Answers wanted over Junior Togatuki’s prison death

02/16/2019 Posted by admin

There are growing calls for the New Zealand government to take action over the treatment of Kiwis held in Australian detention centres.

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It comes after the death two weeks ago of New Zealand-born Junior Togatuki, who was being held in solitary confinement in Goulburn’s Supermax Prison in NSW.

He was waiting to be deported to New Zealand, after finishing a prison sentence for armed robbery.

The 23-year-old, who left New Zealand when he was four, was suffering from schizophrenia and anxiety, and his death has been ruled a suicide.

Togatuki’s sister Jean wants answers.

“It makes me wonder how much they’re failing other people, not just my brother,” she told 3News.

Nearly 200 New Zealanders are being held in Australian detention centres facing deportation and hundreds more have had their visas cancelled.

There’s been an increase in numbers after a law change which means anyone who isn’t an Australian citizen and who has served a jail sentence of 12 months or more can be deported.

Many Kiwis have already been deported, and the government has been asking for information about those who could be on their way here soon.

Prime Minister John Key, who is in New York, says he intends raising the broader issues of deportations and detentions with Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

But a face-to-face meeting is unlikely to happen in the near future, with Mr Turnbull not in New York for the United Nations General Assembly this week.

Mr Key told reporters Foreign Minister Murray McCully is raising the matter with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop.

Labour leader Andrew Little says Kiwis being held in detention centres are being denied basic rights.

“It’s time our government stopped sitting back and watching this appalling treatment of New Zealand citizens, and sought an urgent clarification of Australia’s policy,” he said.

“It has the potential to damage the special relationship between Australia and New Zealand.”

An Australian government spokesman said there is “ongoing contact” between the Australian and New Zealand governments at various levels.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline’s 24-hour telephone counselling service on 0800 543 354, or the Samaritans on 0800 726 666.

Car companies have more to worry about than emissions tests

02/16/2019 Posted by admin

Remember the Palm Pilot? Probably not if you’re under 30, but they were the iPhone of the 90s; the must-have shiny-precious that replaced the filofax (and you have to be over forty to remember them).

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Palm was already struggling when Steve Jobs launched the iPhone, but Ed Colligan, the company’s CEO, wasn’t much fussed. “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.” But of course they did, and not just Apple. Most of the smart phones in the world now run Google’s operating system, Android. 

The same ‘PC guys’ are currently hiring thousands of engineers from the automotive industry and in August Elon Musk’s latest electric car, the Tesla Model S, scored 103 out of a possible 100 (that’s not a typo) from Consumer Reports in the US.

Last week, the old school car makers took a hit when Volkswagen fessed up to cheating on emissions tests and dumping millions of tons of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere on the sly. A poor week for former GM and BMW exec Bob Lutz to take Ed Colligan’s hutzpah out of the cupboard for a little spit and polish. “When it comes to actually making cars,” Lutz said, “there is no reason to assume that Apple, with no experience, will suddenly do a better job than General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen, Toyota or Hyundai.”

Related reading

Apple, said Lutz, was about to pour it’s capital into a gigantic money pit, although he did concede that with so much money stashed under the bed, the tech giant could afford to burn through 30 or 40 billion dollars without anybody noticing.

The VW scandal, however, can only make things worse for the old industry giants. Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s economics minister, worries aloud that VW’s sins will tarnish the national brand, a perception of strength, reliability and trust that rests in large part on decades of over-performance by the country’s car manufacturers, of which VW is the market leader.

Apple doesn’t comment on vapourware, but the rumours surrounding ‘Project Titan’, the reported name of its ever growing automative division, are generating the same sort of heat as surrounded the iPhone before its launch. The Wall Street Journal reports a tentative release date of 2019 for the iCar. It will almost certainly be electric, like the Tesla, but probably not self-driving at first. Meanwhile Google shares none of its rival reticence. It has been openly testing and talking about it’s autonomous vehicle for years, releasing data on how many miles the spooky driverless vehicles have clocked up (over a million) and the number of accidents in which they’ve been involved (14 minor bingles, none of them the autobot’s fault, according to el Goog).

Google, which once sat on the board of Apple, also took a seat on the board of Uber, the great disruptor of the taxi industry. It invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the ride-sharing app back in 2013, but having developed its own similar app, relations have cooled a little since. Uber, for its part, is spending a chunk of its  $US51 billion market cap on autonomous vehicles, presaging a future in which you don’t own a car, you just hail one of the Johnny-Cab from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sci-fi classic, Total Recall. 

Related reading

Uber, basically a pirate taxi company at this point in time, is now bigger by market capitalisation than General Motors, and the stock market isn’t backing them because they’re eating the lunch of resentful cabbies all over the world. That 51 billion is a bet on the future of the planet’s transport infrastructure. The areas in which the major players intend to compete seems to be the future vehicle’s power source, with electric being the preferred option, and control scheme, with a sort of AI taking the wheel in place of its human passengers.

