nation’s largest property market, things really are starting to heat up,” he said.

“In Melbourne as well, price appreciation was very strong and also in Brisbane.”

Mr Kennedy said recent interest rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of Australia are making an impact on the housing sector.

“A big part of the Reserve Bank story is that they’ve been trying to revive the construction sector, so I think the big uptick we’ve seen in prices definitely is supportive of that, as higher prices encourage activity and investment,” he said.

HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said the continued rise in house prices may mean that the housing sector is picking up where the mining and resources boom left off.

“The official house price data confirmed what the more timely indicators have been suggesting – that Australia is at the beginning of a house price boom.

“While some pick-up in employment will be needed soon, to keep the RBA from cutting rates further, we expect to see some improvement in coming months supported by low interest rates, rising asset prices and lifting confidence.

“Growth appears to be rebalancing, with a modest upswing underway in the non-mining sectors and regions of the economy.”

Australian capital city house prices rose 1.9 per cent in the September quarter, and were up 2.7 per cent in the June quarter.

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Gabon gets rare glimpse of solar eclipse ( admin posted on June 17th, 2019 )

Despite rain and overcast skies, residents of southern Gabon got a glimpse of a total eclipse of the sun, a rare phenomenon also visible in eastern Africa.

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“I saw a black disc progressively cover the sun. It’s magnificent,” said Clarence Diledou, who lives of the port town of Port-Gentil.

“But unfortunately the bad weather spoiled the party a bit.”

The west African nation got peak viewing of the total eclipse as it swept over a path nearly 60km wide.

At its peak over land in central Gabon, the sun was blocked out for about a minute.

Weather permitting, partial phases of the eclipse were also visible in southern Europe and in the eastern United States.

In Port-Gentil, families gathered together for the occasion along the sea front, facing the sun.

Like many in the town, Diledou used special glasses distributed by authorities to watch the rare event.

Those who did not have any came up with imaginative solutions, among them Pauline Koumba, who put a bowl of water in her courtyard and watched the reflected eclipse.

“I saw the brief passage of the eclipse in my bowl. But it was over quickly and the black clouds spoiled the effect,” she said.

Families also gathered in the capital Libreville, where the eclipse was less spectacular, but where the skies darkened noticeably for about half an hour from 1330 GMT on Sunday (0300 AEDT on Monday).

It then continued across Africa, passing through northern Uganda and northern Kenya, although overcast skies marred the effect.

Experts say a safe way to view an eclipse is by making a pinhole camera – piercing a tiny hole in a piece of paper then turning your back to the sun and using the pierced page to project the image of the sun on another sheet of paper.

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Ireland coach thanks NRL prop Brett White ( admin posted on June 17th, 2019 )

Ireland coach Mark Aston has publicly thanked Canberra Raiders prop Brett White for his bravery during Ireland’s difficult World Cup campaign.

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White was singled out by Aston for his part in the side’s opening 32-14 defeat by Fiji, while he lavished praise on the former Kangaroo for defying an early head knock to lead their challenge in Saturday’s 42-0 loss to England.

“He went back on but it was probably tougher for him to come off in the first place,” Aston said after the defeat which effectively ended Ireland’s hopes of qualification from the toughest group.

“He didn’t want to come off.

“He’d have stayed out there if we had let him.”

White, who qualifies through his Irish grandfather, was one of four NRL players recruited by Aston.

“He’s a champion,” Aston said.

“He’s certainly come over here and set the tone for us.

“The nice thing is that he’s mixing with the younger guys and giving them the experience he’s had.

“I know he’s helped (captain) Liam (Finn) really well. He just speaks sense and gets his point across.

“There’s nobody more disappointed than him at the moment. He wants to win every single game. That will rub off.

“And over the years we’ll build the culture that we want in Ireland and hopefully take it on to another level.”

The 31-year-old had put his hand up to play for Andy Kelly’s team in the 2008 World Cup but was ruled out by a foot injury.

He went on to play for the Kangaroos in the 2009 Four Nations Series and was in the team that beat England 46-16 in the final at Elland Road.

White is now set to face his fellow countrymen, including his Canberra teammate Josh Papalii, as Ireland prepare for their final group game against Australia in Limerick on Saturday night.

Aston’s men will need to pull off one of the biggest sporting shocks of all time if they are to topple the tournament favourites but captain Liam Finn insists his players will play with pride when they run out at Thomond Park.

“That 20-minute purple patch by England killed the game off but you’ve seen 17 blokes out there have a dig,” Finn said.

“They put plenty of pride in the shirt and that’s all we’ve asked for from day one.

“If we do that (against Australia), we’ll walk away from the tournament happy with ourselves.”

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Comments: Progressives are losing the language war ( admin posted on June 17th, 2019 )

Australians aren’t ones to mince words when it comes to sharing what we really think.

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We’re known for being cynical, snarky, upfront and incredibly direct. We’ve taken to social media networks like Facebook and Twitter in a big way – often dominating global conversation. It’s no wonder that programs like the ABC’s Q&A and SBS’ Insight regularly feature as major “trending” topics – we love to voice our opinions.