There’s no guarantee Uber, or Apple or Google or Tesla will become the new GM of the 21st century. But somebody will. And it probably won’t be Volkswagen. Or GM.

John Birmingham is a Brisbane-based writer.

Bill Clinton says Republicans exaggerating email scandal

02/16/2019 Posted by admin

Mr Clinton said scandal was being used to tear Mrs Clinton down during her race to become the Democratic presidential candidate.

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“I think that there are lots of people who wanted there to be a race for different reasons,” he told CNN.

“And they thought the only way they could make it a race was a full-scale frontal assault on her. And so this email thing became the biggest story in the world.”

Mrs Clinton said on Sunday the politically damaging “drip, drip, drip” of revelations about her use of a private email server was out of her control and she was unsure when the controversy might end.

Clinton, who has seen her lead shrivel in the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, said she has tried to be as open as possible and take responsibility for the email flap.

“It is like a drip, drip, drip. That’s why I said there is only so much I can control,” Clinton told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

But asked if she could reassure nervous Democrats that no new email revelations would arise, she said: “I can’t predict to you what the Republicans will come up with, what sort of charges and claims they might make.”

Clinton compared criticism about her use of private email instead of a government account while she was secretary of state to the flood of controversies and Republican-led investigations that marked the presidency of her husband Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

“I have been involved from the receiving side in a lot of these accusations,” Clinton said. “In fact as you might remember during the 90s there were a bunch of them. All of them turned out to be not true.”

Clinton has apologized for the email set-up and said it was a mistake. She gave 55,000 pages of work-related emails to the State Department last year but eliminated about 30,000 emails she said were personal. On Sunday, she said she did not help her lawyers determine which ones to turn over.

“I did not want to be looking over their shoulder,” she said, calling accusations she was trying to avoid transparency laws “ridiculous”.

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll on Sunday found Clinton’s lead over top rival Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, has dwindled to 7 percentage points, 42 percent to 35 percent, amid the controversy.

Asked about the hit in polls, Clinton said “what I have tried to do in explaining this is provide more transparency and more information than anybody I’m aware of who has ever served in government.”

The most recent revelation was a report on Friday about an email exchange with David Petraeus, then commander of U.S. Central Command, that she did not turn over and which occurred before she said she had set up her personal account.

Clinton could not explain why the email chain had just surfaced. She said the private server was already in her house because her husband had set it up after leaving office, and she added her account to it.

“What we had available at the time was turned over,” she said. “I wasn’t that focused on my email server.”

Clinton also was asked to defend her shifting positions in recent years on issues like the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which she announced last week she would oppose. She had refrained from taking a stance for months, saying she wanted President Barack Obama to make his decision before she weighed in.

“It was frankly, uncomfortable to have so many people asking me and my saying, I’m waiting and waiting and waiting,” she said.

Xi Jinping denies China turning artificial islands into military bases

02/16/2019 Posted by admin

Obama said their summit talks included a “candid” discussion on Asia-Pacific disputes, focusing on growing tensions in the South China Sea where China has competing territorial claims with several Southeast Asian countries.

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“I conveyed to President Xi our significant concerns over land reclamation, construction and the militarization of disputed areas, which makes it harder for countries in the region to resolve disagreements peacefully,” Obama said.

He spoke with Xi at his side during a joint news conference in the White House Rose Garden. The Chinese leader is on his first state visit to the United States.

China has said repeatedly that the artificial islands it has built up on disputed reefs would be used for military defense and analysts say satellite pictures show it has completed one military length runway and appears to be working on two more.

Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, told the Aspen Security Forum in July that China was building hangers on one of the reefs – Fiery Cross – that appeared to be for tactical fighter aircraft.

Xi, however, denied that militarization was taking place.

“Relevant construction activity that China is undertaking in the Nansha Islands does not target or impact any country and there is no intention to militarize,” Xi said, using the Chinese name for the disputed Spratly archipelago.

“Islands in the South China Sea since ancient times are Chinese territory,” Xi said. “We have the right to uphold our own territorial sovereignty and lawful legitimate maritime rights and interests.”

Xi also reiterated that China is committed to freedom of navigation in the sea and to resolving disputes through dialogue. He said Beijing and Washington had a shared interest in this regard.

Washington analysts and U.S. officials say the militarization of the islands has already begun and the only question is how much military hardware China will install.

U.S. experts say satellite photos from early this month also show China was carrying out dredging work around the artificial islands, a month after saying it had stopped.

Harris said last week that China’s runway building and further militarization of the artificial islands was of “great concern” and posed a threat to all countries in the region.

Jane’s Defense Weekly published new satellite images of Fiery Cross taken on Sept. 20 that it said showed China had completed the runway on the reef and was moving closer to making it operational.

Jane’s said completion of the runway could allow China to accelerate construction of infrastructure and to start air patrols over the disputed islands.

Hawks kill off gallant Freo to reach GF

02/16/2019 Posted by admin

Hawthorn’s quest for a premiership hat-trick remains alive after they beat Fremantle by 27 points in Friday night’s preliminary final at Domain Stadium.

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Sam Mitchell starred through the midfield and Cyril Rioli booted two opportunistic goals in the final term to secure the 15.4 (94) to 10.7 (67) win.

The result ends any hopes of a western derby grand final, with Hawthorn to meet either West Coast or North Melbourne in the premiership decider.

It also means Matthew Pavlich is set to bow out without a flag to his name.

Pavlich, a veteran of 335 games, is widely tipped to announce his retirement in the coming weeks, with injury-prone defender Luke McPharlin set to join him.

Star Fremantle midfielder Nat Fyfe was on the field for just one minute before re-injuring his troublesome left leg.

Fyfe was a sight for sore eyes as he limped his way through the first half.

Although he moved better after the long break, his output was clearly impacted, finishing with 24 disposals.

His injury allowed Hawthorn to take control of the midfield battle.

Mitchell finished with 35 disposals, while Taylor Duryea was also crucial, with his pin-point kicking setting up numerous attacking opportunities.

But it was the Rioli show when the game was there to be won in the final quarter.

With his side leading by just nine points and looking vulnerable, Rioli swooped on a loose ball and kicked truly after young Docker Tom Sheridan dropped a sitter.

Then when Cameron Sutcliffe’s dangerous kick across goal was spoiled, Rioli was on hand again to snap his second.

The double blow broke Fremantle’s spirit, with goals to Duryea and Jarryd Roughead shortly after killing the contest.

Hawthorn skipper Luke Hodge suffered a big head knock midway through the final term, but he was able to return to the field.

Fremantle made a dream start to the match with two quick goals – and that was before Fyfe had even stepped out onto the field.

Fyfe, nursing inflammation in his left leg, received a huge cheer when he trotted out at the four-minute mark.

But disaster struck just one minute later when Fyfe’s legs got in the way of a rampaging Brian Lake.

Fyfe was clearly hurt by the collision and he spent the rest of the quarter limping from contest to contest at half pace.

It took almost 20 minutes for Fyfe to tally his first disposal. In the meantime, Hawthorn wrested momentum away from Fremantle to enter the first break with a handy 19-point lead.

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon let rip at the quarter-time break.

Goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne, whose off-the-ball bump cost the Dockers a goal, was on the receiving end of a big spray. Michael Johnson also copped a bake.

Hawthorn’s lead ballooned to 25 points when Ryan Schoenmakers kicked truly early in the second term.

And with Fyfe horribly out of sorts and battling along on one leg, it seemed Hawthorn would race away.

But the Dockers stuck to the task to work their way back into the contest.

Fyfe eventually came good with 11 disposals in the second term, helping trim the deficit to 16 points at half-time.

The third quarter became an arm wrestle.

Fremantle looked gone when Hawthorn skipped out to a 28-point lead, but the margin was reduced to 11 when ruckman Jon Griffin unleashed a 55m bomb late in the third term.

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon claimed he still didn’t know whether Pavlich and McPharlin would retire or not.

But an hour after the game, Pavlich spent an emotional moment with his family out on the ground, seemingly soaking up his last experience as an AFL player.

McPharlin also had a low-key farewell as he walked up and down saying goodbye to the fans.

Lyon said his team’s ill discipline and skill errors cost them dearly against Hawthorn.

“We started well. Some undisciplined acts by us off the ball wasn’t ideal,” Lyon said.

“We invited them back in. There were two off the ball goals in the first quarter set us back on our haunches.

“I thought we had them on the back foot in a real sense. But in the end they were too good.”

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson was proud of his group’s fighting spirit.

“I’m excited, just as the players are. It’s a terrific effort.,” Clarkson said.

“We’ve had to work really hard. We’ve coped with a lot of adversity throughout the course of the year.

“Just pleased we dug in. This group hadn’t won an interstate final prior to tonight.

“It wasn’t pretty footy. It was a very high possession game, but very low inside 50s.

“I’m really pleased we ground out the win, and we give ourselves a chance of another title.”

Schmidt expects Irish squad strength to prevail against Romania

02/16/2019 Posted by admin

The canny New Zealander, who has earned a reputation as one of the most thoughtful men in the game, will use Sunday’s clash at Wembley to take a long, hard look at the men who played little or no part in the opening 50-7 demolition of Canada.

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After making 12 changes, resting such key contributors as flyhalf Johnny Sexton and loose forward Peter O’Mahony, Schmidt said the men he had called on to face Romania knew they had to deliver.