In an age where we can read, see and hear thousands of opinions in an instant you can easily see the kinds of themes that are dominating public conversation. In the last few years we’ve seen a plethora of opinions shared by Australians on topics such as asylum seekers, the economy, gay marriage,  climate change, politics, gender and more.  We’re more aware than ever of how politicians and media seek to influence us on these topics and there’s one thing that I think has become particularly noticeable in the last couple of years.

Australia is in the throes of a great war on language – and progressives are losing.

You only need to look at the words of Rupert Murdoch speaking at the annual Lowy Lecture to see how progressives have lost control of the conversation – somehow we’ve let one of the richest, most influential and recognisable members of the global media and business elite turn the word “elitist” into the latest attack word against progressives. Almost unquestioned we’ve let one of the most  (to use his words) narrow-minded and stuffiest of elitists turn “elitism” into anything that doesn’t represent a pro-business, pro-conservative philosophy – and it’s working. Murdoch has led a very powerful narrative which turns progressive thinkers and leaders into “stuffy elitists”

Another example is gay marriage. As the rest of the world finally moves on, Australia is still caught on the semantics of the word “marriage”. Despite a clear back history showing a diversity of understandings of the word “marriage” somehow “between a man and a woman” has been accepted as a largely unquestionable fact. Read the comment sections of an article about gay marriage and you’ll see how powerfully this narrative has made its way into the mindsets of many Australians.

Asylum seekers is another area in which the language war rages with Immigration Minister Scott Morrison making it clear that he wants asylum seekers who arrive by boat to be spoken about as illegals. At the time of Morrison’s initial directive to his department the ALP’s Immigration spokesperson Richard Marles referenced just how important language is in policy debates saying “This is an area where language is bullets: it is really important that we are careful about what language we use and that we depoliticise this area of policy.”

If language is being used as bullets – then conservatives are using bazookas and flamethrowers whilst progressives are firing back on their own. The problem for progressives is that whilst they preach to the already converted –  conservatives are taking control of broader cultural language and winning.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard even conceded one of her biggest mistakes was “not contesting the label “tax”” when it came to the ALP’s toxic carbon tax. The now Prime Minister Tony Abbott may not be one of the most eloquent orators in recent Australian history, but he was (throughout his years of opposition) and continues to be a master of dominating language politics. Whenever he speaks his words echo throughout the day and hit their target audience with maximum effect.

If progressives want to bring their ideas and their parties back to electoral sustainability they must take back the conversation and stop letting conservatives and economic elites win the language war. They must not only contest the language used by their ideological opponents, but redefine the language and reframe the language to make sense to the broader community. They managed to do it with the Howard Government’s wildly unpopular WorkChoices legislation, but it has to be relatable beyond their own progressive audience. Merely responding on issues like asylum seekers or gay marriage – progressives need to find new ways to dominate the language again and it work it to their advantage to the broader, mainstream public.

As Australians increasingly use tools like social media to voice their opinions (often parroting/reflecting the dominant narratives) – the best thing progressives can do at this point is come up with their own weapons in the language war and take back control of the conversation.

Jonathan Brown is a media educator based in Melbourne.

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Danish cyclist asked dad to donate blood ( admin posted on June 17th, 2019 )

Retired Danish professional cyclist Michael Rasmussen, who earlier this year admitted to doping, said on Sunday he even persuaded his father to donate blood as part of efforts to conceal doping.

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“It felt like stepping over the line,” Rasmussen said about approaching his father, Finn, about donating blood to be used for blood doping.

“It was not easy,” Rasmussen said about the conversation with his parents.

“But they were aware I took medicine to race faster.”

Danish public broadcaster DR was to air the exclusive interview on Sunday evening.

Rasmussen said he felt he needed to use the same methods as his rivals to keep pace.

In 2003 he discussed various blood doping with his cycling team’s physician, who mentioned the method known as homologous doping where blood from a second person is used.

The following year Rasmussen’s father went to Belgium where his blood was analysed in a hotel room after the La Fleche Wallonne race, the former cyclist said.

“The blood samples were analysed and we discovered they were not compatible,” Rasmussen said.

“It (the blood doping) never took place.”

DR News said team Rabobank, which Rasmussen raced for at the time, declined to comment about the allegations.

Rasmussen’s parents told DR while they were shocked over the extensive use of various substances in cycling, they hoped his disclosures would help clean up the sport and help him move on.

“It is wrong that he is the only person to be branded a cheat,” Finn Rasmussen said.

“Our impression was that there was a culture (of doping).”

Rasmussen in January admitted to using a wide range of performance-enhancing drugs over a 12-year period from 1998, and has since cooperated with the Danish anti-doping agency.

Rasmussen was forced to pull out of the 2007 Tour de France, while seemingly heading towards an overall victory amid controversy surrounding the non-disclosure of his prior whereabouts to cycling officials, preventing them from conducting doping tests.

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