“There’s a realisation from them — particularly after viewing Wednesday evening’s game, with Romania playing France — that it’s an opportunity, but also a massive responsibility, to ensure that we get the result, and that’s going to take a bit of work,” the coach said.

Schmidt will be particularly keen to assess the continued return to peak fitness of Cian Healy, who will start at prop in the Pool D clash.

The British and Irish Lion missed all of Ireland’s warm-up games with a neck injury and returned to action for the first time since April as a replacement against Canada.

“Cian is always an asset, whether he’s in the starting team or off the bench,” Schmidt said.

“I think he came off the bench mostly through the Six Nations, but the one start he did get, against Scotland, he got two turnovers in the first 20 minutes on the ground.”

The teams last met 10 years ago at Lansdowne Road, with Ireland emerging 43-12 victors.

Romania fullback Catalin Fercu started that game and Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray said he was one to keep an eye on.

“He’s well capable of countering, with their wingers as well. Both their nines are quite dangerous as well. If they get into broken play they really back themselves, especially after a line break or something like that,” Murray said.

Fercu is still one try from becoming Romania’s record try-scorer, having been stuck on 28 for 17 tests stretching back more than two years.

Romania coach Lynn Howells has made eight changes to the starting team that lost 38-11 against France on Wednesday.

Teams:

Ireland: 1-Cian Healy, 2-Richard Strauss, 3-Nathan White, 4-Donnacha Ryan, 5-Devin Toner, 6-Jordi Murphy, 7-Chris Henry, 8-Jamie Heaslip (captain), 9-Eoin Reddan, 10-Ian Madigan, 11-Keith Earls, 12-Darren Cave, 13-Jared Payne, 14-Tommy Bowe, 15-Simon Zebo.

Replacements: 16-Sean Cronin, 17-Jack McGrath, 18-Tadhg Furlong, 19-Paul O’Connell, 20-Sean O’Brien, 21-Conor Murray, 22-Paddy Jackson, 23-Rob Kearney

Romania: 1-Andrei Ursache, 2-Andrei Radoi, 3-Paulica Ion, 4-Valentin Poparlan, 5-Ovidiu Tonita, 6-Valentin Ursache, 7-Mihai Macovei (captain), 8-Daniel Carpo, 9-Valentin Calafeteanu, 10- Michael Wiringi, 11-Ionut Botezatu, 12-Csaba Gal, 13-Paula Kinikinilau, 14-Adrian Apostol, 15-Catalin Fercu

Replacements: 16-Mihaita Lazar, 17-Otar Turashvili, 18-Alexandru Tarus, 19-Johannes van Heerden, 20-Stelian Burcea,

21-Florin Surugiu, 22-Florin Ionita, 23-Florin Vlaicu

(Editing by David Goodman)

China, US agree to curb cyber espionage

02/16/2019 Posted by admin

The two leaders also unveiled a deal to build on a landmark emissions agreement struck last year, outlining new steps they will take to deliver on pledges they made then to slash their greenhouse gas emissions.

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Speaking after White House talks during Xi’s first U.S. state visit, Obama quickly homed in on the thorniest dispute between the world’s two biggest economies – growing U.S. complaints about Chinese hacking of government and corporate databases, and the suspicion in Washington that Beijing is sometimes behind it.

“It has to stop,” Obama told reporters at a joint news conference in the White House Rose Garden, with Xi standing beside him. Obama said he and Xi made “significant progress” on cyber security. But he added warily: “The question now is, are words followed by actions?”

There were clear limits to Friday’s deal. A White House statement said the two leaders agreed that neither government would knowingly support cyber theft of corporate secrets or business information.

But the agreement stopped short of any promise to refrain from traditional government-to-government cyber spying for intelligence purposes. That could include the massive hack of the federal government’s personnel office this year that compromised the data of more than 20 million people. U.S. officials have traced that back to China, but have not said whether they believe the government was responsible.

Xi reiterated China’s denial of any government role in the hacking of U.S. corporate secrets and said the best way to address the problem was through bilateral cooperation and not to “politicize this issue.”

“Confrontation and friction are not the right choice for both sides,” he said. China has routinely insisted that it too is a victim of cyber hacking.

The White House said the two leaders agreed to create a senior expert group to further discuss cyber issues, and a high-level group to talk about how to fight cyber crime that will meet by the end of 2015 and twice a year after that.

Obama made clear, however, that sanctions remained on the table. “We will apply those and whatever other tools we have in our tool kit to go after cyber criminals,” he said.

Despite the lingering friction, analysts said the agreement was a significant advance. “Today’s joint statement creates a much-needed umbrella under which concrete, practical steps can be taken to reduce conflict in cyberspace,” said Bruce McConnell, a former top cyber security officer at the Department of Homeland Security.

Pomp and ceremony

Even as the White House rolled out the red carpet for Xi, there were tensions not only over cyber security but a litany of other issues, including Beijing’s economic policies, territorial disputes with its neighbours and its human rights record.

Obama greeted Xi on arrival at the White House on Friday morning for an elaborate ceremony on the South Lawn, including a military honour guard and 21-gun salute. The two men struck a serious, businesslike tone when they appeared later before reporters, showing little sign of close personal rapport.

U.S. and Chinese officials sought to cast their talks in a favourable light by showcasing at least one area of cooperation – the global fight against climate change.

As part of their agreement, Xi announced that China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, will launch a national carbon cap-and-trade system in 2017 to help contain the country’s emissions. Such systems put limits on carbon emissions and open up markets for companies to buy and sell the right to produce emissions.

For Obama, the deal with China strengthens his hand ahead of a global summit on climate change in Paris in December.

But disagreements on other issues still loomed.

Obama told Xi at the morning welcoming ceremony that the United States would continue to speak out over its differences with China, but he reiterated that the United States welcomes the rise of a China that is “stable, prosperous and peaceful.”

Xi, who faces a rising nationalism at home as well as pressure to get China’s economic house in order, called for “mutual respect.”

As the two leaders spoke, dozens of pro- and anti-Xi protesters gathered near the White House grounds, waving flags, beating drums and shouting slogans.

In their talks, Obama also pressed Xi to follow through on economic reforms and not discriminate against U.S. companies operating in China. Some analysts believe Obama has more leverage due to China’s slowing economic growth, which has destabilised global markets.

At the same time, the Obama administration is still at a loss about how to curb China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, where Beijing has continued to reclaim land for potential military use despite conflicting claims with its neighbours.

Obama said he had “candid” discussions with Xi on disputes in the Asia-Pacific region. Xi defended his government’s “right to uphold our own territorial sovereignty” and denied any plan to use its island-building efforts to create military strongholds.

In a reminder of potential flashpoints, the United State and China also finalised a plan aimed at reducing the risk of aerial collisions between warplanes in areas such as the South China Sea through adoption of common rules of behaviour.

Calls for Obama to take a harder line with China have echoed from Congress to the 2016 Republican presidential campaign. But his approach was tempered because the U.S. and Chinese economies are so closely bound together.

On Friday night, Obama was to host a lavish black-tie state dinner where guests will dine on Maine lobster and Colorado lamb.

Despite the ceremonial honours, the Chinese Communist leader, who came to Washington on the heels of Pope Francis, received nothing like the wall-to-wall U.S. news coverage given the popular pontiff, who drew adoring crowds wherever he went.

Pope Francis urges US to end hostility toward immigrants

02/16/2019 Posted by admin

Bringing a message that America’s power and wealth should be used to serve humanity, the 78-year-old pontiff said the United States must not turn its back on “the stranger in our midst.

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“Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility,” Francis told the Republican-led Congress in Washington a day after he met with Democratic President Barack Obama.

Francis, born in Argentina to an Italian immigrant family, delivered a wide-ranging speech that addressed issues dear to liberals in the United States but also emphasized conservative values and Catholic teachings on the family.

The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics called for a worldwide end to the death penalty, which is still used in 31 of the 50 U.S. states, while advocating a more equitable economy to help people “trapped in a cycle of poverty” and a greater effort against climate change driven by human activities.

The pope later flew to New York, where he was cheered by throngs lining Fifth Avenue as he headed in his “popemobile” to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to the sound of the cathedral bells pealing. With organ music playing and a chorus singing, the pope was welcomed by a crowd of 3,000 inside the cathedral for an evening prayer service.

His plea on immigration received frequent applause mostly from Democrats but also from Republicans among the lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and other dignitaries packed inside the House of Representatives chamber to hear the first address by a pope to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.

Harsh rhetoric toward illegal immigrants has featured heavily in the race for the Republican nomination for the November 2016 presidential election.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump says if elected he would deport all 11 million illegal immigrants, most of whom are from Latin America like the pope, and the billionaire businessman has accused Mexico of sending rapists and other criminals across the border.

Francis, addressing an issue that has cost the Republicans support among increasingly influential Hispanic voters, said America should not be put off by the flow of foreigners from south of the border “in search of a better life.”

“We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal,” he said, speaking softly and in heavily accented English.

As he spoke, Francis was flanked by two of America’s most influential Catholics: House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and Democratic Vice President Joe Biden. Boehner, who often tears up at emotional moments, cried openly during the speech.

Immigration struggle

The United States has grappled for years over what to do with illegal immigrants. Republicans in Congress last year blocked a bipartisan effort to overhaul immigration laws that would have allowed illegal immigrants a chance to win U.S. citizenship.

In a Pew Research Center poll conducted in May, 51 percent of 2,002 U.S. adults surveyed said immigrants strengthen the United States because of their hard work and talents, while 41 percent said immigrants are a burden because they take jobs, housing and healthcare.

It was is unclear whether the pope’s speech will change hearts and minds on immigration.

“It doesn’t affect my thoughts,” said Michael Tipsword, a student at George Washington University and a Catholic. He said Francis’ opinion on immigration is more related to humanitarian needs than politics.

“I’m a pretty staunch conservative,” said Tipsword, standing on the lawn in front of the U.S. Capitol building where thousands watched the speech on a large video screen.

Invoking famous American figures Abraham Lincoln and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Francis told U.S. lawmakers who are often caught up in bitter partisan fights that politics should be “an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good.”

Presidential candidates from both sides of the divide held up the pope’s comments as evidence that the leader of America’s 70 million Catholics agrees with them.

Alluding to abortion and euthanasia, the pope cited a “responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.” But he quickly turned to the abolition of the death penalty, saying “every life is sacred” and “society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.”

Francis also called for an end to a global arms trade fueled by “money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood, in the face of the shameful and culpable silence.”

In remarks welcomed by conservatives, Francis said, “Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family,” expressing his opposition to same-sex marriage.

To underscore his message of helping the poor, Francis went straight from the U.S. Capitol in his small black Fiat to have lunch with homeless people, telling them there was no justification for homelessness.

I will be appreciated when I’ve gone, says Blatter

02/16/2019 Posted by admin

 

In an interview with the BBC, the 79-year-old Swiss defended his record at the head of scandal-plagued FIFA and said he was respected in many parts of the world.

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Blatter noted he was often subjected to hostile treatment on social media but said: “Go to the world, go to Asia, go to Africa… go to China, ask them what they think about FIFA and Blatter, that’s different.

“At least (I am) respected because I have done a lot. Not only me but FIFA has done a lot and I have served this FIFA. I am sure this will be recognised, that the big job that has been done by FIFA and by myself… (over) 40 years.

“I am sure people are realising that the job I have done in FIFA is a good job, it’s the right job for the development of football, the right job for education of youth,” he added.

“If there are people who don’t like the organisation or don’t like me, they will realise they have been wrong… they will realise that.”

Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term on May 29 but four days later announced he would lay down his mandate as FIFA was engulfed in the worst crisis in its 111-year history.

FIFA was thrown into turmoil when 14 sports marketing executives and soccer officials, including several from FIFA, were indicted in the United States in late May on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges involving more than $150 million in payments.

Seven of those accused were arrested by Swiss police in a dawn raid on a luxury Zurich hotel two days before the FIFA Congress where Blatter was re-elected.

Blatter’s replacement is due to be elected at an extraordinary Congress on Feb. 26.

Blatter, often looking uncomfortable during the 20-minute interview at FIFA headquarters, reiterated that it was individuals rather than FIFA who were under investigation.

“The institution is not corrupt… there is no corruption in football, there is corruption with individuals,” he said.

He also repeated his criticism of the method for choosing the FIFA executive committee, whose members are elected by the continental confederations rather than the FIFA Congress.

“I have to take people, they are not my people,” he said. “I cannot be morally responsible for other people.”

 

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Pumas fans wary of Georgia’s forward might

02/16/2019 Posted by admin

Pumas fans poured out of trains from London, singing and waving their blue and white flags as they made their way to Gloucester’s Kingsholm stadium.

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One street vendor, who was fast running out of the flags, remarked: “Is there anyone left in Argentina?”

While there were far fewer Georgian supporters to be seen, it was the formidable power of the Eastern European forward pack that was all Argentina’s supporters could talk about.

“The one who wins the forwards battle will win the game,” said Joaquin, who had travelled from Buenos Aires for the match.

“Our backs are better at handling but we have to win the ball.”

Veteran flanker Juan Fernandez Lobbe has said he wants to avoid a “dogfight” with the Georgians, who Argentina have defeated at the last two World Cups.

For that to happen he will first have to tame Georgia’s Mamuka “Gorgodzilla” Gorgodze, who he plays alongside at French club Toulon.

Gorgodze captains a team playing with confidence after their 17-10 victory over Tonga on Saturday. The Georgian side is unchanged while Argentina have been forced into making three changes, all in the pack, from the side that ran the All Blacks close on Sunday.

Matias Alemanno comes in at lock for Guido Petti, who has not recovered from a knock to the head in his try-scoring performance in Sunday’s 26-16 loss to holders New Zealand.

In the back row, Juan Manuel Leguizamon comes in at flanker for Pablo Matera, who drops to the bench, and Facundo Isa replaces the injured Leonardo Senatore at number eight.

Argentina are also without lock Mariano Galarza, cited for foul play against New Zealand, which will disappoint the local fans as he plays his club rugby for Gloucester.

With conditions perfect for free-flowing, running rugby, the Pumas fans are hoping their team will not get sucked into a war of attrition with the Georgians.

If they can avoid that, and get the ball out to the back three of Juan Imhoff, Santiago Cordero and Joaquin Tuculet, then they should win the match.

“The Pumas need to give dynamism to the match and not get bogged down in the forwards,” said Manuel, who had travelled from the Patagonian province of Chubut, deep in the south of Argentina.

    “Argentina will have no trouble winning, they just have to give the ball to the backs.”

(Additional reporting by Rex Gowar, editing by Ed Osmond)

Australia demands answers from Volkswagen as class action brews

02/16/2019 Posted by admin

The federal government wants urgent clarification from Volkswagen Australia and Audi Australia on whether local vehicles were fitted with devices to fudge their emitted pollution.

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Amid the global saga, in which 11 million diesel cars were fitted with the devices that make them perform better in emissions testing than on the road, the government is demanding to know if 50,000 local cars are involved.

Minister for Local Government Paul Fletcher said in a statement he expected advice from the car manufacturers shortly and would then determine if a recall of vehicles was necessary.

“Volkswagen Group Australia is still awaiting details with regards to our market and specifically which models may be affected,” the local branch of the car maker said in a statement.

Aussie consumers consider class action

Leading class action law firm Maurice Blackburn has announced an investigation into a potential consumer law case against Volkswagen amid its global pollution rigging scandal.

It has not been confirmed whether any cars on the Australian market are among the 11 million vehicles Volkswagen says carry the emissions-hiding software.

But the firm’s class action principal Damian Scattini believes it is likely to affect Australian car owners, and consumers may have grounds to take action against the German carmaker.

Volkswagen turns to Porsche boss to steer it out of crisis

Volkswagen will name Matthias Mueller, the head of its Porsche sports car brand, as its chief executive, a source close to the matter said on Thursday, as the fallout from the U.S. vehicle emissions test rigging scandal broadened.

Mueller, 62, has been widely tipped to succeed Martin Winterkorn, who quit on Wednesday, when the German carmaker’s supervisory board meets on Friday. He will take responsibility for steering Volkswagen through the biggest business crisis in its 78-year history.

The crisis deepened on Thursday as officials in Europe and the United States stepped up their investigations.

Germany’s transport minister said Volkswagen had manipulated tests in Europe too.

“We have been informed that also in Europe, vehicles with 1.6 and 2.0 liter diesel engines are affected by the manipulations that are being talked about,” Alexander Dobrindt told reporters, adding it was unclear how many vehicles in Europe were affected.

Dobrindt said Europe would agree on new emissions tests in coming months that should take place on roads, rather than in laboratories, and that random checks would be made on all manufacturers.

Fury over deception

Separately, a group of at least 27 US state attorneys general launched a multi-state investigation of Volkswagen’s representations to consumers about its diesel vehicles, and said it will send subpoenas to the automaker.

“I am furious that the world’s leading car company wilfully took steps that polluted our environment and deceived consumers,” Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a statement.

In Sacramento, California, that state’s top air quality regulator said her agency is preparing a series of actions against Volkswagen in response to the company’s admission that it cheated on tailpipe pollution tests. “Right now we are organizing ourselves for a major enforcement action,” said Mary Nichols, head of the California Air Resources Board.

The state also intends to order a recall of Volkswagen diesel vehicles sold in the state with software that enabled the cars to pass the agency’s emissions tests, but then emit far more pollution on the road.

Volkswagen has said 11 million cars globally had the software fitted, but it was not activated in the bulk of them. As well as the cost of regulatory fines and potentially refitting cars, Volkswagen faces criminal investigations and lawsuits from cheated customers and possibly shareholders. 

‘Assad part of solution in Syria’: Australia signals shift in stance

02/16/2019 Posted by admin

Australia is set to abandon the Abbott government’s position that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step aside as part of any durable peace settlement, it’s been reported.

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The major policy shift is aimed at hastening the end of the bloody civil war in Syria, The Australian reported on Saturday.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the newspaper there was an emerging consensus that the Assad regime would likely be pivotal in fortifying the Syrian state and preventing further gains by the Islamic State group.

“It is evident there must be a political as well as a military solution to the conflict in Syria,” she said, noting that Australia would play its part in achieving that.

“There is an emerging view in some quarters that the only conceivable option would be a national unity government involving President Assad.”

But Ms Bishop said the specific role and duration of President Assad’s involvement would likely be temporary.

The Australian Syrian Association of Victoria said dealing with the Assad regime is not the answer.

Association spokesman Said Ajlouni has told SBS Radio News, history shows the Syrian President had a role in the creation of IS, and shouldn’t be seen as part of the solution.

“Assad recently has been trying very hard to say if you don’t include me in that equation, IS cannot be removed. Because he initially created IS, so negotiating with Assad or cooperating with him is not the best way because he is part of IS and both of them should be removed.”

Australia’s federal opposition leader, Bill Shorten, said the federal government needs to be wary of picking sides in the Syrian conflict. 

“I want to put very clearly that Australia needs to be pretty careful about trying to inject ourselves into understanding Syrian’s civil war, Syrian politics, but it is a matter of record that Assad has been a dreadful dictator,” he said. 

“There’s a whole lot of people in that part of the world which are genocidal, ethno fascists for want of another word, they are dreadful people. I’m very wary about Australia trying to pick winners [in the Syrian conflict].”

Aerobatic plane racer keeps ‘pushing the envelope’

02/16/2019 Posted by admin

Below is a picture of Chambliss in an aerobatic plane flying upside down about 60 feet above the tarmac.

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If you look closely you can see him smiling.

To say Chambliss, a commercial and stunt pilot who competes on the Red Bull Air Race circuit, lives life in the fast lane would suggest he shares the highway with the likes of Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton.

But Chambliss’s road is one far less travelled, much of it spent upside down at 230 miles per hour (370 km per hour) pulling chest-crushing G-forces that would impress astronauts.

The Red Bull Air Race, which makes its first of two U.S. stops this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas, followed by the Oct. 17-18 season finale in Las Vegas, which Chambliss promoted this week by landing his plane on the Las Vegas Strip, is extreme sport that mixes cutting-edge technology with old-school fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants skill and fearlessness.

The price tag to compete on the globe-trotting series is also not for the faint of heart, with the experimental exhibition category of aircraft costing close to $1 million.

First staged in 2003, there has never been a fatality on the Air Race circuit but for the daring competitors, mostly middle-aged men, it is sport where danger lurks at every high speed twist and turn.

“I have been doing this so long that you kind of forget that it is dangerous then every six months or so one of your buddies comes along and reminds you by dying and you go, that’s right it’s dangerous,” Chambliss told Reuters. “In aerobatics I have lost a lot of friends. I have a saying ‘you live and you learn.’

“If you die you don’t get that chance or opportunity to learn. Sometimes you might have just got lucky but if you’re smart you learn from it.

“And if you are really smart you learn from someone else’s mistakes.”

BREATHTAKING SPECTACLE

As the sport has evolved so has the spectator experience with many races now staged around viewer-friendly stadiums such as Ascot in England and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The Red Bull Air Race attracts only the best-of-the-best, 14 pilots competing in eight races in seven countries from Abu Dhabi, to Britain to Japan.

Weaving their planes around a series of inflatable pylons known as Air Gates, pilots must contend with punishing G-forces and changing conditions as they race in head-to-head knockout format. In the end, the breathtaking spectacle is reduced to two planes and the fastest man wins.

“I’ve got close to 27,000 hours flying, someone told me that’s like if you took off and landed four years later,” said Chambliss, the series champion in 2004 and 2006.

“We are pushing the envelope, we are trying to get everything out of these airplanes, it’s a race. It’s the fastest guy who is going to win.

“The only way you can do that is turn tighter and run a faster machine. It has to be that way.

“No one wants to watch you sit in an armchair. Who wants to sit there and watch you walk the dog or something.”

‘COOLEST THING EVER’

The Texan comes by his love of flying naturally.

When he was 13-years-old he helped his father build a plane and later became a commercial and private pilot.

A mix of “Top Gun” and “The Right Stuff”, Chambliss and his fellow pilots seem to possess a sixth sense of situational awareness not found in most people.

While working as a private pilot Chambliss was encouraged to take some aerobatic training and it literally turned his life upside down.

“Our chief pilot was a smart guy; he was like if that jet ever ends up upside down with the CEO on board we want you to be able to turn it right side up without killing everyone,” explained Chambliss.

“The first time we turned an airplane upside down I was like, ‘wow, this is the coolest thing ever’ and then after that I couldn’t give a hoot about flying straight and level.”

A 55-year-old self-admitted adrenaline junkie who will chill after a race by skydiving, flying is as much a part of

Chambliss’s day-to-day life as eating.

His wife Kellie is a pilot while 10-year-old daughter Karly can also take off and fly but is working on her landings.

They live in the Arizona desert with an airstrip for a driveway and a hangar as a garage.

Despite an almost genetic connection to flying, one thing Chambliss does not want is for his daughter to follow into aerobatics or competitive racing.

“I hope my daughter doesn’t give a hoot about aerobatics,” said Chambliss. “I am sure she will learn how to fly but I’m selfish, I’ve lost probably, in the time I have been in it, close to 100 friends so I only have one daughter and that makes me a little selfish and I don’t want to go through that.”

(Editing by Frank Pingue)